My name is Mercurio Silver and I don’t like… Collectible Card Games

My name is Mercurio Silver and I don’t like… Collectible Card Games

 

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I took last week off. I’m allowed to, it’s in the contract I didn’t sign when I joined The Reticule.

Following some of the comments from the last column, I felt that perhaps I owed Dungeons and Dragons another go. A lot of people in the comments seemed to think I was being needlessly harsh, that I was taking one bad game and applying it universally. So I gave it another shot.

It’s still awful.

Right, now that’s out of the way, onto today’s topic: Collectible Card Games.

I imagine you expect me to hate them, and that would be fair. Fair, but wrong. Unlike Dungeons and Dragons, Collectible Card Games are something I can get behind. I have been known to dabble in the odd hand of a Collectible Card Game myself, it is called poker. You sit at the table with a deck of cards, you place your cards on the table, and the person with the best hand collects money from the others.

Naturally, this is one of the more hardcore CCGs (as I believe they are known), most others seem to hinge entirely on collecting the cards. I used to think this aspect of the game was a little odd, but it makes sense to me now. Of course you want to collect more cards, the more aces you have in the deck the more likely you are to win. It’s simple really.

Before I started collecting cards I lost a lot of money in my CCG of choice. To try and put it into perspective: the amount of money I lost would be about as much as you spent on your house/flat/bungalow/static home with an extra zero on the end. Then I started collecting cards, and my fortunes changed. Having more aces than your opponents really does help.

I understand the allure of Legends of Arcane & Strength: Dark Warrior Brood Squire’s edition, for instance, I know why people play these games. What I don’t quite understand is why these games are on computers now.

You can’t collect cards for computers anymore, not since they stupidly removed punch cards from the equation. Now you get games that provide digitised read-outs of the cards. I really don’t see the point. The entire purpose of collecting the cards is to flummox your opponent with them, to pull them from your sleeve exactly when he least expects it. When was the last time you flummoxed your computer? I can remember mine.

18th July, 1957

I was patrolling the East German border with my friends Taurine Hayes and Ichabod Smalls. It was cold and the Russians were behaving themselves, which was always a good thing. The cold made us restless, and we took the opportunity to nip back to the barracks for something warm to eat.

They were desperately trying to modernise the barracks at the time, adding in new and improved wall lights, Swedish tables, and a rotating kitchen staff.

We had elected to arrive between rotations, so there were no cooks about. A few weeks prior, this would have meant no food, but not anymore. Sat on the desk was a brand new computer, hooked up to a conveyor belt. On the screen was a menu, all green and flickery.

Taurine and Ichabod chose first, the little conveyor trundling their chosen meals in from a stockroom full of convenience food. Then it was my turn.

The menu read:

  • Fried Oysters in Jalapeño Pepper

  • Turkey Dogs

  • Roast Porkling

  • Fish and Chips

I ordered the porkling, of course, and waited for my order. Then I changed my mind and quickly hit the button for the Oysters. The machine growled and coughed for a moment, then went silent. Apparently my indecision had resulted in dire consequences for the machine.

They removed it the next day, and the cooks were back on twenty-four hour shifts. Seeing the hatred in their eyes as I ordered my meals for the next few years was all the sustenance I needed.

That’s what you are missing with a computerised Collectible Card Game. That’s where all the fun is.

4 thoughts on “My name is Mercurio Silver and I don’t like… Collectible Card Games

  1. The basic concept of the CCG, imho: Two players come to the table to play the same game, but with different pieces and rules; lots of bluffing; the possibility that your opponent could play a card that you haven’t seen before and vice versa (though the internet axed the last one).

    The crapifying factor in most CCGs is Rich Kid Syndrome, wherein some players have all the best cards and persist in using nothing but (ante in Magic was supposed to combat this, but Richard Garfield was a game designer and not a lawyer and thus failed to see how this would make the game outright illegal in many jurisdictions; later editions of the game removed it). This is compounded in most licensed-property games due to licensor demands that cheapie common cards far weaker than the rare main characters.

    The best way to play any CCG is a draft league. Everyone spends a predetermined and smallish amount of money, over a specified period of time. Every session a few new cards are draft by each player, and they folks play random opponents. Stats are kept, and at the end of the season a victor is crowned (and usually all the cards go back into a GIANT draft pool and everyone drafts cards to keep). This system is a great way to enjoy playing the game without the financial stress of constructed deck tournaments.

    CCCGs are another matter. Often, the “cards” in the game are free or at least far cheaper than real life. Some wrap metagames around an existing CCG (Yugi-Oh War of the Roses for example), others invent whole new ones. Many make use of complex mechanics that would be to burdensome without computer bookkeeping. Most online versions run many different leagues as described above, and most online CCGs I’ve tried take less time per match than sitting at a table in a smelly old cardshop.

    Not all games played with unconventional cards are CCGs or fit the CCG mold. Take Flux or Illuminati, for instance. Many CCCGs are of this type.

    Editorial Comment and Disclaimer: I used to play CCGs. A lot. Then I got really tired of the sort of individual the games attract, and quit. Also, if you haven’t tried a draft league, grab a bunch of friends and try a game none of you have ever played. If you don’t end up with some fun war stories, then you Did It Wrong and need a Do-Over.

  2. I hope you never stop! This is one of the best blogs Ive ever examine. Youve got some loony skill here, man. I just hope you dont lose your form because youre definitely one of the coolest bloggers out truth be told there. Please keep it up because of the internet needs someone such as you spreading the word.

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