Tabletop Game / Cerberus Engine Games

"More than 50 of your favorite DC ComicsTM characters...all in one game!"

Cerberus Engine Games is the catch-all name for Cryptozoic Entertainment's series of deck-building games and expansions that started in 2012 with the DC Comics Deck-Building Game and continued on to license and adapt the game with the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, more DC Comics stories, Street Fighter, Naruto, and even the freakin' NHL!

The games are built around the gameplay and card format known as the "Cerberus Engine," in which players choose or are dealt at random an oversized Super Hero card. Each Super Hero has a unique ability or special card that set them apart and give them a certain advantage or play they can make, and start out with equal decks of 10 Starter-type cards each, and on their turn, play out their hand to build up +Power to meet or exceed the cost of cards they wish to acquire off the Line-up or a stack, which will then go straight to their discard piles, adding to their overall score in Victory Points (VP) and then getting reshuffled into the deck to be played in later turns. This, in turn, offers players greater +Power than they started out with, as well as any number of tricks and traps to launch them ahead into victory: Attacks to mess with foes' hands and decks, Defenses to keep yourself safe from enemy Attacks, instant-gain and discount coupons, the ability to destroy junk cards, draw-and-sort maneuvers, and "Ongoing" cards that keep on giving every turn, almost assuring an easy win. The game is over when either the Main Deck, a 120+ stack of every known thing in the DC Universe or Middle-Earth, runs out or all Super-Villains/Archenemies have been defeated. The player with the most Victory Points wins, and in the event of a tie, whichever player defeated more Super-Villains wins, and in case they tie, God help us all.

In other words, pretty standard fare as far as deck-builders go, with perks.

At the time of writing this there are 13 main boxed sets with 4 medium expansions and 5 small expansions, 1 standalone medium-sized game in the series. The catalog can be found here.

Before you ask, it has already been stated that this game will not incorporate Marvel (which has its own deck-builder, Legendary).


This Card Game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ability Required to Proceed: Crisis cards. Each one has a "To Beat" that specifies a number of cards of a certain type/cost that must be in a certain place that any or all players must have.
    • Inverted with Super-Villain Solomon Grundy (Crossover 1). Technically you do still need to collect stronger cards to build up the Power to take him down, but he can't be defeated without a Starter, i.e., one of the ten junk cards you start the game with.
  • Acrofatic: Bombur the Dwarf's ability is the same as The Flash's!
  • Action Girl: Wonder Woman in the original; Batgirl, Black Canary, and Starfire in Heroes Unite; Chun-Li and Cammy in Street Fighter; Zatanna Zatara in Crisis 1; Sakura and Hinata in Naruto Shippuden; Tauriel in The Desolation of Smaug; Harley Quinn in Forever Evil; Indigo-1 and Red Lantern Supergirl in Crisis 2; Power Girl and Stargirl in Crossover 1; Starfire (again) and Wonder Girl in Teen Titans; Sara Lance in Crossover 2; Saturn Girl in Crossover 3; Silk Spectre in Crossover 4; Cheetah, Killer Frost, and Poison Ivy in Crisis 3; Golden Glider in Crossover 5.
  • Airplane Arms: Clarence (Cartoon Network) is pictured with this on his Character card.
  • Alliterative Name: Occasionally. Raw Recruits of Rohan (Two Towers) comes to mind.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Tauriel's abilities and related cards all have to do with Villains. Even Superwoman, herself a Villain, is powered up with more Villains. In Crisis Mode, Black Canary is the only Super Hero who can add Villains to her deck under normal circumstances.
  • All There in the Manual: Not the game manuals, but there is no semblance of story, character, or rhyme and reason in the cards or rules (and no pronunciation guide for hockey players' names) to anyone who's never read/played/watched the source materials.
  • All Your Colors Combined: Element Woman (Forever Evil), who is at once all 4 of the main Main Deck card types, and Channeling the Emotional Spectrum (Crisis 2), which can be any color at any given time.
    • Kyle Rayner (Crisis 2) can show off 3 colors to redraw his hand, and White Lantern Deadman can discard 2 colors to play one foe's card.
    • In Crisis 2, All Your Colors Combined is necessary to beat Rise of the Dead.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Eclipso (Crossover 1) when played.
  • An Ice Person: Killer Frost (Crisis 3). Iced Over, her Super Power, can freeze a card in the Line-Up, preventing anyone (including the player who uses it) from buying/gaining it; but, Killer Frost's ability allows her to bypass a Frozen Token by playing and destroying that card.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The point of Crossover packs. They challenge you to play an existing Main Deck with a new cast of Super Heroes and Super-Villains.
  • Archer Archetype: Green Arrow (Crisis 1), Legolas Greenleaf (Middle-earth games), Bard the Bowman (The Desolation of Smaug). Most arrows/archers in Cerberus Games have easy access to or misc. bonuses from Villains and Super-Villains.
    • Crossover 2 is the exception here, since it's all about Arrow anyways and the point is to switch things up.
  • Assist Character: Hero/Ally and Villain/Enemy cards.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: As suggested by the manual for the original game, you could try playing as two Super-Heroes at once (referred to as a "Two-Headed" game for whatever reason)... note 
    • ...but this trope shines through in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, in which duos Frodo/Sam and Legolas/Gimli team up as singular Heroes! Merry and Pippin (Two Towers) also count.
    • Duo Finn and Jake and duo Mordecai and Rigby in Cartoon Network.
  • Badass Family: The Wattersons (Cartoon Network), who when combined are just as powerful as Shazam.
  • Badass Normal: Any number of "Super Heroes" in Crossover 2. Heroes/Allies in any game who are clearly not Super but still contribute +Power may be considered this.
    • Extend that to the Cartoon Network Characters.
  • Bad with the Bone: Skull of Batman (Crisis 2).
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Dr. Light (Teen Titans). If anyone avoids his First Appearance—Attack, he runs away and a new Super-Villain attacks. Overlaps with "Get Back Here!" Boss since you do eventually catch up to him.
