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Epic Duels Online History

Page history last edited by Roman F 6 years, 2 months ago

This post was made in the Epic Duels forum in June of 2008 and for those interested, it will give some perspective on the long online history of Epic Duels.  I have directly copy-pasted this history document from the forum in order to preserve it.  It is an account of Rich Pizor and myself and includes our point of view, so take it with a grain of salt, but it's a fun read and provides some context.  There are things I'd probably alter about it now (2018) but I'm choosing to leave it as it was written in 2008.


I'll just add this note in looking back 10 years to this post, and over 15 years since the release of the game:  The internet was still "waking up" when Epic Duels was released, with discussions limited to clunky Yahoo! forums and the like.  For me, it was the first board game I could actively discuss and build with others online, and it became a part of the experience.  Over the years I have personally met and befriended Rich Pizor, Tom Baumbach (Sultan) and Deri Morgan (docmogs).  I now create my own original board games, and creating in the "Epic Duels medium" has been a big part of that for me.


- Roman F


A History of the Epic Duels Online Community
by Roman Farraday and Rich Pizor
(posted June 2008) 

With the recent evolution of the Epic Duels community, Roman Farraday and Rich Pizor got to thinking about how this whole crazy thing got started back in 2002 and how we got from there to here. What follows is their best attempt to chronicle the rise of the Epic Duels community on the Internet from it's humble origins as a single Yahoo group to the web-spanning entity it has become. Although we tried to recognize all the key members of the community over the years, obviously as participants we cannot be objective journalists, and what follows may not be complete, but we feel it provides a good overview to the history of Epic Duels fandom. 
NOTE: Several of the links below link to posts on the Epic Duels Yahoo group. You'll need to be logged in to follow those links.

May 5 - The original ED Yahoo! group is started by Ken Rumsey. 

May 23 - MoonSylver makes his first 

May 25 - Brady Severns makes his first 
post. He and Moon begin the types of discussions that would carry on for 6 years now. 
Early discussions mostly revolve around how it’s an addiction, which decks do you prefer, strategies, etc. The main posters are Moon, Brady Severns and
November_Rain who we personally never really got to know. 

June 3 - jams3d (Justin) makes his first 
post, suggesting map ideas. 

June 15 - The first discussion of fan-made 
decks begins. It took barely over a month. Moon bought The Queen’s Gambit and thought it would be fun to create an expansion based off it; Brady had already been working on some ideas, such as Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan, and posted to the group. Everyone jumps in the discussion about how the decks will play, the best way to print out cards, etc. Fun stuff! 

June 17 – First fan-made map is created, the 
Theed map by Justin. 

June 21 – November_Rain suggests a 
Lando deck, and fan-based deck building is on! Justin takes on this one. 

July 17 - Tim Lennox makes his first 
post . In this early era of custom ED components, Tim created some of the best-looking custom maps, a title he would hold without dispute for many months. 

July 28 - PD Magnus makes his first 
post to the Yahoo! group. 

In thee 9 days between Tim and PD joining, there were 137 posts. By the end of the month, there were 506 posts in July. 

From Rich: 

Moon, Brady Severns, Justin and PD Magnus would become the pioneers of custom deck making - not the only ones by any stripe, but the most aggressive, the most innovative, the most willing to experiment with what was possible in this early era. Each developed a distinctive style, and each had a strong hand in informing the evolution of custom ED decks.

From Roman: 

Those 4 were also the leaders of the discussion, especially Moon. There were others like Raven, Phil Reed, greforstemi, Jamey Johnston and more, but those 4 not only contributed a lot of materials, they established a community.

July 31 - July ends with a total of 506 posts, the record to date for monthly activity.

October 25 - Rich "2πr" Pizor makes his first 
post about 2 weeks after getting the game for his birthday. Among other things, Rich created what we believe to be the first templates for custom deck-making that others could use. Even in his first post, Rich was looking for ways to overcomplicate the game, and his first foray into the world of ED was to recommend possibilities for changing the nature of how the game was played, such as a Capture the Flag scenario. 

