A collectible card game (CCG), also known as a trading card game (TCG), is a card game where, instead of using a standard set of cards, each player creates their own deck using cards from their collection and brings it to the game.
The "collectible" aspect comes from the fact that in all collectible card games, most cards are sold in randomized products (typically in packs of 8-15 cards called booster packs), and players must buy these random packs or trade with other players in order to collect cards and build an effective deck. Some CCGs will secondarily offer some non-randomzied products (such as preconstructed decks or starter sets) for newer players, but their contents are usually weaker to encourage players to buy randomized products.
A more recent subcategory of the CCG is the expandable card game (ECG), which features similar gameplay as CCGs, but does away with the "collectible" part by exclusively distributing their cards in non-randomized products. Examples include Summoner Wars or Fantasy Flight Games' "Living Card Games". For convenience's sake, they are currently categorized as CCGs on TV Tropes, even though they're technically "non-collectible card games".
Gameplay-wise, most CCGs are 1-vs-1 "card battle" games where two players use their cards to attack their opponent and bring the opponent's life to zero.
The first CCG was Wizard of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering, which achieved major success and is still a major player in the genre. Currently, Nintendo's Pokémon is the most sold card game in the world, with 25.7 billion cards sold as of March 2018. Magic The Gathering has sold at least over 22 billion cards as of 2016, and Konami's Yu-Gi-Oh! has sold over 25.2 billion cards up to 2011. These three CCGs are collectively known as the "Big Three" of collectible card games.
Collectible card games with pages:
- Bakugan (hybrid with figure game)
- Battle Spirits
- Cardfight!! Vanguard
- Dinosaurs Attack!
- Force of Will
- Future Card Buddyfight
- Legend of the Five Rings
- Luck & Logic
- Magic: The Gathering
- Mitos y Leyendas
- Android: Netrunner
- The Spoils
- Summoner Wars
- Sword Girls
Based on Anime/Manga
- Digimon (multiple TCGs under the Digimon franchise)
- Digimon Card Game (the 2020 iteration)
- Duel Masters
- Weiss Schwarz
Based on Film
- Aliens Predator/Terminator TCG: actually two games, but they use the exact same system and are designed to be compatible.
- The Star Wars franchise had no less than ten TCGs. Currently only one of them has a page on TV Tropes:
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game by Decipher, the first Star Wars TCG, active between 1995-2001.
Based on Non-CCG Tabletop Games
- There were three TCGs based on Old World of Darkness table-top RPGs.
- Vampire: The Eternal Struggle (originally Jyhad), based on Vampire: The Masquerade.
- Rage, based on Werewolf: The Apocalypse. This was published by two separate companies with two separate rulesets, one of which continues to receive fan expansions. White Wolf would later come full circle by releasing a sourcebook with stats for the characters featured on the cards (some of which already had stat blocks from previous books, but some of which were unique to Rage).
- Arcadia, based on Changeling: The Dreaming.
Based on Video Games
Based on Western Animation
Collectible card games without pages:
- Dark Age: Feudal Lords
- Dragoborne: Rise to Supremecy: An original card game by Bushiroad that was created specifically for North America
- Epic TCG: The original version of the Epic (Card Game).
- Flesh and Blood
- Gate Ruler, something of a Spiritual Successor to Buddyfight by the same head designer
- Guardians, by FPG.
- Hidden Dimensions: Free Card Battle Game in a science fiction setting.
- Kaiten Mutenmaru
- Lightseekers, which can also be used with a video game for mobile devices.note
- Redakai: Conquer The Kairu
Based on Anime/Manga
- Ani-Mayhem was one of the first anime-themed card games, as well as one of the first multi-license card games (predating Vs System and others). The base set included Ranma ˝, Tenchi Muyo!, El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, and Bubblegum Crisis (the original). The first expansion had Project A-Ko, Phantom Quest Corp., Armitage III, Dominion Tank Police, and a couple from Ah! My Goddess. The second and final expansion focused entirely on Dragon Ball Z.
- Bleach TCG
- Berserk CCG, which the Abridged Series mocks.