  • Barrier Warrior: Booster Gold receives Power and draw bonuses for playing and defending with Defense cards, respectively. The Crisis versions of Green Lantern and Booster Gold have abilities that allow them to defend themselves and teammates.
    • Stargirl (Crossover 1) can discard/draw upon playing Defenses.
    • Jack (Cartoon Network) can defend with a Pratfall (equivalent of Vulnerability/Despair) and draws upon playing a Defense!
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Played with regarding the Trope Namer. Batman's ability grants him a Power bonus when playing any form of Equipment—guess what this game's guns are. There's no moral or story-driven reason for Batman not to Grab a Gun, and to win he'll probably do so coincidentally. His Hero card, Dark Knight (DC Comics), will automatically collect all Equipment in the Line-Up, including guns (and his own skull). That being said, no installment with Batman or one of his allies actually includes a gun.
  • Beef Gate: In Crisis Mode, when the 6-, 7-, and 8-cost Villains show up on the first turn.
  • Big Good: Super Heroes in Forever Evil.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: Defense, with the occasional Unblockable Attack exception. Played straight with actual Blocking in Rivals, which actually does prevent the player from being damaged or killed, as well as Defenders in NHL Power Play.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Played with if you cross sets. Bonus points if you cross DC Comics with Street Fighter, since you can then have Superman use Dash Straight/Rolling Thunder—boxing cards that align with Superman's ability!
  • Breakout Mook Character: Harley Quinn and Bane (Promo only) in Forever Evil (due to Villains acting as Mooks) and Poison Ivy, Deadshot, and Killer Frost in Crisis 3.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Tauriel in Desolation of Smaug can defend against Enemy Ambushes (but not player Attacks) using any other Enemy.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Maneuvers, the Middle-Earth equivalent of Super Powers, which are primarily scenes or quotes from the Tolkien movies. (Does not apply to Maneuvers in NHL Power Play.)
    • Teen Titans Go! (Teen Titans), the most powerful card in the set (if you have a lot of Ongoings from the same set, that is).
  • Cast from Hit Points: Using The Riddler, Pandora, Pandora's Box, or Cosmic Staff in Crisis Mode, since the Main Deck is the universe's life bar and Exact Time to Failure.
  • Catch-Phrase: Given that Maneuvers (the Middle-Earth equivalent of Super Powers) are mostly scenes or even quotes from the Tolkien movies, the Hero Starting Cards in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, most of them Maneuvers, can be considered this.
    • Borrowed Catchphrase: You do not have to be Gandalf to tell the Balrog "You Shall Not Pass!" and you do not have to be Oliver Queen to tell someone "You Have Failed This City!"
  • Cherry Tapping: Some cards allow you to recall one or several of your Starters from your discard pile, quickly becoming this. A train of "+1 Power and draw a card" effects also results in this.
  • Combat and Support: Crisis Super Heroes/Villains such as Batgirl, Black Adam, and Harley Quinn are primarily support. Crisis Super Heroes/ Villains are usually a bit of both.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Averted 99.9% of the time, but there is this one gem in Fellowship of the Ring: The Witch-King's Group Ambush will reward the player with the most Courage cards (a Starter card you're actively trying to get rid of) on hand at the time by destroying them, letting that player draw his hand back up, then passing out Corruptions to other players. Not an exact Comeback Mechanic, but logically implied.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Oliver Queen, Roy Harper, and Sara Lance (Crossover 2).
  • Com Mons: While each Super Hero's ability suggests they chase after cards of a certain type, most 2- and 3-cost cards, esp. Attacks and Defenses, can find their way into anyone's deck due to their being most likely the only thing available to you in early turns. Aside from Kick/Valor, the go-to +2 Power card which is always available in multiples in every game until they run out, examples include Kid Flash and Power Ring in DC; Balrog, Juri, Sakura, and Urien in Street Fighter.
  • Confusion Fu: Fake Shot (NHL Power Play) allows you to drop the puck in the middle of your turn. In order to score a goal, you need to pick up the puck before doing anything else that turn, and while you have it, Attackers draw extra cards, racking up your Power, but you are locked out of buying new cards. The trope comes into play when your opponents drop their Defenders after seeing you take the puck.
  • Continuing Is Painful: The player who is Killed Off for Real (which actually Re-Powers them) by Heroic Sacrifice (Crisis 2) must also destroy every non-0 card in his discard pile.
  • Crosshair Aware: The picture for Hunted By The Crime Syndicate (Crisis 3) has this, since this card repeats the current Super-Villain's attack on anyone other than the turn player each time a Villain is defeated.
  • Crossover: Enforced. The original box reads: "Compatible with other Cerberus Engine: Heroes games, a common card back means you can shuffle your whole collection together for the ultimate throwdown!"
  • The small expansions are titled "Crossover Packs."
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: If you feel like buying all the cards, this is easily possible (though not necessarily very fluid).
  • Crutch Character: Supergirl. Her card effect lets you put a Kick from the stack into your hand, giving you +2 Power for the turn and 1 free VP, but once all 16 Kicks have been taken, Supergirl has no effect.
    • J'onn J'onzz in a game with a "Blue" Super-Villain}. JJ allows you to play the current Super-Villain, making him relatively powerful up until you reach said Blue Super-Villain (primarily in Crisis or Crossover games), who is only good for Victory Points and has no play effect (since the game ends when they are taken).
    • Any Lord of the Rings character can be this, since all that differentiates them is a single card in their deck that becomes increasingly rare as the game goes on.
    • Raw Recruits of Rohan (Two Towers) will self-destruct after one last play once The Wall is Breached.
    • Azog in The Hobbit if you're playing through to The Desolation of Smaug, like the above J'onn J'onzz problem. This is even lampshaded in the manual.
  • Darker and Edgier: Forever Evil. In addition to more emphasis being put on card destruction and new kinds of Attacks, the details on the cards show this with cracked text for card names and the word "VILLAIN" is black instead of white.
