Announcer: You collect video games and you collect trading card games. Welcome to your new home and welcome to one of the most unique podcasts. Ever. This is the Collect A Hobby Podcast we’ve been collecting for years and we are up to date on all the latest trends in the hobby. Our website collectahobby.com is a social network for collectors made by collectors for collectors. Welcome to your new family. Is the Collect A Hobby podcast. And now your expert hosts, Hector and Rich. Let’s get this party started. What? What? Sounds fun, wear your helmets!
Hector: Welcome back to another episode of the Collect A Hobby Podcast. Today, we have a special guest by the name of Steph and Steph is going to introduce his Trading Card Game today, and I’m really excited about this, so let’s just start off by saying, how are you doing today, Steph? How’s everything going?
Steph: I’m doing real good. I am glad to be here!
Hector: We’re glad to have you here, so I guess we’ll get started into questions right away. The first thing we want to talk about is what is your Trading Card Game called and what made you decide to create a Trading Card Game to begin with?
Steph: Yes. My trading card game is called Yokaishi TCG and what made me make it was, back in 2020, when New York city was about to go into lockdown, I was already planning what I wanted to do during that time. Originally, I was going to go back into making comics, because I took a hiatus from it and when the lockdown actually happened and I was just sitting through it. I was like, you know what, I don’t feel like making a comic. I don’t feel like it. I want to do something else and I actually wanted to make a game, like an actual, video game. Before in the past, I’ve dabbled with RPG maker. You know, so I was like, I want to make a game, but I didn’t want to make a whole ass RPG. Haha, cause that’s a lot of work.
Hector: A lot of work.
Steph: Yeah, I thought, maybe I’ll make a card game, something similar to like dual links. I am an old school guy. I’m a traditionalist. I might as well just make the cards myself, make it a whole TCG. It started when I was looking online, I was looking at how to make cards yourself, like physically. And that’s when I discovered the homemade TCG community and I’ve stumbled upon many different videos from many different creators. They have their own little techniques, and then through there I discovered The Game Crafter. Have you heard of The Game Crafter?
Hector: Yes. I actually heard about it after I found out that you created this game, it’s a place that allows you to create different games and things like that.
Steph: Yeah, when I discover that, it got me thinking and I was like, you know what? Instead of doing it by hand 100%, I can, make my thing look kind of professional. I’m the type of guy that when I am about to start a project, a creative venture, I look at all the resources I have before me. I try to see, what’s the most I can get out of what’s available to me. From that point on, I was like, well, I’m stuck at home for a while, so I might as well commit. Here we are, Yokaishi TCG became a game.
Rich: That’s awesome. You kind of answered our second question, but we were going to ask, did you create the art and did you pull inspiration from any other trading card games or animes?
Steph: Yes, I made the art. The art is like 99% me, the card framing, the actual creature designs and art. The packaging as well, everything. Yokaishi TCG is a one man crew. It’s just me. Anime definitely inspired me. I would say Yu-Gi-Oh! would be my starting inspiration and foundation for it.
Hector: That’s my game, just throw it out there. Yu-Gi-Oh! I agree with you on that.
Steph: When I was actually getting into like the homemade TCG community and I was thinking back to the days when I was in elementary school and junior high school. I used to buy card packs and all that other jazz, and I saw The Game Crafter provided that experience for people. I was like I want to do that too. I kind of started following the Yu-Gi-Oh! model a little bit in terms of how I’ve been like designing my booster packs and releasing the cards. Yu-Gi-Oh! Is a big influence in terms of what got me started. As far as what made me decide, the theming, I like anime, but I’m also a general like nerd for Japanese culture. I really like Japanese folklore and when I was thinking about what to make my game about, I figured I would do Yokai because they’re public domain, you know what I’m saying? There’s so many of them and if I’m going to make a card game, I want something that’s not going to take me a million years by myself. So Yokai was a good fit because they already exist, there’s plenty of reference to go off of so I was like, Yokai it is,
Hector: That’s cool. I guess since you actually did all this now, right? Anytime you create any type of game, whether it’s a board game, a video game, or in this sense, a trading in card game, there’s always stages or multiple levels to the game. Meaning that from funding to creating to art, to creating the gameplay to finally marketing the game. What was your biggest challenge between all those stages of creating the game?
