Card Games and Warfare

In my life I have primarily played three different tcgs or trading card games.  I have played one of those three much less than the other two, but that one still far more than any other trading card game.  The three games I speak of are Magic: The Gathering, Yugioh & Pokemon.  The thesis of my article today will be that each game is individually good because each of them focuses on the three basic concepts important in warfare.  Please don’t take this too seriously, as while I have made a mild study of warfare and the concepts necessary to be successful at it, I am by no means a expert on the subject.  Additionally, while I have played Magic and Yugioh a fair bit, I am not up to date on the current metagame and these arguments will be based on the average metagame instead of the current one.

The first game I will discuss is the most popular.  Magic the Gathering has been an influential and much played game for years and dwarfs the other two in terms of popularity and player base.  While most people would say that it is a game of strategy or tactics, my argument today is that the military concept that Magic most represents is Logistics.  Ultimately in most games, it is the person who is able to gather the most resources together and use those resources the most effectively that is the winner.  While that can be said of most any game, because of the way that the mana system in Magic works, the game becomes something of a race, with both players trying to accelerate to the point where they can overcome their opponents.  While certain decks and playstyles make individual turns or cards important, most of the time in Magic it is the aggregate of all of those plays that matters much more than any individual choice.  A rational and steady increase in resources and the leverage of those resources into troops and spells is the way to win in magic. 

Yugioh will be the second game I look at, and it plays almost entirely differently than Magic.  While certain kinds of magic decks play cards on their opponents turn frequently, almost every deck does so in Yugioh.  In Yugioh the game can be won in a single turn or two and severe turn arounds are common and expected.  Advantage in the game is measured in “Card Advantage” or the total number of cards you have that are usable at a given point.  Yugioh is a game of setting up traps and making a series of quick decisive actions that either succeed or fail on a extreme scale.  It is for this reason that I believe that Yugioh best exemplifies Tactics.  You are making hard choices frequently, and a single card can be the difference between victory and defeat.  Each action gives the opponent the possibility to respond and so each action is a skirmish in a battle, with each skirmish potentially being the difference between victory and defeat. 

Pokemon is the game I have the least experiance with, so this last example may in fact be completely wrong if I do not have as strong of a grasp on the character of a pokemon game as I think I do.  In any event, Pokemon is a drastically different game than Yugioh or Magic, not only because the creatures you battle with can take more than a single hit, and you can only have one out at a time unlike yugiohs five or magics unlimited, but mostly because of the incredible ability to draw cards and search through the deck for other cards.  In Yugioh card drawing is rare, with few cards letting you draw at all, and most of those requiring you to give up as many cards as you draw.  Magic had more prolific card drawing, but it is expensive, costing a lot in mana to draw or search effectively.  Thus you can really only do much in the way of drawing cards later in the game.  Pokemon is different.  You can draw half your deck or more in a single turn and search out whatever card you want from it as well if you have the mind to.  While you do have to build up energy cards a bit, because of the lack of cost to card drawing and the inability to do anything at all on your opponents turn, your choices are less limited by resources and by your opponents actions directly and more limited by strategic choice.  Do I give my energy to this pokemon now in order to gain a short term goal, or do I use it on another that will be more effective later once he is required to expend resources destroying my active pokemon?  Pokemon is a game of strategy, long and short term goals needing to be balanced, with choices in not only your forces, but also in when you want to play all your drawing cards and when having more options is the most beneficial. 

What should you take out of all of this?  Well, firstly, you should take the idea that card games have incredible depth to them, with three games often described as similar delving into completely different directions of competitive thought.  You should also understand that these games have different focus and that their is something unique and special in each of them.  Finally, you can gauge your potential interest in the three games by the descriptions and basic ideas of all three that I gave. 


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One Response to “Card Games and Warfare”

  1. yugiohnewb Says:

    I definitely agree that yugioh exemplifies tactics the most. Being able to make your cards all work together as one is key. Knowing when to make a play and when not to are very important things. I’ve never played MTG but from the way you described it, it might be something I should look into a little more.

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