Trading Card Games(TCG) have been around for decades. Through the years, we’ve seen various TCG series appearing in the market and disappearing. Some TCG have even been actively played for way past a decade and are still popular these days. Even some of our writers collect and play a couple of TCGs. Wanting to find out a little more about the history and community of TCG locally, we at Neko no Gensou decided to pay a visit to a local card shop to learn a little more about TCG in Singapore.
Located near Somerset MRT, on the 2nd floor of Cuppage Plaza, there’s a card shop called Summoner’s.
Although Summoner’s is only 11 months old, the shop runs weekly events and has become a gathering point for many card players.
It was packed with card players when we arrived at the location.
At Summoner’s, you not only have a wide range of TCG such as Magic The Gathering(MTG), Weiβ Schwarz(WS), Vanguard and Buddy Fight, you also have an extensive selection of cards sleeves.
We were really lucky and glad to have a chance to have a quick interview with Zechariah despite him being rather busy with tending to the shop. So without further ado, here’s our interview with him!
QN: So could you share with us a little bit more about yourself?
Just an average guy, 25 years old, living on this Earth. Just happened to have an interest in card games, so I decided to host and run my own card shop and see how is it like to run something like Summoner’s.
QN: Which was your first TCG and how U got to know?
My First TCG was MTG. Where by a friend of mine during poly invited me to his place and he was like “Oh, Play magic with me.” Then I was like Ok~ Then he started to give me all his common cards and then he thrashed me with all his rare cards. So ya~
And of course in poly, I got introduced to other card games such as WS. After that I started playing like Chaos and Vanguard as well. Basically whatever Summoner’s have, I’ve played it.
QN: How did you get your cards in the past?
In the Past would be local stores such as Comics Mart, Hobby SG and World of JJ.
QN: TCG have been around for very long, but how has the TCG in general developed over the years?
There’s both good and bad.
Well, I’ll start of with the bad side first. With the advance of technology, people will be less supportive of local shops anymore. Like there is Ami Ami and Amazon. There’s also Star City Games for MTG. So for people to actually get their cards, they would just ship in from overseas. Its slightly cheaper than what retailers are selling.
But for the good side, especially for the older generation, they often bring in their friends into the game as well as teach the younger ones how to play the various card games. So you always see new players coming in. So the community is ever-growing and its also very closely knitted for some communities. You always get to see friends gathering together, helping each other to grow. Card gaming is actually more of a lifestyle, where you will meet new friends, know more people. Thats the good stuff.
QN: Any idea how is the local scene different as compared to overseas?
For MTG its actually almost the same. Though overseas there are more store events such as Pro-Tour Qualifiers and Grand Prix Trials. For Singapore, like Summoner’s and other card shops, we hold Grand Prix Trials, and the major event is Grand Prix Singapore, which is happening next year 2015. For those who wish to play Pro-Tours, we have a local Pro-Tour Qualifier. If you win, you’ll be flown overseas to play in another round of Pro-Tour qualifiers before you are invited to play in the Pro-Tours.
For WS side, its more or less what we are holding in Singapore. Single elimination & Swiss rounds tournaments. For the major events is usually hosted by Genesis Frontier and Bushiroad, where they try to copy what is being done in Japan, so its actually not very different.
QN: Do you have any particular TCG in your collection that is your favorite?
MTG. For one, its been stuck with me throughout the years and I met many new friends. Old friends also get back together play. Its also more complex, more things to do and more interaction. For those who are actually interested to go professional in it, there’s actually proper support. Where by if you are a pro-player, they give you free packs and money. If you actually win tournaments, you win large amounts of money. Some pro-players are actually living off it.
WS is my second favorite. I got to know more new people and anime is pretty much the entirety of my life at the moment,
QN: As for yourself personally, what do you think is so unique about TCG as compared to online games?
For traditional card games, you are actually playing on a table. I’m actually aware of online versions of the games for MTG and WS. For the traditional one, you actually put in effort to meet up with the person, you play with your opponent, you learn different skills such as developing a poker face, try to bluff opponents and such. Also when you see your opponent and play with him, you actually get to know the person. What kind of decks is he playing, what kind of things that he likes. Lets say for WS, if you into a certain series such as Nisekoi or Kancolle, you actually just buy the entire series and just play, usually just along the series itself. For MTG, it depends on the colors. Red means you are probably slightly more aggressive. Blue is control, where it means you are probably trying to bluff your opponent into playing the play that you want. In short, you actually gain more interactions than you actually have online and you know how people feel, you get to make new friends as compared to playing online, where its just behind the screen, where you don’t actually form a new bond. There are cases where people who play online who actually forge a real bond, but for all you know, he’s probably living overseas or something, so you don’t really get to meet often. I have my own online friends and stuff, but I think playing among my friends in real life is much better. I get to catch up with them, face to face, and see how they are doing and stuff like that.
QN: Have you ever thought about making your own TCG?
Yes I did. Plenty of times! I actually drafted and created my own balance and original systems. Its just that the lack of resources is my main problem. Resources such as artists, game testing and such. Its just the lack of resource that stops me.
QN: What actually makes Summoner’s stand out from the other shops?
Its definitely the community. The community is actually very closely knitted as compared to some shops. Its like, people in the shop knows one another, everyone knows everyone. Whether you are new, or from a different clique, you tend to be friendly with them. Even people from different circles, such as the cosplay circle, they have good friends around here as well, so we get to know each other also. We’ve also got lots of friendly people here, who will help you build your decks or even teach a newcomer how to play. Even if a complete stranger walks in, we have people who will invite them for a game and things start from there. Its a forging point for some friendships, and its a place where everyone can hang out with no pressure.
QN: How different has it been since you started running Summoner’s as compared to being just part of the community?
We were all players at one point. We come here, hang out and don’t see whats behind the counter. As a shop owner, what I’m actually stressing over is whether if a product will sell. Whether people will come for my store events, tournament prizes and stuff. Its actually a fun and stressful process. The planning process may be stressful, but when people actually come here, play and enjoy themselves, they feel their time is not wasted. Its just a feeling of happiness from behind the counter, when People actually come together and have fun and for them to choose to play here and making new memories for themselves while you are speaking to customers, making transactions and such. Its great to see people making new friends, socializing among one another.
QN: Anything new or upcoming customers could keep an eye out for? (AFA, Sales etc.)
That would be the 22nd and 29th of November, we having this Royal Retailer Rumble for WS and Vanguard. Where by the winner of these events will represent the shop, Summoner’s, to play at a bigger event somewhere in December. When they win, both the shop and the players get their own unique benefits.
QN: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
If you have no where to go and you fancy a new place to visit, you can come visit us. I really do thank everyone for their support these 11 months. It was not easy for the first few months, like getting people to come by. I’m actually really glad that people who came from the beginning are still coming here regularly and are still bringing in more people, I’m really thankful for that. This is a place where everyone belongs.
As quoted by Shiroe in Log Horizon, “I’ll only have a place for myself, after I’ve made one for others.”
That wraps ups our interview with Zechariah from Summoner’s.
So if you’re keen to learn how to play some TCG or you’re looking for some booster packs, do check out their facebook page.
Or you could always pop their shop at Cuppage Plaza and have a look!
5 Koek Road, Cuppage Plaza, #02-17