Saturday, December 27, 2008
1997 Fleer/Skybox Justice League (JLA) Overpower CCG Box
I'm sure most folks into comics remember the big collectible card game boom of the '90s. Combining aspects of role-playing with standard card games, CCGs went over big, from Magic: The Gathering to Pokémon and beyond. As a comic book guy, I hated dealing with those people when I started retailing, though not nearly as much as the sports card types. Still, you have to know what you're selling, so I learned the basics of Magic, and even spent too much of my time and money on the first few Star Wars sets.
When I switched from helping manage one comic shop for another, one of my favorite crossover customers talked me into joining him in sampling the new digs' DC Comics Overpower cards. Even though DC was my preferred company, I had and maintain a dislike of Superman and Batman, whose casts were the sole feature of the inaugural set. Still, I had a good time playing with Orlando, and though he started to drift out of comics, a whole gaggle of kids had gotten interested in our wake. Before long, my shop was home to the only Overpower players circle in town, and traveling to competitions elsewhere. I'm still close friends with one of those guys twelve years later.
Meanwhile, I'd begun buying cards from the Marvel sets, since DC's was weak sauce. The emphasis on the Batman family, filled with non-powered acrobatic detectives, necessitated the creation of an IQ ability. This prompted Marvel to update all their previously released character cards with vastly superior stats. DC responded with this JLA set, offering a more diverse selection of characters, plus expansions on their first set to dilute its suckage. I was delighted to finally have access to decent playable characters, especially Wonder Woman, who joined Captain America in a briefly unbeatable deck that combined overwhelming fighting ability with excellent defense. Orion, Wolverine, Sabretooth, Nick Fury, Ra's al Ghul and Azrael all offered support at various times with results vastly favoring Marvel.
Sadly, I only occasionally got use out of the Martian Manhunter, a decent enough DC-only character, but underwhelming when pitted against Marvel. You see, while DC only ever released two sets, Marvel offered seven, providing much expansion and improvement for old and new characters. Four sets followed JLA, including one for Image Comics, leaving DC even more in the dust. Also, I had to keep buying black backed card sleeves, because unless you were fool enough to go all DC, you had to insure no cheating through variances between DC and Marvel's designs. That gets expensive, and tough to shuffle. Someone built a decent deck for me pairing J'Onn with the X-Man Rogue, of all people.
To be honest, competition brings out the worst in me, and I got sick of how irate I'd get when I lost. Since my interest was more in enjoying specific characters and their fisticuffs, losing became routine. Younger men than I were living for this stuff, and focused solely on strategic gaming. It wasn't fun for me anymore, but I continued to host games at my shop and enjoy folks' company. It even led to a brief fling with RPG GMing. *Shudder*.