Our Meeple Overlords Top 5 Collectable Card Games of All Time (According to Jay)

This week, we continue with our top 5 lists of all time! This list, the top 5 Collectable Card Games, is another that Em does not have too much of an opinion on, so I’m flying solo.

I’m going to be honest here…I don’t play a lot of Collectable Card Games anymore. My CCG money goes to Arkham Horror: The Card Game, which is a Living Card Game. It’s a subtle difference, but one that probably should be made. Because I haven’t played a collectable card game in forever, my list is going to skew towards the mid-90s.

Without further ado, here we go!

5) Magic: The Gathering

This was the game that not only got me into CCGs, but into modern boardgaming. Back in 1995, I was just starting college, and when I had a free period, I’d head to the student center to study. It was there that I saw these guys from my English class shouting and slamming cards on the table. The game was Magic: The Gathering, and those dudes were part of the school’s boardgaming club.

One guy, Brock, was kind enough to teach me how to play, how to build a deck, and how to lose. Repeatedly. In my defense, Brock won just about every game he played, even when he was trying to lose. They called it “The Brock Factor.” It carried over into the games of Battletech and Axis & Allies that I missed classes to play.

Anyway, this game would rank much higher on the list if it weren’t for “the chase.” I couldn’t afford to keep up with the meta, and even under Brock’s tutelage, I was terrible at building decks. and with the cards I had, I was already behind the 8-ball. Still, I have so many fond memories of playing Magic with those guys.

4) Dicemasters

I’m stretching the definition of Collectable CARD Game here, but Dicemasters has elements of the genre. Blind packs? Check. Deck customization? Absolutely. “The Chase”? Unfortunately, yes. Cards? Loads of them. So I’m calling this a CCG.

What’s weird is, though I have a bunch of the blind packs of Marvel Dicemasters, my only experience playing the game is the Warhammer 40,000 Dicemasters game, and that one wasn’t technically a CCG as the sets weren’t randomized and there were no blind packs. It plays the same, though, and I di buy Marvel blind packs, so I got the whole experience.

Anyway, dice bag building is a cool concept. I tend to like games with dice where you can influence your luck by the choices you make. In Dicemasters, you use dice to buy better dice, and you use those to attack your enemies. The deckbuilding aspect comes in the fact that you choose which cards and dice to bring to the game before you start, building a deck of cards and dice to buy from. It’s fun, and there are a lot of interesting choices to make before and during the game, yet it doesn’t feel like a heavy game once you start playing.

3) The Horus Heresy: Legions

Another game that stretches the definition of “card game,” as there are no physical cards. It’s a video game, but you still build decks of cards in it, you still get these cards in blind booster packs, and the cards vary in rarity. It counts.

Have you played Hearthstone? This is Hearthstone, but with Warhammer characters. I’ve been playing it for about a year now, and because you can earn the in-game money, I haven’t felt the need to spend real money on this game. The temptation, sure, but not the need.

Because Horus Heresy: Legions lets you buy packs with in-game money, I have kept up as much as I need to with the meta. Sure, I’ll never be a top ranked player, but within my tier, I win as often as I lose. The fact that it never feels hopeless keeps me coming back. That, and the fact that it’s Warhammer.

2) Overpower

Growing up in the 80s, I was a Marvel guy. I just could not get into DC. The characters were too perfect, the stories just seemed cheesy, and I was introduced to the likes of Spider-Man as early as I can remember.

The 90s changed all that. Right around Zero Hour, DC began printing some of my favorite stories: Starman by James Robinson and Tony Harris, Legion of Super-Heroes by Mark Waid and Tom McGraw*, and Green Lantern by Ron Marz and Darryl Banks.

So when I way that Overpower had all my favorite DC characters (And Marvel, but I collected DC), I had to try it. Unlike the DC Comics Deck-Building Game and Marvel Legendary, You play this game by choosing 4 characters and building a deck around them. It’s designed to play as heroes vs. villains, but really, you could ignore that and just play with whatever teams you wanted to make. And because it used the same rules as the Marvel game, you could technically mix and match comic universes!

Honestly, the game quickly devolves into a punching match, but so do many comic stories, so it’s thematic!

1) Netrunner

What’s that? I thought we weren’t including LCGs in this list! Well, I’m not. I’m talking about Netrunner from Wizards of the Coast, from 1996. Back then, I was really into Cyberpunk, and this game, which was adapted (and improved on) by Fantasy Flight Games in 2012.

I only knew one other person who played Netrunner back in the day, but we played it a lot for a couple of years there. My go-to deck would have been an Anarch deck in the FFG game: virus-heavy, asset-trashing, and all-flash. It’s actually surprising, with everything that FFG changed about the game, how much of the original game survived.

Looking back on it, there were problems: The art, especially on the programs, did not age well. Also, there was very little to guide deck creation, making deckbuilding a sort of nebulous, trial-and-error affair. That said, I probably had the most fun playing Netrunner, and it remains my all-time favorite.

It’s kind of fitting that my list begins and ends with games by Richard Garfield.

And those are my top 5 favorite CCGs? What are some of yours? Let us know in the comments, or find us all over the Internet!

*OK, the 5 Years Later Legion from Keith Giffen was better, but I didn’t read that until later.

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