Vera’s list of CCG/TCGs: Which one is the best choice?
As we all know, there are a TON of card games out there. From Magic the Gathering to newer Japanese-born cards games. But how do they stack up? Which one is right for the budding gamer? We’re going to take a look at the games, and rank them based on four criteria:
Accessibility: How easy is it to find?
Ease of learning: Can you pick it up with ease, or is work involved in learning it?
Price of entry: How expensive is the game to play, both casually and competitively?
Tournament Support: IS there organized play? How easy is it to sign up?
Please keep in mind this is all purely perspective and opinion, so if your favorite game isn’t presented in a way you agree with, well…tough.
Alright, without further ado, HERE WE GO!
1.) Magic the Gathering
Availability: You can’t walk five feet without tripping over a Magic card. The game is everywhere that could POSSIBLY sell it, including supermarket shelves.
Ease of Learning: Magic is a game that is easy to learn, and tough to master. Higher level play will be a very daunting task for aspiring players
Price of Entry: I’m not gonna lie, Magic is pretty pricey. Even the “casual” formats such as Commander will set your wallet on fire. Standard decks will prove to be very expensive to invest in, only to find those cards unplayable even weeks later. Such is the life of the competitive Magic player.
Tournament Support: Hands down, best out of all the games. Wizards does right by its players, and provides ample kinds of tournament play, from casual to advanced.
Availability: While Yu-Gi-Oh! Isn’t as prominent as Magic, it’s still not hard to find. Most retailers and FLGS carry it, making it an easy game to find.
Ease of Learning: Now here’s where things get iffy. Yu-Gi-Oh’s core mechanics, playing monsters, traps, and spell cards, is very simple. But these days, card effects read like dictionary entries, and there are a lot of complex tricks and interactions. You can learn the core mechanics pretty quickly, but anything more advanced will be a slog.
Price of Entry: It’s not tough to pick up a few boosters, or a structure deck. If I said that Magic competitive play is horribly expensive, then I should say that Yu-Gi-Oh competitive play is ABSURDLY expensive! You can expect the best cards to go all the way up to over $100 in value for no really sensible reason, though if you’re super patient, Konami may inevitably reprint some of them.
Tournament Support: In my opinion, Konami needs to work on this a bit. There isn’t a lot of communication on their part, which makes store support tough. Tournaments can be confusing, as well as sign ups.
Availability: Kaijudo is still fairly new as far as card games go, and as such can be a bit harder to track down. At first it was fairly easy to find them at big box retailers, but then lack of sales likely pushed them back into FLGS where they belong. (Where ALL CCGs belong really!) And not every store even supports it, so it can be tougher to find. But not TOO hard.
Ease of Learning: Kaijudo shares a lot of the same ideas as Magic the Gathering, but on a much simpler level. So it’s very safe to say you won’t have a hard time learning its mechanics.
Price of Entry: As I’ve echoed a couple of times before, if your goal is competitive play, you’ll be shelling out some money. But this is true of just about any game.
Tournament Support: Just as good as Magic’s, but this is another Wizards of the Coast game! If more people played it, you’d really see it shine.
4.) The Spoils
Availability: Yeah, good luck with this one. I hadn’t even seen cards for the game until I went to GenCon, and it’s not even a game you’ll find on most local store’s shelves. It’s pretty obscure. We carry it, because we love it!
Ease of Learning: It’s not a tough game to learn how to play, but some of its intricacies might take a minute to get used to, particularly in combat. But once you figure it out, it’s smooth sailing.
Price of Entry: To be honest? Pretty low. The Spoils is designed with sealed play in mind, so cards typically come with less garbage cards than other sets. I’ve even seen a lot of competitive decks running little more than some choice commons and uncommons. Some rares can go into the $10 range or so, but this certainly cheaper than $20+ cards in Magic’s standard scene, or Yugioh’s competitive scene. It’s pretty easy to build a good deck out of nonrare cards.
Tournament Support: Arcane Tinmen, the company behind the Spoils, really loves their game. They offer up all kinds of promos, tokens, and other cool swag to its players. It’s definitely worth playing in organized events if you can find one that has people participating!
Availability: Pokemon is everywhere. Just like Magic. And that’s not a surprise, as Pokemon is a hit with kids and adults alike, and packs are often purchased as much for the cards themselves as for the game
Ease of Learning: Pokemon is not a tough game. Its mechanics are simple, and easy to understand. You won’t have any trouble here.
Price of Entry: Are you a fan of EX Pokemon? Well then prepare to shell out some bucks. Mewtwo EX in his prime was around $60. That’s pretty hefty. EX Pokemon that are widely used can be upwards of $30 a piece. But if you want to build a deck that doesn’t use them? Well then it’s actually a very affordable game to build decks around.
Tournament Support: Nebulous at best. Any official function requires a Pokemon Professor to run, and they can be a bit nomadic at times. If your store isn’t affiliated with a couple, it can be hard to get anything going. The Pokemon League does give out promos though…
6.) My Little Pony
Availability: It can be a bit tricky, actually. Sometimes you can find a flood of boosters and starters everywhere, sometimes it’s a ghost town. But in general, Enterplay like to make sure they can seed the market with as much as possible.
Ease of Learning: Honestly? This is probably the most complex game on this list. It’s a fun and innovative system for sure, but the mechanics can be very hard to explain to new players, and the rulebooks can be pretty vague. But once you get it down, it’s a blast, and you’ll definitely get a different feel from it than any other CCG
Price of Entry: MLP’s foil Ultra Rares are stupid expensive at times, and they are typically of fan-favorite characters, which helps drive up those prices. Also, if you want to build a deck, you NEED a Mane Character card, which can only be found in decks currently. (This changes when the first expansion, Canterlot Nights, comes out!)
Tournament Support: Oh man, I know my mother said if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, but it’s important to remember that Enterplay is NOT a game company. And it shows. Only the biggest venues get any real support, and they’re very poor communicators. If your store runs it, it likely is providing its own prizes, as there isn’t much from Enterplay, which is tragic. My Little Pony has a devoted fanbase, and more MLP swag would be very appreciated.
So there you have it. If you want my opinion, which you must if you’re reading this, I’d say that the Spoils is the best bang for your buck. But Magic does have the biggest tournament scene out there. All of these games are great though, and worth taking a look at!