The Spoils is a trading card game developed by Tenacious Games Inc. that is being dubbed as a Tournament Card Game (TCG). The development team is a veritable who's who of the card gaming scene. With names like Jon Finkel, of Magic: The Gathering fame, this card game has been built from the bottom up with competitive play as the core.
On top of making a game that rewards skill while minimizing luck during play the team at Tenacious Games have literally put their money where their mouth is. For competitive play they have developed The Spoils Tournament Experience (STE) where they will be doling out over a million dollars worth of prize money. Not only does that show confidence in their product, but it shows a true understanding of where they plan to take The Spoils as a game.
With all this talk about tournaments and pro-level gaming won't the casual card gamers be pushed out? I have never gotten heavily involved in any card gaming tournament scene, but I have played Magic the Gathering for several years and I’ve dabbled in various other card games along the way. I was able to pick up The Spoils for the first time and within a few games I knew enough to know where I was making mistakes instead of cursing bad luck.
The Spoils plays in such a way that you learn as you go. Every single turn and every single card played brings you one step closer to grasping the possibilities that lie within The Spoils TCG. Immediately upon picking up your first set of cards it is more than evident that the game is filled with many complex combinations.
Fortunately The Spoils has learned from the past of other games like Magic and have improved upon them. There are several common keywords that are clearly defined. The structure of each turn is well documented and well thought out. Throw in a glorious mulligan rule, two starting resources, and you have a quality game on your hands that begins play on the first turn.
A lot of talk around The Spoils has been how it is just another Magic with a few tweaked rules to prevent abuse. What I've discovered is a game that is far more organized and far more rewarding than other major card games. Many luck aspects have been removed and you often find yourself actually playing the deck you built instead of the cards you were dealt.
The Spoils is a refreshing change of pace. What seemed like a Magic clone beforehand has become an entirely new beast to conquer. The cards have a more adult and nerdy theme which suits my interests. On top of that the flavor text is just plain funny… any game that has a card proclaiming “I’d hit that” is a winner in my book.
Pre-Release Tournament 11/12/06
I was fortunate enough to attend a pre-release tournament at my local gaming store, Reality Check Games, this past Sunday. The store owner asked if I could spin up a little event wrap up so here it is.
The tournament started with 10 players in a Swiss format. The initial deck building period was set to 30 minutes which seemed wholly inadequate considering most of the players had no idea what they were doing. Those are the rules though and everyone struggled equally to grasp the deck building concepts. Some players spent more time reading the rules while others spent more time reading cards.
Time rounds began at 40 minutes per round which was extended to 60 minutes due to the fact that we were all struggling to get games moving at a reasonable speed. Once players started clicking with the rules the games started going faster which is a testament to the “learn as you play” flow of the game.
While I don’t have a break down of the rounds I will post the end results.
1. Chris C.Prizes were given out for the top 8 spots and a consolation prize was given out for 10th; so 9th place was truly the only loser. Even then all 10 players walked away with the cards they played with and an invigorated interest in the game.
5. Matt (aka me)
The top two players, Chris C and Teresa, were both seasoned Magic players along with the fourth place finisher, Josh. Thomas is a young gun and is the current shop “man to beat” in the World of Warcraft TCG.
Most of the other players also had various gaming experience with card games. Finishing in fifth I have several years of casual Magic game play under my belt. David and Dan cleaning up in 6th and 7th both have varied backgrounds in several games from tabletop miniatures, pen’n’paper RPGs, and other card games.
It was apparent that the more experienced card gamers had the better tactics in winning the games. I don’t want to say better decks because every game I played or watched it was easy to identify where the mistakes were made. Often times a mistake or two resulted in a loss. Unfortunately for me that meant a few too many losses.
Everyone made mistakes. Even the top finishers had their fair share, but with years of card gaming under their belt they knew how to recover and play well enough to overcome to take home a win. And that is the point I want to make. The Spoils is a game that rewards the thinkers and the strategists in all of us. While there is sure to be great deck builds in the future I doubt many of them will make it far without a smart and canny player playing them.
Overall the tournament was fun, well played, and hosted in a great venue. I look forward to plenty of The Spoils in the future. Until then…. wanna touch it?