December 2 - MoonSylver uploads his 
Deck Analysis document. The first clinical breakdown of how an ED deck is structured, this document introduced the colors of the four Hasbro basic decks into the ED lexicon and served as the foundation upon which literally all later deck design and analysis would be built.

This begins the first full calendar year of ED discussion. As the group would grow to more than 500 members by April, discussion swarmed on a variety of topics, primarily:

  • Custom decks: Moon, Justin, Brady, PD, Rich and others are creating Bounty Hunters, Tarkin, Ysane Isaard, Jawas, and others.
  • Custom maps: People are downloading and playing maps like Sarlaac Pit and Death Star Landing Bay.
  • Miniatures: Players are using Legos, buying old figures from eBay, some are even using original Mattel action figures! The art of figure modifications is widely discussed as players buy 2nd (and 3rd and 4th) sets, repainting figures, even cutting and gluing them together.
  • LOTR: It's not long before players figure out that the rules of Epic Duels can be applied to Lord of the Rings.
  • Printing cards: Players discuss the methods for producing the best card.
  • House rules: Dividing green die rolls between players, what does "blocked" mean, advanced rules, more.
  • Tweaks & Handicaps: Discussion of powering up shooters with 3 actions, giving Vader better cards, more.

February 2 - Roman Farraday makes his first post after playing some fan-made Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan and Young Luke/Old Ben decks. Roman would become a prolific custom deck maker and posted many documents to promote the creation of fun, balanced decks. 

March 30 - The 
LOTR group is started in an effort to keep discussion focused on Star Wars content in the main group. A second group dedicated to an Epic Duels X-Men project will be started later.

April 16 - Moon 
posts about the 500th member joining the ED online community, an example of both the ED online community's growth and of Moon's community-building. 

June 1 - ED fans have been so avid about collecting pieces for customization that Hasbro is now officially out of replacement components! 


September 10 - Eric Wainright makes his first post. Wiwwt would become an active community member and he and his wife Chrissie would become the dominant 2v2 players in the galaxy. 

September 21 - John "Obi-Wan John" Sandora makes his first 
post. From a humble request for die-cast metal minis, Sandora would later go on to become the most prolific mapmaker the ED universe has ever seen, as well as launch his own EDOL-X to run numerous side tournaments, design three full-blown expansions entirely on his own, and contribute many design documents. 

December 31 - The first full year of the Yahoo! group is completed with 2,327 posts!

January 5 - Rich Pizor posts the first edition of the ABC’s of Deckmaking. The document is meant to represent a compilation of the best information shared on the group for all aspects of custom decks - how to view them, how to design them, how to create cards, how to lay them out, how to print them. This would be periodically updated over the years.

January 8 - Docmogs makes his first 
post. Prolific until claimed by Star Wars Minis, Docmogs would among other things spearhead the creation of decks featuring Expanded Universe characters with his KOTOR decks.

March 30 - Based on extensive community analysis and with help from Justin, Brady, and later Scott Hagarty, Roman creates and posts the Special Card Analysis tool. It was the first and most comprehensive stab at assigning a numeric value to each ability. 

June 3 - Scott Hagarty makes his first 
post after a few months of lurking. Scott would come to be known for incredibly verbose posts, prolific deck-making, and numerous articles guiding the art of deck design. He and Roman would lead many discussions and produce many articles about the values of cards and of overall decks.

August 3 - The Yahoo! group 
everythingepicduels is created to discuss and store decks based on characters in universes other than the Star Wars universe. 

September - Star Wars Minis is released, which will have many effects upon Epic Duels. It will both add to it in terms of figures for custom characters and ultimately help lead Epic Duels to being played online. It will also permanently claim some ED players and bring an end to the art of figure modifications. 

September 2 - Aaron Shockley makes his first 
post. Aaron would go on to become a pioneer of Vassal modules and a prolific creator of decks, though most of them are now sadly lost to history.

From Roman: 

The community was past its peak but still going strong, with another year topping 2000 posts. By this point, Moon, Brady, Justin and PD had moved on to other games, other endeavors, or other stages of life, but there were many more new members to take their place. Discussions about custom decks and maps (Aaron, Doc, Sabercreator, Ragozinehead, Gydracreator), deck design concepts and card values (Scot, Rich and me) would continue to rage.

