New Trading Card Games Make “Magic”
Yu-Gi-Oh!, Bakugan and Magic: The Gathering Heat Up Competitions
Good friends. Fantastic images. Evolving play. Collectible card games have quite a draw. Experts in competitions and novices hanging with friends both come for quick fixes of addicting games.
WHERE THE COMPETITION LIES
Play All Day, a gaming store in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., holds sanctioned game nights during the week where players compete. They also have casual nights for people to have fun without the pressure of competitions.
“The competition of Magic [from Wizards of the Coast] is very high. People like to strive for that,” Owner John Devitt told TDmonthly Magazine.
“Magic is probably No. 1 one and Yu-Gi-Oh! [from Konami] is probably second in line,” he said. “These are the only ones I actually carry. Nothing else comes close.”
Part of the appeal of Magic: The Gathering, which is currently seeing a sales climb among card games in the specialty market, and Yu-Gi-Oh!, Devitt said, is that a new expansion launches at least every three months. This injects the game with new cards, new energy and sometimes even new mechanics.
The freshest Magic: The Gathering expansion is Zendikar, opening up a new world for players. New game mechanics and new Planeswalkers — beings who transcend dimensions — will liven up any deck.
With a tag line of “Deadly Perils, Priceless Treasures,” this 249-card set has players trawling the Internet for clues of what the new cards will be.
Konami is bringing more Yu-Gi-Oh! cards to the table in October with the Ancient Prophecy Special Edition and Warrior's Strike Structure Deck. The Special Edition comes with three packs of the Ancient Prophecy expansion plus one or two variant cards. Warrior's Strike is loaded with three foil cards in addition to the normal deck.
SELECT FEW STAY ON TOP
Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! are “crazy good” sellers, said Eric Reasoner, owner of Cardhaus, a game store in Lynnwood, Wash.
“We're very selective with what we carry. Unless it's pretty safe, we don't dabble in it,” he told TDmonthly. “We used to go big into everything that came out. We'd sell a little bit and get stuck with a bunch of product.”
He said there's still a solid core of fans of Legends of the 5 Rings from Alderac Entertainment.
Celebrating 15 years in 2010, L5R inhabits a mythical samurai world. While many games have tournaments, L5R is the only one where the winner actually changes the future of the game. The winner and the winning cards affect the lives of the characters in the ongoing, immersive storyline.
Choosing which team to play opens doors in a worldwide community, said Todd Rowland, a spokesman from publisher Alderac Entertainment.
CARDS FORGE COMMUNITY
“In general, in most collectible card games, you're on your own, everyone against everyone. But when you pick up L5R and say, 'I'm going to play the Dragon Clan,' you are instantly part of a larger group.”
The new expansion, 150-card Imperial Gift, will be given out free over the course of three releases to those who ask for it as a reward for players who have supported the game, Rowland told TDmonthly.
Fantasy Flight games like Call of Cthulhu and Game of Thrones are also selling well, Reasoner said.
These games are morphing into what Fantasy Flight dubs a “Living Card Game.” Traditionally, collectible card game players buy packs of cards at stores, and single cards when they can get them, many times leaving the best cards to he who has the most money.
In the Living Card Games, however, every player buys the same 40-card set, a Fantasy Flight spokesman said.
Scourgewar is the 10th expansion of the online role-playing game World of Warcraft, published by Upper Deck Entertainment. This follows an ongoing storyline, and incorporates character abilities and other favorites from the online version. Randomly inserted Loot cards provide upgrades to your online character as well.
Also from Upper Deck is Dinotector Showdown, an expansion of the Dinosaur King game that adds new dinosaurs, and some of the most powerful in the game, to the game inspired by the TV show.
“World of Warcraft is a pretty solid property, but it's been losing a lot of steam,” Reasoner said. Single-card sales were selling for a while, but [have] tapered off slightly. “WoW has the problem of just having more of a tournament crowd.”
BAKUGAN FOR ALL
“There are two different markets (for collectible card games): tournament players and casual players,” Reasoner said, and different aspects of game play appeal to the different markets.
Casual players are not as selective; they'll open a few boxes and play. Tourney players will scour the Internet for the one card they need, he said.
But you don't have to be a master player to enjoy the game ... you don't even need to know how to play.
Peter Wilmot, 7, of Howell, N.J., does not know the official rules of Bakugan from Spin Master, but he loves the game.
“He learned bits and pieces from school and before-care programs,” his mother, Leslie, told TDmonthly.
