Written By Matthew Williams
I’ve been playing Star Wars: Destiny since the beginning. I was a little hesitant to get into it because I have been burned by new CCGs before. The unholy trinity of CCGs (Magic, Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh) have a stranglehold on so many card shops that there isn’t a lot of room for others to muscle their way in. I’ve wasted an unhealthy amount of money on CCGs that haven’t found their footing because I could never find anyone to play with consistently (I’m looking at you Force of Will).
However, with Destiny, I assumed that the Star Wars IP and the unique dice mechanics would be enough to attract people so I gave it a shot. We’ve developed a small but consistent playgroup of around 20-25 people spread across three shops in my area. At this point, it’s difficult to get a tournament to fire with six people on a consistent basis. I’ve talked to some of my fellow gamers in person and online and there seems to be a common thread of discontent: release cadence.
We are looking at getting our fifth set… eventually? The original article for Way of the Force said Q2 2018 (April-June) but all of the literature sent to retailers stated Q3 (July-September). Since the release in November 2016, it will have taken 18 to 23 months to release four subsequent sets. That puts them on pace for an average of one set every 4.5 – 5.75 months. That is simply unacceptable in today’s market.
When I found out FFG’s plan was to introduce one core and two expansions per year, I initially thought it was a good idea. New games can have trouble catching on in part because people feel they are too far behind to jump into a game if too many sets have been release. However, that was when I was expecting us to have a set every four months, in some routine fashion. Why is it so difficult for FFG to announce a release window that isn’t three months wide?
I am disheartened to even be writing this article because I love Destiny so much. However, Destiny has made its way to my table less and less since my last regionals finished. I didn’t get picked in the first round of World’s ticket sales so I abandoned any plans of going there. I don’t know when Store Championships will start (even though they’re supposed to start in May). Honestly, I don’t even know when I can go play for a Q1 (which is over) or Q2 quarterly kit.
Let’s contrast this with a game that is newer to the scene. Steve Jackson Games has recently release the Munchkin CCG. To the best of my knowledge, SJG has not released a CCG since 1994’s Illuminati: New World Order game. So it’s relatively safe to say they don’t have much experience with CCGs. However, like FFG, they are an established games company. Munchkin came out in February, and they have already announce the release dates for the next three expansions. They’ve already had two organized play kits (release kit and another tournament kit) with decent prizes and they have Regional events starting in May. The next organized play kit has already been shown and will be delivered soon as well.
I admit that I am confused as to how Steve Jackson Games can successfully prepare and produce all of this in a short two-month span, but Fantasy Flight can’t even deliver a quarterly kit. I don’t know what it has done in your area, but many players I have spoken to in my area are dismayed by the lack of products. Drafting a set that had it’s initial allotment sent out 3+ months ago loses its luster. Not even being able to play for a promo card takes a lot of the competitive flair out of playing. For those of you in areas near world’s who can take advantage of those special events, or for those who actually get Galactic Qualifiers, that’s great. However, there are a number of players who would like to play the game competitively but just simply aren’t given enough support to do so.
So where do we go from here? There are some people in my area in Panama City, FL (if you consider 5 1/2 hours from me my area) that are organizing a special tournament the week after World’s. They’ve had promo cards and playmats printed up and are even doing a special side event when the original even breaks to Top 8 and holding a yellow character only tournament. That’s great and it’s giving me something to look forward to. Personally, I find it relatively telling that these people are going to such lengths to put this on because the developer of this game isn’t providing enough support to the masses that want to play the game.
Why am I even writing this article? Is it to whine and complain? My hope in penning this is to provide a sounding board for people of like mindset so we can maybe get some kind of groundswell of support to get FFG to listen to our (I think valid) concerns. I don’t know that they fully grasp how damaging it is to the game to have such long release windows, dearth of information, and OP support that is paltry when it shows up, and is usually not even available. FFG has spread themselves very thin in the Star Wars game space and for those of us that didn’t jump on Legion, we’re left wondering what’s next.
How do you feel? Did I strike a chord similar to how you already felt or do you think I’m off base? Discuss below and we’ll see if there’s any common ground and maybe FFG will take notice and throw us a bone. I hope World’s brings us a wealth of new information. My greater hope is that the learn how to get us this information in a more organized and timely manner.
10 thoughts on “State of the Galaxy Concerns – A Look at the Current State of Star Wars: Destiny”
It was extremely disconcerting to see FFG drop the ball on the Prize Support kits. Seems ridiculous to have Qtr 1 kits that didn’t arrive until Qtr 2 started. I personally felt like it was bad form when Legacies was set to release in Dec and got pushed out and then there was the small batch that shipped, but the main release didn’t come until mid-January. And while I wouldn’t want them to come out too quickly, I think the current schedule of releasing Way of the Force in 3rd Qtr is too long. That puts it as a minimum of 6 months between LEG and WotF…and that’s if it comes out in July. My local group is right at the intersection of WV, OH and KY and we have seen our group of 12-14 drop to 4-6 in the past six months and I can’t help but feel that some of it is due to the staggered product releases.
New sets promote players to reinvest time and energy creating new decks and studying a new meta. If we go 6 months between sets, even if we throw in Store Championships, it is going to be hard to hold everyone’s attention long enough to be enthusiastic about a new set. I think there are several things that could be done to assist the local players, including an actual FFG sponsored site to post tournaments, possible tournament software that makes sense (doesn’t make sense to me that the software gives people with a Bye a higher strength of schedule than someone who actually wins a game), MORE tournament prize support kits (cause if you have a 6 person local meta, after a couple of weekly tournaments, you don’t really need those same cards again), player rankings (by state, region, country, etc.) etc.
Little things that show the players that they care about developing the community and not just grabbing the fast cash with each release.
