Living Card Game Options Part 1
The term Living Card Game was defined by Fantasy Flight Games as their variant of collectible card games which instead of having the blind buy purchase model instead come in regular expansions where you know exactly what you’re paying for.
Some of the first collectible card games came out through Wizards of the Coast and even today, their Magic: The Gathering is one of the most popular choices available. Fantasy Flight Games started their own Living Card Games in 2008 when A Game of Thrones and Call of Cthulhu came out and since then many more were released.
First of all, let us explain the difference between Living Card Games (LCGs) and Collectible Card Games (CCGs). CCGs come in randomized booster packs and the cards there have different rarities (common, uncommon, rare and mythic as well as the foiled version of these, is the model used by Magic: The Gathering for example).
This means that you have a lot fewer chances to get a mythic card and one that is also foiled will be extremely hard to get, meaning that if that is what you want, opening large numbers of boosters isn’t the best idea and this is why this type of gaming is sometimes accused of being “pay to win”.
In LCGs you know exactly what you’re buying and thus you and your friends will have the same card pool if you get the same expansions. People might be attracted by these due to this element or this might at the same time turn them away if they like to be as competitive as possible.
In the end, the financial aspect is something too complex to be discussed here in detail. You could estimate how much you have to pay for a LCG but the cards will probably be worth just what you paid for them in the future, whereas with CCGs the market is a lot more volatile and thus you can get a lot more (or a lot less) than what you paid for your cards.
In my opinion the thing that should attract someone to the game is the flavor and gameplay mechanics, so let us see what the LCGs from Fantasy Flight Games have to offer in this area. Let us take a look at each Living Card Game in more detail and see who might find them appealing.
A Game of Thrones: The Card Game (2002)
It started as a collectible card game and it became a Living Card Game in 2008, continuing to be released with many new expansions until 2015 when the second edition of the game was released which was no longer backwards compatible with this one.
This game was based on the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin and it can be played between two and up to six players, transporting you into the setting of the game. A Game of Thrones: The Card Game was highly popular and many expansions came out, but with the release of the second edition there was a complete stop in the support of this version.
This new edition led to many players asking themselves what to do with the cards they already have because these were incompatible with the new version and thus were pretty much worthless outside of their historic value.
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game (2005)
This one also started as a CCG and was converted into a LCG in 2008. Again, it is inspired from literature, namely from the works of H. P. Lovecraft in which he talks about cosmic horrors that vastly surpass the capabilities of comprehension a human mind can bear. This game is played with two players and goes on really fast (around 30 minutes).
The two players interact a lot with one another and you can combine multiple factions to create very diverse strategies. It was really popular but once again Fantasy Flight Games ended its development and organized play support in 2015, making it officially dead. But since “that is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons, even death may die”, the devoted fans were thrilled when the new Arkham Horror: The Card Game was announced to offer a completely new way of playing.
Warhammer: Invasion (2009)
Another two player LCG, this one focuses on the bloody wars of the Warhammer universe, combined with questing and resource management. Coming with six factions: Dwarves, the Empire, Orcs, Chaos, High Elves and Dark Elves, Warhammer: Invasion is comparable to Magic: The Gathering since each player builds his deck of monsters or heroes along with spells, equipments, structures and different devices, after which they battle each other.
There is a three zone capital that has to be protected and you usually play the cards on the sides. If one of the sections is damaged enough then that part of the capital is burned and when both of them are burned you lose the game. This means that there are always two parts for you to protect and to assault.
Each unit gives you resources if you place them in the Kingdom zone while the ones in the quest zone give you more card draws so it is quite a deep game that is ideal for someone who likes to tinker a lot with their cards and to always find clever ways of outsmarting their opponent.
A game usually lasts around 45 minutes and it is recommended best if you like games like Magic: The Gathering due to their complexity but want something in which you only need a corset to get a good deck. Sadly once again, Fantasy Flight Games announced in 2013 that Hidden Kingdoms will be the last expansion, so this is another great game that is currently dead, making it a bad idea to start now.
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (2011)
We previously talked about three games that aren’t supported anymore, but even if Fantasy Flight Games gave up on them there are other versions out. Currently The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is very alive and kicking, so this makes it the first (in our opinion) viable choice for a Living Card Game in this list.
Once again, based on literature, specifically on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and his popular fantasy series, this card game really stands out through a very different gameplay mechanic. It is completely cooperative, so if you are into highly competitive games then it might not be a great choice for you. This doesn’t mean that the game is easy, quite the opposite, because there were many complaints that it is designed to be too brutal.
It has one of the most active communities because of the design mechanics that make players work together toward a common goal and you can find podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos and many other sources discussing the game.
Check out part 2 here!