Vs. System

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    Vs. System is a card game produced by Upper Deck Entertainment that features characters and stories from Marvel comics, DC comics, and Hellboy comics.

    Short summary describing this concept.

    Vs. System last edited by KillerZ on 02/18/24 03:08PM View full history


    Vs. System is a trading card game that is produce by Upper Deck Entertainment. Each card features a comic book related theme from either Marvel Comics or DC comics. Recently there was also a Hellboy expansion that was added to the game.


    There are three basic formats in VS System that everyone plays by. They are Golden Age, Silver Age, and Modern Age. The Golden Age format lets you play any card that has been released(except for the banned cards). Silver Age lets you use any card that came out of a set in the last two years(except for the banned cards). Finally, Modern age you get to use the last two Marvel Sets and the last two DC sets.

    Silver Age right now features these sets: JLA, X-Men, Crisis, Heralds of Galactus, Legion of Superheroes, Marvel Team-Up, Hellboy Essential Collection, Marvel Legends, and DC Legends.

    Modern Age right now features: Legion of Superheros, Marvel Team-Up, Hellboy Essential Collection, Marvel Legends, and DC Legends.

    Card Types

    There are four card types in Vs System. They are Characters, Plot Twists, Locations, and Equipment. Each card type has a different color to identify it, standard characters are red, concealed characters are black, plot twists are blue, locations are green, and equipment are grey. Characters and equipment can only be recruited during the recruit step by using resource points unless otherwise stated, whereas plot twists can be used from the resource row or the hand in any phase, unless stated otherwise, and locations can be flipped from the resource row at any time, unless stated otherwise.


    There have been several keywords that have come to Vs System. They include:

    Loyalty: Recruit this character only if you control a character that shares a team affiliation with it.

    Evasion: Stun this character-> At the start of the Recovery Phase, recover this character.

    Cosmic: This character comes into with a Cosmic Counter. Whenever this character becomes stunned remove all cosmic counters on it. This character gets the effect following Cosmic only if it has a cosmic counter.

    Concealed: This character comes into play in the hidden area.

    Concealed-Optional: This character can come into play in the hidden or visible area.

    Willpower: Is a reference for card effects. Every character has a willpower of 0 unless otherwise stated.

    Reservist: Reveal this character from your resource row-> You may recruit this character by paying its recruit cost. If you do, you may put a card from your hand face-down in your resource row.

    Leader: The effect following Leader effects the characters adjacent to him.

    Ally: This effect triggers whenever a character becomes powered up.

    Mutant-Traits: Mutant-Traits are a reference for cards. There are three Mutant Triats that are Physical, Mental, and Energy.

    Vengeance: This power triggers when this character becomes stunned.

    Backup: Is an activate effect that you can only use during the build phase.

    Cosmic-Surge: Is the same as cosmic but this character does not come into play with a cosmic counter. Instead, At the start of the Recovery Phase, put a cosmic counter on this character.

    Press: When you recruit this character, the next character you recruit this turn cost 1 less to recruit for each character you recruit with Press this turn.(but with a cost no less then 1)

    Terraform: Reveal this Location from your hand-> You may return a face-down resource to your hand. If you do put this card face-down in your resource row.

    Substitute: Reveal this character from your hand-> You may remove a ready character you control from the game with a cost equal to or greater then the cost of the character you reveal this way. If you do put this character into your front row.

    Dual-Loyalty: Recruit this character only if you control both of this character's printed team affiliations.

    Insanity: Text that follows this keyword is only active in an insanity deck. And Insanity deck is a deck that only runs one of each card.



    The sets, listed in order of release along with the teams and keywords they introduced, are as follows.

    Marvel Origins


    Marvel Origins was the first set to be released and featured the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Brotherhood, Doom, Skrull, and Sentinel teams as well as three Negative Zone cards. Marvel Origins contained a rare card that is still very highly prized today: Savage Beatdown.

    DC Origins


    DC Origins was the first set that DC contributed to the VS. System and introduced the Gotham Knights, Arkham Inmates, Teen Titans, League of Assassins, and the Fearsome Five, as well as the small team Deathstroke. DC Origins introduced the Boost and Loyalty mechanics.

    Web of Spider-Man


    Web of Spider-Man was the smallest full set to be realeased by Marvel to date and contained the Spider Friends and the Sinister Syndicate, as well as a few "legacy" cards from other teams. It introduced the Evasion mechanic.

