Vs. System

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This article is about the collectible card game. For the arcade platform based on the Nintendo Entertainment System, see Nintendo Vs. System.
Vs. System
VS System card back
VS System's card back design
Designer(s) Matt Hyra, Mike Hummel, Edward Fear, and Danny Mandel
Publisher(s) Upper Deck Entertainment
Players 21
Age range 10+
Setup time < 5 minutes
Playing time < 30 minutes
Random chance Some
Skill(s) required Card playing
Simple math
Deck optimization
Planning
Deception
1 Some casual rules allow more players.

Vs. System (short for Versus System), also written as VS System and abbreviated as VS, is a collectible card game (CCG) designed by Upper Deck Entertainment (UDE). In the game, players build and play a deck of Vs. System cards in an attempt to win a game against their opponent. It was first published in 2004 and is set in the superhero genre. The game was discontinued by Upper Deck Entertainment in January 2009.[1] It was relaunched in 2014 as the "Vs. System Living Card Game". [2]

Superheroic setting[edit]

The sets of the Vs. System are based on the superheroic settings of Marvel and DC Comics, with the exception of a smaller set called the Hellboy Essential Collection. For the most part expansion sets alternated release between Marvel based sets and DC Comics based sets with new sets every three to six months. All sets are interchangeable and compatible with each other and share the same card back. This allows players to mix characters fighting against or with each other.

Card art, characters, and gameplay concepts are inspired by their comic book appearances with the designers using what they describe as "top-down design", meaning they make every attempt to develop a character's card mechanics in keeping with how the character is represented in comic books.[3] Well known artists that have contributed card art include Alex Ross, John Van Fleet, Alex Garner, Jim Lee, Rachel Dodson, and Bill Sienkiewicz.

Gameplay[edit]

The Vs. System attempts to emulate epic superhero battles. Each player starts the game with 50 "endurance points". If a player has zero or negative endurance at the end of the Recovery Phase, he or she is knocked out of the game. The Vs. System Comprehensive Rules has an in-depth explanation of every aspect of the game and is official for use in tournament judging.

Types of cards[edit]

There are four types of cards in the Vs. System, with color-coded frames: Character (usually red, but black for "concealed" characters), Equipment (gray), Location (green), and Plot Twist (blue). All four types of cards share a common layout.

Phases of gameplay[edit]

  • Draw Phase: Each player simultaneously draws two cards from their deck.
  • Build Phase: Starting with the player holding the initiative, and going clockwise, each player completes the following steps:
    • Resource Step: You may place one card face down into the resource row.
    • Recruit Step: Spend resource points to recruit characters and/or equipment. Resource points are determined at the beginning of the Recruit step by how many cards a player has in his or her resource row.
    • Formation Step: Rearrange your characters between your front and support rows. You may also transfer "Transferable" equipment during this step.
After the player with the initiative completes their steps within the Build Phase, each other player completes theirs in turn. Once each player finishes, the Build Phase ends and the Combat Phase begins.
  • Combat Phase: Starting with the player holding the initiative, each player has an "Attack Step" where they may declare attacks with the characters they control against their opponent's characters, or directly against an opposing player if they don't control any non-stunned visible characters. The player with the initiative attacks with all legal attackers, or until they wish to pass. Repeat this Attack Step for each player, going clockwise, from the player with the initiative. Once each person has completed their Attack Step, the Combat Phase ends and the Recovery Phase begins
  • Recovery Phase: At the end of the recovery phase, during the "wrap-up" portion, each player compares endurance totals, and all players with 0 or less endurance lose the game. If this would leave no players still in the game, the player with the highest endurance total wins the game. Then all players may simultaneously recover one stunned character, KO all remaining stunned characters, and ready all objects (characters, locations, equipment) they control. Once these steps are performed, the initiative passes clockwise to the next player, the Recovery Phase ends, and the next turn commences with the Draw Phase.

Variant rules[edit]

  • Grand Melee: A regular game of Vs. System for any number of players. Last man standing wins.
  • Team Alliance: A 2-on-2 game of Vs. System. Teammates sit across from each other. Plays just like grand melee, but teammates share an endurance total of 100 and cannot attack each other. Play until only one team is left.
  • Two-Headed Mutant: A 2-on-2 game of Vs. System. Teammates sit next to each other across from their opponents. Each team begins the game with 100 endurance. This game variant can be played with any number of people on either team, as long as the teams are even numbered. 50 endurance is added onto the total endurance score for each person on a team. Therefore, a Three-Headed Mutant would see a game with 150 endurance.

