I used to play Collectible Card Games.
Well, more specifically, I tried a bunch of games, and then played one particular game for a few years. That one specific game was produced by a company that licensed the property from someone else, and when sales declined after 7 years, the card-producing company decided that it wasn’t worth it to continue paying for the license, and killed the game. A few months later, the creator of that game died of cancer.
So that was the end of that.
I dabbled in a couple of other games — I bought a couple of Magic: The Gathering starters. I tried the Dragon Ball Z relaunch by Panini. I considered Pokemon. I dabbled with Vs. System. I bought a couple UFS Universal Fighting System decks. None of them really connected with me.
And then, in late 2017, a strange thing happened.
I was working in a comic shop, and three representatives from Wizards of the Coast came in to say hi, and to see how products were performing for us at the store level. What should they do more of, what should they do less of, how’s Magic doing, how’s Dungeons & Dragons doing, etc. But potentially the most interesting question they asked was, “If you were put in charge of Wizards of the Coast for one day, what change would you make?” My answer was simple — I wanted a Transformers Collectible Card Game. Their faces lit up, as Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) were now owned by Hasbro, the owners of the Transformers property. “Hey, we could do that,” they said. And that was the end of it. I didn’t think anything more of the interaction, and kind of forgot about it.
Three months later, news articles appeared that WOTC would be producing a Transformers Trading Card Game, and my co-workers who were with me that day were like, “Hey! Look what you made happen!”
Now look, I’m not going to take full credit for the idea. I know that Trading/Collectible Card Games take a long time to develop, and it’s not the sort of thing that Hasbro and WOTC can just slap together in a couple of months. But since I said I wanted a Transformers card game, and Wizards/Hasbro made it happen, I figured, y’know, I may as well check it out, right?
So on the night of release, I went up to my Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS, an acronym I’ll be using a lot), and bought two starter decks and a box of 30 booster packs. My brother came over, we figured out how the game worked, decided that some characters were better than others, etc., etc. I showed the game to a few friends who all thought it was fun and appreciated how easy it was to learn. And that was kind of it. I picked up a booster pack or two if I saw them around, but I didn’t think much more about it, until some friends got into it.
And then a friend who plays Heroclix (a totally different game) said he saw that the same FLGS I bought the cards from in the first place was having events on Sunday afternoons. So I went and checked it out. Fortunately, it turned out that I WAS playing the game correctly, at least in terms of the rules and stuff. But definitely not in terms of strategy.
But the guys at the card shop were fun to play with, and also huge Transformers dorks. They were all showing off their collections of Transformers toys, all made up of toys that individually cost between 100-300 dollars a piece. So, yeah. Okay. My kind of people (My Transformers toy collection has dwindled significantly throughout the years, mostly as I’ve decided that space was more important to me than expensive toys).
And that brings us up to the first year of my Transformers TCG story; From when those WOTC guys came in, until the actual release of the game and me helping to establish our local community.