    Superman, Man of Steel


    The Superman set was a near mirror set of Web of Spider-Man, being that it was the smallest DC set to date and contained nearly the same card codes; Web being MSM, and Superman being DSM. Superman contained Team Superman, Revnge Squad, New Gods, and Darkseid's Elite, and introduced the Cosmic and Invulnerability mechanics.

    Marvel Knights


    Marvel Knights was the turning point of VS. and when it truly began to pick up popularity. It contained the Marvel Knights, Underworld, X-Statix, and the Crime Lords, and introduced the Concealed and Hidden Area mechanics.

    Green Lantern Corps


    The Green Lantern Corps contained the Green Lanterns, Emerald Enemies, Anti-Matter, and Manhunter teams, and introduced the Concealed-Optional, Willpower, and non-character version mechanics. The non-character version that was most widely seen here was the construct plot twists.

    The Avengers


    Marvel's largest set since Origins, The Avengers contained The Avengers, Masters of Evil, Thunderbolts, Squadron Supreme, and Kang Council. It introduced the Leader, Reservist, and labeled team-up mechanics.

    Justice League of America


    The Justice League of America contained the JLA, JLI, Injustice Gang, and Secret Society, as well as introducing the ever-useful Ally keyword and the first Dual Affiliated characters.



    X-Men was the first set to controversially feature a team that was already released as the main team. It contained the X-Men, Brotherhood, Morlocks, and Hellfire Club and introduced the Mutant Traits.

    Infinite Crisis


    Infinite Crisis was the largest DC set since DC Origins, and contained JSA, Shadowpact, Villains United, Secret Six, Crisis, and Checkmate. The set introduced many new mechanics, such as Vengeance, Backup, Loyalty-Reveal, Magic plot twists, as well as heavily featured the identity mechanic with the JSA team.

    Heralds of Galactus


    The Heralds of Galactus set contained the Heralds of Galactus, Kree, Inhumans, and Infinity Watch, as well as revisiting the Doom and Skrull teams. This set introduced the Terraform, Press, and Cosmic-Surge mechanics, and was perhaps one of the most anticipated sets due to the inclusion of the big purple man himself, Galactus.

    Legion of Superheroes


    The Legion of Superheroes contained the Legionnaires and Future Foes, as well as revisiting the Teen Titans and Darkseid's Elite. The set introduced the Substitue keyword, as well as expanded the use of the Cosmic mechanic.

    Marvel Team-Up


    Marvel Team-Up contained the Marvel Defenders and Wild Pack, as well as revisiting the Spider Friends, Underworld, and Sinister Syndicate. The set also introduced the official Dual Loyalty mechanic as well as a different way to pay boosts, such as paying attack or defense.

    World's Finest


    World's Finest is a set that deals with Team Superman, Gotham Knights, Arkham Inmates, Birds of Prey, Outsiders, and Revenge Squad. There was only one mechanic in this set, and it was Insanity. Insane decks may only contain one copy of every card in the deck. This means that your deck will be made up of sixty or more completely different cards. It also means that you will get the 'insane' bonuses from Insanity cards. You cannot get these bonuses if you have two or more of any card in your deck.

    Marvel Legends


    Marvel Legends allows you to play as some of your favorite Marvel characters; including Wolverine, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Dr. Doom, and more. Teams featured in this set are Fantastic Four, Doom, X-Men, Marvel Knights, Brotherhood, and Shi'ar.

    DC Legends


    DC Legends was similar to Marvel Legends in that it allowed you to design decks centered around popular DC comics characters, such as Superman, Flash, Aquaman, Batman, Joker, and Lex Luthor. It included teams such as the Injustice Gang, Secret Society, JLA, and Teen Titans.

    Banned List


    First Banned Card
    First Banned Card

    These cards are banned from tournament use and are listed in the order of the dates they were banned. They were banned for varying reasons, but most were banned due to them being in an endless combination or giving the user a particularly unfair advantage.

    • Overload

    • Justice League of Arkham

    • Antarctic Research Base

    • Gone But Not Forgotten

    • Valeria Von Doom, Heir to Latveria

    • Talia, Lexcorp CEO

    • Go Down Fighting

    • Fiddler, Isaac Bowin

    • Detective Chimp, Bobo T. Chimpanzee

    • Dr. Light, Master of Holograms

    • Frankie Raye <> Nova, Optimistic Youth

    • Nenora, Skrull Usurper

    Official Rules

    I in no way take credit for this. These are the actual rules from the first rule book published by UDE for Vs. System.

    The Vs. System was designed to stimulate epic superhero battles. Sever Upper Deck Entertainment trading card games will use the Vs. System game rules and card backs. As long as you see the Vs. System logo on the card back, the card may be played in any Vs. System deck you create.

