?Since Richard Garfield’s brainchild Magic: The Gathering first popularized the concept of the collectible card game in 1993, Wizards of the Coast has transformed a once niche concept into a powerful money printing machine so efficient that the company even gets away with charging Magic players real-world prices for digital online representations of the cards they need to play. Naturally, for the same reason that the film Transmorphers hit shelves at a suspiciously similar time to when Transformers was released in theaters, the world has since been exposed to many a copycat and wannabe card game. More specifically, the act of basing a CCG (or TCG — we’re going to refer to them as CCGs for consistency’s sake) on a brand or concept that was already established and successful became common practice.
Of course, not every property out there is a great inspiration for a card game, and while a scant few have thrived thanks to their inherent nerdiness and deep universes for game designers to draw content from, others were head scratchers from the beginning and defy all reasonable explanation. Therefore we’ve compiled this list to celebrate these conundrums of card commercialism: of all the things that collectible card games have been inspired by, these are the 9 weirdest.
9) The Nightmare Before Christmas
?There’s painting yourself into a corner and then there’s basing an entire card game around classic stop animation flick The Nightmare Before Christmas. The game seems fun enough in theory — players play through the game’s 12 rounds/days until Christmas and try to create the scariest Christmas they can, deciding the winner after the 12th round based on who has the most “scare points” — but what’s strange about the decision to turn TNBC into a game though is that you’d think most card game manufacturers basing a card game on an established brand would have make a card game that allows them to keep printing cards and not just stopping. Of course it helps when the universe you’re licensing has as much variety as Pok?mon’s, otherwise you’ll be faced with coming up with brand new stuff that rivals that of the original material on your own – in this case Tim Burton’s designs and content – and good luck with that.
8) American Idol
?For the three of you out there who are dying for the opportunity to act out your favorite American Idol performances/judge interactions in CCG form, Fleer had you covered. In the American Idol CCG, players match song cards with corresponding singer cards in an attempt to make it to the finals and take home the big prize. Yee haw. Plus, if anyone did actually care, they’d soon find out that the set was based solely on season 3, so no Ruben “Velvet Teddy Bear” Studdard or Clay Aiken cards. Gyp!
7) Austin Powers
?Even though it’s hard to imagine these days, the Austin Powers films were once considered to be a laugh riot – or at least the first one was, anyway. As hard as that might be to fathom, it’s equally hard to decide why Decipher thought making a collectible card game based on the movies would be a good idea, unless they were just going for the one shot movie-tie in cash grab, of course. After all, most successful CCGs involve on-card attributes like “shagadelic” and “groovy,” right? CCG players turn to card games for their comedic value right?? Right??! Never mind. The game is typically not considered the worst game ever by CCG players at large, but with gameplay based around assassinating and/or shagging the cards your opponent controls with that of your own, we think you’ll be able to find more satisfying things to do with your time.
6) Professional Sports
?Perhaps overlooking the point that nerds like to use their card games to mentally escape the jocks who kick their cards across the floor and beat them up after school, Wizards of the Coast released a trio of sports-themed card games circa 2000-2001 under the Showdown banner. The NFL, MLB and NBA CCGs were obviously an attempt to turn mainstream audiences on to the idea of repeatedly spending gobs and gobs of money on card games; featuring card flavor text like “you can’t stop great players from getting their points” and card names including “Caught Him Leaning” and “Sloppy Bunt” it’s not hard to deduce why these games didn’t catch fire with the playground brain trust or otherwise athletically averse. While not the only company to attempt a successful sport-to-CCG conversion, WotC’s run of the Showdown CCGs was short lived, something it shared in common with most of its sports themed competition. The MLB version did show some grit in managing to last until 2006 though, proving once and for all that baseball advocates are the nerdiest of sports fans.
?Considering all of the video games out there that one could theoretically base a card game around, SimCity has to be one of the least fitting. Heck, Chex Quest might have made better source material than Will Wright’s mighty city-building sim. On paper you can’t really blame MayFair games for putting it all together – there was already a huge built-in following for the franchise and the license was probably still cheaper and easier to obtain than something more mainstream and action oriented like the Zelda or Mario games. That being said, the rules were strange by comparison to most CCG with each player drawing from the same deck of cards and the game lacking the “my dude versus your dude” mechanic that most successful CCGs thrive on, instead opting for the much less popular “stick this card next to that one” format. Ultimately gamers had a CCG that was not considered to be particularly good or fun on their hands, teaching the card game industry the hard way that city planning is better left to PC gamers and the pros.
?For those of you who have dodged the bullet of becoming familiar with the Bratz brand, we’ll summarize its storied history by noting that the American Psychological Association doesn’t like that the dolls are dressed up as club-going twenty-somethings considering the brand’s target demographic is 4-8 year old girls. Somehow, something about this concept screamed “CCG opportunity!” to publisher Upper Deck, which went on to distribute a game involving getting your “Bratz dressed in far-out runway-ready fashions and to the Dance Floor before the Clock marker hits midnight” and the party ends. The game itself is basically a very fashion oriented round of Go Fish, but unfortunately, little girls are born with the genetic awareness that CCGs are tragically dorky.
3) Pro Wrestling
?If there have been stranger marriages than the one forged when card companies decided to start basing games around the fictional, juiced-up, sweaty exploits of spandex-wearing dudes who grapple each other for a living, we haven’t seen many. Call us traditionalists, but watching a skinny high school kid shuffle cards with pictures of wrestlers on them instead of elves just seems weird and out of place. While games based around both the WWE and WCW have not only come to fruition but have seemingly thrived albeit temporarily, you can bet your bottom dollar that the last thing most wrestling fans care to think about after watching the Undertaker tombstone piledrive a guy through a table is how many damage points the move might inflict in a card game. The WWE-licensed CCG RAW Deal actually had enough success to launch its own professional tour before the game had to pack it up in 2007 – an anomaly for the ages.
2) A Dirty Comic Book
?Starring characters such as Orgasm Lass and Foreplay, the acclaimed comic book series XXXenophile combined science fiction and fantasy elements with no-holes-barred sexing. We’re not quite sure what about this sounded especially great to design a CCG around to Slag-Bla entertainment, even if it was based on a comic book that was largely the creative brainchild of Phil Foglio – also known for his art on Magic: The Gathering cards. The game itself involved laying cards face down and flipping them in an attempt to match the cards’ colored edges to one another and to be the first to reach 100 points, so those looking for their fix of strategy would likely have to turn elsewhere, as would those still holding on to the hope of achieving some form of CCG nerd sexual gratification as the art of the game was toned down steeply compared to the comic. And since CCGs have traditionally been a nerdy sausage party, the chances of a guy getting to play this naughty CCG with an actual girl were limited. Once males figured this disparity out, sales of Xxxenophile plummeted.
1) The Bible
?Can’t wait for church this Sunday? Want to relive all the action from your favorite book? Then lay down $9.95 for that Roman or Israelite starter deck my friend, Bible Battles is the game for you! Players win at Bible Battles by reaching a predetermined level of Wisdom points or decking their opponents and if that left any doubt the tag line “Know it! Live it! Play it!” makes it clear that Bible Battles prides itself in being edutainment for the Jesus crowd. Frankly it’s not THAT crazy to see this kind of content represented in CCGs – even card game eternal Magic: The Gathering‘s card library includes the likes of “Armageddon” and “Wrath of God” after all — but with all due respect to our readership’s religious preferences, we just can’t overlook the demonstration videos that feature what we presume to be bible campers cosplaying out the mechanics of specific cards from the set, making Bible Battles an easy #1 for the sheer magnitude of its weirdness.