A Prediction Concerning the Recent News Out of WotC

Doubtless everyone has seen the news that Wizards of the Coast has canceled three fairly highly-anticipated books, as well as canceling their entire line of miniatures. I find the specific books that were canceled to be telling: Class Compendium: Heroes of Sword and Spell, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium, and Hero Builder’s Handbook. All three are books of singular items, either magic items, skills, spells, etc.

Just the sort of thing that would go perfect on collectible cards. Like the line of Fortune Cards they recently announced with new and exciting powers to be used at the gaming table.

So, my prediction on the news is thus; the material that was originally going to be presented in those three books will be used as the core of a beefed-up line of collectible cards, with commons, uncommons, rares, etc. that can be used as gaming accessories, but which will not be available in any other format. They will be presented as a “purely optional” accessory, but one which will be required at “official” events, and eventually will be regarded as a standard part of the game. Thus, in order to have a kick-ass character, you’ll need to spend all kinds of money buying cards to have the full range of possible spells, abilities, etc. available. As Wizards themselves said in their announcement:

“we plan to deliver just as much great content for players this year through other formats”

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

14 thoughts on “A Prediction Concerning the Recent News Out of WotC

  1. Sounds about right. Kinda weird – the idea that you can't do X or Y with your game or character without it being officially produced. Don't really get it.

  2. Heh. Someone found this Q&A:

    Q: Why have the Class Compendium: Heroes of Sword and Spell, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium and Hero Builder's Handbook been removed from the calendar?
    A: We are constantly striving to remain conscious of the way our fans consume our content. We felt that the material in these titles would best be presented in other ways and we have plans to make it available in the future.

  3. I guess they feel that if they're hemorrhaging players, they may as well take it all the way and fully monetize the die-hard remnant who will stick around to pay D&D on a subscription, expansion-pack basis.

  4. I agree with jaerdaph… they're going to use the DDI paywall as a means of delivering "exclusive content" to subscribers.

    These subscribers will get to pay to playtest materials that will later show up in print: as collectible cards and print supplements.

    No matter what, it seems pretty obvious that WotC-stewarded D&D is in its death-throes. Can't say I'm all that broken up about it.

  5. I wish WotC the best of luck in their future endeavors.

    I'm still the process of luring my 4e players to LL or S&W. In 4e, it would actually be quite handy to have all of the characters powers recorded on cards.

    If we didn't have the OGL, my panties would be in considerably more of a bunch over this.

  6. I've been running 4E with custom-made cards for powers, items, feats, NPCs, quests, etc for about a year now. It's actually helped the game run a lot more smoothly. I'm surprised that WotC, a company that made its money with collectible cards, hasn't pushed D&D in this direction sooner.

  7. I forgot to comment on this when you originally posted it, but kudos on your accurate reading of the tea leaves. WOTC just keeps making it harder for me to want to play 4E again, as opposed to all the other great alternatives out there…

  8. D&D is already behind an online paywall, it's called World of Warcraft.

    WoTC/Hasbro/TSR already missed the on line boat with D&D a long time ago. They can't put that genie back in the bottle. D&D needs to stay on the tabletop to survive on it's own. The only way for it to survive online is for Blizzard to purchase the D&D brand.

  9. A collectible card set necessary to play an RPG?

    Cripes, does nobody at WOTC remember the clusterfun that was Changeling: The Dreaming 1st edition and Cantrip Cards? Those went over SO well with players people were leery of the 2nd card-free edition just by association.

    And they think it's going to work THIS time?

    Verification word: "Mensedde", a small town in southern France.

  10. I would again like to express my thanks to Peter Adkinson and Ryan Dancey for snapping up D&D from the moribund TSR and then putting it permanently beyond the reach of any single corporation to destroy.

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