Wednesday, May 31, 2006

In case of Emergency...

Posted by Yehuda, a blogger from Israel I truly enjoy reading...

What? No Clout? In case of Rain of Frogs, play Clout? Yeah, that's the ticket!


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wildcard's Eternal Auction 2.0!

If you play Clout but don't at least check out the Forum's Eternal Auction, well darn it, check it out!

After some glitches, I have rewritten the rules to make bidding less complex and eliminate the problems associated with a fixed end-time for the auction. For your enjoyment I now present, WEA 2.0:

Wildcard’s Eternal Auction 2.0

The auction that never ends! Any forum member may bid their own chips and the highest bid wins the auction. The contents of the winning bids then become future auctions.

Auction Rules:

* Bidding is real. If you bid, you will be expected send those chips in exchange for the current lot.

* Auction contents are announced in the “This for That” trading forum in the Wildcard's Eternal Auction thread. Active auction are always ‘sticky’.

* Legal bids must be posted in the active Wildcard's Eternal Auction thread.

* You pay postage for what you mail. I pay postage for what I mail. I don't care where from, so international bidders are welcome!

* Bidders must follow the rules of bidding. Illegal bids will be ignored and illegal bidders will be the subject of much pointing and giggling.

* Auctions begin as soon as the first Auction announcement is posted.

* The auction ends 48 hours following the final high bid. Example: A bid is posted at Sat May 13, 2006 6:41 am. If there are no other bids, the Auction will end Mon May 15, 2005 6:42 am, 48 hours later. If a bid comes on May 15th at 6:41, the auction will go another 48 hours.

Bidding Rules:

* Only rare, dragon and promo chips may be bid.

* A legal bid must exceed all previous bids in value.

* No Bids may include more than 3 of any single non-unique chip.
* No Bids may include more than 1 copy of any one unique chip.
* No Bids may include more than 2 neutral chips.

* Chips bid may not be the same as the chips available in the auction. Example: If a Helm of Leadership is in the auction, that chip is not available to bid with.

* For bidding purposes: Promo Chips are worth 2 rares. Common Dragon chips are worth 3 rares. Rare Dragon chips are worth 9 rares.

* A legal bid must include the title of specific chips being bid, their rarity, and the total number of rares (including totals for promos and dragons.) Non-english or dual-language chips should be specified as such. For this auction, language has no impact on chip value. Details: What if nobody bids? If an auction passes and nobody bids, I will add chips to the auction (rares, promos, dragons), and rerun it.

New auctions will start within one week of the old auctions end.

I'll ship the winner their chips upon arrival of their bid. All auction rules are subject to change between auctions.

Questions are welcome right here!

Star Wars - Deleted Scenes

I love this sort of thing: The Luke/Biggs scenes removed from the start of A New Hope. Quality is poor, but the content is COOL!


Friday, May 26, 2006

We used to we wusses, but now we're METAL

CLINCH medallions will be the same size and shape as standard Clout chips, but instead of plastic, they'll be metal. Shown here is an artist's rendering of a CLINCH Chip (not a real one)



The metal chips haven't arrived yet, but I can show off the designs using standard plastic Clout chips, pictured in the previous entry.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's like my Birthday!

About halfway through our weekly staff meeting Seanna, who handles much of Clout's production, says sort of off-handedly, "Adam, do you want the Clinch stickers? I've got them in my car?"

DO I!?!?! Well YES!!!

More specifically, she had (now I have) the entire CLINCH run of Medallion inserts. While the metal medallions haven't arrived yet, I can now make mock-up CLINCH Medallions using standard clout chips...the kind I have a few hundred of under my dining room table.

I've already got the okay to make some up and ship them out as preview samples, so expect CLINCH Pseudo-Medallions in the next batch of tournament kits. The only question...what color chip should I use? (I don't have white or dragon.)