From Rich: 

'Past it's peak' may be a bit of an overstatement. The departure of of Brady, PD, Justin and Moon was definitely the end of an era, but Aaron, Scott, and Docmogs kept things well and truly alive. There was a definite period of transition within the community, but custom decks were still being created left and right, new ideas were being debated and mechanics discussed, and generally speaking the community was alive and well.

January - Roman Farraday and Docmogs discover VASSAL through playing Star Wars Minis. 

From Roman: 

Talk about addiction. I had a great job opportunity, getting a temporary job to be the assistant to the president of one of the 5 top PR firms in the world, but when you're an addict, that's of minor importance. I downloaded Vassal to the company computer. I log in, in the middle of the work day, hoping someone, anyone would be on to play. Wouldn't you know who's also online in the middle of his work day? Doc and I played a game right then and there.
The first mention of playing ED online occurred in November 2002; now, more than 2 years later, Roman begins a project to make ED playable online and cross platform. 

March 12 - With the VASSAL module completed, Rich Pizor gets tired of people suggesting that "someone should really organize a tournament" and organizes one. We played what is retroactively considered "Season 0" in the history of the EDOL, the winner was Aaron Shockley.

April 15 - With the encouragement of the group and the assistance of Roman, Aaron, and Scott, Rich Pizor founds the Epic Duels Online League, and a new era of the online community is born. 

June 9 - Sultan of Dorkistan makes his first post. Sultan would become the most prolific deck maker of the modern ED era, would create and lead the Epic Duels forum and eventually assume the roll of Commissioner of the EDOL. 

December 31st - Including the original Yahoo! group and the Yahoo! EDOL group, posts total 2,364, topping 2003's 2,327.

Discussion continues to fly free and easy, with a few recurring themes. This is the year of royalty as KingTrebor and thekingdomisinsideyou come out of the woodwork and become major contributors.

  • All the custom creations made file space a rare commodity (at this point Yahoo! was only allowing groups 20 megs each); discussions about what to about it, and strategies to work around it, came up frequently
  • With the game now being out of print for several years, discussion of how to acquire it takes a somewhat more fevered tone than before
  • A George Lucas deck!
    • Perhaps inspired by this, a few folks try to make decks of themselves in the SW universe
  • Card interaction discussions increase in frequency - possibly because the community is becoming more sophisticated after years of analysis
  • As the EDOL refines tournament play, talk of how to make a "fair" ED matchup would dominate
  • Two debates begin to pick up steam that will continue to this day
    • what is the best approach to custom basic decks?
    • how should the various base set characters match up, and what can be done to make them come more in line?

April 19 - Scott Hagarty creates the ED Wiki. Originally envisioned as a clearing house for all things EDOL-related, the Wiki grew to catalog nearly all aspects of the online ED universe. In addition to listing links to custom maps and decks, the Wiki includes information on design, articles covering strategy and analyzing card structures, and even has brief biographies of some of the more prominent movers and shakers in the ED community. Rob Daviau, one of the co-creators of Epic Duels at Hasbro, would one day remark "That thing is amazing!" 

September 26 - Enzyte, a Viagra-like drug, is pulled from the market for ineffectiveness and it's makers are sued for false advertising. Amazingly no one makes any "ED" jokes.

October 23 - Fishfleas2000 makes his 
first post. Fish would bring professional game-designing skills to the community and use them to create a full Space Expansion and contribute to a LOTR expansion.

October 27 - The first article in Sultan's 
Design This! series hits the net.

November 1 - Sultan creates the ED Forum. While it would take some time for the forum to reach a critical mass of conversation, the general consensus is that the forum interface is superior to the Yahoo group, and represents an evolution of the ability to both discuss and archive information about ED.

Early December - From an almost off-handed comment made by Rich, Sultan of Dorkistan spearheads the Epic Duels 
Christmas Special, a 12-day collection of clips from the much-maligned Star Wars Holiday Special and a collection of joke decks based on same. Though little more than a novelty, the experience would prove useful later for the Expanded Universe expansion.

