Category Archives: Vs. System

Dave Johnson + Liz Sherman = Bliss.

lizsherman

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. One of my most cherished memories in all of Vs. System history is the unveiling of Liz Sherman’s Uncontrolled Power.

We learned recently that Mike Mignola and his wife personally gave the green light to the artwork on this myth-busting cardboard masterpiece, although the original Dave Johnson painting was a bit too blue. Here’s the before and after. I still can’t believe I was a part of it. Liz never, ever, ever looked like this in the comics or the movies. Only in our beloved trading card game. Forever.

lizshermanblue

lizshermanagain

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Filed under Greatest Hits, Vs. System

Aquaman Resurrected For A Reason.

Back in the day, I had the mind boggling honor of introducing brand new Vs. System cards to the world. I got to see the playing pieces early so I could gush. Three years later, my oceans are still foaming. Since we went underwater yesterday with Aquaman, it is time to ride the tide.

I wrote this for the DC Legends set, originally published on December 10th, 2007. It is still as fresh as the day it was caught. Enjoy…

Aquaman has become a rather funky icon in modern pop culture. When he first hit the television screen forty years ago, he made his initial mass media splash with The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. That sixties series couldn’t hold its breath for very long. Then the Super Friends made their extended run on the small screen starting in the seventies, and Aquaman was back, with his underwater telepathy beams rippling into homes across the country. That time, he was strong enough to stop a tidal wave.

Unfortunately for him, his visibility and name recognition were not enough to maintain his super-strength through a long string of spin-offs. The titles were ridiculous enough to tarnish an image on their own: Challenge of the Super Friends; The World’s Greatest Super Friends; Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show; and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. Even though he was a key member of the “Super Powers Team,” Aquaman’s tricks were reduced to their briny essentials. Adding insult to injury, he was also forced to teach magic tricks to the kids in the audience. The power to hide a coin in the palm of your hand is not exactly the kind of threat that strikes fear in the hearts of the DC Comics super villain community.

He still had admirers, though. Despite his limited skills, Aquaman survived into the future as a cult favorite, overcoming the fashion obstacles of an orange-and-green outfit with pointy-finned boots and gloves. He didn’t have the same superstar popularity of Superman or Batman, but he had dedicated fans. Aquaman resurfaced in a big way near the turn of the millennium. For the past two decades, his scaly spandex and fishy talents have been celebrated, often through parody, in over twenty different programs.

From Seinfeld to The Simpsons to Smallville, Aquaman has gotten serious screen time. He is referenced in Family Guy and Robot Chicken. Button smashers worldwide have played video games featuring Aquaman since the days of Super Nintendo. There is a feature length film in the works for the fan-favorite orange shirt, and right now, Vs. System is allowing Aquaman to dig up some buried treasure.

That’s right—he’s three cards for the price of one. Any combo deck in the world can take to the seas and splash the Lord of Atlantis to make sure things are set up for the kill. His JLA team affiliation has a new good guy to act as a safety net when things go to turn 6. Cable is itching to spend an afternoon on the beach watching Aquaman try the Bodyslide to double the digging delights. Like the ocean he calls home, Aquaman, Lord of Atlantis represents the chance to fish out an uncountable bounty in our game.

That is not, in my personal opinion, the most exciting benthic announcement I am privileged to make today. As you probably know by now, I have been in love with tiny Army characters since the day Vs. System was released. DC Legends is rewarding my affections with the potential to create a spectacular seafood swarm.

One of the most touching mythological moments in comic book history occurred in Adventure Comics #476. Aquaman was facing a truly evil villain dressed as Poseidon. The bad guy seemed to be the real deal, and he could command the ocean’s residents with the same ease as our hero. When the pretender’s plot for world domination sent schools of fish to the surface to take over the world, Aquaman wrestled the mental control of a single dolphin away from the Poseidon impostor. The flippered friend was telepathically commanded to snatch the trident from the villain’s hand and save the day. It worked, but the tug-of-war inside the dolphin’s head caused it to have a heart attack. Aquaman got emotional and blamed himself. He settled silently to the bottom of the sea and worried about the great responsibility that comes with great power.

Then, something truly moving occurred. Tens of thousands of marine animals swam slowly, in formation, toward their sullen commander. They saluted him from the heart, telling him in their own special way that they follow him out of love, not because of force. It was the kind of story that can fill the reader with pure joy. It was almost as good as the Sea Creatures we will soon get to flip on our kitchen tables.

