Battle for Supremacy: Heroes vs. Villains Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 8 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 2 – 4 players
  • Approximately 45 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

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

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • The final battle begins between the planet’s greatest super heroes and the nastiest super villains!

Endorsements:

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

Overview

The streets of the city are deserted. Everyone knows that this day of all days is the one to stay indoors, behind thick walls, and under cover. For today is the final conflict between good and evil. The greatest super heroes have assembled to battle the most notorious super villains one last time. There is only one rule: winner takes all. On one side of the street stand those who champion justice and order. On the other, crime and chaos. Which side do you favor and who will win the final battle for supremacy over the world?

Battle for Supremacy: Heroes vs. Villains, designed by Ian Brodie and published by IB Games LLC, is comprised of 32 Hero character cards, 32 Villain character cards, 60 Attack cards, and 80 Attack Gem tokens. Included with the game is a small cloth bag to help store the tokens.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, first decide who will be playing the super heroes and who will be playing as the super villains  Both sides are balanced, which means neither side has any real advantage over the other. Whomever decides to play as the super heroes is given the Hero deck of character cards and the other player is given the Villain deck of character cards. Both players should shuffle their decks as thoroughly as possible. If playing a 4-player game, separate each deck in half (16 cards each). Each player will have their own deck of characters to play with. If playing a 3-player game, separate both decks in half, but remove one half  of the cards from one of the sets (the side that only has 1 player). Once shuffled, these decks are placed to the player’s left, face-down. Leave enough room for a discard pile.

Second, shuffle the Attack cards. Deal to each player 5 Attack cards, face-down. These cards can be looked at by the player but should be kept hidden from their opponents at all times. Place the remaining Attack cards  in the middle of the playing area along with all the Attack Gems.

Third, each player now draws and reveals their first two characters who will enter into combat. These cards are placed face-up close to the Action card deck and the Attack Gems in front of the player where all the other players can easy see them. Hero and Villain cards that are ready for combat are considered “active”. A player can pick up and look at an opponent’s active cards at anytime to read them during the game.

You are now ready to begin! Decide who will go first and fight!

The Final Showdown

The game is played in rounds with each round containing several sets and each set further broken down into sequential turns the players complete. The first two turns of every set are a subset of the full turn the players will later be able to complete. This is done to keep the combat balanced, not giving the first or last player in any set a turn order advantage. What actions available to the players are summarized here.

The First Turn

The player who has the first turn can only take one action, but they have 3 to choose from:

  • Play an Attack Card: the player selects one of their Attack cards and places it, face-up, beneath one of their active heroes or villains.
  • Discard an Attack or Shield Card: the player selects one of their Attack cards (which can be an attack or a shield) and discards it to the Attack card discard pile.
  • Use a Special Power: the player can activate one of their active character cards that have a listed super power. The effects of the super power and the timing is based on the super power description, but can only be used once per round.

When the player is done taking their action, they will draw a new Action card bringing their card hand up to 5 card if they have 4 or fewer cards.

The Second Turn

The player who has the second turn has the same 3 action choices as the player who took the first turn, with the addition of the following action.

  • Play a Shield Card: the player can play a shield from their Attack cards to one of their opponent’s previously played Attack cards under an active character. The shield and the attack are discarded to the Attack discard pile.

When the player is done taking their action, they will draw a new Action card bringing their card hand up to 5 card if they have 4 or fewer cards.

The Third and Following Turns

The player who as the third turn, and all other players for the duration of the set, have the same 4 action choices as the player who took the second turn, with the addition of the following action.

  • Abort an Attack: the player can discard all the Attack cards under one of their active Heroes or Villains.

When the player is done taking their action, they will draw a new Action card bringing their card hand up to 5 card if they have 4 or fewer cards.

Combat and Carnage

Players are attempting to play 3 of the same attack type under their active character. By doing so, they have successfully made an attack. The attack types are Brutal, Elemental, Science, and Stealth, with some characters being particularly talented in one and very weak against another. There is also a shield Attack card, but this is not considered an attack type. Instead it automatically negates a previously played attack type on another character card. As the game continues, players are attempting to play towards their own attacking character’s strengths and against their opponent’s weaknesses. By doing so, they can inflict major damage.

An attack is triggered when a player has placed their third attack type under one of their character cards. Depending on the attacking and defending characters’ strengths and weaknesses, the damage will be different.

