Universal Fighting System
|Age range||13 and up|
|Playing time||10-30 minutes|
The Universal Fighting System (UFS) is a collectible card game originally designed by Sabertooth Games in 2006, and later sold to Fantasy Flight Games in 2008. In 2010, it was again sold to Jasco Games, who have been designing and publishing the game ever since.
Games of UFS represent a fight between two characters in hand-to-hand combat. Characters are drawn from original properties as well as a number of licensed ones, such as Mega Man, The King of Fighters XIII and Darkstalkers. The sets are cross-compatible - cards from multiple licenses can be included in the same deck, and characters from different universes may face each other in a match.
Players begin a game of UFS with a character card in play. This is the character they have chosen to fight as. A player's character determines their hand size, starting vitality, and grants unique abilities which a deck is typically built to make use of. The primary objective of the game is to reduce the opponent's vitality to 0.
Unlike most CCGs, a game of UFS does not involve monsters or other creatures. Damage is dealt by playing attack cards, which the opponent will have an opportunity to try to block with a card from their hand. An attack has different properties such as speed (how hard it is to block), the damage it will deal, and a zone that the opponent's block must match to stop all of the damage. Attacks also have various abilities on them, and may be enhanced by abilities on other cards.
A second major departure from other CCGs is that the costing system in UFS is not static. In order to play a card in UFS, players must pass what is called a "control check". This entails discarding the top card of one's deck, and comparing its control value (in the lower right) to the difficulty of the card he or she is trying to play. If the control is greater than or equal to the difficulty needed, the card is played at no cost. Otherwise, the player must "commit" (turn sideways) a number of foundation cards (the second major card type) equal to the difference, or else the card fails to be played and is discarded.
During a turn, each card attempted gets +1 difficulty for each card before it, and the turn player may continue trying to play cards until one of them fails (failing a card ends the turn). So, the cost of a card can vary from zero to several resources, depending on when it is played during a turn and the value of the control check.
Players draw cards up to their character's hand size at the start of each turn, so the typical turn of UFS involves around 3 to 5 cards played by the turn player, plus some number of blocks by the opponent if attacks were played.
Between the sheer number of cards played, (nearly all of which have an ability or two) the risk-reward decisions inherent in the control check system, and the unknown nature of what blocks or attacks the opponent might have, UFS is higher in complexity than most other CCGs, and the skill-luck balance leans more strongly towards skill.
A UFS deck consists of a minimum of 60 cards (including the character), and no more than four copies of a given card may be in a deck. Due to the large number of cards drawn during a typical game, it is common for decks to exceed the 60 card minimum in order to increase the variety of cards available.
Deckbuilding in UFS is restricted by the resource symbol system. Each card typically has 3 symbols on it representing various elements or concepts. When playing cards during a turn, there must be a symbol that is on every card played, and also on the player's character. Therefore, it is normal when deckbuilding to choose a symbol on the character, and include in the deck only cards that have that symbol.
There are five different card types in UFS, indicated by the color of their border and other traits:
- Characters - A card representing the combatant a player is fighting as. This is the centerpiece of a deck.
- Attacks - Attacks have an orange border. They represent punches, kicks, weapon strikes, and other moves used to deal damage to the opponent.
- Foundations - Foundations have a grey border. They represent a character's training and background, and are the primary resource used to help play cards successfully.
- Assets - Assets have a green border. They represent locations or objects, and provide abilities more powerful than those on foundations.
- Actions - Actions have a blue border. They represent various manuevers and generate effects upon being played, allowing the player to use abilities that were held secret in their hand.
Card sets and products
Each license has an abbreviation used in the set number to indicate which universe the set is from. These abbreviations are:
- PA - Penny Arcade
- SF - Street Fighter
- SC - Soulcalibur III
- SNK - SNK Playmore (The King of Fighters 2006 and Samurai Shodown V)
- DS - Darkstalkers
- WH - Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
- SW - ShadoWar (original property)
- SCIV - Soulcalibur IV
- T6 - Tekken 6
- RH - Red Horizon (original property)
- KoF - The King of Fighters XIII
- MM - Mega Man
Under Sabertooth Games and early on under Fantasy Flight Games, sets were released very rapidly, and were poorly balanced. Release frequency was slowed by FFG in 2009. In the beginning of its time under Jasco Games, UFS releases were slow due to printing issues and the building up of a new company, but they have recently returned to releasing a set every 3 to 5 months.
