Card games have captivated mankind since the ninth century, if not earlier. They combine elements of fun, competition, and critical thinking. Most commonly, when cards are mentioned, people tend to think of the traditional 52 card deck.
However, this form of cards is becoming overshadowed by alternative forms. Newer cards, and the games associated with them, are used with more specific purposes. They help the players tell stories and compete in more creative ways. Over the past few decades, several alternative card games have risen above the rest to claim widespread popularity and even cult-like followings:
Pokemon didn’t start out as a card game. Originally, the Japanese game debuted through video game format, but it didn’t take long for it be transformed and re-imagined for card trading. Media Factory was the first to publish the game in 1996. There had previously been other Pokemon-themed card series, but this was the first to be based on the brand’s video games, with the very first card sets being based on the Red, Blue and Green Pokemon video games. However, the initial release was solely in Japan. It took another three years for the cards to reach North America and the rest of the world.
One of the unique aspects of the Pokemon cards is the fact that many different artists have been able to contribute their work to the design of the cards and the characters that are displayed. The artwork is so unique and intricate that it would not be unusual to see it plastered across digital displays.
Another unique aspect is that while the game was created for two players, many of Pokemon’s fans went on to create their own unique set of rules for various types of Pokemon games. And while the company that distributes the cards is not a publicly listed company, it is estimated that they make roughly $700 million from the cards every year.
The very first trading card game produced, Magic: The Gathering, was first published in 1993. It has managed to set itself a part from many other competitors with its longevity, still thriving today with about 20 million players around the world–likely due to an impressive social media marketing effort. One of its strengths is the fact that is can be played by two or more players and in a wide variety of formats. It’s this flexibility, along with the fact that it has so well adapted to technology, that has made its popularity soar over the course of more than two decades. Adding to this is the fact that the makers of the game transferred play capabilities to the internet, smartphones, tablets, and other devices as soon as the options became available.
The followers of the game have a passion for it that is second to none. They organize international tournaments and consistently invest in the new expansion packs that are released by the developers. The cards on the market can be valued at anywhere from a few cents to a few thousand dollars.
3. Star Realms
This deck building card game has a very different story than any of its competitors. Not only was it published in 2014, but it didn’t originate with a big game maker. It originated on Kickstarter. The game has been compared to the likes of Ascension and Dominion, in that it is deck building based. The goal is to win by killing off opponents with attack cards and trade and combat points. The game can be played by anywhere from two to four individuals, each with their own deck—expansions can also be purchased, although, some are only available to the game’s original Kickstarter supporters.
Because of its massive success, the game has received awards from the Golden Geek, Dice Tower Gaming, and SXSW. A fantasy version of the game, Hero Realms, has also been brought out onto the Kickstarter platform to follow up its success. With how modern the creation of these cards was, it would not be a surprise to see it go digital and be available via the cloud.
This Japanese collectible card game was first published in 1998. It was based on Duel Monsters, a fictional game. It quickly became a hit and rose to fame, setting a Guinness World Record as the top-selling trading card game in the world. By 2011, the game had sold more than 25 billion cards.
Differing from many other collectible card games, it can only be played one-on-one or two-on-two. However, various versions exist with expanded rules and additions. And while the game is often played casually, Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments are played all over the world.
5. World Of Warcraft
World of Warcraft published a trading card game in 2006. The game play is slightly different than other card games in that while players can play one-on-one, they can also team up to defeat MMORPG bosses. However, as of 2013, the cards were discontinued and replaced with an online alternative.
When the cards were still being actively published, there were major, weekend-long tournaments that ran all over the world. The location of the tournaments rotated to every city from Los Angeles to Prague to Guangzhou. There was also a World Cup in the game, as well as a World Championship.
The cards can still be bought, and many individuals even auction off the rarer cards. The price for the card depends on its interpreted value and can range from a few cents to a few hundred dollars.
What is your favorite trading card game?