- Beyblade has three sets. The first aligns with the first season of Bakuten Shoot Beyblade, but isn't designed for any game. Rather, it's for collecting only and uses official art for the main picture. The second set aligns with the second season and is intended for a card game. It uses screenshots from the show for the main picture. Lastly, the third collection is of Metal Fight Beyblade, which functions and looks just like the second set.
- Death Note has one exclusive to Japan.
- The Dragon Ball franchise has been in five-ish completely different TCGs.
- The first was in a set of the Ani-Mayhem game, which used material from several Pioneer-licensed anime.
- Score Entertainment then made a Dragon Ball Z game - and later a compatible Dragon Ball GT game.
- After going through the whole anime series, Score started over with a similar yet incompatible game.
- Currently Bandai is making one, using shared rules with the Naruto game. So theoretically...
- October 2014 saw the release of Panini America's take on a DBZ CCG. Unlike the other examples however, this particular release is a direct continuation/update of the game created by Score in 2000. As a result, outside of tournament play, this release is 100% compatible with Score's version and can either be played on it's own or with the original cards. In official tournaments, players are restricted to cards released after 2014. However, there are a few direct reprints that are exceptions to that rule.
- The Gundam franchise has had two CCGs in its time: the Japanese-made Gundam War and the US-made Gundam MS War. MS War was poorly designed and died quickly, while Gundam War didn't do much better when it was imported to the States because of anime's decline at the time. However, the game continues to run unabetted in Japan.
- Bandai later took the "engine" from Gundam War and modified it into the Crusade System Card Series, which currently boasts over 100 licensed anime and manga titles; this includes stand-alone releases like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Rurouni Kenshin, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann as well as games covering multiple properties like Sunrise Crusade, Dynamic Crusade, and BONES Crusade. And since these all operate off of the same system...
- Initial D had a short-lived card game in the US, made by AEG, the company that handled the City of Heroes CCG.
- Bushiroad's anime-based TCGs:
- Sunday vs. Magazine TCG, a manga crossover CCG featuring characters from serialized mangas in Weekly Shounen Sunday and Weekly Shounen Magazine, such as Case Closed and Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.
- Victory Spark, which pits attractive female characters against each others. Has characters from Mayoi Neko Overrun!, To Love Ru, and Hanasaku Iroha; the full list is somewhat long.
- †ALICE†note , which is the same thing except with Bishounen series. Female characters are on the "Queen" side, male characters are on the "Joker" side. Has characters from Hakuouki, Togainu no Chi, and Junjou Romantica, for example.
- Chaos TCG, which seems to be focused on Visual Novel. Include characters from VN companies such as nitro+ and Visual Arts, but also Anime such as Strike Witches and Ikkitousen.
- Zatch Bell! has one. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is that there is no randomness: instead of a deck, you put your cards in a special miniature binder modeled after the Spell Books found in the manga/anime. You could only use the card that was on the current page.
Based on Comic Books
- The VS System, a TCG built around comic books, primarily those of Marvel and DC, that was reasonably successful for a while. There were at three earlier attempts to make a comic book TCG: Overpower (Marvel, then DC), ReCharge (Marvel only), and the Edutainment card game Genio involving Marvel superheroes.
Based on Conventions
- The Cosplay website "American Cosplay Paradise" parodies this phenomenon with its "American Cosplay Duel" game, originally intended as an April Fool's joke. The game represents making/wearing costumes and entering them in masquerades, and can technically be considered a multi-license game, except Lelouch isn't the real Lelouch, and Haruhi isn't the real Haruhi, and... well, you get the picture...
- Discworld Convention: The Card Game at the 2014 convention, with cards like "Monks of Cool" and "Coffee". A starter pack was provided in the tote bag; other cards could be gained in various ways throughout the con. Three games based on the cards were possible: short and long form versions of a regular collectable card game, where you had to assemble a Committee to hold Events, and a Top Trumps style game for more "casual" gamers.
Based on Films
- Harry Potter got one when the movies came out.
- The Lord of the Rings got one when the movies came out.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail had a Collectible Card Game, put out by Kenzer and Company.
