With Board Game Jam happening this weekend I figure it’s apropos to post some information on card games.

Collectible card games (CCG) are also called trading card or customizable card games; for most purposes these terms are interchangeable. The best example of a CCG is Magic: The Gathering which has been around since the wary 90s and is still going strong!

There are some really basic commonalities of these style of games. In most CCGs players purchase decks of cards which are sold in a random distribution like baseball cards. Ultimately, players use these cards to create a unique individualized deck. CCGs also make us of thematic motif and gameplay elements from RPGs (like Dungeons and Dragons).

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To be clear, these card games aren’t limited to table top play – most of the popular CCGs have a version that works on mobiles or computers. Indeed, Blizzard is making a purely digital card game HearthStone; whereas Ascension plays better digitally than physically (at least for me since I’m bad at math and the computer can run the numbers). Regardless of their physical or digital they adhere to the same basic gameplay.

The variety of cards available ensure that CCGs are games that can have a lot of depth. The basics are the same each game, but with cards that modify rules things can get rather complex. As the game Cabal explains:

Tactically trading card games are games of great depth and variety, but they are also games of deck building. In them, each player has their own collection of cards that they use to put together a deck to play with against other players. Thus, each player is equipped with a unique, self-designed deck with its own tricks and optimal way to play it. This helps to make sure that no two matches play alike and that there are always new surprises and interesting twists waiting with the next opponent.

I’ll leave the rest of this short introduction to Geek Dad which covers why card games are fun:

Trading Card Games are a social event. They are a way for kids, adults, geeks, and other collectors to come together. Playing at home with close friends, or at card shops to make new friends, can be a fun way to practice your skills. TCGs also provide fun goals: collecting, trading, playing, and participating in competitions are all parts of the general experiences available.

And also Geek Dad examines the basics of how to read cards and some core tactics.

In most TCGs, each card has a “cost,” “type,” “speed,” “color,” and “rarity.”

The cost of a card is determined uniquely in each game. In some games, the cost is turns, as in, some cards may only be played after the third turn. In games like Magic: the Gathering (M:tG), the cost is determined by the power of the card. Rarely, a card will cost 0. Just as rarely, a card such as Draco may cost 16! These costs are paid for by “tapping” cards to produce mana. (Tapping is a mechanic which uses up a card until the beginning of your next turn.)

I’ll be posting about a card-based game I’ve been making for my February game-a-month game once the chaos from Board Game Jam ends.