“There’s a Minecraft card game? What the heck?” Aiden’s question when he saw the game mirrored my exact thoughts when I saw the game in Target a couple of years ago. They must have anticipated that reaction from people because the official name of the game is “Minecraft Card Game?”
Because of our family’s enjoyment of the video game, I knew I was most likely going to buy it. However, I wanted to do some research. First, I wasn’t sure how they’d translate the video game of Minecraft into a card game. Second, I didn’t want to get involved with another collectible card game. It didn’t indicate anywhere on the package that it wasn’t a fully contained game, but I needed to verify. My Google search in the aisle verified it and I bought it.
I shouldn’t have worried about how they’d convert the game from video to card. Apparently there is a reason that people get jobs as game designers and I am not currently working in such a job. It isn’t a perfect translation and I don’t think that it ever could be, but it doesn’t need to be. They can capture the fun and creativity of Minecraft without actually including all of the aspects of the video game. They intelligently realized that the game is pretty much just collect materials, use those materials to craft items, and then use those items to advance by crafting more items.
The card game captures those parts of the game very well. Your turn consists of two actions. The two main actions are that you can “mine” resources by choosing them from the piles or you can “craft” items as long as you have the proper resources. The items that you can craft are the basic tools of the game; shovel, pickaxe, axe, and sword. Each of them serves a specific purpose in the game and are worth points you need to win the game.
If this sounds less than thrilling, trust me it isn’t. Just like the video game namesake, the thrill of the card game comes from unexpected sources. Although, instead of the one player conflicts of finding shelter and keeping yourself fed, in the game, you are playing against 1 to 3 other players. This leads to a scarcity of resources which means you need to think very carefully about how and when you mine or craft. A wrong move isn’t as punishing as in a more traditional collectible card game, but an opponent that is paying attention can really ruin your plans.
Aside from the other players, there are a couple of environmental hazards built into the game. The first, and decidedly less hazardous is TNT. In fact, due to the nature of the card, TNT can be both helpful and harmful to a player. When you reveal a TNT card, it destroys the top card from two of the piles. But, and this is where the helpfulness of the card shows up, you get to take the top card from the two of the piles, so it acts almost like a take an extra turn card.
The second card that can cause you harm is the creeper. Unlike the TNT, this one does not have a positive side effect. Instead, just like the video game, the creeper becomes one of the things you most dread to see. It strips you of one of your resource cards. Sure, you can mitigate it with a sword if you’ve crafted one, but that’s a pretty big if. Most of the time you just cry a little inside as you discard one of those valuable resources that you’ve been saving for just the right time.
We have played the Minecraft card game several dozen times at this point and it hasn’t gotten stale. While it is a stagnant set of cards and not collectible (something I actually didn’t want), there is enough variety in each play that you won’t quickly bore of it. You have to play your strategy against the other players and also against the deck itself. Both of those elements enhance enjoyment playing the game.
With all of that said, I think there might be room for an expansion to the game. I’m not sure how they’d do it and not make it just more of the same, but maybe they could set it in one of the other planes like the Nether or the End. Once again, I’m not a game designer. I don’t even play one on TV or YouTube. I just play games. And, this is a game that I absolutely enjoy playing.