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I completely agree with your sentiment here. I feel FFG has gotten very distracted lately. They’re spreading themselves thin and it is showing. From a player perspective, I just want to know that the game I love is going to continue to be supported. I pulled the plug on Imperial Assault and sold my collection and cancelled my Legion preorders. My only FFG game is going to be Destiny until they show they can support their players on a routine basis.
I think you are speaking a great deal of truth, sir. I was able to go to 1 Regionals in my “area,” which meant a 3-hour drive. I was unable to attend the 1 Galactic Qualifier near me, once again a 3-hour drive. My state wasn’t given a single Regional or Galactic Qualifier and (as you said), I’m sure there are multiple locations out there in as bad or worse shape. I’m a very strong advocate of the game and doing everything I can to get interest off the ground…and yet it is exhausting work with little tangible rewards and seemingly no reciprocal level of effort from FFG to promote the game. I DO continue to hope things turn around and believe Legacies was a HUGE booster shot for the game…but it only goes so far when I haven’t even seen the cards for the ‘draft kit’ anywhere nearby nor any other hint at organized play support. I’m sticking with things because I enjoy it personally and it has been a bonding experience for myself and my son…but it IS getting harder to stay positive. Hope things turn around for your area!
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You’re like me in that we both use the term “area” very loosely. One of the main reasons I have stuck with it is because of my son as well. He just turned 11 but he already got Top 8 at a regionals and has done well for himself. It’s a great time for us so I try to keep my discontent to a minimum. It’s because I love the game and experience so much that I feel I need to express my discontent. Hopefully someone is listening and may take some of our comments to heart. A guy can dream, right?
I agree wholeheartedly. Our store hasn’t received any prize support for a loooooong time, and with the “whenever” ship date. Hell, the regionals prize support sucked badly. We haven’t even got the alt arts from the draft kit.
FFG is really dropping the ball. Are they too concerned with Legion? They’re not exactly on top of Legion at all.
I think they’re exceeding their grasp.
Plus it doesn’t help all their distribution is through the shittiest distributor, assmode.
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The Legion issues speaks to the overall issues FFG is having right now with community support. They’ve got a brand new game that is having support issues, and most of their other games (not sure about X-Wing) are having the same problems.
It’s hard to chalk up to new game problems because Destiny is about 1.5 years old now, so the kinks should have been worked out. Other games companies of similar size don’t have similar issues. They likely just aren’t prioritizing their Organized Play division.
Some companies don’t like OP because it doesn’t generate much money. That view is short sighted, however, because we buy the main product to compete for the OP prizes. Even if you just buy singles, major companies overbuy product assuming they can sell the singles, so it’s all part of the same overall machine.
I need my cardboard pretties!
I think the competitive side of the game is as much to blame as any issues from FFG. When the game first dropped, I knew of 5 stores doing casual/learn to play events. None had huge turnouts but enough players to switch off and play different people. Some players wanted tournaments so suddenly 5 stores trying to run tournaments and people just didn’t have the time to hit them all so people kind of gravitated to 2 places so the attendance was better than just smaller ones at each place. That left 3 stores in the cold. Those stores tried to do stuff but not enough players not going to tournaments to hang on (also hurt by this was still when distribution was bad and the same 5 people would buy the product to re-sell rather than let new players into the game). Someone new might come by but if they were getting in to eventually play competitively, they would bolt for the other stores once they felt their decks were ready.
So now three stores that were with the game when it started are pretty bitter at it. Can’t blame them, no reason to buy product and keep on the shelf when most of the area buys from the tournament places. Sure, might get the random new person but if half of those bolt anyway to tournaments and half because no one else to play, going to get stuck with more product than sell.
Since no store really does casual, when new people go to the tournament places to learn and begin, they get creamed and that hurts getting new players involved. You keep the people that are willing to go all in and but going to lose the casual or budget people. And since stores don’t find it worth even putting on the schedule for casual open table time, these players don’t have anywhere to go.
The facebook group for the area is mostly bitching and moaning about what is being played as well. Bickering about what format to be played, about what decks people are sick of playing against, etc that new players join and don’t see a great environment there either. Was even some bitching when people found out a store had a prize kit for a tournament they didn’t advertise and people stated they would have gone if they knew. So apparently some of the competitive crowd has to be bribed to go.
More prized kits and faster set release might help the competitive crowd but does little for the casual side that is missing. Sure, we like new cards too but aren’t reliant on them like the competitive side. I’ve played every character in the game but still have a ton of ideas for pairings and deck ideas I haven’t got to yet so a Q3 set release bothers me none (or the small casual group that has been able to find each other).
Believe this game would have been in a better spot right now if casual was a bigger focus from the start instead of every place jumping to tournaments. But that’s what the vocal people wanted and really didn’t care (especially when tournaments started during the supply issues days) that new players might be intimidated and leave as fast they came. And they were when they went to the Spirit of Rebellion pre-release and the competitive players walked in with their whole collections (or at least play sets) and made optimized decks with their new pulls and smashed the crap out of them.
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You make a lot of valid points about the casual side. It’s a tough balance of what to consider casual and what to consider competitive. If I run my 5 wide Battle Droid, is that competitive? Well, it won’t win a regionals but it’ll be better than a starter deck.
It really is hard as a player with a large collection to know where the line is. I went to a release for Legacies that was billed as a tournament and turned out to just be casual play. I didn’t bring all of my stuff (there’s a lot) and felt bad playing an optimized deck against people playing fun decks.
I think something that should be looked into is the idea of league play. Pokemon does that very well in that it encourages participation, not just winning. They have promo cards and materials for people who attend league regularly and just play the game.
FFG could learn a lot from other games but it does not seem that they are really doing that.