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Debtzilla

The theme of Debtzilla from Capital Gains Studio hints at an economic game but managing your personal economy is only a light thematic overlay on Xeo Lye's light-hearted fully cooperative game that pitches 2-4 heroes against the game's batch of villains. Debtzilla and Inflationsaurus may be the boss monsters that players are ultimately battling but the game is essentially a deck builder.



Players start off with an income deck of 10 cards from which they draw five each round. The cards will give you money and/or happiness. Each turn, you get to acquire for free another income card of your choice from the market to add to your discard pile (so it'll work its way into your hand when the discard pile is shuffled and recycled) and you use the currency you earn to pay off debts (trash a debt card) and to buy gadgets from the shopping display. When you take out a loan, it increases the health stats of the boss monster; repay debt and it reduces the boss monster's health. Happiness is a track on your hero card: hit the top of the track and you can spend all your happiness to activate your character's special 'move'.



Gadgets give you advantage when battling enemies on the Vigilante board. The number of villains you have to beat is varied according to the number of players. These have to be beaten by matching the dice indicated on their individual cards, and the gadgets, and character's asymmetric special abilities and special moves, can be used to give you extra dice or modify die rolls. If you match all the dice indicated on the villain card, you defeat it and send it to the discard pile. When a villain survives a round, it automatically 'scams' (attacks) the citizen below it on the display, reducing their wealth. When a citizen's wealth is reduced to zero, they are bankrupted: their card is discarded to the jail and their starting wealth is added to the boss monster's health. If all the citizens are bankrupted, it's Game Over: the players lose.


The jolly theme, cartoon art from Alan Bay and Andy Choo, and the combination of deck builder and dice chucker, all make for an entertaining easy-to-play game with a distinct game arc as you build towards an end-game showdown with the boss monster. The character's special abilities make them obvious specialists, so the challenge is to find the most effective synergy between the characters you have in play. The powers of some of the hero characters can make them 'high risk' in that their benefits come at the cost; for example, of bankrupting a citizen. Play with those characters and you'll need to balance risk and reward.


Debtzilla comes with six different heroes for players to choose from, an array of villains for the Vigilante board and two different boss monsters, each with their own card decks. That means there's enough variety in the box to keep players coming back to play with different character combos.


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