BOARD GAMES – 5 Best Superhero Tabletop Games
A while ago I wrote about the 6 best superhero tabletop role-playing games out there. They’re fantastic, but what if you don’t have the time to play a role-playing game?
What if you want to play a tabletop game, but want something you can quickly set up and start playing with friends or family?
Well, I got your back. I play a few tabletop superhero games and I’ve made a list of the 5 best superhero games you can play.
The is from great to awesome. None of these games are bad and you might put some of these in different spots on your list.
I suggest you give them all a try and see which ones you like best.
Some of the descriptions under the “What is it” headers, I’ve taken from other sites or the back of the boxes.
(Some of the links below are affiliate links, thanks for your support)
Let’s get started:
What it is:
This is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor. Each player plays as one of ten heroes, against one of four villains, and the battle takes place in one of four different dynamic environments.
Each player, after selecting one of the heroes, plays a deck of 40 cards against the villain and environment decks, which “play themselves”, requiring the players to put the top card of the appropriate deck into play on the villain and environment turns.
On each player’s turn, they may play a card from their hand, use a power printed on one of their cards in play, and draw a card from their deck. Each round starts with the villain turn, continues clockwise around the table, then concludes with the environment turn.
Each villain has various advantages, such as starting with certain cards in play, as specified by the villain character card.
Play continues until the heroes reduce the villain to 0 or fewer Hit Points (HP), or until the villain defeats the heroes, either via a win condition or by reducing all the heroes to 0 or fewer HP.
Why it’s fun:
This game makes you feel like you’re in a battle with an evil super powered mastermind. You and you’re friends desperately work together to get the cards you need to draw to defeat the bad guy.
It can get tough depending on the mastermind you’re fighting, the heroes you’re playing, and the number of players.
Each hero plays different and brings something unique to the game. There’s a hero archetype for everyone, especially if you get the expansions.
Each villain feels different and they all have their own unique winning conditions you have to avoid. This combined with how the environments effect the game turn by turn gives this game plenty of replay value and bang for your buck.
Lot’s of theme here. Very fun.
There’s even a paid App for iOS and Android, where you can play it solo. It does a great job of simulating the tabletop experience minus the friends.
The game can get a bit long. You need to set aside some time to play this.
Sometimes the random draw of the cards don’t let you do much.
Also, the game can be fiddly. By which I mean, some turns, have many conditions to keep track of. Bad guys do stuff, environments do stuff, there are modifiers and health tokens to take into account.
Lot’s of upkeep.
Fortunately, there a paid App, called Sentinels of the Muliverse: Sidekick for iOS and Android, that helps out with all of this. But the fact that they had to make it at all, says something.
What it is:
This game is set in the Marvel Comics universe. To set up the game, players choose a number of hero decks – Spider-Man, Hulk, Cyclops, Wolverine, etc. – and shuffle them together; since players use only a handful of hero decks out of the fifteen included, the hero deck can vary widely in terms of what’s available.
Players then choose a mastermind villain (Magneto, Loki, Dr. Doom, etc.), stack that particular villain’s attack cards underneath it, then modify the villain deck as needed based on that villain’s particular scheme.
Over the course of the game, players will recruit powerful hero cards to add to their deck in order to build a stronger and more resourceful deck.
Players need to build both their recruitment powers (to enlist more heroes) and their fighting ability (to combat the villains who keep popping up to cause trouble). Players recruit heroes from an array of six cards, with empty slots refilled as needed.
At the start of a player’s turn, he reveals a villain and adds it to the row of villains. This row has a limited number of spaces, and if it fills up, the earliest villain to arrive escapes, possibly punishing the heroes in some way. Some villains also take an action when showing up for the first time, such as kidnapping an innocent bystander. The villain deck also contains “master strike” cards, and whenever one of these shows up, the mastermind villain (controlled by the game) takes a bonus action.
As players fight and defeat villains, they collect those cards, which will be worth points at game’s end. Players can also fight the mastermind; if a player has enough fighting power, he claims one of the attack cards beneath the mastermind, which has a particular effect on the game.