Here they are on black chips, (the goblin is upside down)
The Medallions use the same art as the CLINCH promo chips (we're either being cheap or smart, depending on how you look at it!)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Clout Mini-Games (5-chip stacks)

As I'm tired of using the phrase: 5-chip demo stack bag + booster freebee, I'm going to start calling them Clout Mini-Games. They contain:

* Playable 5 chip stack, including one base.
* One rulebook/measuring tool sheet.
* One Clout: Fantasy booster pack (for now)

Also pictured is the new Defenders of Undersea poster, included with each Demo Kit. The posters are available upon request. In fact, I'll be shipping a poster to every retail store I have shipping info for very soon.


Act Now, Supplies are Running Out!

In fact, this might be true. I've just procured a case of base set boosters to upgrade the 5-chip demo stack bags. Now Venture Demoers will have the 5-chip stack + 1 booster to give away.

Sean, Andre, and I had a meeting last week and one of the things Sean mentioned was how 'the lightbulb turns on' when a new player opens that first booster. My question was to we put that experience into the demo? My answer was equally simple...lets give each new player a booster.

Now, I don't have an unlimited supply of boosters, but I do have enough for a couple more demo kit mailings. Once my current supply is gone, we'll look at the success of 5-chip+ pack and decide if we want to keep it up.

Other demo team notes...with the next batch of mailings, the total number of demo packs shipped will have exceeded 500. Now, I know not all of those demo stacks are reaching new players, but if even a small percentage translates to new fans, the whole thing becomes worth it.

As I've said before, the reports of people getting hooked on Clout through the efforts of the Venture Demo Team are really exciting. (I have to say "Clout" and "Venture Demo Team" so search engines will see my posts! =-)



Sunday, May 21, 2006

Who doesn't love Kittens?

If you ask me, a blog isn't official until you post a picture of a pet on it. Without further ado, let me introduce the newest member of my family...

Maximum Orbit (Max)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Venture Update

Hi everybody,

Nothing helps spread the word like fixing my e-mail list (so it sends out messages to people other than just myself!)

A few Venture Team members have reported good luck running demos, followed by a quick tournament. I’ve found that tournaments using just the Starter games make for fabulous beginner tournaments. If you’re running events in a store, make sure the store’s stocked with the Starters and invite people who are taking demos to come back for a Starter-only tournament that same day. You and the new players will have a great time, and the store will make some sales (that’s always makes you popular with the manager!) Also, if you have a tournament already scheduled, make sure to include that information in the player’s demo stack bag so they know when to come back and have some fun. Running both events also gets you 8 Venture Points rather than the usual 4, which isn’t a bad deal for your time!

I’ve just put another dozen of the new, improved, Demo Kits together as well as a pile of tournament prize kits (with the new Whale Call promo.) They’re just waiting for some Venture Team Members to request them. I’m basically shipping on demand right now. There’s still time to get prizes or demo-freebees for next weekend. For those of you who have requested kits or mats, I should be completely caught up with shipping by the end of the day tomorrow.

Hidden City Games will be at KublaCon next weekend, and Wizard World Philly the weekend after that. If you’re nearby, please come by one of these conventions. We’ll have special giveaways just for Clout Forum members and Venture Demo Team members. If you’re free to help out, you can make some quick Venture Points.


Letter to the UK

I just sent this via e-mail to Dave in the UK, one of the few TO's there. I'm proud of the information contained in the message, so I decided I'd share it with everyone. A lot of this is old info, but it never hurts to repeat yourself:

Hi Dave,

Worlds will be taking place at GenCon SoCal this November 16-19th. I’m planning for nationals-type events to take place in September and October. Nationals-level events will provide CLINCH medallions with value enough to assure a place in the Worlds. Because of all the delays with CLINCH, I’ve been hesitant to make commitments. Once CLINCH is available, there will be lots more info. Because the Medallions are the basis for invitations, nothing strictly feeds into anything else, but winning an event at any level provides enough Personal Clout to qualify for the next level. Throwdowns (Store, Club Events) and Rallies (Qualifiers) feed Roundtables (Nationals) which feed Summits (Worlds). Local tournament organizers may always run Throwdowns. Rallies may also be run by local tournament organizers depending on how your local distributor wants to handle things. In the US, I have several TO’s who I completely trust to run the events properly, so that’s how I’m going to do it. Also, all events at conventions, run by Hidden City Games, will also be Rally events. The higher level events are ‘company’ events and should be handled or at least overseen by Hidden City Games or the local Clout distributor, like Hobbygames.

