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Alternate Trading Card Game Model

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Toa Lewa
Toa Lewa's picture
Joined: 10/31/2013

Hi guys, I have been working on a trading card game with a friend. However, I have been reading some things about how TCGs do not have sustainable/profitable business models. For this reason, I have been trying to figure out ways of how to convert my ideas from a TCG into something sustainable. Below is a model that I think is really interesting. Please let me know what you think. It was primarily inspired by the card game Smash Up.

Instead of cards being packaged into base sets and randomized booster packs, the game is packaged in a series of base boxes and expansion boxes. A base box would be required to play the game, but the game would offer a modular design where players could purchase more base boxes or expansion boxes. A player wouldn't be able to play the game with only an expansion box, but expansion sets would offer certain cards to enhance the game (card selection in expansion sets would not be randomized).

Instead of a base box containing a prebuilt deck (like a base deck in a TCG), a base deck would contain a selection of mini decks. At the beginning of the game, each player would select and combine X mini decks to create a battle deck. Once the battle decks are created, the game begins.

In this illustration, I will be using the example of Pokemon TCG and how it can be converted into a boxed card game with my model. Instead of the game being packaged in starter decks and booster decks, the game is packaged in a selection of base boxes and expansion boxes. Each base box would be divided into four different card sections and each of the four sections would have specific Pokemon type cards. For example, one base set may come with a fire Pokemon section, a water Pokemon section, a bug Pokemon section, and a Psychic Pokemon section (other base sets may have different combinations). Each Pokemon type section would be divided into two or three sections of mini decks as well. For example, the fire section might be divided into a Charizard mini deck, a Houndoom mini deck, and a Blazekin mini deck. When the players want to have a battle, each player chooses four mini decks and shuffles the cards together to create the deck.

I believe the advantages of this system are:
Easy way to introduce newbies (newbies don’t have to worry about building a deck, they just mix a few mini decks together)
Randomized booster packs are eliminated.
The game could easily be expanded.
Players don't have to waste money in hunting down specific cards.
Expert players can still build their own customized decks if they want to (for tournament play, etc.)
A base box will include enough cards to allow at least two people to play (players won't have to hunt down other players with their own decks)

What does everyone think of this idea? I would really like some constructive criticism to make the idea better.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Well it's basically what LCG

Well it's basically what LCG and expandable card game do except for the mini deck combination like smash up which is different and which could be cool.

I also had a card game in design and I find it annoying to have a base and expansion set. I wanted to allow players to jump in from any release set without the hasle of getting the base game and expansion.

So what I intended to do is that each set of cards has 5 prebuild decks, where it's sum containing 5 copies of 40 unique cards. The distribution is not random, but if you want all the 200 cards, you need to buy all 5 decks. Each new release would use the same distribution model. So that a new player could simply pickup a deck from any release and start playing. If he does not buy twice the same deck, he will never get more that 5 copies of the same card.

Notice that there can be up to 5 copies of each card instead of 3 which is generally the standard in LCG. The reason behind this is that beign hobby designer, we do not have the ressources to make many unique cards. So we compensate by making less unique cards but more copies of each.

Now for your smash up like deck idea, that could work to. You release individual half deck of cards, players buy to and put them together. There is no base set, only individual packs. If they buy all the packs, they get all the cards since there would be no random distribution.

Could be an interesting idea, also give the player a choice to configure his deck during the purchase. Could be neat in tournaments.

Masacroso's picture
Joined: 05/05/2014
I dislike very much any type

I dislike very much any type of TCG or CCG (just these types of card games, not others).

What you are talking about, I think, is a model for a DBG aka deck build game, something like Dominion or Gosu.

Joined: 03/27/2014

The concept of combining mini-decks together is intriguing for sure. While it would limit the typical 60-card deck of Pokemon or 100-card deck of MTG Commander in terms of individualization and customization, it would also force players to be "creative via restriction."

While I personally like the concept of "you get what you want" when buying new decks, I know a lot of TCG players that really do enjoy the randomness and surprise of buying random booster packs. It's just part of the hobby in many circles.

What sort of theme or battle system did you have in mind for this type of game?

Corsaire's picture
Joined: 06/27/2013
Smash Up uses the basic

Smash Up uses the basic approach.

kevnburg's picture
Joined: 05/02/2014
Check Out Fantasy Flight's LCGs

Fantasy Flight uses a similar model for their "Living Card Games (LCGs)," their most popular being Android: Netrunner (currently ranked #5 on Boardgamegeek). They all start with a core set (with a good amount of deck building options) and then additional cards get released in non-random expansions. Most of their LCGs don't use the minideck idea that you have here, but their Star Wars LCG does.

In the Star Wars LCG, a deck is comprised of 10+ objective sets. "Each objective set includes six cards: one objective and five corresponding cards that go into a player’s command deck. The compositions of players’ command decks are automatically determined by the objective sets they choose. This brand new model makes deck-building more accessible to new players, as they have only to select ten objective sets and combine them rather than assemble an entire deck, individual card by individual card."

I recommend taking a look at Fantasy Flight's LCGs for mechanic ideas. They're fairly innovative.

Star Wars LCG description:

Links to webpages for all Fantasy Flight LCGs:

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