Cards have evolved into an entertaining form of entertainment capable of forging relationships across distance and cultural divides. Now millions are playing card games worldwide – more are added every year as technology changes.
Collectible card games (CCGs), such as Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering have proven enormously popular digitally; however, their roots lie in analog form.
The Origins of Playing Cards
Playing cards have an intriguing history. Some believe they originated in China during the Tang Dynasty in China in 9th century, influenced by tile games like dominoes or even having links to chess or dice.
Playing cards first came to Europe via Egypt during the 14th Century Mamluk period. These early decks included suits of goblets, gold coins, swords and polo sticks which later evolved into batons (or staves) on Italian and Spanish decks; today many cards still feature these features.
The English/French four suit standard of hearts, spades and diamonds gained widespread acceptance due to trade and colonialism; today it remains standard worldwide. De La Rue printing’s founder in the 1860s found ways to simplify production while cutting costs, making cards more widely accessible – thus leading to their globalization and explosion in popularity and versatility.
Cards were first brought back from Israel by merchants or crusaders returning in the early 1400’s, becoming extremely popular during Europe’s Renaissance – an era which witnessed an abundance of wealth and culture – thanks to people socializing over cards while spending their cash.
At this period, cards also became more diverse in their design. Some designs followed traditional German suit names of Roses, Pomegranates, Acorns and Bells while others may have been inspired by Renaissance themes or to provide self-affirming national identities of newly formed countries.
At that time, manufacturers would often brand their cards with their name; this practice created a very distinct Ace of Spades with ornate decorations to quickly identify which brand you had in hand; while the rest of the deck remained fairly uniform – something which remains true today.
Collectible Card Games
Collectible Card Games (CCGs) are an emerging category of card games where cards are distributed randomly to enable players to construct an effective deck for gameplay. Many cards contain gameplay effects that can alter game rules or state, making these games complex to balance due to all their possible combinations of effects.
Conventional wisdom on how to balance CCGs dictates making powerful cards scarce and expensive; however, this can have adverse repercussions for casual players and the overall enjoyment of the game. Digital Addiction’s online CCG, Sanctum, adopts a different game design philosophy which helps alleviate such problems.
They discovered they could resolve the balancing issue by discontinuing certain cards while still allowing players to keep those they already owned – although this move may have resulted in suitcase style play and caused outrage from players.
Digital Card Games
Traditional card games continue to flourish, yet digital versions have seen exponential growth on PC and mobile platforms. Players can experience everything from casually accessible experiences up to deep and strategic ones, with these constantly-evolving games offering something new each time you play them.
Old-school collectors will also find something exciting in these games with new innovations from developers bringing fresh perspectives. Take SolForge as an example; its innovative card sharing mechanism and flexible competitive options from constructed play to drafts make for an engaging single player campaign as well as easy entry for draft play.
As Hearthstone set a new standard for digital card games, companies have sought to meet players’ growing demands by creating unique experiences for them to enjoy. Slay the Spire blends roguelike elements with deckbuilding; Shadowverse allows anime-inspired characters to collect; these titles may not make the top list on Twitch but nonetheless satisfy an itch that has been growing for decades.