Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vintage Game: Super Deck! (by Marc Miller?)

Every once in a while, I look back at some of the stuff in my collection to make sure I didn't miss anything good or interesting. I'm glad I did. I had written off Super Deck! as one of those awful "me too" CCGs. And, in some ways, it is. But in just as many ways... it isn't.

First, it was produced in 1994. Even MTG didn't hit the market until 1993, so that puts Super Deck! as one of the earliest. With MTG being the only CCG released in 1993, Super Deck! was only 1 of the 9 produced in 1994 (along with SJG's Illuminati: New World Order.)* 1995 saw 42 releases, with subsequent years averaging about a dozen.

Second, it was designed by Marc Miller. Yes! Traveller Marc Miller. Now, to answer the question, "Is there anything special about the design?" Well, I'm not a CCG guy so somebody else will have to hit me about this, but... aren't they kind of all the same anyway? Really, aren't games like this about weird power cards and killer artwork rather than the system mechanics? Neither Super Deck!'s art nor the powers/concepts are nearly as tongue-in-cheek as Stuper Powers!, though they're trying to be. So when you put that case together, Super Deck! the game seems like an obvious attempt to quickly get a super hero CCG to market before anyone else.

What I just said about the art aside, that brings us to my third point... the deck features art by several artist who would go on to become fairly noteworthy. First, Eisner Award winner Brian Michael Bendis, who wouldn't really start to make waves in the comics world until 5 or 6 years after this game came out. Second, Emmy award winner Dean Haspiel who, among other endeavors, collaborated with Harvey Pekar on some of the American Splendor series. Third, Green Arrow artist Phil Hester. And finally, Frances Mao and alt comic artist Josh Neufeld.

When dealing with vintage items, the inevitable questions arise: 1) "Is it worth anything?" and 2) "Is it worth buying?" As for the answer to question 1, take a look at this item on eBay and you tell me. (To save you some time, "No. Not really.") As for question #2, if you collect CCGs or are trying to design a CCG, then sure. Why not? If you collect comics (particularly Utlimate Spider Man, Daredevil, Green Arrow, American Splendor, or Sonic the Hedgehog), then sure. Why not? If you're a collector of World Trade Center/Twin Towers memorabilia (and I don't mean Tolkien's Two Towers), then sure. Why not? (Take a look at both the "Twin Towers" and "Robot Rampage" cards in the image above.) If you're looking for a CCG that only has 160 total cards available with very little chance of ever seeing any expansion packs so you don't get addicted to keep putting $$$ in the pockets of WotC, then sure. Why not? If you're looking for a fun, battle-style card game, check out some of these invented card games using standard playing cards.

* All statistics including release dates per Wikipedia.

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