My name is Nevi, and I have a problem. I can’t stop gravitating towards collectable card games. At the UK Games Expo Press Preview, I was rather nicely given some starter decks and boosters for Warhammer Champions. It was my own fault for being drawn towards their stand in the first place, but the chances are very slim that I’ll actually play this game more than once or twice.
While I still keep trying collectable card games I tend to read the rules, look through the cards and consider how it works, have a few games to get a feel for how it all fits together. After that, they sit on a shelf or are rubber banded together in a box, never to be played again. This because they are bad games necessarily (although that does happen), but because I think I’m more interested in how the game works than actually playing.
Just to list off a few collectable card games I have tried over the past few games we have:
- Magic The Gathering (although I think I’ve finally sold all of this off)
- Dragon Ball Super Card Game
- Munchkin Collectible Card Game
- Pokemon TCG
- Warhammer Champions
- Final Fantasy TCG
- Star Wars Destiny
- Transformers TCG
And there are probably more if you went back further than the last few years (Digimon TCG, for example) or took a look at digital only card games (Duelyst I’m looking at you). Of all of these, Magic the Gather and Netrunner have seen the most play but I have eagerly read the rules and tried few games of each with intense fervour. There is something uniquely exciting to see how a CCG (or TCG depending on how what you want to call them) can set itself apart from the rest of the competition. From Netrunners bluffing to the different champions and lanes in Warhammer Champions, each tries to have that one defining characteristic that pulls in new players, and hopefully keeps them for the long haul.
And that is a big part of why I don’t play these games for long periods any more, I’m not here for the long haul. I can’t do it anymore. I don’t have the resources to dedicate large amounts of time and money on a single game. I used to when I was a student or a much younger version of myself. I’d pour over Magic the Gather cards constructing decks for several different formats and look forward to testing them out on other people. Similarly, when I get into Netrunner a few years later this felt like a totally unique game that took the card game format I loved so much and made into a different beast entirely, and I love it. However, the monthly release schedule was difficult. I kept up with it for about a year and a half before I’d start to slip. I’d miss one month and need to buy two packs next month, learning lots of new cards in one lump. One missed month would soon become two, then three, then six, and that was the end of my time with Netrunner.
So now, I try these kinds of games in search of some unknowable element that might draw me back into the fold. I get excited each time and hastily read the rules, lay out a mock game and then pack it all away only to be brought out at an undetermined point in the future. Maybe there will be that one golden perfect game that will get me back into the format, but it seems unlikely. At this stage, most games will on the surface are different, they are about summoning monsters, doing damage and taking your foe down to zero health. While Keyforge does set itself apart I have different issues with that game that probably deserve their own article.
Perhaps if more CCGs follow Keyforge’s lead though and take a step back from the Magic the Gathering format, we might see more unique games. The realm of board gaming has grown massively in since CCGs became a thing, so the scope of what is possible in the format needs to grow as well. Perhaps something where you build an economic engine and race your opponent to be the best corporation or a CCG about tending a farm and selling vegetables.
I don’t know what the future holds for CCG’s but I know that I’ll be there to check out a starter box and maybe, just maybe, I there will be a game that makes me stick around for longer.