The Universal Fighting System (UFS) is a collectible card game originally designed by Sabertooth Games. The themes of the cards are drawn from a multitude of licensed gaming universes, especially fighting game licenses. While the official product launch was in April 2006, the first set released in February 2006 was a special "battle box" based on the Penny Arcade online comic.
It was announced on February 22nd, 2008, that the publication rights of the Universal Fighting System had been transferred to Fantasy Flight Games. In May, 2010, the Universal Fighting System CCG was taken over by a new game company called Jasco Games (www.jascogames.com) and is the current home of UFS.
Fantasy Flight Games announced on June 3, 2010, that Jasco Games now "owns the rights to the core UFS mechanics and hold a license for the characters of ShadoWar. Additionally, Jasco has acquired FFG’s remaining stock of UFS cards."
Two months after the release of the prototypical Penny Arcade Battle Box, the game officially launched with the simultaneous release of two separate sets of cards, one based on the Street Fighter series and the other based on Soulcalibur III. All primary game releases since then have followed a similar two-set structure. A license with SNK Playmore allowed for cards based on The King of Fighters 2006 and Samurai Shodown V gaming universes in December 2006, and a second Capcom license, Darkstalkers, was added in November of the following year. Bandai Namco's Soulcalibur IV and Fantasy Flight Game's own original property ShadoWar were added in March 2009, and Tekken 6 was added in August 2009.
A game in the Universal Fighting System represents a battle between two adversaries. Each player controls one of the two characters, with the objective being to defeat the opponent, typically through loss of vitality. The two characters need not be from the same universe; for example, Chun-Li from Street Fighter could battle Cassandra from Soul Calibur or Tycho from Penny Arcade.
Players take turns, with each turn consisting of multiple actions. With each additional action a player takes in a turn, the difficulty of successfully completing that action increases. Players can continue to take actions until they choose to stop or until they fail an attempt. The game structure typically involve players building up foundations over successive turns, which then allows a greater number of actions before failure. Management of these becomes crucial, as players must strike a balance between using their resources for offense and defense; going "all out" for a series of attacks can leave one vulnerable to retaliation during the opponent's turn. The system relies heavily on card combinations, where one card enhances the effect of another. The game is an advanced or expert level product (owing in large part to the fact that every card has at least one special ability), primarily aimed at older or more experienced gamers.
The Universal Fighting System has five different types of cards:
- Characters - A card which represents the combatant whose role the player is currently assuming. Character cards contain information about the character's hand size, special abilities, symbols/alignment, and starting vitality.
- Attacks - Orange-bordered cards which represent attempts to directly inflict damage on an opponent. Successful attacks that deal damage are added to one's momentum, which helps towards enhancing certain attacks and other cards.
- Actions - Blue-bordered cards played from the hand which allow the character to perform some non-attack action or maneuver.
- Foundations - Grey-bordered cards which signify intensive training and reserves of inner strength upon which a character can draw to power attacks or abilities.
- Assets - Green-bordered cards which represent places or objects which are in play.
There are also split cards, which have two types and two possible effects. When the card is played, the player must decide which type the card will be.
Different character cards feature different selections of the thirteen attribute symbols, and a deck can only use cards that match one or more of that character's symbols. Hence, this prevents a character from using abilities which are not a match for their style or personality. The thirteenth symbol, Infinity, has no defined attributes and can count as any other symbol at any given time. The thirteen symbols and their associated traits are:
|[AIR] (A white whirlwind)||Intelligence, Deliberateness|
|[ALL] (A red circle)||Existence, Fullness|
|[CHAOS] (Three arrows pointing out)||Disorder, Instinct|
|[DEATH] (A white skull)||Destruction, Finality|
|[EARTH] (A green mountain)||Stalwart, Strength|
|[EVIL] (A red pitchfork)||Ruthlessness, Villainy|
|[FIRE] (An orange flame)||Passion, Speed|
|[GOOD] (A yellow halo)||Compassion, Heroism|
|[LIFE] (A growing plant)||Beginning, Creation|
|[ORDER] (A golden justice scale)||Law, Structure|
|[VOID] (A dark-grey vortex)||Emptiness, Space|
|[WATER] (A blue wave)||Adaptation, Fluidity|
|[INFINITY] (A Möbius strip)||Eternity, Timelessness|
Card rarity and distribution
Each card has rarity information printed along the bottom to indicate how common it is. The rarity was previously denoted by the number of small dots appearing at the bottom of the card, according to the following legend. More recently, the dots have been replaced by the relevant letter.