Steph: The biggest challenges I would say when I was actually making the game, developing it, the rules and how it’s played. That was a big thing. The drawing, making the art was easy. That’s easy beans, you know, I knocked out all the artwork in like six months. I spent a majority of the lockdown actually thinking about how do I want this game to play? How do I want it to feel. I looked at a lot of videos of making your own trading card game. I looked at videos of other TCGS to be like, okay, how does this play? How is that? You know, what do I, like, what can I add to my game and all that other jazz. The creating process, that was the hardest part at first. After that, is promotion. Getting a fan base. I would say if you do it through the homemade TCG community, it’s a little bit easier just because it’s a small community, but it’s sizeable enough to where if you put yourself out there, people will find you because there’s plenty of people looking for independent/homemade TCGS or board games. When you start to break out past that, it gets very hard.
Hector: I think we could relate because, with collectahobby.com the website itself. It was already hard to do certain things for the website to make it a social network for people that love to collect trading card games and also video games. But the next phase is now promoting the website, right? So that became like its own task. I know you have to enjoy the moment. I know that’s the hardest part it’s to bring people to the site, but you have to believe once you bring people there that they’re going to actually like your product. Right? That’s what pushes you to keep going, you know?
Steph: Yes. Yes.
Rich: Steph, how did you fund the game and get it off the ground?
Steph: Well, I funded the game pretty much out of pocket. Funny enough, luckily for me, how I made the game, it wasn’t too expensive, I did make the majority of it during lockdown when money was tight. Believe it or not a lot of, it was just free. I did a lot of the artwork, the packaging, I did everything. Everything I could do myself, I did myself. The only thing I really paid for was the mockups and the test prints of the cards. So, I lucked out there. I took the very independent route of doing everything myself. I think I can get far with my own ingenuity, and I did!
Hector: That’s pretty cool. The, the way you’re able to do it on your own, you took advantage of the lockdown to work on something that, something you had fun with. That was probably the best thing to take advantage of the extra time that you may have had. Now, a question I have though, is have you been able to market this game at all? Have any conventions or any expos? Have you done anything like that?
Steph: I haven’t done anything like that yet. I wanted to do it at least after I get out the next set. I feel like the next set will make it a more complete deck building experience.
Hector: When you say deck building experience, you mean balancing?
Steph: Yeah. balancing and also help with the flow of game play. In terms of making it a more complete deck building experience. I felt like set one I kind of made the introductory set, it’s easing people into where I want the game to get. Like one step at a time approach. Set one has very simple gameplay with sprinkles of some complex moves that you can do through the effects, to foreshadow what’s coming in the future. There were definitely some cards I held off from putting into set one. I want people to play the game first and I wanted to keep it slow for now, before I start adding cards that start speeding things up.
Hector: One thing though, to make a suggestion. Since you haven’t gone to any conventions or expos, try to go to something a little local, something that’s really small and see if you could get a small table. This way, it wouldn’t cost you as much. Start out there to just to introduce it to people and let them actually see what the game is. Maybe just do one table and let people play on and just show them how to play the game. And it’s just you teaching people how to play the game and spreading the word about the game. I think that would be something that’ll be good for you, start out small and then you could definitely jump into a bigger convention after you have some experience doing the smaller ones. I think it’s a lot easier to handle it on your own. Cause once it gets to the bigger ones, it’s intimidating. Not that you can’t handle it. I think you can handle it, but it might be good to just start out something cheaper for now.
Steph: Yeah. Good advice. I’ll definitely look into see if there’s any local places I can demo the game and teach people. Trust me, I’m not out here looking to drop hundreds of dollars, just like that. You know what I’m saying? I’m not there yet.
