Dear HP Staff,
 
Before I answer "Legolas'" letter, I want to introduce myself.
 
My name is Mike, and until recently I spent a little more than three years
working for a Rider's Hobby Store.One of my chief duties was running the
children's TCG leagues.I ran the Pokťmon League until the interest of the
local children ran down, and I started and am currently running the Harry
Potter TCG League.I left the store in June, so I'm now running the league
as a volunteer.
 
[Note to Wizards' Staff: My weekly league reports can be located using the
store's code.It's the Rider's Hobby Shop in Augusta, GA.]
 
"Legolas" <sacrifice795@hotmail.com> wrote:
 
> Compared to the up-and-coming Yu-Gi-Oh, Harry Potter is
> just another Trading Card Game. I believe this is partly due
> to us, the fans and players, not supporting it enough. But I
> believe that, for the most part, it is Wizards of the Coasts fault.
 
I have to disagree with you here.From a retailer's point of view, the
problems are:
 
1. Retailers are afraid of getting burned like they did with Pokťmon.
Because of this, at least in our area, retailers appear to be ordering
smaller amounts of stock.
2. In our area, and in several others across the US, the "witchcraft" aspect
of the Harry Potter story line has aroused the ire of some religious groups.
This has caused some retailers to shy away from the game to avoid boycotts
and other problems.
3. This is the US.We've raised several generations of short attention span
children."Make it hot, a lot and quick, 'cause they're going to forget how
much fun it is in about two months."Anyone tried to sell any used Pokťmon
cards lately?
4. And that leads into this point.Parents who got burned with the Pokťmon
collecting frenzy and are knee-deep in nearly worthless "P"-cards are very
reluctant to allow their kids to start over again with the HP TCG.
 
> When Harry Potter Trading Card Game first came out, it looked
> like it was going to be very popular, and Wizards of the Coast
> probably thought they had brought another hit Trading Card Game
> to the world. However, now, it seems like it is forgotten. Sure,
> most of us reading this play and enjoy it, and that is exactly why
> I am writing this. I want to continue to enjoy playing the game.
> Iím sure you all do to, but thatís hardly the case for Wizards of
> the Coast. It seems like they donít care if we enjoy, they just care
> about their profits.
 
Ah... one must try the magic word "business".WotC does everything that
they do to make money.Granted, they do the occasional good deed, but for
the most part they're into making a buck.They created and have continued
to expand an excellent TCG in HP.With the future prospects of movies,
books, etc., they probably have a long term plan to support the game should
it prove long-lived.If it proves to be a "flash in the pan", I'm sure they
also have a bottom line profit figure that will prove to be the death of the
game.
 
 
> Many of the past scheduled Harry Potter Chats at wizards.com
> (Wizards of the Coastís official site) have been canceled due to
> the STAFF not showing up. I have been annoying Wizards about
> this via custserv (Customer Service), but they have not even
> answered. E-mails stretch from early July, until the last one
> I made, which was Sunday the 28th day of July.
 
I haven't been aware of any chat problems, so I can't comment on that.
 
But, I'm not surprised that you've emailed them and not gotten a reponse
right away.Many things can cause email to go astray, and (if I'm guessing
correctly here) especially if the content is derogatory, profane, or
generally mean-spirited.You wrote over a period of only three weeks, and
in spite of the hype, using the Internet doesn't always guarantee instant
responses to inquires.
 
I run a small web-hosting company, as well as my own sculpting/casting
business.If I get a "nastygram" from someone, it usually results in their
email being filtered or blocked.If the manner in which you "annoyed" WotC
was virulent enough, you may not be reaching them in that manner.Try
something politer.
 
> It seems like they are avoiding us avid Harry Potter fans, and
> concentrating more ongames like Pokemon and Magic: The
> Gathering. Even Star Wars, which they just starting making, gets
> more publicity than Harry Potter at the site. So without the chat,
> how do we know what rulings are correct? I have been meaning
> to ask one, so I sent it in to custserv, and when I called, I got
> two separate answers.
 
I hope that I'm not revealing a trade secret here, but the Pokťmon TCG and
now the Harry Potter TCG are intended to do just two things.Make money for
WotC, and to prepare kids for getting into Magic:TG, WotC's main bread and
butter.They're naturally going to spend more time and money on promoting
the TCG's that help to pay the bills, and Magic:TG has been around a long
time.
 
I've always had good success with calling with rules questions, and I always
use the 800 number on the back of the rulebook.
 
> Now, what company makes two different rulings on the same rule?
 
