Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game Review

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The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 2 to 5 players
  • Approximately 45 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • The cartoon worlds are under attack!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek mixed!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

The bad guys are sick and tired of losing and have joined forces to bring chaos to the different cartoon worlds. In response, the heroes of each cartoon world have banded together, as well. Oddly enough, everyone is willing to fight, be it with the enemy or among themselves. In this game, you are competing with your allies and your foes can become valuable friends.

Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game, designed by Matt Hyra and published by Cryptozoic Entertainment, is comprised of 36 Punchies (starting) cards, 16 Pratfall (starting) cards, 83 Main Deck cards, 16 Inside Joke cards, 10 Nemesis cards, 25 Weakness cards, 20 Event cards, and 9 oversized Character cards. The cards are as thick and as durable as your standard playing card. The illustrations are taken directly from the cartoons the game is based on, which can be found on Cartoon Network.

About the Cards

There are several different types of cards in the game. A card’s type will determine how it is used both to benefit the player and befuddle their opponents.

Character Cards

Each player is given a unique Character card at the start of the game. The Character cards, other than depicting various cartoon protagonists, provide a special ability that the player can use.

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Starter Cards

These include Punchies and Pratfall cards. All players start with the same number of each type, ensuring no player is given a stronger hand. This will change as players add to their deck and then begin to replace their starting cards. Punchies provide Power, a required resource to purchase new cards and fight the current Nemesis. Pratfalls are humiliating, but will allow the player to remove a Weakness card.

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Weakness Cards

Weakness cards do two things. First, they take up space in the player’s deck, ensuring a more beneficial card is harder to obtain. Second, they seriously hamstring a player’s ability to compete for a short time. Until they are removed, the player will continue to be hindered as often as the Weakness card comes into the player’s hand.

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Event Cards

Event cards add a silly one-time rule to the game that must be followed for a short time period. There are more Event cards provided in the game than there will ever be in play, making certain that each game could introduce a wide range of strange, weird, and just plain eye-rolling events. A player is always welcome to ignore the Event card, but doing so will result in a penalty. Think of Event cards as a short stop along the road, where players can get out of the vehicle, stretch their legs, and then get back into the game.

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Location Cards

Location cards represent the many different areas found in the cartoons. Most Location cards have the keyword “Ongoing” listed, meaning they remain in play indefinitely or until removed by another card.

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Hero Cards

Hero cards represent the good guys in the cartoons. Some are girls (female) and some are guys (male), but all share one common characteristic: they kick butt. The Hero cards will help the player in their quest to tackle the enemies, providing additional abilities and much needed Power.

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Villain Cards

Villain cards are also friendly to the player who owns them, but a terrible nuisance to the player’s opponents. Villain cards allow the player to Attack their foes, causing them to trip up, discard cards, and causing general mischief. Just like the Hero cards, the Villains are both male and female. The only negative aspect of a Villain card is that they have zero loyalty. As long as the are causing mischief, they don’t care who they are working for.

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Equipment Cards

Equipment cards represent various pieces of hardware, software, and weirdware that the player can collect and use during their turn. Equipment can be stacked and increase the overall Power provided to the player during their turn. In game terms, Equipment cards are “equipped”, but only temporarily.

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Super Power Cards

Super Power cards can be used by any player, but are primarily for the player’s use who has a specific Character card. Which is most likely why you will see a Super Power card quickly snatched up by a player who cannot use it as well as their opponent.

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Inside Joke

Inside Joke cards only provide Power. That’s it. They are cheap to purchase and a good idea to invest in early in the game. Too many in a deck will result in bloat, but there are always ways to get ride of cards once they have outlived their usefulness.

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Nemesis Cards

These are the big bad guys in the game. When they come into play, they cause widespread chaos. They are also tough to take down, but if a player can muster enough Power, they can put the Nemesis down for good and collect a lot of points. They can also be used by the player during the game, making them exceptionally useful.

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Getting Ready to Play

To set up the game, first separate the Inside Joke, Nemesis, Event, Pratfall, Punchies, and Weakness cards from the Main Deck cards.

Second, give each player 7 Punchies cards and 3 Pitfall cards, placing any remaining starting cards back in the game box. Player should shuffle their cards and place them face-down in a pile next to them. This is the player’s personal draw deck.

Third, either randomly deal to each player 1 Character card or allow each player to select their own Character card. Any Character cards not used are returned to the game box. Character cards are placed in front of each of their owning player and remain face-up for the duration of the game.

Fourth, shuffle the Event cards and randomly deal 10 face-down to the Main deck. Place the remaining Event cards back in the game box without looking at them. Shuffle the Main deck and place it face-down in the middle of the playing area. Draw 5 cards and place them face-up in a row next to the Main deck. This row is referred to as the “Line-Up”.

