Card Games: Crash Course Games #13


Hi, I’m André Meadows and this is Crash Course Games. Today, we’re going to be talking about playing cards, gaming artifacts that have truly stood the test of time. These simple, small pieces of paper have been entertaining people for over a millennium. There’s a countless variety of card games, from Go Fish to Yu-Gi-Oh! to solitaire, which you probably play once or twice on your computer when you’re supposed to be working. And if you need more proof that they’re an unrivaled phenomenon, we even have a gaming Mecca in the middle of the Nevada desert thanks to the popularity of gambling card games. There was even an entire family of cards that branched off hundreds of years ago and became the modern fortune-telling cards we know as tarot. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen a rebirth of the card game. Magic: The Gathering helped create the trading card game craze and games like Dominion helped popularise deck-building games. So let’s shuffle into the history of card games and see why they are so popular, and what effect they have on people and culture. [Theme Music] I want to start with the story of a man — Seth Manfield. Seth had a particularly great 2015. He played a life-changing card game, winning the title of World Champion and walking away $50,000 richer. During the game, he commanded four Siege Rhinos, three Den Protectors, and even Tasigur, the Golden Fang. That’s right — Seth was playing Magic: The Gathering. And, just like Seth, Joe McKeehen also had a great 2015. Joe was the World Series of poker champion that year. The 24-year-old from Philadelphia walked away with a cool $7.6 million after winning his first ever World Series of poker. So how do we reach the point where people make a living playing card games professionally? Well, it turns out that many cultures and civilsations have always enjoyed a good game of cards. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Most scholars agree that playing cards were invented in Imperial China as early as the 9th century Tang Dynasty. These cards were originally based on paper currency of the time. But because using real money was inconvenient and risky, they substituted play money known as money suited cards. There were two varieties — Lut Chi, from the south of China that used four suits, and Kwan Pa’i, that had a heavy focus on coin imagery. By the 13th century, the Persians had ganjifeh, which was probably introduced by the Mongols or traded on the Silk Road. And then the Mugals brought these cards to India in the 16th century. In India, the cards took on a circular shape that kind of looked like the game POG from the 90s. And, moving further west, the Egyptians had a card game known as mamluk, which arrived sometime during the 12th or 13th centuries. These ornately hand-painted cards were of Islamic origin and named after the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. A complete 15th century pack contained four suits — polo sticks, coins, swords, and cups — and three additional court cards — king, vice king, and second vice king. Gaming scholar David Parlett claims that “Egypt’s mamluk entered Southern Europe in the 14th century,” which is just one of many theories. But what we do know for sure is that France’s King Charles VI purchased three packs of playing cards in 1392. These cards featured similar imagery to the mamluk cards with cups, swords, coins, and batons, but also had 22 extra high cards that eventually became tarot cards used by mystics for divination. And as playing cards travelled to many European countries, their suits evolved with them. The Italians had cups, coins, clubs, and swords. The Germans had hearts, bells, acorns, and leaves. It was the French who created the established suits we know today — hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So what about that joker we usually see in a deck of cards? Well, the US was responsible for that. The card started out as the highest trump card in euchre and then was adopted into poker as a wild card and renamed the Joker. Poker is one of the most well-known betting games. Poker can trace its ancestry back to the 16th century, with the Spanish game of primero, nicknamed “poker’s mother”. By the 17th century, the French had a popular betting game known as poque, and by the 18th century, Germans had a similar game called pochen. These two games established betting and bluffing mechanics that would become a key component to modern poker. French colonists brought poque to Canada, which then followed immigrants as they travelled down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. It eventually spread throughout the country and gaming parlors on river boats. It was growing rapidly in popularity and in 1834, Jonathan H. Green (different John Green) wrote that this new cheating game was dominating the boats and replacing the popular Three-card Monte games, and went on to coin the term poker in his book on gaming. And the game of poker continued to spread, becoming a staple in Western saloons. Poker had continued to increase in popularity, spawning versions like seven card stud and Texas hold ’em, solidifying its place within the gambling community. Now, before I reach modern times, we should also briefly cover the origin of trading card games. Trading card games are defined as games that are mass produced to be purchased and incorporated within a player’s deck for strategic play. The first real trading card game, or TCG, was the baseball card game, published in 1904 by the Allegheny Card Company. The game consisted of 104 player cards that deck builders could supposedly collect to compete within the game. But because this game was only a prototype and never mass produced, the deck-building component was never fully realised. 