Worlds, just like every other CLINCH event, is open to any player who has enough Personal Clout, regardless of how/if they played in Nationals or even lower level events. This relaxed, open-door policy is a huge departure from other top tier events, but the philosophy is simple enough: If you’ve got the ‘Clout’, you can play.

Prize money for CLINCH is up to the local distributor. CLINCH was originally developed for our Asia-Pacific partners where prize money is essential to the success of an organized play program. This actually runs contrary to our vision for Clout and CLINCH where the games are played primarily for fun, rather than big prizes. Every region internationally needs to support the program in the manner that makes sense for their gaming culture. Prize money is an optional part of that. We can’t really compete with the big money games like Magic and VS., so we’re avoiding that route entirely. I am hoping to find a way to get Nationals winners to Worlds in California (across the street from Disneyland) which would be a pretty sweet prize.

For now the Venture Demo Team is a North American program only. I just don’t have the resources to support the program internationally. We’re working on expanding it internationally, and once I begin to see strong returns here in the US, I expect that to be the next step.

While I don’t normally ship internationally, send me your contact info and I’ll provide a supply of US Promo chips to spice up your tournaments for a few weeks. The chips I can send are Helm of Leadership, Shrunken Head, and Whale Call. I’ll get you enough to run several tournaments.

Adam "Wildcard" Conus
Hidden City Games
Organized Play Manager
Website -
Fling into Action Blog -

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Auction Woes

The last Eternal Auction had all sorts of problems. *sigh* Of course, it was the biggest auction we'd had, so the competition to win was particularly fierce. Lots of things came to light:

First, putting in a large bid at that last minute is/can be percieved as a problem. First off, the forum software isn't quick enough to be fair about it whose bid makes it in and whose does not. Also, lots of people just can be on the computer right when the auction ends, meaning those people miss out entirely.

Second, *I* run the thing, which means things are just going to go haywire (welcome to my life). Somehow my forum clock got off by an hour, so I said a bid at 12:01 was in time, when by the rules it wasn't. Until I fixed the clock, my screen said 11:01, and it didn't occur to me that it might be ME that was off by an hour, not a whole forum of fans. Doh!

So, I've got two players who really deserve to win the biggest auction yet, and I only have chips for one of them.

Right now I have to decide if I want to run the next auction, as is, or put the thing on hiatus until I can come up with some improvements. I hate hiatusesus (sp?) so I'd better get the next auction up and running. For now, sniping is part of the game as is dealing with an idiot admin (i.e. me.)

All this in the pursuit of FUN!

Monday, May 15, 2006

What's Up?

After getting my son Alex to Daycare (he still goes to the Wizards of the Coast daycare) I start work:

My usual day consists of catching up with all the E-mail, both at the address and the address. Soon I'll take on the venturestore address as well. I'm meeting with Sean, our director of sales, this week to get on the same page with him on that program so I can provide daily support and he can handle the tough stuff.

If I'm not working with Paul, I spend most of time streamlining Venture Demo Team or CLINCH documents. Of course, I keep an eye on the forums all day. The last couple of weeks I've been trying to get CLINCH and VDT to be Euro-friendly. We'll see how that goes as I continue to communicate with our partners overseas. Starting this week I'll be contacting our Asia Pacific (APAC) partners to see how CLINCH will work for them, and what I can do to assist them. This is WAY overdue. Because I specialize in social connections and communities, I'm way more comfortable working within my own culture. Tough, I've got to suck it up and send those e-mail and make those calls. =-)

On Mondays I gather all the Venture Demo Team reports that have accumulated over the past week (most reports come in on Monday) and get them entered, if they haven't been already. If it's been more than a week, I'll put togeher the Venture Point totals and get those posted. I'm pretty happy with the bi-weekly schedule, though I can't wait for a website to post the info to.