How Is It Different
Rich: Sticking with the game play, what would you say the hook for your trading card game is and what makes it different than other TCGs out there?
Steph: I think back at what did I like about certain card games when I was younger. I was like, okay, I like the simplicity and this and that. I added different elements. With my game, I’d say, think of it as like Yu-Gi-Oh!, with elements of Pokemon the game/anime, not the card game.
Steph: With elements of board placements. The monsters have element typing, there’s super effective hits. However, they could only be activated in certain places on the board, so switching your creatures to different places in order to get off those effects to get an advantage on your opponent is a part of the game.
Hector: I saw that there’s like limbs, right? Which that alone to me is it’s pretty cool. It’s funny because when I was showing Rich, the first thing you mentioned Rich is “this is cool, this reminds me of like Exodia or something like that to put together.” I’m like, oh, like that’s awesome. And I know it’s not necessarily like Exodia, but it’s just the fact that to put things together and each of them have their own reactions. Some of those cards have their own traits that you could activate from it. I thought that right there definitely makes it different from a lot of other TCGs.
Steph: Yeah. That was something I was thinking about way during the conceptual stages. When I commit myself to a project, I really think about it, so trust me. I was thinking about this for weeks, my boys, literally weeks! Another reason what helped me come up with this body limb gameplay mechanic was I actually thought of lore for the game. Me being an anime nerd I had scenes playing out in my head and I was like, okay, how can I translate this into a card game? Once I came up with the lore a lot of the design aspects fell into place.
Hector: Okay. That is pretty cool. So, alright. Continuing on with this. So far, I’ve seen you have different types of starter decks one’s like an earth type and also a lightning type and correct me I’m wrong it’s pronounced Raiju?
Steph: Yeah Raiju. Yep.
Hector: Okay, and that’s the lightning type. Are you going to create any more starting decks that expand around like different elements? Since one’s earth type, the next one’s lightning type, are you going to try to use more based off elements?
Steph: Of course. Originally way back in the conceptual stages, kind of like a Pokemon thing was the gym leader decks. I thought when I released my game, it would be cool to have not just the booster packs obviously, but also kind of starter decks to get people going. I was also thinking about theming for the starter decks and what to go by. I started thinking about the lore of my game and I came up with the idea of elemental masters. There’ll be these avatars that help me create the theming for the deck. There will definitely be other elemental starter decks. The earth deck is I would say very like defensive, very tanky, a very tanky deck. I struggled against that deck. My friend has made good use of that deck. He surprised me with that one. I’m generous with the cards you get in that deck, there are some pretty like tanky fellows in that deck. The lightning deck is more aggressive because it allows you to bring out stronger cards easier. I would say a very active agile deck. Depending on how you played there’s opportunities for switching, which is a mechanic in the game, switching from limbs to limbs, that sort of thing. Earth is as you would expect for an earth deck, very sturdy, very tanky and lightning is very powerful and aggressive.
Hector: Great. To continue on with that starter deck, is that like ready to go? Like when you get a starting deck, that’s good enough to start playing right there. Do you need anything else additional or is the starting deck good enough
Steph: The starter deck is good right away because, in the starter decks you get 36 cards and a booster pack inside the box.
Hector: Okay. That’s cool.
Steph: Yeah. It’s a good deal. You get the deck plus a booster pack inside the box so you open the booster pack and whatever pull you get, you might want to add to that deck as well. I’m trying to give to people, you know what I’m saying?
Hector: I like that. It’s always good to give, so no complaints for me!
Competitive or Casual
Rich: Oh, definitely. Speaking of people playing together, do you see this more as a competitive game or more friendly casual? How do you view it and how do you think people will take to it once they start learning it and playing it?
Steph: Well, let’s see, I say it has the potential to be both casual and competitive. because once again, Yu-Gi-Oh! Is kind of the base inspiration, I find it hard to believe that it wouldn’t become competitive at some point. You know what I mean?
