|Playing time||Approx 1 hour|
|Skill(s) required||Card playing
Basic Reading Ability
The WARS Trading Card Game is a trading card game released by Decipher in October 2004 with science fiction themes, using game mechanics from the Star Wars CCG. After two releases, the game was officially "placed on hiatus" starting May 2005.
This trading card game was significant for a number of reasons. It is Decipher's only card game that isn't based on a licensed property (the phrase "proprietary science fiction property" was repeated over many news releases). It also partly aimed at a large, pre-existing target market by using game mechanics modified from the wildly popular Star Wars CCG - a game itself so popular it was the #2 selling trading card game, second only to the original collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, for much of the time between its release in late 1995 and the release of the Pokémon Trading Card Game in 1998.
Its development involved people of unusual prominence: Michael Stackpole had a hand in the game's backstory and wrote the first short stories that introduced the background to the public, John Howe conceived the Quay extraterrestrial race, and physicists were consulted to improve the scientific plausibility of the game's backdrop premises (but which were never fully revealed). Immediately before its release, an entire soundtrack was also composed for the game by Kieran Yanner.
From Decipher's April 30, 2004, press release: "It is Earth-year 2391. Through a vast tear in the fabric of the universe, alien warriors emerge to fight an already embattled humanity. The sky is burning. The Gateless Gate has opened. The cosmic rip meanders like a burning string across the galaxy and slices through the asteroid field near the orbit of Jupiter. The great opening becomes known as, 'The Mumon Rift' ...".
Humanity has split itself into three factions: Earthers, based around a future Earth administrated by corporations; Gongens, descendants of East Asians living on Mars (renamed Gongen) following a continent-wide nuclear disaster; Mavericks, anarchists in the "Outer Rims" with penchants for cybernetic replacements. The two alien races are the Quay, a chitinous slave race with tribal tendencies and Mesoamerican- and Austronesian-styled proper nouns, and the Shi, an advanced race of floating, psychic aliens with proper nouns styled after Indo-Aryan languages.
Meanwhile, among all the races, individuals with special abilities, called "Kizen", began appearing. Thus far the Kizen are mostly used as a gameplay device, but there were originally plans to introduce an anti-Kizen conflict storyline as well as somehow tie them with wave function collapse quantum mechanics to explain connections between Shi and humans.
Its existence was first hinted at in January 2002, shortly after Decipher revealed to the public that it was losing the Lucasfilm license for the Star Wars CCG (SWCCG). In late April 2004, the game was officially announced in a Radio Free Decipher webcast as the spiritual follow-up to SWCCG, and the game immediately attracted massive attention from the hobby industry. For instance, at its public debut at Gen Con 2005, an introductory tournament using free demo decks is still Decipher's best-attended event in its existence, numbering over 200 people. There are still open-ended issues with the cash winners from that event never getting their prizes paid out to them.
Its official name was in constant flux between April and August 2004. The game was originally called WARS: The Mumon Rip, then WARS: The Mumon Rift following a player suggestion on Decipher's old Calder forums. The game then went through a logo change and was referred to officially as The Mumon Rift WARS Trading Card Game before undergoing a final logo change the day before Gen Con 2005 and simplified to WARS Trading Card Game. It is most commonly referred to as Wars TCG without the idiosyncratic capitalization of the entire first word; or, simply as Wars and less commonly as wtcg.
The first release, Incursion, came out on October 6, 2004, and had 330 cards. The second set, Nowhere to Hide, was released on January 7, 2005, and had 167 cards. Many more releases - three more total, at least - were planned dependent on market conditions, but by April 2005 Decipher had determined that existing sales and pre-orders for set 3 did not justify continuing the game or even to justify publishing the third set.
Further planned product releases as of December 2004 were to be called Edge of a Sword (167 cards, 18-card collectible foil subset, May 2005), Motion of Mind (330+ cards, 18-card collectible foil subset, September 2005), and Eye of Insight (167 cards, 18-card collectible foil subset, January 2006).
Edge of a Sword was actually very far into its development; most cards were already written and playtested to a degree and card art were chosen and cropped for more than 3/4 of the approximately 160 cards. The final version of the playtesting files have since been available on the Internet.
Wars TCG cards contain striking original art from scores of professional freelance artists including John Howe, one of the world's best known fantasy illustrators. Another artist, Pamelina H., who is mostly known for her guitar art, also contributed artwork. The images on the cards depicted the science fiction drama unfolding as each expansion followed the planned 10 year story arc. The final version of the playtest files for the Edge of a Sword expansion has since been made publicly available at least as early as July, 2007.
Mongoose Publishing released the WARS Roleplaying Game in 2005, based on the card game setting.