Allen, I'm in the same boat as you on this collectible card game thing - I don't get it. For those of you wondering, go have a read through Allen Varney's article in this week's issue of The Escapist, and you'll see what I mean. Perhaps this makes me a dimwit, as well; certainly I'll admit to some level of dimness on the topic, as many of these card games are a smashing success. How did this happen?
I suppose my confusion is based in my lack of experience with CCGs. You see, my one experience with a card game outside of those played with the usual 52-card, four-suit deck was a game called Burn Rate. Now this was not a card game of the collectible sort, nor was there any aspect of "betting" a card of your own deck based upon the outcome of the match. Nor were there there hundreds of possible card from which to build a deck or hand. Rather the deck was relatively close to the size of a typical deck (as I recall) and the cards were divided at random among the players.
The game was not terribly complex: The point of the game is, as CEO, to keep your fledgling dot-com in business. The gameplay emerges through a careful balance of personnel cards and skill cards, the personnel cards each carrying an individual's burn rate and his skill level, and the skill cards representing an action and the personnel skill required to perform that action.
During the first couple of dot-com eras we played, my companions and I focused on the mechanics of the game, taking note that not all employees were worth in skill their required burn. Once we realized that the VP of Finance was necessary to keep the money rolling in, that an HR VPs was needed to keep your people from being poached, and that if you were saddled with any Sales VP, you were as good as sunk, we had it all down pat. Then we could focus on the third type of card the game offered - the Bad Idea cards.
The Bad Idea cards represented the obstacles that most confounded a large percentage of dot-com era companies: the business idea. The cards' contents were quite familiar, encompassing ideas of companies that were no more, such as "Butler-Hosted search engine," or "Dot-Com Card Game" - whatever that is. And it was these cards that made the game really quite fun in a quirky sort of way, inspiring comments such as, "Wow, that really was a bad idea," and "Yes! I remember the sock puppet!"
But I guess it's easy to laugh in hindsight, knowing that these ideas were indeed bad, as evidenced by their failures (though one has to wonder if some of those companies didn't just end up with Vern Slick as VP in the Sales Department). I mean, free internet access certainly seems like a good idea, even though it didn't work out. So, flipside of the same token, who'd have known a card game for which you have to build your own deck and give away a card at the end would be such a huge hit?