imgres-2As fans of Wonder Forge’s two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle strategy games, we were excited to check out their new Justice League Axis of Villains offering. While its Ninja predecessors play true to themes of cunning and stealth for junior strategists (5 and up), Axis of Villains takes it to an intergalactic level (8 and up). This step up builds off the super powers of Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash and of course, Batman (Z-ZWAP!) battling the most dangerous set of mega-powered baddies this side of Alpha Centauri! At first glance this may not not appear to be a fair fight, your 4 Super Heroes versus 24 Super Villains, but soon enough you will glean the ABC’s of conquering Amazo, Bizarro and Captain Cold. The octagonal game board is crisp, colorful and sets the stage for each player to take-in their current status, that of their Justice League mates, the whereabouts of evildoers, as well as possible moves that might win the day. And how do you win the day?  Since “AXIS” is at it’s heart a game of collaboration,  two to four super heroes must defend the Satellite stationed at the inner core of the octagon. Super heroes initiate their defense from that core, and fan out to do sophisticated combat with villains working themselves from the outside of the game board in. Super Heroes roll two die each turn to determine if the villains move in against them and the satellite, or whether they move out to engage the Villains (KAPOW!). The sophistication comes with the fact that Super Heroes (1) individually have varying strengths against different Villains, (2) through die rolls can obtain power cards that give them temporary extra power (BANG!), mobility, or teaming ability and (3) errant die rolls can unleash Ultra Villains (EEE-YOW!) that have relatively more power than mere Arch Villains. Combat with Villains comes in solo stand-offs and in collaborative hero brawls, but beware, captured Villains have special plays allowing them to break back into action. Awesome strategy elements arise from having all this impending fun and action before you on the game board, some of which happens randomly tied to the die roll, but much of which can still be anticipated and directed by the young Super Heroes themselves. Each player better prime their inner computer because every battle will have them adding, comparing and anticipating a series of numbers to forecast right strategies and determine winners. After suggesting we re-enter a villain with the lowest number rank, our tester commented, “You have to really think!” The game’s twists and turns, ups and downs, and ensuing tactical discussions, all generate a lot of rich language and quite often expressions that won’t quite pass a spellcheck (ARRGH!)

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Bob Artemenko contributed to this review.