Dead CCG update, 2020

The 90’s CCG splooge brought many terrible games trying to cash in on MTG’s success. Out of the cascade of dreck came a few good games– some of which are supported to this day. I think I did this a few years ago where I went through the status of some of my favorites. The genre of multiplayer CCG’s is long dead as evident by Fantasy Flight (FFG) making Legends of the Five Rings two player only… bah!

Let’s start with the bad news:

Shadowfist

Shadowfist’s new kickstarter was supposed to start in Spring 2020. We have four days left until Summer and based on shadowfist.com and the reddit group, there have been no updates at all since Fall of 2019. This one may stay dead, which is sad because as a multiplayer CCG, it is the absolute best, including the theme.

Blood Wars

This sucked 2 player, but was significantly better multiplayer. I just check from time to time if anyone is going to rehash it from the dead as the subject matter is pretty excellent. Nope, still dead. Don’t discount this one if you find it for cheap.

Good news…

Jyhad / Vampire the Eternal Struggle

Garfield’s multiplayer masterpiece is set for a reboot (again). It’s amazing how this thing keeps going as post-Jyhad it descended into a complete mess of a game with horrifying degeneracy. It is quite fun with the right group and they are keeping this one going!

On The Edge

This is one of the pre-cursors to Shadowfist and is notable as it’s likely the only William S. Burrough’s inspired card game (or board game for that matter). Perfectly encapsulates the conspiracy-fanatic 90’s to a T and with my favorite CCG card ever made, this game is only sort of dead. A guy from Wisconsin put out a custom set of cards with permission of the original designers– which is really cool.

Netrunner

This game died, came back in force, died again, sadly as FFG had a great model and great support. This is the only 2 player game on this list. It was fun, but for me it’s been eclipsed by Keyforge because I can reach into a box, pull out an unopened deck and be taken for a ride for 4-10 games with people that have done the same. That said, this game is being kept alive by it’s fans, which is really confusing as apparently the license was in dispute between FFG and WOTC. It’s called the NISEI project and will probably continue for awhile until the people that run it realize it’s a LOT of work and no money– and there’s always the possibility that WOTC or whoever will totally reboot the game at some point, making all your fan expansions moot.

FUCK YES.

Rage

This is never going to come back as it was a fun, but not very good game compared to the others on this list. This is one we have to get some plays in at some point to verify the above sentence.

4 thoughts on “Dead CCG update, 2020”

  1. Shadowfist: The game of kings. I used to consider this VTES’s faster, dumber cousin, but after playing online a bunch, I find that Shadowfist actually allows more plotting and scheming. The politics of VTES feel sort of artificial in comparison… A lot of bickering that usually ends in “I dunno man, I’m just going to go left.” Because that’s what you have to do. I prefer the semi-free-for-all of Fist, where you don’t need the game’s permission to smack someone.

    Blood Wars: Love Torment, but never played this. I read somewhere that it was awful.

    VTES: The only one with a semi-viable local scene here. I like it, but don’t grasp it as naturally as other games… It doesn’t reward creative deck ideas, plus it’s got a lot of weird 90s baggage and mechanics that never matter. I feel like my wins are often luck, there’s so many variables at play. Still, I miss the weekly meetup.

    On the Edge: Like everyone else, I have boxes of this I’d love to use and can’t. The setting is great, and I got the RPG books just to read about it. My couple of experiences with the card game involved many boring turns of “draw, pass.” I guess the starters probably sucked. I thought your favorite card was going to be “Copyright Infringement,” which you use to play cards from other games you’ve included in your deck.

    Netrunner: The FFG version was my first CCG I think. Great until NBN and Anarchs got out of hand for like three years. The players committee is aggressively political and creeps me the fuck out.

    Rage: No idea how this one is played. I guess furries took it over at some point.

    As far as the Shadowfist kickstarter goes, the guy says it was delayed by covid… Though I get the feeling it was a convenient excuse. Communication is sparse and spirits are low. The whole thing seems distinctly rinky-dink, but I’ll support whatever gets people to play the game again. And for the record, I thought the IKG sets were good. Don’t know why the new guy didn’t just put out A Better Tomorrow a year ago.

    1. I haven’t been close to it at all except reading reddit. Is A Better Tomorrow ready to go? One thing is that I sent and email offering playtesting with a small group of people (many though, have played for a long time) and no response– back in the day talking to Alan Hegge and those guys they were always saying the need for a lot of playtesters was critical.

      We were really into VTES for a few years there, I brought it back from Gencon to college in 94 and then back home after I finished school, but when we got into the tournament scene, it just all broke down.

      On the Edge – the starters are terrible. Since the cards were so cheap, I looked on BGG for Eric Jorme’s decks and built a crap ton of them so at any time I can pull out a deck and play. Games where your hand draw is limited (like MTG) instead of filling your hand each turn sorta suck.

      1. The Better Tomorrow cards were all designed, they just needed some refining and art. I’m guessing it’s some sort of design philosophy quarrel, as there seem to have been several fan factions that hate various additions to the game and/or each other. The troubling thing is, the online “community” now is literally about ten people, and none of us are playtesters… so who is? Is anyone? Why no updates in general? I think a lot of us doubt it’ll even happen. And if it does, how is this Kickstarter going to succeed, when the last one failed with more resources and PR? I dunno. It only makes it harder to salvage the player count when the future is in question and the website looks like a half-functional blog. At minimum, we need something on the level of Black Chantry.

        1. All pretty disturbing. I know a bit more about some of the in-fighting from the past that likely echoes down into the current state so I can see why the new guys may have wanted to completely break from the old playtesters. However, making a multiplayer CCG set on top of an existing (and AWESOME) engine is fairly straight forward except for the huge amount of playtesting that has to happen. I designed a CCG based on Exalted using major parts of the Shadowfist engine, even had multiple decks completed and played a couple times, etc. but the real slog as a designer, even to do this for fun, is the hundreds of hours of playtesting and tweaking which is the make or break for anything like this. If they ain’t playtesting hardcore, whatever they do won’t be worth bothering with.

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