Thursday, 15 October 2009

Fantasy Top Trumps!

Back in my primary school days (long time ago now!) most of my male classmates spent lunchtime either chasing after girls, kicking a football, or seeing how high they could piss up the wall in the toilet (I seem to recall one young man managed to hit the ceiling on one occasion, but his triumph was ruled out on the basis that he had a 'stiffy' at the time). Ahem.

Anyway, I spent my lunchtimes with my geek friends, playing with our Fantasy Top Trumps. Ah, the fun we had. My interest in the cards bordered on obsession - I could recount the ability scores of every single card from memory. Naturally, as we got older the cards were ditched in favour of more mature pursuits, like playing 'spin the bottle.'

Twenty-odd years on, with my original set of Fantasy Top Trumps long scattered to the four winds, I resigned myself to paying through my nose for a pack on ebay. Expensive, but worth it to recapture a bit of my lost youth...and something else besides (more on that in a minute). Anyway, I thought I'd share my favourite cards with you all. So, without further preamble...




Bet you've never seen a green vampire, eh? You have now. Always loved the representation of the Vampire here, how they've made him humanoid but with distinct bat-like features. His scores are respectable, but he's let down by his rather average Magic Power.




Love this dude - he looks utterly badass. The eyes glowing from the recesses of his hood, the scythe...awesome. Very decent scores as well, though the Wraith's Skill is his weakest point.



Joe Abercrombie's blog is called 'Hangin' like a Wizard's Sleeve' - perhaps he had this card in mind. The Necromancer has the most awesome wizard sleeves around. His purple robe is the business, too. Although why he's holding a giant twiglet remains to be explained. Very decent scores for this chap, though his weaker Fear Factor lets him down.



Ah, the Necromancer's arch spell-casting rival, the Wizard. He's gone for the 'glowing-eyes-in-dark-cowl' look as well. Doesn't perhaps look as intimidating as the Necromancer, but at least he's got a proper wizard staff (even if it has a tangerine impaled on the end, no doubt in case he gets peckish mid-fight). Don't mess with this chap, otherwise he'll suffocate you with the Blue Mist of Doom emanating from his hand. Interestingly, the Wizard's Magic Power is less than the Necromancer's (99 to the latter's 100) but he makes up for this with a higher Skill score (97 to 95) and higher Fear Factor (77 to 70). The strength score for both (80) is a bit of a joke, since the Dwarf card only has 70 for this attribute. Don't know about you, but I doubt a wizard white-beard could win an arm-wrestle with a dwarf. Still, stranger things have happened...



Check out that ginger 'fro! No wonder the Zombie wields an impressive Fear Factor of 90. Just a shame that his other scores all suck. Where the 70 for Magic Power came from, I don't know - can't say I've ever seen a zombie display any magical ability before...



Not sure what happened to the Water Troll's lower body; looks like the artist got bored and just drew a squiggle instead. Still, he still looks pretty awesome - love the seaweed mohican he's got there. The Water Troll is a pretty average card in terms of scores, but he was always one of my favourites.


Ah, the King. Now, listen up because this is where it gets interesting (and geeky). In normal packs, the King was the daddy - he scored 100 in every category. Subsequently, he was the source of many smug looks after the cards had been dealt, along with many a sore loser complaining 'You only won because you had the King, I'm not inviting you to my party now", and so on. But in this pack, the king doesn't have 100 in every category. Why? Well...



...because this chap does. Behold, my friends, the Demon card. This fella is rare. He only appears in the odd pack as a bonus card, and I didn't even know about his existence until I ventured onto ebay to hunt down a pack of these cards. I must admit I gave a squeal that could have been mistaken for a pig in distress. This is why the pack I won on ebay was so friggin' expensive - this card quadruples the normal asking price. But it was worth the extra expense. Look at him - can you feel the power emanating from him? CAN YOU? 'Intimidating' doesn't begin to cover it.

Anyway, those are my favourite cards from the legendary Fantasy Top Trumps set (I tell you now, they don't make Top Trumps like these anymore - it's all sports cars and Harry Potter, and so on).