- This game is remembered even among non-fans for the presence of the "Get On With It!" card. When played, it obligates another player to stop wasting time thinking and actually make a play. More games should have this card. All games should have this card.
- Austin Powers CCG
- Army of Darkness card game
- Decipher released a Massive Multiplayer Crossover CCG called Fight Klub based on one-on-one fights between famous movie characters. Jigsaw versus Hannibal Lecter, Mr Blond versus Ash, John Rambo versus RoboCop, Chev Chelios versus Scott McCoy, Tank Girl versus Sil, and more.
- Fantasy Trade Card Co. released a set of 60 Rocky Horror Picture Show cards in 1989.
- Topps released a set of 44 trading card stickers to tie in with the 1986 Little Shop of Horrors.
- Attic Cards made a set of 69 cards based on the original 1960 movie, funded by Kickstarter.
- Lorcana, a Disney-themed game.
Based on Let's Plays
- Season 9 of the Hermitcraft Server had an in-series one created by VintageBeef which borrowed most of its rules from Pokémon.
Based on Literature
- A successful Middle-Earth CCG came out long before the The Lord of the Rings movies.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has a spinoff card game, called Game Of Thrones. When first released, it was a fairly traditional CCG, with base decks augmented by booster packs. Starting in 2007, though, it converted to a Living Card Game, meaning it was sold as box sets and packs with fixed contents rather than randomized booster packs. Has been in production since 2002, making it one of the longest lasting card games on the market aside from the Big Three (M:tG, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon).
- The Wheel of Time, using the same engine and mechanics as Babylon 5.
- Hyborian Gates, based on Robert E. Howard's writings, features 100% recycled Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell art.
- Redemption, based on The Bible, produced by Cactus Game Design (a Christian game company). Also an example of The Moral Substitute. It was created in 1995 and is still in production as of 2020, making it the second-oldest continuously-produced CCG behind M:tG.
- Harry Potter had one from 2001-2003, simply called Harry Potter Trading Card Game.
Based on Live-Action TV
- Doctor Who has now had five; one released in 1996 which only made it to one set, and four kiddie-orientated new series tie-ins: Battles in Time (2006); Alien Armies (2009); Monster Invasion (2011); and Alien Attax (2013).
- 24 has one. Doomed by an odd premier release (Starters first, boosters two months later) and released during the '07-'08 WGA Strike, the only season skipped in 24's 8-season run.
- The X-Files CCG.
- Both ironically and appropriately, the basic mechanics were also used for a Scooby-Doo CCG.
- In Japan, there's a Super Sentai trading card game called "Rangers Strike", which eventually expanded out and added Kamen Rider and Metal Heroes.
- Bandai collaborated with Cardass to produce Kamen Rider Battle: Ganbaride (later upgraded into Ganbarizing) as a tie-in with Kamen Rider Decade; what makes this example unusual is it's an arcade card game, with the machine capable of reading a barcode on the cards and pulling up a character model for the character to be used in battle. The "Data Cardass" system was later used to make Super Sentai Battle Dice-O (itself inspired by the card-using Tensou Sentai Goseiger) and branched out into anime franchises with Dragon Ball Heroes and Mobile Suit Gundam Try-Age. All four games use very similar mechanics, including the use of Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors.
- Power Rangers has had two trading card games, the "Collectible Card Game" that was made in 2008 (using art from Rangers Strike) and the "Action Card Game" that started in 2012 as a tie in to Power Rangers Megaforce using card art from Super Sentai Battle Dice O.
- Star Trek has had three, the two more notable ones by Decipher (which was itself split into two editions, where the 2nd edition barely resembled the first).
- Fleer/Skybox released Star Trek: The Card Game in 1996, while Decipher's game was still strictly Next Generation-based. This game was set during the original series. While Decipher had major characters as hard-to-find rare cards, this one had Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the USS Enterprise in every starter deck. It lasted until 1997 with one expansion released and another planned. The characters and setting would eventually be folded into Decipher's games.