ALL of them! <chuckle>I've been gaming for four years now, especially some
games produced and supported by the "Goliath" of 1:60 scale miniatures
games.As a retailer, and now as a "civilian" and miniatures-related
businessman I've yet to see any game producer's customer support group give
the same answer to each and every question presented to them.It's the
human factor.If you get conflicting answers, ask again... and again, until
you get confirmation of the right answer.
 
> Besides the rules, there are many other things Wizards arenít
> doing. I will try to get through as many as I can. First off, where
> I live, there isnít a league in the whole state. There are many
> states that donít have Harry Potter leagues in them...
 
[Please pardon the deleted list of states]
 
As I understand the League guidelines at Wizards, you have to be either a
mass-market or Premier store (hobby store, etc.), you have to have the space
and furniture to set up at least three tables, you have to have someone
dedicated to running the league(s), you must carry the product, and turn in
timely league reports to qualify and continue as a TCG League location.
 
This means that you have to have a qualified store willing to sponsor the
league to start with.That the store has to look at the cost factors.Are
we selling enough HP product to cover the cost of sponsoring the league?
Will sponsoring the HP league "cost" us community support and sales?
 
> Thatís eighteen out of fifty states, or only 64% of the states
> have leagues in them! Donít you think that Wizards should
> NOT deprive people like that?
 
Wizards isn't depriving anyone.It's the retailers in those specific areas
that aren't ordering the product and/or sponsoring leagues.
 
> Itís also even hard to find cards around here Ė we have a
> community of about one million people, and I can only manage
> to find Quidditch Cup booster packs. Maybe if Wizards of the
> Coast wanted to make a profit, they should make their products
> available to everyone.
 
WotC does make their products available to retailers, but if the retailers
don't order the cards, you won't find them in the stores.Our store carries
all of the HP boosters, and the starter decks.I talked to the games
manager last week about pre-ordering the "Chamber of Secrets" expansion.
They keep one box of all boosters in stock, and two of the popular ones.
(Alas, I bought a whole box of Hogwarts boosters to get a foil Dumbledore,
but found only two non-foil ones.My son wanted a few Welsh Greens, but the
box yielded none. <sigh>I guess that I'll have to buy a box of "Secrets"
boosters now...)
 
> If you live in Canada, and you wanted to get into a league,
> it is very doubtful that you are located within 500 miles of there.
> In all of Canada, there are only two leagues Ė one in Ontario
> and one in British Columbia. I donít even have to say anything
> about that. If you live anywhere else in the world, you can tell
> that the chances of you being in a league are slim.
 
Again, it "ain't" WotC, it's the retailers, and possibly the local
communities dislike of the game theme.
 
Retailers like to make money.Honest.If a customer asks them to carry the
cards, and then BUYS THEM from the same retailer, that retailer might
consider carrying the cards on a regular basis.
 
> Now, donít feel like Harry Potter is going completely out the
> window. I do not work at Wizards, so I have no idea what they
> have planned for Harry Potter Trading Card Game. Personally,
> I would like to see the popularity grow a little more. Like I said,
> this is partly our fault. For example:
 
> Last year, pojo.com would receive nearly 100 tips a month,
> this month, they received a measly 11. I think that we could get
> the players participation a little more Ďexcitingí, than maybe Wizards
> would support it more. Also, more people in Pojoís Harry Potter
> TCG Ladder could be extremely helpful...
 
[Pardon the deleted text...]
 
NO!!!If the on-line game gains popularity, the card-based TCG will suffer.
The TCG game needs to sell, or retailers will drop it like yesterday's old
socks (and we're not talking house elves here!)
 
Pojo's is not WotC.Pojo's making money from advertiser dollars isn't going
to encourage WotC to sell more HP TCG cards, buying the WotC HP TCG cards
will do that.
 
> Of course, boycotting Wizards would be mean. So letís not
> get that idea from this article.
 
And it would be unwise.The suggestion to "not" do it could be seen as a
veiled attempt to encourage a boycott.That would be like boycotting
Ollivander's because Voldemort bought his wand there.Then again, it's not
like trying to get rid of acne and losing your nose in the process hasn't
been attempted before...
 
> I wrote this so I could express how I feel about the State of
> Harry Potter, and what we could do to make it better. Just
> thought Iíd say that before I continue on.
 
Now sounds a bit ominous...
 
> Another thing Iíd like to see have done is have a rule that
> you do (this) before (this). For example, if I had out Neville
> Longbottom and the Location Hospital Dormitory was in play,
> would the four blocked from Hospital Dormitory go towards
> the eight that Neville doesnít block? Itís a good question, so
> Iíd like to see certain steps that you use come out. (Note:
> Iíve e-mail custserv and I called Wizards, and I got two
> different answers, so that doesnít help much.)
 
