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Trading Card Games (TCG)

A collectible card game (CCG), also called a trading card game (TCG) or many other names, is a kind of strategy card game that was created in 1993 and consists of specially designed sets of playing cards. These cards use proprietary artwork or images to embellish the card. CCGs may depict anything from fantasy or science fiction genres, horror themes, cartoons, or even sports. Game text is also on the card and is used to interact with the other cards in a strategic fashion. Games are commonly played between two players, though multiplayer formats are also common. Players may also use dice, counters, card sleeves, or play mats to complement their gameplay.

CCGs can be played with or collected, and often both. Generally, a CCG is initially played using a starter deck. This deck may be modified by adding cards from booster packs, which contain around 8 to 15 random cards. As a player obtains more cards, they may create new decks from scratch. When enough players have been established, tournaments are formed to compete for prizes.

Successful CCGs typically have thousands of unique cards. Magic: The Gathering, the first developed and most successful, has over 17,000 cards. Despite the dominance of Magic: The Gathering in the CCG market, a few others have met with success, including Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon. Other notable CCGs have come and gone, including Legend of the Five Rings, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, and World of Warcraft. Many other CCGs were produced but had little or no commercial success.

Recently, digital collectible card games (DCCGs) have gained popularity, spurred by the success of Hearthstone. DCCGs do not use physical cards and instead use digital representations, with newer DCCGs foregoing card images altogether by using basic icons.

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. The goal of most CCGs is to beat your opponent by crafting customized decks that play to synergies of card combinations. Refined decks will try to account for randomness as well as opponent's actions, by using the most complementary and efficient cards possible.

The exact definition of what makes a CCG is varied, as many games are marketed under the "collectible card game" moniker. The basic definition requires the game to resemble trading cards in shape and function, be mass-produced for trading or collectibility, and have rules for strategic gameplay. The definition of CCGs is further refined as being a card game in which the player uses his own deck with cards primarily sold in random assortments. 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.

Card games that should not be mistaken for CCGs:

  •     Deck-Building Games - Construction of the deck is the main focus of gameplay.
  •     Collectible Common-Deck Card Games are card games where players share a common deck rather than their own personal deck. Consequently, no customization of decks nor trading occurs, and no metagame is developed. There is little to no interest in collecting the cards.
  •     Non-Collectible Customizable Card Games are those games where each player has their own deck, but no randomness occurs when acquiring the cards. Many of these games are sold as complete sets. A few were intended to have booster packs, but those were never released. This category may also be referred to as an ECG, or Expandable Card Game. This category also includes LCGs.
  •         Living Card Games (LCGs) - LCGs are a type of non-collectible customizable card game (see above), and a registered trademark of Fantasy Flight Games. They don't use the randomized booster packs like CCGs and instead are bought in a single purchase. LCGs are known for costing much less as they are not a collectible.