Collectible card games

X-Men Trading Card Game

Players 2
Age range 10+
Playing time Approx 20 min
Random chance High due to dice rolling
Skill(s) required Card playing
Arithmetic
Basic reading ability

Released by Wizards of the Coast in 2000, the X-Men Trading Card Game was a collectible card game (CCG) designed to coincide with the popularity of the first X-Men movie. This set had featured character art similar to that of ''X-Men'' (film) and included characters who did not appear in the movie.

Background

The X-Men Trading Card Game was a joint-release of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. (WotC), Marvel Entertainment, and Twentieth Century Fox. All three companies involved with the game required that certain stipulations be met in the final product. WotC was responsible for the structural design of the game; Marvel was to provide the artwork; Fox determined the overall look of the characters depicted in the cards (to wit, the black leather outfits worn by the actors of Fox's X-Men feature film). The game's only promotional cards featured Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, and James Marsden as their respective movie characters. The Hugh Jackman "Wolverine" card was distributed at cinemas to moviegoers purchasing tickets to X-Men and the Halle Berry Storm card was given to customers at hobby and game shops. The remaining promotional actor cards were slated to be awarded as prizes at sanctioned X-Men TCG events, but neither tournaments nor competitive leagues were ever established. Consequently, it is believed among fans of collectable cards that these undistributed promo cards rank among the all-time most-difficult acquisitions in all of collectable gaming.

Apart from the American region encompassing Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska -- where the creative efforts of that area's WotC-assigned regional representative consistently brought notable and surprising turnouts to X-Men TCG events -- the game was stillborn upon release in the summer of 2000. This eventuality came about for one reason; the passage of time between the release of the game's starter decks and booster packs. Starter decks are the skeletal structure of any new release in the TCG industry, as they introduce players to the game and provide the rules by which the game is played. But it is the booster packs, with their expanded card selection and random distribution, that flesh a TCG out, making the cards into collectibles and providing the means for refining and individualizing a player's deck. Delays from the Marvel art department brought the project to a screeching halt. The outcome was that the booster packs did not hit store shelves for months after the release of the starter decks. Furious fans were further frustrated by the finished portfolio. To the astonishment of many fans, the final art was universally panned, the last in a series of marketing failures for the X-Men TCG. The sub-par work was epitomized by the fact that a large number of the cards' artist credit was simply listed as Marvel staff. Despite a small blip of sales in the U.S. region, the booster packs generally debuted on clearance racks in the few stores that decided to order them.

An expansion set, "Generations", had been designed and created (solely by WotC) very shortly after the release of the base set. A 100-card set -- never produced but printed on mock-up sheets dubbed the Generations God Book by WotC staff -- would have featured new X-Men such as Iceman, Gambit, Cable, Nightcrawler, and White Queen, and villains including Pyro, Lady Death strike, Arcade, Spiral, and the Acolytes. It would also have introduced split-color cards that counted as the color of the player's choice. With WotC working independently of outside parties, the set was ready, complete with final text and card art, ahead of schedule, though no card illustrations were credited to the mysterious artist formerly known as Marvel staff.

Gameplay

This collectible strategy game combined standard TCG game elements with a dice-rolling game mechanic, then a seldom-used core feature in trading card games. The game employed a well-designed, yet simple, concept of a player's team of X-Men attempting to defeat, or KO, two of four selected X-Men villains before the opponent did the same. Alternatively, a player could win the game if their opponent's team was knocked out before their own. Each X-Men character card was assigned a point value based on its mutant power (a special ability printed on the card that had an effect on game play, such as allowing the user to draw extra cards or deal additional damage to enemies), hit points (the amount of damage necessary to KO the character), and its ratings in each of three abilities (red-fighting, green-energy, and blue-X factor). These points were used to construct a team of two to five X-Men totaling 30 points or less. Players used "lightning" and "power-up" cards to create game effects, including preventing damage done to characters and increasing the ability ratings of a selected character, and used "mission" and "momentum" cards to launch team attacks on the villains or the opponent's team. Dice were rolled to determine the amount of damage dealt to the villain and the team, as well as which mutant powers were triggered in the battle. The turns were marked by the "danger room level", a sequentially increasing number that allowed cards of escalating power and effect to be played with each passing turn.

Promotional cards

COMMENTS
Tabletop games: Rules and Strategy