Wizards of the Coast has announced that the United States Patent Office has issued the company a patent (#7,201,374) 'on game play design for constructible strategy games.' WotC filed the patent, which lists Tyler Bielman as the inventor, on October 20, 2003, and although the patent does describe models that are 'formed as generally-planar pieces, wherein the generally-planar pieces are manually punched out or removed from at least one rectangular panel,' one of the key elements the game play described in the patent application, which may not apply to other CSGs, is a reductive mechanic through which a player 'loses points under the rules of play, at least some of the parts are removed from the model, or replaced with substitute parts.' Although WotC used the term, 'constructible strategy game' in its press release, the phrase is not used in the patent application.
The patent was granted to WotC for a game, code-named 'Punch Bots,' which combined elements of trading cards games (randomized, blind-packaged game elements that encourage multiple purchases) with constructible elements (figures constructed from pieces punched out of cards), but the Punch Bots game was never published by WotC. On June 2nd WotC is releasing its first game in the constructible strategy game category, the Transformers 3-D Battle Card Game (see 'WotC's Transformers 3-D Battle Card Game') in time to benefit from the release of the blockbuster Transformers film on July 4th (see 'Core Category Transformers Products Street Early June').
A spokesperson for Wizards of the Coast told ICv2, 'We have no plans at this time to take legal action against any other industry players who may have existing or future games that fall within the scope of this patent.'
WizKids, which published the first constructible strategy game that actually made it to market (Pirates of the