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A collectible card game CCG , also called a trading card game TCG , among other names, [note 1] is a type of card game that mixes strategic deck building elements with features of trading cards , [2] introduced with Magic: The Gathering in Generally a player may begin playing a CCG with a pre-made starter deck , and then customize their deck with a random assortment of cards acquired through booster packs , or from trading with other players, building up their own library of cards.

Players are challenged to construct a deck within limits set by the CCG's rules that will allow them to outlast decks constructed by other players. Games are commonly played between two players, though multiplayer formats are also common. Gameplay in CCG is typically turn-based, with each player starting with a shuffled deck and on their turn, drawing and playing cards to attack the other player and reduce their health points to zero before their opponent can do the same to them.

CCGs are typically themed around fantasy or science fiction genres, and have also included horror themes, cartoons , and sports , and may include licensed intellectual properties.

Each card within the CCG represent an element of that theme geared towards the gameplay of the CCG, and can fall in categories such as creatures, enhancements, events, resources, and locations.

Many other CCGs were produced but had little or no commercial success. A collectible card game CCG is generally defined as a game where players acquire cards into a personal collection from which they create customized decks of cards and challenge other players in matches.

Players usually start by purchasing a starter deck that is ready to play, but additional cards are obtained from randomized booster packs or by trading with other players. Refined decks will try to account for randomness created by the initial shuffling of the deck, as well as opponent's actions, by using complementary and preferably efficient cards.

The exact definition of what makes a CCG is varied, as many games are marketed under the "collectible card game" moniker. If every card in the game can be obtained by making a small number of purchases, or if the manufacturer does not market it as a CCG, then it is not a CCG. CCGs can further be designated as living or dead games.

Dead games are those CCGs which are no longer supported by their manufacturers and have ceased releasing expansions. Living games are those CCGs which continue to be published by their manufacturers. Usually this means that new expansions are being created for the game and official game tournaments are occurring in some fashion.

Many CCGs have also been remade into digital collectible card games DCCGs , taking advantage of the wide availability of the Internet for online play as well as for the potential of computerized opponents. DCCGs can exist as online counterparts of existing CCGs, such as Magic: The Gathering Online for Magic: the Gathering , as wholly original card games that take advantage of the digital space, such as Hearthstone , or in many other forms.

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.

Many games utilize a set of keywords to simplify the card text, with keywords referring to common gameplay rules. For example, Magic: The Gathering has about 25 common keywords such as "flying", meaning the creature can only be blocked by other creatures with flying.

Each card 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: The Gathering 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 higher stats than smaller creatures, and has the forementioned "flying" keyword.

Flavor text on cards is frequently used to provide narrative for story-driven games or sometimes as humorous asides. The bulk of CCGs are designed around a resource system by which the pace of each game is controlled.

Frequently, the cards which constitute a player's deck are considered a resource, with the frequency of cards moving from the deck to the play area or player's hand being tightly controlled. Relative card strength is often balanced by the number or type of 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 e. Unlike traditional card games such as poker or crazy eights in which a deck's content is limited and pre-determined, players select which cards will compose their deck from any available cards printed for the game.

This allows a CCG player to strategically customize their deck to take advantage of favorable card interactions, combinations and statistics. While a player's deck can theoretically be of any size, a deck of fortyfive or sixty cards is considered the optimal size, for reasons of playability, and has been adopted by most CCGs as an arbitrary 'standard' deck size. Deck construction may also be controlled by the game's rules. Some games, such as Magic: the Gathering , limit how many copies of a particular card can be included in a deck; such limits force players to think creatively when choosing cards and deciding on a playing strategy.

Cards in CCGs come in several broad categories. Common categories, in addition to the aforementioned resource cards, include creatures that are summoned into battle who attack the opposing player and block their creatures' attacks, enchantments that buff or debuff these creatures' attributes and abilities, events like magic spells that may have immediate or ongoing resolution to one or more cards in play, and locations or story cards that present specific conditions impacting all actions.

Typically, the goal of a match is to play cards that reduce the opponent's life total to zero before the opponent can do the same. Some CCGs provide for a match to end if a player has no more cards in their deck to draw. After determining which player goes first by coin flip or other means, players start by shuffling their decks and drawing an initial hand, with many CCG's allowing for a player to take a mulligan on this if they do not believe their starting hand is good.

Players then take turns, and while the turn format is wildly different depending on the CCG, typically is broken into distinct phases of resetting all of their resources so they may be used that turn, drawing a card, playing any number of cards by drawing from available resources, making one or more attacks on the opponent, and then a cleanup step including discarding cards to reach a maximum hand size, if necessary.

Many CCGs have rules where opposing players can react to the current player's turn; an example is casting a counter-spell to an opponent's spell to cancel it such as in Magic: The Gathering. Games with such reaction systems typically define rules to determine priority of reactions as to avoid potential conflicts between card interpretations.