That, my friends, is fresh fish. We have been blessed with a rare Army character that becomes a salty, 1-cost beatstick when Aquaman is in play to continue his legend. Sea Creatures automatically align affiliations with their brave captain, and together they will be able to bring the pain to any defender who gets plopped into their watery domain. Team attack tricks will hit new heights when these little beaters cover the field. Aquaman, Arthur Curry can hit the board on turn 3 to call forth the tuna troops for the rest of the game. Sea Creatures are a natural source of protein for all the Ally recipes that the JLA has been cooking up since the Justice League of America set, and DC Legends promises to fill the cardboard pantry with even more legendary spices. It may never be safe to go back in the water.

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Filed under Aquaman, Greatest Hits, Vs. System

Wrecking Crews, Taking Names.

TheWrecker

While talking about the upcoming Marvel Superstars game with the worldwide flock of friends on CBR, we received a strange request for a large image of the Wrecker masterpiece by Arthur Suydam. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Mission accomplished.

I can’t wait to see the art for the new game.  Vs. System was one of the most glorious galleries that mankind has ever known.

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It Is Called “Marvel Superstars”.

UpperDeck

It is the news we have all been waiting for, and it is official. Upper Deck will continue to produce the highest quality trading card games in the world using the most spectacular characters in the universe. The first new product will be called Marvel Superstars, and it will debut at GenCon Indianapolis on August 13th, 2009.

“We are extremely excited about the possibilities that this newest partnership opens up for us,” said Scott Gaeta, director of new business development at Upper Deck. “Gamers and trading card enthusiasts alike will benefit greatly as a result of the collaborative efforts by both companies.”

Paul Gitter, president of consumer products, North America at Marvel, added: “The Marvel Universe and Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate of feature films are ideally suited for trading cards and trading card games that will appeal to a wide audience.”

At this particular moment in time, on Sunday July 26th, 2009, at 2:12 pm Eastern, the googling of “Marvel Superstars” only turns up only one specific match. It is a gorgeous fan-based painting by Deputee on deviantart.com. Feast your eyes.

MarvelSuperstars

That is just a taste of what we have in store. Spider-Man, Captain America, and Nightcrawler against Magneto and Juggernaut, captured on cardboard. Here is another quote from Scott Gaeta to help us frame the future.

Vs. System was a great game but the general consensus in our discussions both internally and with Marvel is that we want to broaden the accessibility. Our target is still core gamers but the real growth potential is reaching the tens of millions of fans who have been exposed to all the great Marvel characters in recent years. Our goal is to bring new players in to our category and to do that we feel we need a new game. As we get closer to launch we’ll share more details but I can say that we are going to do something very fresh with our new Marvel TCG.

Very fresh indeed. Starting with the name. Marvel Superstars, here we go!

Stay tuned to this station for more, and bookmark our new blog which will be dedicated totally to the new game.

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Filed under Comic Books, Vs. System, Weekend in Heaven

Sunday Mandala: Madrox Madness.

MadroxMandala

Madrox

MXM188   MXM188

That is one of the cards that changed my life. The entire community came together to celebrate the most powerful Multiple Man in the game. Ryan Sook did the original painting, I made the mandala in Kaleider.

Enjoy the Madrox Madness. We sure did.

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Monday Masterpiece Memories: Madelyne Pryor and Master Mold.

madelyn

madelynepryor      mastermoldcard

mastermold

They are both 6-drops. They are both extremely powerful in the comic books and on cardboard. That is, however, where the similarities end.

Happy Monday!

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Card Creator Contest: Creaky.

Ch’Reek’Iiliimeenii • Creaky

First of all, none of this is real. Creaky is a character invented by Christopher “chdb” Bird on his mightgodking.com website as an illustration of the brilliance he would bring to the Dr. Strange mythos if he were allowed to write the books.

reason12-chreek

Magic in the Marvel Universe tends to be Earth-centric. The Nexus of All Realities’ Waypoint Into This Universe is located on Earth. The Bridge To The World of Waking Dream is too.

When magical realms like K’un L’un connect themselves to Earth you get the sort of effect when people outside a bar see that it’s lively inside and then they want to go in.

Ch’Reek’Iiliimeenii (or “Creaky,” as he is known to his friends) is a Chr’Ylite, of the same race as Sikorsky of the Starjammers.

Chr’Ylite abilities aren’t just telepathic, but indeed an empathic connection to the very world around them – a sensory perception that skews much wider than average.

This perception, married to the keen analytical minds of the Chr’Ylites, gave the species an additional ace in the hole: a tendency to produce wizards.

