Ok for the acronym challenged, I’m talking about collectible card games, living card games, and deck building games. Okay, I made the last acronym up so feel free to enjoy. What makes sense and what doesn’t, financially?
Collectible card games basically had their time in the sun. There was a time when CCG’s ruled the gaming world. Now, only a few remain. Magic the Gathering has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, and thus is still going strong. I had my years as a Magic player, and spent many a coin getting those rare cards in which to fill my deck. The commonality in collectible card games, is that you generally purchase a starter deck, and then purchase additional random packs of cards, called boosters. Since the contents of each booster pack is random, players had to purchase many packs in order to get the cards they wanted, or not, however most Magic players I ran across spent too much money and ended up at local MTG anonymous groups. Nowadays, the now mature Magic players for the most part understand the meaning of moderation, and refrain from spending their life savings on booster packs. Don’t mistake me though, this is a heck of a fun game.
Generally, you can pick up 2 themed 60 card starter decks for $20.00. A 15 card booster pack will cost you $2.99. If you want the entire set of 249 Core set cards will cost you $199.00. Of course, staying current is all but impossible, as each year a new core set is released, as well as 3 expansion sets. Older sets generally fall out of legal use if you play in tournaments and such official competitions, thus it is a CCG that can never be fully collected. Smart marketing, but bad for those who can’t afford to keep up. Youcould theoretically buy a hundred booster packs and still not get all the cards you want.
Living Cards Games are the brainchild of Fantasy Flight Games. Rather than purchasing a deck of cards to get started, you purchase a “Core Set” of cards, that allow you to enjoy a complete game with many possibilities. BUT, they also release at regular intervals, Chapter or Adventure packs to add and expand the possibilities of the original core set. Each Chapter pack comes with the same set of additional cards, so there is no need to buy fifty of them to get the cards you want. Currently, there exists Call of Cthulhu, Game of Thrones, Warhammer Invasions, and coming soon will be Lord of the Rings. Maybe there are more, I can’t recall. These are also a lot of fun, and the adventure packs keep the game fresh.
The Call of Cthulhu core set (The set I am debating on getting) will set you back $39.95 for 165 cards. The two deluxe expansions run $24.95 and $29.95 respectively. 110 new cards in one, and 165 new cards in the other. Then there are 26 separate adventure packs published to date, ranging in cost from $9.95 to $14.95 each. But it is currently a finite number, and almost attainable. To get the entire collection of cards will currently cost me $455.00 approximately, plus whatever future packs cost.
Finally, Deck Building Games. These are starting to run the whole gamut of cost and expansions, similar to the CCG explosion many moons ago. Not quite as many as yet, I can recall going to Gencon and seeing the entire convention filled with CCG games. We’re nowhere near that yet with deck building games, and I’m hoping it doesn’t happen. I don’t believe it will, as I believe people become jaded toward certain mechanics far more quickly these days than they did years ago. Let’s talk about the original which has set the standard for the others, Dominion. Also a game that is a lot of fun. The concept is simple. Spend money to buy cards to build your deck to buy property to win the game. Actually, now that I think about it, that covers the entire experience of collecting Magic the Gathering transferred into a gaming experience. There are many cards in the original game. 10 copies of each type to be exact, well, 11 with the randomizer. Several times a year expansion games are released, with entire new sets of cards to add to the original game.
Dominion will set you back $45.00 for the box of 500 cards. There have been 4 expansions to date, totaling around 900 new cards and costing around $134.00. Thus bringing the total cost for Dominion currently up to $179.00.
So really the question is, do you want to game or game and collect. Me, I’m a completist. I like to get everything available for a game. This is not possible for MTG, and I’m past that stage of my life regardless. Now, every once in a while I’ll put in the effort to log into my MTG: Online account and get some free commons to put together a pauper deck to play online. I rarely win, but I scratch that itch I get to play. Never again will I be drawn into the money abyss that is the CCG.
But I have to admit, I am drawn to the LCG. It is do-able, expensive but do-able. I am really into Cthulhu Mythos themed games, plus the new Lord of the Rings LCG looks really cool. I’m just afraid of the completist in me leading me to the poorhouse, again.
Financially, the best bet seems to be the DBG. One or two complete expansions per year at less than $40 each would be far easier to keep up with than either of the other two.
So there you have it. Your pocketbook is telling you to stick with deck building games as the lesser of the three evils, but your heart, what does your heart tell you? Sigh…