Pokemon

D20 Holiday Gift Guide-Trading Card Games

D20 Holiday Gift Guide-Trading Card Games

This guide is our best, most honest recommendations for gifts for the holidays; based on interest, experience level/age (and budget).

Parents cheat sheet:

TCG or CCG (Trading Card Games/Collectible Card Games)

Magic and Pokémon, are what are known as collectible card games.  (Think collecting baseball cards, where you could actually play those better cards in a game.)  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, and they play cards used to attack, defense and respond to try and get the other player to zero (or in the case of Pokémon, to get 6 of the other players Pokémon to get to sleep).  What is interesting about the game is that the cards themselves add and modify the rules of the game, creating an evolving set of game play. (That’s why the kids geComander-2014t excited about the new set of cards as they come out, each set adds new possibilities that they can puzzle out.)

From the parent’s point of view, the aspects of the games that are good are encouraging reading, math, and logic skills.  BTW…ignore the age recommendations on the boxes…Magic is listed as 13+ and Yugioh is 6+…whoever set those levels clearly had no clue about the reality of kids.   Pokémon is the usual game that starts kids playing, and it is very common for them to just enjoy collecting the cards without having a clue how to play it. Don’t worry…very normal. We do a Pokémon League on Saturdays where the kids get points for playing and actually get double points for helping the younger/new players figure it out.  It’s good to eventually get them to learn how to play the game, because that is when they will start reading the card for real and to start working on the math that is part of playing the game. (P.S. We no longer carry Yugioh in the store beyond a few left over starter decks.) 

It is also good for creating opportunities to learn fair play, though that benefits a lot from our help.  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 (usually between $3.5-$5 a pack) and in a deck box with their name on it ($3-5) 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.

Players (kids and others) love opening up the packs, with that anticipation of finding some treasure within.  The individual packs are very fun as stocking suffers or small gifts, but have the possibility of being a disappointing choice as a primary gift, since they are only “good” if they happen to have good cards in them.  See the list below for better choices.

 The recommendations below are from our staff (and me) and are our best, most honest advice.

Pokémon (age 6-up)

Item Name Cost Description/comment

Just Collecting for fun

Good Bundle boxes $13-30 each These have a number of booster packs and either a full art cool card, little Album or toy figure that matches the cool card.  These are great for little kids…lot of “oh, ahh” per inch and there is at least one great card in each.   This is full of great stuff and really big, so it will open well for max under the tree happy factor.

New/learning players (6 and up)

Good Pokémon Intro decks $13.99-17.99 When they first start to play, they really need a deck that has been built for them that works together well.  If you want to play with them (which is actually pretty fun), get a second one.  (Dad advice…get a set of sleeves for each deck so when the cards get spilled all over, it’s easier to get them back to be usable.)

Knows how to play

Better Triple Packs or boxed sets $11.99-15.99 These big stocking stuffers have 3 packs and a bonus card.  The Dragon Vault has special smaller packs where all the cards are foil so those are very cool

Intermediate-Advanced Players

Better Pokemon Tins- $19.99-24.99 These latest tin’s contain Ex (really good) versions of some of the best cards as well as a number of booster packs.
Better Ultropro Premium Side loading binders $24-29 These binders load the cards from the sides instead of the tops.  Because of that, the cards don’t fall out and it is much harder for other light fingers to take things out without being noticed
Best Full art Single cards or Ex-Cards or a box of boosters $15-50 for the singles, $110 for the booster box (36 boosters) If you know the cool card they are looking for, we can usually help. Otherwise, get them a gift certificate so they can come in and really trick out their decks.  Or get them a full box of boosters.  While no one really knows what is in each booster, generally each box has a few of the prized full art cards and they WILL be happy.  Let us know if you want these since we don’t always have a lot in stock.

