Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Living Card games: LCG vs CCG

If you are in any part a nerd, then you probably know what Magic the Gathering is.  It is what we call a Collectable Card Game, and it is the most successful of its kind.  Every year there are 3-5 "releases" of cards that you have to purchase in randomized packets.  These cards are organized into rares, uncommons and commons, but you do not know what you're getting ahead of time.  The game itself is played by two or more players putting together collections of these cards into a Deck that they draw randomly from as they play.

There is a lot of stuff said about this type of game play that turns people away from it.  First, you have to spend lots of money to get the cards you want to play with.  Second, there is always a new set coming down the pike in a few months, so you'll never "catch up".  Third, they raise the power of the cards as time goes on so that if you have an old set of cards, chances are you can not compete.  True or not, the thought of these turns people away.  One of those people is me.  The last year I played there was 3 mini-releases, and 2 major releases.  That is a rare occurrence, but Coldsnap counted as legal, so it was true.

Someone thought of what we now call Living Card Games a while ago.  Parts of it crept into other games in the past 10 years, but no one took it and ran with it like Fantasy Flight does now.  The first that got close was Munchkin.  There are many editions of Munchkin, and technically they all work together.  I remember the Good Fairy pack was put out in a "booster pack" wrapper, as if it was Magic:TG, but every pack had the same cards.

So what is a Living Card Game?  Imagine there is a card game, like Magic The Gathering, but all boosters and expansions came in complete sets throughout the year.  There is no need to rebuy sets because all the sets have the same cards, always.  You do not get randoms, you do not need to trade for extra cards, and you do not need to go hunting for rare, out of print stuff.  You buy the set, and you're done.  Each set comes with the maximum number of copies of a card you are allowed to have.  Now all you have to do is get good and game.  More money does not equal more power.  Your opponent will not have this vast collection that you could never touch.  You start on the same level playing field.

Yeah, you can still spend money, especially if you come into a game late, but no where near the amount Magic:TG requires.  I had a $50 a week habit for a few months the last time I played, and I was nowhere near a huge collection.  In most Living Card Games you can buy the last 2 years worth of cards and have change left over for lunch at the mall.

My favorite is Lord of the Rings by Fantasy Flight.  Its actually a cooperative Living Card Game, and each booster and expansion is a new series of quests for you to complete.

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