Before you get to play A Predator Deck Building Game , you have to unbox A Predator Deck Building Game.
As you might recall, my one big gripe with Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game was the near-herculean amount of effort it took to properly sort (and, due to reports of some boxes missing stuff, account for) all those freaking cards. And A Predator Deck Building Game is no different.
But while I was hunched over the game’s 700 cards – my limbs falling asleep, the vertebrae in my back slowly fusing together, my eyes giving up in protest – I began to think that even having prior experience with organizing a Legendary Encounters game might not be enough. So I decided to take notes, and pass my knowledge along to you.
Because the manual’s checklist sure isn’t much help.
There is a method to the madness, and to their credit Upper Deck and the designers did try to make the cards in this game easier to sort than in the last one, but chances are you’ll still end up having to re-sort a stack or two if you try to wing it. And even then, figuring out how to actually categorize everything and where to group the cards in the box requires reading through the rules – something you might not be keen on doing after spending the better part of an afternoon/evening staring at slightly bigger than microscopic text on 700 individual cards.
The very first thing you’ll want to do is pull the wrapped decks out of the box, and set the stack of dividers off to the side. Then just open each deck one at a time and start dropping the cards into different stacks. One important tip before you begin, though: don’t look at the illustrations on the cards. Many cards in different decks use the same illustrations, so you’re much better off looking at the text on the bottom of each card instead. And if their isn’t any text along the bottom, read from the top.
These are the cards that will make up each players’ starting deck, and they come in two varieties: Experience (35 total) and Brute Strength (25 total). Whether you put every card with the word “Starting” at the bottom into a single pile or separate the two during the initial sort is a matter of preference – it’s not that difficult to go back in and separate out two cards from one pile, really. Once you’re done you can also go ahead and create the basic starting decks themselves with 7 Experience and 5 Brute Strength each.
Avatars and Roles
Avatar cards (10 human and 5 Predator) remind players of their character class and remain in front of them during play to act as a sort of health bar. Role cards (10 human and 5 Predator), on the other hand, go into a player’s starting deck in addition to Brute Strength and Experience cards as a sort of class-specific ability they can occasionally call on. Theses are also easy enough to pick out – just look for the words “Avatar” and “Role,” with regular text for humans and green text for Predators.
At this point I’d suggest you consider putting all the regular text stacks on one side of the table and all the green text stacks on the other. There are a fair number of both and it might be easier to focus on sorting humans/Predators first (once you’re done creating all the piles, of course) before moving on to the other group.
Commander cards (10 total) function much like the Sergeant cards from An Alien Deck Building Game in that they afford players some additional purchasing power and can be coordinated with others for support. Just put everything with the word “Commander” at the bottom into it’s own pile and you’ll be in good shape.
Young Blood cards (24 total) represent random enemies and hazards human characters might face. A specific number of these cards will be shuffled in each of three scenario deck sections (we’ll touch on those soon, don’t you worry), with the number of cards being determined by the number of players. These, of course, all say “Young Blood” at the bottom.
Enemy Strike cards (40 total) are used to deal out and track damage dealt to human players during a game – just take the strike and place it beside, under, or however you want to display it by your Avatar card so you can keep track of the numbers. You might see some images on these strike cards that are on cards in other categories but don’t worry. Just look for the words “Enemy Strike” and ignore the drawings.
Objectives and Locations
Objective cards (6 total – 3 for the first scenario and 3 for the other) are used to determine the objective of a given 1/3 of a scenario. Each Objective has a name and number, and when you look at the bottom of the card you can also see which movie (Predator or Predator 2) it belongs to. These can be mixed and matched, along with their respective scenario decks, to create some custom scenarios but for the sake of this guide (and because you’re just getting started) we’re going to keep each with their respective film.
Location cards (2 total – one for each movie) are the only cards in the game with a horizontal orientation (and a bright blusih-green border), so they’re really easy to find and separate.
You can organize these cards however you wish, but since I have no intention of ever doing custom scenarios (there’s enough variability in simply playing the game normally) I have each location sorted with the three objectives that match it.
Predator Scenario (Humans)
Each of the three sections of the original Predator film scenario (33 total, and they’re called “Enemy” cards in the manual for some reason) is numbered and titled to show which 1/3 it belongs to. “Expendable Assets” is for the first part, “Flares, Frags, and Claymores” is for the middle, and “Get to the Choppa!” comes at the end. You can separate each of these three segments if you want, but since I always stick to the movie scenarios and don’t customize I like to keep them together. I just alternate having them face-up and face-down in a single stack so that they don’t get mixed up.