Chr’Ylite mathemagic is the arcane calculus that affects the universe; Chr’Ylite patron-magic accesses a range of magical deities of which most Earth wizards are barely aware, such as:

D’nonni’Klaa, The Otherworldly Master of Unreal Algebra.

Fidostinaliae, The Great Seer Of Strange Probabilities.

32[(xe)2ab] + KLYZ, He Who Is Not Named But Only Calculated.

Creaky, a young and talented Chr’Ylite wizard, came to Earth both because he was sent by the Irrationality Council (a staple belief of the Chr’Ylites is that irrational numbers hold the magical secrets of the universe) and because he volunteered. When people ask him about this, he steadfastly maintains that both these instances occurred simultaneously. Do not ask him to explain how this is possible. He will try to do it, and you will inevitably get a headache when he begins discussing the magical digressions of quadrubic roots.

Creaky is, even for a magician who traveled billions of miles to explore, curious about everything to a degree that is almost terrifying. He wants to know everything, and given that he barely sleeps (Chr’Ylites only need to sleep nineteen minutes out of every 24-hour Earth day) he is the biggest information junkie you have ever met. He doesn’t confine himself to magical research either; Chr’Ylite magic has as a founding principle that magic can be found in everything, so one night he will watch a dozen episodes of The Wire and the next he is reading Joan Collins novels and the next he is replaying the same Dizzee Rascal song over and over again (muttering something about syncopation) and the next he’s studying the history of Constantinople.

And every so often? He finds something.

Ch’Reek’Iiliimeenii • Creaky

I made that first Creaky Vs. System card to start the ball rolling. Now you. Take the information in the quote box, translate it into Vs. System game mechanics, and slap it all together in Magic Set Editor. Send the resulting cards to fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net.

The winner gets his or her choice of my remaining Pro Circuit Extended Art prize cards.

I adore the whole idea of Creaky. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with for other versions and support cards.

Card Creating Party On!

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance + Vs. System = Bliss.

mysterio

That Mysterio is by kevtoons, but today I want to talk about Marvel Ultimate Alliance combined with Vs. System.

mysteriocard

Both games give a MASSIVE survey of the Marvel Universe. I am halfway through the Playstation 2 masterpiece, and I cannot believe the depth of mythological coverage. Then I combo the video game with the full run of Vs. System cards and my mind is completely blown. Especially by the Arcade/Mysterio stuff.

murderworld

Boing!

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Save-It Saturday: X-Babies Attack!

xbabiesattack

That is the card that I never imagined would be printed. The final card in the final official expansion set. Here follows the article that inspired its appearance in reality.

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Risk Vs. Reward: X-Babies Attack!
By Rian Fike
9/3/2007

Marvel Legends fulfills quite a few fanboy desires, not the least of which is a major upgrade in the power level of the X-Men. The new mutants are mighty good, especially the little ones.

Forty long months I have been patiently waiting for Domino in our game. When it comes to the mythological ladies, she is just my type: high contrast, luck based, and nearly impossible to kill. Now we get to turn her sideways Vs. System style, thanks to a 1-drop with a freaky little ability. Big fun comes in small cardboard packages.

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Our tiny new Domino packs a large punch with her recovery ability, but you need to be rather odd to use it. Before we talk about where she will take us in the game, let’s see where she came from in the myths.

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Neena Thurman plays well with others, but most of the time, she is a freelance mercenary. Domino is an independent artist, and her medium is murder. She was born as a custom-engineered biological killing machine. Project Armageddon created her as a deadly human hybrid. The hideous experiment was an attempt to manufacture the perfect weapon. X genes were exploited with disastrous results.

Neena was one of only two surviving test organisms. Chalk-white skin, awesome black eye-patch, and the uncanny ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time. She was rescued from the nefarious laboratory and placed safely in a nurturing monastery to grow up. Domino eventually emerged into adult life and became a dynamite addition to the X-Force.

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As a member of Cable’s Six-Pack, the black-and-white hottie could really save the bacon when necessary. Her mutant abilities kick in subconsciously when she is in a dangerous situation. Domino cannot specifically control her luck powers the same way Longshot can, but when she is around, things always fall into place.

In Vs. System, that means she can keep herself and Cable flipped face-up at the beginning of the recovery phase every turn. There is only one catch. Your deck must have a built-in oddness about it. Check out Domino’s text:

Domino, Neena Thurman

Cost: 1

Team Affiliation: X-Men

Whenever a Cable or Domino you control becomes stunned, reveal the top card of your deck. If its cost is odd, recover that character at the start of the recovery phase this turn.

