Should Players Give Smaller CCG’s a Chance?

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310_mtg_logo_normal[1]By Billy Bolt

I have made friends with and been part of some CCG companies in the past few years. In this time I have noticed the same problem for these upstart CCG companies. Thought the games are cool and the artwork is awesome, players just don’t seem to want to give new games a chance. I asked myself and players, Why?

Magic the Gathering and other large CCG companies come out with expansion after expansion every 2-3 months. According to the local “MTG for life” players I talked with stated that it is a lot easier to collect the full set of MTG, because of the large availability. This, in their opinion, also made it easier to get the cards they want. It was also the players’ opinion that MTG was cheaper on their pocket book, and getting into a new CCG was just not a cost effect. For the record, I shared this same opinion.

The Question I first asked, is MTG cheaper? Almost every CCG offers some kind of “Starter Deck” most decks costing $10-$15; I would say MTG set this standard. Who just buys a Starter Deck? Booster packs are around $4 a pack for most CCGs, and who just buys one pack. Standard for the Big CCG’s right? As I found out, standard for the smaller CCGs as well.

I took a look at the “Secondary Market” of several CCGs. I looked at the number of single cards in the market; there were a number of website to choose from. You can find the single you are looking for, at a wide range of prices. What would it cost to buy all the singles from just one set alone? It was hard to find an average price for this question; this data will show you why.

Number Crunching Time

MTG (Dec. 1993 – Feb. 2011)

13 core sets – average number of cards per set = 333

54 expansion set – average number of cards per set = 209.27

18 total expansion blocks – average number of cards per block = 627.83

13 core sets total – average set per year = .68

54 expansions set total – average set per year = 2.84

19 years of production – average number of cards per year = 822.63

This is not even counting the Compilation/reprints.

As you can see looking up all the cards to complete just one of these sets is no easy task, keeping up with this large output of cards would be just as difficult. If the player wanted to collect all the cards from just this year alone, the player would spend over $1000.

“Well, I will take my chances with booster boxes.” Said the players I talked to. That was surprising to hear. I will admit that buying a $1000 worth of booster boxes, well who doesn’t want to be there to open about 300 booster packs. That just seems like a lot of money. Does the average player spend $1000 a year on their favorite CCG? As a former game store owner I can say, YES! People flock to find the newest cards, when it is a set that has good reviews. Some stores spend that themselves just to sell singles in their store, get lucky with 1 or 2 cards per box and they make their money right back.

I looked at some smaller CCGs and learned that $1000 was more than enough to get a player into several new games. I will admit it is harder to find the singles for these games because they are not popular enough (yet) to even be in the secondary market. Smaller companies now this, so some where offering a complete set of cards for a very reasonable price. The reason for this is they need players to grow as a game! They want to make their cards available to the players.

We can clearly see from this information that MTG, and other large CCGs, are the easiest CCGs to collect! Wait! What? They’re NOT, how can this be? How can one of my favorite games be this hard to collect? I was shocked to learn how much I had spent on Magic in a year, and I was a store owner getting stuff at cost! I didn’t want to see what I spent on Yu-Gi-Oh for my son.

There are a lot of cool new games made available every year; I would encourage you to try one out. There are a lot of cool games that have been out for years that I have only recently played. You can’t call yourself a gamer if you just play one game, at least not in my book.


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