  • Death by Gluttony: Inverted in Cartoon Network: Ringo's attack can be avoided if you literally, in real life, eat an onion ring within the time limit.
  • Degraded Boss: In Crisis 2 when Nekron appears, he revives random Super-Villains defeated earlier that game for each player to beat again.
    • Rivals 1 has normal-Villain versions of R'as al Ghul (DC Comics) and Mr. Freeze (Heroes Unite)
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Subverted with Black Lantern Blue Beetle (Crisis 2). When played, he forces each foe to discard a Defense then he attacks, forcing them to discard all Defenses...but if you even have Defenses left after the first effect, you could simply defend. The true power of this card is that it forces an opponent's hand—they can't simply let Attacks hit them in order to play their Defenses for +Power or wait until another, more devastating attack, such as from Black Lantern Martian Manhunter or the next Super-Villain to defend, they have to defend now.
  • Developers' Foresight: Superman's Super Hero ability. Superman cannot receive multiple +1 Power boosts by playing multiples of the same Super Power card, unlike Batman with Equipment. This because the always-available Kick card is a Super Power, so Superman cannot raise himself to an easy 15 Power (for reference, all Super-Villains and FinalBoss Final Bosses can be defeated with 15 or less) by spamming 5 Kicks.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Azog in The Hobbit for a Desolation of Smaug game.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Super Strength, Doomsday, and any other +4 or more Power cards, if obtained early on.
  • Drop the Hammer: Harley Quinn is not seen with her trusty Mallet until Forever Evil, in which said Mallet can either draw the top card of your deck or if it's trash, give it away to another player.
    • Steel, a Hero, and Sledgehammer, his Equipment (Forever Evil) can destroy cards and refund you a VP if it cost 1 or more.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Card text in the first two DC installments is pretty small. Cards in subsequent releases have larger text except in cases of a Wall of Text, usually on Super-Villains who have both detailed effects and First Appearance—ATTACKs.
    • The cards from the original DC have no set tag, which as the flagship product is understandable; however, every DC-brand main deck or expansion afterwards does have a set tag except the very second installment, Heroes Unite.
  • Edible Bludgeon: Lembas Bread in Lord of the Rings: food that increases your Power and counts as an Artifact.
    • Bacon Pancakes in Cartoon Network are considered Equipment.
  • 11th Hour Superpower: Crisis Lex Luthor could pull in a late extra Super Hero/Villain. Could also apply to any excellent card buried in the Main Deck, typically an 8-cost or higher.
    • Played straight with United Kingdom (Street Fighter). It's the second-to-last Stage and is the single most powerful Location in any installment. The UK automatically gives you the top card of the main deck for free every turn, but given the structure of the game, without the help of Cammy, Delta Red, you probably won't get another turn after taking the UK, or at least not get to put it in play before the game ends.
  • Enemy Summoner: Any Villain that appears during Releasing the Prisoners (Crisis 3) is both this and a Patrolling Mook.
  • The Engineer: Batman, Cyborg, plus anyone with an Equipment/Artifact-related ability: Nightwing (Heroes Unite), Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf (The Hobbit), Robin (Crisis 1), Killer Bee (Naruto), Star Sapphire (Crisis 2), Mister Terrific (Crossover 1), Red Robin and Wonder Girl (Teen Titans), Oliver Queen (Crossover 2), Dexter and Dee Dee (Cartoon Network).
  • Engrish: Mirakuru (Crossover 2).
  • Evil Counterpart: The Forever Evil set comes with many Evil Counterparts to playable Super-Heroes and Main Deck cards in the original DC Comics set.
    • Playable Super-Villains Lex Luthor, Black Manta, and Harley Quinn (Forever Evil) to Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Flash (DC Comics), respectively. Cheetah (Crisis 3) is also, appropriately, an Evil Counterpart to Wonder Woman.
    • Main Deck cards Johnny Quick and Giganta to Kid Flash and Mera.
    • From Forever Evil alone, there's Emperor Penguin to Steve Trevor, Grid to Vibe, Man-Bat to Catwoman, Atomica to Steel, Deathstorm to Phantom Stranger, and The Blight to Amanda Waller.
    • Ultraman/Owlman/Superwoman/Power Ring, who increase in Power the more there are destroyed cards of the types Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman/Green Lantern specialize in.
    • Inverted with Power Girl (Forever Evil) to Gorilla Grodd (DC 1).
    • Red Lantern Corps (Heroes Unite) and Orc Rider (The Hobbit) to King of Atlantis, i.e., Aquaman's Hero card.
    • M.Bison to both Fei Long and Dhalsim in Street Fighter. M.Bison's Ultra Attack is similar to Fei Long's, and M.Bison's Counter-Attack is a Hero-bashing opposite to Dhalsim's Villain stopper.
    • Inverted with Clarence, a good guy with the same ability as Harley Quinn.
    • An odd example: Killer Frost (Crisis 3) to Kakashi (Naruto). Both have an ability that borrows a cost 4 or less card from the Line-Up.
    • Inverted with Keith Shadis (Attack on Titan) to Killer Croc (Heroes Unite).
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Brainiac 5 (Crossover 3). He requires 5-cost cards.
  • Exact Time to Failure: In Crisis Mode and Impossible Mode, the last card in the Main Deck is the last turn you have to not lose. See also Instant-Win Condition for the Exact Time to Your Failure and Their Victory.
  • Expansion Pack: Crisis 1 and 2 and Crossover 1, 2, and 3 for DC Comics series; The Desolation of Smaug for [[The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
  • Extended Gameplay: The Desolation of Smaug for The Hobbit.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Corrupted Companion in Crisis 2.
    • Gollum / Smeagol (Two Towers) starts out as an Enemy, but becomes a combination Enemy/Ally (as well as +2 Power stronger) when The One Ring is in play.
    • Huntress is a Hero in Rivals 1 but a Villain in Crossover 2.
    • Dr. Light is a Hero in Forever Evil but a Super-Villain in Teen Titans!
