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Project Awaken

by Tyler Fultz, Project Lead

21st July 2016

Starting in March this year, a group of diverse 2E players from inside and outside the CC began work to design solutions to the problems facing Second Edition. This was Project Awaken and today I bring to you the results of the project with the hope that it will help us move forward into a better age of Second Edition. We hope that you will comment on this article and make your voice heard in determining the direction of the game.

Project Awaken began with our mission statement:

To leverage diverse perspectives and experiences within the 2E community to identify and recommend solutions to the problems facing 2E, specifically: how to retain existing players, recruit new ones, and raise interest in the game.

As a group we identified two major problems in the game which were being driven by a variety of causes. They were:

Declining participation in 2E tournaments by existing players
Because…

-Design is making underpowered, unexciting cards - or overpowered, game-extending ones.
-The final length of games that go to time is increasing.
-Design makes mistakes and the number present in the cardpool continues increasing.
-Players feel their voices are not heard.
-Player groups feel they are marginalized or not communicated with.


Lack of new players taking up the game
Because…

-The play gap between experienced and inexperienced players is increasing.
-The rules knowledge required to play the game effectively is increasing.
-The final length of games that go to time is increasing.
-The resources to support new players are not organized or easily accessible.

In our discussions, we grouped the root causes of these problems into four categories:

Design
-Lack of high-level players represented within design.
-Lack of high-level players participating in the playtesting process.
-There is no mechanism for cleaning/limiting the card pool.


Tournament Play
-As game complexity has increased, so has game length.

New Player Support
-There is no one person on the committee in charge of new player recruitment.
-Efforts to improve the new player portion of the website have met with silence.


Communication
-Too many of the CCs decisions and responsibilities flow through the Chairman leading to accusations of favoritism and frequent paralysis.
-Lack of inviting and interesting content on the website.
-Feedback from diverse playergroups is lacking in committee discussions.

Based on these identified problems we decided the results of Project Awaken should be to:

-Raise the playability and competitiveness of newly designed cards.
-Make the cardpool and rules more manageable.
-Reduce the length of tournament games.
-Enable new player recruitment.
-Streamline communication and feedback within the community and the CC.


To those ends, Project Awaken made the following recommendations to the 2E governing community:

-The OP department should investigate the possibility of going to “hands down” at time instead of continuing to have players play to even turns. This should be balanced with additional cards (like Historical Research) from Design if necessary.

-Design should create a new format for 2E that replaces the existing Academy format. This format should consist of a smaller (1000-1500 card), curated pool of cards that provides the best possible experience for 2E players. All relevant parties (design, rules, OP, errata, operations) should collaborate with the community on what cards should be included, what the overall size of the cardpool should be, how newly created cards should be selected for inclusion, and how to communicate the format eligibility of each card to the player base. The backup option should this become unworkable would be to implement a ban-list format.

-Design should take the any/all of the following steps to increase the volume and quality of playtesting: offer playtest opportunities at high-level events like GenCon, selectively solicit feedback from the entire community on cards in development, require current and future designers to playtest, and actively reward our consistent playtesters.

-The CC should task a single person with facilitating new player recruitment. This person should start with revamping the “Beam In” section of the website to ease the transition into the game for new and returning players.

-The CC should continue to improve communication with the community through efforts like the newsletter, the hiring of a new Vice Chairman and new 2E Brand Manager.

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What can the CC do better? Was there something Project Awaken missed? What do you think of our recommendations? Please let us know in the comment thread.

Thank you!

-Tyler


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