Discussing the Future of VTES

Greetings Methuselahs,

For anybody who doesn’t already know, there is currently a poll on VEKN regarding what the we as the current player base would like for the future of VTES.  And while I’ve technically had my voice heard by casting my votes, I wanted to also make my case on this blog.

The real problem with a poll like this is that the future of our card game is going to lie in the hands of new players, and not those of current players.  This may seem like a strange statement, but it’s true from a number of perspectives.  It’s absolutely essential from a business perspective.  While I have no idea how many people have participated in the currently poll, 440 participated in the previous VEKN poll regarding the use of proxy cards.  Now it’s certainly true that not everybody who plays VTES voted on that referendum, but I would be surprised to learn that the people who filled out that poll represented a minority of VTES players.  So lets be generous and assume that there are currently 1000 active VTES players world wide.  That’s a pretty good number, but it simply isn’t enough to justify anything other than a small print-on-demand style production of VTES.  A player base of 1000 certainly won’t convince distributors or gaming stores to carry a new product.  New players will be the key to making VTES profitable again.

But it’s also true from our perspective as current players.  Most of us have watched our play groups shrink; without new players it is an inevitability – people move away (sadly, like me), they have big life changes that take them away from old hobbies, or they simply grow tired of an old game.  Player attrition is experienced by every game, and ours has proven to be no exception.  My retrospective on 2015 is still in the works, but let me just say that the quantity of events and the number of attendees continues to fall.  A unique problem faced by our game is the fact that we require 4-5 players to play.  This means that once a play groups slips to only 3 active members, our community suddenly losses those 3 who would have remained active assuming they had been playing some other dead CCG.  Attrition wipes whole play groups off the map.  And this isn’t a hypothetical circumstance.  Just ask around on the forums to see how many people are the only person left from their playgroup.  If we active players want to have the ability to play our game, we have to embrace new players.

And thus we return to the poll.  Based on my thinking that new players are the life blood of the game, I think a poll about the future of VTES should be aimed at what is most likely to draw in the most new players, rather than what we want for ourselves.  While it would be hoped that currently players have the good of the game foremost in mind (because a healthy game means that we’ll be able to continue playing), this simply isn’t so.  There is a basic conflict of interest.  The majority of VTES players have indicated that they would most favor a straight up reprint of old cards and the pdf sets, an attitude that makes sense given that each of us has spent considerable capital gathering cards into our collections, and none of us relish the thought of these cards suddenly becoming unusable.  The problem is that a reprint of the game is almost certainly the option least likely to entice a new player to join.  How many perspective new players (other than insane people like me) would be willing to pick up a game with 27 prior expansions and promo cards?!  Even if old cards were essentially given away for free, new players would be supremely overwhelmed by the vast number of card choices and effects.  The poll options that I judge most likely to garner new players (new card games – including a non-compatible reboot of VTES, which isn’t even an option on the poll!) are those that have gained the very least support among current players.

I honestly think that while a print-on-demand reprint of the game like that proposed by OneBookShelf is better than the current situation, it will also escort VTES into final death.  The only upside to such a program is that players who already know and love the game can buy more cards.  It does nothing to promote the game or bring it to new audiences.  In short, it does nothing to draw in new players.  And if the future of VTES isn’t good for new players, it won’t be good for any of us.

Until next time, may you embrace a new player, and remember that their needs are our needs,

Brett

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7 thoughts on “Discussing the Future of VTES

  1. I enjoyed your perspective on this topic as you must be a long standing member of the community and have played for many years. I am a relatively new player (4 years) and although it has been challenging to entice new players to the game, it is not too difficult. The town I live in had a few (3) people that played VTES from many years ago and it was this group that introduced me to VTES on a whim. Since picking up the game myself and becoming the Prince of the area, I’ve managed to recruit upwards of 10 new players. I know this not the norm but it is proof that people still enjoy the game in it’s current state and aren’t put off by the number of sets or cards. Of all of the unique aspects of VTES, it’s not the number of cards or sets, it being out of print or the community that attract them and keep them playing. It’s two things; The game’s intricate multiplayer core and it’s theme. As long as these two things are kept in tact with whatever Paradox decide to do, we can hope for some renewed vigor in a game we all love.

