The Good: Good images, Fun text
The Bad: Unclear game mechanic, Vastly overproduced, Foil cards are annoying to collect
The Basics: Overproduced and difficult to figure out "Pergamum Prophecy" establishes the Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG poorly.
It seems like the easy way a show knows it has become a phenomenon is when the merchandising on it truly begins to pick up. In the case of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, there were toys, conventions and even a trading card game which never truly took off in the CCG community. While Buffy The Vampire Slayer ended up being remarkably popular, the attempts to capitalize on that popularity were often hit or miss. As an avid card collector, I was quite happy when a load of the first Buffy The Vampire Slayer Trading Card Game cards, “Pergamum Prophecy” came my way. Unfortunately, the more I tried to get into these, the more I found it was a losing battle.
The “Pergamum Prophecy” gaming cards are cute, culled from images from the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but the game mechanic is unclear and it just isn’t a very fun game. Moreover, with the target audience for the television show being teenage girls and young women, Score – who produced the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Trading Card Game – seems to have missed its target audience. This is not a demographic that has ever truly glommed onto the Customizable Card Game fads (at least not in the United States) and Pergamum Prophecy was a failed product. Even my partner, who is a huge fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer did not want much to do with “Pergamum Prophecy” outside reminiscing about the show and seeing a few of the principle characters.
The Buffy The Vampire Slayer Customizable Card Game “Pergamum Prophecy” was the first 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.
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 “Pergamum Prophecy” helps 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.
“Pergamum Prophecy” 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 220 card set features 60 Characters (cards featuring heroes and villains from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), 8 Personality Essence Cards (enhanced character cards for vital characters), 31 Challenge (15 Evil, 16 Good, these are the obstacles players use to thwart their opponent), 21 Items (cards featuring magical or significant devices, like Bat sonar and a metal robot body), 46 Actions (cards that describe actions your characters take, like “Run, Fast!” or making an Overhand Toss), 28 Locations (which essentially form the “board” for the game, 16 Skills (cards that alter characters for multiple rounds, like Watcher Training and moving at a Fast Pace), and 2 Events (cards that assign player actions). This set establishes 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 “Pergamum Prophecy” 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 “Pergamum Prophecy” 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! 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 review may appear to fall down, but it (in fact) offers the most true experience of buying a “Pergamum Prophecy” box of Buffy The Vampire Slayer gaming cards now. 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. As “Pergamum Prophecy” is the first of these games, there are no rule changes, but the establishment of this game is nothing to write home about in terms of either fun or playable.
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 ”Pergamum Prophecy” cards. While there are Spike, Drusilla, Angel and Giles characters, Buffy is hardly the most interesting or worthwhile one.
For the highlight, I’d have to go with card 152, the rare Willow Rosenberg. This Willow features a moon-eyed image of Willow and has her with 4 book smarts points, and the abilities in spellcraft and computers. It seems like a fun card!
The Pergamum Prophecy 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.
Ultimately, the “Pergamum Prophecy” 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.
This set culls images and quotes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 1 and Season 2.
"Pergamum Prophecy" was the first Buffy The Vampire Slayer CCG and was followed by "Angel's Curse," reviewed here!
This is a set of cards I proudly sell in my online store! For my current inventory, be sure to click here to check what I have available!
For other CCGs, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Star Wars CCG – Theed Palace
The Lord Of The Rings TCG – The Fellowship Of The Ring
Star Trek: The Card Game
For other card reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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