As our League's Prof., I'd call this as Neville blocking all but four damage
when in combination with the Hospital Dormitory card.At least until WotC
told me differently.
 
Now if I could only figure out what "Quirinus Quirrell" does!Do both
players get to return just cards in play, or cards in play _and_ in their
respective discard piles?(No, I haven't surfed for the answer, I'd planned
on calling CS this week for a clarification.)
 
> Another thing Iíd like to see (Iíve already mentioned this, but Iíll
> go more in-depth with it now) is a little more site devotement
> by Wizards...
 
[Sorry, another deletion...]
 
My guess is that we'll see this develop as we get closer to the release of
the movie in November.And I can't wait for the next HP book!!!
 
> Their store also irritates me. I tried to buy Adventures at
> Hogwarts boosters from their sites, but it is so complex, it
> said that there wasnít a URL. When I went to buy Diagon Alley
> cards, it redirected me to another site. If they could just stick
> with them dealing everything, Iím sure all the fans would
> be happier.
 
I buy nothing on-line, so I can't comment on this issue; but I can suggest
another way to get the cards.If you have a retailer in your area that
sells WotC TCG cards, they should be able to get what you want if you
special order it through them.The only drawback will probably be that
you'll have to order an entire box of 36 boosters.(Though, opening an
entire box of boosters is SO much fun...)
 
> Well, this is about the state of Harry Potter, right? Right now,
> I think that Harry Potter is going down the drain unless we take
> action. We need more people to show up for local tournaments,
> more matches and people on the ladder, more tips submitted, etc.
> I feel like Wizard watches Pojo for activity Ė after all, they do
> recommend the site for Card Lists, Spoilers, and even
> sometimes rulings!
 
I like Pojo's card lists, but keeping the HP TCG alive really comes down to
encouraging local retailers to hype the game, and to encouraging folk to
stop the witchhunts.I ran an editorial comment on the local newspaper's
website earlier this year to see what sort of response I would get to my
support of the game.Surprisingly, it's still there at:
http://www.augustachronicle.com/ubb/Forum2/HTML/000097.html
 
> Of course, it would be great if Wizards helped us out a little bit,
> by giving us more leagues to participate in that are local, but I donít
> think that they are going to do that before we get more activity. All
> members who are in the top 30 on the ladder should ladder at least
> 2 times a day Ė if we did this, we would have at least 60 matches a
> day. What do you think Wizards would do if that happened?
 
Remember, WotC isn't responsible for creating or maintaining the leagues,
local retailers are.
 
And supporting the on-line Ladder game will probably kill the TCG itself.
If we don't buy the cards, retailers won't carry and sell them.
 
And remember, almost no business on the Internet does anything for free.
Pojo's is a business, too.Their advertisers watch the number of visitors
to Pojo's website.The bigger the numbers, the more exposure for the
advertisers, and the more advertising dollars for Pojo's, not WotC.
 
> Well, Iím going to try to wrap it up; Iíve gone on long enough.
> Iím going to rant on a little more about the chat. The last chat
> was on June 12th. The date is August 1st. The rhyme goes
> thirty days has September, April, June, and November, all the
> rest have 31, February stands alone. If you donít want to do
> the math, thatís 50 days since the last chat.
 
I don't know about most folk, but I don't do chats.I actually have a life
outside the Internet, and I tend to not talk to things which talk, but don't
let me see where they keep their brain.
 
> In conclusion, I would like to see everyone get a little bit more
> active on this site Ė if you sent in one tip a week, and joined the
> ladder and laddered twice a day or more, it would most likely
> convince Wizards to give Harry Potter a second look, and see
> how good it really is."
 
WotC will be more excited about promoting and continuing the HP TCG if...
 
FOLKS BUY THE CARDS.
 
Visiting the WotC HP website will win students a few house points, but it
won't pay the house elves in the school kitchen... well, Dobby anyway.
Playing on-line is fun, but it doesn't pay the bills at WotC.
 
Very sincerely and magically yours,
 
Mike Jackson, *Professor of "Wizardry" owl-post@melas.org
a.k.a. "Casting Fool & Son"
http://www.cfnson.com (reserved, not active)
Temp URL: http://www.melas.org/cfnson
 
††††††† "A jester unemployed is nobody's fool!" Ė Danny Kaye
 
"Because of my great love for you, I will never leave you alone
or forsake you." - God (Hebrews 13:5b)
 
(*Wizards of the Coast Publishing's official designation of Harry 
Potter TCG League leaders.)