  • Feed It with Fire: Bizarro, both as a Main Deck card and playable Super-Villain, benefits from having Weaknesses; the former increases your score with each one and the latter can gain and trade them away at will for extra draws.
    • Lesser examples can be found in Middle-Earth games, where cards such as Dark Have Been My Dreams (Two Towers) and Goblin Scout (The Hobbit) add Power if played on the same turn as Corruptions/Despairs.
    • Kili the Dwarf (Desolation of Smaug) gets +2 Power when he plays Corruptions! Certainly takes off the small Sting that he can't get rid of them.
    • An odd example can occur in Crossover 1: Solomon Grundy is worth 1 VP for each Starter Card you possess. If a foe tries to pass a Starter to the owner of Solomon Grundy, they unwittingly increase his score.
    • Eren's (Attack on Titan) strengthens him when he sustains a Wound. Downplayed since Heroes who have two Wounds in one turn die.
  • Final Boss: The Anti-Monitor in Crisis 1, Nekron in Crisis 2, and Mazahs! in Crisis 3.
    • Lurtz, Saruman, and Eye of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers, and Return of the King respectively.
    • Gog in Crossover 1, Slade Wilson in Crossover 2, and Persuader in Crossover 3.
    • Azog in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Smaug the Terrible in The Desolation of Smaug.
    • Tobi in Naruto Shippuden.
    • Trigon in Teen Titans.
    • The Armored, Colossal, or Female Titan in Attack on Titan.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In a normal game, the JLA/Fellowship of the Ring wins, even if nobody even thinks about tackling a Villain. Even if Super-Villains remain when the game ends, some Super Hero wins. Impossible/Crisis modes avert this.
  • Four Is Death: Doomsday's only effect is +4 power. Brother Blood (Heroes Unite) is exactly the same.
    • Deathstorm (Forever Evil) costs 4, as does his Super Power, Power Drain.
  • Friendly Enemy: The normal Villains. Outside of Crisis Mode, they behave identically to Heroes, waiting patiently for you to amass enough Power to recruit them. Subverted in Middle-earth games where many Enemies have Ambushes and actually do try to harm you and averted in Attack on Titan where all Titans are (duh) constantly trying to kill all humans.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Johnny Bravo (Cartoon Network) is bad with women, so it takes him 1 extra Power to get Female cards.
    • Crisis 3 provides a good example with Impossible Johnny Quick. Being a Flash villain, he eats up the Speed Force which translates into preventing players from drawing cards, the chief effect of all Flash-related cards and Super Heroes. However, the playable Super-Villains Killer Frost and Captain Boomerang—Flash/Arrow-related enemies—are ideal for defeating him since they have abilities that let them play extra cards while bypassing that restriction.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Dr. Light (Teen Titans) is the only Super-Villain who can appear then go away to fight another day. His First Appearance—Attack is pretty straightforward, but if anyone avoids it, he shuffles himself back into the Super-Villain stack and another one appears, also making him a Bait-and-Switch Boss and an assist to the second SV.
  • The Goomba: Harley Quinn, Two-Face, and Cheetah in DC Comics; Talon in Heroes Unite; Juri in Street Fighter; Goblin Scout and Goblin Soldier in The Hobbit; Ningendo and Jigokudo in Naruto Shippuden; Emperor Penguin and Steve Trevor in Forever Evil; The Penguin and The Riddler in Rivals 1; Zoo Keeper in Teen Titans; Computo in Crossover 3; Black Mask in Crisis 3; Freaky Fred and Ms. Simian in Cartoon Network; 4-Meter and 5-Meter Titans in Attack on Titan.
  • Healing Factor: Bizarro (Forever Evil) can get rid of Weaknesses at will.
    • In Cartoon Network, a "Pratfall" (equivalent of Vulnerability), which is available to everyone, can get rid of Weaknesses as well.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Gollum / Smeagol (Two Towers) is an Enemy that becomes part-Ally when The One Ring is in play. He becomes this if the Ring goes in and out of play.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Aside from the fact that Villains contribute their Power to Super Heroes, a direct example is Indigo Tribe (Crisis 2), which temporarily renders Villains as Heroes (which, in Crisis Mode, means you can add them to your deck).
  • Helpful Mook: Emperor Penguin (Forever Evil) in "Good Guys vs. Bad Guys," Crisis Mode, and to a lesser extent, standard games. He can't Attack, is a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and gives his slayer 2 VPs.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Zig-zagged across the series. The only sword in DC Comics belongs to Deathstroke. Heroes Unite has Katana (the character, not the weapon) and Soultaker Sword for the taking. Forever Evil has a Broadsword, which is Deathstroke's ideal card. Played straight in Middle-earth games. Averted/inverted in Naruto Shippuden, with Zabuza's/Suigetsu's Executioner's Blade. Played straight in Attack on Titan, where Swords is the new Green Arrow's Bow.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Trigon. A minor major Villain in Heroes Unite and Crisis 2, where he is part of the literal Big Bad Shuffle. In Teen Titans, he's the Final Boss.
  • Instant-Win Condition: If you play the card Kyle Rayner on the same turn as 3 different Power Rings (original, Green, White, Black, and the Villain of the same name), you win. In Naruto Shippuden, whoever owns Zabuza when the main deck runs out wins.
  • Item Caddy: Crisis Black Adam and Crisis Harley Quinn. The former generates extra VPs for allies to use for their abilities, and the latter can pass one of her cards to someone during their turn.
  • Job System: Playing the card Superboy Prime (Teen Titans) enables you to do this...
  • Killed Off for Real: In Crisis Mode, Super-Villains are not "destroyed" like regular Villains are, meaning you cannot use Hades via J'onn J'onzz, Alternate Reality, or Black Lantern Power Ring to bring their game-breakingly powerful effects into your deck.
    • In Crisis 2, Rise of the Dead causes any cards destroyed while it's active to be removed from the game entirely, meaning they cannot be revived by card effects.
    • Disintegration (Crossover 4) allows the Secret Mastermind to actually remove one of the Loyal players from the game, limit once per game.
