Trading cards have undoubtedly made their mark on the competitive card game scene this past decade. Popular books, cartoons, and even sports have all made their own version of trading cards. It’s a simple way of honoring the success of their franchise while allowing fans to be part of it. The popularity of the industry has made it evolve into something entirely different from when it first came out. From its humble beginnings as simple cards for trade to having many tools to assist gameplay. In the past few years contact sports have developed to make the game more suitable for longer and safer playing time. Likewise, this sport has introduced playmats, custom card sleeves, card boxes and the like for more efficient gameplay.
The game as a whole progressed into a new era of competitive card gaming into a whole other level. They added new mechanics plus different accessories so it became more fun to play and obviously much more competitive! The playmats used for the game is another aspect that changed the genre. This helped players focus on other things like their strategy, their custom card sleeves and even read the opponents strategy. With the addition of card zone indicators, many new players now have a general idea where to put the cards. As a result, these players are that much more confident with their playstyle.
Indeed, there are a lot of options to choose from when creating your very own playmat. While you can’t customize it as much as sleeves, you can definitely make yours stand out. Just make sure that you have the card zones properly defined on the mat or else you’re setting yourself up for failure or disqualification. That being said, here are some tips we can offer so we can choose the right playmat for you and understand card zones better.
Know Your Card Zones!
Nowadays we can see a multitude of trading card games, where some of the popular ones are Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh! to name a few. These games are very similar in nature where you get to have custom decks, custom card sleeves on each one, and your very own playmat. Customization options are endless when it comes to this industry and this goes hand in hand with the trading card game culture. You can be sure there is no player out there that has no covering whatsoever on each of their precious cards. The sky's the limit for what you want to see protecting your cards as you play to your heart’s desire.
What are card zones anyway? What is its purpose on the playing field and how does it differ from one game to another? Well in general, card zones are simply where you put each of your cards. This allows a player to assign a designated spot for a specific type of card on the battlefield. This makes for a more organized match instead of placing cards randomly on the field. Assigning card zones also helps avoid confusion. As stated above, this impacts the gameplay of new players in a positive way allowing them a manageable learning curve.
These games are different from one another that is why some card zones are different but you can still find similarities between them. For instance, most trading card games if not all have battlefield zones. These battlefield zones are areas where you can put your fighting cards or monster cards and pit them against each other. This spot is in front of your enemy’s battlefield zone so you can directly compare their monster cards to yours. This part of the mat is where most of the action happens outside of outdrawing your opponents. So be sure to familiarize yourself with how many cards you have in hand and how many you have laying on the battlefield.
Next, we have the graveyard. Card games like Yu-Gi-Oh! makes important use of the graveyard. Apparent in the name, this is where cards that are out of play are placed. How does a card become dead? Whenever you make a play that determines the fate of whatever piece is in play. Destroying an enemy card will send it to the graveyard where it can still be retrieved during the game. For cards that are mainly used to fight each other head on this is a common zone to land on. Another way your card can get sent to the graveyard is by spell cards. These are non-combat cards that have the power to remove certain pieces from play without having to fight. This makes the game more exciting to play as there are more angles to watch out for.
We also have what we call the library zone. Or as other trading card games call it, the deck. This is the pile from which you can draw cards either at the beginning of your turn or via spell cards. Cards you get from this zone will be put into your hand and are now available for play. It’s crucial to determine where your deck is because this is where you’re going to draw cards to win the game. Similarly, Pokémon also has more or less the same zones just with different names. The discard pile is the resting place for defeated or knocked cards. The battlefield is a little bit different as there are different types of Pokémon used for battle and active zones are where most of the battles are happening.
Get A Playmat With Designated Zones
With a general idea of what zones are, now we head on to what makes difference on the battlefield. Keep in mind that playmats with zones are not necessary in order for you to play a full game. Though some officials require designated zones on playmats. The visual assistance given by custom playmats will definitely increase your performance in the sense that you get to focus more on other variables. These card zones can be tricky especially for someone new to the game. So, it is a good idea to invest in a playmat that allows you room to think and strategize.
