Mahabharta comes to life on cards with ‘Legend of Vyas’

In today’s times children are exposed to the likes of DC and Marvel superheroes, and the ones from the Indian mythology are lost somewhere in the very books they existed. But some creative minds with their products are trying to introduce legendary scriptures like Mahabharata and Ramayana to the new age audience by bringing alive the characters from their manuscripts with a twist. With India being culturally rich, there is no shortage of stories and tales which one can explore and re-tell them making it relevant for any age group or time. There was a time when every night, kids used to wait for their grandmothers to narrate stories about these legends and teleport them to those fable lands, but now all is lost with the digital medium taking over the orthodox storyteller. Vansh Games, a Singapore based start-up, is one such organisation that has strived to recreate a place for historical characters in the most appealing way. With its recently developed Legend of Vyas, a card game based on Mahabharata, it aims to create awareness of the important literary work not only among the youth of India but also the audience abroad. Cards based games like Pokemon, Digimon and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft are popular worldwide, but India still lacks the understanding of these games. People here still consider traditional card games like Rummy, Teen Patti or even UNO to be the only card games. So, how does Legend of Vyas fit into the Indian market? The game was born as a brainchild of two friends, Dr Huren Sivaraj and Varun Devanathan, who imagined a game they would have played in current times that would revolve around the characters, stories, and lessons of the Mahabharata. They wanted to create a collectible card game which would bring to life the characters, stories and messages from Mahabharata, one of the world’s most important literary works of cultural and historical significance. Speaking over the mail to the team (Varun, Huren and V.Natarajan – marketing director), we understand what is the game all about and how do they plan to tackle the India issue and make presence in the global market. LoV_Main Thought Process Varun: The thinking behind Legend of Vyas incorporates the Mahabharata’s richness of characters and plots that have fascinated generations of Indians as well as non-Indians, with the card game genre. The Mahabharata has warriors, astras, weapons, spells – all these blend well to the card game genre. Because there are so many interesting aspects to the story, we had very rich material to draw from. And we have only just started with the first release, The Better Bowman, which has the two heroes, Arjuna and Karna. We are looking forward to releasing future cards based on other characters and plots found in the Mahabharata. Starting off with just two heroes in the first of the what will go on to become a franchise, Vansh Games, currently a four member team, wants to incorporate more characters from Mahabharata, then on to other mythological series. And Indian mythology is full of strong characters and plots’ and Mahabharata for one deals not just the war between Pandavas and Kauravas but has life philosophy lessons told by Lord Krishna. Legend of Vyas has two heroes in focus right now, one is the righteous Karna who has to fight his own brothers in the war and another is the fine bowman Arjuna whose aim will hit right at the target and not anywhere else. Cards-3 Art The card games have elaborate art on the face as well as the back and Legend of Vyas is no different.  The characters of Arjuna and Karna have been illustrated meticulously along with the weapons, astras and other characters from the folklore. Varun: To ensure that the artwork was of unparalleled quality, we worked with renowned Indian digital artist, Anirudh Sainath. Anirudh, who also goes by the moniker Molee, is well known for his artistic depictions of Hindu gods and characters from Indian mythology. We chose to work with Anirudh Sainath as we loved his work and knew that the Mahabharata was something close to his heart. He strove to be true to the source material, to portray the characters and events as described in the Mahabharata instead of basing them on popular opinion, and being creatively expressive where possible. He was also mindful of how best to portray the mythology within the format of a card game. Singaporean artist, Benjamin Tan, was brought on board to create the illustrations for various weapons and item cards. We had also seen Benjamin’s work and felt that he would be able to create what we wanted for various weapons and item cards. He has not disappointed us and has been a pleasure to work with. Apart from the art, the packaging of the card too gives a very premium feel. Thus, the textured design is kept consistent to the back of the cards and simply the name of the game is on the box, keeping it clutter free. The inside needed to be as functional as possible. Everything has its place along with the dice placement forming the Legend of Vyas logo. Cards-1 Gameplay Terms like HP system, or attack damage or spell resistance, but once you are acquainted with the rules, there is no stopping. Legend of Vyas follows two of the most celebrated heroes of Mahabharta and their battle against each other. Like other card games, here too you need to lay your cards and pick cards from the deck for your turn. One has to choose between the two desired heroes and start making his army around it. The army consists of five warriors and an advisior which help you during your fight. Apart from this, there are various spell cards, astras and weapon cards which one needs to use very carefully during the war to win. Also, the game has tokens and three dices which are similar to the one seen in Mahabharata. This is not all, there is also a formation card which tells you what formation the warrior and the heroes need to be in. There are more than a couple of formations to choose from which you can either be on your offense or defense depending on the war situation. Plus, the weapons, spells and the astras add to the drama of war. Each help in achieving the final goal – defeat the other hero. Just like the Pokemon cards, here too you can mix and match different cards and with the expansion pack coming out soon, one can expect more astra, weapon and spell cards in it. Select your hero, make your army, choose your weapons, spells and astras and battle against friends. Marketing Marketing is an important aspect for any product and games are no different. Choosing to market the game to the right audience is necessary and Vansh chose Comic Con India to target the youth of the country. Natarajan: Our focus has been Comic Con India purely because it is one event that brings our target audience together. It has been an exhilarating experience at Comic Con India. You never know who and what to expect, it was surprising to see people of all ages attending the event – from grandmothers to 2-year olds. The response to Legend of Vyas was outstanding. They loved the concept, the gameplay and the art. Our marketing strategy has been 3-prong, Online presence via use of social media and internet ads, PR via traditional publications both online and offline as well as gaming communities and On-ground activation to create exposure and excitement. One of the trends seen currently is the number of digital collectible card games that have turned up in the last three years. One of the popular ones that instantly come to mind is Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which was launched in 2014 and has been on the grossing charts for a while now. So, does Legend of Vyas want to go the online way? Natarajan: Right now we would love to tie up with investors so that we can expand the game, including the genre. Plus, we have plans to develop an online version of the game, to reach a wider segment of the population. The game previously priced at $35, seems to have been lowered according to the team due to the mass production and the response it has been receiving. But there is no price drop on the website and the game is still selling at $35, the makers are providing the game with free shipping to the country. Natarajan: We are exploring making it also available at a few retail outlets in India, and through select partners in USA, Canada and UK. The game has received good response from USA, UK, Singapore, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai. The state of the board/card games in India has been picking up recently with the introduction of various board game clubs across the country and the newer generation is more open to sit and play board games than the previous generation. Varun: Board games aren’t well established yet in India, with no major following as compared to countries like, USA, Europe and Japan. There is limited exposure to the collectible card game genre and how fun it is, especially with an epic like Mahabharata as the basis. We hope we can change this.
V.Natarajan and Varun Devanathan