Draw and Recover
It’s a bit unfortunate that we live in a reality where the local FoW community is small, with an even smaller number of active players – the game is undeniably good (though I still wish they’ve gotten rid of the 00’s and just stuck to single or double digits), and the art is top-notch. Even their organized play is running full-steam. It would be a waste for it to simply fade away.
Former Magic players may have never experienced this, but a card game dying is a very sad, bittersweet thing, especially for competitive players who have devoted time, effort, and resources into it. After playing World of Warcraft TCG for nearly a decade of my life, to see it end in an instant was heartbreaking at least – most of your cards turn worthless (as far as monetary value goes), the local title you’ve worked hard for and cherished was now void, but most of all there’s nothing more to look forward to of the game that you love.
Coming back from the 2012 World Championships in Atlanta was one of the best feelings ever, not because we can brag about it, but because of the experiences we’ve had that we can share to the local community. That’s what we did, and we got players HYPED and ready to go on the next Worlds.
But that day never arrived.
Needless to say, it died because the game wasn’t pumping enough numbers for the company that owns it to consider it profitable, and they were working on something they deemed more lucrative (Hearthstone) at the same time. And it could happen to any card game (not that we have a FoW Online in the works to worry about). But here’s the takeaway: A game lasts as long as it’s profitable, and for it to be profitable people need to buy it… lots of it. For people to buy lots of it, we have to get people interested in it.
And for people to get interested in it, they need to know that the game exists in the first place.
I’ll get straight to the point. What I have in mind is that we create Pauper decks (that is, decks made from common and uncommon cards), from the latest sets that we can give away during demo sessions, and in big events such as anime, comic, and hobby conventions here in Manila. I’ve talked to sir Freddie about the next convention where he planned to have a booth for Force of Will, and he said that it’ll be in one of the upcoming conventions in March, which is a great place to start as we’re already off the pressure from the Melbourne Open Qualifier (because we need player volunteers to demo the game for con-goers), while hyping up the game in time for the next set that comes soon after.
Why give away our extra cards when we can sell them?
Here’s the thing. Unless you open boxes on the scale of local Magic concessionaires, whose binders you see at nearly every NG branch, you won’t make a profit out of C/U sales. There are 2 Uncommons and 6 Commons in a Php160 pack – that’s Php100 in a pack at Php10/C and Php20/U, with the make-or-break card(s) being the rare (or super rare) that’s inside. And that’s being optimistic about it – assuming that all 8 cards are staples. The reality is that not all of them are worth Php10 and Php20, and not all of them will sell. So basically, we’re inherently taking a loss in value when we open a pack, and can potentially get it back on R and SR sales.
Simply put, as regular players we make the most of our killing on R/SR sales. Cs and Us are worth very little, and won’t turn profit unless you sell a lot of the staples. And for that to happen, there has to be a huge demand for it, and that demand comes from a big, active community.
Think of it like this: the giveaway decks costs around Php250 to make – it’s a bit of a hit, I know. But once they get hooked into the game and started hunting for R/SR staples (or even better, they experiment and bought the lesser-used rares), you have guaranteed sales right there. So in essence, you’re giving away a little bit for a potentially greater return.
Think of it as investment.
It even works better if we hit it big with a playgroup or someone who can afford boxes. A Php250 for a potential Php4800 (or more) return? That’s nearly 20x the value! Plus we get more people playing the game, increased demand for cards, and more product support coming from the makers in the long run (since they’re seeing a thriving community).
Later on, I’ll be listing the decks that I’ve made per color, that can be your guide in creating these giveaway Pauper decks. Note that it’s just a guide – you can change cards at your own leisure, but I’d recommend only 2 or 3 at most, and that it doesn’t change the power level of the deck too much. If you’re generous, you can even include 1 low-value R/SR (coughtowerscough) inside, just to make it more enticing.
New players love shiny things. I do.
Wait, didn’t FoW have these demo decks which were being given around?
Yeah, about that – I got into this game thanks to one of Koko and Nicholai’s demo sessions, and was hyped about playing but (no offense to these fine gentlemen – this issue lies with the demo decks themselves) it was a very big turnoff to hear that the cards being given away were poor copies of the actual cards and can’t be used legally.
In an alternate universe, I would have just stopped there, took the demo decks and just play them with a friend at the kitchen counter (hey it’s free – we can waste a couple of minutes playing it then forget about it), but I was fortunate enough to be able to buy a box and start playing because hey, I like the game. It reminds me of World of Warcraft TCG, and as a former anime enthusiast, I love the art very much.
But do notice that my scenario presents a number of problems:
First, the barrier of entry into the game is too high for most people. Going all in on a Php4800 box to potentially build a deck will not cross people’s minds, especially not on a new game that doesn’t have much visible traction.
Second, there’s no alternative to this barrier. We don’t have starter decks that ease people into the game (reasonably priced at Php700).
So if I were the average teenager or young adult (given the art, this might be their target market), it’s a very big investment on my part to start playing, much less convince my other friends to play.
Finally, if I like to build the same deck as the demo deck from scratch, it’ll still cost a lot, plus I have to put in time and effort into doing it. And from what I’ve learned from my first business venture (which admittedly failed), is that you can’t underestimate people’s laziness. That’s why prime commercial spots sell/lease for a lot, because people can be lazy, and lazy people means lost business.
This laziness comes from people being discouraged to move because of a task that seems insurmountable, time-consuming, and ultimately confusing for a first-timer… such as hunting for cards he has little knowledge of, and deck-building.