  • Knife Nut: Dwalin the Dwarf (The Hobbit) and Slade Wilson (Teen Titans).
  • Lethal Joke Character: Characters in Cartoon Network.
  • Lethal Joke Item: Equipment in Cartoon Network.
  • Lighter and Softer: Cartoon Network Crisis Crossover.
  • Lightning Bruiser: You'd expect The Flash, whose ability dictates that he goes first and also draws one extra card when he plays a draw card, but Aquaman qualifies too. Normally, cards you buy or gain go straight to your discard pile and you must wait a couple/few/several turns before reshuffling and drawing them; Aquaman can put any card with cost 5 or less on top of his deck, gaining access to it next or even the same turn.
    • Aquaman's Trident replicates Aquaman's ability without the cost restriction. Solomon Grundy also has this for himself when bought/gained.
    • A few Heroes in The Lord of the Rings start out with a +2 Power card. Of note is Two Towers Gimli with Very Dangerous Over Short Distances, a +2 Power card that can be used in succession at the start of the game.
    • In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo Baggins and Bofur the Dwarf have abilities similar to Aquaman's and Bombur the Dwarf has the same ability as The Flash (minus the "goes first" part)!
  • Live Item: Various horses are considered Artifacts/Equipment in Middle-Earth games.
    • Reach Scarab (Teen Titans).
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Luck-Based Mission: Crisis Mode.
    • Lord of the Rings games have Fortunes, free, one-time, instant-use cards that show up in the Main Deck. (Think items in Smash Bros.)
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Various cards that allow you to look at/reveal/modify the top card of your, another player's, or the main deck in some way, since many other card effects both good and bad are conditional based on your/their/the top card, especially if you need to accurately guess what it is.
    • Jay Gerrick (Crossover 1). Every time you go to draw a card, he'll look at the top card of your deck so you can decide if you're drawing that or discarding it and drawing the next.
  • Magic Eater: Roy Harper (Crossover 2) is a Super Power-eater.
  • Magikarp Power: Swamp Thing in DC Comics; Boromir's and Samwise's Starting Cards in Fellowship of the Ring; Ken's, Vega's, Chun-Li's, Balrog's, and Sagat's Ultra Combos in Street Fighter; Dwarven Sling and Saruman the White in The Hobbit; Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Man-Bat Serum in Forever Evil.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: Roy Harper (Crossover 2). Instead of utilizing the card type (Super Powers) he's associated with in any way, he pulls it underneath him, yet automatically destroys his stash once he has 4 or more.
  • The Medic: The Crisis versions of Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Shazam, and Starfire. Wonder Woman's and Starfire's new abilities allow themselves and allies to destroy junk cards when they take Villains or Super Powers, respectively, and Cyborg and Shazam can feed cards from players' discard piles back into the Main Deck (see Exact Time to Failure).
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Downplayed, as each installment tends to introduce one or two new mechanics that result in different game experiences beyond simple re-branding.
    • Will be played straight by NHL Power Play Team-Building Card Game, much like its video game equivalent.
  • Money for Nothing: See Story-Driven Invulnerability.
  • Mooks: In Crisis Mode, all Villains become this.
    • Normal Titans in Attack on Titan (duh).
    • Superpowered Mooks: If the Crisis Arkham Breakout or Atlantis Attacks or Impossible Vandal Savage or Impossible Graves is on the stack, Villains attack players in the same fashion as players would normally use them against each other.
  • Mook Promotion: Impossible Doomsday in Crisis 2; Super-Villain Solomon Grundy in Crossover 1; Super-Villain Brother Blood in both Crossover 2 and Teen Titans.
  • Never Say "Die": Not a lot of death goes on in this superhero game, just destruction and loss. Attack on Titan is the first and only game to actually cause "death" to your Heroes; previous installments merely "remove [someone] from the game."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: There are hundreds of ways you can sabotage yourself in Crisis Mode long before realizing it. To give a couple of examples, you could spend the entire campaign steadily destroying Weaknesses, only for Rise of the Rot to appear, forcing you to waste up to 20 turns waiting for either all players to have a Weakness on-hand or for all 20 Weaknesses to be in circulation, when instead by not destroying too many Weaknesses, you could have ended Rise of the Rot within a couple of turns. Perhaps the nastiest example is with the Forever Evil deck: if you try "Shuffle the remaining Crisis cards into the Main Deck," then by defending with Cosmic Staff, thereby gaining the bottom card of the Main Deck, if you accidentally pull a Crisis from the bottom—where it probably never would have come up if you played normally—no one would blame you if you swallowed a bullet right there and then.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Captain Cold in Crisis Mode. If Captain Cold (both normal and Impossible) attacks during Identity Crisis, his attack, which the Crisis renders unblockable, flips your Super Hero face-down until he's defeated, negating any abilities you have—except Identity Crisis already did that, and part of ending that Crisis involves flipping your Super Hero face up again, allowing you to defeat him at your fullest.
    • Also in Crisis Mode, Impossible Black Manta, Darkseid, Sinestro, Amazo, Arkillo, and H'el have First Appearance—Attacks that take cards of a specified type that you own and put them into the Line-up. While normally a large setback, if coincided with Final Countdown, this can result in them pushing you closer to your goal (though not necessarily in the exact way you had in mind).
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Black Lanterns (Heroes Unite and Crisis 2). There's also Avatar of the Rot (Crisis 1).
  • Nonstandard Character Design}}: All DC Comics cards feature art from comic books or other drawn sources, except in Crossover Pack #2: Arrow: The Television Series, in which the Supers and extra cards feature live-action images from the Television Series.
    • Power Girl contrasts starkly with the other, less pinup-y Super Heroes in Crossover 1. And the rest of the games.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If the Main Deck runs out in Crisis and Impossible Modes.
  • Not Completely Useless: 1-Cost cards frequently veer in this territory. Bonus points to Arsenal (Teen Titans), whose only effect is lowering the Super-Villain cost and BMO (Cartoon Network), who gives +1 Power and makes Fist Bump another player to no inherent effect.
