Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Slightly Better Expansion Still Makes For A Disappointing Game With "Angel's Curse."

The Good: Good images, Fun text
The Bad: Unclear game mechanic, Vastly overproduced, Foil cards are annoying to collect
The Basics: While “Angel’s Curse” progresses the now-defunct Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG into the second season, it is still difficult to get into.

There are few products I have so misjudged fan interest in like I did the Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG. To be fair, I came a bit late to the party as I found most of my boxes on clearance as the series was ending. Even so, I found myself overwhelmed with scores of Score’s “Pergamum Prophecy” (reviewed here!) boxes that I almost did not pick up the second set of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Customizable Card Game set, “Angel’s Curse.”

“Angel’s Curse” is one of only three expansion sets to the erratic trading card game and it focuses on the second season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, much the way the “Pergamum Prophecy” set focused on the first season. And while this might be a great 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understanding what to do with the cards they get (even the online resource whose URL is on the bottom of every card is no longer active!).

Basics/Set Composition

The Buffy The Vampire Slayer Customizable Card Game “Angel’s Curse” was the second 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 “Pergamum Prophecy” ended, giving fans new play potential from scenarios and characters from the second 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 “Angel’s Curse” 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.

“Angel’s Curse” is a 220 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 five was just beginning), “Pergamum Prophecy” focuses on the first season and first few episodes of the second season (which is what allows the set to have cards of Spike and Drusilla). The set consists of 47 common cards, 92 uncommon cards, 47 rare cards and 4 Ultra Rare, 15 Essence cards (rarity is unclear) and 15 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 34 Characters (cards featuring heroes and villains from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, like Oz and Drusilla), 4 Personality Essence Cards (enhanced character cards for vital characters, like Angel and Cordelia), 13 Challenge (8 Evil, 5 Good, these are the obstacles players use to thwart their opponent),13 Items (cards featuring magical or significant devices, like Spike’s car or Mr. Pointy), 42 Actions (cards that describe actions your characters take, like the Wrath of Angelus or Desperate Maneuvers), 11 Locations (which essentially form the “board” for the game, 12 Skills (cards that alter characters for multiple rounds, like Diana’s Touch or the Ritual Of Acathla), and 9 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 “Angel’s Curse” come with thirty-six packs of eleven cards each. The booster packs are nice because they contain seven common, three uncommon and one rare card each, making it the highest proportion of rare cards one might pull in a pack of “Angel’s Curse” 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 two 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 “Angel’s Curse” 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.

Rules/Rule Changes

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.


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 ”Angel’s Curse” cards. While there are Principal Snyder, Angelus, Willow and Kendra characters, Buffy is hardly the most interesting or worthwhile one.

For the highlight, I’d have to go with card 91, the rare Cordelia. This Cordelia features a tough-looking image of Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia and it seems to have some decent skills to the card. Given that I can’t play the game well, I went with a card that looks real good!


The “Angel’s Curse” 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.


“Angel’s Curse” 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. Despite expanding the image base from the first set well, it is too hard to get psyched about this game to make hunting it down at all worthwhile.

This set culls images and quotes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 2, reviewed here!

This set was preceded by “Pergamum Prophecy” (link above) and followed by “Class Of ‘99” (review pending!)


For other card reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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