The Collectible Card Game Thread – How to Win!

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.

The goal of the game is to win. That’s, like, the first line in the rules. Most games are won the same way – by hitting your opponent until whatever number represents them goes down to 0. There are some exceptions – Netrunner has multiple asymmetrical goals (of which only one involves damaging your opponent’s “health”) (also it doesn’t really have “combat” in the same way that other CCGs do), and Hecatomb has you trying to make your points go up instead of making their points go down, and Pokémon and Duel Masters/Kaijudo (and the forthcoming Artifact) have you trying to win a certain number of smaller goals, and so on. But on the whole, the primary goal involves one player directly attacking the other (or that player’s creatures/minions/pocket monsters)

There are also other ways to win, often falling under the umbrella of Combo decks (you may remember from the discussion about deck archetypes that attacking the game from alternative angles is a primary defining feature of Combo). The most basic of these are cards that just say “You Win The Game”. 90’s Kids may remember Yu-Gi-Oh‘s Exodia fondly:

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Different games have different approaches to these type of cards – in Yu-Gi-Oh, they tend to be niche and overcomplicated, which I’m sure isn’t a metaphor. Hearthstone only has one card1 that wins the game outright (at least, in normal tournament play). This is most likely a design decision to focus mostly on the back-and-forth interplay of minion combat rather than “pure” combo. On the other hand, Magic routinely prints so-called “alternate win conditions” focusing on anything from how you build your deck, to creatures that are so poisonous that one touch will kill you, to doing something that normally would end the game but instead makes you win:

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Which brings us to the other mode of victory that I want to talk about this week – running out of cards. (also referred to in CCG slang as “milling” (from the Magic card Millstone)). The rule that you lose the game when you run out of cards was conceived by Richard Garfield as a way of preventing games from going on forever if both players somehow run out of cards. And it works too, as many of the card games that followed Magic adopted the same rule. The existence of that rule led players to use cards like the aforementioned Millstone to make “Milling” decks that intentionally eschewed normal creature combat and focused only on destroying their opponents’ decks. Notably, Hearthstone does not do this, instead dealing you slowly increasing “fatigue” damage when you draw from an empty deck. This has a similar effect, but it’s intended to be a little less “anti-climactic” giving the fatigued player a chance to use their final cards to end the game. Note that Hearthstone uses a significantly smaller deck than other games – only 30 cards.

This week’s prompt – How do you like to win? Straightforward face-punching? Convoluted Rube Goldberg combos? The unrelenting grind of the Millstone? Any good victory stories?

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