I always wanted a play set of “Savage Beatdown” for my Brotherhood deck. For those of you who are not familiar with the card, it was one of – if not the best Plot Twist in the original Marvel Origins set. When the set was released by Upper Deck, I was just a teenager in high school, and unfortunately I had limited income. I was no stranger to the cost of a trading card game, already paying for and playing Magic the Gathering casually with my older brother and his friends for years, but since our groups initial play test of VS System we all instantly found a game we enjoyed. Unfortunately we did not stick with the game until its final run, but only played until the X-men set was released due to many of us starting our careers.
I am not sure what it was specifically but I can tell you VS System was new, exciting, and had a great concept – pit teams of superheroes and villains against one another, across the familiar universes of DC & Marvel. But, like most trading card games you could easily find similarities between the game and Magic the Gathering. Probably the most frustrating similarity to MTG was forking over good portions of my pay buying pack after pack, hoping for the strong, rare cards, in this case – “Savage Beatdown”. I needed many other pieces of the deck I wanted to build but to me, the rare plot twist represented what I really wanted, it represented confidence in being “tournament ready”. In my brain, playing 4 “Savage Beatdowns” was a requirement to be competitive, more than likely because most of the other competitors would run 4 of the card. I remember feeling this way when playing MTG with “Jace the Mind Sculptor” during the first Zendikar block (one of my favorite cards in MTG).
Now I am almost 30, married, have a somewhat demanding job, and find myself enjoying VS System 2PCG even more than I enjoyed the original Vs System. The game maintains the same great concept of the original Vs System, but 2PCG essentially took the basic rules of the original, modified them – to accommodate for what seems like a simplified and faster pace gameplay. My wife whom is not familiar with TCGs was able to easily pick up the rules and plays with me pretty regularly, score for me! The biggest and arguably most interesting change was the removal of Endurance as the player’s life total, like MTG. Instead, players must select from a list of now 32 (after 2 Expansions) main characters, which each have their own unique ability and skill sets, and their life totals are directly connected to the amount of wounds their main character can take.
I have to say I like the changes and personally I think it improves upon the rules of the first VS System. On top of it all I have the same cards at my disposable as everyone else; I no longer have to buy packs or cards off e-Bay to feel competitive! Although, sometimes I miss the thrill of opening a pack and getting that extremely rare card (I once opened a single pack and got a Tarmogoyf – google it if you don’t know what it is). In this case though I think the Pro outweighs the Con. A few weeks ago on a Sunday I attended my first tournament for Vs System 2PCG. I have to say, I was satisfied. I actually had a blast. The only negative part was the travel time. Unfortunately I live in Queens, NY and there is not much local gaming store support for the game. My friends and I travelled 2 hours to New Jersey to play at Highlander Games & Comics in Boonton, New Jersey. One of my friends competed for first place, while another won the door prize. All in all it was worth it. The winner of our tournament was a Star-lord (one of my personal favorite main characters) using a combination of A-Force and Guardians. I was so glad I could finally play with people outside my local crew, I didn’t even care that the deck I put together to try out, didn’t do so well. Actually, I feel it had the reverse effect as I have found that every day I am trying to find new and exciting ideas to test to make a tournament viable deck and I want to make it outside of the normal expected choices which include Dark Phoenix or Thanos.
All-in-All after 2 expansion packs, I think Vs System 2pcg is a very well done game. The game is simple enough for new players to easily pick it up and have fun, as well as containing a complexity that most regular TCG players would enjoy. The current value makes it perfect for casual players whom always wanted to try tournament play, but did not have the resources to do so. It still has the same nostalgic feel as the original VS, and I would suggest any VS player who enjoyed the original to give it a try. There were some bumps along the way with the releases, and the card quality and UDE is working to fix those issues… but my main concern as a player is the support it receives. UDE did a great job with their initial kit providing some pretty cool foil characters, an acrylic L2 Star Lord (which looks way better in person then it does in pictures) and a pretty large Dr. Strange play mat. The demand for the tournaments and the product is there – many of us in NYC had encountered delays in getting A-Force at our local shops. Upon writing this article I have already started the process of reaching out to several gaming stores in NYC to see if they will support tournament play, and I encourage any players whom are in the same boat as me to do the same. Additionally if you are looking for people to play with, check out the NY Vs System Community and the VS 2PCG Collective Facebook groups; they are full of active and helpful players.