An Overview of the Basics of TCGs that I have seen

Someone brought it to my attention that I may be assuming that my audience already knows a substantive amount about the medium I write about. I’m fairly certain that anyone who would both find and read this blog would know something about at least 1 of the games I talk about. However, since it will help down the road I’m going to discuss the attributes that I’ve noticed in multiple games. Before in my Yugioh Introduction I talked at length about the card types in that game. I think I should start there.

Card Type Designs


In every game there are multiple types of cards. The difference between each game is usually shown by the design of the card. For example in Yugioh, Monster cards are usually orange, while spell cards are turquoise and trap cards are pink.


In contrast, in Magic the Gathering the difference in card type is determined by the word listed directly under the card art. I could go on, but I want to get to more elements.

Difference of Card Roles

In every Trading Card Games I’ve played, every card can be categorized broadly into these 2 categories:

  • Troops (Entities you create and control to attack your opponent)
  • Superpowers (Utilities you can manipulate to support your troops)

These two categories for the most part encompass at the least every game I play.

Monsters (Ygo), Creatures (MTG), Pokemon (Pkm), Vanguard (VG), Signi (Wixoss), Ninja (Naruto), Units (Weiss Schwarz), Ponies (MLP) are all examples of your troops. In each game your deck is usually filled with large number of this type of card. Your troops are also your primary weapon to win the game.

Spell/Traps (Ygo), Instants/Sorcery (MTG), Trainers (Pkm), Arts (Wixoss), Jutsu/Missions (Naruto), Climaxes/Events (Weiss Schwarz), Resources/Events/Troublemakers are all examples of superpowers. I use the term “Superpowers” broadly to represent all cards outside of your troops. For example Climaxes in Weiss Schwarz and Enchantments in Magic both can provide stat boosts to your troops. However, descriptively both are very different, gameplay-wise they do the same thing.

Turn Procedure

In every TCG I’ve played both players each take turns back and forth until one player wins. During each turn the player has a list of phases to perform in a particular order. The phases vary between resource manipulation, combat and resolving effects.

In Magic the Gathering the phases are

  1. Beginning Phase (Untap -> Upkeep -> Draw)
  2. Main Phase 1
  3. Combat Phase
  4. Post-Combat Main Phase
  5. End Phase

Similarly, Yugioh has the following phases:

  1. Draw Phase
  2. Standby Phase
  3. Main Phase 1
  4. Battle Phase
  5. Main Phase 2
  6. End Phase.

Both games have a very similar procedure. You draw a card, summon troops, engage in battle and then have an 2nd opportunity to summon troops before your turn ends. Now these rules do not apply to every game. In Weiss Schwarz, Pokemon and Wixoss your turn ends after you attack. However, all of these games also still have a main phase prior to the combat phase to summon troops before launching an attack. Every game (with the exception of MLP) have the similarity of drawing a card during the initial phase, having a main phase prior to combat and having some sort of combat/clash phase where both players’ troops do battle.

These are the elements I’ve come up with so far. I hope this was a bit interesting and that it makes the rest of the introduction series easier to understand to anyone who doesn’t play card games (though I’m legitimately wondering what brought you here if that’s the case). I’ll post the Magic segment sometime tomorrow and hopefully the rest will follow during the coming week.

Thank you very much for reading.


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