  • Not So Different: Green Lantern (DC Comics/Crisis 1) and Sinestro(Forever Evil/Crisis 3). Their normal game abilities are a +Power boost for GL and an Attack-based score increase for Sinestro. Their Crisis Mode incarnations are both Barrier Warriors.
  • One-Hit Kill: Deathstroke, when played, automatically gains any one Hero or Villain, no matter the cost.
    • Killer Frost (Crisis 3) can wipe out small Villains without repercussion from Crises by discarding a card or losing 1 VP.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Steve Trevor and Emperor Penguin in the Forever Evil + (another main deck) variant game "'Good Guys' vs 'Bad Guys.'" Also Talon (Heroes Unite) and The Atom (Crisis 2) if playing by those rules.
  • One-Man Army: Crisis Lex Luthor can summon additional Crisis Super Heroes/Villains to add to his abilities.
  • Overly Long Name: Some card names are so long the text has to be shrunken down in part or in whole to fit, such as Princess Diana of Themyscira ('DC Comics) or Strongest Woman in the World (Street Fighter). Seen most frequently in Middle-Earth games, where one class of cards is primarily movies scenes and quotes, and Crisis'' expansions, where the Crises are named after situations and events.
  • Padded Sumo Gameplay: In Street Fighter, the Weaknesses, junk cards that must normally be destroyed via a card effect, can be taken out of the deck simply by playing them. Averted in Rivals where it is possible to defeat your rival with enough Power and Attacks.
  • Patrolling Mook: Any Villain that appears during Releasing the Prisoners (Crisis 3) is both this and an Enemy Summoner.
  • Power at a Price: In Street Fighter, a somewhat literal example is Sagat's Villain card, which gives +Power equal to the cost of a card destroyed by him.
    • Seduced By the Ring (Fellowship of the Ring) only offers +1 Power, but if you choose to gain a Corruption, you may draw two cards!
    • Various cards in The Fellowship of the Ring give you a boon only in conjunction with another player.
    • Magician's Corset (Crisis 1) and the identical A Tender Moment (Desolation of Smaug) allow you +1 Power each to let other players draw a card. Similarly, Tarot Cards (Crisis 3) gives you +1 Power for each player whose score you increase by 1. Note that the "At a Price" only applies to standard games, since in Crisis Mode you want other players to be powerful.
    • Magic in Crisis 1 plays a card a second time (usually, double the Power) but destroys it in the process.
    • Jugo (Naruto Shippuden) gives you a Weakness automatically upon gaining him.
    • Bizarro Power (Forever Evil) will add 4 Power and throw a Weakness at all foes, but only after giving you one.
  • Power Copying: The X-Ray Vision and Starro cards let you play cards out of opponents' decks.
    • Watcher in the Water (Fellowship of the Ring) has the same Attack as Starro.
    • Swamp Thing (Crisis 1) has a variation: he "controls all Locations in the Line-up and in play," so if an opponent has a Location up, he can copy it.
    • White Lantern Deadman's Super Hero ability and Black Lantern Martian Manhunter in Crisis 2.
    • Clayface and Catwoman in Rivals 1.
    • Eclipso in Crossover 1 takes it Up to Eleven by copying ''all'' opponents' Super Hero abilities and playing the top card of each foes' deck!
    • Tanden Engine in Street Fighter.
    • Gedo Statue in Naruto Shippuden.
    • Rorschach's Super Hero ability in Crossover 4.
    • Ino (Naruto) and Jericho (Teen Titans) are straight examples, as they actually add opponent's Character/Super Hero abilities to yours temporarily.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: "Power" is the universal measure of power in all the games, and it can be a bit jarring when comparing the effects of cards belonging to Superman, Frodo, Ryu, Naruto, Jonathan Toews, Clarence....
  • Power-Up Food: Lembas Bread (Lord of the Rings), Bacon Pancakes (Cartoon Network).
  • Power Up Mount: Brego (Lord of the Rings), Ponies (The Hobbit).
  • Pre-Order Bonus: Every main set has a promo card for first-edition purchases, usually a Super Hero: Martian Manhunter in DC Comics, Starfire in Heroes Unite, Eowyn in The Two Towers, Blanka with Lightning Cannonball in Street Fighter, Minato in Naruto Shippuden, Bane in Forever Evil, Faramir in Return of the King.
  • Primary-Color Champion: The oversized, playable Super Hero/Hero/Character/Super-Villain cards: Super-Heroes are blue on black, Super-Villains are red on black, and Middle-earth Heroes are shades of yellow/gold.
    • Cartoon Network's Character cards are white with blue text and black and blue trim.
    • In Attack on Titan, the playable Hero cards have no uniform color like DC or LotR; each character has a different BG color. Eren, Mikasa, and Armin's cards are red, blue, and yellow respectively.
  • Promoted to Playable: Various Main Deck Heroes and even (Super-) Villains as more sets are released.
    • Heroes Unite: Hawkman, while introduced in the Main Deck in this set as well, left his Nth Metal behind in the original.
    • Crisis 1: Green Arrow, Robin, Swamp Thing, Zatanna Zatara.
    • The Desolation of Smaug: Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Fili, and Kili the Dwarves, Gandalf, and Legolas Greenleaf.
    • Everyone in Forever Evil: Bane (Promo card), Bizarro, Black Adam, Black Manta, Deathstroke, Harley Quinn, Lex Luthor, and Sinestro.
    • Rivals 1: The Joker.
    • Crisis 2: Saint Walker and Red Lantern!Supergirl.
    • Crossover 1: Doctor Fate, Power Girl, Stargirl.
    • Teen Titans: Red Robin.
  • Random Encounters: "On Patrol" variant game and Ambushes in Middle-Earth decks.
  • Randomized Damage Attack: Any card that relies on playing/discarding/revealing/gaining the top card(s) of a deck. In DC Comics, there's Black Manta, Poison Ivy, Power Ring, Starro, The Anti-Monitor when played, The Riddler, Two-Face, and X-Ray Vision; Psycho Pirate in Crisis 1; Elrond in The Hobbit; Kobra in Crossover 1.
