CCGs > RPGs?

I've written very little lately, mainly because my attention has been on painting miniatures and card games rather than RPGs. After a shaky one-for-four stretch of our weekly game nights, I've started drifting back toward games that I don't need the same core group of friends around to play. If I had my choice, I'd play RPGs all the time... but after several weeks of minimal playing, I start itching for something to sink brainpower into.

Why do I prefer roleplaying games?

  • The gathering of friends & family. I like hanging out with my people. 
  • The team aspect (even when I'm the DM).
  • Being limited only by my imagination (and occasionally the rules).
  • I can buy a few rulebooks and never spend another dime.

What makes trading card games more appealing at the moment?

  • Being able to go to the FLGS on Friday and play regardless of whether or not I know anyone. Because there is an accepted structure, you can pretty much play a game with anyone and have fun. It's a perk that RPGs don't have, as house rules, combat to roleplaying ratios, and GM styles very wildly. Best of all, if different people show up every week, it doesn't matter at all as long as there are enough to play. Continuity doesn't matter.
  • No prep time in between games if I don't feel like it. Once I've built my deck, if I want to tweak it for the next tournament, I can. If I want to get some testing in against a deck archetype that is unfamiliar to me, I can. If I don't want to, it might affect how well I play, but it won't affect whether or not I get to play. Similar things can be said for the players of RPGs, but GMing is a different story and a good improv. session is hard to come by. I'd rank my ability to improvise as mediocre at best.
  • Winning stuff. There are very few instances in gaming that are more satisfying than walking into the tournament with nothing but your entry fee and walking out with a ton of new cards. In what RPG do you actually win stuff? I can't think of one.

As I've started collecting Warhammer 40K miniatures to use in my Spectrum Shock campaign, I noticed some of the same trends. Once you have an army built, there is very little you need to do in between games. There is a fairly well-accepted structure to games so any random opponent is good to go. There are tournaments set up with prizes. I've even started collecting an Eldar army so I can actually get into the hobby.

The downside, of course, is that games like Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer are prohibitively expensive. Magic is less so, but those budget decks usually don't last long in a tournament with decent competition... and my competitive nature always draws me to the tournament scene eventually.

I guess the conclusion I keep dancing around is this: While roleplaying games are more fun, card games (and perhaps war games) are just so much easier to organize and play regularly. Maybe I need to stop trying to run campaigns and do a series of one-shot adventures...
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