May 23, 2010

I met Eric Torres a few years ago at our local Phoenix Comic Con. He had a table set up with product featuring some of the most visually arresting imagery I’ve seen. It stopped me in my tracks. So I went over and asked excitedly: “What is all this stuff!?” Turns out, Eric is a graphic designer who is using his immense talent to create, through words and illustrations, a fantasy world called Rynaga. This pet project of his has already spawned a really cool book and a super-sweet card game called Iconica. This past week Eric invited me to an Iconica game night. He said there’d be treats.

And there were. Eric was challenging all comers to a stripped down and accelerated version of the game. If you beat him he’d give you a free card. I lost. Bad. But it was fun to play him since it gave me the opportunity to see exactly how the game should progress and how the rules should apply. Iconica is basically a turn-based strategy / RPG card game. It is a balance between good strategic choices (like picking the three cards you will play with) and luck of the roll. It doesn’t take long to learn but is engaging enough to keep you interested.

The basic 2-player starter set comes with six character cards, a quick reference card, two dice, a bunch of game markers, and the rules. Eric sells this for a measly ten bucks. Great deal. I picked up mine back when I saw it for the first time a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve tried to keep up with all the new card additions that have been released and, after last week’s game night, I’ve got a complete set.

My excitement about Iconica falls into three categories:

1 – Graphic Designer
Like I mentioned, the visuals are what sucked me in. Heck, I just like staring at these cards. Creative designs, smart color palettes, organized layout. A while back I asked Eric if he’d come in to the studio where I work to show the other designers his stuff. He graciously obliged and we all still talk about how impressed we were.

2 – Gamer
Having cut my trading-card-game teeth on Yu-Gi-Oh! I’m kinda hesitant to invest in a game that requires that much of a learning curve and investment in good cards. Iconica offers an engaging gaming experience without all the expenditure of time and money to get up to speed. Its not to say you don’t have to use your brain, however. There is a good amount of player strategy required.

3 – Collector
I feel kind’uv funny admitting that Iconica appeals to me most as a collector. I find the cards so attractive and unique that I want them all! They just look good together as a set. Add to that the intriguing character backgrounds and traits and you’ve got a wormhole that’s easy to fall in. Just to make sure I’m current, I put together this little visual checklist:

Home grown projects like this often suffer from a lack of exposure. Not to say Eric hasn’t been working hard to get it out there and in front of people. He has. But a stroke of good fortune came his way a couple months ago. A writer for WIRED magazine got wind of the game and contacted Eric for an interview. As a result, two articles were published on WIRED’s web site. One about the game itself and another with an interview with the creator.

There is more to Eric’s project than the card game. Really the game is an extension of the fantasy world he has created called Rynaga. If you’ve got even the slightest interest in this type of thing I suggest picking up the first book: Prelude. Flipping through this book it becomes obvious that Eric Torres is a perfectionist in the best sense. The illustration and design is flawless. The story telling is unique and absorbing. Really, I’m not sure if I’d call it a fantasy book or an art book!


Well, that’s probably more gushing than any of you care to read. I just really feel that a great property is being created here. Best of luck to Eric and the World of Rynaga. ‘Cause, lord knows, I want to see toys some day!

Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.




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