A Game Before Its Time!

February 12, 2015

 

 

 

7th Sea is a collectible card game (CCG) which was regularly updated and distributed from 1999 to 2002. During that time the game ranked among the most popular games on the market and was lauded for its original concept and gameplay. At that time CCGs were almost exclusively created from existing film/TV franchises or were Anime based, so to have a game be so popular with little to no pre-existing interest was extremely impressive.

 

For those of you who played 7th Sea in its hay-day you remember the constant barrage of Pokémon, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Anime based games that ruled the day. There was even a point when Magic the Gathering played second fiddle to Pokémon... hard to believe now.

 

7th Sea while popular, it was ultimately swept away by two main factors:

1) The game mechanics and playability took a little getting use-to, and this did not lend itself well to younger players. While the game was very popular with adults AEG failed to capture the 16 and younger crowd, which is a critical segment to sustain long term success. 

2) Logistics and Execution by the distributor, Alderac Entertainment Group, lead to a loss of interest to a waning fan base. AEG took a few interesting approaches managing 7th Sea, which added unnecessary levels of effort to stay in tune with the game. This included:

 

-Errata changes for existing cards, instead of printing new similar cards.

-Fixed rarity cards in starter decks leading to confusion and an overabundance of certain cards.  

-Storyline tournaments that removed a faction from a future release, which caused many to quit in frustration. While AEG later clarified the faction would only be omitted from the next release and all future releases, the damage had already been done. 

-Sets were not released on time, which left players waiting or hurrying to catch up with new cards. 

-After just two years 7th Sea cards were completely redesigned making them far less attractive. This was a real pity as 7th Sea was once considered to be one of the most attractive CCGs

 

 

If 7th Sea had stuck around:

1) It would have seen lift from the Pirates of the Caribbean craze. For fans of both the movies and the game there is an undeniable similarity in verbiage and phrases. Many of the lines from the movie are identical to card names... "Here there be monsters!" anyone?

2) Younger players grow up and want more cerebral games than flopping Pokémon, 7th Sea would have been one of the games with more complex mechanics and sophisticated card base. While it may not have ever seen a large scale youth following it could have taken up more of the market as gamers looked for new a different games. 

3) Of course the byproduct of longevity is Innovation and card count. 7th Sea had 12 releases leaving us with ~1,650 unique cards. The final of these releases was a 55 card set that was available for free online. It would have been interesting to see smaller digital releases trickle out of the fan base and/or AEG over the years, and could have ultimately set the stage for a resurrection 

 

While the player base was dwindled it is still a marvelous game enjoyed by many. One of the goals of this seat is to help facilitate game play and rekindle interest in the game after the great fan sites of yester-year have all gone defunct. 

 

Happy gaming!

 

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