Playmats that have designated zones are growing popular amongst players and it is not hard to see why. It’s just aesthetically pleasing to see the cards in their rightful place. Not only that, but it also gives you a clear view of what your opponent's cards are as well. It is a great way to think up a strategy on what to do next after an enemy makes his or her play. Imagine knowing where to place all your cards in one convenient location- your playmat. Together with custom card sleeves, this should give you a considerable amount of morale boost over your competitors.
Custom playmats are more of a luxury as opposed to custom card sleeves. These playmats have a ton of customization options depending on what you want to see on them. Whereas in custom card sleeves, the main goal is to protect your cards but still has options for customization.
Understand The Mechanics of Card Zones
Once you have an idea of what card zones are and their names, it’s time to understand how they work. The best thing to do here is just simply to keep playing preferably with someone who has a lot of experience with trading card games. Though this is something you can learn on your own as well because it is easy to master. The zones are basically indicators on the playmat where you have to put your cards. To give you a general idea of what these zones might be here are a few examples from different games.
In Pokémon, there is something they call the Prize Card Zone. This is the zone where a player can put an opponent’s card if they are able to knock out their Pokémon. For each of the knockout you perform in-game, a certain prize card is awarded to you from your enemy. It also serves as a trophy for you during the game and if you are able to take six, you win. Most of the time the cards are face down and covered in custom card sleeves so you can’t see them.
Next, we have the active Pokémon zone, where the head-on battles happen. In this zone, attacks are permitted so you have to be careful what you place here. Similarly, in yu-gi-oh! cards that are placed in the main monster zone are vulnerable to enemy attacks. Assuming that it is your turn, you are free to attack any monster that is in front of you. Any damage you deal without monsters can deal damage to enemy life points provided they don’t have protection from spells.
Familiarize Yourself With the Material
Players tend to overlook this as they choose their very own playmat. If you are planning to upgrade to card zone playmats, then consider the material as well! Custom card sleeves are usually made out of one type of material. But these playmats differ from each other. Some are simple and have the same texture as mousepads. Others are a bit more complicated. Sophisticated and tailor-made to the requests of the client. The material varies depending on the price of the mats as well with the cheapest ones being made out of paper. The sizing and edges also play a big role when figuring out what type of playmat you are going to use.
If you are not that particular with the material, you can go with the more common choices. Paper mats are undoubtedly the most common out of all the material. Be careful when handling it, since it is a light material and easy to break. You’re looking at tearing, folding, scratching, writing, and the possibility of it getting wet. Save yourself the headache and just go for rubberized playmats so you can play anywhere anytime. Just combine it with good quality custom card sleeves and you should be good to go.
One thing to note though is that rubber playmats are usually stored by rolling them and putting a strap on them. As a result, the edges may become warped and lose their shape. If warped edges don’t bother you then you should be fine. But those players who like to keep things neat and orderly will have a hard time looking at this type of playmat. Some players even described it to be unappealing or downright ugly. Don’t worry though, one simple fix is simply rolling it again and this time, do it the opposite way. That should return it to its normal shape. But if you don’t want to go to all that trouble, you can simply purchase playmats with higher quality.
Consider What You Want Out of The Playmat
Playmats are an integral part of the game. And all of the games you will be playing will include this tool. So, what you want out of it should be clear to you. Card zones are a great perk when picking one out. The benefits listed above are almost hard to pass on unless you are already an expert and don’t need indicators.
Just like custom card sleeves, these mats serve as an extra layer of protection for your cards. That is also something to think about. Because if you are not careful, the playmats themselves can be damaged resulting in you having to buy another one! Think about it, it is the layer that separates your precious cards from the ground.
Is it worth it to upgrade?
If you want the short answer, then yes. It is worth it to get upgraded card zones on your playmats. Whether you are a devoted fan of trading card games or just a casual player, getting custom playmats or custom card sleeves is a fun way of expressing yourself. Customizing it also means adding flair to your playstyle. Combined with custom card sleeves you will be sure to get a lot of attention from fellow players!