There's a comment--well, three of them actually--on my Gamma World review that I feel needs addressing. Like minis in D&D, I knew (and so did many others) that people were going to cry foul on the whole card mechanic. I know in D&D that they heavily assume that you're using minis, and while frankly any representative marker will suffice I suppose it kind of sucks that they didn't supply you with anything when you bought the game. Sure, you could by boosters of minis, get them off eBay or wherever, but that was more money and time spent. Recently, they released a few Essentials products that had token sheets, and though they aren't nearly as nice they're certainly a leg up from using dice, bottle caps, teeth, etc.
So...why the fuss over Gamma World and the cards?
Gamma World already comes with a hefty deck of cards and a free booster pack, meaning that no, you don't need to shell out any more money. The game is complete as packaged, just like D&D is. If you want to spend more money you can add more flair to it, but again it's not required. I had the disposable income to buy five booster packs, and going over the cards I found a few that were interesting not because of some sort of relative power level, but because of what they did. At any rate, my entire group used the same deck and had a lot fun with it. Even the mention of building their own seven-card deck didn't generate much interest for them, but to each their own.
So let's take a look at the first comment. It mentions a lack of player equality and a combination of empowering players with the most disposable income and an alleged "card arms race".
I really don't see how there's any lack of player equality. Sure, some players might be turned off by the random character generation method, but Gamma World allows you to, by the rules, pick one or both your origins. Even if you roll, understand that the origins aren't more powerful than the others. There's no "rare" origin that will allow one player to outclass everyone else, and if there was who the fuck cares since you could just pick it anyway. The only thing that sucks in my mind is rolling the rest of your stats, but since the stats you really need run between 16 and 20, I don't care too much because your character is always effective.
As for the "arms race"...what? There are several problems with this claim. The first is this isn't a competitive game. Player's aren't vying for dominance against each other, they're working together. Another thing is that you'd have to determine what the best cards you start with are and compare them with what the "best" ones that you can get from booster packs. If the best cards can only be gotten from boosters, then you would have something of an argument depending on how much better they are. Finally, players can share cards, you know. That's what happened in my group; I bought the cards, everyone wins.
The second comment asks why the cards instead of random tables. That's something I mentioned already, but I'll explain again. When you are constantly doling out random effects and material rewards, it would be a massive pain in the ass to have to roll on a table for each character and have them write it down themselves. Imagine how long it would take doing this for just one player. Now imagine taking the time to do that for 4-6 players after every battle, day, or natural one that's rolled. Imagine grinding the game to a halt for a nat 1 to tell the player what's happened to them.