As a kid, I was into the idea of trading card games. Pokemon, Digimon, Dragon Ball Z – about the only one I missed was Yu-Gi-Oh (sorry if that isn’t how you spell it). I even owned cards for most of these games, but I had a bit of a problem – a distinct lack of other people to play with. My siblings are significantly younger than me, and I’ve never done the whole “friend” thing particularly well. I only knew a few people and those people did not play card games. It wasn’t until college that I got to experience the joy and frustration of playing trading card games with other people, and our game of choice was Magic: The Gathering.
Explaining the rules of Magic would probably be its own blog post, but I’ll try to cover the basics. Each player has a deck of cards full of monsters, magical spells, artifacts, and mana – the energy needed to use the monsters, magical spells, and artifacts. Your goal is to build up the mana to summon your monsters and cast your spells until your opponent(s) are brought down from 20 life to zero.
There are five colors in Magic, and each color represents a different approach, a unique strategy that the deck is best at. Different colors also sport different kinds of creatures and spells. The five colors are White, Black, Green, Red, and Blue. White has a defensive strategy, focused on healing and protection. Black has a crafty strategy, returning lost cards and instantly killing enemy monsters. Green has an aggressive strategy, relying on an overwhelming force of powerful monsters. Red has a direct strategy, using magic to ignore monsters and attack an opponent’s life directly. Blue has a controlling strategy, manipulating the rules and canceling opponent’s spells. Naturally, you can wield different colors in the same deck in order to capitalize on both strategies, or focus all on one color to become a magician built around one effective approach.
Now one part of a trading card game is that new cards are always coming out. Magic is releasing sets throughout the year, usually built around a theme of some kind. Recent themes have included wars between dragons, wars between gods, a return to the origins of the game – my personal favorite set is Return to Ravnica, which is focused around different guilds that are vying for dominance. But the set I have in mind goes back to something I desperately wanted as a kid – a Legend of Zelda trading card game.
I grew up playing Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past constantly. Later, I fell in love with Majora’s Mask, and as Wind Waker and Twilight Princess came along I just kept loving the Zelda series more and more. I saw that Pokemon had a card game, that Dragon Ball Z had a card game, and I wanted that for my favorite video game. Alas, I was never able to get my own ideas for it off the ground. But I think that Magic: The Gathering might be the perfect arena for a Zelda card game to take place.
First off, the colors. Each color has a specific mana that powers it. White finds strength in plains, Black is powered by swamps, Green grows mighty from forests, Red is fueled by mountains, and Blue flows out of Islands. If you’ve ever played a Zelda game, this probably sounds familiar. Swamps, mountains, forests, islands – all of these things are places that one might find a good ole fashioned Zelda temple. Because these types of locations are prevalent throughout the series, monsters and items associated with them are too. Creating cards for each color would be an easy task.
Now a lot of the force behind Magic comes from the lore. While not every player may read the various comic books explaining the world behind the game, it’s this feel of being part of a larger world that many players find interesting. The flavor text on the cards allows a glimpse into this universe of strange creatures and forgotten magic. The Legend of Zelda series turns 30 years old this year. That’s 30 years of lore and stories backing this franchise, plenty of material to be drawn from in order to form the backbone of a Magic set.
The fact that The Legend of Zelda is a series full of equipment and magical relics fits perfectly with the artifacts in Magic. Imagine equipping one of your monsters with the Master Sword, or striking down flying creatures with a light arrow. The Triforce pieces could be incorporated as a sort of win condition when all three are possessed, but with mechanics for earning or stealing them from other players. Even bottled fairies or potions could be utilized for interesting effects.
Link, Ganondorf, Zelda, the sages, all of these characters could be utilized as Planeswalkers, powerful cards with unique effects that work differently than monster cards. Legendary creatures could come from bosses or from supporting characters throughout the series. Imagine wielding a Red deck and suddenly placing the mighty Volvagia on your field. Or commanding the tribal warrior Odolwa as the centerpiece of your Green deck. There’s plenty of potential for both legendary and regular creatures, and therefore plenty of inspiration for monsters in the set.
Now will Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast ever get together and work on this idea? Probably not. But my little nerd heart can still dream! What about you, adventurers? Is there a universe you’d like to see adapted into a trading card game? Or an MTG set you’ve got an idea for? Discuss it in the comments and together we’ll fantasize about our ideal trading card games.