Interview with Alan Phan, Grand Archive TCG Project Manager

Dan GreenOctober 26, 20211
ga interview

The collectability of TCGs bubbled up over the course of 2020, and with games like MetaZoo breaking through the Kickstarter barrier to become highly sought after and valuable collectors’ items, at the end of 2021 we are now seeing a slurry of new TCGs hitting crowdfunding, aiming to fulfill their creators’ dreams and become the next big hit.

Out of all of them, Grand Archive TCG is the one that piqued my interest the most – it appears polished, thought-out, and the website features some key phrases that resonated with me – it promises a game with anime style but western design, with high collectability, quality cards, and a roadmap for the future. I had to learn more!

I’m very fortunate to have gotten in touch with Alan Phan, Project Manager of the Grand Archive TCG at their company, Weebs of the Shore, LLC (and, yes, that is a tongue-in-cheek riff on another, somewhat popular TCG company). Alan was kind enough to take a few questions from me so I could bring back some information from the source about the Grand Archive TCG – answering questions I had, and hopefully ones that were in your mind as well if you are just learning about it and curious about hopping on to the project!

Read on to learn more about the upcoming Kickstarter project, launching in November 2021, as well as where the Trading Card Game will go from there!

https://www.maindeck.games/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Spirit-of-Fire-768x1075-1-640x896.png
https://www.maindeck.games/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Lorraine-Wandering-Warrior-768x1075-1-640x896.png
https://www.maindeck.games/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Clarent-Sword-of-Peace-768x1075-1-640x896.png

MM: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk Grand Archive with me today, Alan! First, could you introduce yourself and explain your role on the Grand Archive TCG team?

AP: Thanks Dan, for helping spread awareness of our project! I’m Alan Phan, I’ve been playing Magic for about 10 years and in general a card game enthusiast. I’m the project manager for the Grand Archive. I do a lot of business planning and I work in tandem with the team on game design.

MM: What’s the quick pitch for Grand Archive – what’s the game like, and how will it distinguish itself from other Trading Card Games on the market?

AP: Grand Archive is “an anime style trading card game with western game design and extreme collectability”. That’s our one liner. Let me explain what that means and our goals behind it.

When we say that it is a game with western game design, that means we are focused on gameplay clarity. This is a feature that anime TCGs don’t have. You won’t see stat numbers in the thousands, complicated field zones, and overly flashy card interfaces in Grand Archive. We believe that gameplay clarity is very important for getting new players into the game, as well as competitive play. And we pride ourselves on being the one of the first anime TCGs to do this.

Grand Archive is also a game with extreme collectability. We believe that the healthiest of TCG projects have a community consisting of 50% players, and 50% collectors. To achieve this, we do many things, including first edition exclusive cards, serialized and signed cards, population reports, and even NFTs. By achieving this 50/50 community, the game will be more accessible to players due to collectors getting rid of their non-chase but playable cards on the secondary market. On the other hand, collectors will enjoy the publicity that the game will achieve for having a healthy amount of players, making their collection worth more.

https://www.maindeck.games/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/collectibility.jpg

Collectability is a core pillar of Grand Archive TCG, including the use of stamping and numbering – a sports card system that has rarely made its way into the TCG market.

MM: Modern game design is always a mix of innovation and iteration. What elements of Grand Archive have inspiration in other great TCGs or tabletop games?

AP: While designing the game, we were inspired by Magic the Gathering’s gameplay clarity, and decided to make that one of our main premises. However, if you were able to take a look at the game design as it is now, you’ll see small similarities with Cardfight Vanguard, Force of Will, and even Yu-Gi-Oh. Despite this, the game feels very different because of our unique resource system.

MM: Competitive play has been a staple of every successful TCG on the market. It may be early, but is there anything in the works yet for Grand Archive Organized Play on the local level or even higher?

AP: We definitely want to do competitive play. However, the first steps for us would be to get partnered with distributors. This would allow us to get the game in more local game stores. However, it is difficult to partner with distributors early on since we don’t have sales data. Hopefully a successful Kickstarter campaign would help us with that front.

MM: Casual play is likewise important for a game’s maintained health, but in some games, the disparity between competitive and casual decks is too stark to really enjoy playing many deck types that don’t quite make the tier list. Some decks will always be better than others, but does Grand Archive’s design or development do anything to help bridge the gap?

AP: We opted to make the game more consistent at competitive levels. For Magic the Gathering, a casual deck has a chance at beating a competitive deck if the opponent never draws mana. For Cardfight Vanguard, getting lucky check triggers can heavily aid casual decks win against competitive decks. However, in Grand Archive, we have very few mechanics like this. Which means that having the better deck and being a better player makes you heavily favored. This doesn’t mean that the game isn’t enjoyable for casual versus casual matchups though. Deck building in Grand Archive is very flexible, and allows for some jank builds. Plus, casual players will enjoy building thematic decks just because of how lovable our characters and their artwork are.

https://www.maindeck.games/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/classes.jpg

Your Champion’s class will play a role in how your deck plays, but the team promises great customization for unique strategies and “jank builds”.

MM: Are there any planned or in-testing multiplayer or variant formats for Grand Archive, and does Grand Archive support limited (sealed and/or draft) play?

AP: We’ve tested multiplayer a couple times, but we aren’t focused on it at the moment. We believe that in multiplayer formats (and other casual formats), there needs to be a lot room for the player to express themselves in deck building. This is hard to do when there is only one set. The game design does allow for multiplayer formats though. We’ll shift some focus to it once there is more demand for it, and when there are enough deck building options to make it a great experience.

We want Grand Archive standard sets to allow sealed and draft play as well. However, it will depend on Kickstarter funding and further testing. The main concern is making enough high quality art to create a big enough set that is capable of limited formats.

MM: Let’s talk collectability – Grand Archive has shown off robust plans for highly rare and collectable cards in the first release. For some games, though, these highly collectable cards have unique gameplay impact, causing a rift between “haves” and “have-nots” – or forcing players to fork out a lot of cash to compete. How is Grand Archive handling a high collectability while maintaining a reasonable entry level for players who want to compete?

AP: The highly collectable cards will not provide any gameplay advantage. Most of our premium cards will be alternative versions of Champion cards, which are all extremely common. These premium cards will still be very desirable despite not granting a gameplay advantage due to the framing differences, artist signature, and serialial number. We hope that a lot of packs are opened because of these, and the non-premium cards will flood the market for players to buy at cheap prices.

https://www.maindeck.games/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/The-Grand-final.jpg

The Grand Archive that is the namesake of the game: “Located in a heavenly realm called the Home World, the gods monitor the lesser worlds via the Grand Archive. When a catastrophe is imminent in one of these worlds, champions are sent to repel it.” (www.grandarchivetcg.com)

MM: Alright, last one – who won the last game of Grand Archive you played, and was it a close game?

AP: I won by a big margin. Mage was overpowered. They’ve been nerfed.

Huge thanks again to Alan and the team for taking the time to answer these questions. The Kickstarter is planned to launch very soon, in November 2021, with a roadmap showing game release and tournament software following in 2022. If your interest has been piqued like mine, make sure to sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter launches, and join all the Grand Archive TCG socials linked below!

One comment

  • Shadowless

    March 2, 2022 at 2:47 pm

    This game is not going to make it long term. The concept is fine, but the people behind the game are lacking. Anyone can make a nice looking card, but my confidence in the staff behind the game is just not there. Pass.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *