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Parents back to school Guide for Trading Card Games

Or how to send your kid off to school with their beloved trading cards and get both back happy and whole…

Private Note to (fellow) Parents: Ok…now that school is back in session, a few parent to parent bits of advice about collectible card games during the school year.  

First…what are TCG’s (Trading card games)?  Imagine making a game with baseball cards, where the what’s on the card can affect the game.  The games are played by putting together decks of cards to battle each other.

What is good about the games (from a parent standpoint?) If you strip down the fantasy elements and pictures, what you get is math, logic, motivated reading and a chance to get the kids face to face, not face to screen.   They are also great motivators for getting homework, chores and other needed carrots to counterbalance our sticks. See our other post, the Guide to Trading Card Games, for the full skinny.  But the rest of this is specifically to help us parents in understanding the deal, and getting ahead of potential issues that might come up.    (You may notice that we don’t include Yugioh in our list of these games. Yugioh is a very popular game, but we do not encourage kids to play it, and in fact have banned it at D20 Games, something we did not do lightly.)

  1. source chzbgr.com

    Trading Issues: 80% of issues between kids that come up with kids at school regarding cards have to do with what end up being unfair (either intentional or unintentional) trades between the kids. Some of these cards can be worth real money, and nothing makes a kid feel worse then discovering that an older or more experience player took advantage of them.  As we say to the kids: there is no piece of paper that is worth a friend.

    We have three specific bits of advice for the kids regarding this:

    • Trade-backs are ALWAYS ok.. Make sure that your kid understands to always make the agreement that it is ok to trade back cards within a week or so, provided that the cards are still in the same shape, This way, if they go back home and find out that it was a bad deal, like they got pressured, or if they just want their cards back, they can do it.
    • Check prices if you aren’t sure;  For Magic cards, we use Channelfireball.com for our pricing (though we do $1 min for rares and .50 for other cards). Or for Pokemon (and if you aren’t sure) you can always look on eBay. (BTW..always look at Sold listings, not regular.  You can see what people really buy things for.)  For Pokemon, we use the Sold listings on Ebay.
    • If bad trades happen, remember the feeling, and be a good guy: No matter what you do, there will come a point where there is a rotten trade that will make your kid feel just horrible.  Believe it or not, this is a key (and good) moment for them to have under your care. They have the choice next time to take advantage of someone like they were taken advantage of, or to make sure to never make someone else feel the way they felt.
  2. Avoiding Stolen stuff at school:  Kids will want to bring in their cards to both play with other kids and to show off their good cards.  Inevitably, when they aren’t looking, something will disappear, and much badness and sadness will ensue. A few ways to avoid this are the following.
    • Names in deck boxes….make sure to put enough info not only on the outside,but on the inside to make sure the decks can get back to you guys. (The outside tends to rub off)
    • Card sleeves…These cost about $4 and not only protect the cards (and keep decks from disappearing into the big mush of cards back home) but keep kids cards from getting mixed up with the person they are playing with. It also provides quick identification if a card starts walking away.
    • Side-Loading Binders:  Lots of kids bring their good cards in the same box as their deck. What happens is that while they are playing a game, someone comes over to look at their trades, and while the kid is distracted, a card or two gains feet.   Bringing in a small binder for the trades/show off cards is a better idea. We strongly advise getting binders that have what are called side-loading pages.  Rather then putting in the cards in slots in the top, and having the turn it over, dump out problem, these go in from the sides in a way that doesn’t fall out.  More importantly it is kind of tricky to get the cards out, making it MUCH more obvious if someone is being a little light fingered.  Remember, just as with the deck boxes, make sure there is enough info somewhere inside the binder to get them back to you.
  3. Keeping Score:  A huge number of silly fights happen between kids because they try and keep the score for the games in their heads. At some point, inevitably, you will get the “but you are at 6!  No, I’m at 13 argument that leaves each kid thinking the other is a lying jerk. Paper, Dice or even some special deckboxes with score wheels built in are a great solution to this.
  4. Losing is just fine: Reminding kids that every time they lose, they learn something new is great.  Kids will often get so tied up with the social value of winning that they get tempted to cheat, not really putting together how much worse the rep they will get for cheating.
  5. Packs are great homework/housework motivators.  Kids that are playing Pokemon or Magic are always seriously motivated by getting to open a new pack.  While my own kids may hear me with the “wah-wah” sound of a Peanuts parent, for other people, I’m the guy behind the counter at D20, a bully pulpit if there ever was one.  Give me a nod and I’m happy to back-up whatever you are working on.  Tying a pack a week to getting the homework done is a great way to do some positive motivation.  (We’re working on something more official as time goes on…keep tuned)

Guide to Tabletop Games# 2 Deck Building Games

 

If games like Magic and Pokemon (Trading Card Games) are games where you build a deck to go and play each other, deck builders are games where you start with tiny decks, and part of playing the game is competing to acquire the cards to make your deck better. Most people who like the trading card games end up really liking deck building games, though they may not realize it.  The other big difference with deck building games is that while there are usually expansions, there isn’t the collectible card component so when you buy the game, you are usually all set.

The standard mechanic in the game is to have a set of cards that are used to buy stuff(usually better cards that you then add to your deck)  and another that are used to defeat stuff (usually to gain you points).  A typical starting deck for these games is between 10-12, with have drawn and played each turn.  As soon as you acquire a new card, it goes into your discard pile, and when you’ve used all the cards you have, that pile is shuffled up and becomes your new deck.  The more cool stuff you acquire, the better your deck becomes. Another common feature of the games is that there tend to be factions of cards that help each other out, oh, and the really great cards tend to cost a lot more.  It is almost always a strategic struggle between decking to add cards that give you more of the getting stuff power vs. the attacking power.

The first major deck building game was the medieval themed Dominion back in 2008

Dominion

 

 

Other great deck building games include the Ascension series as well as the Marvel Legendary Deckbulder series.

Star_Realms_Game
Star Realms

The most recent (and store favorite) add to the game is Star Realms, which changes the attack stuff mechanic, to attack, well, the other players…very, very, very fun.

From Wired Review of Ascension

Guide to Tabletop Games: #1 TCG/CCG (Trading Card Games)–Magic/Pokemon/Yugioh etc…

Hey guys…I’ll keep adding to this as time goes on, but I get asked a lot (particularly by parents) about what games like Magic and Pokemon really are.  Here’s a shot at doing geek to English translation.

Magic, Yugioh, and Pokemon are what are known as trading card games(TCG) or collectible card games(CCG).   Basically imagine a game made up of collectible baseball cards, where the ability of the card actually comes into play in the game.  Their big innovation was in creating a game where the cards that are added to the game can have rules or abilities on them that add to the game rules.  Magic was the first game of this type and was created by Richard Garfield over 20 years ago in 1993. There have been billions of the cards printed and there currently over 12 million Magic players. When you strip the game down, it is a lot of math, logic and strategy, and tends to attract a fairly intelligent player base. There is even a college scholarship for magic players. 😉

The games are in their simplest form like the old card game War, where players put down two cards and the higher one wins.  Each player has a starting amount of life (or in the case of Pokemon, a fixed number of “prize cards” that the players get to collect when they knock out an opponents Pokemon), and they cast cards in attack, defense and response to try and get the other player to zero.

What is interesting about the game is that ability for cards themselves add and modify the rules of the game, creating an evolving set of game play where it is figuring out the cool combinations of different cards that is the most fun part of the game.  Once they get past the pre-made starter decks, it’s all about learning the cards and trying to come up with new ideas for decks and seeing how well they do against other players.. (So yes, its normal for the kids to get excited about the new sets of cards as they come out, as each set adds new possibilities that they can puzzle out.)

