I can't stop buying Final Fantasy Trading Card Game booster packs. The iconic artwork printed on high-quality card stock - I particularly love how the textured card backs feel on my fingers. And the gameplay, well... I've never actually played it. I'm sure it's nice.
It's Square Enix's fault. The company sent me a couple of starter decks and boosters back in April, coinciding with news that the game's first Opus series had sold more than 3.5 million booster packs.
Unfortunately, April was the same month my only real card gaming partner moved out of town, so I ended up with a bunch of cards and no one to play with. I opened the packs with the intention of at least attempting to figure out how the game worked and fell in love almost immediately. It's not hard. Just look at these things.
I spent the Saturday after those first decks driving to gaming shops, looking for more. I picked up another dozen boosters, a mix of the Opus I and Opus II sets. I also picked up a binder and a stack of those plastic sheets with the slots to insert cards. This was no longer about playing a card game. It was about collecting.
This has happened to me before. Back in the early days of Magic: The Gathering, when a new trading card game was being released every week, I was a booster-buying fiend. I dabbled with White Wolf's Rage and Vampire: The Eternal Struggle games, but my real obsessions were a pair of Dungeons & Dragons games, Spellfire and the Planescape-themed BloodWars. Somewhere in my parents' attic there is a box filled with most of those two games. I never played either of them - by the time they came out I was deep into PC gaming - but I'd like to think I got as much enjoyment out of collecting them as I would had I built a deck and hung out at the game store.
Now I'm all about the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game.
Just like Spellfire and BloodWars played off my nostalgia for weekly D&D sessions past, collecting the Final Fantasy TCG lets me keep some of my favourite role-playing video games close at hand.
It's like gathering my favourite gaming moments into neat paper rectangles. It features cards based on characters and creatures from all corners of the Final Fantasy universe.
The latest set, Opus IV, even features characters from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Theatrhythm.
So far I've kept my collecting under control. Well, relatively under control. I did spend $US100 ($133) on an Opus II box set over the summer. And five or six boosters a week doesn't sound like much, but I guess that adds up. I'm hoping to get some Opus IV for Christmas, and the next set, Opus V, is due out in March, around the same time tax returns arrive.
Yeah, I'm doomed. But it's a very lovely sort of doom. I'm sure there are plenty of other people out there who collect TCG cards for the art, with no intention of ever seriously playing. Right? Anyone? Please?