2 ATK / 1DEF
Ranged

My personal oddness often revolves around 1-cost Vs. System characters, and now they fulfill Domino’s board-maintaining probability powers. Before we jump into the construction of a deck to showcase this former test-tube baby, let’s look back at a list that caused some serious wailing at Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007. We can use it as a basic template.

OutSoldiers

Phou Phommavong

5th place on Day 1, 21st overall

Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007

Characters

14 Kree Soldiers

3 Owen Mercer ◊ Captain Boomerang Jr., Prodigal Son

2 Faust

3 Technocrat

1 Thunder, Anissa Pierce

1 Halo

1 Wylde

4 Kimiyo Hoshi ◊ Dr. Light, Sunburst

Plot Twists

4 Booze Elementals

4 Forged in Crisis

4 Batman and the Outsiders

4 Truth and Justice

4 Recruiting Drive

3 Poker Night

Locations

3 Hala

1 New Baxter Building

Equipment

3 Ego Gem

1 Reality Gem

Phou’s metagame masterpiece took our beloved Kim Hoshi to a place that I was not sure she could go, and it will remain forever as an inspiration to weenie lovers worldwide. It serves up a swarm of 1-cost characters to fuel the blinding glory of the female Dr. Light and her Outsiders tricks. Let’s translate it into baby talk using only Marvel Legends cards.

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X-Babies Attack!

Characters

12 Multiple Man, Army ◊ Madrox

4 Domino

4 Cable, Nathan Summers

4 Wolverine, Logan

1 Jubilee, Mallrat

1 Shadowcat, Phase Shifter

1 Blink

1 Nightcrawler, Man of the Cloth

1 Bishop, Time Cop

Plot Twists

4 Bodyslide

4 Mobilize

4 Fastball Special

3 Battle Tactics

3 Healing Factor

3 Berserker Rage

3 Sneak Attack

3 Adamantium Claws

2 Overwhelming Force

Locations

2 Xavier’s Institute of Higher Learning

Phou’s OutSoldiers deck uses Kree Soldiers as fodder for a team-attacking character advantage. X-Babies are going Madrox. Multiple Man is back with a printed X-Men affiliation, and he loves him some Fastball Special. The OutSoldiers bounce guys back to hand to fill the red card requirements of the focus on swarming. X-Babies will rely on recovery to keep the characters on the table each turn. Phou’s win condition was total board control with Kim Hoshi. Domino is aiming for beatdown and burn with Bodyslide.

Cable is a perfect fit for the X-Babies deck. He appeared as an infant in Cable and Deadpool #7, and he has a sweet little 3-drop that rocks. Here is his heated text:

Cable, Nathan Summers

Cost: 3

Team Affiliation: X-Men

When Cable enters play, target opponent loses 1 endurance for each X-Men character you control.

5ATK / 4 DEF

Ranged

xpic5

With a mom like Madelyne Pryor, it was inevitable that Nathan Summers would come out looking good. Cyclops is his father, so you know he is a gifted child. Marvel Legends gives Cable his eagerly anticipated Vs. System debut. Bodyslide makes him an intriguing addition to any deckbuilder’s repertoire.

Bodyslide

Plot Twist

Cost: 3

Play only if you control Cable.

Remove target non-stunned character you control from the game. Its owner puts it into play at the start of your next attack step.

That means that Cable, Nathan Summers could swerve out of the game during the draw phase and allow another copy to be recruited. If his playmates have formed a kiddie six-pack to greet him, he will burn for 7. Then the fresh copy can Bodyslide out and return at the beginning of your attack step with its temporal twin. The first copy grabs another 7 opposing endurance, followed by 8 more from its parallel partner. That’s hot stuff.

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In the myths, Cable can slip in and out of time. He spends his days trying to save the world by altering history. That is a sticky business, but it allows more costume changes than any comic book character I can think of. Whenever and wherever Cable shows up, he is always sporting a sharp new outfit.