Stocking Stuffers

Single Packs. $ 4 each More fun for new players or kid collectors then advanced players. The more advanced the player the more they will be happy if the pack has good stuff and otherwise it’s a scratcher. Good for stocking stuffers only.
Card Protectors (Sleeves) $3.50-$5 Price is based on style and maker. Keep cards protected and from getting mixed up with other players-They come in units of 50 which is dumb since the decks are 60.  (We try and keep extra sleeves to make up for this…)
Pokémon Binders $11.99-28.99 Either smaller 4 card per page or larger 9 card per page binders, always a good choice, particularly for younger players.
Deck boxes $3-7 Available with lots of colors and styles, pick their favorite

 

Magic The Gathering

Background: The current sets of Magic cards are Battle for Zendicar, and the Tarkir Set (Khans, Fate Reforged, and Dragons)

Beginning Players

Good Intro Packs $15-17 60 card pre-made, ready to play decks and a booster pack.  The decks are good for playing with other players, but not meant for learning from scratch.
Good Hero’s vs. Monsters Dual Decks $20 Two 60 card decks with lots of cards from the Thero’s set.  These decks are balanced and really made to play with each other, so they are great for getting started or for an experienced player who wants to bring in a new player to teach.
Better Deck Builder’s Toolkit $20 A great mini-collection for new players (and one that kids particularly love).  Contains 125 semi-random cards good for building decks, 4 booster packs from recent Magic sets, 100 basic land cards, deck-builder’s guide and learn to lay guide, and a storage box.
Very cool Holiday Gift Box $22+25 4 Packs, a special bonus card and the coolest storage box we’ve ever seen.  This is a great goodie for any Magic player.

Beginners and Intermediate Players

Best Fat-Pack $40-50 Special box with 9 booster-packs, land, life counting die, and most fun for the kids, a full color booklet that shows all the cards in the set as well as having the backstory for the series and some special hints and combinations.

Intermediate-Advanced Players

Good Draft Gift Certificate $15 -25 Gift certificate for one of our Draft events.  Good for Friday Night Magic or the kid’s Date Night Magic ($25), these events include three packs of cards and an evening playing with the decks built from them.  Lots of fun for kids from 9-14 or for experienced players ready for the big time on Fridays.
Better Premium Deck boxes $15-32 Great leather like (or actual leather) deck boxes, either single deck or Duel Decks
Better Magic Event Decks, Vs. Decks and Two Player Clash Packs $20-40 These are interesting collections of competitive cards.  We have these from a number of sets.
Best 2015 Commander Decks $32-45 These came out in Nov. They are 100 card decks with lots of great cards (and three over-sized versions of the main cards).  At the best, Commander is a great social multi-player format designed to use all sorts of fun and unusual cards that might not normally be in decks.  At the worst, they are great collection of cool cards.
From the Vaults Sets $49.99-169 Special Limited sets of foil version of classic cards.  These are limited edition sets.  We currently have From the Vault Angels (69.99 on sale), Annihilation ($49.99) and a few From the Vault 20 ($159)
Booster Boxes $120-$259 Booster box of 36 packs of any of the sets of boosters we have in stock.

Stocking Stuffers/Small Gift ideas

Single Packs. $ 4 each Always fun to open, Return to Zendicar is the latest, Origins is a good staple and there are great cards in the Dragon’s of Tarkir set.  If you want to get more advanced, there are older packs that range from $5-17 a pack
Card Protectors (Sleeves) $3.50-$10 Price is based on style and maker. Keep cards protected and from getting mixed up with other players
Deck boxes $3-6 Available with lots of colors and styles, pick their favorite
HUGE D20 Life counting dice $12-16 An oversized 20 sided die used to keep count of life totals.  Available in the 5 different magic colors.
Box of Mini-dice $7-12 These mini-dice are loved by experienced player to use for counters on the cards
Play-mats $16-20 Providing a great surface to play on, these mats come in a number of great designs.

 

 

The “Stay Home and Play on Black Friday Sale”

Enough...Thanksgiving is for being with people, not shopping....
Enough…Thanksgiving is for being with people, not shopping….

