Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Breaking Even Part III - Good Rares.

It may not look like it, but I totally broke even on that pack. The promo alone is worth a good 7 bucks, and the two rares are worth more than a few dollars each. POP rares like that Gallade are extremely hard to pull, and I just got lucky with the Salamence. Yes, luck was still a factor, but it's easier to find a sellable rare in Pokémon than it is in YGO.

Also, as I said, the promo was enough to break even. I don't know exactly why this Gliscor is worth so much, but all the 'crystal' promos (i.e. reverse holo with prismatic foil instead of the usual 'galaxy' or RH) are fairly good investments. I do not even see the Crystal Chimchar and Riolu on eBay.

There's another card I pulled that will warrant its own post because I LOL'd. Hard.

Also, a heads-up: Apparently YGO Anniversary Packs have gotten a rerelease. Grab 'em while you can!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Memories of Edo.

Yes, I got another Digimon lot in the mail today. It reminded me of an old YGO guru and card translator named Edo.

WAY back when (as in, when the game first hit the States), Edo discussed vital issues plaguing YGO on his webpage. Among his essays was one about YGO's distribution; it had the same issue as Battle Spirits at first (i.e. no presence in retail stores whatsoever), but, more importantly, it showed that UDE fails repeatedly when it comes to card games.

YGO? 'Failure?' Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Kuro?

At first, YGO had the same problem that Battle Spirits is currently having: It was sold in select hobby stores only. Edo gave UDEnami a gentle nudge in the right direction, saying that they had to get their product out there if they wanted it to succeed. So powerful was this nudge that hobby stores were suddenly at a disadvantage. He wrote another article on that (which Konami also took to heart), but that's not what I'm trying to get at.

As I mentioned earlier, however, he brought up that UDE has a bad track record with card games. Digimon was one of UDE's hotter properties. When I got my lot of animé series trading cards today, I realized how right Edo was:

UDE sucks at handling card games, but when it comes to trading cards? Woah.

You saw all that shiny up there, right? Yeah, that was all UDE's doing. So were the shiny Digimon logos on the series two cards. The Japanese cards are noticeably more bland. Even the prismatic foil is less creative over there. Remember, chase cards are good in trading cards; they keep people buying packs if the set is small.

But the Digimon: Digi-Battle Card Game? Not only were the rules botched, UDE inserted another, invisible rarity. From what I have seen of Japanese cards, rares automatically have a golden title. The English 'gold-letter' rares were not one per pack. It was impossible to tell that the one-per-pack rares were rares at all; they looked exactly like regular 'common' cards. I don't know who to blame for this botch job, but UDE certainly did not help. Unneeded rarities contribute to a game's decay; for trading cards, however, they are a blessing.

This is a difference that Konami needs to see, even though their contract with UDE has expired. Insane rarities are hurting their game. Heaven forbid that they release good cards that are reasonably easy to get.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So how do you do it RIGHT?

You all have heard me bitch on and on about how card game companies like Konami and Bandai are constantly screwing things up. Some people probably think that I'm almost impossible to please. That's not true. There are some companies that have constantly done things right.

As much as I hate to admit it, 4Kids is on this list. What they lack in dubbing skill they make up for in marketing prowess. Yes, Nintendo and Konami no doubt had hands in making their respective franchises successful, but this doesn't change the fact that 4Kids is a marketing behemoth. They know how to advertise, and they know what appeals to their target audience - kids. 'Slifer the Sky Dragon' was named after a 4Kids executive producer that loaned Konami a HUGE hand when it came to making YGO a household name. If he was able to replace the name of Osiris on a key card in the animated series, whatever he did had to be pretty damn good. This is not a one-time deal; 4Kids handles their own CCG, Chaotic, which does reasonably well, and had some sway with Pokémon in the past.

