Collectible Card Games

Collectible Card Games sprang onto the market just a decade ago, pulling money out of your pocket for your kids to collect their favorite creatures and battle - but what IS a CCG?

It wasn't so long ago that card games consisted of using the common deck of cards for a variety of aims - poker, gin rummy and cribbage being some of the more popular. Even when Old Maid and Uno came out, the specialized decks were great to use and play with, but kept your attention span for only a few hours because of the simple play involved.

But in the 1990's a new and wild craze swept the nation and the world, leapfrogging the name "collectible card game" out of the back of comic and gaming stores and into the forefront where everyone knows someone who's participating in this collecting and possibly obsessive hobby.

The first really big CCG came from a small obscure company called Wizards Of The Coast and was titled "Magic". The concept was simple - you are a wizard and by using magical points acquired by placing certain cards down on the playing area, you summon creatures and cast spells to attack your opponent - who then counterattacks and so forth until one of you loses all your life points and the game ends.

Simple enough, but addictive enough to generate millions of dollars as the craze spread from the comic stores into mainstream North America where you could just as likely find the cards being sold in your local bookstore and grocery store as in the remote gaming stores. One major factor in the popularity was that everyone could have their own individual deck to play with - the amount of cards and the "booster" packs available (often with themes of their own or new revelations and moves) ensured that no deck would ever be alike. Soon magazines popped up on-line and on the bookshelves offering tips and hints on how to improve your play and how to create better and more fun decks.

Magic spawned hundreds of other CCGs from the Oriental-based world of The Legend of Five Rings to Star Wars to the ever-popular Pokemon; all based on the simple concept of the holder of the deck being able to create and change their reality by just using a few cards and a tabletop anywhere in the country and soon the world.

Many people play CCGs; from young children who love the idea of having their favorite television characters at their beck and call to older adults who thrive on the strategy and swift play, jumping into tournaments around the world to demonstrate their skill at playing their deck and dealing with the variety of defenses that beset them.

Most CCGs are rather cheap to begin with - a "starter" deck of approximately thirty cards will cost you anywhere from ten to fifteen dollars; with a rulebook and instructions on how to play inside. You can purchase different types of decks, some pre-fabricated for instant playability or for collectors specifically. After that you may purchase "booster" packs for anywhere from five to ten dollars; each offering their own special addition to your playing deck and offering even more variety to the player.

One major attraction of the average CCG is the artwork. Magic broke the mold with vivid, strong images that swept off the card and into the viewer's mind; transporting them into the battle with much more than a few words could have done. These creative pictures have been valued and the artists responsible acquiring a fan base of their own, enough that certain cards will go up in value not because of their rarity, but because of the artist who created the image accompanying it. Other artists have gone on-line and now sell selected prints of their creations, available for framing to the average fan who fell in love with the Sierra Angel or the hysterical Goblin Grenade.

Find a popular movie and it's likely there's a CCG close behind in production - the X-Men and Digimon have their own series and Pokemon threatens to take over Magic as one of the most popular games as children around the world rush to pick up their own special pack of cards.

Educators have expressed some support for CCGs, mostly that they encourage creative thinking and counting skills - you can't win the game if you can't count the damage either being given or taken and the ability to stretch your imagination far beyond a chess game with a certain amount of moves.

CCGs burst onto the scene just over ten years ago and show no sign of abating; creating new markets for the authors and artists alike as their tales wander into art galleries and onto bookshelves as the card games spawns more and more demand for further stories. If you haven't seen or tried one of them, maybe it's time you looked behind the shelf at your local bookstore and asked for that starter deck of Pokemon - maybe you could be the next Grand Master!

© High Speed Ventures 2011