|• or C||Common|
|•• or UC||Uncommon|
|••• (non-foil) or SE||Starter deck exclusive|
|••• (foil) or R||Rare|
|•••• or UR||Ultra Rare or Promotional (dots only)|
|~||Reprint (Battle Packs only)|
Starter decks are semi-random, with 29 fixed cards and 31 random cards. This includes some exclusive cards which are only available through that starter and not available in booster packs. In each 10-card booster pack, there are 6 commons and 3 uncommons, with the remaining card being either rare or ultra-rare. There are also very rare boosters made up entirely of rare and super rare cards, colloquially known as "god packs". Lastly, each box of starter decks or booster packs contains a single "box topper", which is a special promotional card and not part of the standard card set.
Promotional character cards, foil variants of commons and uncommons, and specially-designed cards are also obtainable by participating in hobby league tournaments and/or special events.
The 120 cards provided in the Penny Arcade Battle Box follow a fixed distribution, without any element of randomness. The rarity system is adapted differently in these; one dot for a card that the box has four copies of, two for a card of three copies and three for a card of two copies (the "rarest"). Any Battle Pack card reprinted from a previous release will have a tilde symbol - ~ - in place of dots.
Until the release of Tekken 6, all regular rares, ultra-rares and promotional cards were foiled. Beginning with Tekken 6, foil cards were retired, and all rarities appear in non-foil form only.
Card sets and products
The first set released for each game universe is typically named after that game universe, while later sets have original names. Because it contains cards from two game universes, the inaugural SNK set is named after the game company instead. Most SNK sets feature cards drawn from both Samurai Shodown V and The King of Fighters 2006; the fourth is based solely on the latter game. The first Soulcalibur IV set is named Tower of Souls to more easily differentiate it from the inaugural Soulcalibur III set. Soulcalibur III and Soulcalibur IV are considered to be different licenses, despite technically being from the same series, and thus have their own set identifiers (SC and SCIV, respectively).
|Game Universe & Set Name||Release Date||Set Size||Starter Deck Characters||Booster Characters|
|Street Fighter||April 2006||143||Chun Li, Dhalsim, Ken, Ryu||Chun Li, Dhalsim, Ken, Ryu, Sagat, Zangief|
|SF02: World Warriors||July 2006||126||(none; boosters only)||Balrog, Blanka, E. Honda, Guile, M. Bison, Vega|
|SF03: The Next Level||December 2006||90||(none; boosters only)||Akuma, Cammy, Dudley, Fei Long|
|SF04: The Dark Path||February 2007||144||Chun-Li, Ryu, T. Hawk, Twelve||Adon, , Chun-Li, Rose, Ryu, Sakura, T. Hawk, Twelve|
|SF05: Extreme Rivals||May 2007||90||(none; boosters only)||Cody, Dee Jay, Ibuki, Ken, R. Mika|
|SF06: Fight for the Future||November 2007||99||(none; boosters only)||Alex, Cammy, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Gen, Gill, Guile|
|SF07: Domination||February 2008||144||Akuma, Ken, Sagat, Sakura||Blanka, Dan, Guy, Karin, M. Bison, Ryu, Sean, Yang, Yun, Zangief|
|SF08: Deadly Ground||June 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Adon, Cammy, Charlie, E. Honda, Fei Long, Ibuki, Juli, Juni, Makoto, Rose, Vega|
|SF09: Warrior's Dream||Dec 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Alex, Balrog, Chun Li, Dhalsim, Elena, Guile, Hugo, M. Bison, R. Mika, Remy, T. Hawk|
|Darkstalkers||November 2007||126||(none; boosters only)||B.B. Hood, Bishamon, Demitri, Donovan, Felicia, J. Talbain, Lilith, Lord Raptor, Morrigan, Pyron, Q-Bee, Rikuo, Sasquatch, Victor|
|DS02: Realm of Midnight||June 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Anakaris, Bishamon, Demitri, Donovan, Felicia, Hsien-Ko, Huitzil, J. Talbain, Jedah, Morrigan, Victor|
|Soulcalibur III||April 2006||143||Astaroth, Nightmare, Taki, Voldo||Astaroth, Cassandra, Mitsurugi, Nightmare, Taki, Voldo|
|SC02: A Tale of Swords & Souls||July 2006||126||(none; boosters only)||Ivy, Kilik, Raphael, Setsuka, Tira, Zasalamel|