However, Nintendo also knows what it's doing without the help of KHAAAN. Pokémon remains a hot seller on card and toy shelves. There is not nearly as much merchandise as there was when Pokémon first appeared as a 'fever' across the globe, but despite complaints about the Gen IV designs, I cannot see Pokémon leaving any time soon. Nintendo handles it very gracefully. Its only flaw is the stale animé, which could totally use a protagonist change at the very least. No offense, Pikachu, but you're the only character with any sort of development on that show. Nintendo has all of its other bases covered.

Wizards of the Coast, the creator of Magic:the Gathering, also deserves mention. These are the people who STARTED trading card games to begin with, but that's not what puts them up here. What has kept Magic: the Gathering going on for as long as it has is that WotC learns from its mistakes, and is constantly trying new things. That is VITAL for a card game's survival: Always be seeking to improve, but if something doesn't work out, for Cthulhu's sake, don't repeat the error!

See? I don't hate everything.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yusei, Yusei, YUSEI...

Give him a break, Konami...or at least market him right.

For the uninformed, Yusei is the main character of YGO: 5D's. His main card is "Stardust Dragon," a card that is both good in the game and appealing because it's a turbo-charged (*SHOT*) Blue-Eyes White Dragon. All of Yusei's cards will make it into sets, but only one is worth 9.99 USD as a Super Rare.

That's the lowest foil rarity you can give a card, in case you were wondering.

What gives, Konami? You used to be the best at reprinting cards from the anime. You made so many Dark Magicians, Blue-Eyes, and Red-Eyes that people almost got sick of them. There were tins with those cards, and they were readily available in character-themed starter/structure decks. Now that the main character's biggest monster is actually useful*, Konami is straying from its usual "print the hell out of it" formula.

Don't believe me? Look up "Stardust Dragon" on eBay. I'll be patient.


Did you do it? NO? Whaddya mean, you went and got a soda instead?! Go look up that dragon. NOW.


If you did look it up, you would notice one thing right off the bat: Stardust Dragon itself is pretty expensive. Its forms (/Buster (Assault Mode) and Savior (Majestic) Star Dragon) are a lot cheaper. The next mini-tin will have a Trap card called "Stardust Road," which, upon activation, summons a free Stardust Dragon from your Extra deck. Stardust is everywhere; perhaps it's all that remains in Konami's collective brain.

Konami is, obviously, trying to juice this dragon hard. A little too hard. They have all but forgotten that you need a Stardust Dragon to use, or make the most out of, these cards. Printing the support cards and forms ad nauseam warrants printing more of the base card- in this case, Stardust Dragon.

But they aren't doing it. WHY THE HELL NOT?

Konami seems to have a chronic phobia of releasing useful cards at sane rarities (at least in areas outside of Japan**). This coincides with their past unwillingness to print many character cards in any rarity without foil, which has since been remedied. Stardust is a playble character card; no easy Stardust for us.

That needs to be fixed ASAP. It will fix the rich-poor imbalance that has always been in the game and put money in Konami's pocket. Can they not see that this is win-win?

More importantly, can they not see that there are other characters with useful deck types waiting to be marketed? I personally know a Crow fangirl, and Black Feathers are a useful deck. The same could be said for Aki's Plant cards. Jack Atlas has a 3000-ATK monster with almost as many forms as Stardust and a decent effect. I'm sure there are other characters who have perfectly usable themes that, at the very least, merit a Duelist Pack. Even in Japan, Yusei is the only character that gets his own pack; that's not cool. People would pay big money for a pack with a Rare Black Rose Dragon or Armor Master. Yusei is not the only character on the planet; if he was, I'm sure 5D's would not have the fanbase that it has.

You have the playability factor. You have the character appeal. Successfully Synchro Summon them for the ultimate marketing combo and you will win, Konami.

*No offense meant to Dark Magician, Red-Eyes, or Blue-Eyes fans. They are all useful in their own decks. Stardust just so happens to have an effect that allows it to fit into almost every deck on the planet.