“It's like a pick-up basketball game,” she said of how his friends play, “but it's a pick-up Bakugan game. It's whoever brings them in and that's how they play.”
The Bakugan balls opening on the magnetic card initially drew Peter in. “It was a little magical,” Leslie said. “After that, someone told him that each one has a different power.” And that just took over. “How many Gs does yours have?”
Another part of the appeal is the size. “You could keep a lot in pockets … so you could bring them to the playground without the teacher seeing them.”
Bakugan is the first collectible card game that incorporates transforming action figures, strategy and shooting skill, according to Spin Master. New cards, traps and accessories are being introduced to change up the fun.
Marching at the front of the new line is the 7n1 Maxus Drago, already on several hot holiday toy lists. It’s made up of seven combining toys — six Bakugan Traps and one Dragonoid.
The Bakugauntlet — which is worn over the wrist like Dan, the protagonist of the Bakugan Battle Brawlers cartoon show, and has slots for cars — will also be new to stores this fall.
Wizards of the Coast calls Magic the biggest of the collectible card games. With millions of players in tournament and casual play, there is a strong market for all new releases. Zendikar features new Planeswalkers, a relatively new type of card with game-changing powers. One new Planeswalker is Nissa Revane, who came to fame in the Xbox Live Arcade game “Duels of the Planeswalkers.” Fifteen-card booster packs are listing at $3.99. Intro packs, consisting of a 40-card deck, 1 premium card, 1 booster, a learn-to-play insert and a strategy insert, are $12.29. Fat Packs, made up of eight booster packs, a card box, player's guide, learn-to-play insert, land pack, and an excerpt from the upcoming “Path of the Planeswalker” graphic novel, are $34.99. Launch date: October 2, 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25432 (added 9/30/2009)
MSRP: $39.99Age Range: 8 and upGender: Boys
More than just a card or just a toy, the Maxus Dragonoid is a monstrous combination of six Bakugan Traps and a Dragonoid Bakugan. The package also includes a Gate Card and an Ability Card. The year 2009 saw growth in the line with new mechanics and game play modules, as well as a second season of the cartoon show. Launch date: October 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 25434 (added 9/30/2009)
MSRP: $19.99SKU or Item #: 00203Gender: Girls
Girls can easily start collecting and trading ChatterChix cards with this set that includes the following: a ChatterChix binder with five pages to store cards, flower stickers, a tracking map and three card packs.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 21836 (added 12/15/2008)
MSRP: $2.99Age Range: 8 to 12Launch Date: October 2008Gender: Girls
Like all of the collectable Bella Sara trading cards, Baby Bella cards can also be brought to life online in Bella Sara’s virtual playground for kids. Adding babies to the Bella Sara family follows on the hooves of the June launch of the Bella Sara Magical Friends card set, in which more than 70 whimsical, lifelong companions were introduced and paired with Bella Sara horses. "Babies make our Bella Sara families complete and give our young fans a much broader game experience," said Peter D. Adkison, CEO of Hidden City Games, a leader in online gaming. Launch date: October 7, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 20913 (added 10/6/2008)
Age Range: 13 and upGender: Boys
In this 6-pack of Shonen Jump Bleach trading cards, each starter-set contains two hi-tech Guardian cards, one preconstructed deck of 70 cards, two bonus booster packs, one full-color rulebook and a playmat. This is an improvement on the original Bleach trading card game by introducing into the game, "Bankai", which is the inner power of the Soul Reapers, of which the main character Ichigo unlocks in his efforts to save Rukia during the Soul Society story arc.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19562 (added 6/25/2008)
With the exciting new stories centered on Illexia, the terrifying Danian Queen, Zenith of the Hive introduces new game mechanics and features new army powers including, Infection, Disarm, Defender and Element Proof as well as new twists on existing powers such as Invisibility and Hive. Zenith of the Hive adds 100 new Chaotic Cards into circulation, including 35 Creatures, 10 Battlegear, 20 Attacks, 10 Locations and 25 Mugic™. Each pack includes nine cards with two rare foil cards. Additionally, one in three booster packs will include a Parasite Token Card to track the Hive’s infestation. Launch date: April 16, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 19385 (added 6/16/2008)
The card is part of a line of trading cards released by Sota Toys and Sabertooth Games. The characters are based on Street Fighter Universe’s Revolutions action figures. Over a dozen cards are available.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17368 (added 1/31/2008)
Chris Lundy is a freelance writer and game designer who covered municipal news for several New Jersey newspapers. He's also written comic books and short screenplays. Read more articles by this author
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