There are only six cards in the X-Babies deck that have an even cost, so Domino will be a near lock to get lucky. The new Battle Tactics that the X-men have been given are like a turbo-charged Combat Protocols, and they cost 2. Overwhelming Force allows the team-attacking toddlers to remain unstunned, also at a cost of 2. The single copy of Bishop, Time Cop is the 4-drop babysitter. If you let Bishop try the Bodyslide, the kids will laugh their way around the table screaming “+4 ATK!” for the whole turn.

xpic7

No X-Babies deck would be complete without a little Wolverine. The Logan version is back in Marvel Legends, and for a 3-drop, he is a really big boy. Scruffy may actually become the favorite win condition of the deck. He has some major ATK pumps that last an entire turn. The nursery includes toys that keep him from being stunned, recover him when he is, and ready him for a fur-flying finish. A small set of adamantium fingernails are poised to rip big holes in opposing characters and endurance totals. Wolverine’s Berserker Rage is about to arrive as a viable Vs. System strategy, and the X-Babies deck is only the beginning.

I have no idea how well the tiny tikes will hold up against proven classic decks. I can’t tell if there will be equally massive forces to oppose as the other new Marvel Legends creations crawl from the incubator. The only way to find out will be to build the deck and give it a go. I leave the little mutant rug rats with you now so that you can help me test them. We will say goodbye with a quote from Cable himself. When Nathan Summers revived Apocalypse in order to unite the X-Men against a common enemy, everyone called him crazy. His response?

“The risks are worth the rewards.”

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes and he has a kitchen table in his crib. If you do some testing with the X-Babies in your playpen, send the results to fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net

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Filed under Comic Books, Save It Saturday, Vs. System, X-Babies

Save-It Saturday: Celebrated Summer.

rfindebted

(Herewith follows the last article I wrote for Upper Deck. As the school year wraps up and we head into another summer, it still tastes as sweet as ever.)

Rallying Cry: Celebrated Summer

By Rian Fike
9/18/2008

This has been quite an eventful summer on many levels.  World-class athletes from all over the world converged in China for the Beijing Olympics.  Political candidates here in America battled intensely in the midst of a thrilling presidential election.  Vs. System crowned a number of new champions, and one of them claimed ultimate victory with Squirrel Girl!

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For me, personally, the summer of 2008 included a rather large change of venue.  My career has come full circle.  I began teaching art in 1983 at an elementary school in the inner city of Miami.  After five years, I was recruited to pioneer a Media Arts program in a middle school.  Eight years later, I transferred to an alternative high school for kids that had been excluded from their regular school for various reasons.  I taught there for thirteen years until budget cuts and high-stakes standardized testing eliminated the Art department. 

Now, I am back teaching at an elementary school, and I couldn’t be happier.  Young children are full of the pure inventive energy that is often sorely lacking in older human beings.  They explore new combinations, free of the doubtful cynicism that drags the creative spirit down into doldrums.  They are so very much alive.

Returning to the freshness of the grammar-school perspective has also brought a shining, glorious glow to Vs. System.  My classroom mantra for the year is “I feel great when I create!”. And I think it’s carried over into the Vs. System TCG, because this game has been flourishing when it comes to brilliant fan-based innovation and originality in competitive deckbuilding.

Obviously, I want to start with Squirrel Girl.  The furry little wonder has been doing some major damage with her cardboard incarnation, including the domination of Gen Con Indianapolis.  Thanks to Robert Rietze and his S.H.I.E.L.D. Simmer concoction, my favorite character in comics is a true champion. 

Let’s learn about the deck from the mad genius that created it, shall we?

The concept is to cook your opponent slowly (hence the word “simmer”) while having reinforcement and disruption.  In the late game you reinforce whenever possible, and when they swing their seven-drop you play Dangerous Liaison and say “Try again later on.”  In fact, Dangerous Liaison is the meat of the deck, and probably my favorite card in Marvel Universe.  If you read this then you deserve a cookie.

Dan Clark was running S.H.I.E.L.D. burn, and he always won on turn 5.  His deck is probably a much better version… but I like jank, so here’s mine with comments.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Simmer

Robert Rietze

2008 Gen Con Indianapolis Champion

 Characters

10 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents Just ten… I know.
4 Speedball ◊ Penance, Painmonger He’s sexy, no?
1 Blizzard, Frosty Friend Because he wins games, ask anyone.
2 Life Model Decoy Great for dreaming with.
2 Wolverine, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Growl.
2 Squirrel Girl Free guys are good.
1 Hank Pym ◊ Yellowjacket, Initiative Instructor Why not?  He’s a freaking Skrull, and I need at least one Skrull in a modern deck.

And that’s it for characters. 22 in total, which is all you need to simmer properly – since you have all the bouncing effects.

Mulligan condition = one S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and or Penance.

