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Chilling With Some Card Games!

By: Jason Jarusinsky, collectible card game editor

Today we are focusing on a game I have been playing for the last eighteen years: Magic: The Gathering (M:TG). It is one of the biggest collectible card games on the market, so we wanted to provide an overview of the game, and what you can expect if you and your children start to play.

History of the game

M:TG was released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast with the first set called Alpha. When the game first released in order to help spread the word about the game the developers and publishers literally gave away product to players in order to get them started. It did not take long for that to happen. With subsequent releases aptly named Beta and Unlimited and the first expansion set called Arabian Nights the game caught on and caught on big. It has changed over time, but it has always revolved around the idea of an ever expanding game based on the release of expansion sets.

Sets are released in what are known as “blocks”. A block consists of three sets that are released over a period of a year. This has been tweaked here and there, but it is always more or less the same. In addition, there is a “Core set” that is released each summer. This set is comprised of basic cards that give players a solid starting point to learn the game each year.

What is this game all about?

As you sit down to play you take on the roll of a powerful wizard called a “Planeswalker” standing on a hill facing your enemy. Your deck of cards represents the creatures you will summon, the spells you will cast, and the mana you will use to do battle. This battle is represented by each player taking turns playing cards from their hand and attempting to take their opponents life total from twenty to zero.

Why is this game so great?

First, the game is deep. There are always interesting decisions to be made. The process of building a deck using all of the cards available is a meta-game in itself.

Second, the designers do a fantastic job of creating new and exciting cards to keep players enthralled with the game year after year. This is one of the main reasons I feel the game has remained so popular, and even has a Pro Tour for the most skilled players to compete in.

This is a very high level overview, but I hope you have found it useful.We’re going to talk about Magic: the Gathering a lot as time goes on so come on back to learn more.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to reach me at CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com. In future articles I will delve deeper into the formats of play, and what to expect at your first tournament if you so inclined that is the right gaming level for you!

Stay Frosty Friends,



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By: Jason Jarusinsky, Collectible Card Game Editor

Last week I talked about how to organize a collection of cards for whatever collectible card game your family plays. I touched on it briefly, but I think it is valuable to talk about the different rarity levels for cards and to explain what they mean.

The vast majority of games on the market today include four different rarity levels. They are: common, uncommon, rare, and ultra-rare (also known as mythic rare, or chase rare depending on the game).


The name says it all here. These will be the most readily available cards for use. Generally speaking, 70-75% of the cards in a booster pack will be common. This is the main block of cards that beginners are encouraged to build from. The fact that they are so numerous also means that their value is low. This isn’t to say that they are garbage, but they are the cards you will want to pile in a shoebox. If you buy a lot of booster packs you will end up with a TON.


Uncommon is the next rarity level up and are the next most common grouping of cards. Only 20-25% of that same booster pack will be uncommon. In most cases these cards are still very readily available; however will be more expensive that commons in almost all cases. A beginner can find uncommon cards to fill out their deck with relative ease even if you purchase a few at a local card shop.


Rare cards are some of the more scarce type of cards that can be found in every booster pack. Typically only one card per pack is rare. These can be much more expensive than more common cards and you won’t have a lot of them at first until you buy more booster packs. Don’t be discouraged though, because all games are playable without them. When you child gets older you can teach them about how to trade cards to get what they might be missing from their collection.

Ultra- Rares

Ultra-Rare, Mythic Rare, and/or Chase Rare cards are the rarest variety of cards that you and your child will find. Most importantly, there is no guarantee that you will ever open one in a booster pack. Instead, the odds range from one in five packs to one in ten packs depending on the game. This has the effect of driving the value of these cards up significantly.

I hope this helps bring the types of cards you own into greater focus and as always if you have any questions or would like more information please email me at CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com and I will be happy to help.

Stay Frosty Friends!


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By: Jason Jarusinsky, staff writer

It is easy to start playing a collectible card game (CCG) and get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cards that come into your house. This, unfortunately, prevents a lot of parents from working with their children to properly care for their cards, or worse, discourage them from playing at all. The good news is that organizing and caring for cards is a simple process, and once you teach these methods to your children it will be easy for them to continue it. This means less mess for you and more fun for them! We call that a victory!

The decision to take an interest in storing and displaying your child’s cards is an important one. You see, playing a collectible card game (CCG) involves playing with other people’s cards. By teaching your children how to respect their own cards you will help them learn to respect everyone else’s.

It may seem overwhelming when you think about it. But, overseeing a growing collection can be a fun collaborative process that the whole family can participate in.

It may start with storing everything in something as simple as a shoebox. But, you will eventually outgrow it. The following are a few items that you can purchase that will help take the next step.

3-Ring Binders – Make sure to get hard sided binders. The floppy ones won’t protect the cards as well.

9 Card Pages – These are clear pages that you can slip more valuable cards into so they are protected, but still visible.

Trading Card Boxes – These are cheap, functional boxes that can be used to store bulk cards. It keeps them safe and allows them to be stacked neatly on shelves. (Many of them are plain white so your kids can decorate them with stickers or other drawings!)

Having these tools on hand makes organizing (and protecting) your child’s collection a snap.

There are a number of different philosophies regarding sorting cards, but one of the easiest is to divide the cards into piles by rarity to start with. Some games make this easy by having a colored symbol on the card to represent rarity; others use letters such as “C”(common), “UC” (uncommon), and “R” (rare) right on the card face.

Start by going through all of the cards with your children and piling them up by rarity. This is a great chance to talk about the cards with them. What are their favorites? Why? What do they think of the art? Etc.

Once the cards are sorted into piles you can then put them away. What I will typically do with the rare/and valuable cards is separate them by color or category that makes sense for the game, and insert them into the 9 pocket pages inside my binders. I will then put the less valuable cards in bulk into my boxes. This way I can still access them when I need them, but they aren’t sitting in piles that are just asking to be knocked over. One thing I find useful is to write a description on the card boxes so I know what cards are inside. This helps later when you need to search for particular cards.

Of course these are basic tips and ideas on how to make this process easy and fun for everyone involved. If you are interested in more ideas let me know via email (CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com) and I will be happy to help.

Stay Frosty Friends,

Jason Jarusinsky


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By: Jason Jarusinsky, CCG Editor

You may be looking at the title of this column and asking yourself, “What on Earth is a CCG?” We get that question a lot here at Engaged Family Gaming. These games can be a money pit for kids and parents who don’t now how they work. So, we decided to put a regular column in place. 

I will be taking some time to break down the basics, and make the process of getting started much less daunting. 

A collectible card game, or “CCG,” is a game that consists of building a deck of specialized playing cards. These cards are “collected” by purchasing pre-made “starter decks” and blind “booster packs.” The decks will usually include a predetermined number of cards that will vary depending on the specific game. The win condition will vary from game to game, but the goal is usually to deplete your opponent’s life total. For example, in Magic: the Gathering each player begins play with 20 life points. The most basic form of victory is to reduce an opponent’s life total to zero.

There are a lot of different collectible card games (CCGs) out there so it is easy to get bogged down. The best way to get started is to decide on one game you and your family would like to learn and concentrate specifically on that game. Some games are targeted towards different age groups so you will want to keep that in mind when shopping. For example, Pokemon is targeted at a young audiences while Magic: The Gathering is targeted towards a more mature audience. 

Once you have decided on a game, buying cards to start is pretty easy. They can be obtained in a variety of places and are often clearly marked “Starter or Beginner”. Normally they come in simplified versions of the game with everything you need to play, including instructions.

At that point, all you have left to do is sit down with family and friends, read the rules and play through a few hands to get the overall hang of the game. You might even be able to find instructional videos online depending on what game you choose. Most games I have played can be learned within an evening. In almost every case the game takes a few hours to learn, and then the next several years trying to master all the nuances that are contained within. This is one of the greatest lures of collectible card games (CCGs). They are often easy to learn, but challenging to master.

In future articles I will delve into many different games and what you can expect if your child runs up to you at a store holding a few packs with longing in their eyes! As always if you have any questions you can reach me at CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com and will be happy to help you further.

Stay Frosty Friends!

Jason Jarusinsky


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