Tuesdays I try to get everything mailed out that needs to arrive by the following weekend. That includes Playmats, Demo Kits, and Tournament kits. I'm not sure they actually get there in time, but at least there's a good chance.

Wednesday is sort of a catch-up day. E-mail, general paperwork. I do a lot of my concept work on Wednesday, figuring new ways to handle demos, tournaments, and such. There's a fair amount of crackpot ideas that never see the light of day dreamed up on Wednesdays. Example: I'd like to run a convention league that rewards players for the number of players they defeat, rather than the number of wins overall. This 'viral' league would directly reward fans for finding new players (and then crushing them.). Losses would be valuable as well, so there's a reason to let your buddy kick your butt, even if you know you can't beat him. On the last day of the con, players would be able to collect prizes based on a combination of their wins and success finding opponents. Note: Fans that are successful networking at a con will tend to have networking skills that make them top-notch Demo team members.

Thurday is the HCG Staff Meeting, so I generally spend the day getting ready for that if I'm presenting, or at least making sure I know what everyone else is up to so I can contribute at the meeting. This usually doesn't take too much time, so I can keep up on e-mail, etc.

Friday, like Wednesday seldom has a set agenda. Make sure there arent' any merchants or fans who need something. Make sure I've taken care of absolutely everything that needed getting done over the course of the week.

I also work on other HCG projects - I help Paul with R&D during playtest sessions. They ususually last 3-4 hours per day for a few weeks at a time. The last one was Marvel, and the Marvel expansion is probably not too far off (we're still 2 expanstions ahead on Fantasy) We've got a new game that I can't really talk about yet. I'm still working on how I'll fit into what that'll need.

I also have my own project, which I usually work on off the clock, but if an good idea strikes me I don't feel the least bit bad about spending some time on it during the day.

I spend a lot of time on the internet, just keeping up with what other game companies are doing. Some, like WizKids and JoyRide (FullMetal Alchemist), really impress me. Others don't. I read a LOT of gaming blogs, just too see whats hot. Those who can't do, read blogs.

My favorite sort of day is one where I start work and go non-stop until I have to leave to pick up Alex from daycare. I have the best job, ever, and I like it best when I've lots to do.

Adam "Wildcard" Conus

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Board 2 Pieces: Bringing the Funny

Board 2 Pieces is one of my favorite on-line comics. Pure gaming humor. If you already subscribe to the Boardgame News RSS feed, you know what I mean.

It helps a lot to play Eurogames, but after a few installments the humor sets in regardless of your gaming habits.



Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Biggest Clout Forum Auction Yet!

Want Dragons? Want Rares? Check out Wildcard's Eternal Auction #18

You don't need money, you just need chips. The bidding starts at one Clout: Fantasy Common. Have fun!

Auction Rules


Monday, May 08, 2006

No Such Thing...

...As bad press, particularly when it's good press!

Our local newspaper just ran this story on Saturday. Hopefully you can view it (I already subscribe.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

New and Improved Demo Kits!

I think a few you of you who've got the Demo Kits were disappointed with the contents. I know I have been. Lots of chips, two starter games, and not much else. Well, help has arrived!

The next wave of kits will package each 5-chip demo stack in its own individual bag, along with rules that include a measuring tool printed on the side. The stacks become less a generic freebee and more a mini-game. The bags will be of the Zip-Lock variety, and I will be encouraging Venture Demo Team members and stores to pop open the bags and slide store business cards in there. This will do a couple of things. First, the store gets some of the much deserved credit for the demo and the freebee (nobody would be getting them without you guys!) and the customer will walk away with everything they need to play AND buy Clout. The sheet also includes information like website and customer service e-mail.

I'll be shipping the next wave of Demo Kits out early next week, in time for next weekend. If you don't have a kit requested right now, please make sure to those requests in by Monday.

My next planned improvement is a Demo-Guide. Probably 3-4 pages of hints and tips for planning and running great demos. I've got my own ideas, plus some great feedback from the forum. Keep those ideas coming!