Plot Twists
4 Origin Story  …amazing card.
3 Mobilize
1 Collect Them All
2 Blinding Rage
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Secret War It bounces and sets up Dangerous Liaison and Thunderbolts Mountain.
3 Dangerous Liaison The greatest card ever made.  It doesn’t target and keeps people from killing me.  Just ask the great Michael Barnes.
3 Invasion Plans Drawing cards is good with the low character count, and the agents kinda don’t do much.
3 Death of the Dream Either draw a card and replace your crap or get rid of Total Anarchy.

And…

ONE SUPERHUMAN REGISTRATION ACT! It wins games, but drawing multiples is bad… so just the one.

Locations
4 Birthing Chamber Obv.
3 Thunderbolts Mountain Draw a card, set up Penance, set up Blizzard on turn 3 to guarantee you don’t have to worry about big stuff.
3 S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier It would be four, but I only own three!

RFdangerousliasonWow.  Just wow.  After four and a half years of playing this game, I am still amazed at the crazed creativity and deep deviousness that can be captured in a single sixty-card construction.  I have been over and over that strategy in my head, and it amazes me every time.  Especially when I pinch myself and realize that Squirrel Girl actually swung for the win in the final match.  Don’t believe me?  I have proof.

Mad props go out to Shane “fatalsync” Wendell at www. vsrealms.com for the fabulous event coverage, especially the penultimate squirrelly smackdown that claimed the climactic crown.  It was a match for the ages, as the wonder known as John Hall could be seen flinging the wicked monkey madness of Gorilla Grodd and Secret Society.  John actually gained 30 endurance during the match, and recruited Doomsday on turn 7.  How did Squirrel Girl triumph against that?  Head over to the Realms and find out for yourself.

RFsquirrelgirl 

As you can see, the competitive environment has gone completely nuts over Squirrel Girl.  Tree rodents are flying across the tournament halls like white-hot Ping-Pong balls of pure power.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Vs. System has come to life, and the pulse of the creative spirit that pumps the blood can seen on a multitude of maniacal fan-based websites.  Chris Miller’s Lost Hemisphere is perhaps the most vibrant, and the other day he gave a magnificent shout-out to thirteen of this game’s staunch suppliers of inventive genius.  Included in that list is my personal favorite new source of Vs. System verbiage.  It’s called “Vs. Is Not Dead,” and it is the brainchild of Brian “Trader2699” Herman in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Recently, he too had a brush with the undeniable hotness of Squirrel Girl.

I love it when a plan comes together as much as the next person, especially when it comes to Vs. System.  Crafting and planning an intricate decklist/strategy is half the fun, but it’s also incredible to put that strategy into action. Unfortunately for the Injustice Gang handflood/burn deck, my plans went completely awry. I did not like the fact that missing Lex Luthor meant losing the game, and the deck never felt like it was going to “pop.”

So I scrapped it entirely the day before the BYOT tournament, and started over. When I got home from work, there was an unexpectedly early package containing a singles order I had placed earlier in the week. 3 S.H.I.E.L.D.  Helicarriers, encased neatly in sleeves and a top loader. I was so pleased that I decided to throw caution to the wind and play an Army deck for BYOT. The deck went through a couple of iterations, both while in written development and when I finally broke out the little 1-cost burners. What I ended up with was this…

RFspeedball

Brian’s decklist, tournament report, and ultimate triumph really got the blood pumping for this game that’s been going strong after all these years.  I applaud his efforts and enthusiastically anticipate many more opportunities to live out future Vs. System glories vicariously on his blog.  This summer has seen a blossoming, and the flowers get funkier every time.

The most heartwarming of these is found back on the continent of the Lost Hemisphere.  It has been the Summer of Love, in more ways than one.   I would like to take a moment to showcase a project that humbles my creative essence with its utter magnificence, while inspiring me to do greater things with my life and our game.  This is our moment, and Chris Miller’s words call us toward cardboard paradise.

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There comes a time each year, a special time, after the rebirth of spring, with its bouncing baby bunnies and fragrant blossoms, but before the cool touch of autumn, with its kaleidoscope of leafy color and the gentle promise of snuggling by a warm, cozy fire. Yes, I’m talking about the heady, lazy, crazy days of summer. When a boy’s head turns to thoughts of baseball in vacant lots, swimming holes, and thick slices of watermelon, while young girls slip on their poodle skirts and skip down to the malt shoppe to listen to the juke box… hang on, I’m totally out of era, aren’t I…

One way or another, welcome to…

Lost Hemisphere’s Summer Of Love!

The concept: 32 decks, each a randomly assigned team-up, battle their way through a bracket to determine Vs. System’s happiest couple.

