Those who know me know that I have always loved trading card games. I have been playing Magic: the Gathering for a long time. Recently, I discovered that might have been since the beginning of that particular game. During my ill fated semester as a student the first time at the University of Pittsburgh, I had a couple of friends who introduced me to the game. I then bought a beginners “Portal” deck to try to get Christine to play the game.
I had just moved from Erie to Massachusetts at the time and I didn’t know many other people. Ultimately, that experiment ended in futility for one reason or another. I’m not sure exactly why and it doesn’t matter in the context of this article. There are several reasons. First, I met and then reconnected with Chris, who became my nerd (and MtG) buddy for the last decade. Then, the boys have grown up and started to develop some of the same interests as me, including the card games. Finally, Christine has also come around and joined us for a few of our nerdy pursuits, most notably a Dungeons and Dragons game.
For the Love of the Games?
I mentioned my love and enjoyment of card games in the introduction. I only “proved” that love by sort of humble bragging that I’m old enough to have possibly seen a Mox or Lotus played at face value. Oops, I did it again. I can’t say one way or another. If I was truly bragging, I’d say it unequivocally. All I can say is that I’ve been playing MtG since 1993, so the possibility exists that I either saw a Mox played or played one myself.
You’d be correct to assert that as proof of my love of “trading card games” is flimsy and inconclusive. At best, it simply shows an enjoyment of one particular game. I can assure you that I have played (and sometimes simply collected because I couldn’t figure out the convoluted rules set of some of them) any and all trading card game that I could find over the years. Many of them have suffered the same unfortunate fate of my old comic collection and ended up at the bottom of a recycling bin, so I can’t remember most of them.
One that I have in mind is an old out of print Star Wars card game. I could only find one person (before kids and Christine started to show interest again) to play MtG in my life. There was no chance of finding anyone at all to play that game. I often thought that I was the only person in the world to have purchased the game. Thanks to the magic of the interwebs, I can no longer make that claim. There is at least one community out there that is developing expansions for the old game and it might just be enough to get me interested again. Check them out at https://swtcgidc.wordpress.com/
The Good (Yu Gi Oh is an established game)
None of that was ever a problem with Yu Gi Oh. Aiden was the first to find the game because he is like me and likes to try new games. He introduced us to Heroclix. He introduced me to Yu Gi Oh. Liam may have already known about the game, but has always been a PokeKid at heart, so he never gave it a second though. The point is that we got into Yu Gi Oh after it was already proven. There was little chance that the game would go defunct (or at least in a deep sleep) after I became invested in the game.
Even with that reassurance, it took me a while to actually become invested in the game. Aiden does try new things but, sometimes, his interest is short lived. I might still be left with cards that I bought for a game he no longer finds interesting. In fairness, that did happen a couple of times, but he has always come back to the game eventually.
It also took me a while to warm to Yu Gi Oh because of things I heard from other people. There were the warnings of power creep, but that doesn’t bother me too much. It does to an extent because in my time in World of Warcraft. I saw critical damage go from the low hundreds to over a million before they scaled that back. Numerous warning to keep my kids away from the game kept me away from the game. I never got a good reason why other than maybe the aforementioned power creep. The warning was so ominous, that it did build a nest in the back of my brain and settled there.
The Bad (Yu Gi Oh is complicated)
I did finally break on Yu Gi Oh and buy a preconstructed deck. I actually bought two, but I’ve only ever played one. Aiden was helpful and made the deck better by combining both of the decks for me. Even with that help, I think I can count the number of times that I’ve actually won a game of Yu Gi Oh on one hand. Note Pun absolutely not intended.
Some of that is traceable to the fact that I’m not that interested in the game. I only started to collect because by that point both Aiden and Quinn were collecting cards and I’m always looking for different ways to spend time with my kids. Might as well jump on the Yu Gi Oh train before it leaves the station for good.
The main problem is that I find Yu Gi Oh confusing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dumb. I’m not a professional at any of the games that I play, but I can understand the intricacies of those games quite well. Not so for Yu Gi Oh. I don’t understand how to build a deck properly. Up until recently, I didn’t completely understand how the turn structure worked. I still am not certain how to tribute summon monsters. I am just a disaster when it comes to this game. But, it does give Quinn a kick to know that he’s beaten me every single time we’ve played.
The Ugly (Yu Gi Oh still has a short shelf life)
Aiden still enjoys Yu Gi Oh enough that it devastated him when the washing machine destroyed his number cards. We bought him some new ones for Christmas. He, Quinn, and I played a three way match the other day (not with his number deck as he can’t find the rest of that deck. Quinn had a bit of a flip out because he lost that match. I actually won!
The point is that I don’t know how much Aiden will still enjoy the game once he goes off to middle school and his time is devoted to sports. I’ve already seen it a bit with Liam and his dedication to theater. We hardly ever get to do anything together However, he did ask to record some video this weekend because I got a new cord for our video capture card, but we didn’t get around to it. Either next weekend or the following, for sure.
While Yu Gi Oh isn’t by any stretch of the imagination my favorite trading card game, I wish that I hadn’t waited so long to get a deck so that I could play against the boys at least. It can be a fun game and it gives me another excuse to have quality time with them. As kids get older, their interests change and you become less and less of a part of their lives until you don’t exist at all for a few years during high school and college. That has changed some in recent generations, but there’s still that risk. Oh well, for now I will appreciate the time that I have and try to get better at the game to give them more of a reason to want to play.