Card sets[edit]

All cards are marked in the lower left with an expansion code or set code, a three-letter code identifying the set in which the card was published. The first letter of the set code indicates the setting (D for DC Comics and M for Marvel Comics), except for the Essential Collection set, which starts with the letter E.

Most Vs. System cards are released in expansion sets, of which there were a total of 18. The first 14 expansion sets all had either 165 or 220 cards, but starting with Marvel Legends, which had 273 cards, the size of expansion sets grew larger, peaking at 330 cards of the Marvel Universe set. Marvel Legends also debuted a card face layout redesign.

The game was also periodically supplemented by the release of starter deck sets, of which there were a total of 6. The starter deck sets each contained two playable 40 card mini-decks. They pitted two teams against each other, typically a "hero" team versus a "villain" team. The first 3 (X-Men vs. the Brotherhood, Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock, and Batman vs. the Joker) drew all their cards from other expansion sets. However, the last 3 (Batman, Fantastic Four, and X-Men) contained new cards not in expansions sets. Each of the last 3 starter sets also were published to coincide with an associated film also released that year (Batman Begins, Fantastic Four, and X-Men: The Last Stand, respectively). UDE had originally planned to release a 7th starter set, for Superman (to coincide with the 2006 Superman Returns movie), but that set ended up being cancelled and never released.

Additionally, UDE planned an Essential Collections line geared towards introducing characters from outside the Marvel and DC Universes. However, only one such set ever ended up being released, the Hellboy Essential Collection. It contained two pre-constructed 60-card decks, a comprehensive rule book, and a number of other extras. Like the starter decks, the Hellboy Essential Collection is tournament-legal.[4]

UDE also planned a Giant-Size line. However, the only set ever published in the line was The Coming of Galactus, a set geared toward multiplayer play in which multiple players would be pitted against a single powerful player taking on the role of Galactus. All cards in the set were legal for tournament play, with the exception of an oversized Galactus card and "Planet" cards.

Finally, there were exclusive sets, consisting of promotional cards associated with a particular expansion set released through venues such as conventions and tournaments. The exclusives sets are listed here rather than in the table below. The 5 exclusive sets (with set codes in parentheses) were:

  • associated with Marvel Legends: Age of Apocalypse (MAA) and Marvel Exclusives (MEX)
  • associated with DC Legends: DC Exclusives (DCX)
  • associated with Marvel Universe: Marvel Equipment (MEQ) and Marvel Ultimates (MUL)

The following table lists all non-exclusive sets in chronological order of release:

Release order (expansion sets only) Set name Set code Setting Set type Date Featured teams Teams introduced Size (number of cards) New mechanics and notable features
1 Marvel Origins MOR Marvel Comics expansion set April 2004 X-Men
Brotherhood
Doom
Fantastic Four
Sentinels
X-Men
Brotherhood
Doom
Fantastic Four
Sentinels
Skrull
Negative Zone
220 First set
N/A X-Men vs. the Brotherhood Starter Deck MOR (same as for Marvel Origins) Marvel Comics starter set April 2004 X-Men
Brotherhood
none 80 total, all reprints All cards are drawn from the Marvel Origins expansion set
N/A Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock Starter Deck MSM (same as for Web of Spider-Man) Marvel Comics starter set June 2004 Spider-Friends
Sinister Syndicate
Spider-Friends
Sinister Syndicate
80 total, all reprints All cards are drawn from the Web of Spider-Man expansion set, released a few months later
2 DC Origins DOR DC Comics expansion set July 2004 Gotham Knights
Arkham Inmates
League of Assassins
Teen Titans
Gotham Knights
Arkham Inmates
League of Assassins
Teen Titans
Fearsome Five
Deathstroke
165 Boost
Loyalty
Transferable
N/A Batman vs. the Joker Starter Set DOR (same as for DC Origins) DC Comics starter set July 2004 Gotham Knights
Arkham Inmates
none 80 total, all reprints All cards are drawn from the DC Origins expansion set
3 Web of Spider-Man MSM Marvel Comics expansion set September 2004 Spider-Friends
Sinister Syndicate
Spider-Friends
Sinister Syndicate
165 Evasion
4 Superman, Man of Steel DSM DC Comics expansion set November 2004 Team Superman
New Gods
Revenge Squad
Darkseid's Elite
Team Superman
New Gods
Revenge Squad
Darkseid's Elite
165 Cosmic
Invulnerability
5 Marvel Knights MMK Marvel Comics expansion set February 2005 Marvel Knights
Crime Lords
Underworld
X-Statix
Marvel Knights
Crime Lords
Underworld
X-Statix
220 Concealed
Dual-Loyalty
Hidden area
First reprint: Marvel Team-Up
6 Green Lantern Corps DGL DC Comics expansion set May 2005 Green Lantern
Emerald Enemies
Anti-Matter
Manhunters
Green Lantern
Emerald Enemies
Anti-Matter
Manhunters
220 Concealed-Optional
Willpower
Non-character cards ("Construct")
N/A Batman Starter Deck DBM DC Comics starter set June 2005 Gotham Knights
League of Assassins
none 80 total, 28 non-reprint Some cards are drawn from the DC Origins expansion set; others are new
Released to coincide with Batman Begins, the 2005 Batman film
N/A Fantastic Four Starter Deck MFF Marvel Comics starter set June 2005 Fantastic Four
Doom
none 80 total, 28 non-reprint Some cards are drawn from the Marvel Origins set; others are new
released to coincide with Fantastic Four, the 2005 Fantastic Four film
7 The Avengers MAV Marvel Comics expansion set August 2005 Avengers
Masters of Evil
Kang Council
Thunderbolts
Squadron Supreme
Avengers
Masters of Evil
Kang Council
Thunderbolts
Squadron Supreme
220 Leader
Reservist
Non-character cards ("Team-Up")
8 Justice League of America DJL DC Comics expansion set November 2005 Justice League of America
Justice League International
Injustice Gang
Secret Society
Justice League of America
Justice League International
Injustice Gang
Secret Society
220 Ally
Dual team affiliations[5]
9 X-Men MXM Marvel Comics expansion set February 2006 X-Men
Brotherhood
Morlocks
Hellfire Club
Morlocks
Hellfire Club
220 Mutant Traits (Physical, Mental, and Energy)
N/A X-Men Starter Deck MXS Marvel Comics starter set February 2006 X-Men
Brotherhood
none 80 total, 32 non-reprint Some cards are drawn from The X-Men expansion set; others are new
released to coincide with X-Men: The Last Stand, the 2006 X-Men film
10 Infinite Crisis DCR DC Comics expansion set April 2006 JSA
Shadowpact
Villains United
Checkmate
JSA
Shadowpact
Villains United
Checkmate
Secret Six
Crisis
220 Vengeance
Backup
Loyalty-Reveal
Identity concept expanded
Non-character cards ("Magic")
"Champion" characters
11 Heralds of Galactus MHG Marvel Comics expansion set September 2006 Heralds of Galactus
Inhumans
Kree
Doom
Skrull
Heralds of Galactus
Inhumans
Kree
Infinity Watch
220 Press
Terraform
Cosmic-Surge
12 Legion of Super-Heroes DLS DC Comics expansion set December 2006 Legionnaires
Future Foes
Teen Titans
Darkseid's Elite
Legionnaires
Future Foes
220 Substitute
Alternate use of Cosmic
13 Marvel Team-Up MTU Marvel Comics expansion set February 2007 Spider-Friends
Sinister Syndicate
Underworld
Marvel Defenders
Wild Pack
Marvel Defenders
Wild Pack
220 Dual Loyalty
Alternate use of Boost
Paying attack or defense
N/A Hellboy Essential Collection EHB Hellboy Essential Collection February 2007 B.P.R.D.
Thule Society
B.P.R.D.
Thule Society
55 First and only set not set in Marvel or DC Universe
14 World's Finest DWF DC Comics expansion set July 2007 Team Superman
Gotham Knights
Revenge Squad
Arkham Inmates
Outsiders
Birds of Prey
Outsiders
Birds of Prey
220 Insanity
15 Marvel Legends MVL Marvel Comics expansion set August 2007 X-Men
Brotherhood
Marvel Knights
Fantastic Four
Doom
Shi'ar
Shi'ar 273 New card layout
Concealed and Concealed-Optional changed from keywords to symbols
team symbols added
"Legendary Character" concept
Minor rule changes and clarifications
Vast number of game mechanics temporarily abandoned to make the game easier for newer players
N/A The Coming of Galactus MCG Marvel Comics Giant-Size set November 2007 Heralds of Galactus none 42 For multiplayer play, pitting multiple players against a single player taking on the role of Galactus
16 DC Comics Legends DCL DC Comics expansion set December 2007 JLA
Teen Titans
Injustice Gang
Secret Society
League of Assassins
Doom Patrol
Doom Patrol 273 Return of Reservist
Return of Concealed-Optional characters
Return of dual affiliations
Secret Society and Villains United teams combined into one team
17 Marvel Universe MUN Marvel Comics expansion set June 2008 Avengers
Thunderbolts
SHIELD
Crime lords
Warbound
Negative Zone
Alpha Flight
Infinity Watch
SHIELD
Warbound
Alpha Flight
Asgardians
Atlantis
Invaders
Nextwave
Phalanx
United Front
Nova Corps
Weapon X
330 Rally
Return of Boost (including Boost on non-character cards)
Return of Leader
Return of Terraform
Return of Substitute
Return of Evasion
Return of Cosmic
Return of Invulnerability
18 Marvel Evolution MEV Marvel Comics expansion set November 2008 X-Factor
Exiles
X-Force
Marauders
Weapon X
X-Factor
Exiles
X-Force
Marauders
Starjammers
Runaways
Purifiers
275 Shift
Energize
Hunter

