"Strategy" card games for kids (e.g. pokemon & magic the gathering) (1 Viewer)

boltonguy

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I have a 12 year old son. About 4 years ago he got into pokemon cards - not just collecting but playing. He did one competition and I remember building my own deck and both of us playing online (ok embarrassing!!) He lost interest so we drifted away from it. This year in middle school he joined the chess & games club and I taught him chess and he played a few games with kids who didnt really know how to play. Most of the kids are playing Magic the Gathering. We went to a games store this afternoon - hot day, nothing planned - and a nice kid there taught us the basics and we bought a starter kit for 2 players for $10 and played two games at home.

The reason I'm writing this is that I'm shocked that this passs for a strategy game - now we're brand new to this game but it looks like building a deck is much like Pokemon - stuff it full of the strongest and broadest guys you can to win attacks - which honestly doenst require much strategy. There is like zero math involved. There is also a fairly high barrier to entry in terms of needing to learn specific terminology and rules of play.

It struck me how great a game poker is - of course I've played over 22k hands of blitz on ACR this year so I am biased - but there is like zero barrier to entry except "does a straight beat a flush" - and decks even come with those cheat cards; and the game has immense complexity and math involved. Poker isnt portrayed as a "strategy" game - maybe because each hand ends and there is no "continuity" between hands (except behavior, tells and frequencies so plenty of strategy for the observant ;)) but man I've got to tell you, these kids would be better off playing NLHE instead of these card games that have fancy pictures on them.

/end_rant Just kind of surprised how thin this game is (magic) while at the same time so popular with the middle school crowd. And practically noone plays chess? At the "chess and games club" - I mean come on chess is one heck of a game - deterministic for sure but chock full of strategy. Would be interested in others' opinions.
 

raynmanas

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in hindsight, M:TG was my entry into poker tournaments, though i didn't realize it at the time. and we are talking 20+ years ago now, so the fact it is still going as strong as it is is a testament to its strengths. it is not nearly as thin as you seem to think; that is probably just lack of exposure and/or understanding of the game; it has nuances stacked upon nuances. it's been sooo long since i've played seriously, but pokemon it is not.
 

satisfyingbutton

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Magic definitely runs the spectrum from relatively thin to incredibly deep depending on the format and level that you are playing. Some people like to jam creatures together, and some people like to build incredibly intricate synergies that do things otherwise impossible or unlikely. Many players will tell you that there is more casual appeal built into the game now than there used to be, but YMMV.

As someone who has migrated to poker from Magic, there are some significant strategic overlaps. They are not the same, but there are enough Magic pros who are also poker pros (and vice versa) to speak to this crossover.

That being said, poker seems closer to the classic "moment to learn, lifetime to master" sort of game than Magic is. Mostly because Magic has the collectible/expandable aspect to it.

You start getting deeper and things really start to go all over the place. For example, you do have different formats of Magic that sort of amount to "circus" games of poker. You've got limited vs. constructed. Single vs. multiplayer.

At the end of the day, they are definitely different games; however, the crossover is not insignificant!
 

dmoney

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Following as a dad of two young girls (3, 7mos). I’d love if they shared an interest in strategy games - it would be a real treat to play poker with them someday.
 

DrStrange

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MTG is a lot like poker. You can play a session or two, think "this is an easy game" And then find out it isn't as simple as you might think. Ten years later you begin to suspect you don't know anything.

Deck design can be wickedly complex and filled with game theory sorts of decisions. The color(s) of your deck matter a lot vis-a-vis the colors of the other players decks. "fast" decks vs " strong" decks. Whole decks designed around one or two creature. Lots of thinking to be done.

to be sure, you can play out of one big pile of common cards. But a designed deck built out of uncommon and rare cards carefully curated will slaughter a common card deck.

MTG can get ouchy expensive if you start down the path of the rare+ cards. You can make a plenty good game out of the less expensive cards when careful thought is put into the game via deck design.

Spend an hour getting better educated and I think you will find a whole new level of respect for MTG.
 

