Playing CCGs Without Collecting
Many folks into German- or European- or Family Strategy Games or whatever you call them these days played collectible card games in the 90s, especially the original classic Magic: the Gathering and other critical favorites like Legend of the Five Rings, Middle Earth: the Wizards, Doomtown, and my favorite 7th Sea. I'm mostly disillusioned by the CCG market for the same reasons many others are: the tendency to buy way too many cards, get the latest expansion, get ahold of more rares to be competitive, and a lack of time for the “metagame”: deck construction.
Most of the CCG playing I've done in the past 5 years has been with starter decks or, preferably, pre-constructed theme decks. This has mostly been with in print CCGs like Lord of the Rings, Magic, and A Game of Thrones CCG. These games have great underlying systems and shouldn't be ignored just because of the collectible element. Well, Lord of the Rings isn't such a great system, but you get my point.
The out-of-print games should not be ignored. I've picked up quite a few 7th Sea cards on eBay for a song, and last night I found a cool deal on a set of Middle Earth: the Wizards challenge decks. I bought a decent amount of METW when it first came out in 1995, but couldn't find folks to play (everyone was playing Magic). I think these challenge decks could be a great way to give it another try for about the same price as a typical board game.
What other OOP CCGs are worth trying?