As a child, the only trading card game I knew of was Pokemon. It was huge around the globe and involved collecting Pokemon cards, some of which were classed as extremely rare and unique.
The idea was trading, battling, and winning cards from friends and collectors. It was a whole new world.
Nowadays, however, there are tons just like this, but the question is, which are the best, most addictive trading card games out there?
Suppose you’re a fan of trading card games and feel you’ve advanced as far as you can in your current adventure. In that case, this guide will open your eyes to many others so that you can begin a new card-training fantasy journey today.
What Are Card Trading Games?
Trading card games, also known as collectible cards, are strategic games in which collectors buy packs of themed cards, including rare and unique cards or standard battle cards.
The first game of this kind, probably the most famous to date, is Magic: The Gathering, launched in 1993, followed by the ever-so-popular Pokemon.
If you’re thinking of starting this hobby for the first time, it’s worth investing in a card sleeve to protect your most valuable cards. These also ensure you can view all your cards, ready for battle, without shuffling through to find the right one.
Each themed game requires a different card set, which I’ll tell you about in more depth during each section of the guide.
Here’s an up-to-date list of today’s most popular trading card games and how to get started.
As I mentioned in my introduction, Pokemon was the first trading card game I was introduced to in my teenage years. It was unbelievably addictive.
I spent three or four years saving my pocket money each weekend to head to the corner store and purchase a brand-new, shiny pack of Pokemon cards.
Once I had my new cards, I’d go to my friend’s house for a battle.
The idea was to use your cards to fight against friends’ cards. Each card represents a specific Pokemon; some are more powerful or faster than others, shown on the cards with points.
You win if you play a strong enough Pokemon to defeat your opponents.
However, each time you battle, your Pokemon loses energy value, and once this is all used up, your Pokemon faints and is now compromised.
Things have advanced quite a lot since this famous Japanese card game was brought to life, and there are now over 800 species in the Pokemon universe. There are also now digitally played versions, such as Pokemon Go! You can collect Pokemon via the app and battle at real-life arenas, such as local parks on your map.
I recently came across some Bluetooth bracelets that allow you to connect to the game without constantly looking at your smartphone.
2. Magic: The Gathering
If you’ve ever wondered where all these trading card games originated, here it is. Magic: The Gathering was the first game of its kind and was established in the early 90s.
It’s the most fantastic card game of its kind. Despite its age, it’s kept up with the times well and is still one of the most popular trading card games. However, I would probably slightly disagree now, as there are many more to choose from.
Like other trading games, it has magical creatures and thrilling battles. It involves using skills and strategy to beat your opponents.
It’s a game you can enjoy for many years, so your collection will be a worthy investment; it’s forever expanding and consists of many magical worlds and wizarding communities.
If you’re just getting started with the game and want to jump ahead, I’d suggest getting something like this booster pack, which will give you twenty-four card packs to get you going.
You’ll notice that the cards are color-coded; this represents the five different play styles and philosophies and the type of magic you’ll be using for battle. On each card, you will see the name and species of the creature, the cost it will be to cast a spell from them, the symbol that lets you know how rare your creature is, the power it possesses, and the rules regarding how to use their abilities to the best potential.
3. Harry Potter Trading Card Game
I think out of all the trading card games I’ve tried out, the Harry Potter version is my all-time favorite, but then again, I’m a total fanatic when it comes to the Wizarding World, so anything related to the franchise is in my Amazon basket before you can blink.
The Harry Potter trading card game, is slightly different from other games, as you can purchase an entire starting kit for two players.
I’d also highly recommend this game if you’re looking to introduce younger kids into the world of card trading because, unlike some of the other similar games, it doesn’t involve an awful lot of violence, such as trying to kill your opponent with the use of weapons, etc. Instead, you cast spells to cause damage to the other Wizards’ points.
However, this game has one downside, which brings me great sadness. Although it’s still available, it has been discontinued, so there’s no hope of any new additions or further expansion packs. What you can buy now is all you’ll get, which is a great shame.
It’s the second-oldest card trading game, dating back almost as early as Magic: The Gathering. Like the Pokemon version, it stems from an Anime TV show.
Like the other trading card games I’ve shown you, the concept is to beat opponents by casting spells during battles and trapping monsters.
If you’re new to Yu-Gi-Ho, you could be a little overwhelmed by the immense number of card collections and ways to play; this is simply because the game has been around for so long and has never been discontinued, and unlike other trading card games, they don’t eliminate certain cards and creatures when they bring out new ones, which means the game grows and grows.
