I haven’t played a CCG in over 13 years. I’m so old.
In all seriousness, CCG’s used to be a bigger hobby than video games for me. It began when I was about 14 and a friend introduced me to Magic: The Gathering. The only thing I’d ever seen like it was Overpower, and only because I got some cards from a cereal box (IIRC). I don’t think we had a full grasp of the rules at the time, but we played it to the best of our abilities and, honestly, this is the first thing in my life I recall collecting. I was never good at the game. The funny thing about CCGs when you only have one friend to play them with is this: you build a deck tailored to beat your friend and then he counters your deck with a new one of his own. Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseam.
My nostalgia for this kicked in recently when I opened an expansion box for Cards Against Humanity. When I pulled that string on the wrapper and heard that familiar crackle, when I smelled that “fresh deck” smell, I was flooded with memories. There’s nothing quite like a new pack of cards.
Eventually, I moved from Magic onto Pokémon which released shortly after the massive success of the GameBoy titles. I preferred it because it was easier to understand and play. I was a kid then and we didn’t have the internet to clarify things, so it became the go-to game for my growing group of nerdy friends. This is when I discovered competitive play, but I never enjoyed it. I played in a few tournaments and I think finished in fifth place once. I’ve never been very good at these types of games. I just liked the atmosphere and being part of something bigger than myself.
My final foray in the CCG world was with Dragon Ball Z. Of the three games I had experience with, this was my favorite. I was already a huge fan of the series when this was released, so it was a natural fit for me. All of my friends played, but as high school was coming to a close, collections were sold until only two of us were left. And once more we were building decks just to beat one another, ad nauseam.
I sold my DBZ collection two years ago. I’d hung onto those cards for a decade and I believe I was the last of my group to let them go. I don’t know what ever became of my old Pokémon and Magic collections. What I do know is that I miss the camaraderie inherent with these types of things. All of my friends have gone their own ways and we rarely, if ever, see one another. There’s just too many miles and too many responsibilities.
Those card games were introductions to friendships I still consider very dear to me to this day, friendships forged in deck building, friendships built on a shared passion. Every relationship that remains with me since middle school can be traced back to one of these games. I may not have met my friends while playing them, but playing them bonded us.
I miss those nights when there’d be four or five of us in a room building decks and challenging one another.
Sometimes I wish things were still so simple.