We’ve all collected cards at some point in our lives. We traded with friends, spent hours upon hours organizing cards. We’ve invested our childhood savings in buying packs hoping to get the card we desperately need to complete our deck. Whether you collected Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, or Magic: The Gathering cards, you’ve been there one way or another. Now, your child wants to start his own collection. Maybe his friends got into it, and he wants to join in. Maybe you’re encouraging him to start. After all, it’s a rite of passage for any nerdy youngster. Whatever the reason, the poor kid is going to need pointers before he’s thrown headfirst into the crazy world of card collecting.
There are so many different trading card games that even you probably don’t know where to start. The ones that have been around for years have expanded since they started into numbers beyond your imagination. For example, Pokémon has grown so much since the original 150 that I lost track at one point. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to collect every card that has come out since the beginning, but it’s good to be familiar with as many cards as possible — and to know which ones are worth getting. Here are a few pointers to pass along to your young soon-to-be card collector.
1. Do Your Research
Yes, even if it’s an indie trading card game. It’s good to be familiar with the game before going out and purchasing cards. World of Warcraft TCG is often picked up by those who play the MMO online because they’re already familiar with the different classes and races.
Of course, that doesn’t have to be the case, but it’s definitely helpful. If the card game is accompanied by a TV show, video game or book (which is often the case), give those a peek to get a glimpse inside the world and see what’s in store for your kid.
Keep in mind the trading card game won’t be exactly like the show or game, but it’s familiarity that counts. I remember when I got into Pokémon, I watched the show and played the games on my GameBoy Color. By the time I started collecting the cards, I already knew all of the Pokémon, their attacks and evolved forms. The only thing left to learn were the actual rules of the game. It just made it that much easier to pick up. I mean, seriously, what’s the worst that can happen? Your child will either dislike it or become addicted.
2. Get a Starter Pack
It might be tempting to start off with smaller packs, but a starter pack usually comes with all the essentials your child needs to get started, especially since it might be the first time they’re introduced to game. Starter packs usually come with all sorts information, like guides and rulebooks, along with several packs and other goodies.
The contents vary by game, but starter packs are definitely a great way to introduce the card game and you save money in the process. You can go through several packs of cards and learn about the different card types. Unfortunately, some trading card games don’t offer starter packs, but they do offer starter decks, which is pretty much a basic, beginner deck (but of course you knew that).
If this is the case, take apart the deck with your child and learn the function of each card that way. Your child can still learn about the different card types and you’ll have the chance to explain the function and importance of deck-building. Whichever you end up getting, the point is that your child picks up on the rules of the game and learns about different cards without feeling lost.
3. Get Organized
Ah, the fun part. Figuring out how to organize the cards. As long as the cards aren’t just thrown in a box and scattered, it’s really all about personal preference. If your child is around 10 or so, I would recommend getting a three ring binder and plastic card pages, especially when starting out.
They’re a lot easier to maintain and the pages are pretty cheap to buy. Once the collection starts growing and putting them in card slots becomes too tedious, you can purchase special boxes that are meant to hold massive amounts of cards. You can also buy your kid deck boxes to hold their decks or sleeves to preserve certain cards. This all comes with time, depending on how invested your little nerdbomber becomes.
4. Box Sets/Singles
Once your child gets into the trading card game scene, he or she will eventually want more cards. At this point, you’ll need to set up some sort of system or budget so you don’t go flat broke buying so many cards. Box sets come out several times a year, so you can stick to just buying the box sets and you can leave it up to your kid to buy his or her own packs.
Seems like a good system, right? Nothing can possibly go wrong. Yeah, right. Then comes the dreaded moment, when you realize that your little collector spent all their weeks’ savings buying pack after pack, hoping to get that one card they need. Oh, memories. This is where singles come in handy.
You can help him or her look online or go to your local hobby shop and look for the single card. Unfortunately, prices vary depending on the card that is wanted, and it can be scarily expensive. At this point, you can either tell your kid to buck up and save up, or you can go halfsies. Your call.
Finally, the trading in “trading cards.” Trading comes with experience and I suggest leaving your child alone when it comes to trading cards, especially when it’s among friends. Offer some advice at the outset, and let that kid learn from experience.
Yes, it’s your money going down the drain if they royally mess up during a trade, but you knew that going in. Besides, trades are going on regardless of whether you’re around or not. So don’t get upset when they show you a bunch of common cards they received in exchange for that rare card that they got in some random pack. Instead, sit them down and ask why they did the trade in the first place. There are no taking back cards anyway, so just talk about it and give them some advice for the next trade. You live and you learn, right?