Ok folks…I’ve had it.  I’m taking a small (and probably spectacularly pointless) stand against the whole idea of getting all all of our families/friends together and actually off work, and then ripping them out of bed (or from going to bed in some cases) to go wait in lines for the chance to get smushed, stressed and utterly exhausted all for a chance to save some money on presents for the very people who we just missed a chance to lounge around with in a comfy robe and furry slippers.

During this week Nov. 21 to 29th

  • Take off an extra 5% from what you are buying (with the exception of sale items) (Always)
  • Get to buy a Modern Masters pack for 1/2 price ($6) for every purchase over $40 (OR)
  • Get a Free Modern Masters 2015 pack for every purchase over $75 (OR)
  • Get a Free Pokemon Pack for every purchase over $40 (OR)
  • Get to pull a Free Mini board game (value between $7-15) for every purchase over $60)

Updated Sale item list:

Item Regular Price Sale Price
BOG Fat packs $39.99 25% off
Khan’s Event decks 25% off
Pokemon Collections

25% off
Magic Gift Boxes
  • Battle for Zendikar—$24.99 PLUS Bonus Free pack
    • Khans-19.99 Plus Bonus free Pack.
    $25.99-21.99 Bonus Free Booster Pack ($3.99 value)
    From the Vault Angels $89.99 $59.99 (first 10 sold)

     

    Obviously, I a big believer in playing some table top games together as a way of having fun where we even get to look up from screens and actually LOL.  (LOL–yes I’m aware of the irony.)  So here is our solution.  We’re going to have our holiday sale the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We are a local shop, and we do want/need your business so we can afford to keep providing a nice place for people to come and play together so we appreciate when you buy stuff from us very much.  Our idea is to let you pick up gifts for the holidays and while you are here, hopefully pick up something really fun to play over Thanksgiving as well, since having fun with people you love is about the best gift there is.  And I want to keep the game playing to the games and do our best to make it pleasant to shop with us.

    We’ve hand picked a number of great games, and as usual have a great selection of goodies for Magic and Pokemon players.  We’ll be posting our yearly staff gift recommendation list in the next week.  And we’ll be doing a bunch of game reviews to help out.

    Recommendations for great Holiday games (this will be updated regularly)

    • Codenames; Sort of a multi-match team password where the “spymaster” tries to give a clue that will get their team to match the words from a big spread of cards that belong to their team without picking words that belong to the other team.  Very hot game.
    • New York 1901: Think Blockus meets Ticket to Ride.  Pick cards that let you build your collection of skyscrapers on the still flat map of NYC while you still have the space.
    • Coup Rebellion CS4:  This follow on to the very popular ultimate bluffing game Coup can be played in about 20 minutes per round and works for 3-6 players…super, super fun.
    • Dead of Winter: We finally have this impossible to get in zombie tour to force in stock…Everyone who has bought it loves it, so if you are into the living the zombie (or zombie free) life, get a few folks together for this one.
    • Cover Your Assets:  Great game that works equally well for kids and grandparents,and can get ’em to actually play together.
    • High speed fun with no brain required, Loonacy.

      Loonacy:  Perfect for post Turkey brains…not a lot of high level thinking, but a fast paced game with a bunch of goofy laughing.  Now with a cool Mad Men style retro version.

