Now, imagine the magic gathering at the World Championship; thousands of dollars are at stake. The game is going slow, and the odds are tipping into an opponent’s favour until the player draws just the right card to land the last fatal blow.
It is what happens every year at Trading Card Game tournaments around the globe. Trading Card Games (also known as TCGs) are games where two players duel using decks of collectable cards which all have unique effects. Some popular trading card games you might have heard of would be Yu-Gi-Oh or Cardfight Vanguard.
Trading card games are based on luck, deckbuilding, memory and timing, but a lot of the fun is in the community surrounding it, which has been described positively by many. The TCG community is a warm and welcoming environment and that it is easy to just join in.
It’s not just a hobby
For many people, TCGs are just a hobby. However, playing as just a hobby isn’t all that is offered; quite a few people play trading card games at a competitive level or at least want to pursue a competitive level.
The meta is defined as what decks are currently tournament viable and, while you could technically play whatever deck you had at the moment. Certain decks are significantly better than others due to either being good against a lot of the other strong decks or just good synergies between powerful cards. It is a problem that some TCG players face because most of the game isn’t just playing — it is the outside planning of deck construction, the consideration of other decks your opponents may bring and know how your decks fare against those.
However, those who invest the time have often found themselves a lot of success. However, trading card games can often have even more of an impact than just competitive play. There’s not too much pressure to make a decision, so it teaches you how to consider your decision and consider the process in which you want to navigate, let’s say, a complicated board state or determine how you want to build your deck.
What makes trading card games great?
Many different things, from my analysis. It’s similar to the success of Minecraft but takes it a few steps beyond. Humans are biologically and neurologically attuned for specific preferences. Some love fireworks, some do not. Some find their fun and enjoyment elsewhere.
Sensory. From the slaps and kills of units to the exploding NO upon the hero’s death, and even the voice acting of the well-played message, it’s quite a spectacle. Take a look at TCGs and attempt to spot each time they use a firework-like display of damage, an audible confirmation of performance, or even the minor animations on each card placed into battle.
Narrative. The TCG universe is created for the player, and this is a type of set bias that allows people who know that universe to enjoy its narrative. From meta mentions to the elven heroes of the lore, there’s a sense of oral tradition that allows people to enjoy the world created by the writers. Which, if we inspect the history, is nothing new.
Escapism. You’re a badass hero commanding badass mythical units in an epic battle of pride, honour, and profit. What’s not to enjoy while leaving your 9-to-5 job behind?
Uncertainty. That YES moment of pulling the right card at the right time makes you feel like a god of good choices! That moment of never knowing what will happen next is the uncertainty of gambling and the excitement of turning it all around. That moment in itself is dopamine-boosting pleasure, and that in and of itself is a reason to play the game.
Planning. That I am a mastermind moment is how you design a deck, pre-plan its combos, and watch as your statistical brilliance plays out. The hours and days spent scavenging the Internet for stratagems make your victory that much sweeter when it pans out.
Skill.Right card; right time? That’s all you! Amazing play with the hand you’ve been dealt with. That moment-to-moment skill that informs the decision of whether to hold a card or use it makes a difference (if that’s the style of deck you play). That feeling of controlling your fate through fitness is a great one.
Collection/growth. As you play longer and invest your time, you see the growth of your heroes. You play better battles. You feel (important) the impact of new cards and new strategies you’ve discovered. As you horde more cards, you feel a sense of freedom that allows you to enjoy the fruits of your commitment.
Socially combative — You out-power your opponents in a few turns. You are more fit (in a Darwinistic way) to be playing this game. The pity players that can’t match up to your ability grumble at your feet, and you feel damn good about it.
So why is this even important?
Well, players are creatures seeking happiness, and it happens to be that when we satisfy our sensory biases, we feel happy.
It may not be good for some; others could probably spend our time learning something or developing a trade skill, but it’s what they enjoy in life. They want to enjoy the things they find enjoyable. In the end, all TCGs are about: collecting cards, duelling others and making big brain plays.
If you want to be a collector of cards, visit our website and start your journey to mythical power!