Other CCGs do not have such direct reaction systems, but allow players to cast face-down cards or "traps" that automatically trigger based on actions of the opposing player. Specific game cards are most often produced in various degrees of scarcity, generally denoted as fixed F , common C , uncommon U , and rare R. Some games use alternate or additional designations for the relative rarity levels, such as super- , ultra- , mythic- or exclusive rares.

Special cards may also only be available through promotions, events, purchase of related material, or redemption programs. The idea of rarity borrows somewhat from other types of collectible cards, such as baseball cards , but in CCGs, the level of rarity also denotes the significance of a card's effect in the game, i. Such a card might even be removed entirely from the next edition, to further limit its availability and its effect on gameplay.

Most collectible card games are distributed as sealed packs containing a subset of the available cards, much like trading cards. The most common distribution methods are:. Because of the rarity distribution of cards, many popular CCGs have a secondary marketplace , with players buying and selling cards based on perceived value.

Many purchases are made to acquire rarer cards to help build competitive decks, while others are just for collection purposes. In some cases, early cards in a CCGs run or which have been banned from play can become of high value to collectors such as Magic: The Gathering ' s Power Nine.

Regular card games have been around since at least the s. The Base Ball Card Game , a prototype from , is a notable precursor to CCGs because it had a few similar qualities but it never saw production to qualify it as a collectible card game. Interaction between the two players was limited to who scored the most points and was otherwise a solitaire -like function since players could not play simultaneously but in tandem.

The game was not sold in random packs but instead the entirety of the game could be obtained with one purchase. It utilized the same baseball diamond rules that Topps adopted in Allen Varney of Dragon Magazine claimed the designer of Cosmic Encounter , published in , Peter Olotka , spoke of the idea of designing a collectible card game as early as This was after Lisa Stevens joined the company in as vice president after having left White Wolf.

Through their mutual friend Mike Davis, Adkison met Richard Garfield who at the time was a doctoral student. Garfield and Davis had an idea for a game called RoboRally and pitched the idea to Wizards of the Coast in , but Wizards did not have the resources to manufacture it and instead challenged Garfield to make a game that would pay for the creation of RoboRally. This game would require minimal resources to make and only about 15—20 minutes to play.

In December , Garfield had a prototype for a game called Mana Clash , and by he established Garfield Games to attract publishers and to get a larger share of the company should it become successful. When designing Magic: The Gathering , Garfield borrowed elements from the board game Cosmic Encounter which also used cards for game play. Players would first buy starter decks and then later be encouraged to buy booster packs to expand their selection of cards.

What emerged was a card game that players collected and treasured but also played with. The ads for it first appeared in Cryptych , a magazine that focused on RPGs. In the following month of August, the game's Limited core set was released also known as Alpha and sold out its initial print run of 2.

Wizards quickly released a second print run called Beta 7. December also saw the release of the first expansion called Arabian Nights. With Magic: The Gathering still the only CCG on the market, it released another expansion called Antiquities which experienced collation problems.

Another core set iteration named Revised was released shortly after that. Demand was still not satiated as the game grew by leaps and bounds. Legends was released in mid and no end was in sight for the excitement over the new CCG. What followed was the CCG craze. Magic was so popular that game stores could not keep it on their shelves. More and more orders came for the product, and as other game makers looked on they realized that they had to capitalize on this new fad. The first to do so was TSR who rushed their own game Spellfire into production and was released in June Through this period of time, Magic was hard to obtain because production never met the demand.

Store owners placed large inflated orders in an attempt to circumvent allocations placed by distributors. This practice would eventually catch up to them when printing capacity met demand coinciding with the expansion of Fallen Empires released in November Steve Jackson Games , which was heavily involved in the alternative game market, looked to tap into the new CCG market and figured the best way was to adapt their existing Illuminati game.

The result was Illuminati: New World Order which followed with two expansions in and Another entry by Wizards of the Coast was Jyhad. The game sold well, but not nearly as well as Magic , however it was considered a great competitive move by Wizard as Jyhad was based on one of the most popular intellectual properties in the alternative game market which kept White Wolf from aggressively competing with Magic.

By this time however, it may have been a moot point as the CCG Market had hit its first obstacle: too much product. The overprinted expansion of Magic's Fallen Empires threatened to upset the relationship that Wizards had with its distributors as many complained of getting too much product, despite their original over-ordering practices.

One out of every three games announced at the show was a CCG. The CCG bubble appeared to be on everyone's mind. Too many CCGs were being released and not enough players existed to meet the demand. Jyhad saw a makeover and was renamed as Vampire: The Eternal Struggle to distance itself from the Islamic term jihad as well as to get closer to the source material.

But by the end of the year, the situation was resolved and Decipher regained the license to the Star Trek franchise along with Deep Space Nine , Voyager and the movie First Contact. Enthusiasm from manufacturers was very high, but by the summer of at Gen Con , retailers had noticed CCG sales were lagging. The Magic expansion Chronicles released in November and was essentially a compilation of older sets.

It was maligned by collectors and they claimed it devalued their collections.

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