03 March 2006

COMMENT: Upper Deck's X-Men Blunder

The latest expansion for the Upper Deck Vs. TCG, X-Men, has been out for about a week now. I've been on the fence about putting any money down for it since day one, mainly due to the fact that I'm not a huge fan of X-Men. I have to admit, though, I could have been persuaded; easily persuaded.

When Upper Deck revealed the Mutant Trait addition to the character cards, that really piqued my interest. If it weren't for the Blizzard of 2006, I would have been at the Sneak Preview Tournament a few weeks back, but it wasn't meant to be.

I have to admit that the build-up to the release had me leaning toward buying in. I read up on as much info on the set as I could, keeping up-to-date as much as possible. I really got excited when I saw that Multiple Man: Jaime Madrox was included in the set, by far my favorite mutant character. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down when I read the following article.

On Feburary 16th, an article was posted on Metagame.com by Patrick Sullivan. In it, he explains how Starter Decks are built, from an R&D perspective. As I'm reading along, I'm getting sucked into the whole X-Men vibe...and then I reached the end of the article:

As a final note, none of the characters in the starter deck are Mutant stamped. This was a conscious decision on our part, and we here at R&D debated it for quite a while. The decision was finally made for two reasons. First, we wanted to keep the cards as simple as possible, and our starter decks are already filled with words that have no meaning for starter-level purposes. For example, versions are never mentioned, and team affiliations could easily be removed from cards and replaced with rules in the starter deck regarding team attacking and reinforcement. Adding information on cards that doesn't need to be there only increases the odds of confusing a new player. Furthermore, having some content that is expansion only adds some excitement for a player who goes out and buys a booster for the first time.

Second, we didn't want our Marvel Modern players to have to go out and buy four starters to compete at the Pro Circuit or in the PCQ season, and adding Mutant traits could have created that result. While we would like our players to purchase the new starter decks, and we feel that there is a reasonable amount of tournament-level content in them, we don't want to force you to buy them just to stay competitive. Isn't that sweet of us?
The first word that popped into my head was bullshit.

Starter Decks are not only great for beginners learning how to play, but also for the casual player like me. You know, ME! I'm the Average Joe player who doesn't f#*%ing play in Pro Circuit Tournaments. I don't have the numbers, but isn't that like 90% of Vs. players, if not more!?!

Starter Decks have been the base of just about every Vs. deck I've made. The idea is, you get hooked with the starter, and then add on and build a real deck from booster pack purchases. Traditionally, it's a great way to test the waters with new expansions, as $10 buys you a 2-player Starter Deck. [To-date, six different Starter Decks are available for purchase. A 7th deck, based on Superman, should be out around the movie release date.] You get 60 cards (30 for each player), and two sets of rulebooks. One is for a quick start, for first-time players; the other, the advanced rule book.

In the quick start rulebook, the third page identifies, explains, and dissects the make-up of character cards. In regards to the Text Box located under the character art, it currently states:

Text Box: This is where you find a character's special power. For now, play the game as though the text boxes on your character cards were blank. You'll learn how to use them in the advanced starter rules.
Couldn't the following be added to the above for new X-Men decks?

Mutant: This is where you find a character's Mutant Trait. For now, play the game as though the Mutant Trait boxes on your character cards were blank. You'll learn how to use them in the advanced starter rules.
What's the problem Upper Deck? Was that too complicated? Does the Mutant Trait box take up to much space?

This reeks of $$$GREED$$$!

Upper Deck releases a new expantion set, and an accompanying Starter Deck for X-Men. Average Joe sees this and buys that cool Starter Deck with a foil of Charles Xaiver prominently displayed on the cover. While making the purchase, he also notices booster packs sitting beside the Starter Deck. Joe, not being an idiot, realizes that booster packs enhance the cards he already owns, so he puts down another $10 for 3 packs.

Once at home, Joe quickly realizes there is a problem. Some Plot Twists he got in his booster packs refer to Mutant Traits, but most of his charactor cards don't have any. After a quick internet search he finds the aformentioned article, and the first word out of his mouth is, "Bullshit!"

Average Joe just got screwed out of $10, buying a Starter Deck that doesn't fully integrate with the expansion set that it was released for.

Am I the only one that sees this as being totally f#*$ed up!?!

Now, Joe has a decision to make. Does he:

  • Assemble a deck anyway and play through it?
  • Go out and buy enough booster packs to build a deck; maybe even buy a booster box?
  • Get pissed and refuse to put another cent into this game?

I don't know for sure what Average Joe is gonna do, but I can tell you what I am doing:

  • Write this article, and hope people think twice before buying into the X-Men expansion.
  • Not spend a cent on any booster packs or Starter Decks from this set.

This whole deal just blows my mind. Go back and read the explanations given in the article above. It stinks of condescension. Look at the last two sentences of each paragraph I quoted. Upper Deck should be ashamed at this money grab disguised as an R&D decision.

3 comments:

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Yeah, this pissed me off, too. I did exactly what you said here, step by f'n step...except I went out and bought two more boosters on Wednesday before I decided I wasn't going to bother with this expansion. The combination of the lemon of a Starter Deck and not being a big X-Men fan ruined it for me.

Back to JLA for me! Next payday, I'll be down for splitting a box.

Kurt said...

There's a pro circuit for this game?

Dan Diaz said...

Kurt: Yeah this game has 4 yearly Pro Circuit Tournaments that total $1,000,000. Each tournament dishing out $250,000 to the top finishers. First place generally gets up around $40,000. 75th place, which is the last pay out slot, is worth $600.

From what I've read, UD has elected to have these big cash tournaments from day one to draw in players. As opposed to building a fan base first, and then putting tournaments together.

UD also has Pro Circuit Qualifier events, and $10K Championship Tournaments. The PCQ's get you into the Pro Circuit Tournaments, and $10K Tournament is open to all players.