    • Roll For It: A fast paced dice rolling game with simple rules that is fun for all ages…
    • Qwirkle:  Think scrabble meets Bejeweled (shapes and colors instead of words). Grat Family Game
    • Evolution:  This brand new games ia perfect in the spirit of getting stuffed. This 2-6 person game has each player creating their own customized species to vie to see who prospers and who gets eaten.  Big thumbs up on this one for 10 (smart 8) and up.
    • King of Tokyo Fans!!!:  The classic king of the hill monster game hops over the pond with the new King of New York version of the game.  This 2-6 player game is all about light hearted battling of giant monsters to see who can take the biggest bite out of the Big Apple
    • And for those who like their fun Dark and Delicious…two Strong recommendations:
      • Gloom: the Edward Gory/Lemony Snicket game where you lead your dark family to the worst possible life before knocking them off in some poetically tragic way,while your opponents try and give them (gasp) a good day. 😉
      • Betrayal at the House on the Hill, 3-6 players fingernail biting exploration of the wonderfully creepy house. flips in the middle of the game by turning one of the players into the Betrayer who gets secret instructions setting him/her against the rest of the players who have their own secret instructions how they try and survive the night.  This game is easy to get into and virtually impossible not to hvae fun with.

    Info for Pokemon Prerelease and Earlier time for Date Night Magic….

    Hey folks-here’s the scoop.

    Date-Night-MTG

    Magic Date Night:  Saturday Night….NEW START TIME  OF 4;00…not 5:30….and pizza is included in new price ($25) (less external food options.  Pick up is by 8:30 at the latest (I’m taking my guys to see the Avengers.)

    XY-roaring-skies-Prerelease-and-release_03

    Pokemon Roaring Skies Prerelease event is this Saturday morning May 2nd.  Here’s the deal.  We provide the space, but it is run by the Pokemon league folks, and as much as they would like to, they can not do preregistration for the event.  They’ve been allocated stuff for about 26 players. so it will be first come, first served, with registration starting at 10:30 am.  It is $30 (cash directly paid to the organizers).  Each player gets 6 packs of the new stuff to make their best decks with, plays a few rounds, and gets two more bonus packs when they return their land at the end.  We WILL be doing our version of this event for the release the next week, so if you can’t make it,  don’t want to risk not getting in, or don’t make it before they sell out, you CAN sign up in advance for the RELEASE event the week of the 9th (I started doing this for every new set after the first time when I had to watch a small parade of teary eyed kids…the Dad in me couldn’t take it).

    There WILL be standard Pokemon League side by side with this event since we have the added space…

    Parent to parent happy kid tips:

    1. It is not competitive and is good for all levels of players
    2. It will be a full house, so kids should either have parents around or be comfortable with that type of scene (as should you).
    3. Make sure they have food or $$ for snacks (please make the food both clean finger and rug friendly…I put in our human sized chessboard rug myself…)
    4. To avoid the sad kid syndrome…let them know that if they don’t make it into this one, that we will have a special one the next week for the release where they will get the same number of packs, but where you can sign up in advance so you are guaranteed a spot.  Let them know that not everyone will get in and that you will give it a try.  (See me if this happens….I can provide great words of comfort that come from someone who is not their parent, and is therefore much more heard.  I know…my kids treat me like the wah-wah voice of the Peanuts cartoons as well.)
    5. Make sure they have a box or ideally small bag to keep their stuff in…with name on it.  Every time we  have kids leave a pile of good cards on a table and get very upset when someone else picks them up.

    This is for the Release event on the 9th….NOT FOR THE PRERLEASE on the 2nd.

    Pokemon Primal Clash — the scoop…

    The newest set in the Pokemon XY series, Primal Clash officially releases on Feb. 4th.    The prerelease is at 10 am on Sat. the 31st.   They will have space for ~ 32 players and it is first come first served and the $30 is paid directly to the Pokemon league folks and must be paid in cash.  We will be doing our release event the following week and that you can preregister for either in the store and online.

    Here are some sneaks from a great Pokemon site, Pokebeach.com.

