A Simple Introduction to Trading Card Games


Let me briefly define what a trading card game (TCG) is before I explain why they are so much fun.  In a TCG you create your own deck and then play against an opponent using that deck.  In a “traditional card game” like Uno or Apples to Apples, each player draws from the same deck but in a TCG each player has his own deck.  A “traditional card game” comes with all of the cards included while a TCG is “bigger than the box” because there are more cards to collect.

(I hate to mention grammar but ‘TCG’, trading card game, is singular while ‘TCGs’, trading card games, is plural.  I hope that helps.  –Grammar Jedi)

OK, back to why TCGs are so great.  TCGs involve deep strategy and concentration.  Each turn could be played with multiple options and you have to carefully weigh each choice.  TCGs test your deck building skills as well as your skill for playing the game itself.  Sometimes you honestly don’t know which card to play and you have to rely on your instincts.

Back to my TCG tutorial.  The oldest and most popular TCG is Magic: The Gathering which is aimed at older teenagers and adults.  The other major TCGs are World of Warcraft, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon.  Even though Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon target young teenagers, both games have tournaments that attract players of all ages.  Magic: The Gathering has the biggest tournaments and the winners win actual cash.  These “Pro Tournaments” are the highest level of play and you have to be invited to play.  Some of the games at the Pro-Tour are recorded so you learn directly from the professionals.

(I do admit that I have played both Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon.  Pokemon was probably my first TCG videogame and I played it on the ancient Gameboy Color.  Yu-Gi-Oh ignited my TCG fever and I had a great time playing it on Gameboy Advance.)

Magic, which is a common abbreviation for Magic: The Gathering, has two videogames to choose from.  “Duels of the Planeswalkers” is the introductory game that lets you learn the game and play against other people.  Magic Online includes many more cards and also allows you to play against other people.  Obviously Magic Online has a much higher cost.  Magic Online is the meat and potatoes while Duels of the Planeswalkers is good appetizer.

This is a good time to talk about TCGs and Magic’s biggest drawback: the money.  Although Magic is deeply satisfying to play, it can also become a money pit.  New cards come out every few 4 months and the cost to own everything can easily be in the hundreds.  Magic in particular is eerily intoxicating and is jokingly called “cardboard crack”.

Magic: The Gathering

Link  – Learn to play, includes an interactive tutorial, rules, and videos.  Read the rulebook AFTER playing a few games.  The rulebook is basically just a bunch of facts on how to play the game and it won’t make much sense if you don’t know what is going on.

Link – Wikipedia article about Magic

Link – Duels of the Planeswalkers (Windows, XBox360, Playstation 3) – has a free demo

Link (backup link) – Older Magic Interactive Tutorial (Windows) – This is how I learned Magic because you can play the game using simple cards.  I played this for hours because it was so much fun.

Link – Magic Online, how to get started

Next time I’ll talk about:

–How to learn a new TCG.

–What are booster packs?

–What is a starter deck?

–Cheap TCGs.

Written by: mtgrares (mtgrares@yahoo.com)

Magic: The Gathering Blog:  mtgrares.blogspot.com

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About TheGameGuide

We are two gamers writing about anything that has to do with video games to keep you up to date with the newest and coolest things.

Posted on January 3, 2012, in TCG Tuesday and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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