Organized Play[edit]

In tournament play, there are three common formats:

  • Modern Age format draws a card pool from the last two released sets from both brands (e.g. the last two Marvel sets and the last two DC Comics sets).
  • Silver Age format draws a card pool from only the last eight released sets from both brands (e.g. the last four released sets from Marvel Comics and the last four released sets from DC Comics).
  • Golden Age format draws from a card pool of all legally playable cards.

Upper Deck Entertainment planned the year-round professional $1 million Organized Play Pro Circuit prior to the release of the game.

Notable players in UDE Organized Play[edit]

The following is a listing of players who have won more than one 10K event or have won a Pro Circuit event.

  • William Hodack, 2004 Origins $10K Champion, June 26, 2004
  • Marshall James, 2004 Philadelphia $10k Champion, July 10, 2004
  • Jeremy Tucker, 2004 $10K Champion, Wizard World Chicago
  • Brian Kibler, first-ever Pro Circuit Champion, Gen Con Indy, August 22, 2004
  • Robert Leander, $10K Wizard World Texas Champion, November 6, 2004, $10K New Jersey Champion, January 15, 2005; first Vs. System player to win multiple $10K events
  • Ryan Jones, Pro Circuit Los Angeles Champion, December 3, 2004
  • Hans Joachim Höh (Hans served a 3 year ban for cheating in the top 8 of a Pro Circuit), $10K Hannover Champion, February 5, 2005, $10K Bologna Champion, February 20, 2005, $10K Bremen Champion, December 3, 2005
  • Dean Sohlne, $10K London Champion, March 21, 2005, $10K Amsterdam Champion, April 9, 2005.
  • Michael Jacob, $10K Chicago Champion, April 2, 2005, $10K Toronto Champion, August 27, 2005, $10K Orlando Champion, October 15, 2005
  • Ian Vincent, Pro Circuit San Francisco Champion
  • Anthony Calabrese, Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2006 Champion
  • Adam Horvath, Pro Circuit Amsterdam Champion, April 7, 2005
  • Adam Bernstein, Pro Circuit New York Champion, May 26, 2005
  • Adam Prosak, $10K San Diego Champion, July 15, 2005, $10K Atlanta Champion, September 4, 2005 Pro Circuit Los Angeles November 17, 2006
  • Kakarot Turker, $10K Sydney Champion, December 1, 2006, 6 consecutive 10K top 8s
  • Darryn Ying, $10K Melbourne Champion, October 20, 2006,
  • Vidianto Wijaya, Pro Circuit Atlanta Champion, March 24, 2006; as of August 13, 2006, has a record five Pro Circuit top eight finishes and has won over $100,000
  • Kyle Dembinski, Pro Circuit Sydney 2007 winner
  • John Hammond(The Michael Jacob of Yu-Gi-Oh), $10K Indy 2007 Champion - Bring Your Own Set format [6]
  • Brian Eugenio, 1st Vs. Worlds Champion 2008
  • Robert Rietze, Gen Con Indy 2008 1st Place
  • Alexander Antonias, Brisbane and Adelaide 10k champion

Banned list[edit]

As with most TCGs, the ever increasing card pool leads to more and more combinations and possibilities. While this is generally considered to be a good thing, sometimes these combinations bring a degeneracy that is unhealthy for tournament play and the long term health of the game. When this occurs, organized play intervenes and the offending cards are usually banned.

The following is a list of cards currently banned.