From Rich: 
By now the Epic Duels community has spread across many places on the Internet - the Forum, half a dozen Yahoo groups (ED, ED Expansion, LOTR, X-Men, Everything Epic Duels, and EDOL), the Wiki, VASSAL, and a wide variety of personal websites. While this does make a unified chronology a lot more difficult to compile, I cannot imagine a greater testament to the diversity and staying power of the community.

The era of Expansions is upon us, as John Sandora undertakes the Epic Duels Ground Expansion and FishFleas2000 perfects the Epic Duels Space Expansion. More complex than individual decks, Expansions are stand-alone games that borrow the ED engine but apply it in different directions.

April 16 - FishFleas2000 posts a mention of an alternative tournament structure in the still active Star Wars CCG community. Eventually, aspects of these ideas will be incorporated into the EDOL tournament structure.

April 20 - From the ashes of a bitter debate on the Yahoo group emerges the concept of a fan-created sequel to Epic Duels. This project will go on to spawn the Expanded Universe expansion, which brings together some of the greatest minds in the Epic Duels community to create a stand-alone sequal featuring 14 decks and 4 maps.

June 4 - The EDOL officially begins Ladder play, based on the FishFleas2000's suggestions.

June 14 - CoryRIT begins work on 
Epic Duels Designer, an application built from the ground up to simplify the process of turning a text deck listing into a printable deck.

October 16 - The Expanded Universe project is completed, realized with incredible all-new art and design spearheaded by the Sultan of Dorkistan.

Which brings us to the present day (2008) - the EDOL experiments with new tournament formats, the EU Expansion sees it's first major tournament, Roman still plays live Epic Duels weekly and cranks out new decks, John Sandora continues to create and refine expansions, and new contributers like Robert Moore and megaswfan bring new blood and ideas into the community. Here's to the epic future of Epic Duels!


Additional  Notes by Roman:



- Roman and Robert completed and later expanded their LOTR set, and Tim Wutke followed with an expansion for Avatar: The Last Airbender.


- The emergence of Mike Maloney (aka Vash the Stampede) and his unique, trade-able card-game-style decks and League of Legends tournament style.  Mike brought new players to the game, online tournaments, plus in-person tournaments.


- Palamon, Raistlin, blaze, LordStarkiller, umondy, anjetto, Separatist and others joined the discussion.


Several Epic Duels events at GenCon, run by Mike and/or Roman.


- Several Star Wars cartoon series added new characters to the universe.


The forum members came together and put the 10-Year Anniversary Fan Expansion together to help give new Epic Duelers a place to start.  It featured many decks by Roman, Scott Hagarty, Mike Maloney, Tom Baumbach, Rich Pizor and others.



- A general decrease in activity and consolidation of the forums, ultimately into this Wiki.  At some point Scott Hagarty, the Wiki's original creator, turned over administration to Roman.  Roman also took control of the Yahoo! groups.  By 2015 or so, the Wiki became the main hub of activity.


- Custom deck activity continued as new characters populated the cartoon universe.  New decks were created for other non-Star Wars worlds as well.


- FreakyMutantMan and DarthWolverine joined in the fun.



- Disney has released 3 new Star Wars films and new decks were created for all of them.


- Epic Duels is still discussed here at the Wiki.


- Atom still runs Smash Brothers Epic Duels events at GenCon as recently as 2017.


- There are new Game of Thrones decks by Sophist and others.


- Sophist, JAG, Hayden Florom, Ken Kutcel, MiThiKaL and others have joined up.


Note:  It's always a challenge to include every name of every person who has contributed over so many years.  If you feel that I missed recognizing your contributions in this document, feel free to drop me a note at romanfarraday@yahoo.com and I will respond.

Comments (3)

umondy said

at 2:33 pm on Jan 10, 2018

The link to " Special Card Analysis tool" is dead :(

Roman F said

at 6:14 pm on Jan 10, 2018

Uploaded and fixed

umondy said

at 3:24 am on Jan 17, 2018

Awesome! Thanks.

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