Knights of Ren: Year One

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Where Did It Start?

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A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…… I was living in Los Angeles as a kid – Disneyland, Hollywood, IN-N-Out burger and the Cali lifestyle was always in my head since I can remember. But I remember watching Star Wars as a kid on regular TV with commercials and all that with my Dad while my Mom was out with friends, and I remember Episode 4 and the Death Star trench run. This was the end of the film and we had watched almost 2 hours and it was all leading up to here. The rebels were fighting for their lives and Biggs was killed and Luke was the last hope for anything to happen, and he was probably about to get blown up, and it was all over. THEN from above, Han shows up and just changes the whole balance and gives Luke the space he needs to save the day and beat the bad guys. I remember cheering and jumping up when Luke saved the day and the rebels won the uphill battle against impossible odds. That was Star Wars. Space battles, smugglers, super powers, and one amazing narrative I had never seen before. I was too small to understand this feeling, but I was totally captured with Star Wars and what it had to offer. Freedom. Similar to Jack Sparrow and his perspective of a ship, I felt the same way about films and especially Star Wars. Media was freedom. I could roam around in those universes forever and enjoy something how I wanted to.

As I grew older I understood it was all fake, but I fell in love with media and creating stuff. Drawing, music and art was now who I was and desired above sleep. So fast forward many many years and I have spent 13 years in professional media working on video and audio projects for major and small companies. In my heart I had a love for entertainment as well as podcasting since it can be as free as you want it to be, with the flexibility of radio, and entertainment level of film. It was a HUGE step forward for media outlets when podcasting became easy to produce and popular to listen to. So after working on a LOT of projects, I had always wanted to make my own, but I never had a topic to discuss that I was actually able to keep alive or enjoy doing myself. Before Knights of Ren, I dabbled with another Disney show called “Of Mice and Things” where I brought on guests to discuss Disney park stuff and I loved it, but being a single host was terrible, and I knew this was a failure without constantly having guests on the show. So this was a BIG note for me when the pre production for KoR began.

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Fast forward to 2016. I had moved to Orlando and was getting settled in with a few new friends, discovering Cool Stuff Inc as my local game store, and playing AGoT 2.0/Conquest and feeling really bored, and excited for the new games from Gen Con 2016. Enter the announcement of Star Wars Destiny. We all watched the Team Covenant video and I was shocked, this game looked amazing! Dice and cards with a super smash bros feel but for Star Wars. I remember flashing back and the same excitement when Luke saved the rebels was infused with this game’s announcement, and seeing the first play-through video ever. At this point, a BGG forum was live for the game as well as a Facebook page of a few players, maybe 200 or so. We all began to talk about the game and how excited we were about shields, Luke’s OP draw ability, and how BB-8 must be a auto include because of how good his card was.

Pre Production Process

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Knights of Ren actually started because Rick, Jay, and myself were constantly talking and arguing about cards, effects and viability across the BGG threads, Reddit, and Facebook. Eventually we realized we were the same three guys saying the same things and created a Facebook message thread where we began to talk in private so as not to flood these mediums with our thoughts. We also began to discuss the game every day and in great depth. I became a mod for a Destiny Facebook group, and Jay began to write about games he played at Gen Con and fed us with more information about a game no one really knew anything about. Eventually, I brought up the idea of podcasting and asked if Rick and Jay would be interested. I didn’t know if this would work and if they said no I would have been ok with it, but something was different about this game and the three of us had a lot of good talks and synergy at discussing the game at this point. Eventually both of them said they were interested, and now the podcast had begun to sprout legs. So first we needed to verify everyone had professional gear because I knew without quality sound we would be written off as a hobby show, and I knew this opportunity was something we couldn’t afford to mess up out of the gate. I told the team we needed quality streaming mics if we were going to continue, and hilariously both asked if this show would last more than a month or so, because they didn’t want to buy something that would sit and collect dust. After we secured professional gear, I began to setup artwork, a podcast hosting site, and all the backstage work, but the most important question came up: “What will our show be called?”

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We spent at least a week talking about who we wanted to be named after. Good guys or bad guys? Spies or smugglers? What would be look like? How would we approach this? Rick was the idea man behind the name for Knights of Ren and it was the first name we all agreed on (there were some pretty bad ones). At that point I went crazy with securing Facebook/Twitter/Email/Website Domains and whatever I could get for Knights of Ren naming. Rick was also the idea man for mixing Kylo’s mask with a microphone (which makes total sense thematically and logistically). We got in touch with his artist friend and created the logo so many people know today. Now we were legit and ready to begin the recording process, but the biggest problem we had to tackle for episode 1, what would we talk about?

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Who Are The Knights of Ren?

