Hello there, and thank you for stopping by. My name is Zach “Aphelion” Lincoln, and I am one of the founders of Team Rankstar!
Team Rankstar is a project my co-founder Ben “Realize” Williams and I started to integrate ourselves with the communities we love. While we are both avid players of many games, each of will be focusing on our primary CCGs: Hearthstone (him) and Eternal (myself).
While still in our preliminary stages of development, we will be focusing on producing content across all platforms, and aim to include other contributors as our organizations grows!
A little about myself:
I am a 28 year old lifelong gamer based out of Portland, OR. I grew up in Tacoma, WA, and have spent most of my life in the Pacific NW. The advantageous thing about living in a rainy part of the world is that you get plenty of time to stay home and play games. My gaming career started when I was very young, when my parents gave me a Sega Genesis. From that point, my interest in gaming held steady for most of my youth. In middle school, I picked up the Pokemon TCG, and played in several local events. At that time, I realized my interest in gaming was much more socially based, than competitive. From there, I discovered online gaming, with Warcraft, Starcraft and ultimately Halo.
The thing that drove me to playing these games with any regularity was the community, the feeling of belonging and common interest was something I did not have elsewhere. So I stuck around! World of Warcraft changed the game and became my social life for most of high school, and a little bit of college, when I took several years off of gaming to focus on school. Toward the end, I was introduced to Magic: The Gathering (had played a little when I was younger, but not with any of the rules), specifically “Commander”. This was exactly what I wanted from gaming: a competitive spirit to keep things moving, intricate problem solving in the form of matching up your resources and answers with your opponents, and of course, hanging out with friends.
Shortly after I graduated from college, I moved to Portland, and discovered competitive constructed Magic: The Gathering. I found a community I enjoyed participating in, and built lifelong relationships with the players around me. After a few years of competitive Magic, my interests refined a bit more to the Legacy format, and had more or less given up playing with any regularity. Commander kept me in touch with the community, and I was able to help facilitate somewhat regular gatherings for my friends, but did not have something to sink my teeth into. At that point, I had discovered Hearthstone.
Hearthstone was a fantastic combination of what I was looking for: digital CCG that did not require me to leave my couch (if I didn’t want to), a fun social element sharing decks and ideas with friends, no need to communicate with your potentially salty opponent, as well as a healthy competitive scene to watch online. I spent most of my evenings grinding away at ladder for a time, and watching as many streams on Twitch as I could. Eventually, the game grew and changed, and the community changed as a reflection. The biggest drawback for the game was the cost of entry. While I have a stable and decent job that allows me to afford my hobbies to an extent, part of the reason I walked away from competitve Magic was the ever changing list of cards needed to stay on top of things. Hearthstone was a bit of a reprieve from that when ~$250 bought you the bulk of what was in standard, and the ability to shift with the meta if need be. Sometime in 2017, that all changed pretty dramatically. All of the sudden, you needed to spend $150+ per set released in order to keep up, and the format kept feeling more and more stale. At this point, I was almost exclusively playing “Wild”, which ultimately was less expensive, but the game was feeling less fulfilling. So I began sort of looking out for other games, when I saw Brian Kibler streaming Eternal.
I had a friend who was playing Eternal pretty heavily in Q1 2017, and had tried to get me to make the switch, but I was too deep in Hearthstone to pay any mind. I wish I would not have been so stubborn. I don’t remember exactly how it transpired after seeing Kibler preview the game, but before I knew it, I was through the campaign and in my first Gauntlet. The game really brought a lot of the qualities I enjoyed from Hearthstone, as well as a lot of the things I missed from Magic (fast spells, declaring blockers, power flood/screw, interesting jank,) and added so much more within the digital design space. I was instantly hooked. I very quickly put down Hearthstone, and have only glanced back on occasion. One of the biggest appeals to the game was the cost of entry being incredibly low, and offering a true “Free to Play” experience. Hearthstone used to market itself as this (less so now, I have noticed), but was not particularly generous in giving away packs or access to cards. Eternal gives away packs and the resources to acquire packs/draft (gold) like candy. The model they have chosen is incredibly welcoming, and has helped me recruit a handful of my Magic/Hearthstone friends to come and play.
Now a very active advocate for Eternal, there are a lot of things I love and only a few things I would like to see them improve. All of which I plan on covering in my forthcoming articles.
Again, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read over this and support Team Rankstar, and I look forward to hearing from you all in the future!