When I was a child in the 80s, very few cartoons marked me as much as GI JOE. Not only was it filled with action, adventure, and suspense, but you even learned a thing or two from the show’s hilarious public service announcements. Now, with the new Renegade Game Studios board game, we can now relive some of that nostalgia with the GI JOE Deck Building Game.
That leaves just two questions: Was Renegade Game Studios able to cram all the action into one board game, and how does it differ from the sheer scale of other deck-building games?
What’s in the box?
Being a deck building game, we can assume that the GI JOE Deck Building Game obviously includes a whole bunch of cards.
These feel a little flimsy and personally I wish the card stock was a bit thicker. They have a beautiful shiny finish that makes mixing them a dream.
But what is a GI JOE game without the Joes (and Cobra)? Each card has gorgeous artwork featuring many of our favorite Joes and Cobra villains. This is by far one of my favorite aspects of the game, how much care and attention has gone into the art and craftsmanship GI JOE Deck Building Game feel and look like the original cartoon.
Interestingly enough, the game also comes with military-themed dice – which help add to the overall look of the game. All the cards, cardboard tokens and dice fit perfectly in the box thanks to the insert that comes with it . It’s always great when a deck can be put away without bits and bobs spilling all over the place.
I have to say the worst part of the game is the vague rulebook which unfortunately made me look up some of the rules online. As the Joes say, knowing is half the battle.
How do you play it?
gGI JOE Deck Building Game sees players take on the forces of Cobra. 1-4 players will go on a mission against all sorts of threats and (hopefully) be victorious.
Each player starts with a deck of 10 cards – which is made up of random Joes, some gear, and a leader card.
A round consists of two parts where players must decide if they want to venture into missions. This is where the game starts to look like the cartoon, as players will send Joes on main or side missions. As you can imagine, story missions will help move the main campaign forward and bring you closer to victory.
If you decide to go on a mission, you must first choose which vehicle will transport your Joes to the battlefield. It’s here that GI JOE Deck Building Game differentiates itself from classic deck-building games because players can use a variety of land, sea, and air vehicles to transport their Joes across the battlefield.
Along with your vehicle, you and your teammates also have to decide which Joes to send on these missions. Each mission has a number of requirements/skills needed to complete the mission. Only skills that match can buy a player’s dice to roll, so it’s crucial to match your Joe’s skills to those needed to complete a mission. The more skills you have, the more dice you can roll. Rolling the dice allows players to hit, each mission requires a certain number of hits to complete. The whole “building your team of Joe” mechanic makes the game feel like you’re busy preparing for an all-out assault on Cobra.
As with most deck-building games, players will have an ever-changing lineup of cards to recruit into their deck as the game progresses. These cards cost Recruitment Points which players will need to pay before adding them to their hand. Recruiting opens up more options for players when taking on missions.
Main missions can be done by a group of players while side missions can only be done by a single player (the one whose turn it is currently).
GI JOE Deck Building Game also includes a threat meter that increases each time a round ends. Where the marker is on the threat meter will indicate what affects players at the end of the turn.
Players lose the game if the threat marker reaches the end of the track, the main deck is exhausted, or the Cobra Battalions cover 5 cards in the lineup. There is only one requirement for you and your team to win and that is to complete all story missions.
What did we think of the GI JOE deck-building game?
First, I must address the GI JOE Deck Building Game rulebook. Initially, after reading it, the game came across as too complicated. But after watching a few “How to Play” videos online, I quickly realized that the game was quite easy to understand if explained properly. The rulebook isn’t a complete mess, but it does make some mechanics too difficult to understand.
Other than that, I had a blast playing GI JOE Deck Building Game. Not only does the game scale really well, but it also has a fun single-player mode for those days when you can’t get a group of friends together. While you don’t need to know the franchise to enjoy the game, I have to say that as a fan of the cartoon, the game perfectly captures a lot of what makes the franchise so special. Everything from the mechanics to the gorgeous art really makes you feel like part of the GI Joe team.
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GI JOE Deck Building Game
- Unique mechanics
- Feel like you’re part of the Joes
- Rules are not always very clear
Breakdown of reviews
Complexity vs Depth