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Diary of a Team Owner: Team Rankstar

 

It is crazy to think TRS has come as far as it has! From a small Slack chat with a few friends, to a full fledged international esports organization in just a small amount of time. It is not without the hard work of everyone involved in this project and I am eternally grateful for them: the team members past and present, the captains, the content producers and the fans. We have gained a lot of ground in the games we started off with, as well as opened up several doors into other new games as well. Starting as a primarily Eternal based team, we have grown to include Gwent, Hearthstone, Magic: the Gathering, Mythgard, The Elder Scrolls: Legends and others. With the passing of our official one year mark of being an official company, I wanted to reflect on my feelings about the games we are working in!


Artifact

Man oh man, when this game was initially previewed, the hype could not have been more real within Team Rankstar. Like other organizations, we didn’t really know what to expect, but we were promised greatness. As we all know, this is not how the story ended up playing out, but we put our best foot forward in the game while it was slowly floundering.

I remember being at PAX West 2018, watching the huge line for a chance to play, and thinking “this game looks so sweet”. If you would have asked me if I had to guess which game would not be around come June 2019, Artifact would have been low on the list. I hope the game gets resurrected, as many TRS members still cherish their time with the game, myself included.



Eternal

This is where it all started! Well, mostly anyway. While I had a pretty concrete history with Hearthstone leading up to the inception of TRS, Eternal was the game that grabbed me and guided towards creating a team. I saw a lot of potential in the MTG-like digital card game. Being able to play a game like this, more optimized for the digital space, on your phone, seemed really huge. After just a few short weeks, I was hooked, being active in the various communities surrounding the game. I still believe Eternal has some of the most potential out of all of the card games. It has a really solid development team, a very welcoming community, some prominent names behind the card design, lots of options for future design/tournament space, etc. 


I am no expert, but some well placed marketing pushes in the right areas, as well as nurturing of the competitive scene, could do this game a world of benefit, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for it.



Gwent

I really love the concept of Gwent. Being a card game derived from a very rich fantasy universe, there is so much to grab hold of. Plus, it has a very unique resource system that appeals to new and veteran players alike (as opposed to the mana system in MTG or Eternal, more specifically flooding/screw), combined with deep strategic gameplay, what is not to like? Despite HUGE changes to how the game plays (the “Homecoming” update), the game has retained a good amount of its player base while growing, because of how much the development company clearly cares about the game. CD Projekt Red has done a truly amazing job of taking the game from within another game, creating a standalone experience, then updating it to poise it to compete with other games.


The only things holding this game back, as far as I can tell, are the inconsistencies with the tournament structure (changes, delays, unclear future of), lack of ability to watch friends’ games and the lack of mobile client to compete with other digital card games (DCGs). Even without a clear future of the tournament scene, spectating and a mobile client would open this game up to so many new possibilities, including the ability for more third party tournaments to be streamed smoothly.



Hearthstone

Hearthstone has seen the most success of any of the DCGs out there. It was one of the first, and by far the largest, for most of the existence of DCGs. As such, it has seen the most growth, support and change over the years. Overall, I would say they have built a really successful model to entice high caliber play, as well as encourage the casual audience to regularly purchase new expansion packs. Being the trailblazers in this niche of the gaming world, they have tried and succeeded/failed at more things than most other DCGs combined. The thing that really keeps my attention on Hearthstone, despite not playing it with any regularity, is the innovation they have with card design. They have really taken to mastering things that can ONLY be achieved in the digital space. Whether that be due to a very large development budget, or simply not being afraid of “failure” with new ideas, they have paved the way for so many mechanics players have come to love, in both Hearthstone as well as other games. 


Hearthstone attracts a lot of hate, especially from former Hearthstone players who have moved on to different DCGs. I think it's important to keep in mind how much Hearthstone has shaped the DCG industry and how they continue to mold and experiment for the betterment of their game mostly. But, also taking risks to show other companies what can and cannot work. That said, the biggest complaint I hear about Hearthstone on a competitive level is the RNG elements a lot of their cards produce, and I generally agree. I think some, even a good amount of (more than your average critic, most likely), RNG is totally healthy for games. It keeps things interesting and fresh well into an expansion. However, watching top players crumble to a low roll in a tournament is the peak of feel bads, for both the player and the fans, sometimes. Regardless, I am excited to see what the future holds for the game.


