Debtzilla – Kickstarter Review

4:58pm…..4:59pm…..4:59pm…..4:59pm; ‘Oh my god just hurry up and hit 5, I have a mission with Debt Hulk tonight.’ You say goodbye to your co-workers and are so thankful your mundane accounts job has finished for today. As you drive home, you ponder why in comic books you never hear about Thor doing an IT job or Spiderman working at McDonald’s. Unlike comic books, this is real world and although you are the fearless and famous Tweetman you do need to eat, pay rent and still have student loans to pay and the super hero gig doesn’t pay the bills. Before you can finish your thought your Tweetphone rings. It is Iron Girl and she sounds panicked. The airbase is under attack and she needs you and Debt Hulk to help her out. There is only one villain that this can be, Debtzilla!

Setup for Debtzilla is only 6 easy steps, made so much easier with the added boards.

  1. Prepare Your Hero – Choose a Hero card. Take a meeple and 5 dice of the matching color.

You start with the following 10 Income cards, which form your Income Deck:

  • 3 Credit Card Loan
  • 4 Luxury
  • 3 Savings

Shuffle your cards and put them face-down on the left side of your Hero card. In addition, each player puts a Happiness Marker on the 0 Happiness box of their Hero card.

  1. Prepare the Working Board – Separate the remaining Income cards by type:

Savings, Insurance, Luxury, Budgeting, Refinancing, Credit Card Loan, Student Loan and Housing Loan.

Put them face-up in the spaces on the Working Board.

  1. Prepare the Shopping Board – Shuffle the Basic Gadgets and Advanced Gadgets.

Put them face-down in their respective spaces on the Shopping Board to form the Basic Gadgets Deck and Advanced Gadgets Deck.

Draw 6 Basic Gadgets and distribute them face-up in the remaining spaces. These will be the available Gadgets at the start of the game.

  1. Prepare the Citizens – Shuffle the Citizen cards and put them face-down in the Citizen Deck space on the Vigilante Board. Draw 3 Citizens and distribute them face-up in the Citizen spaces.

Put a Wealth Marker on the highest number of each of the Citizen cards. This represents how much Wealth each Citizen has remaining.

  1. Prepare the Villains – Shuffle the Villain cards. Without looking at the Villain cards, take a number of them according to the number of players:
  • 2 players: 6 Villains
  • 3 players: 8 Villains
  • 4 players: 10 Villains

The remaining Villains will not be used and can be set aside.

Put the Last Villain Standing card on the Villain Deck space of the Vigilante Board. Put the chosen Villain cards face-down on top of it to form the Villain Deck. Draw 3 Villains and distribute them face-up in the Villain spaces.

  1. Prepare the Boss – Put the Debtzilla Boss Health card on the Boss space of the Boss Board. Use two Boss Markers to represent the tens and ones digits of its Health. For example, if Debtzilla starts with 36 Health, put one Boss Marker on “30” and one Boss Marker on “6.”

The starting Health of Debtzilla is determined by the number of players:

  • 2 players: 18
  • 3 players: 27
  • 4 players: 36

Lastly, shuffle the Debtzilla Boss Cards and put them face-down on the Dormant Event space of the Boss Board to form the Boss Deck.

In a game of Debtzilla, players work as a team. You take your turns at the same time, going through a sequence of four phases: the Working Phase, Shopping Phase, Vigilante Phase, and Resolve Phase. Together, you must take down the Villains and defeat the final Boss before all the Citizens are Bankrupted.

WORKING PHASE

  1. If your Income Deck has less than 5 cards, reshuffle your Discard Pile.
  2. Draw 5 cards from your Income Deck.
  3. Collect resources or activate the ability of the drawn cards in any order.
  4. Acquire a card from the Working Board OR Repay a Debt card.

SHOPPING PHASE

  1. You may buy a Gadget. If you do, fill the empty space with a Basic or Advanced Gadget.

VIGILANTE PHASE

  1. You may summon a Hero that isn’t in play.
  2. Target a Villain to Attack.
  3. Roll your dice.
  4. Equip Gadgets and modify dice results.
  5. Hit the targeted Villain’s Weak Points.
  6. Send Defeated Villains to Jail.
  7. Undefeated Villains Scam Citizens.

