Remembering OverPower

overpower card backI’ve had OverPower on the brain lately and it’s all my friend Brett White’s fault. He started tweeting about the collectible card game that launched in the mid 90s and I’ve been reminiscing ever since. Back when the game launched in 1996 I was 13 and super into comic books. My aunt did PR work for one of the malls in Toledo and told me about a comic book, card and collectible show that was going on in the aisles of the mall. My parents drove me out and after buying a few random Image books — Shaman’s Tears #1 and a Shadowhawk comic both caught my eye because of their shiny foil covers — I was shocked to find something, something I had never seen or heard of before: a deck of OverPower cards.

At this point in my life I wasn’t into CCGs, but my friends were. They were all in Boy Scouts at the time and the older kids introduced them to Magic. At that time it seems like just about everyone was getting in on the CCG racket, which probably explains OverPower’s existence in the first place. I don’t remember off the top of my head which deck I found, but it was cheap and I might have actually picked up two of them. I took them in to school and showed them to my friend Geof who was one of the guys into Magic. He was the closest thing I had to a friend who liked comics, having a subscription to a Superman comic or two if memory serves (he would go on to accompany me on my nearly weekly trips to the comic store in high school because I gave him a ride home). Soon enough our other friends were getting in the cards and we started trading and whatnot.

Here’s the strange thing, though: OverPower cards actually became pretty popular among the guys in my class for a few months. The more popular kids (I’m sure it’s shocking to learn that I wasn’t necessarily in the cool group) started buying up decks and booster packs. I should note here that I don’t know much any of us actually played the game. Geof and I faced off quite a bit, but I don’t really remember playing with anyone else. There was even something of a racket going on with a few of the more enterprising kids happening upon what were considered really good or valuable cards and selling them to the highest bidder among the more obsessed of us. I remember Wolverine being a good card and some kid getting $10 or $20 for it.

The first few series’ were all focused on Marvel characters, but I got really excited a few years down the line when it was announced that DC was getting in on the action. I bought those cards up like crazy. One of my favorite parts of collecting OverPower cards — along with pretty much all the comic based cards I collected over the years — was checking out all the cool artwork. I’ve been looking around online to see if I can get a good deal on some cheap unopened boxes (no luck so far) and have been riding all kinds of nostalgia waves seeing these cards. It’s wild, I remember even some of the much later cards.

overpower Booster BoxEventually, I realized that buying cards wasn’t the best use of my money, though and the OverPower cards went the way of my sport and non-sport card collections: boxes in my parents’ basement where they sit to this day. I need that money for important stuff. No, not dating, I had more comics to buy!

To bring things back around full circle, Brett White and his co-host Matt Little bought their own unopened box of OverPower cards and did an unboxing for an upcoming episode of their excellent podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics. I’m excited for the episode, it should bring back even more memories.

Here’s a few final, random thoughts. First, I asked my parents to bring out my boxes of OverPower cards when they come to visit this weekend. There are three of them! Second, I realize now that I really should have raided the InQuest library for OverPower cards after the magazine folded and all that stuff went up for grabs. And three, I have no idea how the rights would work for something like this, but I’m all for an OverPower app. I know they have them for other CCGs. Someone make this happen!

Zen And The Art Of Euchre

Back in grade school my dad, a friend, his dad and I went on a camping trip. Among other things–listening to Cheech & Chong, hiking and cooking over a campfire–they tried teaching me a card game called euchre. I wasn’t very interested at the time, so the game’s complicated hierarchy of trump and whatever-the-heck a bower was went over my head. I think I grasped enough to play for a little while, but most of the knowledge skipped away by the next day. Soon enough I was in high school though and, among my group of friends, euchre was the way to pass the time during lunch. I soon picked the game up and got the hang of it to the point where four of us would sit in pre-ordained seats (two on each side of the end of a lunch table), toss out that year’s deck of cards and play almost on autopilot while talking about who had a test coming up or girl problems or music. You’ve never seen a dirtier, grosser or more bent-in-half deck of cards in your life by the end of the school year thanks to hundreds of games and lunches.

It might seem strange to play a game that you don’t have to pay attention to, but I think we all found it kind of calming. No matter what kind of chaos was going on around us either at school or in our personal lives, I think the rules and structure of the game balanced out with some order. Everyone can use a little order, right?

I guess is a Midwest thing, though because, I’ve never met anyone from a state other than Ohio, Michigan or Indiana who knows how to play the game. One night during my Freshman year of college I sat around with some friends–two of whom were from Ohio even–and tried teaching them the game to no avail. Either I was explaining it poorly (very possible, though liquor was definitely not involved, as some of you might be thinking) or they just didn’t care, whatever the reason, we quit and played something else. I haven’t bothered teaching anyone since then. After nearly 10 years of no euchre I ordered a video game version for my computer earlier this year and recently downloaded the Euchre Online app for my iPhone (I chose that one because it’s free). I still find myself sitting here, mindlessly playing euchre after a long day of baby-watching, work, cooking and doing dishes. It’s a great way to decompress.

The post could easily end here, but I’m going to attempt to explain how the game is played. If you’re interested, hit the jump! Continue reading Zen And The Art Of Euchre