Based on Non-CCG Tabletop Games
- The BattleTech CCG made by Magic: The Gathering creator, Richard Garfield. It saw about half a dozen expansion sets and a revamp of the main set (Commander's Edition) before folding. By CCG standards, that's fairly respectable (for a brief time after its release it even outsold Magic The Gathering). Even then, its folding was caused by FASA's buyout by Decipher, a rival to Wizards of the Coast who were releasing the CCG.
- Deadlands had the Doomtown CCG, which had a decidedly niche fandom. The plot and setting were unique, and later ported over to Weird West canon. Perhaps best of all, every card in the CCG had a rank and suit — just like playing cards — so they could also be used for poker, or with the tabletop game as the mystical Huckster's spellslinging or a general initiative deck.
- Rifts had a short-lived game, but when they came out with their new "half-edition", they actually took a lot of the original artwork and blew it up into quarter- to full-page spreads in the new rulebook. Acknowledging its failure, Palladium would later have a joke contest; what to do with 50,000 Rifts CCG cards. Which was how many the company had in storage after the CCG failed.
- Spellfire, a hastily put together CCG based on Dungeons & Dragons and mostly reused art, created by TSR to cash in on the Magic fad while it lasted. Three years later, TSR went bankrupt and was bought by WOTC, the creators of Magic... but not before being reduced to using photos of TSR employees in extremely crude costumes as card "art." After Wizards finally cancelled it, a small group bought the rights to it and turned it into an online game that is currently in alpha testing.
- Queen's Blade was originally a fighting-book game using the Lost Worlds game books, but of course featured sexy fantasy women. This spawned a CCG, two PS games, and an anime series. Of course, the CCG was only released in Japan.
- Guardians of Order produced a small number of card games whose mechanics were inspired by their Tri-Stat system; one such title was Sailor Moon.
- On The Edge was a moderately successful early CCG based on the characters and setting of Over the Edge. Three expansions were printed, and a fourth was planned but never released.
- Doom Trooper, based on Mutant Chronicles. In addition, there was a Dark Eden game, also based in this setting, though it only had one release.
- Shadowrun had a CCG that was also made by Wizards of the Coast at the same time as the BattleTech card game was released. Unlike BattleTech'', however, it was unpopular and canceled after the core set was released, with no expansions.
Based on Toys
- The Trash Pack Trading Cards. The game played in a Top Trumps-style, with certain qualities, such as the "Stink Score" and "Gross Gauge" of the "Filth Factor" winning out based on the dice roll. Each card came in two variants of colors, with some having holographic cards. Special scenarios for the character were drawn on the cards.
- The Grossery Gang Collector Cards played as a combination of The Trash Pack and Shopkins, being a card series meant for collecting, but also having Top Trump rulings on the back. They also had special cards, such as stickers and flocked texture. Like The Trash Pack, the characters were drawn in special scenarios, though with a different art style than the standard one.
Based on Pro Wrestling
- WWE Raw Deal. WCW Nitro came out at pretty much the same time, but was doomed by the fact that it released shortly before the death of the WCW.
- Filsinger Games made two card games about running a wrestling promotion, one based on Ring of Honor and the other on Chikara. It also did a game dedicated to legends of wrestling.
Based on Video Games
- Lycèe Trading Card Game,* CCG with mostly-Bishoujo characters from various popular Visual Novels. Includes licensed characters from Nasuverse, Key/Visual Arts, AliceSoft, Leaf, Nitro Plus, etc. 6000+ cards and growing.
- Kingdom Hearts had a very short-lived TCG.
- There was also a SimCity CCG. Released during the first CCG Glut in the 1990's, it was one of the many games that was released to cash on Magic the Gathering. Like many of those cash-grabs it was not well received.
- Later versions of Civilization IV came bundled with their self-made CCG.
- Beloved fighting game Killer Instinct had one, published by Topps.
- .hack had one. .hack//G.U. had an in-universe one, Crimson VS, that was made into an out-of-universe one, .hack//GU The Card Battle, which had different rules but could also be played as if it were Crimson VS.
- World of Warcraft has a TCG with rules loosely inspired by Magic: The Gathering. Interestingly, even people who hate the MMO enjoy the TCG, and it has a strong following. This eventually became Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
- City of Heroes developed one, and released initial card sets, through the project got dropped well before it could be called complete (the player base has continued development somewhat). It did have one noteworthy feature, a website app and proxying rule which allowed players to generate and print tournament-legal cards representing their characters.
