Was there a better time for card games than the 1990s? I seriously doubt it.
Be it the launch of Magic: The Gathering in the summer of 1993, or the Pokémon collectible card game craze that swept the world beginning in 1996, this was a decade defined by some of the biggest names in the genre. Many of which are still in circulation to this very day!
Not all of them were winners, but the mass appeal of the TCG scene at this time was staggering. Right through to my senior year, it seemed as though every kid carried around a deck of their favorite cards in eager expectation of the next match or trade.
Even the inevitable schoolyard bans couldn’t keep us from getting our fix and, while I didn’t delve into all of them, I’ll freely admit to being quite the serious card shark back in the day. But, that’s a story for a different time! Instead, here’s a look back at
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The 5 Best Collectible Card Games From The 90s
Digimon: Digi-Battle Card Game
Released in 1999, this now out of print collectible card game from Upper Deck and Bandai sees players battling a host of different monsters for points.
While not a wholly original concept at the time, it is still a fun one that deserves way more love and attention than it gets. Sadly, with the world in the thralls of Poké Mania, it couldn’t have picked a worse time to come to market.
The franchise also saw the release of many successful Digimon games for the PlayStation, but the card game was more short-lived.
Over before it began, the Digimon Digi-Battle Card Game still remains a strong option for those looking to step away from Pikachu And Pals, if not for any other reason than to simply see what other trading card games were available at the time!
Star Trek: Customizable Card Game
Launched by Decipher in 1994, this out-of-print game sees players attempting to reach 100 points by completing a series of different missions ahead of their opponent.
While it featured a lot of depth and was a big hit with fans, interest began to wane with the release of a second edition in 2002. Featuring a serious lack of compatibility with its predecessor, support fractured quite a bit by the time things wrapped up in 2007.
Regardless, what Decipher gave us here was still one of the most engaging card games of the decade – one fans have kept going for more than 15 years thanks to the digital version of cards that have allowed the adventures of Starfleet to continue through an entirely new medium.
Released in 1999 by Konami, this is another one of those monster-battling games that pits players against one another in duels.
Still in wide circulation today, the game sees players using numerous attack and spell cards to chop away at the 8,000 Life Points of their opponent.
Known for its swift gameplay, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a fast and furious frenzy of a game backed by a passionate fan base that, at one time, made it the top-selling card game in the world according to The Guinness Book Of World Records back in 2009.
Like Digimon, there were many great Yu-Gi-Oh! games for the GBA and home consoles of the time, as well as several successful TV shows.
With new variations and expansions being released on a regular basis, it doesn’t look like this one is going anywhere any time soon!
Magic: The Gathering
The one that started it all! Released in 1993, Magic The Gathering is a deep and colorful card game incorporating a fair bit of strategy and unique gaming elements that would go on to inspire a decade’s worth of competitors.
Pitting two players against one another, the goal of MTG is to be the first to reduce your opponent’s Life Points from 20 to 0. Another game that is still in wide circulation today, this one not only takes a spot on this list for longevity but for amassing one of the biggest fan bases the world over, all without initial support from the Internet or some rabid marketing strategy.
This one stood on its own merits and continues to be one of the most popular trading card games in the world some three decades later.
Launching alongside one of the biggest intellectual properties on the planet back in the Fall of 1996, Pokémon has become so ingrained within our culture that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t been exposed to the game in one form or another.
Making its North American debut in 1998 courtesy of Wizards Of The Coast, the world went crazy for this one and, while the fire has died down somewhat since its initial debut, this game is still alive and continues to enjoy a nice slice of popularity thanks to the incredible staying power of its name.
Allowing gamers to live out the fantasy of being a Pokemon trainer, the game sees two players using 60 card decks in an attempt to be the first to knock out six of your opponent’s Pocket Monsters and claim your prizes.
Like a few other TCGs on this list, the Pokémon Trading Card Game collection continues to expand with new sets and variations on the regular. It constantly appears within the public’s eye courtesy of endless promotions and worldwide tournaments that pull in viewers and gamers from all over the globe!