Sorcery TCG: An interview with Erik Olofsson

Sorcery TCG: An interview with Erik Olofsson

Written by Liam Bosecke
End of the World by Adam Burke
Erik Olofsson is the Creative Director of Grinding Gear Games, Path of Exile. His company, Erik's Curiosa, will be launching a Kickstarter in Q1 of 2022 for a brand new Trading Card Game. We managed to catch him during his children's nap time, speaking with him about his passion project. Which has been in the making for over three years.
Sorcery TCG is the amalgamation of his love for Old School Magic, iconic handcrafted artworks and the vivid imaginings of his own universe.
'The back story is that I've been making custom MTG cards for a long time and it always had a tilt towards an old school feel. It got to the point where I had an Old School deck and made an alternate universe with those cards.'
'I had Dan Frazier do extra Moxes too and would love to at some point relate them to the game.' Erik described these Mox Artifacts as pretty "broken" in terms of power level. However, they marked the beginnings of a much bigger project.
Custom Mox cards Illustrated by Dan Frazier
The inception of Sorcery is rooted in Old School Magic the Gathering, Erik explained to me. 'The first iteration of the game was very close to Old School Magic, with some rule tweaks here and there'. An example of this is:
  • Card Rarity: Ordinaryyou may include up to 4 copies of the card in your deck; Exceptionalyou may include up to 3 copies of the card in your deck; Eliteyou may include up to 2 copies of the card in your deck; Uniqueyou may include 1 copy of the card in your deck.
    'So there an old school feel built into Sorcery. The square grid came in at some point later and of course, that changed everything. Now it's very different from Magic the Gathering and all the card designs became different as well.'

    'We’re incorporating modern game design on the many failed games from the nineties that were super complicated. The Sorcery cards try to be super easy, whilst there's an infinite complexity coming from the square grid.'

    Square grid design incorporated into the game
    What made you go in that direction?
    'That idea wasn’t actually mine. I have a co-designer, Nicholas Reynold, hes not so active now, but in the beginning, he did a bunch of prototypes. We played this square grid version he had. What sold me on this design was Pudge Butcher (pictured below) who hooks another minion across the field and a few other really fun and surprising interactions that happened during our time testing.'
    'It made it kind of easy to do the switch. I could see that there's a great game here. Lets just go with that and see how far it can be taken. Since then, it has changed a lot, because that first version didn’t have the landscape format site cards for example. It was clunky; how you put cards on-top of each other. Now, its much easier to see what's going on.

      Examples of Sorcery TCG 'Minions'


    'I think the first iteration even had tap sites like Magic, similar to their mana system. But we found that tapping something under your minion makes it clunky. Now, we have this threshold system. Where you just have as many resources as you have sites in play.'


    It made it kind of easy to do the switch. I could see that there's a great game here. Lets just go with that and see how far it can be taken.   


    'In the beginning, we thought it was a super original idea. But there was a point in time where I was discovering another square grid game every week and they were all dead and forgotten. Which made me worry a little bit'. (laughs)   

    'It goes to show: its hard to make a game that works correctly. Magic the Gathering is an exception however, where its easy to learn and not to complex. There's literally a thousand games from the nineties that were super complex to learn. Which isn’t good design.'


    Sinkhole by Michal Nagypál


    The artwork is something that captured my attention when I initially discovered this project. It's apparent that drawing the player in through unique world building plays a very important role in Sorcery TCG.

    'There's this kind of curse where if you art direct too much. The cards can all kind of look the same.' Erik explained to me. 

    He felt that the methods used in modern art direction for games can take away the magic and individuality of a card. Instead blending them together and taking away any sense of individuality.

    'Compare that to alpha Magic the Gathering however, where they had many artists with very different styles. Some used water colours and others acrylic/oil paints, doing the same creatures (such as goblins) in different ways, and you could instantly recognize a card.'

    We’re incorporating modern game design on the many failed games from the nineties that were super complicated.

    'Also there's a feeling of nostalgia that appeals to people in that way. Back when you played a game and had these magical moments of discovery. Now you can just google whats best in the game and use those cards.'

    'But Sorcery targets people that are a bit older and they might not have time to keep with constant set rotations and competitive play. It’s sort of a nice artistic experience, I guess.'


    Avatar of Earth artwork by Séverine Pineaux


    I spoke to Erik briefly about the Kickstarter phenomenon that has swept the globe in relation to trading card projects.  

    'Its very crazy times. Both Flesh and Blood TCG and Metazoo struggled a lot in the beginning. Stores didn’t really want Flesh and Blood in the beginning and things have flipped in a ridiculous way. Of course, Sorcery started more than three years ago now, that was before this time.'

    'I hope people realize by the way, that it’s impossible to make a game like this as a quick cash grab. It really is much more of a passion project that has been going for a long time. I'm very careful with using the investment angle, I'm just focused on making the game fun and the art good.'


    What direction would you like to take this project in the future?


    'I have to focus ninety nine percent of my energy on the Kickstarter, because that's step one. I do have some vague plans for future expansions, and I did actually commission some art to get a head start. But otherwise, after the Kickstarter. there will be a revised set coming out and I will try to get that happening relatively quickly. But, I also know there will be quite a lot of mistakes in the first set because of the mechanics and card designs. It’s a massive amount of cards and everything is so new. So its impossible to avoid something like a lot of broken cards, I suspect. But at least the rarity system I mentioned earlier helps with that.'

    I'm not trying to appeal to investors, making it limited and exclusive. I want to get it in the hands of as many people as possible.

    'I do have a bunch of tiers now that I'm quite happy with. I want to keep the Kickstarter very simple. I don’t have so many bells and whistles. I don’t limit the first edition either. The amount you want to order from the Kickstarter, you can just get it. I'm not trying to appeal to investors, making it limited and exclusive. I want to get it in the hands of as many people as possible.'


    Windmill by 
    Elwira Pawlikowska


    The Kickstarter is expected to launch in Q1 2022. This project is a breath of fresh air in the age of the collector and investor. Erik's passion comes through when we played the game with him as well. Constantly taking notes with rule changes and new ideas. The game itself is available to try right now on Table Top Simulator.

    We very much look forward to sharing this game with our local community here in Adelaide, Australia.








    Exclusive Reveal


    Crossroads by Vasily Ermolaev








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