- The Mega Man Battle Network series had a TCG, made by Decipher, which lasted less than a year.
- Final Fantasy, of course, has a card game based on its series; Lord of Vermillion uses iconic monsters from the series, and marries traditional card gameplay with a video game interface (similar to Sony's The Eye of Judgment.) The sequel also includes characters from Final Fantasy IV, IX, and Romancing Saga, along with guest fighters from Magic: The Gathering, BlazBlue, The Kingof Fighters, and Sangokushi Taisen.
- They also produced a paper version of the Triple Triad game played within Final Fantasy VIII.
- Square finally published an 'all-13' card game for the series in 2011. Info is here.
- Yarudora series vol.3: Sampaguita has a Trading Card Collection set. It uses the Good End 2 route as the canon storyline, with Good End 3, Normal End 2, Bad End 1, and Bad End 9 as Parallel Stories.
- Fire Emblem had a TCG in Japan, covering from Mystery of the Emblem through to Thracia 776. This was discontinued in 2004.
- Touhou Project has one. In true Touhou fashion, it's actually named Rumbling Spell Orchestra. There's also the Touhou Project Ginfuritsu, from the company that make Lycèe (and using the same mechanic). Note that this is not a Touhou official TCG, as it's not endorsed by the creator of Touhou. FE also had another card game called Fire Emblem Cipher.
- Wing Commander had one, made by IP Margaret Weis. Set around the time of Wing Commander III (2669), it used artwork and technical elements from that period of time.
- The Star of the Guardians is a CCG that tWeis made on her own. Given that you've probably never heard of the series, you can guess how well it fared.
- The Tomb Raider CCG was released in 1999 based on the first 3 games. It was actually decently designed that managed to capture the feel of the video games. It was also notable for having official solo rules, allowing the game to be played with one player.
- Phantasy Star Online 2 Trading Card Game, in additional to your standard two-player duel rules, additionally has a "Raid Boss" co-op gameplay mode where two players team up to fight a boss monster. Due to its relative unpopularity, the game was shelved after two years, with most of the later sets being turned into collector's boxes with 1 copy of every card from that set inside.
- Hero Bank: Battle Cards
- Daikaijuu Monogatari spawned the fairly successful The Miracle of the Zone (MOZ) trading card game, which would have video game versions on the Game Boy and Game Boy Color and a manga tie-in. Unlike the video games, which have been released only in Japan, MOZ had made its way into the Chinese-language market. It has a follow-up TCG, Miracle V Master, which also has a manga tie-in. If two's not enough, the sequel for the Daikaijuu Monogatari mascot Spin-Off Poyon no Dungeon Room got its own TCG emphasizing on the franchise's adorable characters.
Based on Webcomics and Websites
- MSF High has a card game, complete with characters from the forums. It's even had Linkara and Spoony have their own decks.
- Neopets had a CCG made by the masters of the CCG at Wizards of the Coast and was simpler than Yu-Gi-Oh!.
Based on Western Animation
- Avatar: The Last Airbender had one based on the QuickStrike system.
- As did Pirates of the Caribbean, so you could face, say... Katara against Will Turner.
- Ben 10 CCG
- Teen Titans TCG
- Xiaolin Showdown TCG
- Geek Fight
- Dragon Booster TCG
- SpongeBob SquarePants had one in 2001, based on the first season. The goal was to get customers to the Krusty Krab.
- Transformers had at least two, both primarily based on the Transformers Film Series. The first was a "3D Battle-Card Game": characters were represented as punch-out buildable cards that could either be built as vehicles/animals or out-of-proportion Off-Model robots (here's Optimus, for those interested◊), and the game could easily be played without the card models. Only two sets were released. The second is a more traditional TCG, currently exclusive to Japan; time will tell whether it'll be more successful.
- The Simpsons TCG, made by Wizards of the Coast. The goal here is not combat, but to create a setting with characters suited for that location. Despite everything about the premise suggesting it would fall on its face, those who've played it say it's very fun.