I will comment on the games I have played or watched being played. They are listed in the order in which I was introduced to them.   The comments below are merely based on a gaming perspective.  My recommendations are based on Playability and Purpose.


Magic: the Gathering  (Wizards of the Coast)

Not Recommended

I have watched and played several games.  I purchased a basic starter (on super-reduced clearance!) with introductory CD-ROM, and played each of the 6 demo games until I won.

Likes: I like the idea of having different "colors", each with their own themes, strengths, and weaknesses.  Redemption has similar groupings.  "Flying" is a neat idea that I wish Cactus had adopted for the angels in the Silver brigade.  Intro CD was very helpful.  

Dislikes: The purpose (reduce opponent to zero) is not exciting, nor do I like what I have heard about cards being disallowed.  Having to "tap land" to "summon" creatures is unrealistic and certainly based on druid or some such world view.  It ruins the game, in my opinion.  Also, some of the art is not appropriate for mixed company.

See Redemption vs. Magic- the Gathering


Star Trek: the Next Generation  (Decipher)

Mildly Recommended

I have played several games, as my brother-in-law has a near complete collection of the first 4 expansions.

Likes: I really like the mission idea, where the point of the game is not destruction of opponent, but rather racing to complete missions. Character battles and ship battles are fun components, but not the main focus. Of course the themes for the different groups (Federation, Romulan, Klingon, etc.) are a plus. I fiddled with creating a variation of this game mechanic using G.I. Joe characters and vehicles (and their Cobra enemies), since no CCG existed for them at the time (and I was a diehard fan). I got hooked by another CCG (Redemption) before I finished creating that G.I. Joe game.

Dislikes: The game got a little too complicated for me with the release of the First Contact expansion. If I were a ST nut, I would learn exactly how the Borg assimilate planets, ships, characters, etc., and how the whole time travel thing works, but I am not a ST nut, so we don't use the Borg when we play (aside from Rogue Borg, of course).  


Overpower: DC (Batman-Superman and Justice League)

Not Recommended

I have played numerous games, as my little brother collected both sets in their entirety.

Likes: Simplicity is nice, and the Character Specials are a nice touch.

Dislikes: The purpose. Beating up your opponent's characters is fun for a while, but that's all there is to the game. Letting the Villains steal things, kidnap people, etc. would be nice, as would other actions for the Heroes. But the simplistic mechanic does not allow for these things. Also, Villains and Heroes use the same power cards. Too generic. I prefer specificity in enhancement cards.


Star Wars  (Decipher)

Mildly Recommended

Bought an introductory boxed set and played it a few times.

Likes: All cards are either light or dark (unlike Overpower)

Dislikes: The purpose (see Magic). I dislike that multi-player games are not possible. I also dislike deploy costs for characters (does it really cost you more for some characters than a ship?). I understand that the game is based on using "force" rather than money, but I guess I just do not like that mechanic.



***** Very Highly Recommended *****

I have played over 1000 times. I am not exaggerating. : )

Likes: Just about everything. No "tapping" (or deploy cost, etc.) means the fun can start sooner, and play is quicker. Playing Heroes on your turn and Evil Characters on your opponent's turn was a great idea, and keeps all players active most of the time. Having 7 different colors (brigades) for Heroes and 6 brigades for evil allows for variety in deck construction. I usually have 6 very different decks assembled at any given time, which keeps things interesting. The game is very balanced. The creators notice which cards could break the game, and make counters accordingly. In fact, the most powerful characters in the game are reduced to average characters by cards that can be found in the new 2nd Edition Starter Decks. This allows new players to jump into the game and be somewhat competitive without having to spend a mint on cards. However, I appreciate that the game is not "counter"- intensive. In fact, some brigades do not have any cards that counter the previously played card. There are at most two counters in any brigade. This means that the majority of cards you play will actually take effect. There are plenty of powerful/useful cards that are not rare. The point of the game (rescuing Lost Souls) is much better than simply beating down your opponent or his characters. There are numerous ways for a Hero to defeat an Evil Character (discard, capture, convert, ignore, prevent from blocking, etc.).

Another great thing about Redemption is that there are many times when you want to use weaker characters, and in answer to that there are cards that destroy only the weaker characters. There are also times when you want to use the stronger characters, but you risk letting your opponent play several enhancements before being able to negate one, or play an enhancement yourself.  Redemption is a very balanced game, with no need for a point system for deck building.  Actually, the deck-building rules for Redemption are quite simple, as collectible card games go.

Dislikes: New expansions more often would be great.  Currently the rate is about one per year.

See Redemption vs. Magic- the Gathering


Pokemon  (Wizards of the Coast)

Not Recommended

I have seen it played a few times.

Likes: different types use different power cards and have different relative strengths and weaknesses

Dislikes: Purpose.  The game is limited to destroying your opponent's characters.


Dixie: Bull Run

Mildly Recommended

I have a complete set of this series and have played it several times

Likes: historical accuracy, terrain cards, creek cards, leader cards

Dislikes: dice used for too many things slows the game and gives too much to luck. One other key thing I dislike, which also applies to Overpower is that deck construction is limited by a point system. This is because there is no reason in either Dixie or Overpower to use a weaker character in a deck when you could use a stronger character. It is obvious to me that adding cards to the game that would harm only powerful characters would fix the problem inherent in any game where there is no benefit to using a weaker card. Why neither Dixie nor Overpower include cards that specifically target the stronger characters (rather than limit deck construction by points) baffles me. 


MLB Showdown 2000  (Wizards of the Coast)

Mildly Recommended

Bought a previous year's starter at huge discount.  Played a few times.

Likes: easy to learn (I actually played a basic game against a first-grader), reality-based.

Dislikes: not much, except that the game would not hold my interest very long.  If I were a real fan of Major League Baseball, I would probably really like this game.  I prefer actually playing baseball over watching baseball, or playing a simulated game with cards. (And I do not fancy myself a baseball player, by any means).


Lord of the Rings  (Decipher)

* Highly Recommended *

Collected first several sets.  Played hundreds of times.

Likes:  I particularly like that the game tells the story.  Good characters play free from hand (like Redemption), BUT the more good characters and possessions you play, the more evil your opponent can play against you.  This concept is called the "twilight pool" and was pioneered by this game.  It is an excellent mechanic.  I also like Possession cards (permanent enhancements that stay on characters, Allies (good characters that help you along the way, but are not permanent parts of the traveling group), and separate Cultures (brigades) with enhancements for each.

Dislikes:  Arwen and Gloin (and others) as companions.  These were definitely Allies in both the book and the movie.  They should have kept it this way in the game.