|Set ID & Name||Release Date||Set Size||Starter Deck Characters||Booster Characters|
|PA: Penny Arcade Battle Box||February 2006||45||Gabe, Tycho||(none; fixed set)|
|SF01: Street Fighter||April 2006||143||Chun Li, Dhalsim, Ken, Ryu||Chun Li, Dhalsim, Ken, Ryu, Sagat, Zangief|
|SC01: Soulcalibur III||April 2006||143||Astaroth, Nightmare, Taki, Voldo||Astaroth, Cassandra, Mitsurugi, Nightmare, Taki, Voldo|
|SF02: World Warriors||July 2006||126||(none; boosters only)||Balrog, Blanka, E. Honda, Guile, M. Bison, Vega|
|SC02: A Tale of Swords & Souls||July 2006||126||(none; boosters only)||Ivy, Kilik, Raphael, Setsuka, Tira, Zasalamel|
|SCBP: Siegfried vs. Sophitia Battle Box||November 2006||44||Siegfried, Sophitia||(none; fixed set)|
|SF03: The Next Level||December 2006||90||(none; boosters only)||Akuma, Cammy, Dudley, Fei Long|
|SNK01: SNK Playmore||December 2006||144||Haohmaru, Mai, Terry, Ukyo||Alba, Athena, Charlotte, Galford, Gaira, Hanzo, Iori, Kyo, Lien, Nagase, Nakoruru, Yoshitora|
|SF04: The Dark Path||February 2007||144||Chun-Li, Ryu, T. Hawk, Twelve||Adon, Charlie, Chun-Li, Rose, Ryu, Sakura, T. Hawk, Twelve|
|SC03: Soul Arena||February 2007||144||Abyss, Cervantes, Lizardman, Yoshimitsu||Abyss, Cervantes, Lizardman, Mitsurugi, Taki, Talim, Rock, Yoshimitsu|
|SF05: Extreme Rivals||May 2007||90||(none; boosters only)||Cody, Dee Jay, Ibuki, Ken, R. Mika|
|SC04: Blades of Fury||May 2007||90||(none; boosters only)||Maxi, Nightmare, Tira, Xianghua, Yun-seong|
|SFBP: Ryu vs. Akuma Battle Pack||July 2007||44||Akuma, Ryu||(none; fixed set)|
|SC05: Higher Calibur||August 2007||99||(none; boosters only)||Astaroth, Cassandra, Cervantes, Ivy, Seong Mi-na, Voldo|
|SNK02: Fortune & Glory||August 2007||99||(none; boosters only)||Billy, Genjuro, Jubei, K', Luise, Mai, Nightmare Geese, Sankuro, Seth, Tam Tam, Ukyo|
|SF06: Fight for the Future||November 2007||99||(none; boosters only)||Alex, Cammy, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Gen, Gill, Guile|
|DS01: Darkstalkers||November 2007||126||(none; boosters only)||B.B. Hood, Bishamon, Demitri, Donovan, Felicia, J. Talbain, Lilith, Lord Raptor, Morrigan, Pyron, Q-Bee, Rikuo, Sasquatch, Victor|
|SF07: Domination||February 2008||144||Akuma, Ken, Sagat, Sakura||Blanka, Dan, Guy, Karin, M. Bison, Ryu, Sean, Yang, Yun, Zangief|
|SNK03: The Cutting Edge||February 2008||144||Haohmaru, Mai, Rock Howard, Yoshitora||B. Jenet, Galford, Iori, Kula, Kyo, Kyoshiro, Nagase, Ninon, Rera, Yumeji,|
|SF08: Deadly Ground||June 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Adon, Cammy, Charlie, E. Honda, Fei Long, Ibuki, Juli, Juni, Makoto, Rose, Vega|
|DS02: Realm of Midnight||June 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Anakaris, Bishamon, Demitri, Donovan, Felicia, Hsien-Ko, Huitzil, J. Talbain, Jedah, Morrigan, Victor|
|WH: Warhammer Online||September 2008||54||Karl Franz, Tchar'zanek||(none; fixed set)|
|SC06: Flash of the Blades||September 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Kilik, Lizardman, Mitsurugi, Raphael, Seong Mi-na, Setsuka, Siegfried, Sophitia, Taki, Talim, Zasalamel|
|SNK04: The King of Fighters 2006||September 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Alba, Chae, Fio, Hanzo, Jivatma, Leona, Maxima, Mignon, Soiree, Terry, Yuri|
