Card games besides MTG: Reid Duke's favorites


If you’ve chosen to click on this Blog entry, odds are you know me from Magic: the Gathering. I’ve played MTG my entire life, and have been on the Pro Tour for 13 years now. But today, I’m going to go outside of my comfort zone, and talk about other card games I’ve played and enjoyed over the years.

Some of these games I’ve picked up on my own, or with friends. However, I’ve been exposed to even more of them due to my career with MTG, as the audiences for these various games have plenty of overlap. More recently, my work with ChannelFireball and TCGPlayer has given me even more opportunities, as I’m sometimes invited to try new games and write about my perspective on them. It’s a cool job!

As an important disclaimer, the only game I’ve ever really been an expert on is MTG. I have a modest knack for gaming, and having a strong background in Magic helps me to learn new games at a quicker pace. But I’ve never become highly competitive in another game, and would get thrashed by anybody who plays a lot. But hey, that’s all part of the fun!

Childhood

I think it’s fair to say that Magic has always been my premier game. But before I knew it would be a lifelong passion, I dabbled in a handful of games, seeking to keep things interesting, and avoiding missing out on anything that might prove to be super fun.

Middle-earth CCG 

The recent MTG release of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth inspired me to write about my childhood experiences with the old Middle-earth CCG.

This game was in print from 1995 to 1998. The gameplay was quite complicated, and I think a lot of it went over my head as a little kid. Still, flavorwise, this remains one of my favorite games I’ve ever played and collected.

Legend of the Five Rings

Legend of the Five Rings, on the other hand, has survived into the present day (although sadly I have not personally kept up with it). It’s based loosely on feudal Japan, with influences from other East Asian cultures.

The most novel thing about this game is that the long-run setting and storyline can be influenced by players who win major tournaments. As someone who loves to see a thriving and prestigious competitive scene, I find this totally awesome!

Pokémon 

And like virtually every kid from my generation, I played the Pokemon card game. We have tons of Pokemon content over at TCGplayer.

Dominion 

I started out by saying I’ve never been competitive in a card game outside of Magic. If there’s an exception, it’s Dominion.

My friends and I learned the game a decade ago, and quite enjoyed it. When the global pandemic stopped us from seeing each other, we found an online client for Dominion, which proved to be excellent. It’s free (with an optional subscription to unlock expansions), and it does all of the set-up, shuffling, and counting for you! We started doing regular online Dominion nights, which kept us sane and connected through long periods of isolation.

I got pretty decent at the game, and at my peak I entered a competitive league and won my division! Before you go thinking I’m some prodigy, you should know it was a beginner/intermediate division, and that I narrowly won. Still, it was fun to sink my teeth into a new game, and Dominion is strategically deep with tons of replay value. I’d love to get back into semi-competitive play someday!

Gosu X 

My friend (and fellow Team CFB Ultimate Guard member) Gabriel Nassif got his hands on a few advanced copies of a game called Gosu X, and was kind enough to share one with me. We started playing it at home, and really liked it.

The game features eight clans, each represented by their own deck. Each has various strengths, weaknesses, and special techniques it can access. The game starts with each player choosing three clans, so you can strategically combine them in a huge number of different ways.

The funniest part of this experience was that, at the time, most of the rulebook and FAQ was in French, so we English-speaking players had to do a lot of guessing and improvising.

They’ve since released a lot more English-language resources, so if you’re looking for a cool two-player game, check this one out!

With ChannelFireball/TCGPlayer

As mentioned, my current work with the ChannelFireball and TCGplayer websites sometimes grants me opportunities to try out new games. I’ll highlight two of them.

My Hero Academia 

My Hero Academia is part of the UniVersus collectible card game. UniVersus has a long history and a cool business model. Across multiple decades, it’s explored numerous intellectual properties including Megaman, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. The cards are all compatible together, so you can build out your collection and pair things as you please. My Hero Academia just happens to be the IP I played with.

Grand Archive 

On the other hand, Grand Archive is a very new game that made a positive impression on me. Stylistically, it’s an anime TCG. When it comes to gameplay, it has simple, unambiguous rules, while still supporting deep strategy. Coming from a background of MTG, I found it both easy and fun to pick up.

Streaming

Finally, I’m a part-time streamer. You can find me every once in a while on Twitch. Over the years, I’ve been invited numerous times to perform sponsored streams of non-MTG games. I’m often happy to accept these invitations, since trying out a new game for a couple of hours isn’t too big of an ask as far as work goes!

A few that I’ve tried out on stream are:

  • Summoner’s War: Sky Arena
  • Raid: Shadow Legends
  • Dislyte
  • Mech Arena
  • Marvel: Strike Force
  •  Rise of Kingdoms
  • Call of Dragons

I’ll highlight two that I enjoyed.

Raid: Shadow Legends is a fantasy-themed, turn-based RPG. Even after my sponsorship had concluded, I enjoyed the game enough to stick with it for a few months. I made it through much of the endgame content, and collected a healthy number of max-level champions.

Dislyte is a stylish urban RPG based in various world mythologies. I was impressed by the flavor and the visuals of this one, and had a lot of fun with it. I wasn’t exactly in the market for a new game at the time, so I didn’t stick with it for more than a week or two. But on the whole, this is one of my favorite games that I’ve streamed.

I’ll add the disclaimer that many of these games follow the “gacha” model, which means they’re free to download, but give you the opportunity to spend real-life money for in-game bonuses. Personally, I like to play these games on a zero-cost basis, because grinding is part of the fun for me. If you do choose to spend money, please do so deliberately and conscientiously. You don’t want to be shocked when the credit card bill comes because you got carried away hunting for the hot new champion.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my gaming career. There are tons of card games I’ve enjoyed, from Netrunner to Battle Spirits Saga, which I didn’t highlight today. That’s not even to mention the endless RPGs, video games, board games, and other games I’ve used to tie up my time most forcefully over the years.

Autor: Reid Duke

Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame, Member of Team CFBUltimateGuard

Magic runs in the family for Reid. When Reid was five, his mom came home one day with two Magic starter packs for him and his brother Ian. They both hardly knew the rules but they muddled through as best they could with the rules inserts. 26 years later, Reid’s now one of Magic’s most successful and respected players in the world. Learn more about Reid.