    Anatomy of a Card

    Older card style
    Older card style

    There are 4 types of cards in the Marvel Trading Card Game: characters, equipment, locations, and plot twists. All four card types share some common elements:

    Name: The name of the card.

    Recruit Cost: The amount of resource points required to recruit a character or equipment.

    Version: This line provides a way to distinguish one version of the character from another (ei. Superman and Spider-Man have many character cards.)

    Team Affiliation: Most characters belong to a team. Some have no Team Affiliation. (ei. Avengers, Spider Friends, Team Superman)

    Flight: Appears on characters who can fly. (They can attack the support row.)

    Range: Appears on characters that have long-ranged attacks. (Characters that have guns, or shoot energy beams from their hands or eyes. They can attack from the support row.)

    Attack Value (ATK): Represents the strength and/or fighting ability of a character.

    Defense Value (DEF): Represents the agility and/or toughness of a character.

    Threshold Cost: Locations and plot twists have threshold costs. You can flip a location or play a plot twist if you have at least as many resources in play as the threshold cost of the location or plot twist. (ei. you may play a plot twist with cost 4 or less if you have 4 resources. You do not have to pay resources to flip locations or play plot twists.

    Card Type: Tells whether the card is an equipment, location, or plot twist. Characters have their team affiliation printed in this spot.

    Ongoing: Appears on plot twists to remind players of an ongoing effect. (An effect that lasts until another effect states otherwise.)

    Flavor Text: A quote or character information that has no game effect.

    Collector Number: The first letters describe the set and the last three numbers describe which card in the set it is. "Sinister Salvo" is card 026 in the set MSS (Marvel Spider-Man Starter). A white collector number indicates a common card. When the collector number is silver, it indicates an uncommon card. When the number is gold, it indicates a rare card.

    Basic Game Concepts

    Endurance: Each player starts with 50 endurance. At the end of the turn, if you've knocked your opponent's endurance to zero or less, you win! (This is not totally correct. Whoever has the lowest endurance will lose. If player one has -12 endurance, and player 2 has -23 endurance, player one wins.)

    Deck: The starter set contains two decks of forty cards to help you learn the game. When building your own constructed deck, you must at least 60 cards.

    Hand: You start the game with four cards drawn off the top of your deck. You then decide whether or not to 'mulligan' this hand. This means that you put those four cards on the bottom of your deck in any order if you do not like the cards you got. You can only do this once, and then you draw four more cards. You then start turn one by each player drawing two cards. You will draw two cards every turn at the start of the Draw Phase, unless an effect tells you otherwise.

    Front Row: When you recruit a character, you can put it in your front row or support row. Characters in your front row comprise your main line of attack and defense. Front row characters protect characters behind them in the support row.

    Support Row: This is the row directly behind the front row where you can place characters. If a support row character is protected (there is a front row character directly in front of it) it can only be attacked by a character with flight.

    Resource Row: This is the row closest to you. Each turn, you may put one card from your hand face down into this row as a resource. Any card can be placed face down into the resource row as a resource. However, plot twists and locations have additional game effects when placed in the resource row. Character and equipment cards put into the resource row may not be turned face up. You can look at face down resources you have in play at any time, but you cannot change their order within the row.

    Protected: A front row character that is not stunned protects the support row character directly behind him. Front row characters are never considered protected.

    KO: Short for 'knocked out'. When a card is KO'd, it is placed into its owner's KO'd pile.

    Ready/Exhausted: A card in play is either ready (upright) or exhausted (turned on it's side, face up). To ready an exhausted card, turn the card upright. To exhaust a ready card, turn it on it's side. Cards enter play in the ready state, unless otherwise noted.

    Stunned: When a character is defeated in combat, it becomes stunned and is turned face down in the exhausted state. Stunned characters may not be attacked and cannot use their powers.

    Recover: When a stunned character is recovered, it is turned face up in the exhausted state.

    Activate: Some cards have the keyword Activate. Only ready (upright) cards can activate. To activate a ready card, exhaust it (turn it to it's side).


    Character cards represent the heroes and villains that make up the Marvel Universe.

    Recruit Cost: You may recruit a character by spending resource points equal to the character's recruit cost. Recruit cost is the number in the top left hand corner in gold.

    Version: Each character has a version immediately under its name. Some characters have different versions that represent various times in the history of that character. You can have up to four copies of each version in your deck.

    Unique: Most characters are unique. Each player may have only one copy of a named character in play at a time, regardless of the character's version. When you recruit a character, put any other characters you control with the same name into your KO'ed pile. For example, each player could have own copy of Spider-Man in play, but only one copy.