CrazyEddie

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Magic the Gathering was designed by someone deeply versed in the theory and practice of game playing, and whip-smart to boot. Don't underestimate the game simply because it doesn't appeal to you at first exposure. Richard Garfield knows what he's doing, and he built a masterful game.

The nature of the game changes depending on which format you play, as @satisfyingbutton alluded to. As a crude analogy - just like an NLHE tournament plays somewhat differently and exercises different skills than a cash fixed-limit seven-card stud game does, MTG sealed deck is different from MTG constructed is different from MTG booster draft is different from MTG cube draft. Constructed tests your abilities to discover clever combinations of cards (and, to some degree, your financial ability to purchase all the cards you need to build those combinations). Sealed deck tests your ability to play the actual game, and to recognize good card combinations given a limited opportunity to create them. Booster draft tests your deck-building skills but keeps all players on an even footing; cube draft does the same but lets the players plan their drafting strategies around established characteristics of the pre-constructed draft pool.

In every format, simply being able to build (or in some cases buy) a highly-effective deck isn't enough to win; it can give you an advantage, but you still have to be able to execute the strategy implied by your deck while simultaneously adapting to your opponent's deck, strategy, and execution. Playing the game requires knowing what sorts of cards your opponent can, might, and will play, and knowing which of your cards is likely to be the most effective at this moment given the current game state and your opponent's likely holdings.

MTG's richness comes from its complexity, which is both its strength and its weakness (IMHO). Poker's beauty comes from its simplicity, which is enough to entice fools into believing they have mastered the game while providing a solid income to those who can appreciate the complexity that its simplicity implies.

Different games for different audiences, different circumstances, or different moods.
 

AlbinoDragon

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I played MtG 25 years ago. I agree with @DrStrange that it can get painfully expensive, which is why I preferred some of the tournament style games I played (I forget the specific name for the style). You buy a few packs of cards, the house (usually the game store it's being hosted at) provides plenty of lands to build with and from those humble and relatively uniform starting materials, you build a deck and go.

Designing and building a deck is a skill that the friend who introduced me to the game was very good at yet I never managed to pick up some of the nuance. I'm sure in time I would have, but school, work and life sort of got in the way and I never went too far. I did enjoy my time playing.

I loved building a deck that had a fairly different style than the other players around me. I think most of us all got in a rut playing against each other and in a similar way (deck construction and philosophy) that taking an angle that was rather different threw them all off.



I played a bit of chess with my Dad when I was younger, and again with my "pod of sanity" the year I lived in Canada. It was a fun diversion, but I never got nor got into a lot of the strategy and theory of the game. I haven't looked in a long while, but I wonder at what level it might be "solved". Yeah, I know it's been around for ages and there are a million permutations, but I read of cases where after a few moves it's "obvious" which opening strategy is being employed and the opponent has to choose one of x number of counters to properly address that opening. I know the mid-game is where the meat of a match happens, but it seems to me (and my admitted ignorance of the current state of the game) that at some level it's using a look-up table of what counter to take during the opening.
 
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inca911

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I’ve done some deep MTG hunting and collecting on my journey. Tinker was one of my favorite decks to play. Lots of strategy if you look for it. Fun times….
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I can show you what “Proposal” looks like in person. Richard Garfield asked that pics of that card not be published.
 
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satisfyingbutton

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FDLmold

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There are several deck types in MTG. When you build a deck, it needs to be able to do at least two of the types, or you get consistently trounced. I forget what the types are, it's been years and years, but strategy articles abound. The reason it's still going almost 30 years later is because it's still a superbly designed game. Whether you play drafting or pre constructed, it really is spectacular.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/370207/what-i-know-about-magic-gathering
 
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FestiveKnight

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This is the thread for me! I wrote my senior thesis on using board games as an educational tool with a big focus on MTG. First off, to address one thing, I think MTG is incredibly incredibly deep strategically but as others have said, it really flexes with the format and the play group. I play mostly a format called Commander (or EDH) these days which has ranges of power from average 1.5 hour games to average 15 min games.

