The resource system is an integral part of CCGs and can often also be found in ordinary card games, board games and computer games (albeit in a modified form such as “gold coins” in RPGs or the various building materials in “The Settlers of Catan”). In CCGs in particular, virtual resources are used to “buy” cards that can then be played. The role of the resource system is to generate the different types of resources in a certain amount, using different mechanisms. The main reason for such systems is to guarantee a basic game balance, because generally more powerful cards are also more expensive to play.
Before we look at the mechanics in detail, a more detailed analysis of the resource system is necessary to clarify its meaning and purpose.
The vast majority of resource systems as found in CCGs are based on a growth model. No matter how this looks in detail, it can be assumed that the available resources of all players tend to increase in the course of the game. The number and variety of available resources for all players is usually rather limited at the beginning of a game. As the game progresses, resources continue to grow, opening up new options for players.
Trading card games have an extremely high number and variety of cards, but it does not fail that some of these cards are significantly stronger than others. It is considered the supreme discipline to make the cards balanced and often, given all the circumstances, this is either not possible or not desirable. Because of this, it seems logical that stronger cards should also be more difficult to play. Otherwise, competitive players would only insert the best cards into their decks and ignore everyone else, which would ultimately degenerate the game.
The resource system takes effect here and prevents the misuse of this natural imbalance by resource costs. Each card is assigned one or more resources in a certain number, whereby the stronger cards are generally more expensive. Of course, players can still fill their decks with the very best cards, but they would not be able to play them straight away, which is a not inconsiderable disadvantage. In addition, resource costs open up completely new creative freedom when designing the cards: Cheaper cards can be of great importance during the first moves, but will lose them later in the game. Meanwhile, more expensive cards can dominate the last third of the game and decide whether to win or lose.
In conclusion, it should be noted that resource systems are indispensable for CCGs for several reasons: on the one hand, they are an important balancing factor, on the other hand, such a system and the associated mechanics open up an expanded horizon for the design of the game. A trading card game entirely without a resource system dispenses with a cornerstone which is necessary for the game balance and also gives away a large amount of playful freedom and balance. This statement applies not only to duel games but also applies to less competitive concepts such as CCG role-playing games or even solo games. These concepts also benefit from a resource system, as this helps to balance the cards and relate them to each other in a realistic manner.