New Beginnings

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  • Hi everyone! My name is Bill Stark, and a few months ago I joined Jasco Games after nearly two decades in the gaming industry with a focus on TCGs. At Jasco Games, I’m the director of gaming, meaning I lead the team that builds the cards that make up the UniVersus system. Today, I’m here to introduce myself, but more importantly to introduce the exciting fifth set in the My Hero Academia world: Undaunted Raid. Let’s get started!

    At a glance…

    When I joined the Jasco team, the development for “Set 5” was well underway. After reviewing the results of the first few sets in the My Hero Academia world, we had a few key takeaways:

    • Players prefer bigger sets.
    • The results from a few experiments were in, and some pivots were in order.
    • Improving accessibility for new players while keeping long-term fans happy would be a big win/win.
    • Players love when opening a booster pack feels awesome.

    Before I dive into what we did with those takeaways, I think it’s time I introduce who the “we” is that I’m referring to. Here is the Game Design team for Undaunted Raid:

    Clint Badger – A 2016 US National Teams Champion, Clint joined Game Design in 2021.

    Shane Duckworth – A 3-time UFS World Champion, Shane has worked on Game Design since 2014.

    Tim Friedlieb – With numerous UniVersus top cuts under his belt since 2015, Tim has worked with Game Design on 10 sets, acting as design lead on 5 expansion sets.

    Jeremy Ray – A multi-time World and National champion, Jeremy has been working on design since the Yu Yu Hakusho expansion, officially joining the Game Design team in 2021. 

    By the time I joined, Game Design already had a solution they thought might answer all four takeaways at once. What was it?

    Getting More Out of a Booster

    The key factor that makes UniVersus interesting and appealing to gamers is its “when worlds collide” premise: pit your favorite character from one franchise against your favorite character from an entirely separate franchise. Who among us hasn’t had some form of the conversation, “Who would win in a fight, Zangief or Mega Man?” Because we’re a character-driven game, one of the most exciting things a player can find in a booster pack is their favorite character. To this, Game Design posed a question: What if we put a character card in every booster?

    This was a novel thought exercise at first, but the more we discussed it the more it made sense. It certainly makes opening booster packs more appealing, but it actually solved a much bigger problem: playing Limited formats. A UniVersus deck needs a Character card to operate. That’s easy to do when you’re playing a “Constructed” game where you construct your deck from your collection and bring it with you. However, in “Limited” formats like Sealed Deck or Booster Draft, you’re “limited” to playing with the cards provided. Previously, this meant there was a risk you might not receive a Character card within your pool and wouldn’t be able to play your deck. In the past, we solved this by providing tournament organizers extra copies of Character cards for players to choose from.

    This approach solved the problem, but came with its own issues. Providing these extra cards was confusing for local game stores, and provided a negative incentive for players to try to “game” the system by ignoring the Characters in their pools and instead going for the most powerful character to support the strategy their pool provided. It was also a turn off for new players who didn’t know what was going on and had to pick from many possible Character cards instead of just the ones in their decks. A Character card in every pack changes that entirely! A Character card in each pack:

    • Makes Limited formats more accessible. Everyone wins when new players have an improved Sealed Deck experience and veteran players get an improved Booster Draft experience.
    • Forces us to make sure we build a large enough card set to support Limited formats.
    • Allows us to pivot away from the confusing and time-consuming process of mailing out Character cards.
    • Makes opening boosters feel more awesome!

    Beginning with Undaunted Raid, UniVersus booster packs will contain 11 cards instead of 10, with one being a dedicated Character card. Updates to the official rules for Sealed Deck and Booster Draft play will be revealed as we get closer to Prerelease.

    Farewell to Editions

    When Jasco Games first started distributing cards for the My Hero Academia universe, we took a new approach to the way we released product. The first wave of product, known as “First Edition,” was a limited card print. What followed was a second wave of product, known as “Unlimited.” The idea was that collectors would enjoy First Edition due to its exclusivity, while our players would benefit from Unlimited’s accessibility. While the intent behind this experiment was noble, the impact to our community missed the mark. Instead of delighting the two groups, the varied printings were a disappointment across the board. Coupled with the confusion local game stores experienced matching products to players, and negative feedback regarding the impact to premium card treatments like Chrome Rares it became abundantly clear that this was a failed experiment that needed a pivot.

    Starting with Undaunted Raid, we’ll be moving forward with a single printing for each set. No more wondering if you’re getting Unlimited or First Edition; now, everything will fall under the same release. This change also helps us bring back a really, really popular experiment from Heroes Clash. What could that be, you ask?

    Chrome Rares Return!

    In Heroes Clash we debuted a new type of rarity: Chrome Rares. These cards were a big hit, and featured a unique foiling treatment with serialized numbering. Each of the five cards selected for Chrome rarity was a unique 1:100 copy. They helped make opening a booster feel awesome.

    In Undaunted Raid, we built on what was successful with the first Chrome Rares, keeping the foil treatment and their serialized nature. There are five cards selected as Chromes, each a 1:100 printing. One new feature: the cards selected are not character cards. It’s important to experiment in this space to find what players like the most, and we’ll be looking at feedback on this change to gauge its reception.

    Finally, because we’ve transitioned away from the double printing of our booster sets, you won’t need to worry about which Undaunted Raid boosters you’re buying to know if you might be able to get a Chrome Rare. With no “Unlimited” and “First Edition” difference in boosters, you’ll have the opportunity to crack a Chrome with every pack of Undaunted Raid you open.

    So, which cards did we select as Chrome Rares in Undaunted Raid? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until the official previews to find out!

    Re-Examining Secret Rares

    Adding a Character card to every pack and bringing Chrome Rares back were big steps to make opening Undaunted Raid boosters feel awesome. We also examined how we handle Secret Rares. Historically, we’ve produced 2 for each set. Was that number correct? Could we do better?

    Secret Rares appeared in approximately 1:3 booster boxes in previous UniVersus sets, or two Secret Rares in a case of six booster boxes. One piece of feedback we received from players was that they didn’t feel comfortable buying a sealed booster box individually out of fear it came from a case whose Secret Rares had already been found. This is a terrible experience; players should feel that every booster box has the same opportunity to grant them a set’s rarest cards. In meeting this expectation, however, we felt it was important that Secret Rares maintain their design identity from previous sets. If we were going to increase the unique number of Secret Rares in a set, we needed to adjust how frequently players open them.

    How to thread that needle? We settled on six unique Secret Rares. This puts UniVersus closer in line with other TCGs regarding how many of the top level rarity appears in a set. We’re also adjusting their drop rate. Instead of one Secret Rare in approximately every three booster boxes, there will now be one Secret Rare in approximately every booster box. That means in a case of booster boxes, you’ll see approximately six total Secret Rares instead of the previous two. This also ensures the drop rate of any specific Secret Rare is almost exactly the same as it was in previous sets.

    (Our legal team wants me to make sure I clarify: these numbers are not a guarantee that you’ll get a Secret Rare in every box, nor that every case of boxes will feature one of each Secret Rare as printer hiccups can impact distribution.)

    A Final Pivot

    One final pivot we made from our experiments in the first few My Hero Academia sets was based on one piece of feedback we heard more than any other: many of our coolest cards aren’t in booster packs. These cards showed up previously in products like Quirk Packs, Box Toppers, and our Deck-Loadable Content (DLC) product line. Cards featured in those products are neat, no doubt about it, but the fact that they weren’t in booster packs made many fans feel disappointed. A set’s coolest cards should be available in the primary product associated with that set. As a result, you won’t find the aforementioned products in Undaunted Raid. Instead, the cards we would have included in those types of products are now within the booster packs themselves. We’ll be monitoring this change as it rolls out to continue to explore this design philosophy and adjusting where we think we can make improvements.

    In Conclusion…

    Clint, Shane, Tim, and Jeremy are all long-time, passionate players and fans of UniVersus. The work we did on Undaunted Raid I believe makes it our best release to date. I cannot wait for you to experience it over the coming weeks. To make sure you don’t miss anything, follow the conversation in all of these spots: