Getting Out of Collectible Card Game Hell

Gary T. from Colorado writes…

Hello, FG.

Quick question for you. I hate playing games with my kids. Hate. It. Not because I hate them, mind you, but because I hate the games they play! We are no longer playing Candy Land (thank the Maker), but my 6 and 7-year-old only want to play Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon card games! I had thought of getting them involved in the Living Card Games by Fantasy Flight Games, but the artwork is a bit “too much” for them, I think, as are the rules.


Not to worry, Garry. Check over the What We’re Playing page on Father Geek to see the kind of games we all have to play once in a while. Zingo, Hungry Hungry Hippos, all the standards are there. Some of us would welcome the chance to play Pokemon once in a while. My own 5-year-old (who is more of a gamer than my 8-year-old) still pulls out Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders pretty frequently. I used to dread it; but, like you, I’d bite the bullet and sit down and play through it as quickly as possible.

But something clicked one day. I suddenly realized my daughter was having fun. I think it was Chutes & Ladders. For some reason, I momentarily pulled my attention away from the game (which wasn’t hard), and away from my own misery (which was), and just watched her. She was thrilled. Every flick of the spinner, every move of the pawn, just missing a big slide, almost reaching the next ladder — this was an adventure for her.

And after a while, that excitement rubbed off on me. Not in the same way, of course, but I found myself getting vicariously excited through her. The games weren’t the center of the experience for me anymore, she was. After that, it didn’t matter which games we played. As long as she enjoyed it, I would, too.

At 6 and 7, Pokemon isn’t a bad fit for your kids. If playing the game is too tedious for you, you can still engage your kids in discussions about different deck building strategies and get them thinking about techniques that don’t come naturally to young minds, like taking cards out of their decks for the sake of efficiency.

The Living Card Games (LCG) from Fantasy Flight Games are a great idea for deck building practice, and as you know, the games are a little more interesting for adults. I don’t think most 6 and 7-year-olds would be able to grasp the game’s mechanisms, so I would recommend a cooperative LCG. Right now, that limits things to their Lord of the Rings game. If the artwork in that game is too much for them (I’d feel the same way with my kids), take a look at Fantasy Flight’s upcoming Star Wars LCG when that launches later this year. Last I heard, it was going to be a cooperative game like The Lord of the Rings.

In the meantime, a deck-building game like Dominion might be a good one to try. Its art is pretty harmless, the game play is quick, and if your kids can handle Yu-Gi-Oh, they can handle Dominion.

Puzzle Strike is another deck building game that might appeal to them even more. The art style will be familiar to them and handling the chips has a cool tactical element, but some of the game play can be a little hard to grasp. Still, I think I’d even recommend this one over Dominion for being a better fit for your kids.

Good luck with it, Gary. It can be monotonous and frustrating at times, but try to focus on what you’re really doing — you’re not gaming, you’re raising gamers. There will be a payoff someday.

Agree? Disagree? PRAISE US! Or, if you’d prefer, berate us for simply trying to sound all smart. Post a comment below and give Gary your thoughts!

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About Nate

Geek, Gamer, Father of Two, and Husband of One (so far), Nate has been a gamer since before he knew the word existed. From his very earliest memories of begging his older sisters to play Monopoly with him, and then crying when they actually made him finish the game, to his moment of Euro game enlightenment with his first play of Settlers of Catan (thanks to Father Geek's own Brian), gaming has always been his first, best, hobby. Now, with children of his own, he finds himself repeating the cycle of begging them to play with him, and then crying when they won't let him quit. He hopes that his daughters grow up to learn the joys of rolling dice, gathering resources, building civilizations, leveling their characters, seeing their enemies flee before them and hearing the lamentations of their women. Nate goes by the handle kungfugeek on Board Game Geek.

10 Responses to Getting Out of Collectible Card Game Hell

  1. Marty says:

    You might want to check out Summoner Wars. This is a card based combat game with many factions, but there is no collectible aspect to it. They do have supplement packs where you can switch out a couple cards if you want some variety of gameplay, but you don’t really need them.

  2. Donnie says:

    For me the CCG fear has less to do with the subject matter, and more to do with the business model of CCGs in general. Randomized card distribution in booster packs is a nightmare, IMO. Giing your blessing to your kids, who might not yet grasp that money doesn’t grow on trees, can make that nightmare real.

    Of course we can also see this as an opportunity to teach our children about financial responsibility, earning, and saving money so they can buy their own boosters.

    • Cyrus says:


      For me, the “blind purchase” is an absolute deal breaker. I want to know what I’m buying and what I’m getting. I don’t go to a restaurant, for example, and order “surprise me” from the menu.

    • Nate says:

      For CCGs, I only really played Magic and, to a lesser extent, Decipher’s LotR and SW games. Sampled several others.

      I was never really bothered by the random pack model. Actually, there were a few things I liked about it. It allowed the Booster Draft and Sealed Deck formats for tournaments, which were my favorites. It also gave me that Christmas morning feel; excited to find out what I’m getting next, finding some new card I hadn’t considered before and thinking of all the new deck possibilities that were suddenly possible because of that card. Also, I knew that if there was a specific single I wanted to buy, or a set I wanted to complete, I could get those online for a fraction of what I’d spend in boosters.

      But it got to be less fun when I was there buying two or three packs at a time, but my friends were ordering boxes and multiple sets online. When that happened, the game lost its innocence and I lost my interest.

      But for a few years I worked at a place that had a bunch of Magic players. Every expansion, we’d organize booster draft tournaments and play the games over lunch. These tournaments would take a few weeks, and we’d play two tournaments per expansion. One heads up, and one two-headed giant where you paired the winner of the heads up with the loser and the second place with the second to last, etc. It was probably the most fun I’d had with any ccg, because everyone was on a level playing field. That would never have been possible without the random booster pack model. So I’ve got a special place in my heart for it, I suppose.

    • Cyrus says:

      It is clear you did very little work at this office of yours that held epic Magic tournaments. 🙂

      Where might I send my resume?

    • Nate says:

      Most of the guys who participated have gone their separate ways. And then the company as a whole got bought out. By your employer.

      So, in a sense, you already work there. The Magic was in you all along.

  3. Chris C says:

    Being a CCG player into now an amateur game designer wishing to develop LCG’s, I can concur with your sentiments exactly FatherGeek; I hope to create a game where the learning curve is low enough for kids to grasp and the adults to still enjoy 😀

    • Cyrus says:

      Don’t tease us, Chris. Now you have no choice but to deliver a game with a low learning curve and is as much fun for the Child Geeks as it is the Parent Geeks.

      I look forward to it!

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