Collectible card games: Terms and concepts.

Hello, welcome back to Geek Generation.

There are a number of terms and concepts that are commonly used when talking about collectible card games (CCG). Some people, particularly those new to CCGs, might not know what some of the terms or concepts are. Today’s post will talk about some of these terms and concepts.

CCG is an acronym for collectible card games. Basically it’s a game that consists of forming a deck (deck of cards) from a pool of collectible cards. Usually these cards are from opening booster packs. A booster pack is a packet of randomized cards which you buy from the store. TCG is an acronym for tradable card games. Basically it means CCGs where the cards can be traded. So basically all real life physical card games are TCGs. If an online collectible card game does not have the provision for a trading system to trade with other collectors, then it’s called a CCG.

Library is the deck of cards that you have when you play a game. Typically, when we draw cards, we draw from the library. Library death is usually about losing the game by running out of cards in the library to draw.

Board is where the game cards are placed when a game is played. When a card is said to have board control, then it means the card is capable of affecting game cards on the board, likely to the favor of the player playing it. Board control can come in various forms, like dealing 2 damage to a creature, destroying a creature, returning a creature to owner’s hand, status effects causing enchantments, or even reset cards that affect friendly creatures too, like destroy all creatures, etc.

Initiative. Different people have different ways of saying initiative. Some call it board advantage, some call if inevitability. Based on the state of the board, if you would win the game so long as nobody interferes with the board, barring other game mechanics like library death, then you’re said to have the initiative. Using Magic the Gathering as an example (does not take into account winning games via means other than the board):

Game begins, you play a 2/1 Jackal Pup. If nothing else happens to the Jackal Pup, then you’ll win the game in 10 turns by attacking with Jackal Pup. You now have the initiative (because you’ve seized the initiative). Your opponent have to deal with the Jackal Pup or lose the game. On his turn, he plays 3/3 Rogue Elephant. Now he has the initiative, because the Jackal Pup cannot win the Rogue Elephant in combat. Even if both players chooses not to block with their creatures, your opponent is going to win in 7 turns by attacking with the Rogue Elephant. Since he’ll win earlier, he has the initiative.

In most games, playing cards require some form of resources. These resources are usually mana. In Duel of Champions, the player needs to juggle with hero stats as a form of resource as well. Usually, cards with larger resource costs have bigger effects or better creatures. With resources, comes resource curve, or commonly known as mana curve. Arrange all the cards in your deck according to their resource costs. Putting the lowest costing cards on your left ascending to the highest costing cards on your right, you’ve built your mana curve, similar to what you can see in google images.

Typically you want a normal (bell shape) curve so that you have some low costing cards to play in the early turns and some high costing cards to supplement the bulk of your mid range costing cards. If over the course of several games you find that you always have trouble with playing cards due to resources, then probably your curve is stacked too high and need to swap some high costing cards out for lower costing cards. Similarly, if you find that, after some time, all your cards are out-classed by your opponent’s cards, then you need to swap some lower costing cards for some higher costing cards.

Generally, you want a normal curve because you want to play a card (or more) every turn to generate tempo. Typically, unused resources do not carry over to the next turn, hence every resource unused is wasted.

One more thing before i finish, that’s card advantage. Card advantage is one of the concepts that i’m always mindful of when i’m in a game. When considering cards, creature trades, when playing board control cards, i always try to achieve card advantage or tempo. If you do not have cards, then you cannot affect the board’s outcome.

If a card says, “Draw a card.”, it basically says spend the resource cost to replace itself. This does not generate card advantage. That’s not to say it’s useless, but it might see play in decks that wants a higher chance to draw some other cards. If a card says, “Draw two cards”, then you’ve generated +1 card advantage. If a card is a creature card, and has some ability to let you draw a card, that also gives card advantage.

If a card says, “Opponent reveals his hand and you choose a card. Your opponent discards the chosen card.”. Since it costs both you and your opponent a card, it does not generate card advantage. But it reveals information about your opponent’s hand and let’s you remove the best card he has in his hand. So these cards are also very useful.

If a card says, “Deal 2 damage to a creature.”. You play it and killed one of your opponent’s creature. While no card advantage is generated, you’ve exercised board control which could help you gain initiative. If your board control card costs 2 resources and kills your opponent’s creature which costed him 4 resources, then in addition to board control for initiative, you’ve also generated tempo. That is assuming the game has not lasted to the stage where resources are abundant and in excess. The same goes with a card that says, “Return a creature to its owner’s hand”, which can generate alot of tempo in certain scenarios.

Ok so much for now. I’ve only touched very generally on the concepts of mana curve, card advantage and tempo. I’ll revisit these concepts with actual examples in the future.


Posted on 27 November, 2013, in CCG, Gaming and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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