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From the parents point of view, the positive aspects of the games are encouraging reading, math, and logic skills.  It is also good for creating opportunities to learn fair play, though that benefits a lot from our guidance.  Some of the rarest cards can end up being valuable ($100 or more), so talk to your kids about keeping them safe at school, as well as being both careful and fair in their trading with others.  Keeping their cards in sleeves and in a deck box with their name on it will both keep the value of the cards intact and make it less likely for their cards to get mixed up with other kids by accident.
Common Questions

  • Big difference between Magic, Yugioh and Pokémon: The way things get into play…Magic uses land that gets reused every turn to put different cards in play, Pokémon has energy that attaches to the Pokémon and let them do what they need to do, and Yugioh lets the player give up some of their smaller creatures to get bigger ones, called tributing .  Magic also lends itself to limited play like Drafts and Sealed events where everyone starts out even with new packs of cards and builds decks on the spot.
  • Do adults play these games too? Yep…there are lots of adults that play each of the games.We get most adults on the magic side, but quite a bit on the and Pokémon as well. For those who play, we see a lot of very nice connecting time with the kids.

For Parents:

Anything for parents to worry about? As a dad of a couple of 13 year olds and an 10 year old, here is my honest answer.  There are terrific things about the games, (math, reading, logic, learning to play fair with other people, and in general not having their faces stuck into screens.  However, there are a couple of things to that get brought to the surface by having access to things at a younger age that may be of value that provides so really important teachable moments for parents if they are aware of them.

  • Trading Fair: This is one of the first time that kids will get their hands on portable items that might be worth some money. It can bring out some strong desires that lead to some experiences with theft or making unfair deals on both sides.  When this happens, and it likely will, it is a key parenting opportunity to make sure that they understand how that feels and become determined to never make anyone else feel bad, rather then deciding, “well, I got taken advantage of, I’ll do the same thing to the next person I trade with.
    Ben’s Advice—Make sure that they always agree to trade backs being ok (within a week or so and provided the cards are still in as good shape as when they were traded.)  The standard thing that I say to kids is “there is no piece of paper that is worth losing a friend over.
  • One More Pack, just one more Pack… It’s super fun to open the packs…they could be anything until they are opened and the fun of opening and discovering a golden ticket of a card is a great feeling.  But when the desire to open the packs completely eclipses the fun of playing the game or even sharing the cards with their friends, it can expose something that we, as parents, don’t usually get to see until much later (and usually when they are in the never listen to us phase.) If they keep wanting to trade all their good cards for a chance to open another pack, that is an impulse very akin to gambling, and one where I’ll have a chat with the kids to make sure they are more interested in playing the games  that is an early version of being susceptible to gambling. Though both of these are a little scary, they are a great chance to get to work through these things at an age where the kids may still actually listen. 😉 On the other hand, the math, logic, reading and general sense of using their brains, combined with staying engaged with other people rather then computer or video screens makes it a great thing for kids to get into.

 

 

(April Fools) Big Changes at D20..Played out…

April 5th…yes there is Date Night Magic tonight.

Update….Happy April Fool’s Day…;-)—A joke…relax…just a joke…really… 😉

It is with very mixed feelings that I need to announce some big changes for D20.  After almost three years of working to make things work as a game store, I’ve needed to face some very difficult realities and admit that we’re just not making it financially.  The community has been great, and I’ve really come to love the people who have come to make us a home.  But at some point, I realized that all we were doing was playing games,  Thank you all so much for your patronage and kindness, and I hope that many of you will continue to do business with us in our new venture.

D20-Nail-Salon
The New D20

After looking at what works well in this area and thinking carefully about what this community really needs, we’ll be reopening D20 in two weeks in it’s new incarnation as a Nail Salon.  We’re hoping to bring the same care and attention that we’ve brought to picking only great games, to selecting the best in nail colors and really soft, big poofy chairs.  We’ll be open for business exactly two weeks after April 1st. After coming in for one session, we’re hoping you’ll feel that we “nailed it”. 😉

 

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