Sunday, June 7, 2015

Game Reviews: Dragon Ball Z Collectible Card Game

This was easily my favorite game as a kid and into my teenage and young adult years. So without further ado, let's jump right in to the DBZ CCG!

The gameplay here is pretty simple on its face, but it quickly becomes clear just how complex this game really is. For a newcomer, this can be daunting and that turned a lot of people away.
There are 7 Steps to a turn and within those Steps, we find smaller Phases. Step 5 has 13 Phases to go through just within it. And that creates a total of 20 things you need to keep track of just during a turn.
Not to mention the various stats, cards and rules, this game can be overwhelming to a new player!

In the earlier sets, the cards all looked the same, which only added to the headache of keeping track of everything, but as new sets were released, individual card types took on much different designs. That helped a lot. But the gameplay was largely the same.
Play setup cards, attack, defend, next player's turn repeat. And that's where the game gets really fun.
There were 3 ways to win:
1. Survivor - the last player with cards remaining in their deck (your Deck in this game represented your life force).
2. Most Powerful - this one made very little sense to me, but it was essentially whoever successfully LEVELED UP their character to its highest card level first wins. 
3. Dragon Ball Victory - whoever successfully controls all seven Dragon Balls of a particular set (Earth, Namek, Dende, Black Star, Cracked) wins the game.
And each victory condition was met in very different ways. This allowed players to craft their own unique strategies.
The game also gave players a variety of card types called Martial Arts Styles that they could use in various ways to achieve their goals.
Black: Physical Style focused on depleting an opponents ability to pay for attacks.
Orange: Cosmic Energy Style focused on depleting an opponent's deck.
Blue: Calming Style focused on lowering an opponent's Anger Level, a necessary stat to Leveling up.
Red: Aggressive Style that focused on increasing one's own Anger Level.
Saiyan: Power Style focuses on drawing power from a variety of sources and dealing massive damage.
Namekian: Fluid Motion Style focuses on redirecting damage and replenishing lost cards and power.
The game had a lot variety, which was good. The element of strategy was also nice, but the complexity could be daunting to new players. It was also very easy to become overpowered, but balance of power shifted frequently in this game, which fit right in to the theme. 
Score: 8.5/10

The theme here is very consistent, but it's not welcoming to anyone other than fans of Dragon Ball Z. There isn't much to say here. I could go into the themes of the show, but the deeper themes don't really translate, so we won't discuss that here.
The gameplay did factor into the theme, which is nice. It's easy to become overpowered or overwhelmed and everything in between and that is exactly what the show is all about. And it's not always the player with the best cards or the strongest characters that wins, but the smartest!
I can't fault the game for its theme as it is coherent and consistent. In fact, this game with any other subject matter simply wouldn't work. It's perfect here.
Score: 9.5/10

While earlier sets were lackluster at best, the designs slowly (and visibly) evolved into stunning pieces of art. The designers clearly had fun. And each set looked better than the one before it (except World Games).

And that was the end of it. Until Panini America took over and ruined everything.

But since I'm reviewing the original game, I'll try to overlook the offensive and downright ugly design of the Panini rerelease. Since the design changed each set, I'll rate it accordingly.
Saiyan Saga: 3.5/10
Frieza Saga: 5.5/10
Trunks Saga: 6.5/10
Androids Saga: 6/10
Cell Saga: 6.5/10
Cell Games Saga: 7/10
World Games Saga: 4/10
Babidi Saga: 5.5/10
Buu Saga: 6/10
Fusion Saga: 6.5/10
Kid Buu Saga: 9/10
Movie Special Sets: 9.5/10
Baby Saga: 6.5/10
Super Android 17 Saga: 7/10
Shadow Dragon Saga: 7.5/10
Lost Episodes Saga: 7.5/10
Heroes and Villains (Panini): 2/10

Score: 6/10


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