RESOLVE PHASE

  1. Clear Active Boss Events.
  2. Replenish Villains and Citizens.
  3. Add Interest Value to Debtzilla’s Health.
  4. Discard the cards in your Play Area.
  5. Triggered Boss Events become Active.

If there are still Villains remaining, it’s time to prepare for the next round. Discard all the cards in your Play Area to the Discard Pile, then move on to the next Working Phase.

If there are no Villains remaining at the end of the Vigilante Phase, a surge of power erupts from beneath Banana Republic, transforming the city into a landscape of destruction. Get ready for the final battle…BOSS FIGHT

BOSS FIGHT PHASE:

  1. Triggered Boss Events become the new Villain Deck.
  2. You can’t Acquire cards or Repay Debt.
  3. Skip the Shopping Phase.
  4. Boss Health no longer increases.

The Boss Fight is the ultimate battle against Debtzilla, which has awakened from its slumber. Instead of fighting Villains, you’ll fight all the Boss Events you have previously triggered, each transformed into its own Boss Fight form.

During the Boss Fight, there is no Shopping Phase for you to buy Gadgets, and you cannot acquire cards or Repay Debt during the Working Phase. However, thanks to government funding, you still draw 5 cards from your Income Deck as usual and resolve their effects.

Debtzilla will not grow any stronger when you battle it during the Boss Fight. Boss Health no longer increases due to interest during the Resolve Phase or when Citizens are bankrupted.

Boss Fight cards are attacked in the same way that Villains are attacked. However, many Boss Fight cards also have abilities that penalize their Attackers. When you Attack a Boss Fight card, you expose yourself to the effects of that card’s Boss Fight ability.

If you manage to Defeat all the Boss Fight cards in the Villain deck before all the Citizens are bankrupted, you win the game. Congratulations! Your heroic actions have stopped Debtzilla and saved Banana Republic!

Debtzilla is my second outing in the super fun and highly educational Banana Republic world. As with the first game I played of theirs, Wongamania, Capital Gains Studios have attempted to again educate us through the medium of board games.  Again they have done an amazing job. Like Wongamania, they have walked the like of education and fun, but I think with Debtzilla they have worked harder on the board game element. They have created a super fun, superhero themed, almost co-op deck builder / card and resource management game of sorts.

I played this game with the same people I originally played Wongamania with, as they loved the intelligent way Capital Gain Studio balanced the education & board game elements. Debtzilla was very well received on the night and many commented how it felt like a more complete game and less educational. After several games, we started to chat about the different elements we enjoyed, and were shocked on how much we had actually learnt. Debtzilla really was an educational style game that taught you what it aimed to without you fully realizing. Wongamania taught you just as much as Debtzilla, but at times and especially when moving up the difficulty levels, you could tell when Wongamania was being a game and when it had a more educational element.

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The art for Debtzilla really makes this game pop off the table, using the same art styling of the original. It has an almost 90’s Asian cartoon feel; the choice of heroes and villains have been heavily influenced by more well-known comic book heroes and villains. It makes this game so relatable and easy to enjoy. The one part of the art that may actually not be noticed by most but I really like, is the iconography, there is quite a lot involved in this game. There are multiple stacks of cards with different icons within each stack and yet there was never any confusing. All the icons look different, stood out and were very easily recognizable. I thought I’d bring these up, as sometimes they are overlooked or not appreciated as much as they should be. In a game like Debtzilla, you have so much happening and everyone taking their turns at once, and so being able to quickly glance at the cards and know what everything is or does helps hugely in the game. It takes a great level of skill to achieve and I feel when it is done this well the designer deserves to be applauded.

Debtzilla is a great game and I would like to see more people make games like this. The idea of playing a fun game and learning at the same time is something that I love, especially as Debtzilla does it so effortlessly and in a way that makes you learn without the realization of it. Capital Gains Studios have learnt so much from their first game and in my eyes, improved quite considerably.

Debtzilla is due to hit Kickstarter on the 19th of September and if you want to get your copy you can check it out here.

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