On Thursday, Prince Rupert’s Winther brothers will board a plane heading for Seattle and they’ll hope the contents of their carry-on luggage will bring the city a North American championship.
The name of the game is Kaijudo and Kevin’s and Tyler’s card decks, kept hidden firmly under wraps to everyone except fellow Rupertite teammates, will be tested against the very best in North America, even if some of them aren’t your traditional competitors.
“There’s a few oddballs, but mainly it’s the same characters that you get to see [at every championship] that are active in the [Kaijudo] community,” said Tyler Winther (18) last weekend.
The brothers have secured two of only 86 spots that are to duel for 2014’s Kaijudo throne and they did it by succeeding in Prince Rupert’s KMC, or Kaijudo Master Challenge, an entry-level tournament that decides who gets free air-fare to compete against the very best.
Kaijudo, the two-year-old trading card game created by toy company Hasbro and collectible card game gurus and creators of Magic the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast, is Prince Rupert’s most popular card game and it’s not even a close contest.
“We do host the largest tournaments in North America right now,” said Tyler, adding that approximately 111 participants came to the newest set premiere two weeks ago hosted by Good Times Games.
It’s popularity can be attributed to its ease of accessibility to new players, said Kevin Winther (14).
“It’s a simple game that can get very competitive if you want it to be. It’s simple math, addition and subtraction, so a lot strategy,” he said.
Another large part of the craze that has swept card shops everywhere is the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that owner Rob Gruber creates for his customers and friends.
“Rob has a group of kids that show up everyday to play and it’s just something for them to do. Instead of video-games, they come and play cards together or action figure games or whatever, so it has a lot to do with the community. It just grows,” said Tyler.
Kevin originally got his older brother into the game after he came home with some cards years ago. Tyler had originally played a now-defunct similar game by the same creators called Duel Masters when he was 10.
The brothers’ first order of business is helping their Seattle-bound entourage acquire spots in the final 86 along with them in Last-Chance Qualifiers (LCQs), a tournament before the finals that players can enter.
“Rob, Ryan Last, Alex and his girlfriend Molly, Joey and Olivia, and then us three [Kevin, Tyler and their mother, Susan] are competing,” said Tyler.
They’ll test their decks out against each other in the days leading up to the championships and then hope for the best in the finals.
“We act as a team so we all know each other, what we’re playing, and then we’re able to tweak on that and help each other out and have a pool of cards so nobody’s shorted,” he added.
The games typically take 10 to 15 minutes each to play and sometimes, like in Kevin’s case, longer.
“For my deck that I played with the tournament, it would take half an hour to an hour [to play three rounds] because I wouldn’t actually swing for the win until I knew I had the game,” he said.