Let\’s Talk Trading Card Games

In a change of pace here on Extremely Uncanny, lets take a small interlude from comics and instead talk about another thing that is often sold alongside comics: Trading Card Games. I am talking Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Magic: The Gathering. Let me take you back to 1999.

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Picture this: you come to school one day and suddenly everyone is talking about a weird game called Pokémon. You see a fanatical wave spread like a zombie outbreak Across the school and you are powerless to stop it. In days you don’t know what the game is but you have to have it. You need it. Suddenly, you are hooked on cardboard crack and the games they play called trading card games. This is a personal history of my experiences with the original loot boxes themselves. My first TCG was Pokémon. This is probably the case for most of generation, for that matter. It wasn’t until several years later I discovered games like Yu-Gi-Oh! and even longer for me to discover the predecessor of them all, Magic: the Gathering. 

One thing about me is that I love games. It took sometime for me to realize that, oddly enough. What took me so long to pick up games back up was discovering that games were a way to express my competitive drive in a way that circumvents my physical limitations. TCGs are just one of many games that scratched that itch. 

Pokémon: The Gateway Drug

I plan to talk about Pokémon much more in the future but few things can simulate the craziness of poke’mania in the late 90′s. All of the cartoons at the time all took turns taking shots at the craze. Even Pelswick got in on that action. 

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I remember being huge into Pokémon media and the cards were no exception. Every kid had cards and trading was commonplace. I’m sure you heard that schools outlawed Pokémon and they right. It’s true. It’s all true. You couldn\’t bring them to school for fear of them being confiscated or worse stolen from your backpack.

 I remember being instructed by my parents to not to trade rares, because of the “money” as these cards were treated as an investment for the future. See: 90’s comics, Beanie Babies, and baseball card boom. What was really interesting is that despite all of us having the cards, NONE OF US PLAYED. 

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I remember maybe playing 1 or 2 games with my younger brother, but literally no one knew how to play.  I think it was a combination of unwillingness or just not understanding the rules. Either way, it was a brief fad that didn’t last. I mean people still play the game and the franchise is going on strong, but the cards just didn’t stick around for more than a year in my age group. If we played the game it would have likely remained played in my friend groups, but once the fad died down there was no reason to keep up with the paper collections. We cast them off and chased the video games and some even went after the ill-fated Dragon Ball Z trading card game. While most went along there way once they dropped Pokémon, my journey in card games was just getting started. 

From Yu-Gi-Oh! To Magic: the Gathering– Learning to run while barely crawling 

Seventh grade was awful. I hated every moment of that year. My original friends from elementary school drifted away and the stress of my mom\’s employment ate away at me. My school grades slipped and I struggled mightly.  While my old friends drifted away, I found new friends in the cafeteria. Some would call them weird. I call them my people. They would be my first real introduction to children’s card games in Yu-Gi-Oh!

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 Yu-Gi-Oh! was this game that had simple enough rules and a strategy as old as time: pay to win. The best cards were in rare and you had to crack packs to get them. Of course, most TCGs lock their power behind rarities for balancing and money reasons. Yu-Gi-Oh! just lacked any real power in the common slot compared to other games. I played the game for a few years until I was introduced to a real card game called Magic: the Gathering from Yu-Gi-Oh!  The others in the lunchroom started playing it one day and I was interested in the art and design of the cards. They had a fantasy aspect about them that was undeniable. There is a reason why this card game is one of the most popular card games on the planet.

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Now, Magic isn’t simple. This is a common issue for the game. It is fun though. Especially if you get the right group and I luckily had a solid one in high school. With them I started playing in lunch and such. I even started going to Local Game Shops to play competitively. Magic is a game of skill but there is a lot of fun in the flavor, design, and mechanics. It was a lot of fun to play.

My time with Magic was fun, but I left it behind to explore comics. My high school friends drifted away (as they often do) and the game store I went to closed. It became harder to play regularly. Now, I am rediscovering the game these days with Magic Arena being released. I will likely talk about the game in more depth another day. It is fascinating game overall that I wish I never really left. The lore and gameplay is often engaging enough that I hate to have left behind. 

Overall, I find myself attracted to card games even after leaving them for years in favor of other hobbies. There is one called Keyfoge that has my eye. The gimmick of the game being a pre-built decks sounds just neat. Ultimately, all my drive to play TCGs meet an issue: Time and money. Finding the time to drive down to a game shop to play a game or two is unlikely. Plus there is the whole pandemic thing making the idea of playing in a game shop send shivers down my spine. The amount of money I would need to sink into the games is off putting. TCGs are expensive. If you find yourselves going to local game shops to play you will likely find nothing but the serious tournament grinders. While that is cool and I am competitive as well, I am just not willing to drop nearly half a grand on a deck (if not more). Especially if I can’t get the time to play it. It isn’t that much more than other respectable adult hobbies like Golf or something. It isn’t something my lower middle class self is ready to do yet. Until that time arises things like Magic Arena and even Magic: the Gathering Online will likely be my main TCG itch. 

Let me know what you all feel about this article. I am looking at diversifying the type of articles here on Extremely Uncanny and I really like to talk about TCG\’s and such. If this works well I will come back and talk about some more Magic: the Gathering and the like.

Either way, this has been Extremely Uncanny, see ya!

Jordan Jennings

Jordan has written for wide array of comic review sites over the years including Comicosity, Comicon, and Comic Book Revolution. He has been reviewing and discussing comics for over 10 years. In addition to comics, Jordan enjoys various types of games be it video games or trading card games.

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