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Collectible card games, or CCGs to the nerd in a hurry, exploded in the early ’90s as the hot alternative to pen-and-paper role-playing. “Magic: The Gathering” was an exciting new way to play with friends and combining this with the tantalizing prospect of wasting lots of money soon lured in legions of fans. People looking for a piece of that action soon followed; here are some of the atrocities they wrought:

1. Hyborean Gates

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Hyborean Gates had one really good thing going for it, namely the art of Boris Vallejo: fantasy artist extraordinaire. Despite the image above, no, he didn’t do gay porn. We’re pretty sure some of this game’s art wound up in Vallejo’s many collections of his work, and the sides of innumerable vans.

Anyway, the problem with Hyborean Gates was it managed to invent “grinding” before World of Warcraft was even a gleam in Blizzard’s eye. Specifically, you have to cut out and construct as many cardboard pyramids from the decks as humanly possible. This decided who went first.

2. Spellfire

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The CCG craze in the early ’90s caught a lot of role-playing titans flat-footed, but none more so than TSR, who owned the rights to Dungeons and Dragons at the time, and realized that this “Magic” fad had a good thing going, what with all the booster pack buying and other very lucrative stuff like that.

So they tried, and failed miserably, to cash in, probably because all of the cards were TSR employees in Ren Faire costumes, and the game mechanics were a bit, ah, broken. This probably explains why TSR was later bought out by Wizards of the Coast, who created “Magic” in the first place.

3. Kult

Kult itself is a fairly standard horror RPG. Nothing that excites us, but then, we don’t find sitting around a table talking about eldritch horrors to be particularly scary unless the DM doesn’t wash regularly. And he might not. Spooooooky.

Anyway, the card art was pretty close to redefining “gore porn“, but the worst was the mechanic when you had to play the card face down with a counter on top. You had to memorize the text of the card. We wonder if this was created on a bet or the designer thought that really was a good idea.

4. Super Nova

To give you an idea of how obscure this game is, it took us hours to pull this picture from the deepest recesses of the Web. Also, hentai is the second Google images result when you look up “Super Nova CCG”. We feel a bit dirty. And intrigued about octopuses.

Super Nova had two unique features: all players drew from a communal deck, which is actually a great idea because it keeps munchkins at bay. Unfortunately, the game also had a second unique feature: for a while, there was no way to actually win the game!

Nice design, guys.

5. SimCity

SimCity, the video game, is a lot of fun. You can slowly, carefully, precisely construct your city…and then destroy it. Tornadoes, earthquakes, meteor strikes and, of course, a giant lizard. So somebody had the bright idea to turn this into a card game.

It turns out, constructing a city with collectible cards is a lot more boring than playing it on a video game. Maybe because urban planning isn’t terribly exciting on its own. Sorry, city officials, that’s why you keep running unopposed.