    Source of all of the following: The great Pokebeach Site:

    ALL ‘Primal Clash’ Scans; Cards Sold Early in ‘Hoenn Region’s Collector’s Album’
    Thursday, January 1st, 2015 @ 10 PM, UTC –  By: Water Pokémon Master
    Hoenn Region's Collector's AlbumAfter some detective work, we’ve finally solved the mystery! Scans of Primal Clash have been leaking over the past few weeks because the “Hoenn Region’s Collector’s Album” is now available at some Target stores! We’re not sure if the product is being sold early by mistake or if its release was just moved ahead of schedule, especially since product releases tend to vary so wildly. However, at least three people who have contacted us have been able to check them out through Target’s registers, so they’re definitely being sold at at least some of the stores.We first announced the Hoenn Region’s Collector’s Album in October. It is a mini-binder that holds 60 cards and comes with one Primal Clash booster pack. It costs $4.99. Unlike the Furious Fists leaks in July where the “Mega Charizard Boxes” that were sold early came with three booster packs of Furious Fists, this leak will probably be much slower since the albums only come with one Primal Clash pack.We now have ALL Primal Clash scans with a huge thanks to Bryan’s Toy Haven, Chris H., Michael H., Taylor M., James F., Ethan P., SuperOshawott, Kyle P., Anthony P., Jose F., Anstett E., Zach G., Harry P., Bryan H., Shayne K., Chris H., TheHipHoppip, WaterAndGrass, Allproductssoldhere, and TeamPV!

    Weedle from Primal Clash Kakuna from Primal Clash Beedrill from Primal Clash Tangela from Primal Clash Tangrowth from Primal Clash Treecko from Primal Clash Grovyle from Primal Clash Sceptile from Primal Clash Sceptile from Primal Clash Lotad from Primal Clash Lombre from Primal Clash Ludicolo from Primal Clash Surskit from Primal Clash Masquerain from Primal Clash Shroomish from Primal Clash Breloom from Primal Clash Volbeat from Primal Clash Illumise from Primal Clash Trevenant-EX from Primal Clash Vulpix from Primal Clash Ninetales from Primal Clash Slugma from Primal Clash Magcargo from Primal Clash Magcargo from Primal Clash Torchic from Primal Clash Torchic from Primal ClashCombusken from Primal Clash Blaziken from Primal Clash Camerupt-EX from Primal Clash Horsea from Primal Clash Seadra from Primal Clash Staryu from Primal Clash Mudkip from Primal Clash Marshtomp from Primal ClashSwampert from Primal Clash Swampert from Primal Clash Primal Clash Wailord-EX from Primal Clash Barboach from Primal Clash Whiscash from Primal Clash Whiscash from Primal Clash Corphish from Primal Clash Feebas from Primal Clash Milotic from Primal Clash Spheal from Primal Clash Spheal from Primal Clash Sealeo from Primal Clash Walrein from Primal Clash Clamperl from Primal Clash Huntail from Primal Clash Gorebyss from Primal Clash Gorebyss from Primal Clash Primal Clash Kyogre-EX from Primal Clash Primal Kyogre-EX from Primal Clash Manaphy from Primal Clash Chinchou from Primal Clash Lanturn from Primal Clash Electrike from Primal Clash Primal Clash Manectric from Primal Clash Tynamo from Primal Clash Eelektrik from Primal Clash Primal Clash Eelektross from Primal Clash Nidoran F from Primal Clash Nidorina from Primal Clash Nidoqueen from Primal Clash Primal Clash Primal Clash Primal Clash Primal Clash Starmie from Primal Clash Rhyhorn from Primal Clash Rhydon from Primal Clash Rhyperior from Primal Clash Rhyperior from Primal Clash Nosepass from Primal Clash Meditite from Primal Clash Medicham from Primal Clash Medicham from Primal Clash Trapinch from Primal Clash Solrock from Primal Clash Groudon from Primal Clash Groudon-EX from Primal Clash Primal Groudon-EX from Primal Clash Hippopotas from Primal Clash Hippowdon from Primal Clash Drilbur from Primal Clash Diggersby from Primal Clash Sharpedo-EX from Primal Clash Crawdaunt from Primal Clash Aggron-EX from Primal Clash M Aggron-EX from Primal Clash Probopass from Primal Clash Excadrill from Primal Clash Excadrill from Primal Clash Honedge from Primal Clash Doublade from Primal Clash Aegislash from Primal Clash Mr. Mime from Primal Clash Marill from Primal Clash Azumarill from Primal Clash Azumarill from Primal Clash Gardevoir-EX from Primal Clash M Gardevoir-EX from Primal Clash Kingdra from Primal Clash Kingdra from Primal Clash Vibrava from Primal Clash Flygon from Primal Clash Zigzagoon from Primal Clash Linoone from Primal Clash Skitty from Primal Clash Delcatty from Primal Clash Spinda from Primal Clash Bidoof from Primal Clash Primal Clash Bibarel from Primal Clash Bouffalant from Primal Clash Primal Clash Primal Clash Acro Bike from Primal Clash Aggron Spirit Link from Primal Clash Archie's Ace in the Hole from Primal Clash Dive Ball from Primal Clash Energy Retrieval from Primal Clash Escape Rope from Primal Clash Exp. Share from Primal Clash Fresh Water Set from Primal Clash Gardevoir Spirit Link from Primal Clash Groudon Spirit Link from Primal Clash Kyogre Spirit Link from Primal Clash Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick from Primal Clash Professor Birch's Observations from Primal Clash Rare Candy from Primal Clash Repeat Ball from Primal Clash Rough Seas from Primal Clash Scorched Earth from Primal Clash Shrine of Memories from Primal Clash Silent Lab from Primal Clash Teammates from Primal Clash Weakness Policy from Primal Clash Shield Energy from Primal Clash Wonder Energy from Primal Clash Trevenant-EX from Primal Clash Camerupt-EX from Primal Clash Wailord-EX from Primal Clash Primal Kyogre-EX from Primal Clash Primal Kyogre-EX from Primal Clash Groudon-EX from Primal Clash Primal Groudon-EX from Primal Clash Sharpedo-EX from Primal Clash Aggron-EX from Primal Clash M Aggron-EX from Primal Clash Gardevoir-EX from Primal Clash M Gardevoir-EX from Primal Clash Archie's Ace in the Hole from Primal Clash Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick from Primal Clash Professor Birch's Observation from Primal Clash Teammates from Primal Clash Dive Ball from Primal Clash Enhanced Hammer from Primal Clash Switch from Primal Clash Weakness Policy from Primal Clash
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    Open at 11am– D20 Black Friday-Small Business Sat Sales

