• Bronycon Panel Writeup: Enterplay, Collectible Card Games, and You

    Trixie and Twilight play Magic: The Gathering

    The wailing sound you just heard was your wallet lamenting its imminent and enduring annihilation. I was lucky enough to sit in on the Enterplay presentation tonight, and let me assure you they have devised insidious new ways to part you from your discretionary income. I'm not joking: a Deadpool in the panel all but threw his wallet at the panelists at one point.

    Prepare yourselves. When you have Dean Irwin and Gail Tilden, president and vice president of the company, coming in to pitch merch, awesomeness is simply inevitable.

    First, some story. If you just wanna get to the merch, keep scrolling. You'll know when to stop.

    Back in January 2012, Enterplay entered licensing talks with Hasbro to produce trading cards for their IPs. My Little Pony proved to be worth investigating, and after seeing all the Youtube videos the fandom had made up until then, they realized MLP was the right property for another trading card set. So a couple weeks before Toy Fair, they mocked up a few cards and put out a banner as a way to gauge the market's response.

    People came by to take photos and started asking for interviews. The cards exploded! "We've got to do this," they said.

    They immediately set to work recruiting people with knowledge of the show and the fandom in order to ensure proper respect was paid to the integrity of the MLP franchise. This included Cupcakes Nom, who you might know as the organizer of the Humble Brony Bundle and former Equestria Daily pre-reader. See, career advancement opportunities from the fandom do exist!

    It's quite obvious how these investments worked out. Apparently, there are a bunch of easter eggs for the fans that "no one has noticed yet"... buuuuuut knowing the size of this fandom, I'm pretty sure we've got it all covered!

    So, long story short, product was air freighted to BronyCon 2012. In order to gauge its circulation, Enterplay watched Ebay for copies of the Rarity promo card given out to attendees here last year. One attendee who was there but forgot to grab one -- well, Dean gave him got one. Good for him. They didn't show up on Ebay at all at first. People didn't want to part with them. When they did, they went for $300-400 each. Then Rainbow Dash got sent out to SDCC -- and HER price, just like her, soared ever higher. Two of her went out to attendees at the panel, too. What? No. I'm only grinding my teeth 'cause I'm happy for them. Come on.

    Those Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy boxes that popped up in stores later? That was Enterplay's attempt to make amends and increase accessibility to these cards. Facebook flash sales? Same idea.  They want you to have those cards, guys, and they're always looking for other ways to distribute.

    They want you to have those cards so badly, in fact, that they actually showed off four of the TBA foils in the Series 2 collection.

    Bask. Baaaaaask.

    Do I have your attention? Good, 'cause here's what else they've got coming up:

    • Dog tags! They'll be available in $3 individual packs or $8 "two-tag" packs plus a blister card.
    • Those "super pack" test runs with foil stickers that showed up in Target? Six more foil stickers are on their way to Walgreens.
    • Card accessories like sleeves, deckboxes, playmats. (We wonder why...)
    • Snow globes.
    • Smarty Pants plushies, to begin as exclusives at Hot Topic.
    • Aaaaaand Frank.
    Who remembers when this came up?

    Companies are quite fond of giving their projects code names, and Ol' Blue Eyes stepped up. "How's Frank coming along?" Emails like that flew back and forth with Hasbro. As it turned out, "Frank" was the code name for some upcoming collectible card game or other with horses in it.


    Sorry. I know we've announced it twice by this point, but I still had to pause for a moment and listen to your cries of jubilation over the horizon. Here's how it works, with a disclaimer that everything you see here is subject to change and does not represent the final product.

    This isn't Battling is Magic. It's Friendship is Magic. So you gotta use your cards to solve problems, and to do so before the rube across the table from you can get his own problems sorted out. You bring to the table a "main character" (spelling uncertain), a 50-card "draw" deck, and a 10-card "problem" deck, and you construct each of your decks to synergize with aspects of your character of choice.

    Unfortunately, we do not have photos of the latest card designs because Hasbro has not OK'ed their publication, but we think it's safe to post this older version of "Lyra Heartstrings/Bon Bon":

    With a release date set for November, we're not going to see any big Season 4 content in the initial release, which will number between 225-350 cards. We can, however, look forward to bits of minor flavor from Season 4, since Enterplay has early access to scripts from the show. We have also been assured that any character with at least one frame's worth of screen time qualifies for inclusion in the game.

    I asked Dean and Gail about what excited them most about releasing the set, and they said that they come from an extensive trading card heritage. Dean used to produce Star Wars and Star Trek with Decipher, and Gail used to be with Nintendo working on Pokemon. They've wanted to do this with MLP for the longest time, and they cannot wait for this game to hit the streets. If you are lucky enough to attend GenCon this year, you will spot door signs for the game everywhere. Enterplay will also host playtest tourneys so that attendees can play the game themselves and offer feedback. A pre-release event is planned sometime after the convention, and once the game goes live you can purchase it in $10.99 60-card theme decks, $18.99 two-player theme sets, and $3.49 12-card boosters.

    Still not excited enough? What about this? In about 48 hours or so, http://www.enter-play.com/volunteer will go live. Certain games like one that rhymes with "Tragic: the Blathering" host tournaments and world championships. Wouldn't it be neat if the My Little Pony CCG could foster that same kind of competitive community? If you are interested in volunteering, presumably as judges, event organizers, or what have you, stop by the Packbreakers booth at Bronycon on Sunday with your questions, or simply visit that website once it goes live.

    The panel then handed out free T-shirts and initiated Q&A.

    • Will the game include loot cards?
      • No conclusive answer.
    • Will Enterplay be making dice?
      • Dice have not been submitted for approval yet. I could hear the lightbulb flashing in Dean's brain.
    • The game will be available in Canada,and foreign translations are in the plans.
    • Will there be chances for fans to create cards?
      • Perhaps as a yearly event! It sounds like a good idea.
    • Rarity symbols for the cards have not been established yet.
    • Why have the Derpy cards remained nameless?
      • We know about the controversy. We decided it'd just be funnier to leave the name plate blank and have her standing on it instead.
    • Where did the Element of Love come from on Shining Armor/Cadance's trading cards?
      • We'll have to ask Leslie.
    • There are plans to develop products for Equestrian Girls. CORRECTION: Have you looked into making Equestria Girls products?
      • Yes, we have looked into it.

    After the panel, Dean and Gail disappeared beneath a human tide until con staff were able to clear the room. What an incredible panel.