VS SYSTEM: Revised and Back in and with Style: The Upper-Deck all-new card MARVEL 2PCG BATTLES (2PCG = 2 Player Card Game)
I remember playing the VS System something like 10-12 years ago and somewhere in a box in an attic far far away, I believe, I still have some of the decks I used to play. I did think of looking for them to acclimate them into this latest edition but then I realised the back cover of the earlier games are light and the new cards are dark, therefore to even contemplate introducing the new to the old I would have to place every card into secret sleeves so that the rear side isn't taken into account. I mention this because the new cards (in equalising sleeves - those with one side opaque) are compatible to the old, with possibilities of a few idiosyncrasies and a couple of changes in the rules.
For players who still have the old rules the main changes are in Health where Wound counters now take over from Break-through Damage; with playing of cards out of turn; other players can only do this during combat now; and finally in Combat where you no longer have to predetermine which front row card is protecting which back row card; for ease and speed of play the whole of the front row now protects the whole of the back row. This last rule makes so much sense and prevents arguments and errors as well as keeping the game flowing at a good and logical speed. As I haven't located my old cards and rules I offer this URL for you to peruse at your leisure: Upper Deck VS Games Differences Then afterwards you can then locate Marvel Battles at your local games store. Note that VS System and Legendary although both Marvel based are not compatible games.
When you open the Marvel VS 2PCG box, which is an impressive reddish-brown with the VS logo proudly presented top and centre, you find a similarly presented 16 page rules booklet 8 bricks of foam 63mm x 88mm x 40mm and four sealed 100 card decks. Each of these decks offers players the opportunity to build a 60-card deck around one of the four main characters found within the 100 VS cards. To begin with I opened the decks separately rather than all together and mixing the cards and I suggest you do this. You can always mix and match later but to begin with you are best to create 4 decks of, as I say, 60 cards each, Each main hero and associated supporting cards carry the same illustration, only the L1, L2, text and colour set them apart.
In no particular order, the decks I opened contained the cards as follows:
Deck AVENGERS). Captain America; Iron Man; The Hulk; Spider-Man. Each of these super-heroes have three types - Main Character Level 1 and Main Character Level 2, plus 4 duplicate Supporting Character cards for each of these four heroes. Then there were additional Supporting characters, again 4 identical cards for each, and some very well known names: Thor; Dr Strange; Luke Cage; Ms. Marvel; Ant Man; Black Panther; Black Widow; Daredevil; Hawkeye and Nick Fury.
There are new Plot Twists, four of which appear in every deck (Open Fire; Best Offence is a Good Defence; Savage Surprise; Find Cover) and then three sets of Plot Twists, each of 4 duplicate cards and unique to each deck. In this deck these Plot Twists are: Stark Tech; Think Again; Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Each deck also has 4 Basic Locations: Academy; Fortress; Laboratory; Training Ground and a unique Location: for the AVENGERS deck the Special location is the Avengers Mansion.
Apart from the basic Plot Twists and Locations all cards in this deck have the Avengers "A" logo in the top right corner.
Deck GUARDIANS of the GALAXY) Players taking the GotG deck will be happy to find they can choose from Rocket; Star Lord; Gamora and Groot for their main character and of course support. The list of supporting characters will also be well known to GotG fans: Cosmo; Yondu; Nova; Adam Warlock; Major Victory; Mantis; Drax; Quasar; Moon Dragon; Agent Venom.
The Plot twists unique to this deck are: Vigilante Justice; Even the Odds; Give 'Em A Lift and the Special location is Knowhere.
Deck X-MEN) This is a gem of a deck with Main characters offering the player the power of Storm, the wild strength of Wolverine, the mental agility of Professor X and the humorous insanity of Deadpool, along with these supporting acts: Iceman; Magik; Hope Summers; Cyclops; Namor; Gambit; Beast; Cable; Colossus and Emma Frost.
The unique plot twists are: X-Factor; Squad Tactics; Uncanny Defence and the School for Gifted Youngsters is used as the Special location.
Deck GREEN GOBLIN) This is the villain deck, 100 cards aimed at making the lives of the other three decks exciting, adventurous and fraught with misery. Who will you choose from Green Goblin; Thanos, Magneto and Loki ? I had great fun playing Loki with a foundation of backing support from Ronan; Mystique; Doctor Octopus; Red Skull; Sabretooth; Ultron; Abomination; Mandarin; Juggernaut and Dormammu against friends playing the other main mains at separate times.
The Vault is the unique Special location and the Plot Twists are Extinguish; Metal & Fire; Trickster God.
The game mechanics of the VS System are pretty simple which makes it a good fun, fast game, and very similar to the bright, colourful and loud 3D card games that are becoming more and more popular on home computers and consoles. In the case of VS it is up to the players to provide the loud part, mainly through the excitement of playing the right card at the correct time, and the cards themselves provide the colour through their superb illustrations.
The main objective of the game, whether you are playing one player versus one player or 3 or 4 players as 2 v2 or as individual opponents of each other (the possibility of 2,3 or 4 players makes me query why it comes under the 2 Player card game genre), is to KO (Knock Out) all the Main characters other than your own. To hit a Main character you have to first break through the two walls of characters and supports in front of them. Each player has a 60 card deck plus a Main character. They set up their main hero (or villain) by placing the Level 1 card face up in front of them with the Level 2 version aside but visible to all. Their decks are now shuffled and seven cards dealt, there is one chance of a mulligan and from experience I urge you to take it if you are not entirely happy with your hand, a starting hand that is of little use to you at the start of the game can begin your early downfall.