    Army: A few characters have "Army" printed in the version area underneath their name. These characters are not unique. Each player can have any number of army characters in play at the same time. These characters represent agents, soldiers, or minions of a larger organization. When building a deck, you can include unlimited copies of army characters.

    Flight: A front row character with flight can bypass an opposing front row character to attack the protected character behind it.

    Range: Characters with range can attack from the support row. A character with both flight and range can make an attack against a protected character, even while in the support row!

    Attack Value: A character's attack value represents the character's ability to fight. The attack value is abbreviated "ATK" and is printed in gold next to the lightning bolt icon in the bottom left corner of the card.

    Defense Value: A character's defense value represents the character's resistance to attack. The defense value is abbreviated "DEF" and is printed in silver next to the shield icon in the bottom left hand corner of the card.

    Team Affiliation: Most characters are part of a team and can reinforce their fellow teammates and combine with them for team attacks. If no name appears here, the character is not a member of a team.

    Team Symbol: Now on each character is also a Team Symbol, this Symbol will be used as a reference for this character's team affiliation. Character's without an affiliation do not of a symbol.

    Concealed: There is a moon shape symbol colored in on the character. This means that the character will come into play in the concealed area.

    Visible: The sun is colored in on this character. This means that the character will come into play in the visible area.


    Equipment cards represent gear, weapons, and vehicles that your characters can use.

    Recruit Cost: Just like a character card, you may recruit an equipment card during the recruit step by spending resource points equal to the number of the equipment's recruit cost. (Most equipment have a cost of 0.)

    Equip Restrictions: A character may not be equipped with more than one equipment card at a time. You cannot move the equipment between characters. You may only equip characters that you control.

    KO: When a character is KO'd or removed from play, any equipment attached to the character is placed in it's owner's KO'd pile.

    Unique: A few equipment cards are unique and follow the same rules as unique characters. Look for the word "unique" in the text box.


    Locations are important places in the Marvel Universe. Locations are put face down in the resource row and may only be flipped face up from the resource row. You may place only one card into the resource row each turn. When you have a face down location in your resource row you may flip it over to make its game text active. Once it's flipped up, it may not be turned face down again.

    Threshold Cost: The silver number in the upper left corner of the card represents the minimum number of resources that must be in your resource row for you to flip the location. Usually, the number is very low, but some powerful cards have a higher threshold cost.

    Using Threshold: Once you've met a location's threshold cost, you may flip it face up at any time. You may flip face up as many locations as you want, as long as you've met each one's threshold cost. You do not have to spend resource points to flip a location.

    Stay in Play: After a location is turned face up, it stays in play and continues to count as a resource every turn. Most locations have powers that can be activated or provide continuing modifiers to the game.

    Unique: Like characters, locations are unique. When you flip a location, place any other location you control with the same name into your KO'd pile.

    Plot Twists

    Plot Twists are surprise situations that affect the game or teh characters within it. Plot twists can be played from your resource row like locations or they can be played directly from your hand. Plot twists are never unique, you may have several copies of the same plot twist in play at the same time.

    Play from Resource Row: You may play a plot twist from your resource row at any time as long as you have a number of resources equal to or greater than the threshold cost of the plot twist. Turn the card face up and follow the instructions on the card. Leave the plot twist in play; it continues to count as a resource, but doesn't do anything else unless it has an ongoing power.

    Stay in Play: Like locations, plot twists stay in play after they are used. Most plot twists provide a one-time modifier, but they remain in play afterword, functioning as a resource. They may not be turned face down.

    Play from Hand: You may also play a plot twist from your hand at any time as long as you have a number of resources in play equal to or greater than the threshold cost of the plot twist. Show the plot twist to the other players and follow the instructions on the card. Then put the plot twist in your KO'd pile instead of your resource row.

    Ongoing: Ongoing plot twists have the ongoing icon and continue to have active powers when they are face up in your resource row. Play an ongoing plot twist as normal following any instructions before the word "Ongoing." Any game text after the word "ongoing" starts to work as soon as the plot twist is turned face up and continues to work as long as the plot twist remains face up in your resource row.

    Starting the Game

    Each player will need a way to track his endurance (pen and paper, dice, calculator). At the start of the game, randomly determine which player chooses who has the initiative for the first turn. Flip a coin, roll a die, or play rock-paper-scissors - the winner gets to choose who starts with initiative on turn one. Players shuffle their decks and give their opponent a chance to cut it. Then, each player draws an opening hand of four cards.