|SC03: Soul Arena||February 2007||144||Abyss, Cervantes, Lizardman, Yoshimitsu||Abyss, Cervantes, Lizardman, Mitsurugi, Taki, Talim, Rock, Yoshimitsu|
|SC04: Blades of Fury||May 2007||90||(none; boosters only)||Maxi, Nightmare, Tira, Xianghua, Yun-seong|
|SC05: Higher Calibur||August 2007||99||(none; boosters only)||Astaroth, Cassandra, Cervantes, Ivy, Seong Mi-na, Voldo|
|SC06: Flash of the Blades||September 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Kilik, Lizardman, Mitsurugi, Raphael, Seong Mi-na, Setsuka, Siegfried, Sophitia, Taki, Talim, Zasalamel|
|Soulcalibur IV||April 2009||144||Cervantes, Ivy, Nightmare, Siegfried||Algol, Astaroth, Hilde, Tira|
|SCIV02: Quest of Souls||November 2009||99||(none; boosters only)||Amy, Mistsurugi, Taki, Yoshimitsu, Xianghua|
|SNK Playmore||December 2006||144||Haohmaru, Mai, Terry, Ukyo||Alba, Athena, Charlotte, Galford, Gaira, Hanzo, Iori, Kyo, Lien, Nagase, Nakoruru, Yoshitora|
|SNK02: Fortune & Glory||August 2007||99||(none; boosters only)||Billy, Genjuro, Jubei, K', Luise, Mai, Nightmare Geese, Sankuro, Seth, Tam Tam, Ukyo|
|SNK03: The Cutting Edge||February 2008||144||Haohmaru, Mai, Rock Howard, Yoshitora||B. Jenet, Galford, Iori, Kula, Kyo, Kyoshiro, Nagase, Ninon, Rera, Yumeji,|
|SNK04: The King of Fighters 2006||September 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Alba, Chae, Fio, Hanzo, Jivatma, Leona, Maxima, Mignon, Soiree, Terry, Yuri|
|SNK05: Flames of Fame||December 2008||99||(none; boosters only)||Basara, Billy, Gaira, Kazuki, Kim, Nakoruru, Nightmare Geese, Ralf, Rock Howard, Sogetsu, Terry|
|ShadoWar||April 2009||144||Astrid, Ragnar, Yi Shan, Zi Mei||Lu Chen, Rashotep, Temujin, Zhao Daiyu|
|Tekken 6||August 2009||99||(none;boosters only)||Christie Montiero, Kazuya Mishima, King, Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix|
|Name of product||Release date||Total cards||Unique cards||Characters|
|Penny Arcade Battle Box||February 2006||120||45||Gabe, Tycho|
|Soulcalibur III Battle Pack||November 2006||120||44||Sophitia, Siegfried|
|Street Fighter Battle Pack||July 2007||120||36||Akuma, Ryu|
Some characters have only appeared as promotional cards, available through various outlets. The following is a list of all of the promotional characters that have not appeared in any of the expansions or battle sets through to the release of the twelfth pair of sets, Soulcalibur IV and Shadowar.
|Name of game universe||Characters|
|Street Fighter||Geki, Necro, Q, Rolento|
|Soulcalibur||Amy, Arthur, Chester, Demuth, Greed, Miser, Night Terror, Olcadan, Revenant, Strife|
|SNK Playmore||Duke, Lilly Kane, Mr. Karate, Genjuro, Kazuki|
|UFS||Nicholas the Saint, The Universal Fighter|
|Coolest Prize||Andrew Olexa, Jacky Tang, James Hata, Matt Kohls, Omar Chavez, Scott Mence, Wess "Flawless" Victory, Jonathan Herr, Paul Bittner|
As with most trading card games, an effort is made to keep the organized-play environment fresh and accessible to new players by periodically retiring older sets. However, unlike other games, the rotation policy in UFS does not follow the set-release structure, with some cards in any given set rotating before or after others. In general, the watermark within a card's text box (or below the vitality symbol on Character cards) dictates which "wave" a card belongs to, though older sets did not have this feature. A more detailed rotation structure can be found here.
The Coolest Prize in Gaming
A key draw to competitive UFS play is "The Coolest Prize in Gaming." Winners of specific Worlds Singles, Worlds Teams, Nationals Singles, and Nationals Teams events are allowed to design their own card, in conjunction with the publisher. The card's art features the winners themselves and they receive every copy printed.
- Jasco Games The new official homepage
- Fantasy Flight Games' Universal Fighting System homepage
- Team Canada Online: A UFS/CCG fan website
- CCGDb.com: A search engine for the UFS TCG, as well as several other TCG systems.
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