Game Designers Interview

An interview with designer Matt Forbeck and editor Drew Bittner
By Tom Harrington


Superheroes and card games: what's the connection?

MATT FORBECK:
There are a lot of stores that sell both comic books and games, and we thought it was natural to have the two mixed. There's been a couple of other superhero card games released by this point, but I don't think either one of them did a really good job of it.

DREW BITTNER:
There is a connection between superheroes and card games, so long as they're done well, and I think WildStorms is going to fill that niche.

How do you turn a superhero universe into a card game?

BITTNER:
With effort, luck, and patience [laughs]. It took a lot of reworking, research, and refiguring to distill the nature of these characters into card game statistics.

I noticed you guys actually made comic book story elements part of the game.

FORBECK:
That's true. For instance, there's the "Dramatic Pose" card, which gives you an additional defense for standing in the proper fashion. I think Drew came up with that one.

BITTNER:
Yeah, we wanted to give the players a sense of actually doing comic book type things in the course of the game. We'll do even more of that in the expansion sets

Now, I understand you guys ran into some surprises when you took the powers and elements of the WildStorm Universe and put them into a game.

BITTNER:
Yes, largely because when we looked at some of these characters we realized that they're a lot more devastating than people suspect they are. I'll also say that there are some characters with stats that may not have appeared in the comic books yet. We're sort of benefiting from inside knowledge in those cases. Those are things WildStorm Universe fans might want to watch out for.

FORBECK:
Voodoo, for one, is incredibly powerful in terms of the game because she can spot and depossess Daemonites from a mile away. She's a key card to have when playing against a Daemonite deck.

She sounds like the "trump card" for Daemonites.

BITTNER:
Without Voodoo, the WildC.A.T.s' mission becomes almost impossible.

FORBECK:
We tailored the game to the WildStorm Universe itself. This is not a generic game, but one that people who are familiar with WildStorm's characters are going to feel comfortable with.

Who do you think will be buying this game?

BITTNER:
Hopefully, everybody will buy this game [laughs], but I suspect the primary target is going to be people who buy WildStorm comics and also people who play collectible card games, which means many, many people.

How many cards are in this set?

FORBECK:
Right now, we're looking at over 350, and I'm not counting the 16 chase cards, which will be available only in booster packs. You get one in every nine booster packs.

What are some of the things you've found out about the game from your play testers?

BITTNER:
The play testers gave us very valuable insight about the way the game works, the way it's structured, what elements work, what don't. We changed a lot of game based on their input.

FORBECK:
These were not people who were just going to be impressed by the fact that it was a WildStorms game. Because of them we went from having an okay game to a truly excellent game.

What were some of the comments they made--and keep in mind, this is a promotional article!

FORBECK:
[laughs] They said, "Fantastic!" "Show it to all my friends."

They liked that you can use teams and teamwork in it. For instance, if you build a deck around the WildC.A.T.s or the Cabal, you're much more likely to succeed than if you just throw in a motley crew of characters.

I think this also goes along with one of the main themes of WildStorm, which is that teamwork succeeds.

Could someone make a deck comprised of nothing but villains?

FORBECK:
They could easily do that. For instance, the Cabal deck was used quite extensively in the play testing. Helspont, Defile, and the Daemonites--They're pretty powerful too, unless your opponent has Voodoo, in which case, you'd better nail that card right away!

How about as a pure card game? What distinguishes it?

FORBECK:
It's a very visually oriented game. You'll be able to easily identify who characters are and how they can be used. A large number of cards are being done with original art, and the computer coloring WildStorm does is just fantastic. There is nobody in the industry who can beat them.

BITTNER:
It's not just a knock down, drag out fight between two players. There are options for picking up points by doing what we call "side missions." They add a lot of flexibility to the game.

What's your absolute favorite part of the game?

FORBECK:
The one thing that is going to separate this from a lot of other games is that it has a point-based system for building your decks. This allows gamers to build a competitive deck without having to blow their entire life's savings on cards. This means that if you get into the game six months after your buddies do, you're not gonna be so far behind that you'll never catch up to them.

If you want to use a really rare, powerful character that's fine, but your opponent may be able to use three smaller characters against yours.

BITTNER:
Anybody who buys a few decks should have a good solid chance of beating anybody. There are no instant wins or killer decks that cannot be beat. This is why we've gone through two rounds of play testing.

I understand Jim became very involved in the games, especially in the early stages.

BITTNER:
Jim had not played a card game before this, but he was determined to learn how to play and give feedback. has a very insightful mind. He's able to grasp the essentials of a situation very quickly, and he can pick out what he thinks are the most appealing aspects of it.

I believe he kept you up some nights playing card games, Drew.

BITTNER:
There were several nights we played until past midnight. I was here up to three in the morning one time, and I still came in on time the next day.

FORBECK:
He said you could sleep in!

BITTNER:
Yeah, but I came in on time anyway!

Below is the Matt Forbeck and Drew Bittner interview conducted by Tom Harrington.

This was originally published on the offical WildStorm website and is being presented

here solely for informational purposes.

© 2018. WildStorms, all characters, and all images are properties of their respective owners.

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