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    • Actually I started playing about the same time you did or a bit after! I’m very glad to hear that you’ve had such success with your recruitment efforts. I’d love to hear what sort of strategies you’ve used, and how you got that you didn’t know interested. Thus far, I’ve started running demo events at local conventions, local stores (well one…), and at my home for friends who enjoyed it as a boardgame but don’t really want to get into it any further. My deck box also includes some business cards that I made up that include information on our two local play groups, and links to VTES websites that I hand out to any player who comes over to look at what I’m playing, including a bunch of old VTES and Jyhad players. Plus I have multiple copies of all my demo decks with me whenever I game so that I can literally give them away to anybody interested. Thus far, I’ve embraced 0 players. Point is, I’d love to hear about some of the recruitment techniques that you’ve used. Thanks for stoking the VTES flame in your local area!

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  2. VTES has been overencumbered by the weight of all of the cards, rulings, phases, etc ever since I started playing in 2007. LSJ is a smart guy, but he could have done much more to make the game comprehensible. Now we are left with a shrinking player base and no publisher. Should we reboot the game with cleaner rules and mechanics? Hell yes! I love the WoD and don’t want to see yet another WoD game get left in the dust as Magic and the pokey men continue to roll in the dough. An LCG or even a board game with expansions would be good.

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  3. First of all we should ask ourselves: are we discussing the future of VTES or maybe the future of card game based in WoD setting? People are loving this game for different reasons. For me it was always the mechanics and social aspect of the game. New game won’t be VTES anymore, it would be just …new, different game. There is a lot of games on the market to choose from. Don’t get me wrong, it could be a good game but it won’t be VTES. If it would be a great boardgame I would probably buy it (I love board games). But as long as we want to discuss future of VTES there are no options like “new game ….”. But there is a lot of options how to make VTES better for new players. This can include changing of distribution model (f.e. LCG, print on demand)(such options are not included in the pool), including new factions in the game, streamlining of rules, etc. For those reasons best option for future of VTES, IMO, is “V:TES with an overhaul of the rules, as well as an overhaul of old cards, but staying compatible with V:TES as we know it.”

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    • That’s all very fair. I guess that I’m advocating an overhaul of the rules that might not end up being compatible with all the current cards. Same basic game, but now certain old cards just don’t work correctly, or aren’t needed. Imagine streamlining combat where one step is removed or simplified, well, the game is no longer fully compatible, but we’d likely still call it the same game. Is this in line withat what you’re thinking?

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      • Yes. Removing some rules would for sure mean that some cards would be not compatible. The easiest example are hunters cards or trophy cards which would just make no sense without corresponding mechanics. Loosing part of available card pool is not a problem for me. But basic concepts, mechanics and cards should be left intact because they are the reasons behind the greatness of this game.

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  4. I would favour a complete reboot, so I will voice my thoughts on that option:

    The core mechanics and theme of the game are great as-is and do not warrant any significant changes IMHO. They are what make VTES great and unique.
    As a relatively new player, I don’t consider myself qualified enough to assess on the overall quality of the card pool at this point, so no comment there.
    However, what immediately struck me when getting into VTES is how cluttered and un-intuitive the actual card design/layout is. This is something that should/would hopefully be considered and addressed in a reprint or relaunch.
    Compatibility with the existing card-pool is not something that I would be too concerned about, I wouldn’t have a problem buying into all-new collection. But then again, I’m not that deeply financially invested in my current card collection, fully acknowledging that more seasoned players/collectors may feel different about this.
    Lastly, let me refer to the recently reboot of the Game of Thrones card game as a “Living Card Game” (LCG), rather than as a Collectible Card Game (CCG) that it was in its previous iteration. Fantasy Flights (the publisher) did a great job with this IMO, and I would like to see VTES re-emerge following a similar approach in the future.

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