Fifth, take the “Ice King” Nemesis card and set it aside. Then shuffle the remaining Nemesis cards and deal a number of cards face-down in a pile. The number in the pile is determined by the number of players. Any Nemesis cards not used are returned to the game box without being looked at. Then place the “Ice King” Nemesis on top of the pile of face-down Nemesis cards, face-up. This is the Nemesis pile. Place it at the end of the Line-Up.

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Sixth, place the Inside Joke cards face-up in a pile above the Nemesis pile. Shuffle the Weakness cards and place them face-up in a pile below the Nemesis pile.

That’s it for game set up. Time to go fight villainy and friends!

Fist Bumps and Rock-Paper-Scissors

While many of the game’s effects are resolved in a very straightforward manner, there are more than a few that are not. Fist Bumps and Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPG) are used a great deal to both trigger and resolve effects. For anyone who doesn’t know what a Fist Bump or a rousing game of RPS is, the game rules include detailed instructions.

Fist Bumps, the act of clenching one’s fist, holding it out to an opponent, and then touching their clenched fist, is used to identify which players will be able to take additional actions and as a means to trigger special abilities associated with Character cards and other cards.

RPS is used to determine the outcome of effects, as well. The player uses the card during their turn, identifies which opponent they are interacting with, and then does a quick “Best 2 Out of 3”.

Silly? You bet, but it also keeps the players interacting and levels the playing field between players with vastly different game playing skills.

Misadventure Time

Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game is played in turns with no set number of turns per game. Each player will have a standard number of actions they can take during their turn, but most of a player’s efforts will be spent determining how best to improve their deck and making progress in the effort to obtain victory. This is done by tailoring the player’s deck to be as efficient as possible. Which is, as you might guess, not easy. However, there are no bad cards in the game and a player can always adjust their strategy and tactics. It’s also worth noting that this is not a cooperative game. Forewarned is forearmed.

Step 1: Fill the Line-Up

The first thing a player does is add cards from the Main draw deck to the Line-Up, but only if there are 4 or less cards showing. A player always starts with a full Line-Up of 5 cards, but will not be able to refill the Line-Up during their turn after completing this step.

Step 2: Resolve Events

If any Event cards are drawn they are now resolved in any order the player likes. Event cards, once resolved (and any penalties or benefits handed out) are removed for the duration of the game. The spot the Event card was holding in the Line-Up is not refilled.

Step 3: Reveal Weaknesses

Any Weakness cards in the player’s hand are now played face-up in front of them. The player must follow the instructions of their Weakness card for the duration of their turn.

Step 4: Play Remaining Cards

A player is never required to play any additional cards from their hand during this step, but it’s normally a good idea to do so. Cards will provide a bonus, an additional action, or Power. In many cases, the cards will provide more than just one. This allows the player to use a card for its action or bonus, while at the same time giving the player Power to use later on during their turn. However, if a card is played, its action must be resolved. There will be times where playing a card will not be beneficial, in which case, the player should hold on to it. Once a card is played, it’s placed in front of the player, face-up. Keep in mind that Weakness cards will hinder a player’s ability to play during this step, but a player might be able to remove a Weakness card during this time, as well.

Any cards gained during this step are added to the player’s discard pile. Players can hold some of their cards to be played during the next step.

Step 5: Use Power

The player now totals all the Power provided by the cards in their hand. The total Power value can be used to do two things.

  • Buy cards from Line-Up
  • Defeat the current Nemesis

Each card in the Line-Up will have a Power value. If the player has enough Power (equal to or greater than), the card in the Line-Up can be purchased. Players can always purchase Inside Joke cards, too, but only for as long as the cards are available. Purchased cards are placed directly in the player’s discard pile.

If the player has enough Power (equal to or greater than) to defeat the current visible Nemesis card, they take it and add it to their discard pile, as well.

In all cases, a player is given “change” for their use of Power. This means if the player has a total Power of “10” and buys a card worth “5”, they have 5 Power still remaining to spend. The player can buy as many Line-Up and Inside Joke cards as they like, but only if they have enough Power to purchase them. Only 1 Nemesis can be dealt with per player per turn.

Finally, when players purchase cards and defeat Nemesis cards, they should pay attention to the number value in the star symbol. These are victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game will win. This will most likely influence the player’s decision when purchasing cards. Sometimes it’s better to purchase cards with few benefits, but with high victory point values. Especially during the ending of the game.

Step 6: End Turn

The player’s turn is now over. Any cards in play that have the keyword “At the End of Your Turn” are now resolved. Any and all cards played and still remaining in the player’s hand are placed in the player’s discard pile. The one exception are those cards that have the keyword “Ongoing”. These cards remain face-up and in play until removed.

All unspent Power is now lost and the player draws 5 new cards from their draw pile. If the player doesn’t have a draw pile or does not have enough cards to draw back up to 5, their discard pile is shuffled and placed face-down to create the player’s new draw pile.