Where you are, "stuff it full of the strongest and broadest guys you can to win attacks" is a very typical place to start, but real strategic MTG is played on the margin of 1 mana cost differences in early games.

I think MTG is actually a fantastic game to be playing with a kid, as you get into it it teaches a whole bunch of useful things:

  • Deck building is all about probabilities, more opaque than poker, but that's at the core of it
  • MTG teaches tons of important lessons that you can carry on when learning basically any other game and when learning things outside of games. It helps kids learn the idea of a rules set that can have exceptions, it teaches about engines, it teaches about evaluating different resources, threat assessment, etc etc etc
  • The stack, APNAP, triggers, responses, etc. are very very complex when pushes to the extremes (infinite combos, rearranging triggers, etc.) and learning that is very helpful just for brain stuff but also because its exactly how FILO (first in, last out) works in computer science
I could keep going but all I will say is that you should stick with it. Happy to provide any MTG specific advice or answer any questions, I am very passionate about it
 

FestiveKnight

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This is the thread for me! I wrote my senior thesis on using board games as an educational tool with a big focus on MTG. First off, to address one thing, I think MTG is incredibly incredibly deep strategically but as others have said, it really flexes with the format and the play group. I play mostly a format called Commander (or EDH) these days which has ranges of power from average 1.5 hour games to average 15 min games.

Where you are, "stuff it full of the strongest and broadest guys you can to win attacks" is a very typical place to start, but real strategic MTG is played on the margin of 1 mana cost differences in early games.

I think MTG is actually a fantastic game to be playing with a kid, as you get into it it teaches a whole bunch of useful things:

  • Deck building is all about probabilities, more opaque than poker, but that's at the core of it
  • MTG teaches tons of important lessons that you can carry on when learning basically any other game and when learning things outside of games. It helps kids learn the idea of a rules set that can have exceptions, it teaches about engines, it teaches about evaluating different resources, threat assessment, etc etc etc
  • The stack, APNAP, triggers, responses, etc. are very very complex when pushes to the extremes (infinite combos, rearranging triggers, etc.) and learning that is very helpful just for brain stuff but also because its exactly how FILO (first in, last out) works in computer science
I could keep going but all I will say is that you should stick with it. Happy to provide any MTG specific advice or answer any questions, I am very passionate about it
Realizing this is a bit light. Here’s an added thought.

A really powerful part of games as an educational tool is that when you learn things in one game and apply it to the next, that’s an amazing way of learning, but as that becomes meta and you come to internalize the concept of learning in one environment things that you can apply in the next, that becomes really incredible.

Knowing how to play mtg teaches you (board) game skills that you can apply in basically any other game setting. The more and more you do that, the more you practice that skill and it’s super transferable outside the world of games. It’s part of what makes for a good generalist thinker.

So I think A) MTG is super strategic and B) learning it makes you smarter.
 

kaida

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Having been introduced to MTG decades ago, I still play casually online with M:TG Arena. Its staying power speaks to how dynamic the game is. IMO there is a lot of strategy involved with MTG and different formats may appeal to different people and also emphasize a variety of different strategic concepts. Personally, I prefer to play limited formats (draft and sealed). As an example, in a draft format, you have several rounds of players opening a pack, taking one card and then passing the rest to the next person.

There are various concepts in play:

- Reading opponents. Based on cards you are receiving from your neighbors in the draft pool, you will try to determine which colors they are playing and adapt your choices on that information.

- Limited time. Especially online, you are put on the clock for making your draft decision. This forces you to process information efficiently and make educated decisions on limited information.

- Memory. The earlier picks of the draft pack will make its way back around to you. You need to remember any notable cards you may hope will wheel back for you to take.

