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Card game staples.

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/31/2011

Hello, I would like to create a trading card game but before I do that I would like to learn a little about the history of trading card games. Like what was the first one, what was the cause of staples such as a seven card hand? Why 60 cards in a deck? What brought about these rules? I don't want to reinvent the wheel, just learn a little about how it can to be. I've played card games such as mtg, DM, and yugioh. And want to learn a little about the history of these games, before I complete my idea. This is very important to me because I wish to make a career out of building games and want to build a solid fun card game.

Think I put my thread in the wrong forum the first time, since I want to learn how cards game mechanics came to be and the reasoning why we use them. if anyone can enlighten me I'd really appreciate it.

GreenO's picture
Joined: 11/14/2011
You could write a book on the subject

Much of what you want to know is freely available on the web by looking for interviews with Richard Garfield, of which there are few around. Mark Rosewater's 'Making Magic' column at often has retrospectives too. Put Garfield+design+Magic though Google and plough through the first few pages of links :).

For actual books:

is a good start- there is a section on the design history of M:tG, likewise:

contains a history of V:TES and how that game evolved including play test cards and design considerations. Both books were written 15ish years ago now when CCGs were at their height and make for interesting reading these days. Early copies of The Duellist magazine contain some interesting snippets too, if you can find them. They occasionally turn up on eBay.

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
Not really staples...

What you are looking for arent necessarily staples to a "successful" TCG, CCG, LCG, Etc... Card games have existed long before the trading phenomena came about. Consider Poker, with it being popular around the 1830's in the west. sometimes called a "cheating game", we cant just say that Richard Garfield invented the "hand" or the "Suit" He did put properties on cards that had never been there before. Again consider Poker, the A is bigger than the King, however a pair of Kings trumps a singular ace. Most often a pair of anything including 2's will trump a singular ace. Simply because the mechanic is Low > High >Low Double >High Double> Low Trippers> high tripples, and etc... with the 4 of a kind being really high.

So what can we learn from poker?
1. It is simple in design that the bigger beats the smaller. In many combat based Card Games. Bigger beats the smaller.
2. Randomization matters, because the same person will always win if they always have the same hand vs. a lower hand, the game adds a random factor. out of an entire deck that contains 4copies of each suit. while you do have a high probability, both statistics and Probability will not often function as math would like for it. So what could end up happening as that you get a pair of 2's while the opponent acquires a cube of 6's the likely hood that this will happen during every hand is not too likely. Same in Card games, the goal is to allow the players free reign of what they put into their deck, and through Randomization play a "new" situation every time.
3. Skilled players have the potential of winning but not a guarantee. Many times in poker people will state, oh so and so won through pure skill. While 70% of the time one could say this is accurate. there is a 30% chance that they just won through dumb luck. similarly a new player to the game has the same chances of winning as a veteran player. A veteran player can learn to read the opponent, but this doesn't make up the random factor of the game. Like wise in card games veteran players can manipulate their plays in such a way that newer players may lose more often than they would like, However there are always rare occasions where the new player wins through dumb luck, or what ever you would like to call it.

Here is something you should know about Card Games. (I've studies japanese, american, and spanish games). The most basic thing you want in a Card game is a way for it to "Advance" either by drawing on a per turn basis, or acquiring a new hand all together (most often seen in Deck building games). You need a Condition to be met by a player in order to signify who is the winner.

Nobody said that card games had to be complex. Its rather simple to have 20 life points and drop to 0. Or 8000 and have your characters have power levels ranging from 100-3000. Or Breaking certain properties, or winning certain properties.
Duel masters requires that you break 5 shields.
Naruto requires that you win 10 battle rewards.
Livid Visage requires that you clear the opponents battle zone.

As you can see games have simple conditions to be met in order to win the game. Its one of the reason why they are so simple. what makes the game "complex" is the amount of actions that a player must perform in order to play a card. Take a look at Magic: The Gathering.

When a player wants to "cast" a spell. They must first declare that they are going to cast said spell. Then they must Tap or turn horizontal "Land" cards, that will produce points that will pay for the cost for the spell being played. Upon the cost of payment, the spell is considered "legally played" Now unless the same player wishes to retain Turn Player Priority he or she can pass said priority to the opponent in order to respond to the card being played.

however when you play the game what you see is the opponent turning cards and dropping a card on the table. To the oblivious passerby they will go, "what happened? why this, why that?" with out realizing that the players just short-cutted through a long list of actions that they had to perform.

Many Card Games, have Resources that let them play with cards, others do not. Its up to the designer to choose what kind of resource if any they would like to use, and how to explore said resource.

any question hit me up.

Joined: 12/31/2011
Thank you

Thanks for the replies. I was trying to design a game and went about similar staples as other card games naturally. Like 60 cards in a deck a seven card hand and so on. And was curious as to why most card games had those rules.

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
its all just a matter of what

its all just a matter of what you want in your game. For example. Marvel Vs. or DC vs. it was 60 card deck, 4 card hand. And shared turns with BOTH players drawing 2 cards per turn.

MTG, 60card deck, 7 card hand or if you are playing EDH 99 card deck, 7 card hand.

Yugioh, 40 cards, 5 card hand.
Livid Visage. 39 card deck (1 card in play), 5 card hand.
Card Fight!! Vanguard, 39 card deck (1 in play), 5 card hand.

Basically all you are doing is timing how fast or slow you want your games to be or increase the probabilities of the games progressing starting turn 1.

imagine playing magic with a 5 card hand... would take a long time to play.

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