One of the most common, and biggest worries I hear about from people, working with CCGs is that many people feel they cannot afford to acquire the cards they believe to be necessary to win, or worse, play at all. So over the next few months, I will be writing articles detailing how to effectively make the most of your money and cut costs where possible for your CCG of choice, without feeling as if you are compromising playability. Be under no illusions that you’ll be able to win National events with budget based decks, but this introduction, and the more detailed parts of this guide will hopefully show you that it doesn’t cost the Earth to play CCGs or compete in local events on a regular basis, and that you’ll find knowledge of your deck is far greater power than a large wallet.
The following is a rough guideline on things to do to try to save money, each of these points will be elaborated on in later articles, as well as budget decklists (and their pricetags) and submissions from other players which will hopefully give a good insight into where to start:
– Learn to play your game extensively, and learn as much as you can about your deck of choice before actually putting down money
There are a ton of resources out there which can teach you the finer details of your game, and give you the knowledge needed to make your own way without needing to check things every 5 minutes. Learning the detailed rules of games like Magic or Yugioh is absolutely invaluable. You’ll find many players who go to big tournaments and have shelled out top dollar for the ‘best’ deck on the market don’t actually know how some of their own cards work. If you do, it gives you a distinct advantage over those who don’t. Putting in the research will save a great deal of time and money. Watch tournament videos to learn what cards get played if you aren’t sure. Look into social media groups and forums to allow you to ask questions. This is potentially the most important part of bridging the gap between casual play and competitive play.
– Avoid ‘pimping out’ your deck, wherever possible
This point doesn’t necessarily affect every game on the market, as not every game has cards that are available in multiple rarities, but many (mostly the Japanese based games, like Yugioh or Vanguard) do, and it goes without saying that there is a difference in the values of these rarities. People underestimate how big a difference there can be. Try to locate the lowest possible rarity for cards, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to pick up the cards you want if they came from places that other people overlook.
– Avoid searching out the cards that are hyped up unless absolutely necessary
Whenever a set comes out, you’ll often find that there are 1 or 2 cards that receive a lot more attention than others. Avoid these cards like the plague if you can, they won’t do your wallet any favours, and chances are, they are far from mandatory to your deck. While these cards are in their pricey prime, try looking for cards you think might take off later on, but want to try out now (though be sure to put in the research so that you can make an informed decision first!) and go for those instead, you’ll probably find these cards are much much easier to acquire, and may or may not even become more tradable as time passes. It’s very very rare that a cards price goes up after a set has been out for a short while, but when it does, it’s even rarer that it was the card that started high.
– Find cheaper alternatives to expensive cards
You’ll often find that cards that have giant price tags have alternatives that are only marginally weaker, but a fraction of the price. This isn’t always the case, some cards are just better, and their price tag reflects that. Though by finding the more affordable cards, you won’t always lose out as much as you might think. Games with eternal formats have thousands and thousands of cards to choose from, and many of them show big similarities. Try picking cards that have the same aim as ones you’ve seen in championship decklists or in videos but are less commonly known or have marginally weaker effects, you’d be surprised at what they can accomplish.
– Find a friend or group of friends to play, talk and share with
They say a problem shared is a problem halved, and that’s definitely true here. Cards you might not need or want might be imperative to a friend trying to also build up a deck for an event. You can help get them to their goal, and hopefully they’ll be kind enough to help you in return. Being able to share cards can generally get the job done in double time, or if you know someone who already has a large collection of cards, chances are, they’ll be willing to give up a few cards in order to expand their playerbase. However, shared collections should be dealt with very very carefully. As someone who has seen a great number of people fall out with their friends over shared collections, I would avoid them altogether unless you trust the person you want to share with implicitly. You have been warned!
-Look into eternal formats and avoid cards that obviously won’t stick around for long
Many people get frustrated by rotation, the system in many card games that makes older sets redundant for standard tournament play, but the majority of the time, this does NOT mean that these cards are completely useless. As a matter of fact, some cards become more valuable after they have rotated due to eternal formats like Modern in Magic or Extended in UFS. Try not to be disheartened by rotation and instead think outside of the box by building a deck for an eternal format, and encourage your play group to do the same. The opposite applied to games like Yugioh that forgo rotation in favor of a ban list. It tends to be relatively obvious when a card is so powerful it will get struck with the ban hammer, so try and stomach leaving the cards alone and wait and see what happens to them.
So hopefully you’ve gained a little bit of insight into how to keep your money together while gaining a few cards. If you can think of any more ways to tackle the CCG economy for any popular game, do leave comments below or on the Zer0shifted facebook page! I’ll also be touching on the first cards you should be aiming to acquire in each of the more popular games out there, and how to get them as cheaply as possible, and some alternate formats to keep you on your toes either while acquiring new cards simultaneously or by using the cards you will hopefully have already acquired to get even more bang for your buck, so check back in, and before you know it, you’ll have a ton of cards in no time!