Steph: There’s going to be some people that might optimize my gameplay by putting these cards together or do this, or do that. I feel like it’s going to naturally happen, but definitely casual play is just fine. I’m not trying to scare people off. Play the game, how you want to play it. You know what I’m saying?
Is It Collectible
Hector: That’s good. So, I guess since 2020, right, a lot of games have come out and one thing that’s been happening, there’s been games that have been focused on players and games has been focused for collectors. There’s games for both, for this game that you created, do you think it’s more for collectors, players or both?
Steph: I would say that it’s for both. When I was creating the game, when I reached the drawing stage and I had most of the designs worked out, that’s when I launched the YouTube for the game. When I started showing the cards online, like doing blog style stuff, a lot of people really liked the artwork for it. There were people that said they would get the cards just for the artwork. I also designed my cards with an aesthetic in mind. A lot went into the visuals as well. It’s definitely good for players and collectors.
Rarities and Holographic Cards
Rich: So, so since the games for collectors, is there different rarities, are there cards that are harder to pull than others? Do you have holographic cards as well?
Steph: I do not have official holographics yet. The Game Crafter, as it stands right now, they don’t make holographic cards, which is a bummer. I would’ve liked that, but I understand the profit margins, et cetera, et cetera. I’m sure in the future, I will look into getting holographic cards. I played around with the idea, because I’ve actually made holographic cards myself, just to toy around how they would look. I figured since I’m still in the homemade community, I know the people who like homemade TCGs would be very interested in the homemade holos, I am looking into making official holos to put into booster packs and such. I do have rarities for the cards. I look at my resources and see what’s available. Since The Game Crafter cannot make holos, then the rarities are just going to have to be based off of game play. The higher rarity cards are like the very strong cards. We have common, uncommon, rare and we have super rare. In the super rare category, you can find your God cards, which are kami because the game is based off of Yokai. You know old medieval folklore monsters, Shinto all that jazz. There are shinies as well. Those are definitely hard to pull because they’re super rare.
How Can I Play
Hector: Okay, so I’m going to paint you a little picture right now. I am a brand new person, never heard of your game before. I just listened to this podcast. I want to try to play this game. What is the best way for someone to start playing this game today?
Steph: Videos! In the battle videos I actually narrate out loud every move that I do, every play, every phase so that people who are watching or following along and learning as the action is going on. Definitely tutorial videos! Battle videos to learn and to see it played! Decide for yourself if you really want to try it! If you really want to try it, but you’re not sure if you want to spend the money, you can go to the Deviant Art page. All right. All right. Check this out. Check this out. You can go to the Deviant Art page and you can actually print out mock versions of the cards yourself. Mess around with it, mess around with it. I have all of set one and some cards of set two. Consider this like the trial version for the game, print it out play it and see how it feels! Full instructions are also on Deviant Art.
How to Purchase
Rich: That’s awesome, man. I know a lot of TCGs, there’s a big entry point and a lot of people are intimidated or scared. The fact that you have tutorials and you’re even allowing people to print out your cards and try it for themselves. I don’t think I’ve even heard of anybody doing that. That’s a great idea! Let’s say I print it out. I play the game. I really like this game. I want to actually purchase this. Where would I go to purchase, this?
Steph: Right now, you can find everything Yokaishi on The Game Crafter. They print and package my stuff. Right now they’re the ones to go to. I have links on all of my platforms that takes you directly to the pages for Yokaishi cards. You can go to The Game Crafter and put Yokaishi TCG in the search engine and it’ll pop up. Then that’s where you’ll find them.
Hector: All right. That’s cool. So just want to let you know right now, I would like to challenge you. I’m going to learn how to play this game. I want to challenge you to an actual game. We’ll just play it. We’ll actually record it. We’ll do something where you record on your side, and I’ll make sure I’m streaming on this side. We’ll actually record just to have fun. And I’m going to try to learn the game. I’m actually going to purchase the game. I don’t know which starter deck I’m going to use, but I’m going to use one of your starter decks and we’re going to actually play this game. I don’t know if that sounds like fun to you, but for me, I would like to actually learn this game and see what I could do, how much damage I could do. Probably to myself, not going to lie, but let’s just pretend that I may do well. Who knows?
Steph: If it makes you feel better, I taught my friend, he’s gotten pretty good at the game! He’s beaten me a few times actually. If he can learn the game quick, you can learn the game quick. You know what I’m saying? In fact, that’s another compliment I get from my game is the fact that people are like it’s fast and easy to learn. It’s fun too! It’s fun to play! I think you can do pretty well. I think you’ll do pretty well.
Hector: I love how he said, I think you’ll do pretty well. He didn’t say, I think you’ll win!
Steph: Listen. I always give people a chance.
Hector: That’s it! I’m going to be training every day! You have no idea after this, I’m going to actually read up, try to get the full instructions of this game, and we’re going to figure it out. I’m going to figure out a way to play you and hopefully beat you!
Rich: Steph, would you be able to give us maybe a sneak peek of your upcoming deck, maybe a new element and and how that plays?
Steph: Oh yeah. The starter deck I am working on right now is fire and nature. So I’m going with opposites and opposing forces. The other featured element for set two, like, Rich knows me for my wrestling days. If you think about it, you got your main event, you got the fire and the nature and coming up in the middle is, I would say the unofficial ice type
Steph: Yeah. More like the snow type, because there’s a subset of Yokai in folklore. The Yuki Onna, the snow woman. I created an archetype around the snow women of folklore, because there’s several different types of snow women. You got in set two, fire, nature and snow
Rich: That’s very exciting.
Hector: I actually have another question since we’re talking about these starter decks. The starter decks right now, is there any way you could expand to it? Like you keep it as a base and maybe there’ll be more cards you could add to it to make it a stronger deck than it is initially. Is that something you plan in the future? There’s certain card games, like Vanguard, is a type of game that over time. They keep adding. You could make your starter deck a little bit better and you have the base, but you could keep adding to it. Is this something that either you have now, or you’re thinking about in the future so someone can expand upon the original starter deck to add more to it?
Steph: Yes. Yeah. definitely because the way I see it, the more sets I put out, the more cards I add, there will definitely be cards that come out that synergize well with the current starter decks that are out, and the ones that are coming out in the future. I purposely designed cards that work with a wide range of other cards. I didn’t get super specific. For example, how in Yu-Gi-Oh! they have super specific cards, they could have a polymerization card for just one archetype and I’m like, but you already have polarization. You don’t need this one specific card.
Steph: You know what I’m saying? I’m not doing that. I’m not making it that super specificy thing. Unless its folklore related. I’m pulling from folklore taking some creative liberties without totally making it too, like, what’s the best way to put it, making it too… too over the top anime. Ridiculous. You know what I’m saying? I try to make it more broad because, I feel like it’s also better for the consumer. You know what I’m saying? This card can work for many other cards rather than worry about getting this one specific thing, you know?
Hector: Yeah, that’s smart. It’s always smart to make it a little broader. Cause you never know what route you’re going to take as you go on to different sets. You may come back to something original and it’s funny because you bring up Yu-Gi-Oh! And Yu-Gi-Oh! does that a lot. Right? It’s like cards that you thought have no use anymore or anything like that. Later on, it may be useful for a new set or new cards that come out. All of the sudden people go back to find those cards and now use it so they can play. I think if you leave it open where it’s not too specific, you always have room to come back to in the future with other cards in other sets.
Steph: Yeah, and then also, if I need to, I can always go back and, and make changes. I’ve done that a few times as well. Recently I’ve had to change the text on certain cards and do some edits and all that other jazz.
Hector: Oh, that’s true. That’s part of balancing and that’s definitely going to happen. I can see that happen in the future.
