The Collectible Card Game Thread – Re-Sourcing Resources – The Sequel!

Welcome to the *CG thread, where we talk all manner of Card Games – Collectible, Trading, Living, and otherwise! Feel free to chat amongst yourselves about the card games you’re playing or anything card game-related that strikes your fancy.

I talked a few weeks ago about pure resources in CCGs, so this week, I want to go into more detail on something that I only tangentially alluded to in that post: functional resources.

While most games only have one or two “pure” resources, games generally will have many functional resources. In part, this is because practically everything is a resource – cards (in various forms), life, time, tempo, etc. Functional resources fit broadly onto two axes: Virtual vs. Actual and Potential vs. Realized, and they can sit at multiple points on an axis at once.

The Virtual/Actual dichotomy describes a resource’s value. Actual resources have a clearly defined value, like a life total or victory points. A virtual resource is fuzzier – it’s value is unknown or variable, or its value isn’t directly applicable to the game. Time is a virtual resource because it’s very dependent on how it’s being used – when you get an extra turn, the value of that turn isn’t defined ahead of time; rather, it changes because that turn is converted into a number of other resources: drawing a card, getting to take extra actions, and so on.

The Potential/Realized dichotomy describes how immediately a resource affects gameplay. This is much more contextual than the other axis. Tempo is a realized resource: it represents an instantaneous advantage over your opponent. Cards in your hand on the other….. hand… are a potential resource. While they do give you an advantage, that advantage isn’t immediately available to you and there’s generally a cost to be paid before it becomes realized.

Resources can be moved on these axes according to context and the how and when of their use. In fact, overall gameplay archetypes [link] often will attempt to concentrate as many resources as possible into a single quadrant in order to win the game in the way best-suited to their strategy:

Generally speaking, Aggro strategies focus on concentrating their Actual Realized resources in the short-term, playing as many cards as they can as fast as possible, trying to stick their opponents with more Potential resources than they’re capable of using before the game ends.

Control strategies on the other hand spend most of the game accumulating Virtual and Potential resources, spending them only when necessary until they can use them as an overwhelming advantage.

Midrange strategies fall closer to the middle of both axes, and are designed to transition between different forms of resources according to the state of the game.

Closely connected to the concept of “functional resources” is the concept of “advantage”, the most important and nuanced of which is “card advantage”, which I plan on doing a deep dive on next week.

Until then, the weekly prompt – When you play, what sort of resources do you favor? How do you think about resources during a game? Are you good at saving and growing your resources or do you prefer to spend them as soon as you can?

Or, as always, feel free to talk about anything going on with you in the world of *CGs.