We've been hearing about the new Cyberpunk CCG (technically, Cyberpunk, the CCG) by Social Games since GenCon SoCal was held in Anaheim last December; people that attended the show were talking about the play of the game and the buzz at the Social Games booth. And as we've talked to retailers and distributors over the past few weeks, the game has come up repeatedly. Cyberpunk the CCG has many of the early characteristics of a hit, and while Social Games still has to show that it can master the initial execution issues that are the bane of a new CCG company, the potential is there.
We asked Social Games president Peter Wacks about the response to the game at Gencon. 'I got so little sleep out there,' he said. 'We were slammed. It did not let up. We brought 15 people for a 20' x 10' booth so we could rotate people and everybody could have fun at the convention, but that didn't happen; we were constantly busy. It was really exciting to get to be a part of that--to see the players excited about the game and excited about playing it.' While the focus at the Social booth was teaching the game, retailers carrying the cards on the floor did 'very well.' Wacks said that the response at Dreamation, a much smaller regional show last weekend in East Brunswick, New Jersey last weekend, was similar. Initial sales to game distributors are selling through well, with occasional stock-outs between reorders. Social is also selling directly to retailers.
The products released at GenCon SoCal were all Cyberpunk the CCG 2013, a pre-release, one-time-printing version, which is still available. The full launch will commence in March, and that product, which has 60 new cards in addition to the 305 in the 2013 series, will be called Cyberpunk the CCG 2020. This follows the way the R. Talsorian Cyberpunk RPG, from which intellectual property for Cyberpunk the CCG was licensed, was launched in 1988. 'We wanted to match that and honor it,' said Wacls. 'The CCG is built to play pretty much exactly like the RPG. We made a few slight shifts, because a CCG is different from an RPG, but we tried to make it feel like the RPG.' He also feels the game will appeal to fans of Netrunner, a CCG produced by WotC between 1994 and 1997.
We asked Wacks about the rationale behind the two-stage release. 'We wanted to put out a pre-release set that would give our players a voice in shaping how the game moved,' he said. 'So we planned a 360 card set and put out 300 and watched the forums and feedback. That's what shaped the additional cards.' The editions are marked in the lower right hand corner of each card.
Cyberpunk the CCG is sold in a standard starter and booster configuration, with 10-card booster packs ($3.00 MSRP) and 85-card starter decks ($10.00 MSRP). Social also produced Your First Run Decks, which are 60-card decks used as giveaways to teach the game. A tournament legal game takes 84 cards -- two decks of 42 each.
There are six different Starter Decks, each of which has a different 'Sponsor' card. A seventh Sponsor comes in the Your First Run Decks, and will be distributed in upcoming issues of Inquest and Scrye. According to Wacks, the Sponsor card '...shapes the direction of each deck and the goals for the game.'
Starters are sold in displays of six -- one of each deck. Boosters are sold in displays of 40 packs.
The set is broken out into common, uncommon, and rare cards, marked with circles, squares, and lightning bolts, respectively, in a 6/3/1 ratio in booster packs, and for the run over-all.
In designing the game, Wacls said he used a process different from most. 'Instead of designing the mechanic and then the game,' he said, 'first we laid out how the game should flow from the players perspective and then started designing mechanics that would fit that.'
Cyberpunk the CCG 2020 will be introduced to retailers at the GAMA trade show in mid-March, rolled out through pre-release events on March 28th, with full shipments to retailers to follow within four weeks.
Social Games is developing a network of 'Fixers' to run tournaments and promote the game as part of its 'Controlled Chaos System,' an 'alternative to 'organized play.'' While some elements of the program are in place, full software will not be up for six to ten weeks. Each tournament will have three types of victory, including prizes for trash talking and for the deck with the 'coolest design,' in addition to a prize for the winner.
One special card is being created as prize support, using a technology not previously applied to this purpose. It will have a UV laminate with injected flecks of chrome that throw of bursts of light as the card is tilted.
Asked about distribution beyond the hobby channel, Wacks said, 'Negotiations are in the works, but I don't want to jump immediately into distribution beyond the hobby. It's a niche game for sci-fi/fantasy players... I want to make sure I'm properly supporting retailers and players.' Social's strategy will be to ship the same SKUs in all channels.
An expansion set, Chrome and Kilobytes, is planned for summer release. The set will include three new Sponsors, each of which will also be used as a box topper.