We randomly paired up 64 teams, rolling the dice to see what sort of wild and wacky team combinations we’d end up with. Clearly, we could have just slapped together the decks… but what if it wasn’t us doing most of the deckbuilding? What if it was celebrated deckbuilders and community luminaries?

The invitations went out, the community responded, and the shenanigans are ready to commence!

Behold! A veritable who’s who of dudes who we suckered into making decks for us!

Clifford “Captain_Comet” Parmeter, the most huggable podcast host ever, brings you Mask of Steel (Superman/Doom) and Knights Errant (Gotham Knights/Doom Patrol).

Miguel “CarlosTheDwarf” Rodriquez, the original VS blogger, brings you HK KO (Hellfire/Kree) and Green ’rine (Green Lantern Corps/X-Men).

Sean “BALDMAN” Marinelli, owner of the world’s largest forehead, brings you Crisis Knights (Marvel Knights/Crisis) and Shake ’n Bake (Morlocks/Secret Six).

Adam “Flashback81” Kirkby, the most puzzling man this side of North Haverbrook, brings you Pate de FOES IG-ras (Injustice Gang/Future Foes) and Dark(seid) City (Darkseids Elite/Brotherhood).

Squire “HomerJ” Kershner, jankmaster extreme, brings you ”Hi Everybody!” “Hi, Dr Spectrum!” (Inhumans/Squadron Supreme) and Titans United (Teen Titans/United Front).

Jason “Jaxxin” Hager, who likes yelling at Hulk on foil cards, brings you Stranger Danger (JSA/Nextwave) and Box Full of Evil (BPRD/Legionnaires).

Steve “Kamiza” Garrett, the U.K.’s man with the sexiest eyes, who can also pull off a roundhouse kick, brings you The Claw Society (Secret Society/Weapon X) and Family of One (Fantastic Four/X-Statix).

Brian “Kansashoops” Foley, American Maid’s favorite dork, brings you Adamantium Skrullmate (Checkmate/Skrull) and Psychopathic Reservists (Avengers/Sinister Syndicate).

Patrick “Majestic” Yapjoco, the winningest Yapjoco ever, brings you Crime Watch (Underworld/Crime Lords) and Wolvie Smash! (Warbound/S.H.I.E.L.D.).

Aaron “Onyxweapon” Mead, living the VS Life in the frozen North, brings you Task Force: Revenge (JLI/RevSq) and The Revenge of Tony Danza from His Tap Dance extravaganza (Fearsome 5/Outsiders).

Josh ”Runaway” Trujillo, the bravest blogger ever, brings you New Birds (New Gods/Birds of Prey) and Villain Potpourri (Villains United/Masters of Evil).

Talulah “Soshi Kenpachi” McGillicutty, who didn’t give me his real name in his email, brings you /r/ moar cards (Infinity Watch/Negative Zone) and On Public Urination (JLA/Thunderbolts)

David “CaptainSpud” Tierney, with the power of 10,000 potatoes, brings you Prime Qwardian Real Estate (League of Assassins/Antimatter) and Looney Bin (Arkham Inmates/Alpha Flight).

Rian “Stubarnes” Fike, the most psychedelic player in VS history, brings you Green Weakness (Emerald Enemies/Sentinels) and Hitler’s Wristwatch (Kang Council/Thule Society).

Paul “TheDerangedBear” Sung, renaming days of the week just for fun, brings you Warp Factor 9 (Heralds/SpeedForce) and Wild & Sticky (Spidey/WildPack).

Oh, and Pablo (“Eponymous’) laid claim to The Horse Conjurer  (Shadowpact/Horsemen), while I (“gdaybloke”) couldn’t resist the Rebellion in New Jersey  (Manhunters/Defenders).

RFlanterns

 
As a veteran of Vs. System history and histrionics, I must say that this tournament is unequalled in its sheer life-forced brilliance.  It breathes new hope into team affiliations and crazy combinations.  It gives us a bracket of beatdowns that will be extremely difficult to categorize, yet truly impossible to forget.  It is the Summer of Love indeed, and it will be celebrated forever.