  • "Overload" was banned because of its synergy with various ATK pumps. Used in tandem, players were able to stun their opponent's board at minimal cost. UDE later released a fixed—playable but unremarkable—version of the card called System Failure, released in MAV.[7]
  • "Justice League of Arkham" was banned following Pro Circuit: San Francisco. By using various ways to search out the card and recursion mechanism, a player could routinely make their opponent discard their entire hand before they even engaged in their fourth turn.[8]
  • "Antarctic Research Base" is the first card that was pre-emptively banned. This is due to its incidental synergy with the Fate Artifacts. The synergy between the artifacts the Antarctic Research Base allowed a player to draw his or her entire deck as early as the fourth turn and kill the opponent. UDE later released a fixed card called New Baxter Building, which was released in MTU.[8]
  • "Gone But Not Forgotten" when used in tandem with various payment powers that required life payments as opposed to discards or resource points, allowed one to engineer a variety of infinite or near-infinite combos wherein a player could create any number of arbitrarily large characters, or gain large quantities of life. An example of this would be 2 Moloids, Decoy Program, Devil's Due, and Mr. Fantastic, Stretch.
  • "Valeria Von Doom, Heir to Latveria" (effective November 16, 2006)[citation needed] when used in tandem with A Day Unlike Any Other, Valeria von Doom allowed a given player to cycle through huge amounts of their deck while filling up their KO'd pile. The offending deck in this situation Cycled cards until it had everything it needed to win using Rigged Elections, usually as early as turn 3.
  • "Talia, LexCorp CEO" (effective November 16, 2006)[citation needed] was used in ways similar to Valeria von Doom. In tandem with Punisher's Armory, Talia would allow a player to cycle through huge amounts of their deck. While slightly weaker than Valeria von Doom, if left unchecked Talia would have a detrimental effect on game play and was thus banned.
  • "Go Down Fighting" (effective November 16, 2006)[citation needed] when used with Tommy (a Morlocks character that could stun herself and was free if you had another stunned character) and a method to grant characters in your resources row the reservist ability, it was possible to recruit Tommy an infinite number of times, which was lethal when combined with cards like Surrounded or Rigged Elections.
  • "Fiddler, Isaac Bowin" (effective November 16, 2006) when used in tandem with another copy of himself, allowed you to continually re-recruit each other a high number of times per turn. Previously, this interaction was abused with Gone But Not Forgotten, and later with cards including Nega Bomb, Surrounded, and Rigged Elections.
  • "Detective Chimp, Bobo T. Chimpanzee" (effective November 16, 2006) is an incredible cog in any multi-team deck. He was most commonly used in combination decks in order to abuse global team-stamped effects - most notably Attend or Die! or Rigged Elections.
  • "Dr. Light, Master of Holograms" (effective January 19, 2007) allowed a player to recur a character with cost two or less from the KO pile. In tandem with increasingly more powerful low drops - such as Poison Ivy and Frankie Raye, Dr. Light was able to do too much for a relatively small investment.
  • "Frankie Raye <> Nova, Optimistic Youth" (effective February 9, 2007) allowed players to draw an unfair amount of cards by playing her multiple times, particularly deadly when used with a character like Admiral Galen-Kor.
  • "Nenora, Skrull Usurper" (effective February 9, 2007) allowed a player to gain the Kree affiliation with little cost to them. This card caused some of the same problems as Detective Chimp.

Unlike most CCGs which have banned lists unique to various formats, UDE has chosen to have one universal all-encompassing banned list.

Errata list[edit]

  • "Black Box"(effective December 8, 2008) - Shuffle up to three target cards not named Black Box from a single player's KO'd pile into his deck. If you control an X-Force character, draw a card. [9]

Post-UDE Banned Card List[10]

Blink, Earth-295 <> Clarice Ferguson

Post-UDE Errated Card List

Armed Escort – Can now only be used once per attack.

Nick Fury – Can now only target opposing characters.

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the Vs. System was released on February 27, 2007 for the PC, PSP and Nintendo DS. It was developed by Vicious Cycle Software and published by Konami. The game has been named as the Marvel Trading Card game and only includes cards from Marvel Origins and Marvel-based expansions up to the Avengers set.

Awards[edit]

In 2004, Vs. System won the Gamers’ Choice Award and was also nominated for Best Collectible Card Game or Expansion both from Origins Awards. In 2005 it received the Game of the Year award from InQuest Gamer.[citation needed]

References[edit]

External links[edit]