So, back in 2014 I started making my own CCG. After about 5 years of working on that game in my free time, in 2020 I finally made it my day job, and spent about 7 months working full time on it. My goal is to create a CCG that is digital-first, competitive, for two players, and that is different from its competition.

Digital CCGs are a deep genre, and a pretty crowded market. I spent quite some time playing as many of them as I could in recent years. I also made a bunch of prototypes, testing various mechanics, trying to find something that is fun, sufficiently complex, and that works well with my theme. I have learned a lot along the way, but being a junior game designer, I still have a lot to understand.

All that led to this series of articles. It is a way for me to write down what I have learned, while also digging deeper on some aspects of the genre. In this series, I am going to analyze CCGs through a game designer's perspective. I will tell the history of the genre, presenting the games that had the most impact on its evolution. I will analyze what those games have brought in terms of innovation, what worked and what didn't. Then I will try to theorize the current state of the genre, looking at where the next innovation might come from. Finally I will share some lessons that I have learned while working on my own game.

I have to clarify, first, what exactly I am going to talk about. This study is about Collectible Card Games, so games where collecting the cards is an important feature. It is about competitive games, played one versus one. And it is about games that are digital first. That means I will not talk about games like Dominion (not really collectible, not digital first), Slay the Spire or Monster Train (not multiplayer). I will also leave out games that, I believe, did not contribute enough to the space. For example, I played Hex a little, but I don't think it added anything new to the card game genre, so I won't mention it here. If you disagree or think something important is missing, please leave a comment explaining why!

Here are the different parts of this series. I will add links as soon as the articles are published.

  1. It's a kind of Magic
  2. History of a genre, part 1: 2002 - 2016
  3. History of a genre, part 2: 2017 - 2020
  4. The design of CCGs
  5. Lessons learned working on my card game

This series is my biggest writing work so far. CCGs really are a topic I love! I will be very happy to read your thoughts about what I wrote, in the comments of my blog or elsewhere, so please do share them with me. I hope you will enjoy this!