While these concepts are not necessarily direct to the meat/strategy of the game, such as deckbuilding, synergizing mechanics, rules complexity, etc (which MTG is full of), it can teach well to poker and other games. If you don't think the format of MTG you're playing is appealing to you, consider trying a different format. There are over a dozen, each with its own feel. MTG formats
 

jpd527

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Android: Netrunner is much more approachable and immediately strategy based for beginners, and is also Richard Garfield's creation. Wizards ended up killing it because it was hurting their cash cow, MTG, which has become pay to play.

Netrunner still has a fairly active community, but there's a lot of proxying now since the cards are out of print. Definitely worth checking out, there's a site that lets you play online for free: https://www.jinteki.net/
And a deck builder site: https://netrunnerdb.com/
 

tabletalker7

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It might take me til the weekend to find it, but I have a version of the 1997 Magic the Gathering PC game that was modified to work on Windows 10 and 64 bit systems. Definitely a good way to learn the basics.
 

shorticus

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I played Yu-Gi-Oh for quite some time, and there's definitely a strategic element to it that I appreciate. It's all strategic card games with various decision points. As I played more, I learned to read the cards on the field, and think myself out of tough spots. With Yu-Gi-Oh (as I assume with Magic or Pokemon), you can kinda have a better idea of what your opponent is trying to accomplish. There are also still "bluffs" and traps in Yu-Gi-Oh which you have to decipher. It's just not as much math involved.

I'm not surprised that a large majority of my friends who played Yu-Gi-Oh also enjoy playing poker as well.
 

jpd527

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It might take me til the weekend to find it, but I have a version of the 1997 Magic the Gathering PC game that was modified to work on Windows 10 and 64 bit systems. Definitely a good way to learn the basics.
I've got the CD game that came with the 7th edition starter set, but never could get it working on a newer system. Those were definitely handy for new players.
 

Rhodeman77

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As someone that spent over a decade playing M:tG at a high level it is a very complex game, but can be simple if you want it to be as well. The skills I learned playing Magic really gave me a big heard start to being a strong poker player. Hand reading, heads up play, bluffing, probabilities are all shared concepts. I found poker to be easier than M:tG, there are only 52 cards in a poker deck, but there are thousands upon thousands of cards and so many possible deck builds in Magic that players need to be prepared to face
 
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RagahRagah

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As someone who has played TCGs even longer than I have played poker, I can confidently say that anyone who underestimates the intense focus and strategy that goes into them are foolish and possibly have a little too much arrogance. Many of the same aspects of poker apply and in games like Pokémon, in order to really be the best (I personally know the only person to ever win the Pokémon World Championships more than once and the daunting task of playing against him, and he is also an avid poker player), you have to be able to plan out your strategy sometimes several turns ahead of your moves. At its highest level it is arguably as difficult, complex and as skillful as poker. Perhaps even more so.

Strategy being in quotes is definitely unfair.
 

umbkcshah

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Strategy to me just means heavy decision making. MTG is great. I always enjoyed limited (draft/sealed), but never really cared for constructed. MTG benefits from new sets to keep both environments fresh. It can be a very expensive hobby.

In limited, there are just the stupid good cards that wins if not countered. Cruel Ultimatum for example. There's consistent vs powerful choices to be made in deck building Nothing like having a card that you can't cast because your resource base is trash (another strat decision). One downfall is there are times when a game just isn't played due to poor draws, but that impacts both players. Frustrating, but not a deal breaker.

Playing like you have a card, leaving up 2 blue every turn strongly indicating you have counter magic. So bluffing, etc.

Different strats to deck building: aggro, mid game, control, etc.

Chess is a game of complete information. Without a luck factor, many people quickly see they are bad and don't want to work at getting better.
 

Justchipin

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I'd say it's a lil more complex but yu-gi-oh is great. I'm 26 and I still find it fun to play against other people on my phone or laptop I haven't played the game in awhile with actually playing cards but Biggest most in depth card game in the world and came with a TV show that's OK if your 15<
 

ThreeBots

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I had a mildly successful MTG Youtube channel for a while. I still cube on MTGO from time to time. Sometimes I have thought about playing more MTG, but currently poker is holding more of my interest.
 
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