The My Hero Academia CCG is on its way, and it heralds a grand new era for UFS players, marking the transition from UFS to UniVersus. The excitement is palpable – with new players everywhere starting to take a peek in to see what UniVersus is all about!
A major component of this revelation was the release of the My Hero Academia demo decks at Gen Con (also available for just the cost of shipping here!), which prominently featured the new UniVersus branding along with the exciting new IP. It doesn’t take a particularly trained eye to also notice that the card templating has been entirely updated as well – and, in fact, this is the most major overhaul to card templating since the game’s 2006 release. It’s quite apparent that Jasco Games is all in on UniVersus, and is pulling out all the stops to make sure the cult favorite UFS has a new lease on life with a wider pool of IPs and a more modern card design.
While every set has had its own share of templating tweaks to add flavor and distinction to each particular IP, and there have been a few shifts in placement and card framing over the 13 years, this is undoubtedly the most drastic change in card design – so, the question remains – is it good? Let’s dive in and compare templating new and old, see what was changed, and try to answer that question!
Let’s begin by taking a look at the Character card changes – for all of our comparisons, we’ll use a card from the Yu Yu Hakusho expansion as it’s the most recent set we have in the older templates.
Before we dig into the specifics, let’s talk about that full art treatment on all of these cards. While characters see the least impact from this change (removing the border does look nice, though!), getting crisp and clean screencap artwork filling up the entire card on the other card types? Yes, please! I’ll add the caveat that we don’t know if this is exclusive to these demo decks and that there’s the possibility that anything we are showing right now may change prior to the full release – but if they look like this, I’m going to be a happy guy.
Now, let’s talk specifics here. Check the letters in red on the image and we’ll cruise down the list of major changes.
A: Starting in the upper left, we’ve finally removed the mid-2000s swoosh-y filigree look (TCG players from that era may remember exhibit A, exhibit B, and exhibit C which each show off that popular style of the time). Notably, this spot was one of the two locations on the card that held on to a unique card color (purple more recently) which could theoretically help distinguish the card type, but Characters have such unique templating already that such addition distinction isn’t really necessary. Instead, we just have a clean, much larger number in a thick bold font, with a black border and drop shadow to pull it off of the artwork. Very nice.
B: This is the first major icon change, with the shield moving to the same style as the other new icons (more on those soon). The old style of icons used vague gradient colors to try to emulate depth but modern design tends to favor clean lines and blocky, minimalistic colors, and as seen in the new icon, the shape and placement of these gives us our image depth rather than dropping a shadowy gradient on. Much like icons on your phone or PC, these are much cleaner to read and are simply more hip. The metallic border is replaced with a clean black one, much like the other elements on the frame, and the zone circles have been made into crisp rectangles with the shield’s drop shadow falling on top rather than having it float below.
C: One of my favorite changes, much like the block shield, Hand Size and Vitality have new icons in the modern style, and they’ve been removed from their “sphere-esque” cages! Putting elements inside “boxes” like that was a super cool thing to do in 2006, but these days we just like clean, crisp finishes to our iconography. The numbers also changed from black with a white border to white with a black border, which is much more readable despite the numbers actually shrinking in size. It’s like magic!
D: The resource symbols have received an interesting overhaul. They are, in fact, new symbols, for the most part – it’s easiest to tell when comparing Order, where you can see the scales and the bump in the handle changing relative positions. Notably, though, they all appear within a solid black circle now which I think helps define them better as a set rather than having 12 entirely uniquely designed symbols. The gray angular backgrounds are maybe a bit of a wash for me – they help define that this part of the card is all about the resources, but I didn’t find that particularly confusing sans-gray-angles.
E: I think some of the best changes from a play perspective will be found in the text boxes of each of these, which I suppose makes sense – in this case, the most striking change is that E and R are now written out, and have unique coloration to distinguish effect types, much like a Dragon Ball Super card. This is such a big upgrade in a card’s quick “grokkability” – your brain will train to key into the colors and it will become faster to analyze how a card works on the fly. Much like the Hand Size and Vitality symbols, the text and its border color have also swapped into the more readable white with black border.
F: BIG number. Our control value is now enlarged and stands out, and again the over-designed container has been removed. I love that it has a distinct color gradient AND a distinct border color (white vs. black) AND an italic font to distinguish it from the cost – much like the new effect type colors, this will help train brains to analyze a card full of numbers faster even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal. The idea of “blue pays for yellow” is just a simpler paradigm for your brain to connect up and it’s a great decision for the general design.