1993 saw the first modern trading card game — Magic: The Gathering. Invented by game designer and math professor Dr Richard Garfield, the entire initial 2.6 million print run sold out within the first month, encouraging the publisher, Wizards of the Coast, to print another 7.3 million cards before its official release. Another 35 million cards would be printed between 1993 and 2007. And as of 2015, there are 13,651 different cards in 11 languages, attracting an estimated 20 million players. In 1996, the Pokemon trading card game was released in Japan by Media Factory. Now, there were other Pokemon sets before this, but this was the first set based on the Pokemon video games, and would eventually be brought to the US in 2003. As of 2015, there are a total of 125 Pokemon trading card game sets and nearly 15 billion of these cards have been produced worldwide. There is even an official Pokemon League, where players can compete against others in their community. And the Pokemon card game is so popular that it switched roles and became the inspiration for several Pokemon card game video games, including Pokemon TCG Online and Pokemon Card GB2. So what makes the TCGs so popular? Well, Mark Rosewater, the head designer for Magic: The Gathering, said that it was the player’s ability to customise and personalise their decks with a near endless supply of cards for success. He said, “If you compare it to something like Monopoly, every time you play you’re getting a pretty similar experience.” “But what’s neat about Magic is that the game itself keeps changing.” “It’s about exploring, and you get to constantly rediscover it.” And people have certainly continued to discover it. According to 2008 sales data, trading card games earn around $800 million just in North America. But it’s not just the sales and prevalence of these games that make them significant. They are also having an impact on our lives. Human-computer interaction assistant Professor Geoff Kaufman from Carnegie Mellon conducted a study in 2015 that used a new research method, known as embedded game design, in a series of card games. Kaufman wanted to see if he could decrease gender biases in people by including pro-equality messages in card games without making those messages too blatant. He found that his games were encouraging people to have increased social identity complexity, which is basically a measure of tolerance in groups. Players tended to think more broadly and inclusively about social groups. They also had stronger and more assertive responses to multiple kinds of social bias. Basically, the games encouraged participants to embrace diversity. It may not always be as obvious in a game like Pokemon TCG or Yu-Gi-Oh!, but the study helps to show the small role card games may play in bringing people together. Playing cards and their games have continued to have a hold on the public and players. There are many major card games we didn’t even have a chance to talk about, like blackjack, gin rummy, even Uno! Oh, draw four. And, of course, trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and the classic Legend of the Five Rings. And while you play games with physical cards with people in the same room, one unique aspect of the modern age is the digital card game. In Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, players go online to play and collect TCG cards, as they would in real life. The difference, of course, that there’s nothing physical to own, but the cards come with animations and sounds. The game is increasing in popularity and shows the merger between modern tech and traditional gaming mechanics. Regardless, the point is cards and card games have forever changed gaming, even in the modern age. They show no signs of stopping and are even responsible for some of our video games. Remember those century-old Hanafuda card that was made by that company called Nintendo? Who now has Pokemon? Who has card games AND video games?
That’s full circle right there. Ain’t that right, Eevee? You are Eevee, right? We’ll see you next time.
Thanks for watching. Crash Course Games is filmed in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana and it’s made with the help of all these nice people. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone forever you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love. Speaking of Patreon, we’d like to thank all our patrons in general and we’d like to specifically thank our High Chancellor of Knowledge, Morgan Lizop and our Vice Principal, Michael Hunt. Thank you for your support.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. This series is totally shallow. The exploration of the subject matter feels like a brisk stroll through Wikipedia.

  2. Monopoly Deal? No? