The History of Kagonin
Erik and Jess have been working on Kagonin for a very, very long time.
As illustrators, they have both always been quick to embrace new technologies and new markets to reach an audience for their art. Originally both freelance artists working for garment and publishing companies in NYC, Erik and Jess were always looking for entrepreneurial ways to expand their business. In the early-2000's they began exploring how to use internet to reach more customers interested in buying their artwork. Together they created a very crude website where customers could purchase digital art and instantly download the images. The site was short-lived (Erik landed an in-house illustration job from the work showcased on the site) but it whetted Erik & Jess's appetite to use the web to sell their art. A few years later when the royalty-free micro stock image licensing industry began selling vector illustrations, they jumped onboard and haven't looked back since. Together Erik & Jess now have a successful vector image licensing portfolio of over 7,000 images that have sold over 7500,000 image licenses through sites like Shutterstock, istockphoto, Fotolia, Dreamstime, and their own site, MisterElements.com.
In addition to creating art, Erik's other passion has always been making and playing games. As a kid he'd design both board games and code computer games to play with his brother. The games just progressed from there. Entire weekends in college would be spent making massive space battle games covering every free bit of floor space. As an accomplished chess player, Erik has always approached gaming from an analytical point of view and quickly sees what works and what doesn't which greatly informs his game design process. The idea of creating the Kagonin card game began over 10 years ago as a collection of character designs and a loose story. It was always this big idea on the back burner that kept pushing its way forward but as Erik always said, "It had to be epic" He wanted to create it in a way that it could grow continuously and reflect his story of the world of Kagonin. But for a long time there was always other projects going so the game grew slowly over time. Whenever Erik and Jess got inspired they'd add to it or playtest a new deck.
Things started to solidify into something more serious in 2011 when Erik, on a whim, started posting card review videos to youtube of the then-Kagonin-prototype. The videos got some attention and fans- none of whom had ever even played the game before- sprang out of nowhere and argued with each other in forums about the game. It was tremendously encouraging to see such a passionate response to something that didn't even exist yet, but Kagonin was still far from a finished product. Erik felt the game was good but not great and wanted to revamp the entire prototype, from the gameplay mechanics to the card design, which essentially meant starting over. By this time Erik and Jess's image licensing business had grown, allowing them to have a little more time to dedicate to Kagonin and they began reworking the game. Around this same time there was also interest building from several larger companies in Kagonin. Unfortuntealy it quickly became clear to Erik & Jess that everyone who had interest also had their own ideas of what they wanted Kagonin to be and if they went down the corporate road Kagonin would quickly become something else. So Erik stuck firm to his vision of the game and decided the best thing for Kagonin would be to keep working on it independently, without the support of a bigger company, even if that meant an uncertain future where it would take much longer to get in player's hands. Every day he and Jess just kept working on it, staying up late, chipping away. Eventually, they told themselves, the right opportunity would present itself.
All the youtube attention the game was getting was great, but it didn't help get the game into the fan's hands. So Jess started investigating manufacturing. How much does it cost to get a game produced? Turns out, quite a bit! Even at low quantities, manufacturing was very cost-prohibitive for a small company of 2 people. After briefly launching (and then thinking better of it and ending) a Kickstarter campaign, they sat down to really ask themselves, "All restrictions aside, what would be the ideal way for us to produce this game?" Erik works extremely fast and they only way he wanted to make a game was if it could deliver new products to fans at his pace. To him, waiting months for a new expansion pack to be manufactured was not an option when he envisioned putting out new cards on a weekly basis. And after working for years creating art and selling it digitally, warehousing and managing thousands of boxes of inventory was not very appealing either. There had to be a better way. A fast and simple way.
One day while researching production facilities, Jess stumbled upon a small article on Wired.com about TheGamecrafter.com, a print-on-demand game making company. It was like a light went on. A giant, blinding light. It was that same "a-ha!" feeling Erik & Jess had gotten years earlier when they discovered they could sell their art online. We can actually do this ourselves, they thought. No company telling us what to do, no corporate design-by-committee, no closets full of inventory. The simplicity of the print-on-demand model could give Erik the quick turnaround time he was after for debuting the many new cards he had planned and best of all Erik and Jess could focus on what they're good at- making stuff- and let TheGameCrafter manage the production and shipping. Finally, the missing piece of how to get the game out into the world was found! Everything quickly fell into place from there. Kagonin underwent a huge graphic design overhaul and revamped card mechanics throughout 2013 and 2014 to make the game what it is today.
We're a very small operation- exactly 2 people- so please bear with us as we get everything up and running. Our main objective was to get the game released so that's where most of our energy has gone. The website is still a work in progress we envision it as being the central hub for all things Kagonin. Currently the Archive is up-to-date with all cards released to-date and that's a great place to plan your deck, ask questions, and make comments.
The Complete Prime Set
Launched in December 2014 with 5 parts including the Prime Set Components Box and 4 Prime Set Decks, The Prime Set is the foundation of Kagonin. With over 500 components and 234 total full size cards, The Prime Set has everything you'll need to get playing right away. If you are new to Kagonin, The Prime Set is where it all begins.
Many of our products will be available to purchase at TheGameCrafter.com but starting in early 2015, players can buy single cards and limited edition cards directly from us at shop.kagonin.com. Orders placed at TheGameCrafter.com will ship from them and orders placed at shop.kagonin.com will ship from us. The 2 stores will have different products for sale and we'll be sure to make it clear where each new product can be purchased from when it launches. Again, the Archive is a great resource with links to where you can find each card.
Before Jess had even finished preparing the production files for the Prime Box Set, Erik has already finished the next expansion. He really does work fast.
Unlike many card games, Kagonin does not use rarity types. Instead, Kagonin has its own unique card organization based on the types of cards and how they're released. In an attempt to do away with the idea of "filler cards", Erik designed every card to be useful to someone. And if a card doesn't seem too useful now, its probably because it's connected to other cards he's got planned that haven't been released yet.
In the bottom right corner of each card is a an ID number with a letter: P, E, T, S, L, or X.
(P)- Prime Set
The Prime set is the core of Kagonin. Each year the Prime Set will be updated but it will remain the constant entry point for players new to the world of Kagonin. It comes with all the components needed to play including the battle boards, charge counters, and tokens.
(E)- Expansion Sets
Expansions will be released regularly and have a variety of general cards of each color.
(T)- Themed Editions
Building on themes in the Prime set and the Expansions, Themed Editions will dive deeper into specific card mechanic themes.
(S)- Single Cards
Singles will be a huge part of Kagonin. Erik is constantly creating and illustrating new cards. If he has a great idea for a new Kundar card he'll probably draw and design it and have it ready to go in a week. That's how fast he wants to get new ideas out of his head and into player's hands. Single cards will be available for sale right here shop.kagonin.com starting in Early 2015.
(L)- Limited Edition
Limited Edition cards will be announced in advance and only available for sale on shop.kagonin.com. Once they sell out that's it- you won't be able to get them from us again.
(X)- Exclusive Cards
Each year the Prime Set will be updated to have a new Exclusive Card pack.
(F)- Fan Cards for Promos & Giveaways
Expect that Erik will be doing lots of cool stuff for players including special giveaways and promotions. Like the Kagonin fb page or follow @erikdeprince or @queenofkagonin to stay up-to-date.