When it comes to soccer, my knowledge is limited at best. I know what the ball looks like, that only the goalie can use his hands and that David Beckham makes a lot of money and is married to Posh Spice. For those like me who haven’t a clue, I did some of the leg work. UEFA stands for the Union of European Football Associations and is the league for Europe’s best soccer stars. UEFA Champions League 2006 – 2007
takes this best-of-the-best premise and merges it with fantasy football and CCGs, resulting in one of the more innovative things to come out of EA’s sports division in a few years.
Team Mode is where all of the action starts and is a great place to start if you want to see what the whole CCG aspect of the game is about. When I first got the game, I figured the card aspect would be a side-game that didn’t really matter. As I started to play, I realized that it meant much, much more to the overall picture. The goal in Team Mode is to, of course, win games and earn a trip to the Championship. Where the mode differs is how you go about building your team.
When you first start, you are given a few starter packs of cards which contain players, managers, jerseys… everything you need to compete in your first game. You job is to build a good enough “deck” with the cards and put that team on the field. At the end of each game, you are awarded credits to buy new packs, giving you more opportunities to create a better team. Packs come in three types: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Bronze packs are cheap and the only type you have access to early in the game. As your team moves up in rank, you’ll nab the opportunity to unlock Silver and Gold packs. With the increased prices come better opportunities to add high-caliber players, managers and all-important ability upgrades.
Once you amass a pile of cards, you can go about creating your team. The whole system plays out similar to fantasy football in that you mix players from various teams into one united team. Each player has key stats as well as information like their favorite formations, positions and even nationality. Unlike fantasy football, these stats matter to your team; matching players with similar preferences and nationalities promotes better team chemistry, producing better on-field results and a stronger team.
One problem any CCG player can attest to is the age old question, “What do I do with all my extra cards?” Although your digital collection doesn’t cause quite the same problems as a physical one, you’ll quickly come to realize that you’ll have a lot of unused cards. After opening a pack, you are given four choices. The first is, of course, to move them into your current deck; if not, you can add them to your collection, discard them, or place them up for sale. Cards that you put up on sale are placed in an online store where you can sell cards for whatever price you want. You can then use those credits to either buy new packs or purchase single cards from other players. The economy of the system is still trying to find itself, so it is possible to buy some really good cards on the cheap, but the option is a great use of online functionality and something I would love to see put to use in other CCGs.
If Team Mode isn’t to your liking, you can also compete in one of six other play modes. Play Now drops you into a single game or you can play the Champions League as any team. Though it will only mean something to hardened soccer buffs (or most of Europe). League Challenge Mode lets you replay crucial moments in Champions League history. Both ranked and Unranked matches are available in Online play.