Trading Card Games: 10 Popular TCGs You Need To Have In Your Collection
Written by Olly Smith on 11 Oct 2021
Most people think that TCGs will become outdated in 2021 as video games, especially mobile-based CCG's, have taken over the mantle. But physical trading card games are still popular, and even the younger generation are falling in love with them. For collectors, owning trading cards is more than just a hobby - it's a profitable pastime! The trading card game lover has plenty of genres to choose from, from fantasy to horror, science fiction and sports; the list is endless.
With limited space, here's ten trading card games I'd recommend you try.
#10. Cardfight!! Vanguard
Stand Up! My Vanguard
Cardfight Vanguard came a long way from when it began, with the trading card game growing more and more with constant expansions. Rules are simple, but it takes time to master. It is a good game with lots of variety. Cardfight vanguard has more than 15 clans.
Each clan has their speciality and skills. It makes the game even more balanced. It does not matter which deck is used. Depending on how well the deck is built, it can compete with others and stands a solid chance of winning.
The game has stunning art having an anime approach and is quite realistic. Each card’s art covers the whole card with the information layered on top. Every card has a flavour text and, of course, there are ample cards.
#9. Final Fantasy Trading Card Game
Beloved video game transformed into a trading card game
The Final Fantasy Trading Game is quite a popular Japanese RPG video game series. The game made the jump to the global market a few years ago.
The cards were redesigned from their Japanese counterparts. The game was designed by a former Magic: The Gathering professional. A quirk of the game is the option to pay for cards by discarding other cards.
The game ends when a player has taken seven damage. Suffering a blow results in a card getting turned over from the deck and placed in the damaged area, and the cards with EX abilities get activated instantly. This helps to mix up the flow of play in unpredictable ways and create a genuinely engaging system.
#8. Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
Only one Phoenixborn may stand
Ashes Rise of the Phoenixbornplaces a lot of its focus on aesthetics because the artwork is incredible. It is aesthetic, and people who have played the game will agree. All the cards have used dominant colours for every new deck that gives them a unique feel.
The game is a little complex for players who have no experience with TCGs. There is a lot of depth hidden in the cards and the mechanics of how to play each deck isn’t at all intuitive. However, the game is easy to set up and get going with premade decks that are fantastic.
It's a strategy game where every turn is intense as you try to outwit your opponent.
#7. Star Wars: Customizable Card Game
May the force be with you.
The trading card game was created for the Stars Wars fan base. The game allows players to decide whether they are on the dark or light side of the force and the objective is to deplete your opponent’s ‘Life Force’ by battling on the ground and in space.
Each player selects their deck of 60 cards in secret. Cards get arranged on a flat surface between the two players. A game that offers rewarding, strategic play for those who take time to learn it, it's highly addictive and a lot of fun.
#6. Legend Of The Five Rings
The Greatest Story in Gaming
Legend of Five Rings has an evolving plot and an intense objective. This is one of the most popular trading card games in history, as you take control of one of the great clans and begin a conflict with another. The way a player plans their strategy will decide the future of your society.
The players can decide whether to fight with honour or other, less noble means in order to lead their clan to victory. The game splits the deck in two; one is the dynasty deck containing characters, the other a conflict deck that has weapons and other equipment.
The player can win by using cards to strengthen their characters and defeat the opponent. There are dynasty and fate cards that determine the journey that you undergo as a player. The game has an epic feel and plenty of meaningful strategies that allow a real depth and replayability to this excellent CCG.
#5. Game Of Thrones: The TCG
Try and conquer Westeros!
If you prefer fantasy games, then GOT - TCG is the one game you need to play. In this game, each player takes the role of one of Westeros' seven houses. You must deploy both military and political strategies in the form of cards as you struggle to take control of the Iron Throne.
There are great houses and other factions from the TV series present in the game, so fans of the show (or the books) should find their favourites within.
The houses include House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Greyjoy, House Targaryen and House Martell. Pledge your loyalty and begin the adventure.
The game can be played with one person or multiple players, making the game a good choice whether you want to spend some quality time alone or want to demolish your friends, especially when you can’t get enough of this fantasy universe!
Random generated decks, quality fun
Keyforge is the latest creation from Richard Garfield, who is the mind behind Magic The Gathering. The charm comes from offering players a fully made deck that is ready to be played. Perfect for players who don’t like deck building.
During the matches, the flow of battle and objectives are quite different from Magic. The main goal of the game is to be the first one to forge the keys. The unique decks have 37 cards, and you are free to use as many cards as you want from your hand per turn, so long as they match your chosen house.
The decks are all unique, meaning each one will bring its own style of play. The estimated length of 15 to 45 minutes will lead to some intense matches.
Yu-Gi-Oh! - the most exciting trading game
The game is simple to learn, but difficult to master. It can take a long time to understand all the rules, but once you crack it, you won’t look back.
There is variety in different cards, and many cards that complement each other for deadly combos. In fact,the Yu-Gi-Oh! Card database spans over 20,000+ different cards and counting. There are always new cards and new additions to the game meaning anyone can find their playing style.
A losing side can reverse the tide of the duel with a single draw, putting each player on the edge of their seat to take out their opponent quickly. Overall, Yu-Gi-Oh is a fun game as you can be very creative with the deck as well as your overall strategy.
#2. Magic: The Gathering
Magic: The Gathering - The original game
Magic: The Gathering is not only the oldest CCG, but its basic mechanics have led to the creation of every other TCG out there (for example Yu-Gi-Oh! borrows several mechanics from it). Here are some reasons why Magic: The Gathering is one of the best trading card games:
● Deep strategy - there's so many options no two games are ever alike
● Amazing artwork - the cards are collectable on this aspect alone
● Many formats for a variety of players
The gameplay is beyond any other game and way more balanced than the aforementioned Yu-Gi-Oh!. While there is heavy emphasis on deck construction, beginners can pick the game up in a few minutes. There are pre-constructed decks too, perfect for leaping into the action! Beautful to look at, easy to pick up and hard to master, it's the definitive Western CCG that's taken the world by storm.
#1. Pokemon TCG
Create your deck around your favourite Pokémon and do battle
The Pokémon TCG focuses on battling, trading and collecting in order to show off your cards. making it the perfect companion to the video game it's based on. While the game can initially be a bit confusing, it has stood the test of time. As a card game, it’s more inviting than perhaps Magic The Gathering and many claim more enjoyable than Yu-Gi-Oh.
To put it simply, Pokémon is timeless. It is apt for both experienced and new TCG players. Besides the variety of the cards, strategies and attacks, it has different levels of play that change the game as well. Pokémon types add a whole lot of extra level of play that are intuitive for younger players - for instance, Fire is good against Grass, and Water is good against Fire. Then there are Light and Dark Pokémon too. The TCG is a first-class entertainment station.
Summing It Up
The future of trading card games looks super exciting. They are loved by the younger generation and maintain a strong following from the older generation - being able to play as a family or with all ages is a great way to share a social experience and learn together. All the trading card games mentioned above have a huge fan base. I hope you have enjoyed the list and find some inspiration!
About Olly Smith
Olly Smith is a content writer and lifelong player of board games and video games. He’s on a mission to bring tabletop gaming back to the masses. When he’s not writing, playing, or thinking about board games, you can usually find him listening to a true-crime podcast or watching Norwich City F.C.