Ravings of a Lunatic #13: Growing the Game – Part I

The Future’s so Bright (potentially) I’ve got to wear shades!

With the first week of The Magic Stone War – Zero there are a lot of things we’ve figured out.  Some of them good, some of them not so good.  The first is that Eye Spy is very responsive.  We got clarification for a couple of potential issues on certain cards within days.  Grusbalesta and Fountain of the Oblivion Moon as well as the CR update.  More importantly we got the announcement of the next set and the mini set. 

How is that good?  Easy.  The new mini set, Rebirth of Legend, will contain Epic of the Dragon Lord rulers as box toppers.  This shows two things, that Eye spy listens to the community and try to make things right.  I think the community might not fully understand the road to where we got as at times it seems as they don’t listen to us.  So, let’s take look at the path to now and each of our roles in it.

Sometime during New Valhalla Cluster, Force of Will changed hands.  How, why, and all the things that happened is set in the corporate world.  I am sure there are people that know more and have feelings about what may or may not have gone down.  I don’t know, and really, internal business stuff isn’t something I care about.  I like the game, and it’s still here. 

One thing I do have from a good source, is that Decisive Battle for Valhalla was close to not happening.  Strangers was set in stone when or around when the transfer happened, thus it was too late to back out.  The idea was submitted that maybe there shouldn’t be an NV4 set.  This was to help stuff get in order for the new company.  Obviously, we got DBV, sure it was mostly reprints and had some power issues, but considering that it almost didn’t happen, it was better than nothing.  Still a fun set though.

The kind of downside though was that Eye Spy started with a low print run, which from a business perspective makes sense.  This policy of printing to order plus a little bit more seems to have carried on as well.  Until now the community was used to getting product whenever they wanted.  This was no longer the case and no one in the player base knew it.  Soon the cards and sealed product was hard to get.  DBV boxes are at $300+ now, they were close to $200 only weeks after release.  It is something we have grown to understand and seem to have adapted too though as a community.

The first indication that Eye Spy learned was with the Alice Origin starters.  The key here though, is that the issue was from the prior operators.  For whatever reason, New Valhalla Starter decks, the ONLY source for the 10 rulers from the set, were severely under printed.  With Alice Origins I and II, the decks were easy to get, and even now after MSW, can still be gotten for MSRP or less.  A good shift in course.

The first major stumbling block for Eye Spy was the one ruler a box for Epic of the Dragon Lord.  This was their first outing of putting the rulers back in the box.  Even one per box isn’t the worst thing though, what really hurt was even if one bought a case, they weren’t guaranteed to get 1 of each of the 6 rulers.  This was a collation issue perhaps, but it was an issue.  Ruler’s saw prices that were once reserved for Uber versions, some going over $100 on the secondary market.

Then comes the announcement of Rebirth and we find out that those same EDL rulers would be box toppers in this mini set.  With 10 pack boxes that would cost around $40 (less than even the worst rulers on the current market), Eye Spy showed that they had listened and responded yet again.

The main problem that the community has is their perception that the new owners of the game are not as interactive as the former owners.  In a way it might be true, but then again, the old company was very interactive with the community.  Sometimes this was a bad thing, as on occasion the “face” of the game may have said or hinted at something that had to be walked back.  This isn’t to say that it was good or bad, just that is had issues, but it was what the community was used to.  When Eye Spy took over and took a more traditional stance with communication with its customers, it was a shock compared to what had been done before.

It has taken a while to show that they do, in fact, listen and respond, be it in a more formal way.  But hopefully, the concerns that people had about it are now a little less concerning.  We now know they listen and react.  It might not be as transparent, but it happens.  Unlike companies like Wizards of the Coast, who are very interactive with their customers, but who seem to just do what they want anyway and on more than one occasion have even belittled their players (look up the secret lair live Q&As for more on that).

So, a Bright Future then?

We have a company that listens and have figured out the production cycle, so we won’t get shorted again, sounds good.  Well, kind of.  There are still a few issues that most won’t think about.

  • Growing the player base with limited production
  • Getting retailers to carry the game (again)
  • Bringing back the old players.

Each of these issues is essential to growing the game.  How can new players be regularly added if there is limited product?  Why would stores want to carry Force again if the player base shrinks?  Why would old players want to come back?  I’m glad I asked, because I have some potential solutions.  Which I will cover in the next installment of this column.

Dan Rowland
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About the author


TCG player and enthusiast who has been slinging cards for 25+ years. He has won some stuff, judged, ran events, owned stores, and and sold online. Wannabe writer as well. Having written for sites such as The Dojo and Starcity for various other games, he now wants to try his hand for Force of Will. Also a hack novelist with one book currently published and seller of fine wares at for all things Force of Will and on Facebook.
Not the best of players, but a head for numbers and a historical buff. Sporting degrees in Business and Writing, he hopes to spread some knowledge with a dose of sarcasm. Enjoy the ramblings of a deficient mind and grab a chuckle while you're there.