We recently had the opportunity to talk to Wizards of the Coast’s Kierin Chase, Senior Kaijudo Brand Manager, about the recent opening of Kaijudo sanctioning and organized play for the game.
Tell us about sanctioning for Kaijudo.
Let me talk about sanctioning just a little. We just opened up sanctioning and this is a little different from what people who may be familiar with sanctioning in the past from Wizards of the Coast, or people who had played Duel Masters. Sanctioning right now means that stores are able to get credit for running the event through the WER reporter. They will be up on our Wizards Events Locator, so you will be able to search for a Kaijudo event.
However that doesn’t mean there are going to be ratings and rankings, which some people have been looking for. You may have noticed that with Magic, they switched over from the Elorankings to the point accumulation Planeswalker points system. We don’t have that for Kaijudo just yet, but we are looking into it and we’re hoping that we’re going to be able to offer that soon.
What kind of events are you doing for Kaijudo organized play?
Right now we have a league program. We refresh that league program every time there’s a new set coming out. We started with theRise of the Duel Master set in September. We ran that for four weeks and we are refreshing it for theEvo Furyseries set that comes out next week.
So there was a gap between the two?
Correct, because it only runs for four weeks currently. Starting next year we’re going to be extending it to go weekly so we’ll hit all 52 weeks during the year.
Aside from all the POP material and everything you need like posters, the leader tracker and things like that, each participant receives a card that allows them to keep track of their achievements and make sure that they’re able to earn the promo cards. We do three different holo-foil promo cards. Two of those are unique to league itself, so those are cards that you can’t find in the product--only in the league, and one is a different treatment of cards you can find in the booster packs.
We also have a co-op item that’s available through distributors. It is a metal leader board and that’s pretty saucy looking, if I do say so myself. It has magnets on it that allows people to put their names on it with dry erase markers to be able to keep track of where they are.
It’s all participation. What’s important to us with Kaijudo is making sure that people can earn cards without having to feel that they are in a situation where they can be beaten by somebody who’s a little bit older, or somebody who has spent more money than them. That being said, that third card goes to about 50% of the people--so participation if you get there first.
Do they get all three cards or one of the three?
They can earn all three cards.
What do you mean by earn?
Because it’s point accumulation, to get the first two cards, you just need to hit the different thresholds. bring a friend, teach a friend, play a number of games, win a number of games, and then when you earn enough points, you’ll get the first card; earn enough points, you get the second card; and then if you’re one of the first people to hit the third threshold, you’ll earn the third card.
Is there a regular time of the week you’re recommending for these leagues?
No, we leave it up to the stores to do what’s best for their community. We don’t feel we want to mandate at this point. We know there’s a lot of busy stores out there; a lot of other games, and we don’t want to mandate at this time. We do, however, recommend that stores run these events during the most logical times when kids are out of school, so after school or Saturday or Sunday.
We don’t give out exact numbers, but we have hundreds and hundreds of stores. We’re very, very happy with the number that we have, and what’s even better, we’re getting the same number on our second league.
How’s the participation at the consumer level?
That has been outstanding. We were really pleased with the number. We’ve got stores that are getting 30-plus kids that are showing up, and that’s really important to us--that we’re getting kids in the industry and we’re getting kids into leagues. We know there’s a lot of older fans and we welcome them and they will never be turned away, and there will be plenty of activities for them, but we think for the health of the industry it’s very important to bring in kids into the hobby channel.
Are you doing these just in hobby stores, or is there also a mass version?
Just in hobby stores at this point. Our strategy from Wizards of the Coast is to support the hobby game retailer. We believe that that’s the place to create that third space, that environment where people feel safe coming in and playing and competing. That is definitely the place to be really pushing. To be honest, I believe that if we can get new kids coming into the hobby stores, that’s going to be a great thing for the industry.
Is there a plan for types of organized play beyond league?
Yes, actually next year we’re going to be starting our celebration release events. We haven’t announced when it’s going to happen, but we’re hoping to have it in the first couple of sets. So that’s coming down the pike. We feel that will be a much larger event than just League where people can go get some cool stuff and celebrate the new set that’s coming out. Additionally we will have some larger events at conventions that will get a lot more support outside the hobby community.
Once again it’s really important that any large event that we do outside the hobby stores at conventions drives players back to the retail environment. Our big push will always be with League, weekly events, and those release events in the hobby channel.
You’re going to start the release events with the first couple of sets next year?
Yes. The next set we have coming out is in March, so that’s going to be the place to look for release events.