Friday, June 11, 2010

Basic Trading Card Game Terminology

Trading card games (TCG) or collectable card games (CCG) are hugely popular. There seems to be a game out there for almost every commercial property from Harry Potter to World of Warcraft. Each of these games have their own unique form of play and terminology. To the uninitiated this can be like a whole other language. To list the terminology for every game would be overwhelming, but most games have some very similar terminology.

Deck- This is the collection of cards that is legally formatted for the given game. Each player starts the game with his or her own deck that can be a standard deck sold in one piece (starter deck)or customized with booster packs.

Starter Deck- Most games put together a deck that introduces the game to players in a simple fashion. These are usually called starter decks. Starter decks are usually used to learn the game and are not usually competitive in play.

Theme Deck- A theme deck is a pre-built deck sold by a company that operates using a specific theme. These are usually stronger and more complicated than starter decks.

Booster Packs- Booster packs are randomized cards sold in packs. They are used to build your library of playable cards and to make your deck more competitive. They usually come in packs of eight to fourteen cards and will contain at least one rare card. Depending on the game, packs will also contain one foil card.
Discard Pile- this is where a player puts cards that are to be discarded for various effects in the game. This is also known as a K.O. pile and a Graveyard.
Keyword- Keywords are words on a card, usually in bold, that give that card a certain understood ability. This will, at times, be spelled out on the card but often will not. Games will have respective lists of keywords in their rulebooks.
Mulligan- To redraw ones initial hand. Because of the strategy based strategy of collectible card games, getting the cards you need is very important. Most games incorporate a way to mulligan to give players the best opportunity to get cards they need to be competitive and have fun. Some games allow this to be done with no cost.
Game Mechanic- This is the way that a game operates. You may have to turn a card a certain direction to indicate something about the card or to use the cards ability. The game mechanic will incorporate terminology that is unique to that game.

Most games have their own terminology that is explained in their rules. In fact, learning the terminology is paramount to understanding the rules of most games. A lot of games will have the same game mechanic with different terminology. Games will usually try and incorporate aspects of the game itself into the terminology, thereby enhancing the immersive feeling of the game.

Although the terminology of games is ever expanding and unique for most games, it is very easy to pick up. Knowing the basic terminology above and having a good teacher or rule book will put you on the road to enjoyment that is associated with collectible card games.

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