Simply put, a Living Card Game consists of a single base game and a bunch of expansions with additional content. Additional content for these games may come in the form of new playable characters, quests, rules, and more.
Trying to immerse yourself in the world of gaming is tricky, whether you’re into video games or board games. You have to look at cooperative vs. competitive games, individual vs. group games, etc. Throw niche terms into the mix, like “Living Card Game,” and it’s easy to get lost.
This is not a general guide to games for beginners, but rather an in-depth look at everything you need to know about living card games. There is a lot of value and fun in living card games. At the same time, there’s a lot of content to some of these games, and that alone can make a living card game seem too intimidating to begin with. But after this brief introduction to living card games, we hope you feel brave enough to try one out!
“Living card game” is actually a trademarked term
The term “Living Card Game” was created and trademarked by Fantasy Flight Games, so if you ever see a product marketed as the Living Card Game (LCG), it is produced by Fantasy Flight. There are a ton of different trademarked LCGs from the company, along with expansion packs and other add-ons to enhance the overall gaming experience. While other companies may not market products specifically as Living Card Games, there are other card games that work in the same way as Fantasy Flight’s trademarked LCGs.
How does a living card game work?
A living card game (LCG) is like the child of a traditional board game and a collectible card game (TCG), also known as a collectible card game (CCG). This is an incredibly broad overview, but if you’re not new to the world of board games, it’s the fastest and best overview possible.
With collectible card games, such as Pokemon, the “game” never ends because there are always more packs to buy and keep expanding. There are expansion packs for living card games, too, but unlike collectible card games, the extra card packs you buy for a living card game aren’t random – you know exactly what you’re getting with each purchase.
When you play a traditional board game, the path to victory is often the same, with separate matches only varying due to player strategy or chance. A living card game allows you to constantly buy new expansions to keep things fresh, adding new quests, characters, or other items to the game.
If you’ve decided you want to try a living card game, the first step is the same no matter what game you’re interested in: buy the base game. All expanding card games have a box that is released before everything else, and is usually labeled with something like “base game” or “core game” in either the title or product description. Any expansion for an LCG is labeled as such and should warn customers somewhere in its description that it is an expansion that cannot be played alone and requires the base game.
When you get your hands on the core set of a living card game, there are plenty of cards to look at and plenty of rules to read. While there are certainly expanding card games that are much easier to learn, such as exploding kittensMany of the LCGs out there are intricately designed and have a slight learning curve. LCGs aren’t necessarily difficult to learn, but there are often a lot of moving pieces and little details to remember.
Once you’ve mastered the nuances of a base game, it’s time to explore all of the expansions available for that LCG. As the title implies, all expansions will “expand” the base game in some way, but that may look different depending on which company you buy from. An expansion might offer new characters to play, new quests to complete, or something that might alter the rules of the base game.
Fantasy Flight Games’ Living Card Games that are still in production have an expansion release schedule. Not all games follow this specific system, but many Fantasy Flight games have expansion release cycles, where unique card packs will be released once a month for six months in a row. In this way, players can anticipate the expansion and keep their love for the game renewed each month.
Expansions from other companies aren’t always as regular as Fantasy Flight’s. For example, with exploding kittensthere is a high chance that more expansions will be released in the future because the game is so popular, but gamers don’t have the luxury of knowing when the next expansion is coming out or even a guarantee that a new expansion is on the way.
That said, even a Fantasy Flight Games trademarked Living Card Game doesn’t receive expansion support forever. Like all living things, these card games eventually “die.”
What happens when a living card game dies?
Saying that a living card game can die may seem a bit dramatic, but it’s the best way to describe it. When an LCG dies, it simply means that the company in charge of creating the original game and all of its expansions no longer releases new expansions or produces any more copies. In short, a dead card game is one that is not supported.
If you have ever played a video game like destiny 2 either The Sims, you are probably no stranger to spending money on additional content for the game. Because these games can be digitally owned, you’ll likely still be able to purchase the base game and any available downloadable content if the company stops making new expansions. The same cannot be said for living card games, which must be physically produced in order for people to buy them.
This means that when a living card game dies and goes out of production, your only option is to find copies of the base game or expansions that are already in circulation and owned by someone else you are looking to sell. You might end up paying close to retail price, but many times, the demand is greater than the supply, and you’ll end up paying quite a bit for old classics like Android Netrunner: The Card Game.
Expanding card games work the same way as LCGs.
This may seem like a redundant point, but it’s worth mentioning. Because the term “Living Card Game” is a trademark of Fantasy Flight Games, other companies are not allowed to use that jargon to describe their games, even if it is the same general concept. However, many board gamers have come to associate the term “Living Card Game” with any game that fits the category and has periodic expansions to add to the base game.
So what’s a company to do when they can’t market their games as “Living Card Games”? Call them expanding card games instead. In short, if you see a product marketed as the Living Card Game, you know it’s from Fantasy Flight Games; And if something is marketed as an expandable card game, just know that there’s a base game and plenty of expansion content for more fun.
The best living card games
Well, you’re convinced: you need a living card game in your life. But where in the world do you start? Well, if you want the trademarked “Living Card Game” experience, check out what Fantasy Flight Games has to offer such as Arkham Horror: The Card Game either The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Or, you could go for something that takes less time, like exploding kittens either Domain. Whatever you like, each expanding card game provides non-stop fun and rocks up game night.