Best way to introduce kids/newbies to CCGs?


Hi all,

My little brother who is a decade and a half younger than me recently expressed some interest in getting into CCG games. I used to play YGO and MTG competitively, but considering the reason that I stopped was because of the toxic communities that formed around these games locally, I don’t want to subject him to the same for his learning experience.

However I’m kind of drawing a blank on how to best introduce him to CCG fundamentals. Should I start him off with something like Hearthstone? I haven’t played in a while but from what I remember while the game was mechanically simple it sort of expected you know concepts like card advantage and mana curve already if you wanted to do any kind of competitive play.

Maybe a co-op game like the LOTR game by Fantasy Flight would be good? I don’t have any personal experience but I’ve always heard good things.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :slight_smile:


Ask him what he’s into. Does he really like Pokemon or Final Fantasy characters? The play the Pokemon or Final Fantasy TCG. Does he want to try Magic? Play Magic.

Almost all TCGs offer some kind of 2-player starter kit. Along with the tutorial booklet and other materials, the decks are also a good way to introduce new players because they tend to feature simpler cards with a consistent theme and a limited number of keywords and other fiddly mechanics. A lot of game stores will also hold TCG events for beginners, or offer free demos where they walk you through the game (sometimes even with free starter decks). If you can find a game store with nice staff, it’s a great way to try out a couple different games.

LCGs are definitely a good option, especially if he really wants to get into deckbuilding. It can be a bit overwhelming to get the whole set all at once, but it’s really nice having the freedom to build and experiment with any deck you want, and not have to worry about browsing ebay auctions for rare cards. Fantasy Flight has a few different LCGs currently running, attached to various brands

Most of the digital card game players I know are people who started out playing traditional TCGs, so I’m not sure how good it would be as an introduction. Personally, I’m a fan of Eternal, which is mechanically closer to MTG and is much less stingy than most F2P TCGs (more cards in each pack, and you earn card packs faster without having to grind for hours and hours). DM me for a referral code if you decide to try it, it gives you with a few extra card packs but only if you use the code when you create an account.

There’s also a lot of “Deckbuilding” card games available right now, which are nice options if you want something that emulates the feel of a draft. Ascension is quite easy for new players to learn, works with 2-4 players, and is mostly an indirect competition. Star Realms is more focused on direct conflict, although it loses a bit of the draft feel when you only have 2 people playing. Hero Realms is a fantasy-themed version of the same game, and also features a cool Co-Op campaign and some cool all-vs-1 “boss decks”. Ascension and Star Realms are both fairly established, and have lots of different expansions that you can mix-and-match (some of the expansions are also playable as stand-alone games).


Slay the Spire is straightforward, doesn’t cost much, will never have a garbage-tier community because it’s solo, and is a ton of fun. I imagine that my sixth grade self who loved winning at YGO but hated that my mom would never buy me more booster packs (I do not blame her, them shits was expensive) would have been very happy to receive a copy of this future game.


A small point for Slay the Spire right at this exact moment is the game is probably getting into the final phase of Early Access (so sayeth the 3MA crew, including one Austin Walker) and the Steam sale is on.

Early Access supporters will receive a lower price. We plan to raise the price when the full game is released.

So this is a game that’s going to go up in price soon and is (something not all Early Access games do) right now also discounted during a sale event. In terms of cheap deckbuilding (rather than jumping into MtGO or similar) everyone is hot on, that’s a pretty solid starting point.

Strategy games are often roguelike-likes?

The Pokemon Trading Card Game Online is a pretty good entry point I feel because it has an entire mode dedicated to fighting lots of AI and another for using just theme decks (the ones you get at a store). Makes it really easy to learn and you can focus on learning one deck then jump into deck building.

I have friends who really like Hearthstone but from what I’ve been told if you aren’t in it now it’s really hard to get in.

There’s also a good number of PC MTG games that are just theme deck only and you unlock cards to modify them. I really liked the 2013 version and had a lot of fun playing against a friend in it.


Rad, thanks for the responses everyone! I’m trying to avoid physical TCGs for the moment just because he’s still quite young to be buying a bunch of cardboard that he’ll regret owning every time he has to move, but Slay the Spire is a very interesting option I hadn’t even considered and may let him take a go at it and see how he likes it.

Talking about it has kind of given me an itch to get back into it as well so I may check out Eternals or Pokemon TCG Online at some point when time permits! Thanks all.


Plants Vs. Zombies Heroes is a good mobile CCG that never really gets talked about if you’re looking for something other than Hearthstone. It has tons of solo missions as well, so there’s no pressure to git gud online or buy packs from the newest expansions in order to get a win. My four year old loved it.


I recently got in the Pokemon CCG and I’m having a blast, partially because it’s so easy to learn. A lot of the game’s rules are written alongside the moves where the rules would be coming up, teaching you/reminding you of the rules of the game.

Admittedly the current meta’s built around GX cards, which are hard to get your hands on. That said, there are plenty good non GX cards, and a few good theme decks too to boot. If you want your kid brother to be playing with a shocking amount of power for a 15 dollar pre-made deck, get the Mach-Strike theme deck.


I’ve played the Pokemon TCG on and off for the past year and my experience has been it’s had a much more friendly community than either MTG or YGO. A large part of that seems to be that most people are there because they enjoy Pokemon and want to hang out with friends. Even competitive players have tended to be a bit more relaxed.

Local “league/cup” tournaments supported by Play! Pokemon have brackets specifically for younger players, something that was always overlooked when I’ve played Yugioh.

The Mach-Strike deck is a good shout (that’s Lucario & Garchomp I think?); Fighting type is in a good position at the moment due to the prevalence of Fighting-weak Zoroark in many decks, something unlikely to change soon. But it’s also worth noting it’s very easy to expand out by adding new Pokemon as the core of most decks are similar. There’s also been fairly stable slow power creep in the time I’ve been playing: the decks my friend and I picked up a year ago are still fairly viable at our local tournaments.

I’ll also point out that whenever you buy a physical Pokemon TCG product you get a product code that can be scanned into Pokemon TCG Online for access to a digital version, which is really neat honestly.


The Mach Strike deck is indeed the Garchomp Lucario deck, they are the dragon type Garchomps though, not the fighting ones.