**Stardust Dragon was released in the Japanese Yusei Duelist Pack 1 as a normal (silver-letter) Rare. The Japanese Duelist Packs are usually done right; the Johan pack, for instance, had a silver-letter Rare Value, which was a staple in ANY Crystal Beast deck at the time. The rarity issue concerning character cards is also absent in the Asian game; the original Kaiba structure had 3 different Blue-Eyes White Dragons as commons, as well as a common BEUD and Crush Card Virus. You can stop salivating now.

(As for WHY this gap happened, I could get into the sticky mire that calls itself internet forum 'discussion,' but that's worth a post in and of itself.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Sentiments Exactly.

I did, eventually, ask Splash - a super Digimon fangirl and awesome person in general- about card translations. Basically, since no one has paid her, they have not been done. I also asked her about the various Digivices (specifically, a Gallantmon Crimson Mode D-Power); she said that the one I linked her to was likely a fake, but...

"well even if they're not official I always think Bandai could take a leaf (or several hundred leaves) from the fan ideas and actually put more effort into marketing Digimon. They basically kill off their own franchise by not doing anything while Pokemon just puts out more and more like a crazy franchise :<"

Thank you SO much, Splash! You concisely wrapped up all my thoughts about Bandai there! There were more, similar things stated by one user on the Animesuki Digimon thread. I wish he (I think) did not use such poor spelling, but it's the internet, and he does make a few good points. Have a sample or two:

"It's over guys! Namco-Bandai has simply run out of vision! The steamroller has finally run out of steam, and stopped at the middle of the tracks. I have said it before and i will say it again;they need AMERICAN gaming expertees to lift them up from the swamp there currently in. In my personal opinion some outsider coming to offer them "help" is hower a bad idea. Your kind of rewaring them for failure. That is not a good idea at all! Instead they should SELL both the Gundam and Digimon brands away, since they are both "80's relics" They have proven to have no vision and passion what so ever towards there "legacy brands" They should not be rewardet for there screwups. I would advice the fans to boycot any new DS game, that brings nothing new to the table wich we havent already seen with Dusk and Dawn. I am really sorry for Toei, as all the fantastic work they have done endet up being for nothing! Hower Bandai-Namco should NOT be rewardet for failure!" <- Actually, Bandai HAS taken some American gamers' advice. "Battle Spirits" was created by someone who was definitely not Japanese, but you don't see it on shelves alongside YGO and Pokémon, do you?

"I think the major problem with just saying something like let an American company bring in outside help is mainly what can America bring to the table? It's not strictly a matter of expertize, because that's why companies hire consultants and other experts from outside their company. What exactly can an American company bring to the table that still fits with the whole concept behind the series? America's created it's own slew of bad games and failed series, so it's not like it's some sort of cure all for the franchise. What sort of direction do you think they would be able to take the series that would be refreshingly new?" <- Counter-argument. Thank you.

"Markets breed money. Money breeds EVERYTHING! With money you can hire people to do stuff." <-True.

And for those of you thinking that you could handle Digimon better than Bandai...a quote from another guy:

"Selling the franchise will almost certainly not be in the cards, so the best bet is that they might sub out a game to a third party company like how Activision runs the Call of Duty franchise off two completely different development studios.

Even in the one in a billion chance that someone is able to buy the franchise (and you'd actually need prospective buyers for that in the first place), what can they do with the franchise? Not to rail on MMOs too much, but so many fail rather quickly after launching that it would be a really risky gamble for any company. Someone might be able to kick it up with a free MMO with a cash shop, but I'm not sure how well that style of MMO does outside of the Asian countries. And the only other style game that I can see the franchise really supporting is your standard fare linear RPG which they already produce."

Bandai is sitting on a gold mine that they do not know what to do with. I trust Bandai when it comes to making solid, functional games, but not when it comes to marketing them. They have become far too timid to compete with the likes of Konami and Nintendo. That needs to change; they have some very nice oranges, but have yet to get the maximum amount of juice.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

(Bandai,) You Want to be a Blip.