So here’s where our homemade Pauper decks come in. They present a very soft barrier to entry (being free), they can be picked up and played with immediately, they’re completely legal for our weekly sessions should new players look for playmates, and finally they take the burden out of initial research and hunting for cards – a new player may opt to do one or more cheap “upgrades” to the deck depending on his budget, or go for it and add Rs and SRs to it (in which case, sellers might want to get ready).
So what of the Demo decks? Do they become obsolete?
Well, nothing has changed. They’re still great for teaching how the game works, and more importantly, they’re great giveaways to those who received Pauper decks because it’s a great marketing tool to use for us to reach their friends who weren’t able to come to the demo session or event.
When one of the con-goers tells his/her friends about this new card game, he/she can already show it to them on the spot. That makes a world of difference when it comes to the possibility of their group wanting in on the game, or dismissing it altogether. So we do not just make the recipients of the Pauper decks potential players, we turn them into envoys of the game itself.
So let’s recap what we have so far:
1) I’m encouraging the community to build and donate Pauper decks from their extra and unused Common and Uncommon cards.
2) We’ll pool these decks and have them ready. These will be used as giveaways and promotional material during events such as Anime, Toy, and Hobby conventions ,as well as during demo sessions.
3) We will suffer a little loss from this, but the return is potentially bigger – a larger community, more demand for cards, more tournaments, and better prize support.
Because this topic deserves a section of its own.
They are the biggest barrier to entry in FoW because of five words:
I believe that there isn’t a workaround on this problem at the moment (not until we get a more updated set of starter decks). But here are my three short term solutions:
1) No way around it, we have to make proxies of them for the giveaway decks. I’m willing to shoulder the printing expenses on this, but donations are welcome of course. 😉
2) We can do #1 and sell actual copies of Rulers on the demo session/con itself. Personally, I think purchasing a Ruler is a sign of commitment to the game, given that it’ll probably be the single-most expensive card that’ll be in one’s deck.
3) Hold regular newbie-friendly “Ruler” tournaments where we give away Rulers as the top prize. I’ve yet to delve on this idea extensively, but that’s the gist of it. I figure that it’ll at least patch the problem of not having a regular tournament, and new players can enjoy a balanced, non-hostile environment with other newbies. We’ll do this regularly (because something done regularly eventually becomes a habit… like playing cards, and pretty soon you start to spend on that habit).
So now it’s up to us guys. We’re a small community at the moment, so we’ll have to take up the challenge ourselves to make it bigger, brighter, and better.
Let’s make a small step forward, for the love of the game.
Thank you very much for your time, and as promised, here are the decks that we can make per color.
List of Pauper Decks
Ruler: Sacred Princess of Guidance / Lumia, Creator of Hope
2 The Emperor in New Clothes
2 Caterina, the Saint of Fantasy
2 Light of Lumia
2 Realm of Pure Spirits
2 Clothes Tailor
4 The Queen’s Butler
4 Pure Spirit of Fantasy
4 Seeking Sky Soldier
2 King’s Servant
2 Guardian of the Tower
2 Knight of Loyalty
2 Dream of Juliet
2 Breath of the God
2 Longinus, the Holy Lance
2 Silver Stake
2 Light of Hope
2 March of Saints
10 Magic Stone of Light
Ruler: Nameless Girl / Jeanne d’Arc, the Flame of Hatred
2 Stone Bowl of Buddah
2 Heavenly Feathered Robe
2 Rabbit Kick
2 Little Mermaid of Tragic Love
2 Knight of the New Moon
2 One-Inch Boy
4 Riina, the Girl with Nothing
4 Sleeping Rat
4 Shallows Giant Dolphin
2 Servant of Kaguya
2 Archer of the Crescent Moon
2 Squirmer of the Dark
4 Star Money
2 Rat Catcher’s Pipe
2 Witch’s Dagger
2 Voice of the False God
10 Magic Stone of Water
Ruler: Alucard, the Dark Noble / Dracula, the Demonic One
2 Neithardt, the Demon Knight
2 Elder Things
2 Romeo, the Despair
4 Card Soldier “Spade”
2 Card Soldier “Club”
2 Servant of Vampire
2 Ebony Devil
2 Pumpkin Witch
2 Deadman Prince
2 Spire Shadow Drake
2 Vampire Bat
2 Whisper from the Abyss
2 Midnight Bell
2 Death Sentence from the Queen
2 Slipper of Cinderella
2 Joker’s Suit
2 Black Coffin of Vampires
2 Demon’s Curse
10 Magic Stone of Darkness
Ruler: Snow White / Bloody Snow White
2 Moon Night Pouncer
2 Rapid Decay
2 Purifying Fire
2 Wolf Haunted in Black Forest
2 Card Soldier “Diamond”
2 Hunter in Black Forest
2 Granny by the Fireplace
3 Murderous Snowman
3 Seven Dwarfs
2 Beowulf, the Blazing Wolf
4 Gliding Dragon Knight
2 Duel of Truth
2 Kusanagi Sword
2 Clockwork Apple Bomb
2 Poison Apple
2 Basket of Little Red
2 Big Bang Revolution
2 Red Hot Iron Shoes
10 Magic Stone of Flame
Ruler: Crimson Girl in the Sky / Little Red, the True Fairy Tale
2 Realm of Evolution
2 Oz’s Magic
2 Oz, the Great Wizard
2 Elvish Priest
2 Heartless Tin Man
2 Brainless Scarecrow
2 Cowardly Lion
2 Porthos, the Three Musketeers
4 Wolf in the Sky
2 Elvish Bowman
2 Elvish Exorcist
2 Musketeer’s Bayonet
4 Evolution of Limits
2 Absolute Cake Zone
2 Silver Shoes
10 Magic Stone of Wind