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes, and he is mad busy teaching little kids how to paint now that the school year has begun.  The celebrated summer lingers, while he marches forward into the future.  You can send him some ideas about how to manage his time and recharge his batteries at fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net

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Filed under Comic Books, Save It Saturday, Squirrel Girl, Vs. System

Thursday Thirteen: Expansion Favorites.

marvelorigins

That was the first ever expansion set of Vs. System. Marvel Origins, released on April 1st, 2004. We were eventually blessed with 18 full sets by Upper Deck, and today I will pick my favorite card from each of the most recent thirteen. Cardboard bliss.

xbabiesattack

1. Marvel Evolution: X-Babies Attack. This is the final production set, and that card is the pinnacle of my influence on the game. I created a weenie burn deck and named it “X-Babies Attack!” back in the day. Upper Deck honored me with a matching plot twist, and thanks to alphabetical order it turned out to be the last expansion card ever printed.

squirrelgirl

2. Marvel Universe: Squirrel Girl. Doreen Green finishes a close second in the homage race. I lobbied, I pleaded, I threatened and I begged. Finally she appeared in the packs. Sigh.

seacreatures

3. DC Legends: Sea Creatures. I made my name by playing one-cost army characters, then they shocked me with this. Rare. Two resources to play. Pony!

domino

4. Marvel Legends: Domino. I waited a long time for this lucky lass, and I used her in my original X-Babies deck for good luck.

kimhoshi

5. World’s Finest: Kim Hoshi. This expansion brought some serious bang to the table for DC, and none was brighter than Kimmy.

shumagorath

Marvel Team-up: Shuma-Gorath. The card did not see much play, but I can still hear the taunt from Capcom’s video game version… “Waste of FLESH!”

zazzala

Infinite Crisis: Zazzala, Mistress of the Hive. There may not have ever been a better legacy card. She made War Paint possible.

rogue

Heralds of Galactus: Rogue, Total Transformation. If you never got to see this trick pulled off in real life, you missed something really special.

supergirl

Legion of Superheroes: Supergirl, Lost in Time. Scariest. Painting. Ever.

multipleman

X-Men: Multiple Man <> Jamie Madrox. This card leaves me breathless. Such incredible possiblities.

infestation

Justice League of America: Infestation. My swarming weenies had nothing to compare. Such insane potential beats.

chaosmagic

Avengers: Chaos Magic. They may have named this card after my subtitle on Realms, but prolly not. Then again, they did get my buddy Dave Devries to paint it. Hmmm.

xallarap

Green Lantern Corps: Xallarap. You thought I would pick AGL, but no. This guy never existed in the comics. That’s right, he was created by a fan on a Green Lantern tribute site. It is one of the coolest trivia facts ever about Vs. System. And it ends our list.

Such great stuff.

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Filed under Comic Books, Squirrel Girl, Thursday Thirteen., Vs. System

Two-tone Tuesday: Harley Quinn.

HarleyQuinn

Those sketches are by the imcomparable Emily, and the character is by DC Comics. I once wrote about the darling dingbat named Harley Quinn, here’s a taste:

The fickle finger of fate twists wicked swirls into the character of comic book culture. The story of Harley Quinn is one of the most twisted examples ever. Since Harley helped hoist her Arkham Inmates team up to their first $10K championship in Brisbane last week, I think it’s time that you knew where she came from.

Harley Quinn was born in a soap opera. Arleen Sorkin was playing the role of Calliope Jones in the ever-popular Days of Our Lives. Calliope Jones was a quirky, mischievous girl, and one night she had a dream on the show. In her dream, she was dressed as a jester. Paul Dini was a real-life close friend of Arleen’s and a big fan of her work. He was also writing the script for the upcoming Batman: The Animated Series, which was about to debut in the fall of 1992. Paul put two and two together and created Harley Quinn as an homage to his good friend and her spunky soap opera character. The rest is Harley history.

Harley Quinn is hot, and she has been since her first appearance on television. She wore a police uniform with a miniskirt throughout most of her debut episode, but then she changed into the jester outfit and never looked back. As the perfect sidekick for The Joker, our killer little co-ed clown made the jump to official DC Comics canon almost immediately. In two short years, the character who was born in a real soap opera dream was winning both the Eisner and Harvey awards as the best comic of 1994.

Her solo myths have turned out to be some of the most enjoyable continuing series in the industry. Harley began her pulp version as an honor student intern at the Arkham Asylum. Upon observing the patient known as The Joker, she fell truly madly deeply in love. She began spending more time with him, and they formed an alliance that has endured to this day. Harley Quinn also became best of friends with Poison Ivy. The two have been partners in crime through thick and thin, and their relationship has caused quite a commotion; there are rumors swirling everywhere about a possible romance. DC Comics fuelled the speculation by allowing them to appear in bed together.

Surely they jest.

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Filed under Comic Books, Vs. System