Steph: Oh yeah! I encourage people to play the game, try to break it so I can fix it. Me and my friends, how we’re playing it now. It’s functional just by how we’re playing it. I know like everyone plays differently. Even if they’re playing within the rules, they might try a unique play that I’ve never even thought of, and if that’s the case, they can contact me. Hey, I’m the creator. I’m pretty easy to contact. So, be like, I did this play. Is this cool? Is this a legit ruling? I’ll look into it. I’ve been really thinking it over and be like, I’ll say yay or nay. Another thing is with Yu-Gi-Oh! and other companies as well, they’re big time companies, trying to hit profit margins. I get it. I’m just one guy. I started this as a hobby, so I’m less concerned about the money. Right now, I’m more concerned about people getting their hands on the game and playing it, you know? I work a full-time job. I get a paycheck already. I’m not worried about putting food on the table. So right now, this is more of a passion project. This is more for fun. That’s why I have no problem really making a free version of the game. Like go, you know, print it and play it, and while you’re playing with the mock cards, if you find a flaw, you tell me. Because right there you didn’t even spend any money and you just found something that needed fixing and you just made the game better.
Hector: Even though you’re only one person, I’m sure you’re probably more reachable than Konami. I can’t reach Konami and be like, Hey, what does Pot of Greed even do? I just go there and ask them, they’re not going to respond back to that.
Steph: I know. It’s funny. I think that’s the best part about the homemade TCG scene is a lot of it is. It’s just one person just making a whole ass TCG, you know, and a lot of them are just easy to reach. You go to their Instagram, hit them up or you go to their YouTube, and of course they’re all regular people with lives. So, they’ll get back to you when they get back to you. You see that’s the good part is where in that community we can have a connection with our players and our consumers and all that jazz. It’s very interactive and it’s much more intimate, you know?
Rich: Yeah. I think after 2020, we kind of got disconnected and, and having communities come back and play TCGs and stuff is really, something I look forward to in the future.
Steph: Oh yeah. Yeah, definitely. I don’t worry too much about it. I just, I just care people play the game. Just play the game.
Hector: Nice. So, here’s the thing. Aside from people going to collectahobby.com, I had to throw in another plug there, where you could actually talk about your trading card game, show pictures of your trading card game. Aside from that, do you have any other social media that people could actually follow you to learn more about Yokaishi or anything new, upcoming sets or things in the past? Any information where can they go to reach you?
Hector: Well, man, it’s been a good podcast I don’t want it end. That’s the time limit that we have on the podcast. Unfortunately, I was definitely having fun. I will say this is probably the most fun for a podcast or one of the most fun that I had. I just want to thank you so much for joining us now, before we go, is there anything that you want to close out with any closing remarks between you or Rich?
Steph: This was a blast. I also enjoyed my time here. I don’t always get to pop on a podcast. I’ve only done like one other podcast before. This was great. I will definitely hop on again. If you, if you need me!
Hector: Awesome. Rich, do you have anything?
Rich: Thank you for coming Steph. It was a lot of fun. It was great hearing your perspective of the TCG and, before we log off, one more thing, Steph. I want a one of one, Pumpkin King holographic card. I’ll be, I’ll be looking out for that. Okay?
Steph: I mean, you know what? I could just make that just for you. It’ll be an inside joke.
Hector: I think that was a great episode, guys. Thank you so much. Steph, if you do have a new set that’s coming out in the future, or you’re ready to release a new set, definitely come back. You’re more than welcome to come back. We would love to hear about it and for you to introduce the new set to everyone else on this podcast.
Steph: Oh, yes, that, that sounds awesome. Definitely. You will be hearing from me in the future.
Hector: I hoped everyone out there enjoyed this special podcast. We’ll talk to you later. See you.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Collect A Hobby Podcast, Hector and Rich have been collecting video games as well as trading card games, for years, and they’re up to date on everything that has to do with the hobby. For everything you can imagine and need hit the website, at collectahobby.com. You’ll find the blog, show and tell, the vault, the forums, and so much more. We hope you’ve enjoyed the show. If you did make sure to like rate and review and we’ll see you next time on the Collect A Hobby Podcast!