If all of these cards are claimed, the game ends and players tally their points to see who wins. If the mastermind completes his scheme, however – having a certain number of villains escape, for example, or imposing a certain number of wounds on the heroes – then the players all lose.
Why it’s fun:
Similar to Sentinels, this game is full of theme. But it plays very different than Sentinels.
If you love the Marvel universe, this it he game for you. This really makes you feel like a team of Marvel heroes fighting the bad guys.
Once you’re done playing, it really feels like you’ve been through an adventure.
The gameplay is simple and turns go by quick.
There’s a ton of expansions. There’s a ton of game here. You can play with characters from just about every corner of the Marvel Universe. Even the Guardians of the Galaxy (there’s an expansion with them).
The characters you play with are thematic and fun. And the villains you “fight” are as well.
It’s really fun. A must have for Marvel fans.
This game takes a while to set up and clean up. Lot’s of card sorting.
It’s also a very long game, so you will need to set aside plenty of time to play it.
I have a hard time getting this game to the table for those two reasons. I think if I got this game to table more often, it might be higher on the list.
What it is:
To start the game, each player chooses one of the seven over-sized hero cards, each of which has a special power, and starts with a deck of ten cards.
Each turn, a player starts with a hand of five cards and can acquire or conquer the five types of cards in the game: heroes, villains and super-villains, equipment, super powers, and locations.
To defeat villains, you’ll need to have power – but when a super-villain is defeated, a new one comes into play, attacking all the heroes while doing so. Make sure you’ve acquired defenses – like superspeed or bulletproof powers, or The Batsuit equipment – to protect yourself from harm.
Craft your hero deck into a well-oiled machine to take on the most vile villains in the DC Universe in your quest for Victory (Points)!
Why it’s fun
Personally, I like this game more the Marvel game above. I tend to like the DC universe a bit more anyway, but the truth is, this game gets much more play time than the Marvel game. Why?
It’s simple to learn, simple to set up and the game is done in about 45 minutes. Each superhero you play gives you a special advantage that feels like the hero.
The cards are thematic. It’s cool to see the DC universe villains, locations, equipment and Heroes pop up as the game plays.
The game is a lot of fun, full of tactics and strategy. There’s a lot of expansions, including one where everyone plays cooperatively to beat a bunch of bad guys.
In other words, there now two way to play this game, not just one.
I really like this game. If you’re a fan of DC, get this game.
Biggest drawback this game has is it’s not nearly as thematic as the Marvel game. It’s a deck building game with the DC license on it.
When you play the game, you’re competing with the players around the table for victory points. This seems odd since you’re all playing as superheroes. When you defeat bad guys, they become part of your deck which means you use them and sometimes they attack players around the table. This also doesn’t seem to make sense.
Also, all the equipment and power cards are accessible to everyone, including the Batmobiles and super strength. If you’re playing as Flash, this wouldn’t make sense.
You end up having to invent the reasons this would make sense. Like maybe it just means that Batman or Superman made an appearance that turn and used those things. And when you attack others with a villain, it’s just the villain showing up and causing havoc in their lives.
See, you may need to do that to justify the way the game works. I personally don’t mind and don’t really think about it that hard.
However, as I said above, there is an expansion that makes the game fully cooperative and makes it very thematic. Problem is that it doubles the playtime to two hours rather than just 45 minutes and it can sometimes get tedious.
I still like this game though.
What it is:
This is a collectible dice-building tabletop game.
In this game, each player fields one of their own custom made superhero teams, with each hero being represented by custom-tooled dice; each team must be composed of 15 dice, and a player can “purchase” dice only from his team.
Each hero also has one or more character reference cards, which show the special abilities for the characters based on the die rolls.
Different versions of these cards will be available in booster packs, allowing for more customization of your team. Players use these dice to collect energy, recruit new heroes, and battle head-to-head.
In addition, each player brings two basic action cards to the game, which are placed in the center of the table; both players can purchase dice from these cards.
A player wins once the opposing player has been reduced to zero life.
