Meeting the Many Trading/Collectible Card Games That Await You

Since its beginnings in 1993, the collectible games market absolutely exploded, both in size and type of game. Even though trading card games launched the industry's ship, a whole variety of collectible games keep the vessel going at full steam today.

Here's a quick introduction to the broad categories of collectible games on the market today:

  • TCG (trading card game): It all started with trading card games. These games mix the playability of a pack of playing cards with the collectability of sports cards. You typically join the game by purchasing a starter set and then expanding your collection with booster packs. These games also go by the abbreviation CCG, short for collectible card game.
  • CMG (collectible miniatures game): For years, nobody could mistake a trading card game for your standard miniatures game — the whole flat versus three-dimensional thing gave away the difference immediately. On top of that, when you bought pieces for a miniatures game, you knew exactly what you were getting in the box. All of that changed when the folks at WizKids Games came up with the idea of a collectible game using prepainted miniatures instead of cards. The figures came randomly packed in starters and boosters, just like trading card games, but now you got a whole new kind of playing experience out of the box. To keep up with their compatriots at the trading card game companies, some CMG firms call their games TMGs (for tradeable miniatures games).
  • CSG (constructible strategy game): After their success with collectible miniatures games, the folks at WizKids started looking for other cool new collectible game concepts. In a leap of logic that defies rational explanation, they came up with the idea of pirate ships that you assemble from plastic parts like a very simple model kit. In true do-it-yourself form, they coined the term constructible strategy game to properly identify their new do-it-yourself product.
  • CTG (collectible throwing game): Nothing inspires a person quite like someone else's success. Given the roaring sales of all things collectible, a group of former Wizards of the Coast employees threw their hats (and their game) into the ring with the creation of the first collectible throwing game. Will it create a new genre of collectible game like collectible miniatures did for WizKids? Only time will tell.

As you probably noticed by now, game companies apply the words trading, tradeable, and collectible almost interchangeably — and so do many people who play the games. That means you might hear one person describe a given game as a CCG while someone else calls the exact same game a TCG, and then they start arguing about who's right. That's what happens in an industry filled with intensely creative people: Getting them to go in one direction (or in this case, agree on just one term) is like herding cats.

If you get caught near one of those it isn't a TCG, it's a CCG arguments, just smile, nod, and stay quiet. It will end eventually. (Don't try feigning death, though, because that doesn't even slow down the people who argue over such things. They merely assume that you closed your eyes and laid down so you could focus on their thoughts, so they keep talking.)

Game designers continue innovating in hopes of finding The Next Big Thing, so don't feel too surprised if yet another new type of collectible game hits the market by the time you read this. (But to be honest, after collectible cards, miniatures, mini-kits, dice, and poker chips, who can imagine what might join the frenzy next. Maybe a collectible pen game?)

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