And yes, as many have pointed out, we are missing gender symbols on the new cards. It’s left to be seen whether those will be included later, ignored going forward, or included in a separate documentation (or some combination of those). We’ll just have to be patient!
Now we’ll start to see the real impact of the full art treatment – let’s dive into the Attacks!
Immediately the benefits of the full art should be clear. This card really pops, and with well executed use of borders, shadows, and transparency, we are able to get those crisp HD screencaps to come alive on the cards.
A: It’s our card type! Notably, the word “attack” is gone entirely from the card. Most modern gamers are accustomed to learning what symbols mean, so the use of the symbol and the red background on this upper left banner (as well as the text box later) should be plenty to convey that without needing to write it out.
B: Both Control components of the card (the cost and the check value) are now placed on top of a fiery background. I suspect this is going to be one of the elements that will change from set-to-set – the design of this fire and the Foundation’s stone seem stylistically quite similar to My Hero Academia’s artwork. This is a really slick way to work in some “attack” framing without building out a bunch of boxes and swooshes, and still allowing for some IP-specific flair to be added each set.
C: The card title is in the same place, but without the unnecessary container. Instead, the text is gradient colored based on the card type, so it gets the nice red-orange on this attack. While it’s tough to tell on this image, notably the font used on the card type now matches the font used on the Character’s name, which in prior sets was always an IP-specific font (see Botan’s above). So I think it’s quite likely we’ll see this font changing from set-to-set much like the flame background likely will.
D: Zone and damage symbols receive a similar treatment to the other new symbols, and they look sharp for it too. The Zone symbol now joins the Zone arrow with the circle for the attack’s actual zone, rather than placing it on top. The numbers have swapped fill and border colors and been given a more modern font much like all the others, and the metal border on the Zone symbol is gone. Much like the others, just general modernization improvements to see here!
E: The resource symbols now precisely match the layout of the resource symbols on the new character cards, grey angle boxes and all. Keeping those consistent is a great touch, and this is likely why we have the grey angle boxes added to the character cards in the first place. Here you can see more new symbols – they did a great job of just slightly updating them to be more modern without completely changing them and throwing people off.
F: The big change to point out in the Attack text box is that keywords have a new style rule – effect keywords now get a colored font rather than italics. This stands out much more, which is critical because you don’t want to ever miss one of these effects on your card. New players can have a difficult time remembering the little keywords printed up there so making it stand out more is a great decision. The box in general is now translucent to allow that full art to show through, but it still maintains a coloration based on card type, so it’s easy enough to still read the card effects and remember the card type.
G: And here we have the other spot of “flames” for our attack card, again giving us a much more appealing indication of the card type and starting to blend in the frame with the full artwork rather than forcing the frame to pull your eyes out of enjoying the art.
Foundations will be quite similar to Attacks in general, but let’s just hop in quickly and see what differences we can spot!
A: Much like the attacks, the card type is now up in the corner, showing the old symbol but with no words and, this time, a grey background for our grey foundations.
B: This rocky effect replaces the rocky border around the YYH foundation cards, and much like the fire, I suspect it will be altered with each IP to best represent the theme of that universe. It looks very slick for MHA, though!
C: Again, we have what is likely an MHA-specific font for the card title, this time in a grey gradient. Each of these small coloration changes join together to create a clear indication of a card’s type without having to fill a card with a clunky opaque frame. It’s 2019, we have the tools to let the artwork shine through – so let’s make it as big as possible!
D: Our translucent text box is grey for foundations, as expected, but still transparent enough to get to see the part of the artwork hiding behind it. The extra linework on the sides of these boxes could be specific to MHA, or could be a general box to be used going forward – it’s tough to tell right now!
E: Here you can easily compare the Order resource symbol between the two sets to be sure that there were new symbols designed, but clearly with the old ones in mind. See how the bump in the scale’s rod appears much higher in comparison to the two scales on the new one?
There was one more card shown off, but it wasn’t in either demo deck – the overall winner of the Gen Con demo deck events got this oversized Plus Ultra!! card, and you can see on this one that it features many of the same changes that the Attack and Foundation cards received, complete with electric blue shatter-effect corners. The only other notable thing I can think to mention is that the Infinity symbol now features a lovely rainbow background in the black circle, which is a nice touch.
Well, folks, that more or less concludes our deep dive into the template changes. So what do you think about the new templates coming with the My Hero Academia CCG? Are you a fan of the full arts or did you like the more classic look the game previously had? Leave us a comment down below or on Facebook and let us know!
Until next time, keep going Plus Ultra!!