Magic: The Gathering

Magic: the Gathering (MTG) is the actual grandparent of all of the card games TRS participates in. You can see that its influence echoes through most of the DCGs out there, some more apparent than others. Its 2018 arrival into the esports scene had some mixed reception, however it has clearly proven why it is the top card game out there. Since discovering my passion for card games, MTG has always been near and dear to me. It seemed rather incomplete watching the growth of the DCG esports community without MTG, so when MTG:Arena’s (MTGA) beta started to trickle out, I was excited for its impact on the scene. MTGO (or Modo) is the previous iteration of online MTG. While it is still alive and fairly healthy, it is nowhere near as flashy or fun to look at as MTGA. It has been around for much longer, so the kinks have been worked out of it to a large extent, but the experience of playing MTGA is so much superior to playing MTGO. 


The biggest “drawback” (and this is coming from someone who plays almost exclusively Legacy) is that MTGA is restricted to these formats: Limited, Standard, Special Events (OmniDraft, Singleton, etc) and soon to be Historic. Meaning, you cannot play any “eternal formats” (Modern, Legacy, Vintage, non-Standard Pauper, Commander, etc) on the platform. While this makes total sense from a profitability standpoint, as selling new packs and having a healthy Standard format is what keeps the game alive, it is saddening for those of us who want to play our favorite cards/formats on the flashy new toy. While I do not think any of the eternal formats will ever be implemented on MTGA, I think the future for MTGA is incredibly bright. It has drawn the attention of content producers and fans from all over the esports world, to the point that during its “Mythic Championship” weekends, it is one of the most viewed games on Twitch.


Mythgard

A very new (read: still in Alpha) game coming to the DCG scene is Mythgard. I am less familiar with the game than some of my teammates, but their excitement for the future of this title is so palpable, I couldn’t turn away. The resource mechanic in this game is quite interesting, where you “burn” your cards for mana of that color, rather than draw mana. This allows you to never really get screwed or flood, which is quite amazing. I am very hopeful for the future of Mythgard. The team behind the game is really strong, passionate and involved with the community, which is very huge. They listen and interact with players daily, so they have their fingers firmly on the pulse of how people are receiving new features. The Beta will likely be something worth checking out, if you have not checked it out already!


The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Saving the best for last (the perks of having this line up alphabetically)! The Elder Scrolls: Legends (TESL) has been the game TRS has had the most impact in. Partially due to my own personal interest in the game, partially because of the folks recruited to TRS to help grow our influence in the game, and partially because the game is easy to get people interested in. TESL has been a very important part of the growth of the team. With a former player Plzdonhakme winning last years Masters event at Quakecon, us coordinating a quarterly tournament that led into us working with Bethesda directly on this year’s Masters Series Qualifiers, to having fairly active members in the community creating content, we have had a strong presence in the game.


TESL has not been without its issues. Like with any online gaming community, there is a vocal minority that disagrees with how things go, and those speed bumps can be hard to overcome. However, despite a developer change, massive client update, and a handful of in-game bugs, the game is in as good of a spot as it has ever been. The release of the roadmap earlier this year showed the dedication the devs have to the game, and the player base has really come together to support the future of the game. I think TESL has a lot of promise behind it. With its new(er) developers, a truly amazing collection of individuals designing cards for them, and by far the best community manager I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with, the duration of the existing roadmap looks to deliver great strides for the game.


All of that to say, Team Rankstar is in a really great place now. We have diversified to include lots of exciting games, and I hope I did a good job of letting you know why I believe in each title. There is much to be seen for the future of the team, and I am so excited about the things that are already in the works. Knowing that so many more things will unfold from these projects, helps drive not only my passion for the team, but each and every members’ as well.


From all of us at Team Rankstar, thank you so much for the support this past year, and we are looking forward to many more to come!


Aphelion

https://teamrankstar.com/aphelion/