By Zach Bunn– September 4, 2012
In the summer of 2008, Team Covenant was searching for its soul. The Spoils TCG had officially declared that their game was over and we transitioned into selling a handful of other games, but we knew something wasn’t right. Tim, Steven, and I showed up to the office everyday that summer and we knew things were… off.
What we were doing seemed wrong in many ways. We were selling newer games but none of the games were exciting to us. None of us really wanted to play, or write, or discuss any of the games that we were selling. We went into the fall semester of 2008 with a very dim outlook on Covenant’s future.
But in September something happened. Team Covenant found its soul. Team Covenant found the second love of its life: Monsterpocalypse. It was love at first sight. I opened a starter and was fortunate enough to pull Sky Sentinel!
None of us had ever really been into miniatures games (except the original Mage Knight). This is all we were talking about and all we were doing with our free time. Everything seemed to be so right again.
We wrote blogs because we had to get the words out of our brain. We recorded podcasts because we were talking about Monsterpocalypse all the time. We went to convention after convention, did interviews, shot videos, played in tournaments, and wrote reports…because we were brimming with excitement.
This is when the Team Covenant website evolved. If we were so excited about a game that we wanted to posts blogs, updates, videos, and podcasts about it, why not let everyone who was commenting on our blogs write their own and share their excitement more fully?
For a while, the world was right…
In May of 2010, we hosted MonCon 2010. We had thirty-six players show up to Tulsa, Oklahoma to play Monsterpocalypse and visit with Will Schick and DC, the main names behind the game. That summer, Big in Japan released. That GenCon, we found out that Dreamworks acquired the rights to make a Monsterpocalpyse Movie and that the Voltron Box Set would release that year. Could things possibly be going better for Monsterpocalypse?
That October Will Shick made a post on the Monsterpocalypse website called ‘The Future of Monsterpocalypse’. The post included sculpt and sketch previews from Series 6. Man, could the excitement be any higher?
They also announced around this time the impending release of a Two-Player Starter, which was a major boon to getting new players into this game. The Two-Player Starter was released and we had a major inflow of new players to the site.
In the spring of 2011, they announced that the game would be going non-collectible and that DMZ was coming. Some were concerned that this would adversely affect Team Covenant (as we sold Monsterpocalypse singles), but the exact opposite actually happened. Due to the game going non-collectible, there was a massive influx of new players who were willing and ready to jump into this wonderful game.
At MonCon 2011, Privateer allowed us to show a convention exclusive video of Will Shick and DC unveiling the six new Quantum forms that would be being released at GenCon 2011 as prize support. After the video ended the crowd at MonCon 2011 went ballistic. Soon after, we revealed the very first Covenant Map and at the opening ceremony introduced the Team Covenant World Championship Belt.
Again, the world felt right… but it wasn’t.
Love and Silence
Privateer had already started to be relatively quiet about Monsterpocalypse once the Dreamworks deal was announced. While they were releasing less and talking about it less, we thought this was just the result of its shift into a non-collectible game with less-aggressive releases. At GenCon 2011, while nothing major was being released (except the Quantums as prize support) we interviewed several Privateer Press staffers about the game and everything seemed fine.
Then there was silence… and a lot of it. We all had lots of questions, like when would the Now Two-Player Starter be arriving? Didn’t the Two-Player Starter sell extremely well (a claim still being made by PP)? When would the Quantums be available locally? What’s up with the movie? Then the questions turned less optimistic: Is this game dead? Is it a board game? What should we expect? Are you guys still alive?
Even with the silence, things at Team Covenant weren’t so silent for Monsterpocalypse. We were releasing a new Covenant Map and scenario every other month, we hosted MonCon West, I completed the Mastering MonPoc series and a ton of you guys joined in on the challenge, we were still podcasting, running Monday Night Monster, and preparing for MonCon 2012. We were also doing everything required to open our first brick and mortar retail store in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
We were still selling a high volume of Monsterpocalypse, but something was wrong. The feeling was eerily familiar… it was similar to when The Spoils was initially going down, but wasn’t out yet. It was different in some key ways, though. For starters, there was never radio silence with The Spoils. Even to the end, the players that remained for The Spoils TCG and the employees that remained at Tenacious games both had a mutual understanding that each group truly wanted to see the game alive and vibrant.
For the year and a half leading up to MonCon 2012, we supported Monsterpocalypse with 110% of our efforts while Privateer gave 10% (and I think I’m being generous here). In any relationship, you can only put in 110% for so long if the other party isn’t putting much in. As this continued, our passion and excitement for the game was never being renewed and so the breakdown began to happen. We began to wonder whether Privateer Press cared if this game and this community lived or died.
In the one interview Privateer Press would give us at GenCon 2012, Lyle said the following about Monsterpocalypse, “It’s been repackaged into a more board game format,” and continues “we’re not ready to announce anything new at this time, but we are not ready to say that it’s dead yet.”
This is as clear a statement on Monsterpocalypse that we’ve had for a very long time. Also at GenCon, we were told by Matt Wilson that there was a Monsterpocalypse update coming soon – but he also wasn’t around on the day that he was supposed to give us an interview and hinted that he wouldn’t speak on Monsterpocalypse if we did get a camera on him.
I wanted to allow that week to pass to hopefully receive an update before making this post. At this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if we never saw that announcement. As some of you noticed, Monsterpocalypse was removed from the header filters on the website a week or so ago and was put into the ‘more’ drop down box on the site. Some of you took this as an ‘end of the world’ statement from us for Monsterpocalypse, so I wanted to clarify a few things regarding our stance on Monsterpocalypse.
First, that was not the intent of this move. We were able to get a ton of really great coverage for Netrunner and X-Wing at GenCon. Most of the people that play Monsterpocalpse already have their filters selected and we wanted the new filters to be in the header to make it easier for new users to find the games that brought them here. We had to move something and Monsterpocalypse was the logical choice. As a side note, the filters in the upcoming design of Team Covenant are actually in a drop down in alphabetical order, so Monsterpocalypse will not be a ‘more’ game.
The second is that the community surrounding Monsterpocalypse is the best I have ever had the privilege of calling myself a part of. The players, the goodwill, everything about this group of players absolutely proves all the things that Team Covenant has been trying to prove about tabletop games since it was founded in 2007.
The third is that Monsterpocalypse is one of the best games that I have ever played in my entire life and, bar none, is the best miniatures games I’ve had the privilege of playing. I imagine that some fifty years from now during my twilight years, I’ll be sitting down to some coffee and Monsterpocalypse with old friends, discussing how things used to be.
The fourth is that for us, Monsterpocalypse is a board game. We can only provide so much support for a board game. This doesn’t mean we don’t love it or the players that play it. It just means that we have to start treating it like a board game. Doing otherwise leads to a lot of scenarios that we’d rather not explore. We want to be here and continue to provide the canvas on which communities can form, and where we allocate our resources determines our ability to do that.
The final thing I want to say about Monsterpocalypse is that Team Covenant has evolved since it first supported Monsterpocalypse. In 2008, it was us blogging and updating about games. Whether or not a game gets much attention on Team Covenant today actually has very little to do with what we do with the game. In August alone, there were fifteen blogs posted about Monsterpocalypse by community members. By that metric, Monsterpocalypse is just as popular as ever.
There will always be a place for the Monsterpocalypse community on our website. I hope and will continue to hope that Privateer gets their act together and does something with this amazing universe and game.