Now we had to discuss how often would we record. Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? It was all a mess logistically since we had no clue what we were going to do, but we knew we were doing this. We eventually decided to do a bi-weekly show and recorded our first show and uploaded it just to see what would happen. We sat down and began to talk about Destiny and magically it came together really naturally and it was fun! However, we began to see more and more content come out from FFG, and it made no sense to not talk about the new cards and ideas we had. So we recorded every Sunday evening, and I would edit the show, and things got more and more interesting, and we got more and more excited. We got so caught up in recording weekly that the show just kinda became a weekly show because we couldn’t stop and really didn’t want to. We kept going with recording, editing, and marketing the podcast as best we could, and things began to come together and we found our groove together as a team. Something we never expected to happen though, people were listening and engaging with us. We started with 10-12 listeners and a few likes on Facebook and that was amazing! We were so excited that anyone listened and began to talk with us on social media about Destiny. At that point we had started a long journey to create something we love and never ever expected.

At this point in the Destiny timeline we were a month away from launch and we were having fun creating content and talking about this game but we had to discuss who we were and what was our goal behind the scenes. This was a tough decision because there were a lot of paths and ways we could create content and brand ourselves. Jay was probably the one who said it best, and the basic goal of KoR was to help players be the best they can be. We began to take this approach with everything we did and said on and off the show. We created a Discord for people to talk about the game in real time. TTS had a mod created by Icekobra and we began our TTS channel so players could connect and test decks anyplace and anytime. We wrote articles and worked hard to make any and all information available about Destiny so that players could find the decks and characters they wanted to play, not what people told them to play.  At this point we might have been a few weeks away from launch of the game and Knights of Ren had just grown legs and begun to walk.

Fast forward a few weeks and Destiny is now live and people were playing games, asking questions, and we were right in the thick of it. We knew something magical was happening and we were right at the front of it all, but we didn’t know what to expect. We just knew that regardless of how popular we may or may not become, we wanted to have fun, respect every player, and create entertaining and valuable content so any listener can gain new information to make their gameplay better. Rick is more or less the “father of the show” helping keep us on track and focused on what needs to be done with his wisdom and experience. Jay was the “heart of the show” helping us not make blanket statements or make definitive statements about cards/decks, but offering ideas and ways to play anything at any level you’re interested in. And I was the “producer of the show” doing the work needed to get the show up, and keep the media side of things up and running. It was a team match made in heaven that I could not have expected since we had never met in person until Worlds 2017.

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One Year Later

One year has come so quickly, and Knights of Ren is more than a podcast, its a way of life. Running the podcast is a lot of fun, but I want to add the community into the mix, because I don’t think that three guys are enough of a voice for this game. We created Galactic Senate a month or so ago, because no one had really given the community a voice. Sure people said things the community talked about, but no content creator was letting people come on the show and just say whatever about whatever. Galactic Senate is a podcast for the players, run by the players, and I am glad it’s been such a huge success. More is coming and it’s going to be 100% focused on whoever has something to say and wants to record it.

Knights of Ren has evolved, and although Jay has left the weekly show, we have added two amazing players and content creators. Nick and Todd are a welcome to the team, and a lot of fun to talk with each week. But I want to say that regardless of who comes and who goes, once a Knight, always a Knight. As the core podcast continues on we will always strive for the highest quality of audio and content for our listeners. We will present our ideas and content freely to the people who play because we are all in this together. We will hopefully visit more venues and cons as the year goes by, and bring you the best coverage of Destiny. But most importantly, we want people to know we are here to be a resource for you. Our Facebook/Discord/Email/Twitter, all these are freely available for questions about anything you might have. And if the 5 of us cannot answer your question personally, we have a team ready to help you out almost 24/7.

There are more ideas and things we are talking about behind the scenes, and it is very exciting. But after one year, I can say this has been an adventure, and I am excited for whatever this next year brings. We have had ups and downs, but it’s the journey that has made us closer than ever before. We have met so many people across many states, and it has been so much fun to shake your hands and take pictures at these events. But the most special moments for me personally, are when someone says that what we said helped them win a game/event/tournament or whatever.

The story is still going, and I am humbled by everyone who has said hello at a con or local store. I never expected for KoR to be what it is today. I just wanted to talk about a game and have fun, and maybe someone might tune in. Here we are, and I have 2 new brothers in my family, and many thousands of friends who share the same love and passion for a game with dice and cards. There are so many stories and so many people who have made us what KoR is. I would be a fool to say it was just the 3 of us that made things come together the way they have. There are too many people to name and/or thank, so thank you. Thank you to our audience, listeners, Patreons, new friends and old rivals. We could not have gotten this far without your help and support. Knights of Ren has made some changes and added Nick and Todd to the podcast team, but we have made sure to stand by our core beliefs every day we do this. Its always been and always been about the people who play the game.

There are so many stories I could tell and so many things we have learned along the way, but at this point in time, I can say I never expected this. All I wanted was to talk about games and make friends, but this podcast has allowed us to help people and connect others together with new friends and more games to play. We have not changed our approach and never really will, but we are always available and want everyone to know we are here for you. We could not and will not be able to do this without you and we are eternally grateful.

-Sugi

 

 

 

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