Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August in Review and the Planechase Problem

August turned out to be a really huge month for our little blog. Not only did Jedi Jed begin what I hope will be a stellar career of contributions here, but we had an amazing month of unique viewers. Just under 1000 unique visitors made their way to the site, and the ads are beginning to generate a revenue stream. We also had a couple of new contributors commit this month, but I won't steal their thunder by announcing those just yet. I'm also hoping a few other people are going to pick up the digital pen. There is a lot of great stories and view points in our little community, and I hope others begin to make themselves heard.

The Problem with Planechase

This new product has it's official release events this Saturday, and I really encourage everyone to make their way out to one of the events, and give this new game format a try. That having been said, I can't help but notice a few issues with this concept.

Most strikingly is the urgency of the product itself, or rather the complete lack there of. Since this is strictly a casual product, with no plans of sanctioned events, there is no incentive to own this new line. Not that I would ever encourage anyone to simply use the digital quality images from Wizards own web site, and what ever local lazor quality printer resources they may have to proxy these plane cards, but it does seem remarkably easier then the $80 price tag suggested by Wizards. Can someone at Wizards help me understand what incentive they are creating with players here?

Next up seems to be a miss match with the target audience for this product. They appear to be marketing this as a casual product, but have filled the preconstructed decks with cards better suited for a new player. Wizards- you already have product designed and marketed to new players, if you are going after the casual player, you need to include cards that speak to a casual player. Try including rares that are fun, but too expensive for a casual player to justify. That is what casual decks are made of, and would sell a casual product. A quick review of Extended rares with prices over $5 reveals at least this half dozen cards, each of which could be built around for a fun casual deck, without throwing off supply/demand issues in Extended.

Crucible of Worlds

Doubling Season

Glimpse the Unthinkable


Stuffy Doll

Sword(s) of...

So it seems Wizards is counting on the Plane cards selling this product, rather then the constructed deck. To review, there is little incentive to buy the plane cards if you, say own a computer, and the preconstructed decks seemed to be targeted to new players rather then casual players. The only hope this product has is playability, because value seems to be lacking at worst, or off track at best.

My play group has had just one opportunity to play with this planechase concept so far. We played with our pet decks, and not those constructed for the sets. I found that the plane effects did add dimension to the games, but at the cost of yet another thing to keep up with in an already complex multi player game state. I feel that there is a distinctive power line for the plane cards. If decks and/or game states are below that line, they really add a lot. Decks and/or games states that are already above this line, seem to be bogged down by this concept.

The long and the short of it is, I really feel like this product was not made for me, and I'm really not sure that Wizards did a good job of making it for the casual player. Release events are this weekend, so come on out, and give this a try. It may not work for me, but it may be just the thing for you or your play group. If you are a new player, the preconstructed decks are a good value option for you.

1 comment:

Bert said...

Really good points Phil, and well-said. They precons really are just like intro packs, the only really exciting casual rare being Darksteel Forge.