|SF09: Warrior's Dream||December 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Alex, Balrog, Chun Li, Dhalsim, Elena, Guile, Hugo, M. Bison, R. Mika, Remy, T. Hawk|
|SNK05: Flames of Fame||December 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Basara, Billy, Gaira, Kazuki, Kim, Nakoruru, Nightmare Geese, Ralf, Rock Howard, Sogetsu, Terry|
|SCIV01: Soulcalibur IV||April 2009||144||Cervantes, Ivy, Nightmare, Siegfried||Algol, Astaroth, Hilde, Tira|
|SW01: ShadoWar||April 2009||144||Astrid, Ragnar, Yi Shan, Zi Mei||Lu Chen, Rashotep, Temujin, Zhao Daiyu|
|T601 - Tekken 6||August 2009||99||(none;boosters only)||Christie Montiero, Kazuya Mishima, King, Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix|
|SCIV02: Quest of Souls||November 2009||99||(none; boosters only)||Amy, Mistsurugi, Taki, Yoshimitsu, Xianghua|
|RH01: Red Horizon||December 2010||99||(none;boosters only)||Eva, Kaden, Lily, Miska, Nehtali, Reese|
|RH02: Tides of Vengeance||February 2012||176||Nehtali, Satoshi, Vincent Grey, Vespera||Alice, Allahra, Gabrek, Kaden, Omniel, Syrithe Super Skull Man 33, Zoey|
|KoF01: King of Fighters XIII Prize Set||August 2012||40||(none;boosters only)||Clark, Mature, Mr. Karate, Saiki, Shen, Vice|
|KoF02: King of Fighters XIII||July 2013||108||(none; boosters only)||Andy, Joe, Terry, Clark, Leona, Ralf, King, Mai, Yuri, Iori, Mature, Vice|
|KOF03: Ruler of Time||October 2013||108||(none; boosters only)||Benimaru, Duo, Elisabeth, Goro, Hwa, K′, Kim, Kula, Maxima, Raiden, Shen|
|KOF04: NeoMax||January 2014||108||(none; boosters only)||Ash, Athena, Chin, Iori, K′, Kyo, Mai, Robert, Ryo, Sie, Takuma, Terry|
|MM01: Mega Man Collector's Tins||April 2014||75||Mega Man, Proto Man||Bomb Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Fire Man, Guts Man, Ice Man|
|DS04: Darkstalkers Collector's Tins||September 2014||77||Lilith, Morrigan||Anakaris, Donovan, Huitzil, Q-Bee, Sasquatch, Victor|
|MM02: Rise of the Masters||Winter 2015 (estimated)||144||Mega Man, Dr. Wily||Gemini Man, Magnet Man, Metal Man, Proto Man, Skull Man|
|DS05: Warriors of the Night||Spring 2015 (estimated)||144||Felicia, J. Talbain||not announced|
|RH03: The East is Burning Red||Summer 2015 (estimated)||144||not announced||not announced|
Card rarity and distribution
Each card has rarity information printed along the bottom to indicate how common it is. The rarity was previously denoted by the number of small dots appearing at the bottom of the card, according to the following legend. More recently, the dots have been replaced by the relevant letter.
|• or C||Common|
|•• or UC||Uncommon|
|••• (non-foil) or SE||Starter deck exclusive|
|••• (foil) or R||Rare|
|•••• or UR||Ultra Rare or Promotional (dots only)|
|~||Reprint (Battle Packs only)|
Starter decks under Jasco Games are fixed, with around half the deck being "starter exclusive" cards that do not appear in booster packs.
In each 10-card booster pack, there are 6 commons and 3 uncommons, with the remaining card being either rare or ultra-rare. Roughly 1 out of every 4 packs contains an ultra-rare.
All rares and ultra-rares were foiled, up until Tekken 6 when this practice was stopped. Foiled cards returned with the release of The King of Fighters XIII, all ultra-rare cards (but not rares) have been foiled since.
