Digital Collectible Card Game Beginner’s Guide

Collectible Card Games (CCGs) have been around for quite some time in the competitive gaming space. Typically, they were printed on paper cards and sold at comic book shops and grocery stores in packs that would contain a random set of cards. Many of these games came out throughout the years.

The idea was to get the best set of cards possible and make a deck out of them that would defeat all challengers. Simple enough concept, however, powerful cards were quite rare to come by, and therefore those cards became quite valuable.

Soon enough, there was a thriving market around card collecting games, and potential would-be champions would spend vast amounts of money to assemble great decks they could play in competitions. The element of skill was necessary to be successful, but also, the ability to procure rare cards.

Fast forward to the present and Card Collecting Games are still going strong, but in a different market space than before, the digital space. No longer do players need to make their way down to some fancy store, but rather just need to pick up their phone to get cards with Digital Collectible Card Games (DCCGs).

How Collecting Cards Works

The idea is pretty much the same as buying packs of cards from the store and hoping for those super rare cards to come out of it. This is the same concept, except the cards that you get are completely digital and you cannot physically touch them.

For example, games such as Hearthstone allow players to purchase digital card packs containing 5 cards per pack. Each pack has the potential of containing extremely rare cards or common cards. No matter what, you will always get some cards out of the packs, but they might not be the ones you want.

That’s where the deck building portion is different. In physical card games like Magic, players could buy the powerful rare cards they want online, from stores, other players, etc. In the digital games, players do not have that option to get those rare cards.

Instead, they must open packs until they are lucky enough to obtain that rare card, or in games like Hearthstone, you can craft the cards with materials. When getting cards that you don’t want, you can disenchant them and gain dust from the card. The rarer the card, the more dust you get.

Once you have enough dust, you can then craft those powerful cards you desired. Of course, the amount of dust you get for disenchanting cards is minimal compared to what it costs to make the cards, but it is better than paying.

Building Decks

Whether a physical card game or digital, the goal is to attain cards so that a player can construct their deck so that they can defeat their adversaries. There will be a set number of cards that is permitted per deck, and it is up to the player to determine which cards they want to fill their deck with.

The idea is to build a “meta deck” or similar deck that has been utilized by the professional players. They are professionals for a reason, so people want to emulate their deck types. That can get quite expensive though since you will need many specific rare and powerful cards for most meta decks to work right.

How Digital Card Games Work

Digital Card Games work in the same manner as traditional tabletop card games, where each player will take a turn. During their turn, a player can choose to either attack their opponent’s life points, play a minion or have a minion attack, and play spells or abilities.

Players will continue taking turns until one runs out of life points and the game concludes. The concept is akin to RPG combat, where different actions are selected on a turn by turn basis. Most card game titles utilize the minion/spells/life points model for their gameplay.


One huge advantage that the Digital Collectible Card Games have over their physical competition is the fact that they exist in a virtual world, so competition is much more readily accessible than ever before. People can compete in tournaments all over the world from the comfort of their own home.

There are ranking systems set up within the digital games themselves, and therefore it can allow players to see the leaderboards and rank up on their own. As players get skilled enough at the game, they can measure their progress against others and see who their competition is.

Popular Digital CCG Terminology

As is the case with many genres, Digital Collectible Card Games have shared terms as well. Some of the most frequently shared terms are:

  • Meta Deck – Meta is a term that refers to the “optimal” set of cards to make a specific kind of deck that is regarded highly at the top tiers. Each time an expansion is released, new cards are added while old ones are removed. Players then create “super decks” around specific cards referred to as “metas.”
  • Buff – To increase the stats on a minion or hero, either temporarily or permanently. Some buffs will be single-target while others can impact all minions. Determining when to use appropriate buffs can mean ending the game rather unexpectedly.
  • Nerf – Nerfing is a term used to describe when something is weakened without giving it any additional benefits. Nerfing is usually done with cards that are deemed, broken, or to powerful during a season and therefore are tweaked or removed for updates of the game.
  • Trade – Trading in Hearthstone often refers to using one of your minions to take out an opponent’s minion so that you could remove that threat. Part of winning the game is determining when it is a wise time to trade minions or to attack the opposing hero.