Thursday, February 22, 2024

‘Power Rangers Deck-Building Game: Zeo’ Is A Challenge

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If a card game had the ability to ruin your life, Power Rangers Deck-Building Game: Zeo ruined mine.

Power Rangers Deck-Building Game: Zeo from Renegade Studio Games is, as it says in its title, a deck-building game. Although it was released following Power Rangers Deck-Building Game which focused on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it is a stand alone game based on Power Rangers Zeo with the same instructions and mechanisms of the first game. For owners of the original, this game can be used as an expansion pack.

At face value, the game seems simple: collect cards to battle an opponent. The player (or team) that wins is the one that has health points remaining. Level up characters to become rangers or the scheming version of the villains. In reality, the game is trickier than it sounds.

power rangers deck building game open
open Power Rangers Deck-Building Game: Zeo box with instruction manual

What’s In The Box?

  • 75 Main Deck Cards
  • 40 Starter Cards
  • 12 Oversized Character Cards
  • 12 Signature Item Cards
  • 12 Stun Cards
  • 12 Zeo Blaster Cards
  • 6 Zord Cards
  • 6 Master Cards
  • 4 Turn Order Tokens
  • 2 Hit Point/Energy Status Tackers
  • 1 Zeo Megazord/Powered Zeo Megazord Card
  • 1 Zord Bay Tile
  • 1 The Lair Tile
  • Rulebook

How’s It Play?

The game can be played 1v1, 2v1 or 2v2. I only played 1v1. To start, choose a character from the hero or villain stack. The villain will go first. From the stack of cards, take out the signature item card and the Zord or master card corresponding to the character. Both sides get a tracker that has spinning wheels to show the health and shard quantities.

Just like the rest of the game, setting up the board is a little confusing but the instruction manual is very helpful in understanding where things go. The heroes and villains are on opposite sides of the table. The hero gets a Zord bay while the villain gets a lair. The center is known as the grid. The grid contains six cards that are replenished using the main deck cards, which sit on one side of the grid. On one side of the table the two stacks of cards are Zeo blaster cards and stun cards. On the other, the two stacks of cards are the remaining Zord and master cards.

In the main stack, there are hero and villain cards that can be bought. The hero is the only one who can buy a hero card – and the villain is the only one that can buy a villain card. If those cards are left in the grid, they can be battled by the opponent. Each player starts with 10 starter cards. To buy a card from the grid, use the shard indicators on the cards being played. To gain energy, use the energy indicator on the cards being played. Using cards to fight cost certain amounts of energy.

Cards that are owned can be ‘attached’ to the player’s character card. Attaching a card makes it available to battle with. When a character card has all four spots attached, the card is flipped and the character is either morphed or powered up. Collecting Zord cards allows the player to create the Megazord and collecting quality cards allows the player to bulk up their fighting. Certain cards can be used to block or counter attacks. 

I played Power Rangers Deck-Building Game: Zeo several times in several ways. The first time was against myself after reading the instructions once. I spent fifteen minutes sorting through the cards to set the game up, needing the instruction manual to understand exactly where things were supposed to be and what cards needed to be in my hands based on the characters I chose. The game itself takes up a lot of space – I had to set it up on the dining room table. It took a while for me to understand how to buy shards and energy, and to understand how the discard pile worked versus drawing new cards or destroying them. I played for about ten more minutes before getting frustrated. 

After reading the instructions once more, I played against myself again, having left the cards set up on the dining room table from the previous attempt. I played for about twenty-five minutes, slowly realizing that I didn’t understand how battles worked or what it meant to attach cards. Once again frustrated, I found a half hour long Youtube video that explained how to play the game using the original set. I read the instructions once more and played against myself. The setup was still on the table and I assumed that I finally understood how to start an end a turn and how to battle cards in the grid.

I read the instructions one final time and had my roommate play against me. I’d put everything back in the box earlier and it took about five minutes to set up. I spent another five minutes explaining the instructions as well as I could. The game is supposed to take 30-70 minutes. We played for an hour before giving up. I won by default, having the most hit points left, but not fully understanding how to battle made the experience very tedious with brief moments of excitement.

‘Power Rangers Deck-Building Game’ set up on a table

The Verdict

This is by far the most frustrating in-person game I have tried to play. I’ve never played a card-stacking game before, so I have no frame of reference for the genre outside of this game. There are some nice qualities to this game, even so. The cards and set pieces are well constructed. All of the art is beautiful. Some of the playable cards had interesting descriptions or titles. For example, there’s a card that requires the opponent to speak in a high pitched voice until the end of their turn. One card is simply titled “Kiai!” Unfortunately, not being able to understand how to play the game made it a miserable experience. It’s essentially impossible to learn based on the instruction manual. Watching a video helped a lot but there’s still a lot I didn’t – and don’t – understand. 

As a dedicated Power Rangers fan, I really wanted to enjoy Power Rangers Deck-Building Game: Zeo. I’ve been playing an app called Power Rangers: Legacy Wars for a few years now, so this isn’t my first experience with a Power Rangers fighting game. But it doesn’t matter how much someone likes Power Rangers: this game is not for beginners. For someone who plays deck-building games this might be an enjoyable experience. For someone like me, I had a moment where I was confused to the point of tears.

On the bright side, it was pleasant to hear the theme song play in my head every time I looked at the box and read ‘stronger than before’.

You can pick up a copy of the game for $45.

Rating: 2/10

Images and review copy courtesy of Renegade Studio Games

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  • J Onyeka

    J Onyeka is a writer with a focus on children's + educational content, LGBT+ studies, and media analysis. She enjoys making gifs and video edits along with reading, cosplaying, and watching DnD actual plays.

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