Challenge of the Superfriends card game review
Imagine, if you will, that you’re a young DC Comics fan in the early 1970s. It’s Saturday morning, you’re still in your jammies, and you have a huge bowl of cereal in your lap as you’re waiting for your favorite cartoons to come on.
Suddenly, one of these comes on:
And all is right with the world.
Or, if you’re like me, imagine all of that, except it’s the mid-90s and you’re watching Cartoon Network. Because yeah, that was pretty much the life for pre-teen Jay.
And yes, corny as they were, there’s no denying that the Super Friends cartoons formed the tastes of several generations of DC fans. They had beloved heroes, a variety of colorful villains, and an endearingly campy attitude that only fuels the feeling of nostalgia.
The good people over at Cryptozoic have recently released a brand new card game based on the second season of the Super Friends franchise, the awesomely titled Challenge of the Superfriends. This is the same group that made the absolutely incredible Almost Got ‘Im game, so I had high hopes. They’re very different games, to be sure, but I was not disappointed. For 2-4 players, this is easy to pick up and play a few rounds, with enough depth to make it a staple for your game nights.
The game comes in a nice, sturdy cardboard box, which is emblazoned with colorful artwork inspired by the Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon series. On the front, there’s a nice standoff between the heroes and their adversaries, the Legion of Doom. Lifted straight from the show, the Super Friends side has some of the usual suspects, like Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin, along with original characters Samurai, Apache Chief, and Black Vulcan.
The Legion of Doom is the eclectic roster of the show, featuring the likes of Giganta, Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Gorilla Grodd, and Toyman. In a nice visual touch, the two teams are separated by their blue backgrounds, with the heroes against a lighter blue and the villains against a darker shade. This touch helps the colorful characters pop against the background, along with giving the box a higher-quality look.
Besides the nice artwork, the box is fairly small and, as I said before, quite sturdy. You could easily throw it in a backpack or carrying case with some other games, or even put it in your back pocket to free up your hands.
When you first open to game, the contents consist of a small gameplay instruction booklet, two wrapped decks of cards, and a cardboard divider. Even after unwrapping the cards everything fits nicely within the box, with the cards sitting comfortably in the divider and the instructions laid on top.
The instruction booklet is easy to understand and also contains some fun artwork. Like most other gameplay booklets, it has game contents, some preamble to contextualize the titular “Challenge,” setup instructions, and gameplay rules. Rounds and battle elements are separated in a manner that’s easy to understand and refer back to when actively playing, and there’s a really helpful section that explains special card effects in detail.
Like the game’s box, though, the real draw is the fun artwork throughout. The cover of the booklet matches that of the box, and there are small images of the different characters throughout. Anything that has Superman flying his Supermobile and Aquaman riding a seahorse gets a pass in my book, but having Supes, Bats, and Wonder Woman transformed into trolls? That’s just a bonus.
There are three types of cards used in gameplay: Power cards, Objective cards, and Challenge cards. Players can play as Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, or Batman and Robin, and have the respective decks with them throughout the game.
The Power cards in particular are really fun, with abilities and vehicles unique to each character used in the separate decks. All four (well, five) characters have shared allies like Samurai, the Flash, and Hawkman, but it’s their different abilities that add some fun variety to the game. Batman and Robin have the Batmobile and utility belts at their disposal, while Wonder Woman has her Invisible Jet and Lasso of Truth, for instance. Superman does indeed have his Supermobile as a vehicle, which is amazing enough, but Aquaman?
Well, Aquaman may have the best card in the deck.
If I made the rules, this would be an instant win when played.
The game consists of matches (typically two, but you can play more to extend the length of the game or even one to shorten it), with each match made up of six rounds. Rounds consist of drawing Objective cards equal to the number of players, using secretly selected Power Cards, engaging in a Battle!, and then resolving all Objective and Challenge cards. Players keep track of the winner of each round, and the one with the most points wins the match.
Victory depends on a combination of strategy and luck, as you never know what Objectives or Challenges you’ll have to face, but you can also prepare with a well-placed Power card. That keeps the game from getting too predictable while also ensuring that players can affect the outcome on their own without pressing their luck.”
Challenge of the Superfriends is perfect for game nights, either as a quick warmup game or a more drawn out affair with more players. The gameplay and rules are easy to learn, and the familiar characters make it accessible for most anyone who’s even a casual comic and cartoon fan. My favorite thing about the game, though, is its potential for expansions and other gameplay decks. The rules are simple enough that they can easily be adapted to other Power, Challenge, and Objective sets, and the Super Friends franchise is tailor made for it too. Imagine a basic Super Friends expansion that includes Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog, a Super Powers set that incorporates Cyborg and Firestorm, and then a Galactic Guardians deck with Joker, Royal Flush Gang, and Darkseid Objective cards. The possibilities are practically endless.
The game retails for $15 and can be purchased directly from the Cryptozoic store. It’s tons of fun, and at that price, you shouldn’t pass it up.