  • 1 Attack Gem is given when a player successfully collects a set of three of the same attack type Attack cards.
  • 2 Attack Gems are given when a player successfully collects a set of three of the same attack type Attack cards that are aligned to the character’s strength.
  • 2 Attack Gems are given when a player successfully collects a set of three of the same attack type Attack cards that are aligned to the target character’s weakness.
  • 3 Attack Gems are given when a player successfully collects a set of three of the same attack type Attack cards that are aligned to the character’s strength and aligned to the target character’s weakness.

Collected Attack Gems are placed on the target character’s card. Once a character has enough Attack Gems on the character card (where each Attack Gem is worth +5), so that the total is equal to or higher than the character’s listed Hit Points, the character is considered “knocked out”. Once knocked out, it is discarded next to the player’s character deck. For example, a Hero with 30 Hit Point can take up to 6 Attack Gems before being discarded.

In addition to attacking, characters have super powers (noted as “SP”) that can be use during the game, but only once per round and only when the super power allows it. Super powers are not automatically triggered and it is up to the player to know when they should be used and how. Opponent’s can challenge the super power, however, if they don’t think it can be triggered. Note that not all character cards have a super power.

Ending a Round and the Game

The set continues for as many turns as it takes until a Hero or Villain falls. A new set then begins, with the last player who was attacked taking the first turn. Once all but one player’s characters are knocked out, the round ends. All players will now review their points. For every surviving character the player has, they score 1 Victory Point. Scored characters are kept to one side of the playing area where they can easily be identified as “scored” and are never placed in the character discard pile.

The first player to collect 5 Victory Points wins the game. If no players have yet won the game, a new round and set begins.

Game Variants

The basic game is played as described above. A few additional rules are provided and can be used as needed. They are as follows:

  • Epic 2-Player Game: this game is played exactly as described above, but the needed Victory Points to win is raised to 10.
  • A 3 to 4-Player Free-For-All: instead of there being a clear dividing line between heroes and villains, all the players are looking out for themselves and battle each other, regardless of their affiliation.
  • Team Game: this is a cooperative game where 4 players face off in teams of 2. A team wins when their total number of Victory Points equals 10 or more.

To learn more about Battle for Supremacy: Heroes vs. Villains and read the full rules, visit the game’s web page.

Prediction

From just reading the rules, I think this game will be a big hit with the Child Geeks and the Parent Geeks who play the game with their little geeks. I doubt if the 2-player basic game will hold much appeal to the Parent Geeks who have the time to play a game together, but the 4-player team play variant might be very well received.

For the Gamer Geeks, I honestly don’t know. A number of the Gamer Geek players we will be sitting down with are also fans of the card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse. But the only parallels to the two games is that they both deal with super characters. The game play is very different, as is the level of skill to play it. Where Battle for Supremacy is a game of conflict, Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative game. I don’t know if Battle for Supremacy will be seen as different and unique enough to make its own mark or will be seen as a smaller and weaker version of a card game with the same theme. We’ll just have to see.

Teaching the game doesn’t take long. In fact, all one has to do is demonstrate a quick play or two of the cards, note how Attack Gems are calculated, and you are set. The game terminology with rounds, sets, and turns can be a bit confusing at first, but a brief demonstration and a little guidance will quickly address any level of confusion. And so, as I set up the game to play with my little geeks, I asked them their thoughts on the game so far.

“Looks like an easier version of other card games I’ve played. Shouldn’t be a problem.” ~ Liam (age 8)

“I know I can play this, but you’ll have to read the character cards for me, Daddy.” ~ Nyhus (age 5)

My 5-year-old is correct. He can play this, but he’ll need help with the character cards. The only information that is ever kept from the other players is the Attack cards in the player’s hand, but these are basically just cards with an icon on it. No reading is necessary with Attack cards. Still, it might frustrate him to constantly ask for help. Let’s see if the game is as epic as the battle it is meant to represent or fails to impress.

Final Word

Battle for Supremacy had a great deal of success with the Child and Parent geeks who played it. The game is easy to learn and easy to play, but does require a player to really consider their card plays to be competitive. In fact, all the players were surprised how much time and attention they had to spend on their turn when playing the game. The game was even happily enjoyed among the Parent Geeks’ peer group as a 4-player “couples” game. Unfortunately  my 5-year-old did get frustrated while playing, leaving us with the strong opinion that players must be able to read their own character cards to fully enjoy this game. The Child Geeks who could read all had a wonderful time.

