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Douglas Bushong
United States
Washington
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Wildstorm is a game where heroes and villains battle at various battle sites around the world. You can play single games, or you can play campaigns that take you from site to site, giving you prizes along the way to help you in your battles. It is set in the Image Comic universe, but has a few Marvel comics cards splashed in here and there.

CARD LAYOUT

The Layout of the cards is very nice. The cards used a format similar to the CCG standard, i.e. Title at the top, Combat (Power) to the left, Defense (Toughness) to the right, etc (for more on this, see http://www.misterorange.com/2005/02/ccg-card-layouts.html). There are a few keywords, such as Flight and Leadership, which are not explained on the cards, but on the whole WildStorm productions did an OUTSTANDING job of explaining special abilities on the cards themselves. This saves the players from annoying trips to the rulebook in the middle of a game.

The only complaint that I have about the layout of the cards is the sheer volume of information on the card. This is a double edged sword, though: You can't have the depth of play without it, but it can be difficult to get people into the game if you overdo it.

APPEARANCE

For the most part, the artwork in these cards is outstanding. Unlike many card games based on pre-existing themes (Spellfire comes to mind), WildStorms does not appear to reuse pre-existing artwork. Further, the color and layout of the frame varies with the card (sometimes determined by team, but not always), and the backgrounds chosen for each character really brings out the mood and colors of that character's art.

There were a few cards that look as though their artwork was rushed. Also, when the "Best of" set was released, many of the cards had mediocre artwork (more on that set later). On the whole, though, I have few complaints.

MECHANICS

The mechanics were complex, but not ridiculously so. They were very intuitive, and they simulated the comic book action very well. Some card games today, such as the VS system, use mechanics very similar to Wildstorms. It would surprise me if the developers of VS had no experience with WildStorms before creating VS.

The keyword mechanics might be somewhat overwhelming to someone who is not experienced in collectible card games, but most players will be pleased by the amount of flavor and possibilities that the cards have.

The Rules for this game are very straight forward. They can be found here:

http://www.ccgworkshop.com/games/ws/rules/ws.rules.v2.html

GAMEPLAY

I loved playing this game. Combat was snappy and well simulated, and it was very easy to visualize the combat that was going on. WildStorms does an outstanding job of re-creating the feel of a comic book, and it is no wonder that VS later used a similar mechanic to much success.

One mechanic that I really like is the draw mechanic. WildStorms encourages aggressive play by allowing you to draw up to 7 cards each turn. The more cards you play, the more you can draw. This punishes the people who sit back and do nothing by limiting their resources.

BALANCE

One thing that I love about this game is the power point system. The cards in the game have various power levels, and these power levels are reflected in the number of points on the card. When you make a deck, you have to design the deck to a pre-determined power level (usually 200 or 300 points). Once that is established, you can put in whatever cards you want as long as you don't exceed that power level. If you put in all 10 point cards in a 200 point deck, you will only have 20 cards in your deck!

That said, there is a slight imbalance among some of the teams. This can be very frustrating, especially if you collect the comics and favor one of the lesser powered teams. For example, all other things being equal, a well constructed WildC.A.T.S. or Team 7 Deck will almost ALWAYS beat an equally well constructed CyberForce or Youngblood Deck.

Like all CCG's, it is often "he who has the best cards wins." Generally the "best" cards in the game are not necessarily the cards with the highest point value; they are those that have the greatest amount of power for the lowest point value. The makers of this game did a fairly good job of balancing the cards, but a few cards (Angst, Flame On, Gnome with Orb, etc) slipped through the cracks.


COLLECTIBILITY

This is the biggest problem that I have with this game. Actually, it's the game makers that really made me angry. This game once had a strong following, and card values were relatively high. Gnome with Orb once went for $50 each, and that was only if you could find one. While there are still some collectors, the value of the game was destroyed when the makers released the "Best Of" set.

For all of you Magic the Gathering players out there, imagine the following scenario: Let's say that WotC released a new set tomorrow that reprinted all of the best cards in the game. The power 9, Library of Alexandria, Force of Will, Strip Mine, Balance, etc. Basically, let's say they took every card on the restricted list, plus the top 200 most valuable cards in the game at this time. But wait, there's more. Now let's say they reprinted these cards as an even distribution, i.e. ALL of COMMON rarity, and with sub-standard art. Then they claim that they want to give newer players a chance to compete with those who have been collecting for a while.

Well, that is exactly what happened with WildStorms.

The makers of this game completely destroyed all collectibility and value with the final set. It appears to have been one last money grab, and it ultimately led to the game's demise. Of course, just as the Magic set that I have described above would, the set sold very well, and then went down in a blaze of glory.

OVERALL

Regardless of my disgust with what the makers did in the end, the game itself is outstanding. The fact that the collectibility and value has been destroyed is good for the person trying to pick it up today: even the best cards can be picked up relatively cheap on Ebay. Further, there is an online following for the game, and some people have even made "fantasy cards" with Marvel and DC characters. Finally, you can play the game on CCG Workshop, and I strongly recommend doing so.
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Ricardo Foureaux
Brazil
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I love ruis game, but is dead...
 
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Patrick DeGeest
United States
Fort Pierce
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Ahhhh, I have fond memories of this game. I think I have a lot of good cards in a box somewhere. Maybe I'll try to find them and play.
 
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