Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Collectible card game
Collectible card games (CCGs), also called customizable card games or trading card games, are played using specially designed sets of cards. While trading cards have been around for much longer, CCGs combine the appeal of collecting and strategic game play.
Each CCG system has a fundamental set of rules that describes the players' objectives, the categories of cards used in the game, and the basic rules by which the cards interact. Each card will have additional text explaining that specific card's effect on the game. They also generally represent some specific element derived from the game's genre, setting, or source material. The cards are illustrated and named for these source elements, and the card's game function may relate to the subject. For example, Magic is based on the fantasy genre, so many of the cards represent creatures and magical spells from that setting. In the game, a dragon is illustrated as a reptilian beast, has the flying ability, and has quite formidable game statistics compared to other creatures.
Almost all CCGs are designed around a single resource system by which the pace of each game is generally controlled. This is also in addition to the number of cards themselves being a resource. Relative card strength is often balanced by the number or type of basic resources needed in order to play the card, and pacing after that may be determined by the flow of cards moving in and out of play. Resources may be specific cards themselves, or represented by other means (i.e. tokens in various resource pools, symbols on cards, etc...).
Players select which cards will compose their deck from the available pool of cards - unlike traditional card games such as poker or UNO where the deck's content is limited and pre-determined. This allows a CCG player to strategically customize their deck to take advantage of favorable card interactions, combinations and statistics.
During a game, players traditionally take turns playing cards and performing game-related actions. The order and titles of these steps vary between different game systems, but these are typical:
- Restore - make all in play cards ready for the upcoming turn
- Draw card(s) - necessary in order to circulate cards in players' hands
- Play card(s) - use the cards in hand to interact with the game
- Conflict - the primary method for victory in most games (combat is a very popular theme)
- Discard card(s) - most games have a maximum hand size, or need to refresh for next turn
Modern CCGs have also been developed that are played over the Internet. Instead of receiving physical cards, a player establishes a "virtual" collection that is kept only in electronic memory and cards can be purchased or traded within this environment. There are online versions of games that originated as physical CCGs, as well as games that exist solely online.
Specific game cards are most often produced in various degrees of scarcity, generally denoted as common, uncommon, and rare. Some games use alternate or additional designations for the relative rarity levels. Special cards may also only be available through promotions, events, or redemption programs.
- Starter set - This is an introductory product which contains enough cards for two player and includes instructional information for the specific game. In order to speed the learning process, the card content is typically fixed and designed around a theme, so that the new players can start playing right away.
- Tournament or starter deck - This contains enough game cards (usually 40 or more) for one player. It usually contains a random selection of cards, but with some basic elements so that it may be playable from the start.
- Theme deck - Most CCGs are designed with opposing factions, themes, or strategies. A theme deck is composed primarily of cards that will work well together and is typically non-random.
- Booster packs - This method of distribution is most similar to trading cards as the packs contain a random selection of typically 8 to 15 cards.
- Games published in the form of trading cards.
- Games in which a player selects a collection of tradeable elements and uses that set to compete with other players.
- Certain aspects of gameplay originally developed for Magic: The Gathering, such as "tapping" a card to indicate it is temporarily depleted.
As a holder of the patent, Wizards of the Coast has requested that all trading card game publishers license the mechanics described in the patent, usually for a royalty fee based on total sales.
In October 2003, Wizards of the Coast filed suit against Nintendo and related companies in U.S. District Court in Seattle shortly after its distribution agreement expired. The suit alleged, along with other claims, that the Pokémon Trading Card Game, infringed on the company's patent. In December of that year, the parties settled the case on undisclosed terms, precluding a judicial ruling which might have been the first test of the patent's legal validity.
- Wizards of the Coast (Oct. 15, 1997). Wizards of the Coast Inc. Granted Patent on Trading Card Games. Press Release.
- Cook, John (Oct. 11, 2003). It's Wizards vs. Pokemon as ex-partners square off. Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
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