    New Hand (Mulligan): If a player is unhappy with his opening hand of four cards, he may immediately place the cards on the bottom of his deck in any order and redraw four new cards. Each player may do this only once per game, only at the start of the game.

    Turns and Initiative: A game of Marvel is played in turns, phases, and steps. During a turn, players can put resources into play, recruit characters, and fight battles. One player will begin the turn with the initiative. That player is able to perform his steps first that turn.

    Initiative Token: When playing the game for the first few times, you should use a token to track which player has the initiative. The token can be anything handy; a coin, a die, or Captain America's shield. At the end of the turn, pass the initiative token clockwise to the next player.

    Object of the game: Each player starts with fifty endurance, which represents the staying power of that player's team of heroes. The object of the game is to reduce your opponent's endurance to zero.

    Special Note: If at any time you run out of cards in your deck you do not lose. You can continue playing; you just no longer draw any new cards.

    The Golden Rule: Whenever a card contradicts a rule in this rulebook, the card is correct.

    Turn Sequence

    Draw Phase: During the draw phase, all players simultaneously draw two cards.

    Build Phase: The player with the initiative performs the three steps below in order. Then the next player completes the three steps in order until each player has completed all three steps of the build phase.

    Resource Step: You may choose any one card from your hand to put into your resource row face down as a resource. Place the card to the right of the last resource you put in into play. (It is no common to place the resource the the left, starting with the first resource next to your deck, and continuing in a line to the left.) Any characters or equipment placed into the resource row may never be turned face up. (The new key word "reservist" allows you to recruit characters that have reservist from the resource row.)

    Card Formation
    Card Formation

    Recruit Step: At the start of your recruit step, each card in your resource row generates one resource point. You can spend resource points to recruit characters and equipment. Any unspent resource points are lost at the end of the recruit step. To recruit a character or equipment, you must spend a number of resource points equal to the card's recruit cost. You can place a newly

    recruited character face up into either your front row or support row. Equipment cards must be attached to a character.

    Formation Step: During the formation step, you can rearrange your characters by moving them into new rows or new positions in your front and support rows. It's important to show which characters are in front of other characters and which characters are beside other characters.

    Combat Phase

    After each player has taken turns completing the build phase, the player with initiative has his attack step. Then each other player has his attack step.

    Ready characters and an exhausted character
    Ready characters and an exhausted character

    Attack Step: During your attack step, your characters can attack. They attack one at a time.

    Declaring an attack: Choose one of your ready front row characters to be the attacker and an opposing unprotected character to be the defender. An unprotected character is a character in the front row or a defender in the support row with no character in front of it. Exhaust the declared attacker to begin the attack.

    Characters with flight: Normally, a character can only attack an opposing unprotected character. However, characters with flight can fly over a front row character to attack a protected character behind it. (Contrary to beginner belief, characters with flight cannot 'fly' over a front row character and attack a player directly if there are no support row characters.)

    Characters with Range: Normally, support row characters cannot attack. However, a character with range can attack from the support row.

    Characters with Flight and Range: The ultimate combination. A character with flight and range can attack from your support row and into either row.

    Resolving and Attack:

    • Compare the attacker's ATK to the defender's DEF. If the attacker's ATK is less than the defender's DEF, nothing happens to the defender. If the attacker's ATK is equal to or higher than the defender's DEF, the defender will be stunned. If the attacker's ATK is greater than the defender's DEF, the defender will be stunned and it's controller will take breakthrough endurance loss equal to the difference.

    • Compare the defender's ATK to the attacker's DEF. If the defender's ATK is less than the attacker's DEF, nothing happens to the attacker. If the defender's ATK is equal to or greater than the attacker's DEF, the attacker is stunned.

    Character positions
    Character positions

    Stunned Characters: When a character is stunned, its controller loses endurance equal to the character's recruit cost. The character is then turned face down in the exhausted state. A stunned character remains in the row and column that it occupies, but no longer protects a support row character immediately behind it. A stunned character still counts as a character and retains its name, version, and team. A stunned character cannot ready, cannot be attacked, and its game text is inactive. Any player may look at any stunned character at any time.

    Breakthrough Endurance Loss: When an attacker's ATK is greater than a defender's DEF, the defender's controller loses endurance equal to the difference between the values.

    Attacking an Opponent Directly: If an opponent controls no characters or if all of his characters are stunned, you can attack his endurance directly. Declare an attack as normal, but since there is no defender, simply subtract the attacker's ATK from the opposing player's endurance. This is considered breakthrough endurance loss. Your attacks must still be legal in order to make this attack.


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