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Collectible Card Game

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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 the cards are sold in randomized packs, and players must buy these packs or trade with other players in order to collect cards. Most CCGs come in starter sets (one or two decks which are playable, but not very powerful, and may ignore some of the more complex rules) and booster packs (random cards which cannot be used alone, but can supplement existing decks).

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.


Some games use CCGs as one part of the experience which are not part of the original: MapleStory has items which can be transferred from cards to the MMORPG, Perplex City cards had clues to finding the MacGuffin, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom has cards used for combat against villains on animated screens, and World of Warcraft featured "Loot" cards with codes to unlock mounts, noncombat pets, and other cosmetic bonuses in the video game.

Another more recent category is games which use personal decks just like CCGs, but do away with the "collectible" part. Some—like Summoner Wars or Fantasy Flight Games' "Living Card Games"—work the same way but eliminate the randomness of booster packs, letting you buy a whole non-randomized Expansion Pack instead. Deckbuilding Games like Dominion—where constructing your deck is done as part of gameplay itself—use the underlying concepts in a more innovative way.


A number of other media (especially the geeky sort) have licensed CCGs which are otherwise unrelated.

See also Collectible Card Game Tropes. For the Video Game equivalent of this, see Card Battle Game.

Collectible card games include:

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    Based on Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Bleach TCG
  • Digimon had 3 TCGs in America, and has had at least 4 in Japan — the newest two of which are currently being produced at the same time. The first of the Japanese TCGs became a Canon Immigrant in Digimon Tamers, which was intended to come from a more 'real-world' perspective where Digimon is a media franchise.
  • Berserk CCG, which the Abridged Series mocks.
  • Initial D had a short-lived card game in the US, made by AEG, the company that handled the City of Heroes CCG.
  • Death Note has one exclusive to Japan.
  • 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.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!, which is quite popular (more precisely, the most popular TCG in the world).
  • Duel Masters, sadly no longer going outside of Japan. Starting with the first expansion, the flavor text of the cards began receiving the same sort of Gag Dub treatment as the show.
    • Kaijudo: An In Name Only revival of Duel Masters created just for North Americanote , and totally incompatible with the original card game.
  • 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 show. You could only use the card that was on the current page.
  • Making TCG out of existing works is one half of Bushiroad's business, the other half is making anime, which then may or may not be made into TCG. Derivative TCG from Bushiroad includes:

    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 Film 
  • 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.
  • Highlander, which died mostly due to the slow release schedule. There is a new edition of the Highlander CCG, although distribution is limited.
  • Star Wars franchise has — bear it with us — no less than ten TCGs in various state of life to date:
  • Before losing their license in 2001, Decipher cashed in and made some spinoffs, Jedi Knights and Young Jedi. The first one, based on the Original Trilogy, lasted for only three sets and used computer-generated imagery instead of movie stills. The second one was based on The Phantom Menace and had even more simplistic game mechanics. Both were aimed at the younger audience.
  • In 2002 LucasArts took the license away from Decipher and gave it to Wizards of the Coast, which created a TCG for Episode II as a Revenue Enhancing Device. It barely made it to Episode III, but still retains some of its followers today. Probably the second-known Star Wars card game.
  • Then there was the Star Wars Pocketmodel Game from Wiz Kids, which utilized both collectible cards and cardboard starship miniatures. It never made it into Star Wars: The Clone Wars expansions, ending in 2008.
  • Star Wars: Galaxies TCG, apart from being the first Star Wars card game online, was different from its predecessors in using artwork by world-class artists instead of movie stills and being focused almost entirely on Star Wars Expanded Universe material, which previous games only touched at best. Unfortunately, being tied to the Star Wars: Galaxies didn't do it justice: the MMO was already in decline and restricting the game to current and former SWG subscribers limited the potential player base to several hundred people at its best. Nevertheless, the game survived thanks to MMO players buying virtual boosters while hunting rare loot items and spawned 8 sets with thousand of beautiful artworks, until it got shot down along with the MMO that gave birth to it in late 2011.
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures is a casual "Free Realms-style" MMO based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series. It added its first CCG, Card Commander, shortly after the launch in 2010 - a game with very simplistic gameplay , aimed at the very young audience. In 2012, it added a second came called Card Assault. It's a step up, including Deckbuilding and Strategies, while the Card Commander is mostly luck-based and has no deckbuilding.
  • Meanwhile, the license for physical card games went to Fantasy Flight Games, who now produces "Star Wars: The Living Card Game" and X-Wing Miniatures (much like Pocketmodels game above, this one uses both cards and miniatures), both games already several expansions in.

    Based on Literature 
  • 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 what the makers call a "LCG", or Living Card Game. A $40 starter set will get the starting decks for four main Houses, with additional sets for players wanting to play as other Houses or with expanded options for one of the 'core' Houses (Stark, Banatheron, Lannister, and Targaryen). Since then, though, the makers have released monthly "chapter" packs: Basically 60-card booster packs with identical contents to eliminate randomness, arrayed in six chapter arcs built around a general theme or region, much like M:tG's card block system. One of the longest lasting card games on the market aside from M:tG, Yu-gi-oh and the Pokemon CCG, in continuous production since 2002.
  • The Wheel of Time, using the same engine and mechanics as Babylon 5.

    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.
  • 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, Mc Coy, 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 Tabletop Non-Card 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. Even then, its folding was caused by FASA's buyout by Decipher, a rival to Wizards of the Coast who were releasing the CCG.
  • Then an entirely separate game, 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.
  • Lastly, there was Arcadia, based on Changeling: The Dreaming.
  • 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.
  • Netrunner technically falls into this category, since its background drew upon R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk 2020 role-playing setting (despite the game itself being produced by Wizards of the Coast). Of course, even at the time that was arguably a fairly obscure property... The game was pretty solidly designed but just sadly short-lived.
  • 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.
  • Spell Fire, 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."
  • The webbased Card Hunter is a Collectible Card Game/Strategy RPG/Tabletop RPG combination based on Dungeons & Dragons
  • 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.
  • Steve Jackson Games' Illuminati New World Order was a collectible version of their previous classic Illuminati
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Arkham Horror: The Card Game
  • 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.
  • The Horus Hersey: Legions, based on the Warhammer 40,000 set in the Horus Hersey era.

    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 
  • And then Square Enix saw fit to remake this game for the PlayStation 2 as part of one of its Japanese rerelease packages, and even exported said remake as a standalone release in North America.
  • It also had a very short lived TCG, while the translators, Fantasy Flight Games, teased of the fifth set, which would have been Japan's Sixth and Seventh Set, including whatever promos respective to that set.
  • 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//GU 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.
    • And then in late 2016, SquareEnix rebooted the game above after it became too unbalanced and released it worldwide. It is currently in print, with eight sets released covering all fifteen main FF games as well as numerous spinoffs, and has an official tournament circuit. Read about the game here.

    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 that, while made by the masters of the CCG at Wizards of the Coast and having easier rules to understand than Yu-Gi-Oh! and was in general very fun.

    Based on Western Animation 
  • 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 live-action movies. 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.
  • Chaotic is based on Gnolls and Gorks a Danish game that was adapted for the animated series Chaotic.
  • My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Unlike most CCGs, your objective is not to defeat your opponent by taking out their "Life Points", but reach a set score before they do via assigning Characters to a Problem and earning points by solving them. There re also face-offs depending on power, but nobody gets immediately removed from the field as a result of it. Furthermore, you don't lose the game when you exhaust your deck.

Alternative Title(s): Trading Card Game


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