Argothian Treehouse
Andy Van Zandt



Card Price Guide

MTG Fan Articles
Single Card Strategy 
Deck Tips & Strategies 
Tourney Reports 
Peasant Magic 
Featured Articles

Featured Writers
The Dragon's Den
Rumblings From The Ass
The Heretic's Sermon
Through The Portal
DAB: Oh My!
The Argothian Treehouse

Deck Garage
Aaron's School

Message Board 
Magic League

Contact Us

Pojo's Book Reviews



Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

The Card Game Graveyard

That's what I refer to the metal box under my bed as.  It contains a variety
of gems, and a wider variety of cards that feel bad for having been stripped
from a tree for the purpose of being made into their current form.   It kind
of reminds me of one of my favorite (albeit somewhat clichéd) pieces of
flavor text, from Argothian Treefolk: "Haunting cries we hear in our dreams-
As the forest dies, a death from machines."  In any case, yes, ok, metal box
with card games.  From under my bed.  You'll notice a good chunk of the
cards are Spellfire cards.  For those not in the know, that was pretty much
the first game that tried to jump on the collectable card game bandwagon, 
and was put out by TSR...  which is ironically owned by Wizards of the Coast
now.  It was an interesting attempt to capitalize on their D&D licensing
material.   Another chunk is from Star Trek: TNG, made by decipher. 
Entertaining, with a few mild balance issues (like the card that let you
take double turns-  no, not an extra turn, but two turns for every one of
your opponents.  It stays in play.),  and it could have gone further than it
did, success-wise.  I seem to still have a deck together for it,  with Riker
and Data on top.

I'm a Harry Potter fan,  so of course there's the starter deck and a few
packs worth of cards from that in there,  along with Netrunner (lots of
resource management), Rage (one of the few games that I got some free cards
for, but never learned how to play),  and Vampire, The Masquerade/Jyhad (one
of the best group game mechanics I've seen, with influence and voting). 
Arcadia (which was more a board game variant, but ok as that),  and
Magi-Nation, a light-hearted game that I wish had been more successful.   My
Pokemon cards went in trade to one Mr. Scott Gerhardt a while back,  the
Scooby-Doo card game was atrocious and is somewhere other than in this box,
I don't know why,  because its predecessor, "Banemaster" is sitting there. 
There's a pack worth of Wyvern cards and some loose magazine freebie cards
floating around in there as well.

Worth noting as well is the green plastic box next to the metal one that has
more in it than this one, all of Legend of the 5 Rings cards.  Honestly,  of
those I've played, the most fun (except magic) and with some of the richest
game mechanics of any game (above and beyond magic).  Solid group games and
a variety of resource management,  plus a stronger attempt at storyline
flavor backing.  Another game that I wish had been more successful-  though
it did enjoy a touch of the limelight for a while,  and was promptly bought
up by Wizards, if I remember correctly, and has since been shunted off

I feel that sitting in my back seat at the moment is probably what will be
the most recent addition to The Graveyard,  the starter set of Upper Deck's
Vs system game.  I say this because, while Upper Deck is sparing no expense
and is trying very hard to grab a piece of the CCG pie,   and is doing all
the right things to ensure this (such as setting up a cash money tournament
structure, stealing employees and judges from Wizards, and having pro magic
players help with the design- not to mention the built-in bonus of
established characters as the subject of the game),  the game itself at the
moment has the same problem that fatigued its "benefactor" on the way to
someone else's graveyard,  Upper Deck's prior money-maker, Yu-Gi-Oh;  and
that problem is gameplay.  It, like several of its soon-to-be crypt-mates,
is another "deck-building" game...  that is to say,  the skill involved in
the actual game play is minimal at the moment.  Based on what you draw,
you've very often got only a few relevant choices to make each turn, and
those choices are handled by doing some math equations.

Prominent on the list of "deck-building only" games is Pokemon, the
aforementioned Yu-Gi-Oh, and Duelmasters (the worst of the bunch, watered
down magic without real cards to play any time but your own turn- shield
triggers are a poor and uncontrollable replacement for instants, very little
resource management, and it even copies the color scheme and ability
tendencies of its dad) 3 games with a completely different target audience
than the new one.   As each one  of those continues to demonstrate such
things to be "fads" within the gaming world,  I've very little doubt as to
where the Vs. system is heading.  Now, I'm certainly not going to claim that
as my "prediction"-  Upper Deck has sunk its Yu-Gi-earnings into this
project, and there's money to be won,  and beyond that, there are several
expansions that they've already committed to- and these expansions may make
the game more than just a math equation.  I hope it does,  the market could
use some variance (and I like comic-books), though Wizards as game
developers does a better job than I'd ever have expected (so I'm not rooting
-that- much for Upper Deck, who've yet to impress me with anything beyond
their marketing skills).  Another point in Upper Deck's favor is that
drafting the cards applies a layer of skill to the game while at tournaments
of that format, and that its target audience isn't as flighty as the 15 and
under market).  So for now the starter will sit in my back seat, and we'll
see what happens.

Yeah, I like games... and moreover, I like learning new games... board,
card, role-play, video, you name it (I'm also dabbling in design in my spare
time, using my friends as guinea pigs... though usually with board games). 
So I've probably got a bigger Graveyard than most of y'all out there.  In
the eleven or so years that I've played Magic, I've never even considered
measuring a coffin for it,  and that's saying something.  It's got staying
power, solid mechanics,  a good player-base,  tournament structure,
storyline flavor, and probably most importantly, a good development set-up
behind it, ensuring that it doesn't become stale, and simultaneously keeping
both casual and tournament players in mind.  I appreciate that a lot.

Do you have your own Card Game Graveyard?  Got something to contribute in
the way of industry analysis?  Think I'm way right (or way wrong)?  Wanna
play one of my amateur board games?   Shoot me a line.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an email.

You can reach Andy at:

Copyright 2001

Magic the Gathering is a Registered Trademark of Wizards of the Coast.
This site is not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast and is not an Official Site.