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We Talk DC Comics Deck Building with Matt Hyra

Matt Hyra is a veteran game designer, having worked on a variety of games before moving to Cryptozoic where he was given the challenge of developing a DC Comics deck building game.  The recently released second major expansion is an indication of the success of the series thus far and in Matt’s ability to put together a functional and fun game.  We got the chance to talk with him about his latest release – Forever Evil – where the bad guys finally get their chance to shine.

baneGraphic Policy: Are you a fan of comics?  And if yes, how does that affect how the theme was chosen for this game?

Matt Hyra: Yes! I’m a DC guy and have been since high school. I also enjoy some small press titles as well.

The themes are chosen to explore new cross sections of the DC Universe, game mechanics, and game flow. When we started thinking about playing as the bad guys, the Forever Evil storyline was just starting up. So that was a great moment of synergy.

GP:  What goes into designing a game like this and how long does it take?

MH:  A stand-alone game takes about a year from start to finish. There is a lot of trial and error. We usually decide on the types of characters we want to feature first. Then we come up with game mechanics that fit those characters. Then a lot of playtesting.

GP:  What are some of the challenges in interpreting a comic universe into a deck building game?

 MH:  One challenge is thematics. In order to keep the games infinitely replayable, we can’t just hand a Batman player a 40-card deck full of Batman-themed cards. You have to add a random and wide variety of cards to your deck to keep the game fresh.

GP:  Is it hard to balance what fans expect out of certain characters versus the need of the game dynamics?

 MH:  Some comic characters have powers that are difficult to translate into the game. Other times we are forced to just focus on one aspect of a character.

 GP:  It seems to be popular recently to want to play as the “bad guy”.  What do you think about this phenomenon?

 pandMH:  We like it! Mechanically, it’s no different than playing as a Super Hero. But with Forever Evil, which just released last week, we could have a lot of fun with it. And the players are liking the new play patterns.

GP:  What can we expect to see in future expansions?  Tie-ins to the movies maybe?  And any characters that you would like to see in the future?

MH: You can expect to see Crossover Packs. These small “booster” packs allow you to sub in a new set of Super Heroes and Super-Villains, plus a few new main deck cards… and that changes up the game about 50% with minimal effort. The first Crossover comes out in early 2015 and features the Justice Society of America.

Crisis Pack 2 will also be out very soon!

As for movies, that is a separate license that we don’t have.

As for characters I would like to see… probably Mr. Mxyzptlk. Just because he would allow us to do something really crazy.