Just because it’s not 1999 and you can’t find your Neo Geo Pocket Color (or anyone else with one for that matter) doesn’t mean you can’t play Card Fighter’s Clash. Super-fan Andrew Thorson has a project twelve years in the making nearing completion to produce a physical version of the game. We’re talking professionally printed, originally designed cards with custom art and its own set of rules. Steve and Bradly had the chance to sit down with Thorson and talk all things Capcom/Neo Geo, the difficulties of launching a new TCG in 2013 and, of course, how you’ll be able to get your hands on a deck of cards.
[Hardcore Gamer] In one word, how would you describe the game?
[Andrew Thorson] My Obsession! Okay so that’s two words…how about “Perfection.” When SNK released the first Card Fighter game for the Neo-Geo Pocket Color (NGPC), I fell in love with it. It had so much in the game to keep you going, and it was enough to keep me going on the Card Fighter Project.
[HG] The first time someone sits down with the game, what can/should they expect?
[AT] Expect to pick the game up and learn the basics very quickly. But, like most card games, it can also become very complex as you learn the cards and their strategies.
[HG] What is the typical play time of a session?
[AT] I have a modified version of the game that you can play in 10 minutes. Tournament style play can last anywhere from 20-30. It really depends on your skill and your opponent’s skill.
[HG] How does the game balance accessibility for newcomers, and hooks for card-game veterans?
[AT] If you have never played before I suggest using the basic decks (which will be available for download/print). As I mentioned before, the rules are easy to pick-up and learn, so newcomers will not be turned away by overly complex rules. Yet, veterans of card games will enjoy learning the advanced strategies that are hidden within the cards themselves.
[HG] How does the project set itself apart from the 123049812034 other card games on the market?
[AT] The hook to this game has always been its basic pick-up and play formula mixed together with the familiarity of the Capcom and SNK world. With this card game, you will not have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on booster packs just to get the cards you want, but you will be able to search through our database to pick your cards, build your strategies, all before you even send it off to the printer. On top of that, seeing as though this is a fan-made game, it will be available at a very friendly price. Users will only have to pay for the actual printing of the cards with no additional fees. (So if they start to appear on eBay — watch out). *Chuckle*
[HG] Why do you think the SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters formula has remained so likeable?
[AT] Aside from the familiarity of the characters used throughout the game; the rules are simple. The game is not overly complex, yet at the same time, if you know how to properly build a deck and play against someone else who knows the strategies, Card Fighters can be a very exciting game to play.
[HG] Are there any plans to make the game playable by just one person, as solo-driven card game experiences are becoming increasingly popular?
[AT] That’s not something that I’ve thought about, but it might be interesting to look into.
[HG] Do card games have a place amidst the growing digital age? Why should gamers unplug and sit down with a friend, when they can just link up online?
[AT] Oh most definitely! I’m a child of the 80’s (born in the late 70’s) I remember the days of actually interacting with people before the digital age hit. I think it’s very important to make sure that you are getting social interaction with people that you can relate to. I think we are moving into a new age where social outcasts could become the norm. Too many people sit at home and play on their games and play on their fake social neighborhoods through video games and websites.
One thing that I have really loved about card games or other table top gaming is that it give people that chance. I love being able to chat and play games with people that are interested in the same things that I am. Heck get some decks of Card Fighter Project printed up and head down to the local game shop and start playing a game with someone. See what happens when people start inquiring about what you are doing. Maybe you could get a CFP night going in your town.
[HG] Where is the card game market headed, in your opinion?
[AT] Honestly, I think it’s become oversaturated. It seems like every time I turn around there is either a new expansion to an old game, or there is a whole new game. I’ve tried playing so many of them out there and spent way too much money on them. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve about decided to give up on them. Most of the TCGs that I’ve played lately I’ve been utterly let down by. Either there are not enough people in my area playing the specific games that I’m interested in, or I end up getting into the game and being let down by the way the rules play out. So in essence, I feel there are too many companies out there that are trying to get a piece of the pie, but eventually the playfield should level out. Obviously the games that have stood the test of time will most likely continue to make money; whereas the games newer games are really going to have to prove they are more than just a gimmick.
[HG] Do you foresee any copyright/licensing issues with Capcom or SNK?
[AT] I sure hope it won’t become an issue. Since my game is being offered for completely free (besides the cost of printing and materials) I don’t foresee any issues. The thing is I will not be offering a printing service myself with the project I will only be offering the files and suggestions as to how you can print them at home or options as to how to get the cards printed professionally at a relative low cost.
[HG] You’ve mentioned before the cards will be DIY — why no interest in printing off a few runs and selling them at a small profit?
[AT] Again that goes back to the copyright issues. I don’t want to get into any legal discussions with either Capcom or SNK over this. The thought has crossed my mind, and I am still debating doing a small run just to sell at cost, but even that worries me a bit.
[HG] You seemingly stand to not make a dime from the game — why spend the considerable amount of time working on the project? Is it purely a labor of love?
[AT] That is exactly it! As I have said for the past decade when I started the project… this is a labor of love. Originally I came up with the idea so that I could play Card Fighter Clash with a friend of mine, but I was the only person in town that I knew who owned a NGPC. Since I majored as a graphic designer I thought I would put my skills to the test. When the project started out over a decade ago I was not very good at design, and that is why the Card Fighter Project has gone through a couple face lifts over the years. I foresee this as being the final version of the project.
[HG] Have you considered a Kickstarter to help the release get off the ground?
[AT] When I first began to research how I could get the cards printed I realized how expensive it was to do a run of trading cards. You literally have to have thousands of dollars upfront. So, the thought did cross my mind. Now that won’t even be an issue since I’ve found a couple different companies that I can work with to accomplish the same goal at a much better price.
[HG] When do you expect we’ll be able to get our hands on a deck?
[AT] At this point my best guess is this summer. I have a few things that are going along with the cards to help keep track of the numbers throughout the game (besides the old pen and paper method), but only time will tell if these things pan out.
[HG] Are there any plans to continue to support the project after its “official” release?
[AT] There is always a chance. Back in 2007, I thought I had finished the Card Fighter Project, but was never content with it. Now here we are 2013 and I’m beginning to feel comfortable with the design, but would love to see an expansion to the game. So only time will tell.
As a closing comment I just wanted to invite any and all artists to get in contact with me. I will be opening the Card Fighter Project Special Edition to the public very soon. If you find any cards in there that are not done yet or are not part of the “Signature Series” (Fan art), I’d be happy to look at your work to see if we can include it in the final card set.
Once we get closer to completing the entire set of 424 cards I will be opening up a contest which will give you a chance to win a few decks, so you can get started playing. More information will be released about that on our Facebook page as the tim