Why Cards?

Guys, I don't collect cards. What's the draw? Why? What function do they serve? They were my gateway to the X-Men when I was 8 years old, but once I started reading the comics I lost interest. Give me a new hobby. What's the big idea?


  • The lure of collectible card games like Magic the Gathering and the like is the opportunity mix strategy with luck. You can build something great with your own mind a few bucks and challenge your friends to do the same. It's a great way to build bonds with strangers, going to a Friday Night Magic game and meeting like-minded people. Then you get to tear your new friends to pieces with the righteous fury of a hardcore angel deck. The collection in and of itself is secondary as far as i'm considered. The main focus for me is getting together with my friends; laughing,playing and talking mad shit, regardless of whether or not you're winning.
  • VirginiaApplejackVirginiaApplejack Member, Moderator
    You know, my approach was completely under the context of character cards from comic books. I'm surrounded all day every day by people who are obsessed with MTG, so now I'm feeling a little derpy, haha! I was super into Hero Clix 7 or 8 years ago, so I can see the allure. Particularly with the mad shit talk. 
  • I didn't even know they were a thing in terms of comic book characters, but it makes sense. Leaving aside the massively popular collectible card games like Magic or Yu Gi Oh, which have an evident purpose as playing cards, I think themed cards like the ones you're describing, @VirginiaApplejack, trace their history back to baseball cards and similar sports collectibles. That's been a successful business for a very long time, so much so that we now have the sense of the potential value of these keepsakes as they transitioned from childhood pulp promotions sold with bubble gum into serious antiques worth thousands of dollars, depending on age and scarcity. I grew up with tales of people agonizing over the loss of childhood collections unceremoniously tossed in the trash by their parents, complete with equal parts nostalgia and wistful estimates of how much they would sell for in the present day.

    So with that history behind baseball cards, it's easy to see how any industry in pop culture that has a roster of characters, real or fictional, might decide to invest the relatively low printing costs into production of a card series. For something like Marvel superheroes, you get to feature artwork on the one side, I'd imagine. That could be done cheaply by reusing existing illustrations, or it could commission original work from artists in the field, which would up the value and appeal for many collectors. Then you have the opportunity to load the back with either a bit of backstory, some snippets of quotes from the comics, or statistics relating to superpowers, and that makes them sort of useful as references.

    I don't have any collectible cards aside from a few packs of ancient sports cards somewhere in my attic, and a vast MTG selection that I spent way too much money on when the game was fairly new. But I can see the appeal, from the chocolate frog cards of Harry Potter to almost any fictional franchise, if you are a fan of that world and enjoy the characters. They would be easy to trade among friends, and be an easily portable conversation piece to discuss among fellow enthusiasts. Individually, they are tangible and inexpensive (until they get rare or antiquated) pieces of memorabilia. And I've seen some pretty impressive examples of what sorts of projects you could use them in once you've grown tired of collecting, from watching Greg Aronowitz on Craft Lab. :}
  • VirginiaApplejackVirginiaApplejack Member, Moderator
    @Farlander, Sure, I see the comparison to baseball cards. I suppose I always saw the purpose of baseball cards as a function of building fantasy teams, and commemorating your heroes from the flesh. With cards of comic book characters, I suppose it just seemed redundant. My old roomie cherished his binders of cards in much the same way you're describing, and and I would never take that joy away from him; I just found it perplexing in the face of the gorgeous covers and spreads of the comics themselves. 

    Then of course in my head I think, "But if you were drafting your own X-Men team like a fantasy baseball then we're talking!" Aaaand then I realize I'm pretty much creating a card-based Heroclix, and my original apprehension proves flimsy, and suddenly I want to collect cards and organize them by idealized teams. 

    Additionally, it's a great way to discover new characters you might not have known about. I think these cards often tell you where the characters first appeared or had notable moments, so it can guide you through a world that may initially appear overwhelming or convoluted. And that makes me think of arranging them like note cards to solving a crime, arranging the elements of characters by plot development.

    Haha, oh my gosh, I had completely forgotten about that Craft Lab! We need to figure out something similar for all those coasters I've made from failed CD burns :p

  • An older thread, I know, but felt the urge to post.  You know, this discussion would be a great concept for an article...

    MtG in particular has televised pro circuits.  You can even get College scholarships for for pro-playing experience in the game.  My husband has been playing since high school, got me into it nearly seven years ago, got our teenager into it, and we're teaching my ex-husband and his family how to play as well (with the help of their addiction to Spellslingers also.  Hehe.)  There's something about the strategy involved that helps drag you in, in my opinion.  It's competition without backstory, a full game without huge set up.  My husband mastered the art of what he called "mini Magic" or "speed rounds," in which he and a friend would play five minute rounds in high school between classes.  You can set up your game with just your cards and a D20 for your counter (or the counter app on your phone if you're the Techno type) and that is it.  It can set up like a micro game, but doesn't always play as fast as one.  Unless you are "speed rounding" then you can have a game that lasts for hours if you are being clever enough and have built a deck that holds off the other player well enough.  Or you can end it quickly if you have mana-ramped your deck to get the heavy hitters out fast, build a token generation to get tons of soliders/goblins/zombies on the field, or built a blue discard deck that has drained the other player of every single card they have in just a few rounds. 

    Other card games have the same principle of strategy, focus, and of containing cards that are highly collectible.  The key is finding the game that speaks to you and diving in.  It makes no sense- even to seasoned players- why some cards are of more value than others.  Then again, some cards that go up in value we stare at and say, "Wow, that card does so much it practically can talk.  No wonder it's so valuable!"  It's odd how things like that vary.  But it's worth diving in to at one game like this at least once to see what the big deal is.  If it is for you then you will get addicted and love every minute.  If not...well you still have board games, video games, and other tabletop goodies.  :)
  • The same thing was before 2000 when I was in school all collected not cards but round flat plates with Pokemon and other series characters (or even cars etc called Kaps, anybody remeber them?) 

Sign In or Register to comment.