Bandai has a unique problem when it comes to card games: They do not advertise themselves well enough.

Take, for example, the Digimon CCG from 2004. Unless you looked on their site, you had no clue it was coming. It went almost completely under the radar; "oh, look, Digimon" was the only way you could know it existed. Digimon as a whole was marketed too tightly as a competitor of Pokémon; it prevented people from seeing that the series was higher-quality, and also made Bandai think that they could do whatever the *bleep* they wanted with the card game...which was a lot better in Japan.

Battle Spirits
is almost as bad. Yes, the GenCon preview and insert in SJ were good ideas, but y'know what? Some people won't stock BS because they see it as a YGO 'rip-off,'and unlike most Japanese card games these days, it does not have a (good) animé to go with it. (Actually, from what I have read, the animé is well-loved by younger Japanese audiences; some jokes, however, like "Galaxy Sexy", would HAVE to be edited out...which opens a whole new can of worms.) It is lacking the tailwind that Bandai's other CCG's have, and if the company isn't careful, that lack of hype will shoot their baby in the foot. As much as I love BS and do not want it to die, the fact that game shop owners aren't accepting it (even though OP kits are FREE and you can earn MONEY from this game) worries me.

There is one simple thing that Bandai could do: Give the U.S. players a taste of what Japan is getting. Digimon has had arcade machines for a LOT longer than YGO has. Here's a recent one:

It also works with the Digivice iC for extra bonus points. :) (Reminder: Ask Splash how the card game works.) Bandai really has things golden in Japan; bring that here. You want to make yourselves appear on the radar.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I splurged.

Again. Because the J-rock told me to.

No, seriously, I found an Ancient Fairy Dragon tin and could not resist taking the flying serpent home with me. I also had some confidence that, hey, maybe my luck wouldn't be so bad; my brother's tin had fairly decent pulls.


The only foils I got were an Ultimate Flamvell Commando and a Super called " Swallow Flip." I know someone who'll want the Sunlight Unicorn, but beyond that...ick. If there is one thing I have learned from this game, it's that looking up the value of Normal Rares and commons is a waste of time; they are so common that, even if they're playable, they aren't worth much. YGO packs are hit or miss like that; only the Rare is worth anything, and even that's pretty darn chancy.

One thing that I definitely have to throw Konami a bone for doing, however, is putting card sleeves in their tins. It's such a shame that they're in packs of 40 instead of 50 (the standard amount anyways) - very few duelists I know have 40-card decks, and with the Extra Deck becoming more and more important, decks with exactly 40 cards are less and less likely. WTF, Konami?

Still, it's obvious that they're trying to please their player base. I remember when they didn't give two shits about us. When they did aim to please, the American player base got greedy (as all YGO players are, to some degree), and we wound up just a little baby step away from square one again. I have had nigh-constant gripes with this game for a multitude of reasons besides luck; that is a rant for another day.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Bakugan Video Game Revealed.

The trailer for the next Bakugan game. This is probably old news to some of you, but nobody ever reads this, and I need to rant somewhere.


- UNCANNY VALLEY'd! The humans look TERRIBLE. I have to give them credit for trying, but the Uncanny Valley is KILLING Dan in the trailer. For those unaware of WTF I am talking about, the Uncanny Valley is a point where realistic rendering almost becomes too realistic, and all the differences start to stick out like sore thumbs.

- In contrast, the monsters look beyond awesome. I could reach out and touch that Hydranoid if I wanted to. Do I? I'm not sure, but I'm looking forward to seeing Skyress rendered that beautifully.

- Less mini-games, please. I'm glad I didn't get the first game; after watching my brother play the Wii version, I realized that the mini-games were just as annoying as I had been told. Simplicity can be bliss. K.I.S.S.

Looking forward to this! ^_^