Start with the basics as a first-timer in the Yu-Gi-Oh gaming world. Get yourself a YU-GI-OH! Super Starter Power Box. It means you’ve got a head start without trying to build yourself up with a single deck of cards.
More recently, another new version of the game launched called Yu-Gi-Oh! Speed Duel is becoming increasingly popular. The great thing about this is that once you’ve familiarized yourself with this edition and feel comfortable moving up to the more advanced level, your cards can still be used in the game. It’s also a much more straightforward interpretation of the game, which can be more appealing to newbies.
5. Game of Thrones Trading Card Game
I am a massive fan of The Games of Thrones; I’m now on my third time watching the epic series, so when I heard there was a trading card game based on the fantasy world of Westeros, I had to get involved.
I was disappointed that the game doesn’t quite follow the much-loved series, but more so the book, A Song of Ice and Fire, by R.R. Martin. However, the structure behind the game and theory is just the same concept, the seven kingdoms and the fate of Westeros, so I could still get on board with it.
To play the game, you represent one of the famous houses, whether it’s the Targairions, the Lannisters, or the Greyjoys. (Of course, I’m always a Stark, and nobody gets a say in that).
The game has two editions, the latest being the Game of Thrones Second Edition Core Set. I have heard rumors that there may not be any further additions to this, so grab them while you can; you never know; they might become a true collector’s item one day.
As you’ve probably guessed, if you’re a GOT fanatic like myself, the game aims to compete for the Iron Throne. But instead of mounting your dragon, raining down fire, and incinerating villages, you can do it from the comfort of your couch using your cards without the need for such. Isn’t it a much safer option?
6. Arkham Horror
For all you dark copers and white knucklers out there, the Arkham Horror card trading game will keep any horror fanatic on their toes, with a bespoke way of playing and plenty of mystery and thrill around every corner.
I love this game because I’m fascinated by anything slightly out-of-the-ordinary or with any peculiarities, and this game certainly offers both.
Get into the role of an investigator who will explore haunted houses and deserted streets in search of freakish monsters and solve disturbing mysteries along the way.
As you move through the game, be careful to choose wisely, as every decision can determine your fate or lead to a grizzly end.
If you’re intrigued by the mysterious uncertainty of this elusive game, learn more about the rules with my in-depth guide to Arkham Horror.
7. Marvel Champions
The Marvel World is one that we’re all familiar with. Its ever-growing popularity has expanded into every aspect of our lives, whether in film, comics, computer games, or even some board games.
Marvel Champions shares some similarities with the other trading card games I’ve previously discussed; it does work slightly differently. Instead of competing against your friends and trying to obliterate their creatures or characters, you will work as a team.
You and your friends will each take the role of your chosen Superhero and work together to conquer a villain causing havoc in the city. It’s done the same way as other card training games, using your unique skills as a Superhero, which each card will describe.
Initially, this game can seem complex, but the starter set has an information guide that will tell you everything you need to know. Keep this handy for your first few rounds until you are familiar with the concept. Once you’ve got your head around this, it will become one of the most engaging and addictive games in your collection.
The other thing to note about this game is that once you’ve mastered the starter game pack, there are many other expansions, such as the Marvel Champions and The Galaxy’s Most Wanted Campaign Expansion.
8. Disney Lorcana
Okay, this game hasn’t even been released yet. But Disney fans from around the globe are eagerly awaiting its launch, which should be in August this year (2023).
It’s believed that the avidly anticipated trading card game will include over 200 game cards in its starter pack, booster packs, and special edition merchandise. There will also be some rare, collectible cards in foils. (Or shiny’s, as we used to call them back in the day).
The game’s designers have revealed that it will involve players taking on the role of Illumineers, who will bring to life other well-known Disney characters who will assist them during battle.
Each card is said to include special powers and a flavor text related to each magical character.
The game, being released by Ravensburger, hopes to add this Disney fantasy card trading game to its successful collection of games, such as Disney Villainous, which proved popular after its release in 2018. They claim Disney Lorcana will be the biggest game Ravensburger has ever produced.
I don’t know about you, but my money is ready to invest in the next few years of Disney trading card game action.
As you can see, the world of trading card games is immensely populated and still growing daily.
Investing your time and money into a TCG is not just an hour spent playing a game; it’s years of your life and commitment. You could be collecting cards for the next four or five years, even more, so it’s worth finding the perfect game that matches your passions and interests.
So, whether you want to go back to basics and start playing the world’s oldest trading card game of its kind, Magic: The Gathering, or you’re excited about the launch of the magical new game of Disney Lorcana, hopefully, you’ve found a game that you can dedicate your time and energy into, as well as your hard-earned cash.