    We’re having a fun set of sales for Black Friday/Small Business Saturday.  Deals are good on those days as long as supplies last.

    In addition to what is on the list, EVERYTHING else is on sale in D20 Style (ok…we got this idea from another game store, but we thought it was so cool that we wanted to do it too.)  Once you commit to your purchase, you get to roll 3 D6 and get that as a bonus discount.  (We’ll make anything below a 10 into 10, to make sure it is always at least that much.)

    Item Reg. Price  Discount/Bonus

    All Day, Both Days… buy 3 packs, get one free (Magic and Pokemon)

    Spend $25 or more, get a free Deck Box-up to 4.99 value.

    Magic Holiday Gift Boxes 19.99 $3 off Khans, $5 off Theros.
    Magic Fat Packs 39.99
    Khans/M15 Double Bonus Free Packs
    Journey Into Nyx 39.99 25% off
    Born of the Gods 39.99 25% off
    Commander Decks
    2013 (Except Mindseize)  34.99  $15 off ($19.99)
     2014 (Blue, Black, Green)  34.99  $15 off ($19.99)
     Pokemon—sales in store
     X-Men Dice Masters Starter Set  16.99

     

    12.99 + buy one 1.99 booster andget 3 free!

    Star Realms $21.99 $7.00 off… $14.99 final price!
    Two Adventure time Specials
    Card Wars Game $26.99-$21.99 $16.99 to $14.99
    Adventure Time Munchkin $24.99 $5.00 off to $15.99
    Bang Big Deals…
    Walking Dead Bang 24.99 $5 off- to $19.99
    Halo Bang 24.99 $5 off- to $19.99
    Vanguard Packs 3.99 50% off

     

    More in the store.

