It’s been a good year for gamers.


SINCE this is the season to look back and reflect, here are some of my thoughts on the gaming scene over the past year.

TCGs chugging along

Major TCG (trading card game) titles continued to enjoy another good and productive year. Magic: The Gathering marched on relentlessly with a steady clip of excellently-designed products, led by the debut of the new Return To Ravnica block.

The new Ravnica block was wicked in concept and design, as it played heavily on the themes and card concepts that were so hugely successful when the first block rolled out back in 2005. Many modern tournament mavens would have been delighted by the reprinted “shocklands”, and the exciting new decks the set has introduced.

Wizards Of The Coast continues to crank out a bunch of entry and professional-level products. With new two-player and special format sets, starting or introducing anyone to Magic has become easier than ever.

Meanwhile, World Of Warcraft – that other popular TCG – also continued its solid run with a bunch of new expansions. Many fans would no doubt have been excited by sets such as War of the Ancients, which gives them a chance to play iconic Warcraft universe characters like Arthas, Illidan Stormrage and even the Lich King himself.

The game also got a boost with a new “base” in the Klang Valley – Classroom Café in Subang Jaya, Selangor. The budding WoW TCG community looks to have scored a strong start, showing everyone that Magic does not have a monopoly on the TCG here market here.


The other games

Living card games, or LCGs, (a term trademarked by Fantasy Flight Games, or FFG in short) and deck-building games (DBGs) continued to make its mark, with a slew of new licensed titles proving rather popular.

FFG continued to support its impressive array of LCGs, adding Android Netrunner to its line-up of A Game Of Thrones and Warhammer Invasion games. Based on the mid-1990s Netrunner Trading Card Game (which itself was designed by Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering), Android uses a similar distribution system as FFG’s previous LCGs, with a Core Set supplemented by monthly Data Pack mini-expansions.

In terms of deck-building games, there were supposed to be Upper Deck’s Legendary Marvel, but it looks to have been delayed until 2013. Online reviews have been promising – I’ll definitely write about this in a future issue or blog post!

All in all, LCGs and DBGs continue to provide an easier alternative to TCGs, though I don’t think LCGs or DBGs can be considered cheaper. LCGs, for instance, can be more expensive given that supplementary sets come out as often as once a month. But their advantage would be the ease in deck-building options. TCGs are notorious time sinks, while LCGs make it a lot easier for us casual gamers.

As far as LCGs go, I think the most exciting FFG title has to be the much-delayed and hugely-anticipated Star Wars Card Game. Originally slated for an early or mid-2012 release, FFG announced a “redesign” back in February, shifting its release to late 2012. Latest news is that the game is making a Christmas 2012 shipping date, making it available worldwide by next January.


Playing and collecting

Since we’re talking about Fantasy Flight Games, the company will also be shipping a Star Wars role-playing game soon, the X-Wing Miniatures Game.

The miniatures game is an interesting concept, as it combines pre-painted miniatures with exciting gameplay.

The reception to it has been fairly positive, as the quality of miniatures have impressed even the “traditionalists”, the hardcore tabletop miniature gamers.

This interesting concept seems to have a rather unique market, as it attracts Star Wars fans, toy collectors as well as gamers.

It has had a seemingly strong start in Malaysia, though it would be interesting to see how much FFG wants to drive this on – the first expansion set has been delayed by almost an entire quarter.

In Malaysia, with gaming products often priced at a premium, I’m actually curious to see if the X-Wing game will entice people to stop playing their other games in order to focus on it.

Only time will tell, and something tells me we’ve barely even scratched the surface here!

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