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Right On, WizKids!

Ok, technically they're the competition, but that's not how I look at things.

WizKids sent me two booster packs of their NASCAR game, Race Day in the mail today. I totally didn't expect it, and I'm not actually sure why they came, but came they did.

Race Day is a Pirates-esque game, with die cut plasti-card cards that you use to build little NASCAR race cars. Also included are clear plastic damage 'bits', also die cut. They attach to the cars as they take damage. Cool! The game is played on a paper race track, ala Forumula De, which they somehow folded up into a trading-card game sized package.

What's really clever is the entire thing comes with literally everything you need to play, all in the size of a single (thick) booster pack. I played a two player game (what you get in a single booster), and found it light and enjoyable. It played very much like a dumbed down Formula De, as the only die rolled for movement is a 6-sider. Yes, they included a tiny, tiny, die in the pack.

The game's fine, but I'm really impressed that it showed up on my doorstep ready to play. How often do fully playable games show up like that? After a decade in the gaming industry, this would be about the first time, ever.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Clout International Challenge

What is CLINCH?

CLINCH is an extension of the Clout hobby. It’s a great reason for Clout fans to play, trade, and interact with each other all across the globe. Unlike other organized play systems, CLINCH does not revolve around a strict ranking system. CLINCH is more like a game within the game, with winning and collecting the object.

How it works in brief – Players go to tournaments and win CLINCH Medallions. They collect an assortment of Medallions to gain access to bigger tournaments, including Nationals and Worlds. Each player’s Medallion collection doubles as his or her CLINCH ranking.

CLINCH requires no centralized database:

If we don’t keep track of who wins and who loses, who does?
• Players keep track of their own ranking with the simple tools and system we’ve provided for them.
• CLINCH is unique in that the players keep track of their own rankings by collecting the CLINCH Medallions, which work like trophies or medals.

CLINCH requires no reporting

Instead of reports being filed and processed, Medallions are awarded instead.

• Medallions
• Players are given non-playable metal chips…Medallions…which act as a sort of currency in the system. The more Medallions you have, the prestige you have acquired, the higher you are “ranked”.
• Different Medallions have different Clout values, known as Personal Clout. The bigger the event, the more Clout each Medallion is worth.
• Medallions are only officially available through CLINCH events, but once players have possession of a Medallion they are free to sell, trade, or keep them as they wish.
• As long as a player knows how much Clout they need to participate in a given event, they will by-default know if they’re qualified.
• If a player is short for what they need for an upcoming invitational tournament and there’s no events coming up, they still have the option to buy or trade with other CLINCH players for more Medallions.
• Each Medallion is worth between 1-6 Personal Clout each. There are over 20 Medallions, including the specials we’ll make for nationals and worlds.
• Only one copy of each Medallion is valuable to the player. You can’t count the same Medallion twice.

A typical CLINCH Medallion collection:

1 + 1 + 1 + 3 + 2 = 8

This player has 8 points of Personal Clout. Multiple copies of these medallions will not increase it further. To go further, the player must win new medallions.

CLINCH Event Hierarchy
Throw Downs and Rallies are the events that require mass production of Medallions. These are normally ‘open’ events, not requiring Personal Clout for entry. Exceptions could be made for special events. Roundtables, Summits, and the Worlds will normally be invitational (all players with adequate Personal Clout may attend) and will feature custom made Medallions, either unique or run in extremely small numbers.

Throw Downs
• Kits are available to TOs upon request. These kits contain the lowest level of prize support.
• We’ll keep an eye on TOs to see how they handle prize distribution, but generally we let the players and TOs regulate themselves.
• It’s expected that all active Clout players will collect a full set of Throw Down Medallions in a few months.

• Next level of CLINCH events.
• Reserved for trusted, active TOs and Distributor/Publisher run events at conventions. We will establish criteria for what TOs we allow run Rallies. It may be very loose and we simply tightly control how many rally kits get released.
• Rally Medallion distribution is kept under relatively tight control. These Medallions really determine who goes to invitational events.

