The Collectible Card Games Thread – A Memorial to Memory

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.

Hey so I forgot about Memorial Day and Wednesday was my Tuesday so….. Hey look, it’s the CCG Thread on a day when it was totally definitely supposed to happen!

Anyway I wanted to talk this week about memory. In paper CCGs, memory is a tricky thing, because humans and their squishy human brains are fallible. If you forget something and you didn’t write it down, it’s just gone! Sorry, Meddling Mage, you’re not meddling with anyone if you can’t remember what spell was named. Or if you weren’t paying attention and are trying to play Final Punishment….. Oh well!


In design parlance, these cards have “Memory Issues” – that is, they require players to allocate some amount of their effort to remembering something unusual in order to even function. This is okay in small numbers, but CCGs tend to be complicated games, and when memory issues lead to accidental illegal plays or unresolvable spells, that’s a problem. Other common types of memory issues are “once-per-game” effects or effects that last longer than a turn or a round of turns, especially without visual markers like counters.

Handling memory is tricky, because it’s so ephemeral. However, there are ways to mitigate memory issues. As mentioned above, you can use visual markers. These aren’t always guaranteed to stick around (counters can be removed, for example), but it covers many of the common cases. Encouraging people to write things down can also help in some cases, like with Meddling Mage above. It also helps for the effect that you’re remembering is big: major effects tend to be more memorable than minor effects.

There’s also the big memory issue solution: Digital CCGs. Computers are way better at remembering things than meat brains. There are still problems to solve – UI being chief among them – but as far as keeping effects around, it’s hard to beat a solid digital implementation. That greater capacity is one of the things that gives digital games access to card designs that aren’t necessarily impossible to do in paper, but certainly could be impractical.

This week’s prompt: Tell me a personal CCG memory of yours. Or talk about cards that require memory. Or, you know, don’t, what do I care?

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