One the players suggested the concept of so-called virtual cards for future VtES expansions. This concept stems from another trading card game, namely the Star Wars CCG, and so let me explain a few things about the Star Wars CCG (summarized from various sources).
The Star Wars CCG is a collectible card game based on the Star Wars fictional universe. It was created by Decipher and was produced from December 1995 until December 2001. Operation and oversight of the game was then taken over by a Decipher created volunteer group called the Star Wars Customizable Card Game Players Committee. To date, the Players Committee (PC) still runs the game and creates new cards known as “virtual cards” that are released online in PDF format, and can then be printed and played with.
On the Players Committee (now the official Stars Wars CCG) website, the Player Committee’s self-portrait read like this:
“The Players Committee maintained the competitive scene by organizing local, state, regional, and world tournaments. With the cooperation of Decipher and Lucasfilm Ltd., the Player’s Committee also began releasing new cards to the playing community in 2002. These new cards came in the form of new game text boxes and eventually new card names and entire frames that could be printed out and placed over existing cards, giving that card a new name and new capabilities.“
After downloading the PDF containing all previously released “virtual cards” you can read more about the concept (and some rules):
“To use these cards, simply print them out and cut out the area beneath the card title (not on the actual card), and place the cutout in a sleeve with the original card. We recommend using opaque sleeves for non-objective cards. If you use clear sleeves, the cutout must be attached to the original card using rubber, cement, tape, or some other adhesive so the cutout does not slide. The adhesive must not be visible and must not noticeably increase the thickness of the card. If it does, the tournament director may interpret it as cheating and may penalize you appropriately.“
Interestingly the PC organization was initially started by Decipher, but later on the ties seems to be severed, since on the bottom of each of the PDF pages that the product (i.e. the virtual cards) are neither supported nor endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd. (as license holder).
Is the concept a valid alternative for future VtES expansions? I certainly think so. In comparison to a “full”card expansion (as currently planned), there are some advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are :
- No new artwork needed. Simply print out a piece of paper with the new game text and stick it in the sleeve over the old card’s game text.
- Cards in general remain valuable. In order to legally play the virtual card, you have to put in the sleeve the old card with the same card name.
- Older, especially less useful cards, can upgraded to something worth including into a VtES deck e.g. cards like Deal with the Devil or Eyes of the Dead.
But there are some disadvantages as well:
- Cutting the virtual cards can be cumbersome if the cutouts are somewhat irregular (see for some examples in the image above).
- Playing without sleeves is not an option. (But that would apply to new full cards as well.)
- The selection of the original cards (over which the virtual cards are placed) is arbitrary and unpredictable. For tournaments previously non-cards cards can become chase cards out of nowhere. As far as I know, for the SWCCG only commons and uncommons were chosen as base cards for new virtual cards. For VtES it would also be necessary to choose cards mainly from those expansions which very produced in higher numbers (e.g. Third Edition, but not Keepers of Tradition.
The discussion of the concept with respect to VtES can be found on VEKN.net.