Players take turns drawing cards and playing cards and like most card games of the collectible or trading card variety there is a cost to pay when bringing a card into play. This cost is in resources, cards from your hand are specifically placed face down in front of you to give you a supply of resources, once played thus these cards can no longer be used for their front side abilities, thus a good part of the tactics in VS is knowing which cards to hang on to and which to sacrifice for resources.This is another good reason for taking a mulligan if you are dealt with cards that you think you are going to need later on or if you have no locations or supporting characters which are required for the first few rounds. Although this is not a deck destroying game you do not get to shuffle your deck when it expires. The mulligan isn't actually explained fully, unless we have misread the rules, I have to admit that having read the part about dealing 7 cards with the possibility of a mulligan we didn't delve any further and all subsequent games we have just taken it as read; whenever a mulligan has been called for we have shuffled the dealt cards back into the deck and drawn 7 more. Some games state that the mulligan cards should be discarded others require a reshuffle and new deal, most agree that only one mulligan chance is allowed - we play mulligan and reshuffle because with only 60 cards and with the chance of getting your best cards in your first deal it is against the spirit of the game to have them removed from the game for good.
Players slowly build up their armies, forming them into three rows in front of themselves. The front row can only attack using melée even if they have the reticule symbol that represents ranged combat; cards in the second row can only attack using range so must have the reticule symbol to be effective. The third row is where your resources are displayed. Resource cards (face down) are turned sideways ("tapped" or "rotated" or "exhausted") to show they have been used, they get straightened upright (ready for use) on the player's next turn. Cards with + or - markers are flipped face down when defeated in combat and the +/- counters removed and replaced with a Wound marker; these characters cannot be attacked (unethical) or use their powers while in this condition. When the number of Wounds equal the number of Health are KO'd and out of the game. Characters can be rearranged between first and second rows during the Formation phase of a player's Turn.
Plot Twists and Super Powers are resolved immediately they are brought into play, again this is something for strategists to carefully consider, while fun players will bring them into play willy-nilly, often causing an amount of chaos.
Combat is easily and quickly resolved by comparing the ATK (Attack) and DEF (Defence), remembering that other cards can affect and modify these numbers, of the characters involved causing simultaneous attack and counter attack. Team attacks (in 2 vs 2 games) are slightly more complicated but only in as much as the Defender has to choose against whom to counter strike. Remember; Super-Heroes are not supposed to kill their adversaries even if they are nasty and evil and demonic, they only Knock them Out, keeping the game in line with the comic-book genre.
The rules within the boxed set have great advice for building your first decks as well as explaining the ease of use of the main characters for new players, showing Captain America, Star-Lord, Magneto and Wolverine as the easiest main characters to use for your first few games; the trickiest being Deadpool, Groot, Loki, Professor X and Rocket. These difficulties are based on the abilities the main characters haveand how easy it is to bring them into play. Like the enthusiastic player I am at times I went for the character (Deadpool) I wanted to play rather than one suggested by the rules booklet. To be honest I didn't feel out of my depth, but maybe that's because I played VS before, although years back, or maybe because I am a reasonably experienced player (or perhaps it was because my opponent was a three year old ... only joking, honest! ). Seriously (yes apparently I can be serious at times) we tried several combinations of deck versus deck and we all agreed it was great fun to play the Villain deck, Loki with support from Mystique and Doctor Octopus in particular being especially enjoyable.
The 100 cards per deck are reasonably well balanced, well to begin with there are 100 cards in each deck so that's a good balance as it is when you whittle them down to 60 cards. It's how you build your deck that makes or breaks the balance. Overall, and I'm being serious again, the 100 cards in the decks have been very well chosen to allow for construction of some fun and interesting games. Once you have played a few times you should look to adding cards from the available expansions though you have a myriad games to play just by tweaking your decks with the cards from the 100 not currently in use. When you eventually get tired of the same decks, and I really cannot see this occurring for a very long time, if ever at all - let's face it, you have 4 main characters to choose from, 2 levels of experience for each of them plus numerous plot twists and supporting characters, it will take you forever and a day (or longer) to get anywhere near the optimum number of possible combinations. In fact Upper Deck could easily have shot themselves in the foot (feet ?) with this product as it is about as complete a game as I have seen for a collectible trading card game.
Each card has several items of interest, cost to bring out, attack and defence values, health etc as well as some flavour and game text but I know from experience at playing that it is quite often the character's name or the artwork o the card that gets it selected more than how good it will be in your deck. Gamers who are statiticians will go for the best possible abiltiies but gamers in general like pretty and shiny because we are, in a lovable way, all geeks of a kind.
VS is a quality game that comes in a relatively inexpensive package of four hundred cards and features virtually all the major heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe that you can name in 20 seconds.
The card art is superb, the gameplay is fast and fun and although the game features the majority of the same characters as found in LEGENDARY SECRET WARS the two games are totally different despite covering virtually the same topics. Older players may remember the Young Jedi card game and the Star Wars card game and how different they were in complexity, this is how I see the difference between MARVEL LEGENDARY and MARVEL VS, making it well worth having both games in your collection.