Predator Scenario Characters (Humans)
Character cards (4 characters total for this scenario, with 14 cards each) are used to create the human Barracks, which is where you buy better cards and fill out your deck. These can be mixed and matched, just like the scenarios, but I like to stick with the films so I have Mac, Dutch, Blain, and Dillon in this group. Unfortunately Character cards don’t have any identifying text at the bottom (or even at the top) to make it easier to put them in their proper movies, but they do have a small icon in the top-left corner that looks like a machete.
Predator 2 Scenario (Humans)
These Scenario Cards (33 total, which should bring your Enemy card count up to 66) are just like those from the first movie, only they reference the sequel. “War Zone” starts things off, followed by “Personal Little War,” and ending with “Other-world Life-form.” Also just like the other scenario, I like to keep all three stacks together and just alternate between face-up and face-down orientation so I don’t have to keep them all divided.
Predator 2 Scenario Characters (Humans)
Also also just like the previous set, these Character cards (4 characters with 14 cards each) can be mixed and matched but I like to keep them with the Predator 2 stuff. These should include Keyes, Danny, Lambert, and Harrigan. And as with the last Character set the only way to really know for sure which film they belong in is an icon in the top-left corner – I’m pretty sure this one is supposed to be a silhouette of Lambert’s gun.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff: the Predators!
Killer Instinct cards (8 total) are the Predators’ version of Commander. You can also tell by looking at the mat. See how it says “Killer Instincts” at the top part of the section meant for Commanders? In fact, several spots on the mat have two designations, with the bottom for the humans and the top for the Predators. It’s a handy feature, really.
As you’d expect, all of these cards say “Killer Instinct” at the bottom in green lettering. Remember what I said about the green lettering.
Mercenary cards (24 total) take the place of Young Blood cards for the Predators and will be randomly shuffled into the different scenario stacks – numbers determined by the number of players, of course. And yes, they say “Mercenary” at the bottom in green letters.
Any card that says “Prey Strike” at the bottom in green lettering (60 total) are meant to be used as strike/injury cards for Predator players. So, you know, treat them like regular Strike cards. But make sure to keep them in their own deck – preferably grouped with all the other Predator decks.
Predator Scenario (Predators)
These are functionally the same as the human Scenario cards (33 total for this scenario, and they’re called “Prey” cards in the manual), and the same goes for how to sort them. “No Sport” takes the tops spot, followed by “Payback Time,” and “What the Hell Are You?” caps everything off. Each set has the appropriate title and number, and appears in green text at the bottom.
Predator 2 Scenario (Predators)
Same story as the other Scenario set (33 total, for a combined set of 66 Prey cards). These start with “Drawn By Heat and Conflict,” with “This is History” in the middle, and “A Taste for Beef” at the end.
Predator “Character” Cards
The cards the Predators use in the barracks are called “Character cards” in the manual (8 different stacks with 14 cards each, for a grand total of 224 Character cards), but they’re more like weapons and hunting tricks than actual characters. They don’t have specific film designations but I like to think that all the “Woodland” cards go with the first movie and “Urban” cards go with the second. Each set is prefaced with either “Woodland” or “Urban,” and also includes Strength, Survival, Tech, or Intel. All in green text, of course. But not at the bottom of the card. As with the human Character cards these have no organizational text at the bottom. You’ll have to read the top instead.
Traps and Gear
In a Predator game, Trap cards (20 total) and Gear cards (20 total) stand in as Locations and Objectives, respectively. Each stack will be shuffled separately and put in its proper spot on the mat for use throughout the game. These can be sorted the usual way by looking for the word “Trap” or “Gear” at the bottom of the card in green text.
Challenges and Tests
And finally we have Challenge cards (20 total) and Test cards (20 total) – both of which can be sorted by looking for the matching words in green text at the bottom of the card. These are both for optional rules so you might want to keep them towards the back of the other decks until you’re ready to try them.
And that’s it! All of your cards for A Predator Deck Building Game should be sorted and ready to go. Or to be sleeved if that’s something you want to do, although I’d suggest taking a break before individually sleeving so many hundreds of cards after already organizing them all. Regardless, I hope this sorting guide was at least somewhat useful for separating out all of your cards or double-checking to make sure you have everything.
And if you don’t seem to have all the cards you need, I’d suggest going through each stack one or two more times and making sure you didn’t accidentally put something where it doesn’t belong – which is easy to do when so many cards have the same illustrations on them.
How you sort all of these stacks is up to you, but I find it helps to use the included dividers and write the appropriate designations on them. I also keep the human and Predator cards separate since one set isn’t really meant to be used with the other in a regular game. With the included foam separators there’s just enough space to fit everything on one side of the box, too – just enough to put the cards from An Alien Deck Building Game if you’re feeling a bit crossover-y.