Anyone out there ever play this game, and if so what were your favourite cards? I've also picked up a pack of 'Goblins and Faeriefolk' Top Trumps, which I may feature here at some point...

15 comments:

logankstewart said...

Never heard of this game, but it looks like a Magic: The Gathering precursor. But I completely understand your feelings of giddiness. I recently found (and looked through and reminisced) a box of my old Marvel & DC cards, and now they're a shiny reminder of my childhood next to my bookshelf.

Ah, the joys of a simpler time, when we were satisfied with just a package (or two) of cards...

Jebus said...

Yeah I was a Magic : The Gathering geek in my teenage years, this looks like its grand daddy.

The Wraith looks like Orco from Masters of the Universe.

Kian Ryan said...

I don't know if it caught on in the US, but in the UK it was a big deal. I had several sets, oh the good old days...

Saying that, I've got a set of Harry Potter Top Trumps and LOTR as well downstairs (movie ones, alas). I remember playing the Fantasy edition - Gods, I'd kill for a set again.

NextRead said...

Wow I had those - nostalgia kick!!

James said...

@Logan: I doubt Magic the Gathering was directly influenced by Top Trumps, though you never know. It's so cool to rediscover childhood joys though! :)

@Jebus: A scarier, hard-as-nails version of Orco perhaps.

@Kian: No need to kill someone for a set, since they appear pretty frequently on ebay (although if you want the Demon card you'll have to be patient...and be prepared to pay a lot more).

@Gav: Indeed! Glancing through these cards reminded me of a more innocent age when I spent my time worrying about homework and girls, rather than mortgages, taxes and whether the government has prepared adeqately for a zombie uprising.

Anonymous said...

The other side to this story is the mothers like me who desperately scoured shops trying to find the elusive Fantasy Top Trumps for their sons. Luckily I did find a pack and it did have Demon in it with the top values. My son still has his pack, along with many other CCGs. I played it many times with him at home and of course he played it a lot at primary school.

corinne said...

You've made my day. My brother and I spent hours playing this as kids. I didn't know that Demon was rare. Who remembers "peasant" ( I think) who was totally and utterly rubbish?

MorphyTheMaster said...

I had a set, and could easily recite all the attributes for the cards from memory aswell. My Demon card had values 100, 100, 98, 90 (like the King in your deck) whilst King had all 100. I think my favourite cards at first were Wizard and Wraith, but Necromancer and Werewolf soon garnered my respect.

Anonymous said...

brilliant! We used to play these in the crazy summer of '88. Sprite, skill 89. Got to get some as my 5 year old has just discovered top trumps. Thanks, David

Anonymous said...

never knew demon wasn't in every pack. I liked the sprite as he vaguely reminded me of a kid in our class and his skill 89 was a bonus........ Ghost was another with FF 100. David

Purge said...

I was just recalling mydays of playing with this pack. So happy to stumble on this. I had no idea either that the Demon was aso rare. I'm off to the rent's house to hunt down my old pack!

Richard said...

Amazing. I have this set of top trumps, but interestingly my pack has the King with all 100s while also having the Demon, with the following scores:
Strength: 100
Skill: 100
Magic Power: 98
Fear Factor: 97

Maybe it's extra rare...
I like the idea of the Demon having the best scores though, as it illustrates the fantastical power of wearing an earring in each ear.

Ad said...

Wow this has brought back some great memories! Can you post all of the characters please?! haha Also I loved the Marvel super villains!

chris mackintosh said...

cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i had the demon card in my set

i dont know if i still have this pack somewhere at home

my rule was that when someone got the demon card and in there hand and it was their turn they would say in a very demon like sound - The DEEEMON

Anonymous said...

I loved this game too and bought a pack off eBay to reminisce. The demon in my new and original pack was always 100 for everything so its news to me that other packs had different values. My fav card was the dragon from the cover, 100.98.90.99. I also liked the Werewolf, Assassin, Ghost and Barbarian. looking at my pack I see it doesn't have the water troll but I remember it so I think I bought an incomplete set :'( Some of the values dont seem to be well thought out, the witch only has 50 magic whle the hag has 60