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#RallyAid Revisited

#RallyAid

Six months ago, during a stale meta and a rough patch for Destiny players and organizers, I called for #RallyAid. I will admit it was a bit of a knee jerk reaction, but the points I made were ones I had thought through for quite some time and I stand by the decision to make a bit of a stink over the state of Fantasy Flight Game’s handling of a game we all love. Six months have come and passed, and Destiny is in another rough patch – the three month off-season. I figured it was time to dust off the ol’ #RallyAid points and see if they are still relevant to today’s issues.

Let’s dive in.

#1 A Real Release & Play Calendar

Ooph, this one is a mixed bag. We still don’t have a Release and Play Calendar, but FFG was communicative about the Way of the Force release issues and even gave a release quarter for Across the Galaxy before Way of the Force even hit the streets. They even threw in the additional tidbit that the Designers were already working on cool things for set 10. That is a lot of transparency from FFG, so kudos there. But then they kind of…went silent. We haven’t had any updates on Across the Galaxy’s release date for months.

Alright, so why is this point relevant to today? A lot of it is about transparency and trust, but I missed a big reason why a Release and Play Calendar is important: it is the foundation of the Hype Machine. A calendar is a constant and simple reminder to people when they need to start getting hyped for the next big thing, whether its a release or a tournament season. It helps community organizers plan leagues and seasons in advance, allows players plan purchases, helps content makers plan content release strategies and rent in advance those hard to find 15 person 5 bedroom AirBnBs with a table large enough for max player Battlestar Galactica.

But maybe it is as simple as expecting FFG to perform, at a minimum, as good as their competition. FFG’s competitors all have release and play calendars – from the likes of Magic and Pokemon to the bigger stretch of Bungie’s Destiny – you’ll see clear and constant communication from the designers on what to expect from the game when. And they do it for a reason: it FEEDS THE HYPE MACHINE.

#2 Better Prize Support

You’re probably reading this article right now and thinking “when was the last time I saw a new prize kit”? Well, lucky for you the next time you head to  your LGS you’ll (hopefully) get to see the freshly released season 3 kit. BUT WHO CARES. I’ll be honest, I haven’t even glanced at what prizes are in the season 3 kit. Destiny’s OP department (have those guys even played Destiny?) has had too many consecutive fails on what cards they choose to throw in those things. So lets talk about the tokens. I said it 6 months ago – the tokens are bland. I’m not saying they should ditch doing tokens, but they really need to up their game. Now that every Tom, Dick and Helen has their own laser cutter at home you can find better tokens then FFG produces on Etsy for a fraction of the prize kit cost.

But is it relevant to the off-season? Yes. My goodness, yes. Prizes, or loot, are what digital game companies have leaned on for the past few years to get players back into games without having to create any real new content. It is just the loot. Just come and play. For the loot. And it works pretty darn well to drag new players back into games, to get them to put more time into it, and to grind out for that new loot.

Do I think OP at your LGS should resemble a video game loot grind? Yah, I kind of do. When your friends can’t make game night, or drop out of the game, or you’re just sick of playing the same cards that have been out for far too long, having a prize to grind for is one last reason to get you through  the door.

This only works if the prizes are good, and right now they aren’t.  FFG needs to realize its competition is bigger than other CCGs and embrace that its competing against video games. Don’t agree with that? Go ahead and google why the railroads went bankrupt when airlines emerged. Market theory aside, in my dreamland FFG embraces the loot grind and takes it digital. Please, step into my dreamland.

Prize kits would come out more regularly and be tied to seasons much like in the video game realm. The kits sent to your LGS would contain the regular smattering of participation prizes (although hopefully OP would pick something better than Tinker). But they would also include coupon codes that players could earn, whether through participation or high placement. We would all have FFG OP Online accounts where we turn in those coupon codes and receive digital points to spend at the catered OP store. You’d spend your points on loot that changed each season. And come on, we’re dreaming so its good loot. Save up a ton of points? You can buy yourself this season’s nickel-plated Vader dice set, or a set of this season’s Solo card sleeves, or this season’s playmat, or…you see where I’m going here.

You might think this sounds crazy, nickel plated dice?! But we’re talking limited edition items that are easy for FFG to plan and stock for, and for what its worth, my Alibaba quote for 22mm nickel plated dice with custom printed image on each side was 67 cents per die… Too tough for FFG to organize? Please. I know a dozen community members off the top of my head, myself included, that could have the site ready to go in half a day. The real logistics are prize creation and delivery – something that FFG has proven time and again that they just aren’t great at. But, dare to dream.

 

#3 A Complete Starter Product

New players wandering in has dwindled down quite a bit, but this issue remains as relevant today as it was in the past. This one is hard to rant on because it is so fundamentally obvious to me why a complete starter is necessary for new players, and I know that you know why its so fundamentally obvious. But I guess we have to tell FFG, right? FFG, imagine sending your kids off to do any sport with the kind of starter set you provide new Destiny players, and they have to use that starter set at their very first game. You gave them the ball but didn’t give them cleats. A jersey but no pads. Skates but no stick. This is the pain you put new players through – they just can’t be expected to perform at all if they walk in the door and want to play with a starter. Your starter package doesn’t compare to any other game’s starter package, your starter package is about as good as a bread starter: necessary to make the recipe but you wouldn’t want to eat it raw.

Alright, maybe I should stop with the metaphors and analogies while I’m ahead. Hopefully you get the point. I will be thrilled if FFG listened six months ago and the starter coming out with the next base set is complete and competitive, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. But if we, as a community, call for this loudly enough, maybe we will get it for the base set after that.

Where to from here?

2018 was an interesting year for Destiny. It grew quite a bit as a game, but FFG did not. The issues raised by #RallyAid are as relevant as ever. If you agree with that, feel free to email, tweet, Facebook message, or if you’re in MN kindly walk up to and mention in person, all the issues in #RallyAid.

Looking forward to more Artificery ranting? We’ll be covering the tournament season and competitive scene and how it feeds the HYPE MACHINE in an upcoming podcast. Prepare for yours truly to compare his tournament organization skills to the likes of the World and National organizers. And more…

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