Rave : 2004 : The Games People (Don't) Play - Marvel vs. System

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Upper Deck seem to have a pretty well-recognised trading card gaming system going these days. As far as I can tell, it consists of a common rule system which spans different marketing streams - with Marvel being one of those streams, entitled the "Marvel vs. System". You can also purchase "DC vs. System" cards, which are almost certainly compatible with the Marvel cards.

Within that Marvel stream, there are several different cards. You can purchase pre-configured "starter" decks of 40 cards each, chosing from "Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock", "X-Men vs. Brotherhood of Evil Mutants", and possibly others. Naturally, you will then start buying massively over-priced "booster packs" and begin making your own custom 60-card decks.

Now, normally when I see any cards with "Spider-Man" on the box, that's me sold no questions asked. What's more, I'm pretty obsessive-compulsive, so when I start collecting, I almost always end up forking out a ton of cash to complete the set. But not this time.

Sure, I dutifully bought the "Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock" starter set, and took it home to play against my eight-year old off-spring, who's always keen to give any new game a bit of a go. Perhaps naively, we sat down and opened up the rules and tried to play. I've been a games player for thirty-plus years. I used to play "Squad Leader", perhaps the most complex board game in the history of mankind! But I really struggled with the "Starter Rules", they had so many gaps. It seemed you had to understand the full rules before the Starter Rules made any sense!

Disappointed, we abandoned the attempt at play, and instead I then sat down and read the "basic rules" quietly by myself. We then resumed the game. Much to my disappointment, the game was as dull as the six-part mini-series "Spider-Man: The Costume Repair". Compared to the "Harry Potter" trading card game, this one just fell really flat. Maybe we just didn't get into the spirit of things. Heck, maybe I'm just too old for this stuff. But I just couldn't seem to develop any interest at all in this game.

To be honest, I'm really tired of trading card games. Don't get me wrong, I love card games, and I enjoy collecting trading cards. But... I really don't like what happens when the two are combined. When I want to collect cards, I want to file them away and enjoy looking at them. When I want to play a card game, I want to do so without having to spend a couple of months and a few hundred dollars just to get all the parts of the game.

So, whence from here? You can see some of the cards, and a bit more of the packaging if you visit our Marvel vs. System page. But personally I suggest that card collectors look at some of the other Spidey Cards Sets, and that those wanting to play an enjoyable card game head over to Warehouse 23 and consider playing Munchkin or Who's Got the Brain - both of which I can heartily recommend, and both of which will give you complete set of cards for the initial purchase price. Now there's a novel idea!