    • Alternatively, effects that require cards to change hands or that literally say "random card(s)," such as Atrocitus, Brainiac, and The Joker.
    • Played straight with Hector Hammond (Heroes Unite and Crisis 2), who returns 3-4 random cards from your discard pile to your hand.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: If you choose to interpret the Main Deck and Line-up as a world, then yes. More relevant in Crisis Mode.
  • Randomly Generated Loot: For the first two Arch-Enemies in The Hobbit and the Smaug the Magnificent in Desolation of.
  • Re-Power: Happens to a player when Heroic Sacrifice (Crisis 2) takes effect or when one plays Superboy Prime (Teen Titans).
  • The Rival: Batman and The Joker to eachother in Rivals 1.
  • Savage Setpiece: Pulling Attack cards from the Line-Up while Impossible Vandal Savage (Crisis 2) is out causes them to lash out at the players in the process.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Implied by Raw Recruits of Rohan (Two Towers), who remove themselves from your deck once The Wall is Breached.
  • Second Hour Superpower: The first thing you get with a cost of 5 or greater generally counts.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Simply avert using your Super Hero ability, i.e., get any cards but the ones that play into it. Lampshaded on the website: "Each...character has a unique special ability that will open up different strategies to the player. Follow that strategy or break away with a plan of your own."
  • Shock and Awe: Shockingly, subverted throughout the series. While a number of Shock and Awe characters do appear in the game, there are no elemental game mechanics to match them, or their abilities don't lend themselves specifically to electricity.
    • Downplayed with Blanka (Street Fighter), whose Ultra Attack is "Lightning" Cannonball, though it's not much different from the rest of the Ultras. Electric Thunder, his Super Power, is in the game, but has no connection to the player character other than picture.
    • Lightning Lad's (Crossover 3)) ability revolves around Villains, few of which are electrical. His Super Power and Equipment, Electricity and Lightning Rod, can be used by him but do not correlate with his game ability any more than they do the other Legionairres.
  • Silliness Switch: Cartoon Network has several.
  • Single-Use Shield: The One Ring in Two Towers and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. When you Defend with it, you lose it.
    • Shado (Crossover 2) is this unless you're Oliver Queen, John Diggle, Felicity Smoak, or have a way to pull a card out from under your Super Hero.
  • Situational Damage Attack: Most attacks in the series.
  • The Smurfette Principle: At first, the only playable Super Heroine was Wonder Woman, and females in general are sparse throughout each series. Heroes Unite downplays it with Batgirl, Black Canary, and Starfire (promo only), but it gets played straight in The Lord of the Rings which has Eowyn as a promo in Two Towers and a regular in Return of the King; Street Fighter features Chun-Li and Cammy; Crisis 1 has Zatanna Zatara; Forever Evil has Harley Quinn; Crisis 2 has Indigo-1 and Red Lantern Supergirl; The Hobbit has no girls until The Desolation of Smaug's Tauriel. One of Teen Titans' advertised selling points is the aversion of this trope.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Averted in standard DC series games, but played straight in other themes where Super-Villains or Super-Villain equivalents are ordered from lowest cost/weakest effect to highest cost and strongest/no effect, or at least tiered accordingly. Also averted by the Main Deck in any game.
  • The Spiny: Jugo (Naruto). When you buy/gain him, you also gain a Weakness.
    • In Crisis 3, the Crises This World Is Ours and Hunted By The Crime Syndicate make all Villains this when you buy/gain them by giving you a Weakness and repeating the Super-Villain's attack, respectively.
  • Standard Status Effects
    • Poison: In Crisis Mode, there are various ways your team can get Weaknesses continuously. In The Hobbit, Azog causes this.
    • Silence: "Flip your Super Hero face down." Captain Cold, Impossible Captain Cold and Identity Crisis (Crisis 1), Icicle when played (Crossover 1), and Gentle Step Twin Lion Fist (Naruto Shippuden) all do this.
    • Berserk: Putting 0-cost cards, usually Punches, from your discard pile back on top of your deck, preferably in groups of 4. Harley Quinn, Zangief's Counter-Attack (Street Fighter), and Aquaman (Forever Evil) can do this. Also a Slow.
    • Charm: Possession (Crisis 2) and to a lesser degree, Power Drain (Forever Evil).
    • Frozen: Subverted, as "freezing" by Captain Cold, etc. is more of a Silence, and the Cold Gun (Forever Evil) doesn't freeze players but prevents them from picking up a specified card from the Line-up. True to Freezing, though, Frozen cards may be destroyed.
    • Slow: In Street Fighter rules only, putting a Weakness on top of a foe's deck, since Weaknesses can be gotten rid of simply by playing them. In any game, putting Punches on top of a foe's deck overlaps with Berserk.
    • Stop: Itachi (Naruto Shippuden). His First Appearance—Attack causes all players who can't defend to lose a turn, and when played, if nobody Defends his Positive Attack, he gives the user another turn.
    • Cursed: Impossible Mr. Freeze (Crisis 2) limits you to only playing 4 cards until he's defeated; Impossible Johnny Quick and Atomica (Crisis 3) prohibit you from drawing any cards and playing cards of cost 5 or greater, respectively.
  • Stock Monsters: Most enemies in Middle-Earth games.
  • Stop Hitting Yourself: Possession (Crisis 2), in addition to having strong Power, forces all foes to Attack themselves with whatever's in their hand.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: In Crisis Mode, raw Power is how you defeat Super-Villains but is rarely needed to beat a Crisis, so even if you could beat the current Super twice over until each Crisis' unique conditions are met you cannot touch them.
  • Super Family Team: The Wattersons (Cartoon Network), who when combined are just as powerful as Shazam.
  • Superhero Sobriquets: Various cards, primarily Main Deck counterparts to playable Super Heroes. Averted with Super-Villain and Villain cards of the same character.