Why it’s fun
Oh boy, is this game fun! You get to build a team of superheroes, villains or both, and then you go head to head with an opponent. It’s a lot like a game of Magic the Gathering. Or if you’re not familiar with that, a game of Hearthstone. Only that, instead of cards you’re using and rolling dice.
Each die has a different powers, and faces. They do different things and it just feels right. The powers are thematic and they feel like the characters they represent.
There’s a ton of variety in the game and the way it’s played.
As of the time of this writing, only Marvel characters are playable, but DC is on the way, so are Yu-Gi-Oh! and Dungeons and Dragons.
Did I mention that it’s an inexpensive game? The starter set is $15.00 and the booster packs are only ONE DOLLAR each! There’s something exciting about opening each pack.
The games are short too. It’s so fun. I highly recommend this.
The game is collectible and it’s tough to find the first starter sets. Although the second one is easier to find.
The fact that it’s collectible means you’ll be spending your dollars only to end up getting stuff you already have. Although it’s not a total loss if you needed more copies of the die that comes with it.
Also, if you’ve never played a game like this before, you might have a hard time understanding how to play the game.
What it is:
Based on the popular Mage Knights system, but utilizing super hero characters from the Marvel and DC Comics Universe.
The game plays much like a miniatures game, but without the measure-and-move system or the constant consultation of hit charts. Rather, most of the vital statistical information is directly on the base of the characters, which can be rotated as characters take damage from hits.
Players construct teams of comic book heroes, villains, and engage in a turn-by-turn battle on grid maps based on various storyline locations.
Since we’re talking super heroes here, each character has special abilities and powers, which give the game its ‘comic’ book feel.
Why it’s fun
For years I’ve been seeing Heroclix sold in comic book stores. I’ve ignored the game. Mostly because the figures looked kinda ugly.
The technology has changed. Figures now look great.
I decided, after playing all the games above and feeling like, there ought to be a game out there that really feels like you’re fighting with superheroes, that I’d give Heroclix a try.
The other games above come close but, there was something missing. I’m happy to say that what was missing, Heroclix has.
THIS is the ultimate superhero game. You want to play a game that really makes you feel like your playing with super powered characters from your favorite comics, this is the game to play.
Want to see who would win, Superman or the Hulk, Flash vs. Quicksilver, Batman vs. Captain America? Play the battle out with a friend.
Want to recreate a battle from you’re favorite comic story? You can do it with these.
Want to have the Legion of Superheroes go up against the Justice League? You can.
This game gives you rules you can use to play with neat little superhero toys and it’s awesome. I mean, why have a bunch of superhero toys that just sit there on the desk when you can actually play with them. Now you have an excuse.
You put out a big map on the table that looks cool, and you play with figures of you’re favorite superheroes. All of them have powers and abilities that make them feel like who they are. It’s so fun.
You can even go online, find and purchase the characters you want. The game has been around so long, you can buy figures in bulk for cheap.
But opening packs to see what you get randomly might lead you to discovering new comic characters and story lines you didn’t know about.
I’ve bought a few comics because of my Heroclix.
If you like superheroes, THIS is the ultimate superhero game. A must have.
The game is very difficult to get into. There’s a LOT to this game. It can be overwhelming at first. I took baby steps getting into the game. I watched a lot of how to play videos too.
It took a while before I felt comfortable with the game.
Although once you do, it’s so worth it.
The game is collectible. And most of the characters can only be bought in blind packs. This means that some of the characters you really want, you might not get.
However, they may be available online, but they might be really expensive to buy because of their rarity.
This is a big pain.
Also, finding a place to put your figures can become an issue. Especially if you end up buying a ton.
So that’s it, what do you think? Have you played any of these games? Which one is your favorite.
If you haven’t and tried them out because of my list, let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you Like This List You can Also Try
Six of the Best Superhero Tabletop Role Playing Games
6 Secret Awesome Things Nerds Know About Playing Tabletop Role Playing Games That You Don’t.
Three Reasons to Play “Terror in Meeple City” (previously called “Rampage”) a Review.
Four Reasons to read Brian Michael Bendis’ First Five Year Run on Avengers.
Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game Review – Playing With Little Kids.