The Good: Good images, Clearly offers more options for gameplay
The Bad: Playability is still ridiculously low, especially out of booster box, Foil issues, Overproduced
The Basics: "Class Of '99" Buffy The Vampire Slayer gaming cards may be part of a mediocre game, but they capture one of the best seasons of the show for card collectors!
When Score came out with the Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG game with its initial release, “Pergamum Prophecy” (reviewed here!), I didn't give the product much of a chance in the marketplace. Customizable Card Games were already a flailing market and the Buffy The Vampire Slayer audience did not seem like the target demographic for the product. So, I was mildly surprised when Score, which produced the Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG managed to come out with an expansion set and then another. The second expansion set was “Class Of '99” and the only thing truly unsurprising to me about it was that shortly after the set was released, the game's production was halted and this ended up being, more or less, the final outing for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG.
“Class Of '99” is one of only three expansion sets to the erratic trading card game and it focuses on the third season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. And while this might be an all right game, the cards are not in any way self-explanatory and the box of booster packs does not come with any rulebook or guide. As a result, players need to hunt down starter decks when buying if they want to have any hope of understanding what to do with the cards they get (even the online resource whose URL is on the bottom of every card is no longer active!).
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer Customizable Card Game “Class Of '99” was the final set of Buffy gaming cards created by Score. For those unfamiliar with the concept, CCGs are basically a late-teen oriented product designed to capitalize on the youthful desire to play with the acknowledged maturity of the target audience. The initial idea of the customizable card game was to allow young adults and adults to play in a way that was as free and imaginative as playing with action figures, but without the stigma of being a twenty-five year-old lining up dolls and having them have relationship issues, then stake the each other. The result is something that is a midpoint between the freedom and creativity of action-figure free play and the structured rules and rigidity of a board game. This continued the game where “Angel's Curse” ended, giving fans new play potential from scenarios and characters from the third season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Players might prefer that I describe the game instead as a strategy game that is like a Role-playing game with cards. The break here is that the characters, vessels, and scenarios are all already conceived by others. The original concept was to find a way to make play socially acceptable for an older audience and it generally worked. In the case of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, though “Class Of '99” continued to illustrate the flaw in the premise: the target audience was well-beyond the play stage of life and as a result, most simply never got the concept. As well, the strength of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was always in the show's dialogue, which a card game does not truly represent.
“Class Of '99” is a 276 card set focusing on characters, weapons, villains, locations and scenarios presented in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. While the product was released rather early in the series (season six was just beginning), “Class Of '99” focuses on the third season of the show. The set consists of 58 common cards, 58 uncommon cards, 54 rare cards, 68 starter deck fixed, 12 starter deck Essence, and 4 Ultra Rare, and 18 promotional cards not found in these boxes. Like most CCGs the most popular characters and scenarios are given rare status and the background supernumeraries fill out the more common cards.
The 138 card set features 75 Characters (cards featuring heroes and villains from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, like Riley Finn and Vamp Willow), 12 Personality Essence Cards (enhanced character cards for vital characters, like Angel and The Mayor), 26 Challenge (obstacles players use to thwart their opponent), 25 Items (cards featuring magical or significant devices, like Candy Bars or the Living Flame), 13 Episodes, 62 Actions (cards that describe actions your characters take, like Preparing For Ascension or Vampire Embrace), 19 Locations (which essentially form the “board” for the game), 26 Skills (cards that alter characters for multiple rounds, like Invulnerability or Telekinesis), and 14 Events (cards that assign player actions). This set continued to illustrate a very basic and broad sense of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe and it is clear the fans would “get” the references on the cards. In fact, that becomes one of the few enjoyable aspects of this game.
The booster boxes of “Class Of '99” come with thirty-six packs of twelve cards each. The booster packs are nice because they contain seven common, four uncommon and one rare card each, making it the highest proportion of rare cards one might pull in a pack of “Class Of '99” cards (there are starter decks which are fixed and have fewer rares). Each box has thirty-six rares and this almost makes a complete set, though there are four ultra rares to hunt down in addition to the standard rares! As well, the packs have a foil card inserted one in every other pack and the booster boxes are a great way to bone up on those for collectors.
Here is where the “Class Of '99” booster boxes are absolutely worthless to players. There are no rulebooks in this box of cards. One has to buy a starter deck for that. As well, the website advertised at the bottom of each and every card is now defunct. As a result, buying just the box leaves one often unable to play the game.
What I can say is that the game is not intuitive. Deck size (60 cards) is in no way self-evident and how the cards work is not entirely clear. As a result, this seems to be a fairly complicated game that mixes characters using strength, endurance and charisma to overcome obstacles. Sitting down even with the rulebook (when I finally got one) was not terribly fun.
The rulebook for this game is basically thirty pages long and it boils down to moving characters around locations, dealing out cards to try to stop your opponent from reaching the end and accumulating points and occasionally doing combat with one another. This continued the Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG without adding any new card types or fundamentally altering the way the game was played.
"Class Of '99" added "Episode" card types, but without a rulebook, these are just nifty looking cards with no clear way to play them.
Players, collectors and fans of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer franchise will appreciate the image quality of the characters and scenarios from Buffy The Vampire Slayer in the ”Class Of '99” cards. While there are Willow, The Mayor, Trick, and Oz characters, Buffy is hardly the most interesting or worthwhile one.
For the highlight, it's definitely 129 Faith, Villain Slayer. Powerful and enough to kick the butt of any Buffy, this card has a great image of Eliza Dushku as Faith. I think this is the best card in the series because, in addition to having a great image, it has the power to actually allow an adversary to win the game. I like that potential and it certainly makes the game more interesting than usual.
The “Class Of '99” set has generally low collectibility. Packs were vastly overproduced and undersold, so most of these were blown out on clearance. As well, the foil cards – where the entire set is replicated in foil cards is annoying to collect.
“Class Of '99” cards are overproduced, underwhelming and impossible to play out of the booster box. One needs other resources and it is hard to get excited about hunting them down given how lackluster the game mechanic is. Even so, there is just enough to these cards to allow me to recommend them to fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer for nostalgia, if not gameplay.
This set culls images and quotes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 3 , reviewed here!
This set was released after "Angel's Curse" (reviewed here!) and was followed by a single promotional card.
This is a set of gaming cards I sell in my online store! Click here to check out my current inventory!
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© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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