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: On the rules card for Crossovers, it's suggested that all players should stick to Super Heroes from the same set so as not to be over- or under-powered against each other.
  • Super Speed: Including the card of the same name, super-speedy—or just high-mobility in general—characters and cards are related to drawing cards and drawing more cards.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: Dr. Light is a lot stronger as a Super-Villain in Teen Titans than as a Hero in Forever Evil.
  • Superpower Lottery: What Superman's or Jonathan Toews's deck is supposed to look like.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: With the card "Riddle Game," you can purchase the top two cards of the Main Deck for only 5 Power, effectively allowing you to claim any particular game's equivalents of Super Strength and Doomsday in a single move, buffing up your score and your deck strength with little to no effort and at a major discount; in The Desolation of Smaug's Main Deck, cards range in cost from 4 to 10, averaging about 6 or 7, which would render this card OP. There is a rule stating that if you have this card in your hand during the Desolation or Three Armies (yet unreleased) segment of a game, you must Stash it immediately.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Between sets, sometimes you see the same exact card—same type, same stats, same effect—show up under a different name, e.g., Doomsday (DC Comics) and Brother Blood (Heroes Unite). Despite being the same card, since they have different names, they count as different cards. More often, you see a card that is the same except one or two small details have been changed, e.g., Katana, who is exactly the same as Lasso of Truth, only a Hero instead of Equipment.
  • Takes One to Kill One: Lampshaded in Crisis 3: "The Crime Syndicate has succeeded where many have failed—capturing the Justice League and conquering Earth!" It only provides you with Super-Villains to fight against Super-Villains.
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: The initial effect of various Crises will reveal extra cards on the Line-Up, possibly including Villains.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Inverted. Cartoon Network features Event cards and some new Attacks, the outcome of which are decided by real-life player actions. If you succeed, you protect your Character!
  • Throw the Mook at Them: Amanda Waller (Forever Evil) essentially does this. She destroys one of your Villains, then grants you Power equal to its cost.
  • Time Travel: The name of a new game mechanic in Crossover 3, which allows you to play a card off the Line-up at the cost of not getting to buy or gain that card on the same turn.
    • Also in Crossover 3 is the Super-Villain Time Trapper, whose attack will take opponents' cards into the future... which is whenever Validus, two Super-Villains later, is defeated.
    • Time Machine (Cartoon Network) gets you out of trouble and deposits itself in your immediate future... which is the top card of your deck.
  • Title Drop: The "Power Play" card in NHL Power Play.
    • "Teen Titans GO!" in Teen Titans.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ringo (Cartoon Network) apparently likes onion rings so much, he won't hurt a player eating one in real life.
  • Unblockable Attack: The rules clarify that if a harmful effect is not explicitly labeled an "Attack:" then it cannot be avoided with a "Defense:."
    • In Street Fighter, Hugo makes your next Attack on the same turn unblockable for one foe. In the same set, Dhalsim's Yoga Catastrophe is half-unblockable.
    • Anything with the words "Stack Ongoing:" can't be stopped.
    • Played straight in Crisis and Impossible Modes. In Crisis 1 Identity Crisis renders the next Super-Villain's First Appearance—Attack unblockable and in Crisis 2 Heroic Sacrifice automatically kills off the Super Hero played by the person who defeated the last Super-Villain, gives them a new Super Hero, and drops 2 Weaknesses on each other player. The Super-Villain Impossible Lex Luthor's First Appearance—Attack is always unblockable. Subverted with Impossible Graves whose "unblockable" attack is to conjure up two blockable attacks from the Line-up and/or destroyed pile. Also in Crisis 2, Impossible Mongul and Impossible Doomsday have attacks that harm you in other ways if you Defend or would be unaffected.
  • Unique Enemy: Deathstorm (Forever Evil) is only a 4-cost card, yet there's only one of him.
    • All Villains (and Heroes) in Cartoon Network are one-of-a-kind.
    • Crisis 3 has no doubles of its lower-cost Villains, unlike the previous two Crisis ExpansionPacks; this is due to the inclusion of Hidden Objectives cards.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: While Crisis Mode can slip into Unwinnable territory at any given moment, trying a harder difficulty as suggested in the manual can result in this depending on what challenges you take and how you shuffle. More specifically, "Don't use Arkham Breakout/Immortal Villain as the first Crisis. Randomize it!" and "Shuffle the remaining Crisis cards into the Main Deck...." If Wave of Terror or Reshaping Our World is first or comes up too early, you automatically lose.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: In Crisis 2, Crisis Nekron revives one previously-defeated Super-Villain per player. Said Super-Villains not only have the same base cost as before, but (barring a Self-Imposed Challenge) their Stack Ongoings that increase their cost or hinder your plays are not in effect.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Whatever Super-Villain comes after the first will launch a First Appearance—Attack (also known as a Group Ambush).
  • Wall of Weapons: What Batman's or Nightwing's deck is supposed to look like.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Whatever Super-Villain comes first, esp. in Crisis or Impossible Mode.
  • Weapon Jr.: Birdarang {Teen Titans), which is Robin's version of the Batarang (Heroes Unite). While it does offer the same amount of +Power and at half the already-low cost, it requires the assistance of a Hero in order to do any damage.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: Green Arrow's Bow reduces the cost of Super-Villains by 2.
    • Gimli's Axe (Fellowship of the Ring) does the same!
    • Boromir's Sword (Fellowship of the Ring) and I Am No Man (Return of the King) reduce the cost even more the higher the level the current Archenemy is.
    • Black Arrow (Desolation of Smaug) reduces the cost of Arch-Enemies by a whopping 6!
    • Word of Power (Forever Evil) reduces the cost of Super Heroes by 4.
    • Citizen Steel (Crossover 1) reduces that cost by the number of Punches you throw that turn.
  • White and Gray Morality: In Street Fighter, the five playable Villain characters are considered "Super Heroes."
  • White Mask of Doom: Comes with Vega's Claw and Mask (Street Fighter) and of course, Vega himself.

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