Gamer Geeks were downright shocked how much they enjoyed this game. For those of them who were familiar with Sentinels of the Multiverse, they found Battle for Supremacy to be light but different enough to be judged on its own merits. When it was judged, it was very well received. While none of the Gamer Geeks enjoyed the artwork, they had a nothing negative to say about the game’s play. In fact, they very much enjoyed how much thought they had to put into the game. A real surprise to all and a happy one at that.

My little geek carefully considers his next move in our battle of wits and brawn…

Gamer Geeks, this is a surprisingly entertaining game that is much more than just a simple game of set collecting. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses that you must play to. You’ll be in harm’s way from the very start, and must focus on defense as well as offensive. To make things really interesting, each character is different in the decks and there are even non-super heroes thrown in that you will have to work especially hard to keep alive. This creates a very unique experience each game as the sets always have different characters to work with, different combos to exploit, and different tactics and strategies that must be used to win. The game plays fast, can really make you think, and will entertain you from start to finish. Your peer group enthusiastically approved this game, which was pretty much a surprise to everyone who played it.

Parent Geeks, this is a wonderfully simple game to teach, but a hard game to master. It takes a lot of hand management, careful planning, and the ability to react to changing conditions at the table. From a family perspective, the 2-player game is not much fun unless you have the rare opportunity to play with just one family member at a time. Where the game jumped from “good” to “great” was the Team Play game variant that allowed 4 family members to participate at one time. When playing with the Child Geeks, the game was found to be fun and rewarding for all players involved. When played with your peer group, the game was found to be just as fun and a lot more challenging. Like so many games, the level of difficultly is based on the opponent’s ability. But in addition, the cards are always random, forcing every player to reevaluate their method of play to obtain victory. This game was enthusiastically approved by your peer group.

Child Geeks, this game is going to challenge and frustrate you , as well as reward and renew your interest (if it was ever waning) in super heroes. There are, in total, 64 different characters to play with. Some are much stronger than others, but each one has a weakness that can be exploited. You must think in two directions at once to play this game well. First, you must consider all the attacks that are coming your way and how you can best defend yourself from them. Second, you must consider all the different targets you can attack in hopes of gaining points. Some battles will be won by taking baby steps, and sometimes you’ll have just the right character combo at your finger tips to bring a swift victory to your side. Either way, the game is a great one.

Battle for Supremacy: Heroes vs. Villains was a real treat. The game play is tight and it is clear a great deal of thought has gone into each of the characters. None of them are overpowered, but each has a listed strength and  weakness to be leveraged, making them all unique. Part of the challenge and fun of the game is determining how best to utilize the characters to your advantage. Sometimes, the combos you’ll get as your attacking set for the round don’t make any sense. That’s OK, though, because that means you have two very different but viable options to use during the round. Other times, you’ll get an attacking set that seems like they were meant to go together, fighting side by side in harmony.

One brilliant stroke by the designer, and a lot of fun thematically, are the super powers the characters have and the occasional non-super character that decides to join the battle. Determining how best to use the super power is never stated in the rules, giving the players the ability and the responsibility to use it when they think it is right. The non-super characters really shake things up, suddenly throwing into the ring a character who has NO BUSINESS being there. Talk about a challenge!

I am very pleased with this game and have yet to have a single bad play experience with it regardless of who I play it with. From non-gamers to the most elitist of Gamer Geeks, everyone who has been at the table has enjoyed Battle for Supremacy to one degree or another. Challenging to some and light entertainment to others, the game always pleases. With any luck, the game will do well enough to justify an expansion as there is much more that can be added to this game. I, for one, am keeping my fingers crossed.

If you are looking for a fast paced, easy to teach, easy to learn light game full of strategy and tactics, where heavy hand management is needed, but the level of focus never brings about migraines, then do take a look at Battle for Supremacy: Heroes vs. Villains. It is a wonderfully designed and fun to play indie card game that is most certainly flying under your radar like Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.

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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One Response to Battle for Supremacy: Heroes vs. Villains Game Review

  1. Ben Haskett says:

    Seems like a great game–great review!

    And the Batman PJs… how appropriate!

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