Design Blog: Set 9 and the Future of D&D

Greetings SWCCG Players!

It is high time I provide you all with some updates on Set 9, and some other major happenings that have been keeping us busy behind the scenes. The last time you heard from me, Set 9 was supposed to be a small set released in late Winter/early Spring 2018 with an introduction to The Last Jedi. As you can see, the timing of that didn’t work out, and we can safely say the scope of the set has changed due to this delay as well.

We always have major events in mind when we schedule sets, with an eye towards not disrupting major events (particularly the World Championship) with a large set released right before. At the same time, we have spotted some things in the meta that we want to address sooner than later (such as the somewhat unbalanced matchup of Old Allies vs I Want That Map, and the general opinion that Light Side has fewer strong deck options right now, causing a greater imbalance in the Force). The site layout of Jakku was low hanging fruit that we decided to fix, and I talked more about that decision here. The deck options for LS, however, was not something that could be fixed in a small Set 9. Due to the overhead (with regards to the asset of time) involved with releasing a new set meant that if we released a small Set 9 in March/April, it would take us until August or September to release a larger set that comprises the fixes to the meta that we searched for, plus new thematic objectives, and fresh ideas injected into the game. We felt that was a long time to wait, especially with US Nationals in July, Euros in September, and Worlds in October. It would have set us up to potentially rush things out in time for Euros and possibly make some mistakes as a result.

What all of this caused us to do was pivot our immediate plans for Set 9. We are hoping to have a medium sized Set 9 now, with a target release date sometime in June (official release date being at least 4 weeks before US Nationals). The major theme will be Rogue One era, with a fresh new option for LS players that aren’t so in love with Jedi and Mains being their default option for LS. We will still have that introduction to the Last Jedi in this set, and it will be about the same number of cards as I always expected, potentially featuring new personas of Luke, Rey, and Kylo, some First Order pilots and ships, and perhaps a mysterious Supreme Leader. The primary goal of balancing the sides once again means we are probably a bit heavier on the card count for LS than DS. This is something that I don’t take lightly — I have always wished we were at a point where the sides were balanced, and we could release a balanced number of cards (and objectives) for both sides. Until we can maintain that balance for a few sets though (I think we were pretty close before Set 8, but I Want That Map ended up having a slightly larger impact that we expected), we have to do what’s best for the balance of the game regardless of the balance of other indicators like number of cards per side.

As for spoilers, the players attending the Endor Grand Prix will get the first glimpse of spoilers for Set 9, with those cards being revealed publicly after the weekend of the EGP. More cards will be spoiled throughout May and June, and hopefully the full spoiler list will be posted as soon as it is completely through playtesting and ready for proofing.

I would also like to use this space today to talk about some big changes coming for D&D in general. You all know by now that I have been pushing Agile and Pivotal Tracker hard on our internal teams. This change is not necessarily about that, although it may impact those processes and tools in the near future. For as long as I have been on Design (over 5 years at this point), we have always had distinct Design and Development teams, each with their own responsibilities, forums, and specialties. Over time, we have seen these roles blend together in practice, with developers coming up with some great designs, and designers contributing heavily to the development process close to release. To increase productivity and reduce friction, we have decided to trial a combination of both teams into one D&D team. All members of both teams will be contributing in all aspects of design and development. Because this change occurred partway into the design of Set 9, most of the cards in this set were still designed by the former Design team, but I expect to see some big changes in how the team functions going forward.

Finally, I am going to leave this blog post on a sad note for myself. This is very likely to be my final Design Blog, as I am stepping down from my position as Design Advocate. There are many factors that have gone into this decision, but I know I’m leaving the D&D teams in a good place. They have all stepped up the past few months, making this decision much easier for me. The Advocates don’t have a specific replacement plan in place yet, however we have tabbed Chris Kelly as the Team Lead for Set 9. Chris’ enthusiastic volunteer history goes back many years in virtually every department, including Proofing, Player Card Development, Marketing, and most recently on Design. I am hoping to be playing the game more than ever, and will still be volunteering to help the PC in other ways going forward. Who knows, I might even join the D&D team again!

MTFBWY, and I can’t wait to see you all at a local, regional, or major event this year!

Matt Carulli