Collectible card game

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A collectible card game (CCG), also called a trading card game (TCG) or customizable card game, is a game played using specially designed sets of playing cards. While trading cards have been around for longer, CCGs combine the appeal of collecting with strategic gameplay.

The modern concept of CCG games was first presented in Magic: The Gathering, designed by Richard Garfield and published by Wizards of the Coast in 1993. An earlier game that might be described as a collectible card game was The Base Ball Card Game produced by The Allegheny Card Co. and registered on April 5, 1904.[1][2]



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, may have the flying ability, and have formidable game statistics compared to smaller creatures.

The bulk of CCGs are designed around a resource system by which the pace of each game is controlled. Frequently, the cards which comprise 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 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 (e.g., 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 usually take turns playing cards and performing game-related actions. The order and titles of these steps vary between different game systems, but the following 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) - Discard to a maximum hand size, or need to refresh for next turn.

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