The CCG Thread – Going Digital

Welcome to the *CG thread, where we talk all manner of Card Games – Collectible, Trading, Living, and otherwise!

Digital CCGs! It’s a new world! A digital world! A world where you can make random effects without needing players to have a bag full of dice! A world where you can make cards spring up out of thin digital air in the middle of the game, whether the player owns it or not! A world where cards can just spontaneously turn into other, different cards!


There are a lot of tools that digital games have that are infeasible in paper. The three big ones that I see are:

  1. What I call “Secret Special Cards.” Most of the stuff I mention above falls under this category. This is when you have a card that does more than the card itself. Either it makes a bunch of special minion cards or one big super legendary guy or just pulls a bunch of random cards into existence. While some of this is possible on a basic level (token creatures in Magic, for example, and double-faced cards in Duel Masters (and later also Magic)). But digital games can take this to 11.
  2. Free-to-Play and the digital economy. Most digital CCGs are some flavor of F2P. You get quest rewards or tournament rewards that let you buy more cards, and usually you can turn cards into some secondary currency to get the cards you actually want. Generally, this comes at the expense of one of the big pillars of paper CCGs, or more specifically, TCGs, emphasis on the T. Digital games often do not have a secondary market, forcing you to deal with the in-game store/crafting interface for all your needs. Trading is too uncontrollable and/or exploitable for games to want to allow it.
  3. Nerfs. While paper games do issue errata, Magic in particular has a policy of No Power-Level Errata. And for good reason – in paper you can’t change the text that’s already printed on cards that people own, so if you don’t take a very very light touch, people will need to remember all the changes to all the cards. In digital, you can just nuke the cards from orbit and change anything you want, whether the players like it or not. On the other hand, in paper games, cards that might otherwise be nerfed get banned, which is a whole other can of worms that probably deserves its own topic.

There’s definitely way more to say on digital CCGs, and I’ll probably get to it one of these weeks. Until next time, I leave you with the discussion prompt of the week:

Do you play any digital CCGs? How do they compare to any paper CCGs you might have played?