Gaming 101: Tabletop Card Games

Tabletop card games are typically any card game played on a flat surface. As a kid, you might remember playing cards with your parents or grandparents. Nowadays, things have gotten a lot more interesting with the advent of card games that combine strategy, deck building, and fantastical characters. In fact, some of them even have made the leap from digital video games to a physical card game that is played in person.

Tabletop card games are gradually becoming a major part of eSports. In 2017, Forbes reported that hobby games, a subset of gaming that includes tabletop card games, represented a $1.2 billion market. Annually, there have been major tabletop competitions organized since 1996. For those who might be interested in delving into tabletop card games for fun or professionally, here is a list of ones to get into.

1. Yu-Gi-Oh!

This is the card game that I personally grew up with, thanks to the Japanese anime series (i.e., cartoon series) of the same name. The objective is to duel and use monster cards, spell cards, and trap cards to reduce your opponent’s life points to zero. A particularly fun aspect is the deck building and special abilities of certain cards, which allows us to come up with creative ways to win a duel. Published by Konami, there are digital Yu-Gi-Oh! Games on mobile and console, while the eSports counterpart is the annual Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship.

2. Magic The Gathering

In Wizard’s of The Coast collectible card game, you play as a wizard known as a Plainswalker that collects energy from the land around you and summon magical creatures. Depending on how you want to play, you can be a different kind of Plainswalker using specific decks and cards to win a game. Part of the game’s appeal is that Magic exists in a massive multi-verse filled with diverse inhabitants, creating endless possibilities for gameplay. Not only that, but it has a large community that exists locally, online, and in Esports. Magic is currently rising in Esports thanks to the advent of the MTG Pro League.

3. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Created by Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone is a strategy card game that initially began as an online game before also becoming an eSports game, with a full-fledged competitive gaming community. You play as one of nine hero classes, using your individual skills, mana, and your minions to defeat your opponent. To keep the game fresh and exciting, Heartstone periodically releases new card sets to amp up your cards and make them stronger. When online, you can play Hearthstone using a PC or mobile device. Every year, Hearthstone’s top players participate in the eSports tournament known as Hearthstone Grandmasters.

4. Elder Scrolls: Legends

Spinning off from the open-world action role play game, this card game published by Bethesda Softworks features fantastical characters from the Elder Scrolls game series. Using skills, keywords, and battlefield lanes, you can become victorious with smart tactics. With online play, you can even have solo games that involve a story-driven campaign, solo battle arena, and challenges. Elder Scrolls Legends is recently rising in Esports thanks to the Elder Scrolls Legends: Master Series, which had its first tournament last year at QuakeCon.

5. Pokémon Trading Card Game

Pokémon is such a massive multi-media franchise that it is easy not to realize that it even has a trading card game. Using a team of six different monster creatures called Pokémon, you battle your opponent’s Pokémon using energy cards and win Prize cards with each Pokémon you defeat. The winner of the game is whoever takes down the other’s Pokémon team and wins all the prize cards. Once a year, top Pokémon trading card game players compete in the Pokémon TCG Championship series.

6. Ascension

Stoneblade Games’ Ascension is one of the few card games that the company has to offer. As one of their most popular games, Ascension consists of deckbuilding that involves players spending Runes to defeat monsters and get more powerful cards for your deck. There are hundreds of cards to collect, and the game itself is available to play on mobile and on PC. While there is no official major Esports tournament yet, it is possible to play the physical card game by setting up local gatherings.


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