Roundtables include Nationals are events run by Hidden City Games in the US and our Marketing Partners around the World. We call them Roundtables

To enter the nationals, players must have (X) Personal Clout. This year we will lower the requirement to make up for the system’s late start.
Nationals winners win Medallions, just like any CLINCH event, but the Medallions are valuable for life (rather than just a year) and are worth even more Personal Clout.
Nationals winners are granted automatic entry in the Worlds event at GenCon SoCal.
Nationals faction winners should also have enough Personal Clout to attend Worlds, should they make the journey.
Travel arrangements to GenCon SoCal primary prize in nationals tournaments. We’ll work out arrangements with each marketing partner to arrange the prizes.
Summits represent large international tournaments, generally reserved for regional championships (APAC, North American, or EU CLINCH Championships,ect.) These are optional events for MPs who wish to have a “Worlds” style event with a smaller travel burden on the players.

Higher Personal Clout requirement for entry than Nationals. Nationals winners will automatically get in.
GenCon SoCal, Anahiem CA
Unique Medallions, again more valuable than even Nationals
Great additional prizes, to lure players from all over.

How Medallions are Awarded

The winners of a CLINCH event include the overall winner, plus the highest placing player of each faction (called faction winners).

The faction winners are rewarded regardless of how the player placed overall. If they are the best in their faction, they win a Medallion. In addition, the overall winner gets both their faction winner Medallion as well as the event winner Medallion.

In addition to the colored faction Medallions is the “special” Medallion. It is reserved for players who play Dragons and eventually players who play out of print expansions. The special Medallion is faction neutral and designed as a ‘catch all’ so any Clout expansion may be used in a CLINCH event, no matter what Medallions we have available. No Clout expansion will ever be banned from tournament play.

Prize Chips
• Non unique
• Collectable
• Faction specific
• English only.
• There’s one prize chip for each faction, plus one neutral, plus one winner chip created along with each new Clout Expansion. When a new expansion is released, a new CLINCH kit is released with new prize chips.
• Prize chips don’t change with tournament level. You win the same chip for Purple at a Throw Down as you do at the Nationals.

Players want to come back and play. Our prize chips are designed so that player will want to collect multiples of them. To win all the playable chips, a player will have to participate in seven tournaments, winning at least one of them.

Tournament Organizers
• CLINCH depends on trustworthy TO’s, but doesn’t require 100% perfection.
• Tiered system allows lower-levels to be open ended, while we retain more control over events up the ladder.
• In the US, TO’s are rewarded through the Venture Demo Team. Among the rewards are the same Medallions players can win.
• Removes the ‘prize penalty’ for running events.
• Reduces the temptation so ‘steal’ prizes from players.

Marvel and the Future of CLINCH

• CLINCH has a modular format.
• Tournament Organizers can order Base CLINCH plus one or more modules like Fantasy Expansions, Marvel, or both for a combo event.
• Stand-alone Genres will also have their own CLINCH kits, for playing without Fantasy at all.
• As new Fantasy expansions are released, CLINCH will stop supporting the older expansions. Defenders of Undersea will be the first expansion to ‘rotate out’ of CLINCH when the third Clout Fantasy expansion is released in 2007. The chips will remain tournament legal, but they will join Dragons as a ‘special’ faction.

Talking CLINCH

That phone conversation ended up being pretty short! I was talking with the head of Hobby Games, and really I needed to talk with the head of their organized play. I've started an e-mail conversation, which has started out on a strange foot. The first impression of CLINCH is that it's for the US market and not appropriate for the UK. The only successful US OP programs in the UK are from Upper Deck and Wizards of the Coast, and they all have a ton of money behind them. Well, we don't have that sort of system...

I've asked what sort of OP programs (if any) are successful in the UK. It could be the US model of game+OP=success simply doesn't apply. I'm looking forward to the response. I'll share when I get it.

Ironically, CLINCH was designed for the APAC (Asia Pacific) market, originally.