European Organized Play Coordinator Thorsten Wanek gives us some insight into the plans for OP in Germany and Europe in 2008.
Telak (Ulf Benjes): Hello Thorsten, thanks for taking the time to talk a bit about the future of ST2E in Europe, and in Germany in particular. In the end, I think BigD’s announcement at the end of 2007 was hardly a surprise, was it?
TW: Before Christmas, Decipher announced in a brief press release that the Star Trek Customizable Card Game will be discontinued after the 14th set What You Leave Behind. However, since the beginning of 2007 there had already been backup plans behind the scenes in case Decipher would stop supporting the game. For example, STCCG Brand Manager Brad DeFruiter had delegated several tasks of the former Organized Play departement DGMA (Decipher Gaming Management Authority) to volunteers. Myself, I was assigned the position of Organized Play Coordinator for Europe, which includes for instance running a European Continental Championship. Apart from tournament organization, several players were also enlisted to help with game design, and Decipher only supervised the distribution of their product. After the biggest European distributor, Universal Cards, cancelled its cooperation with Decipher when Lord of the Rings TCG was discontinued, distribution collapsed entirely, and resale was handled by only a few dealers in the United States. In the end, Decipher was no longer in control of STCCG when the game was officially discontinued.
Telak: For many years now, we have known you as THE driving force of the German ST2E scene, be it as organizer and tournament director of countless events in Germany, as one of the operators of STCCG-Turnier.de, or as head of Organized Play in the form of the German National Championships or, as in 2007, of the highly successful European Continentals, too. We would love to see all that continue in the coming years – are there already plans for the 2008 tournament season? Will there be a German National Championship and a Grand Prix?
TW: As of 1st January, 2008, The Continuing Committee has taken over control of STCCG. TCC is a group consisting of the most dedicated supporters and players of the game around the world, who will continue STCCG in the form of a non-profit organization, not only by providing a tournament structure, but also by designing new cards. TCC includes the entire Decipher Organized Play Team as well as the Writing Team, who have been publishing articles on the Decipher website for years. Furthermore, the playtesters are also part of TCC. They form the Game Development Team, headed by Brad DeFruiter! I guess the man needs no introduction; he was Brand Manager at Decipher, and has co-created Second Edition with Evan Lorentz. His design work includes outstanding expansions like Necessary Evil, These Are The Voyages and What You Leave Behind.
This means that we will continue to see high-quality expansions in the future, which will be released as virtual cards that players can print out themselves. Therefore, Organized Play will of course be continued, too. For Germany, this means: Yes, there will be another German National Championship, and yes, there are also plans to host another Grand Prix Convention! As OP coordinator, my tasks also include the further development of competitive play. Together with Tony Gammell, I will assemble a team that will put the OP programme into practice and develop new tournament concepts. For the German players there won’t be too many changes in the near future: Like last year, there will be state championships, and after the German Nationals in Kassel (around June), the Europeans in Berlin is another topic of our schedule. The only events that will no longer be seen in their previous form are Territorial Open Championships (TOCs). More info on that will follow soon!
Telak: The European Continental Championship in Berlin last year was a huge success. That event was made possible by a whole team of organizers and writers from both Germany and abroad. Are there any plans to extend this cooperation?
TW: Oh yes, we have big plans! Anybody who participated in the immensely successful European Championship knows that we don’t give empty promises. At the moment, most issues are still being planned or developed, so I cannot give to many details at this point. We will create new positions to promote OP on a European level. Also, the cooperation with openCards will be intensified as a result of the great experience we made during the promotion stage of the EC. For now, only Tony Gammell is confirmed. Tony will return to the team, even though he now has additional duties as the Continuing Committee’s Public Relations Manager for Europe on his hands. Other names will be announce once all fields of duties are confirmed and the crew recruitment is complete.
Telak: You mentioned that there will be virtual cards that players can print out. This brings up the question as to what will happen in the long term to the physical cards printed by the Decipher. Will players still need “real” cards in the future?
TW: That’s an exciting situation. There are indeed two very contrasting movements, among the regular players as well as among TCC. Should we limit the availability of cards in order to keep the value of real cards, or should be rather leave it to the players to decide whether to use real cards or printed/photocopied cards? For example, there are public discussions about tying virtual cards to existing physical cards from older expansions (for instance, in order to play virtual card 15V1 you would need a physical copy of 1U1) in order to be able to use virtual cards. The advantage of this solution would be adding an additional value to older cards, some of which would probably suddenly be a lot more interesting to the players, because their virtual counterpart might me a lot more powerful than the original physical card.
On the other hand, eliminating all restrictions would enable all players to use any card ever created by Decipher or TCC. If you can simply print out or photocopy anything you need to build whatever you need at the moment, it’s no longer the budget or collection, but the skill of the player that decided about success. Furthermore, potential new players would have the opportunity to give the game – with all its cards – a try. After all, even Decipher provided demo decks, and at home, everyone can play with print-outs or copies anyway. So why keep players from participating in tournaments by stipulating the use of physical cards that are very hard to find, or in some cases no longer available at all?
TCC is currently observing the development of the scene, but so far only real cards may be used in tournament play. However, several German TDs have agreed to start a period of field tests that is scheduled to run until the end of June: in a number of designated tournaments, the use of printed or photocopied cards is explicitly permitted. We will evaluate these tests and, and we will present our results to the Continuing Committee. This series of tests includes the German state championships; we will be able to gather detailed data from the decklists of these events.
Telak: Thorsten, thanks very much for your time!
Brand Manager ST2E on openCards
(translation by Johannes Klarhauser)