A new Nemesis card is now reveal if the previously visible one was taken by the player. The top-most Nemesis card is drawn and placed face-up on the pile. The “Group Attack” is read out load and resolved. If the player (and the player’s opponents’) have the means to avoid the Attack, they may do so now.

That’s it for the player’s turn. The next player now goes playing cards, attacking opponents, and building their deck.

Roll Credits

The game ends when one of the two following conditions are met:

  • A player is unable to reveal a new Nemesis card
  • A player is unable to create a Line-Up of 5 cards

Depending on which condition is met, the player will either be able to finish their turn or never start it. Regardless, all players take their cards (both in their hand, discard pile, and draw pile) and count the star values. The player with the highest total has won the game.

House Rules

The Event cards are silly and have nothing to do with the game. They are there for comic relief and fun player interaction. A number of our players hated them. The solution was to remove them from play entirely, which certainly does the trick, but at a cost. It shortens the Main draw deck by 10 cards, which in turn shortens the length of the game, causing the Main draw deck to be exhausted faster than it normally would.

To learn more about Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game, visit the game’s web page.

Final Word

The Child Geeks were enthusiastic to play the game right from the start. Even those who had never heard of a “deck-building game” before eagerly waited their turn to give it a try. Never doubt the awesome marketing power of kids’ cartoons. But if it was the colorful and highly popular cartoon characters that drew them in, it was the game that kept the in their seats. According to one Child Geek, “The game is super easy to learn and it’s a lot of fun collecting the cards you want to use.” The game makes it very easy to buy cards, giving the players something to do each round. Another Child Geek said, “I’ve played other deck-building games before and I think this one is now in my top 10.” Which is pretty good when we consider that this particular child geek has played 11 deck-building games that I know of. Be they new to games or old pros, each of the Child Geeks really enjoyed themselves and the game, giving Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game their full approval.

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The more advanced Child Geeks took the game much more seriously than expected

Some of the Parent Geeks (including myself) were fans of many of the cartoon shows represented by the cards, but it was the game they focused on. According to one Parent Geek, “Easy enough to learn and I never feel like I’m stuck in a corner. Good game to teach to new players and for the family.” Another Parent Geek said, “This game doesn’t appear to allow for tactical or deep deck-building, but it does the job. I’m pleased with it.” All of the Parent Geeks felt that Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game was solid, played well, and entertained as much as it challenged. Their favorite part was playing it with their family, but they enjoyed it with their peers, as well.

The Gamer Geeks admired the game’s simplistic, but refined approach to purchasing cards and collecting points. They especially liked how the game always presented new ways of going about building their deck. But that’s where their praise ended. According to one Gamer Geek, “The game is way too simple and shallow. There is not enough diversity in the cards to build a deck that is in any way different than your neighbors and there is no penalty for just buying cards at random.” Another Gamer Geek said, “No points for adding Rock-Paper-Scissors and Fist Bumps in the game. That kind of thing is nothing but wallpaper. What I wanted to see was a deck-building game that was about deck-building. This is not that kind of game.” Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game did have its proponents, however. One such Gamer Geek said, “The game lacks complexity, but I find that to be a plus. The game is all about fun and the game is pretty good, too.” Another positive thinking Gamer Geek said, “Silly or not, it’s fun and you can do a lot of with the cards if your opponents leave you alone.” When the votes were in, Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game was given a mixed approval by the Gamer Geeks.

As far as deck-building games go, Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game solidly stands in the middle of the road. I didn’t find it terribly interesting, but nor did it bore me. The game’s greatest strength is its ability to draw in new players, both young and old alike. Easy game rules and straight forward game play make it easy to teach and to get to the table with little effort. In order to do that, the game had to make itself look appealing and approachable. It’s both of these things from the first card to the last.

The game is going to make the more hardcore players roll their eyes, but it’ll be difficult to find fault with the game’s mechanics. There’s a very real and engaging game here that just happens to be filled with fluff. Some of our Gamer Geeks were able to look past that while others were unable to see beyond the game’s theme and hijinks. Makes sense as serious gamers only want to play serious games (most of the time), while many more just like the act of playing the game, be it serious or not.

The real question you must ask yourself after you read the review is if the game is for you. If you are already familiar with deck-building games, then Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game will bring nothing to your gaming table that will surprise you. Any delight you derive from it will be directly proportional to the number of new players who are not familiar with deck-building games. Based on our observations, that’ primarily Child Geeks and Parent Geeks who want to play with their kids.

As for me, I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t say it’s a game I will be looking to play. So why have it? Because my kids want to play it and my kids’ friends want to play it. It’s a game I can play with them and it never bores me. It has just the right amount of depth and fun to keep things interesting. It’s a mix of silliness and seriousness that just works. Do play the game when you have the chance. All joking aside, it’s a colorful game to experience.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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