of the highlights to playing card games is the chance to play in a
tournament against the best of the best. And there's one
Northwest company that's making it possible for Utah players to prove
their the best
--- Cascade Games has been setting up tournaments across the majority of the western United States for a few years now, giving locals a chance to gather and play in major gaming tournaments for prizes and chances to move onto bigger tournaments around the world. I got a chance to chat with Managing Partner Tim Shields about the company, the tournaments they hold, his thoughts on gaming, and some other topics that came to mind.
Gavin: Hey Tim. First off, tell us a little about yourself.
Tim: What’s to say. I’m a 40 year old guy who really likes games and comics. I have run a couple game stores, worked for a couple publishers and held a bunch of tournaments.
Gavin: For those who don't know, what is Cascade Games?
Tim: Cascade Games is a company that helps game publishers hold fun big events. We currently do the premier event management for Wizards of the Coast in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona and San Diego. We also are the premier event managers for Upper Deck in British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Utah and Arizona. What that means is we hold about 500 tournaments a year that range in size from 8 to 1000 players.
How did the idea come about to start the company?
Tim: I was running a little cyber café and game store in Portland, Oregon and wanted to hold Magic events in Portland. Somewhere along the way we added Seattle and thing just grew from there.
Gavin: What was it like from planning to finally running, and was it difficult to get everything organized or was it easy going?
Tim: When I started, I had the help of several really good judges including Eric Bess, Dave Noble and Dave Freeman and they really helped out a lot. And yes it was really hard.
Gavin: What were the first few tournaments like that you started handling?
Tim: My first event for Cascade Games was a Magic prerelease that I had 2 weeks from the time I was assigned the event to the event day. It was a bit of a rush. My first event was a Magic tournament in Olympia where I used to own a store just after “The Dark” was released in 1994.
Gavin: I know some games have certified judges from the company itself handle tournaments. Do you have to hire any, are you yourselves judges of these games, or is there a different way things are handled.
Tim: Almost all judges for almost all the game companies are volunteers. They go through a rigorous testing process to demonstrate that they know the rules of the game they judge – but very, very few are paid to judge.
Gavin: Are you selective when it comes to places to hold tournaments, or is the invitation to hold events open to anyone?
Tim: The venue for the event needs to fit with the tournaments and with the needs of the company that publishes the game. In general I like to hold events in convention centers and game stores. In Utah I like the Salt Palace and the Utah State Fairpark.
Gavin: What's your take on gamers in Utah and how they perform in tournaments?
Tim: Players in Utah do very well on the national scene.
Gavin: Are you mainly focused on the western region of the US, or have you any thoughts on expanding?
Tim: No thoughts on expanding at this time. I have a whole lot of work doing what I do now. No reason to add more. There are a lot of changes going on in many companies events and I will have to wait and see. I do know that as gas becomes more expensive it becomes more difficult to do what we do.
Gavin: Do you believe the Clix games will take over the card games, or do you believe it's more of a passing fad?
Tim: Clix games are fun but they just don’t have the design room to “take over card games” There is a limit to the number of things you can do with a miniature and a combat dial. TCG’s are also limited but the limits are less pronounced. In the far future all games just might be computer-based games but for now TCG’s offer far more choices and support more strategic options for players. But I do play some minis just not as much as TCG’s.
Gavin: Magic: The Gathering has been around for 15 years. Do you believe the series has run its course, or does it still have life left in it yet?
Tim: I see no reason to think Magic is doing anything but gaining strength. People tell me that they are quitting the game and then I see them back in a couple years. That’s the pattern I see. People fall in love with Magic and have a ton of fun. They frequently step back away from playing Magic every day due to school, job or other time commitments and then a couple years later start playing again.
What are your predictions for the Alara series coming out?
Tim: It seems good so far but I have only seen a couple cards. I trust WotC’s R&D team to make great sets and they usually do.
Gavin: On World Of Warcraft, it's very clear to a lot of fans the card game was rushed out to cash in on the game itself. Do you believe it cheapens the name, much how PokeMon cards cheapened the series in America. Or do you believe it has a fan base all its own to keep it running?
Tim: I just don’t see it that way. I think the WoW TCG is a really fun game and the miniature game coming out soon also looks great. Pokemon is a game aimed at a younger group of players. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
Gavin: You have a big release tournament for Alara, tell us what you've got planned for it.
Tim: We have rented a room at the Utah State Fairpark for the Magic Prerelease. We will be running lots of sealed deck tournaments, a open play tournament where every player get a to use a pre-constructed deck and they just play for fun as well as a 2-Headed Giant tournament. For the first time some retailers are also holding prerelease events. I think players should support their local stores. However many stores will be limited as to the number of players they can have. If your local store can’t accommodate you, come down and play with us at the Utah State Fairpark.
Gavin: What can we expect from Cascade Games the rest of the year?
Tim: A whole lot of tournaments. I hope to be assigned a major Magic event in the next year but it’s too early to be specific about location or type of event.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Tim: No – just go to my web site for info.