Renegade Game Studios seems to have the magic touch when it comes to adapting Power Rangers into board games. Their successfully crowdfunded co-op miniatures game, Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid and its multiple expansions speaks for itself. Now, there are pre-orders for another board experience with the color-coded teenagers with attitude, this time focusing on cards rather than sculpted minis. After sitting down with the aptly named Power Rangers: The Deck-Building Game at a preview event, I am happy to report that the game is a perfect mix of solid game design and a stellar representation of the source material.
Power Rangers: The Deck-Building Game is a competitive experience. One player takes the role of the rangers, and the other controls the villains. Each player selects a ranger or monster to play as and start with a small deck of cards. Both players then take turns playing these cards to get resources to buy better cards from a supply called The Grid and adding them to their decks. These new cards can be new weapons, equipment, or teammates, all to help increase their respective offensive and defensive abilities. The turns continue until one player's starting health of 30 reaches 0.
Just on that summary alone, Power Rangers: The Deck-Building Game is exactly what you'd expect if you're familiar at all with competitive deck builders. But the game does a smart job of integrating a Power Rangers theme over the whole thing. Each playable ranger and villain have color-coded sides on their cards, each one corresponding to a certain card type like equipment or allies. These are equipped on the cards, forming a cross on the table. Once all 4 of these spots are occupied, the central card is flipped to its empowered side. This is either the rangers morphing or the villains empowering themselves, which activate bonus abilities.
For the game I ran with Renegade's own Matthew Titel, I played as the rangers with Jason Scott, the classic Mighty Morphin Red Ranger while Titel played as the boneheaded Rito Revolto. The early game started well enough, mostly us buying cards from the grid and me fumbling with the controls on Tabletopia. But once Titel managed to get his villain empowered, things got more hectic with Rito's new abilities allowing me to attack multiple times in a turn, putting me on the defensive. It leads to me scrambling to get Jason morphed, not just for the ability to give me discounts on cards costing energy, but because once a character is empowered, you get access to signature weapons and cards.
Specifically, you get access to zords and additional monsters. When a ranger morphs, their signature weapon is added to the deck and their corresponding zord gets added to a location called the Zord Bay. Villains have their signature weapon, and a special Master card is added to a location called the Monster Lair. From here, not only can you spend resources to get items from The Grid, but you can spend energy to purchase additional master cards for your lair, or more zord cards for your Zord Bay.
The different master cards allow for multiple layered effects like getting more energy or drawing more cards at the start of a turn, whereas the zords have their own abilities tied to an energy supply. The trade-off is that once the Zord Bay is filled, the player gets access to a Megazord card that carries its own devastating effects.
Sadly, this kind of escalation was explained to me after our game rather than experienced. This was because the demo had our starting health at 15 rather than the standard of 30, which meant the game didn't escalate as much as it could have. Our game ended a few turns after I managed to morph my ranger and pulled off a high damage card combo.
But once our game concluded, I was beyond excited to play another game. The possibilities of different combinations, the ecstasy of a game building to a Megazord summon brought the kind of childlike glee I had from watching the old Power Rangers show as a kid. All of this was thanks to the clever way the game represents elements from the show, I didn't expect Ernie's Juice Bar to be the lynchpin of a deck-building strategy during my game for example, and some stellar art courtesy of comic artist Dan Mora. I cannot wait to see how a full game plays out and see how other more fantastic parts of the franchise's 20-year history get added in down the line.
Pre-orders for Power Rangers: The Deck-Building game are live right now on Crowdox.