    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: #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.

     

     

    Summer Starts….

    Going on vacation…store will still be open

    UPDATE…Back from Italy…

    Magic Two-headed Giant Conspiracy tonight-sat 28th.  Price is $23 instead of $30…(we were able tyo get more boxes…) .(sorry it took  I’m taking the next couple of weeks off (imagine that) but leaving the store in the capable hands of the affable Ryan and the irascible Thomas. 😉    So a few things:

    • The store will be running the usual events, including Pokemon, Friday Night Magic, Magic Two-headed Giants, and the Standard events.
    • We are adding a few extra goodies, including 2 Conspiracy draft times (Tue @ 6 and Sun @ 3).  We are also bidding a fun ending to Theros with a Block Constructed Tournament on Thursdays. ($5)
    • We will be doing less buying of cards while I’m gone, start again after the 28th. (Also, we will be offering a bit less for Ravnica Block cards since the block goes from standard to Modern in October.)  Thomas or Ryan will do their best, but if the store is busy, be patient and prepared to wait until another time.
    We have LOTS of cool things for filling up the summer with fun stuff that doesn’t go beep, and that might actually have a little bit of smiling at each other…
    Some summer Fun Recommendations:   
    • Boss Monster…(Back in Stock…players are the “boss Monster” setting up Dungeons to defeat the heros, with a distinctly 8-bit flavor full of references from everything from Harry Potter to old school Nintendo.)
    • Love Letter—an amazing game played with only 15 cards…easy to pick up and surprisingly subtle. (works for from 2-6)
      Back in stock…Floop that pig! 😉
    • Adventuretime Card Wars...so they made a (great) game out of a historical lampooning game in an episode of the Adventuretime cartoon that went straight after Magic/Pokemon/etc…  The game has been in VERY short supply, but we got a batch in for now.
    • Also…coming up in July…”Starter boxes for the (finally) new version of D&D.
    • And don’t forget how much fun the Magic Two-headed Giant’s are…a chance to play with someone that you really like…great for buddies, sweeties and a great parent-kid date..
    Have a lovely beginning of summer…see you in a couple of weeks.—More to come when we get back…

     

    Happy Thanksgiving!!! Fun, Turkey and Black Friday Sales (as well as Small Business Saturday)

    Turkey O DoomHappy Thanksgiving Everybody!!!  Make sure to do some random act of kindness!! 😉  As always, thanks so much for the business, and more importantly, the intensely cool community.  I can’t tell you guys how thankful I am for that.
    If you aren’t on the road already, swing on by and pick up a good game for either keeping kids happy in the car or good family fun that doesn’t go beep, beep. 😉  We have a bunch of stuff we can recommend (although, the beloved Cover Your Assets is ALWAYs a great family pick….just trust us on this one.)  We will be closed on Thursday because, well, we should be…we’ll be hanging and playing with our family and hope you will be as well.
    We WILL be doing a Black Friday Sale (starting at 10) and Small Business Saturday Sale….very good stuff, good prizes and the return of our bonus stocking stuffer (or menorah sitter) freebies.
    • Monday:  Special how to Play Magic class at the Lib @ 1.
    • Tuesday Night–Modern Masters Draft!!! $40—no,wait…make it $33 this one time!!! (Regular packs as prizes)
    • Weds, Double prize League tournament starting at 4:30–Maybe Daytime Draft??!!
    • Thursday…closed for T-day
    • Friday—BIG Black Friday sale
    • Saturday–Small Business Sat sales and Two headed Mystery box tournament
    • Sunday 10AM Start for a $10 Magic Standard with some free Star City Goodies in the mix…!
    We had a second record breaking FNM in a month on Friday before last Friday…went from 42 up to 44!!  It was VERY good we had the secret clubhouse next door to be able to use for more play space so we aren’t quiet so squished when we get full.
     
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