As with most CCGs, UFS rotates sets out of its standard format to keep it fresh and to avoid requiring new players to have to get much older cards. Typically, a UFS set will be legal in Standard for about 3 years. Sets are currently rotated in groups, but Jasco has indicated that they will eventually rotate one major set at a time.
The current sets legal in Standard are:
- RH01: Red Horizon (expected to rotate Spring 2015)
- RH02: Tides of Vengeance (expected to rotate Spring 2015)
- KoF01: King of Fighters XIII Prize Packs (expected to rotate Spring 2015)
- KoF02: King of Fighters XIII
- KoF03: Ruler of Time
- KoF04: NeoMax
- MM01: Mega Man Collector's Tins
- DS03: Darkstalkers Collector's Tins
UFS holds National Championships for the USA and UK each year, and in some years one in Canada. There is also a UFS World Championship held every year at Gencon.
Aside from those events, there is a second tier of major events called PTCs (standing for Pro Tour Circuit). Despite the name, these events (as well as National and World Championships) do not require qualification - anybody with a legal deck can enter.
PTCs are held sporadically throughout the year in various locations, typically local hobby shops that have some of the larger UFS playerbases. The prize for a PTC is a plane voucher to be used to travel to a National or World Championships, and a first round bye to be used at one such event.
Aside from Standard, formats such as Teams Standard (3 versus 3), Extended (cards from 2008, and later 2009 on) and Legacy (all sets) have been supported to varying degrees at the National and World Championship level.
Legacy was supported from 2010 through early 2014, but has been dropped due to time constraints and the extreme barrier to entry. Extended (allowing cards from 2008 on) was supported at the World Championships in 2010 and 2011, but was dropped due to being an incredibly negative play experience. It is expected to return, allowing cards from 2009 on, at some point in 2015.
Starting with King of Fighters XIII, sets of UFS have been structured to allow for drafting to be a feasible format. Players draft using 6 packs, and build 40 card decks. After the draft, they may select any character card from the set to use as their starting character. The only special gameplay rules are that mulligans are shuffled into the deck, and only 3 cards are removed from the game upon cycling.
The Coolest Prize in Gaming
As the prize for its National and World Championships, UFS offers what they call The Coolest Prize in Gaming. The winner gets to be turned into a tournament legal promotional character card, which they have a hand in helping design.
Team champions receive asset cards, while Legacy and Extended winners receive foundation and actions cards respectively. The latter two formats have not always been supported. The following tables list the winners of the various Standard and Teams events:
|Year||Canadian National Champion||UK National Champion||US National Champion||World Champion|
|2006||(not held)||(not held)||Wes 'Flawless' Victory||Matt Kohls|
|2007||Jacky Tang||Scott Mence||James Hata||Andrew Olexa|
|2008||Jonathan Herr||JJ||Omar Chavez||James Hata|
|2009||Kirk Polka||Joe Hill||Mike Lowe||Paul Bittner|
|2010||(not held)||(not held)||Ben Shoemaker||Andrew Olexa|
|2011||(not held)||Jack Lambourne||(not held)||Keenan Meadows|
|2012||Phil Birch||Mike Hardiman||Garett Brett||Paul Bittner|
|2013||Kevin Broberg||Garett Brett||Tim Keefe||Jeremy Ray|
|2014||(not held)||TBD||Dave Wagoner||Keith Disbro|
|Year||Canadian National Team Champions||UK National Team Champions||US National Team Champions||World Team Champions|
|2007||(not held)||Pigeon Games||Fantasy Shop||Kings Games|
|2008||(not held)||Patriot Games||Voltron Kitten Force||Voltron Kitten Force|
|2009||(not held)||(not held)||UFS House||UFS House|
|2010||(not held)||(not held)||Zealot Rush||(not held)|
|2011||(not held)||Team Traybake||(not held)||Lion Stance|
|2012||Millenium Games and Hobbies||Team Traybake||Nailed It!!!||Surprise! It's the Boss|
|2013||(not held)||Team Clark n' B*tches||Voltron Kitten Force||Voltron Kitten Force|
|2014||(not held)||TBD||Lion Stance||Team Tapout|
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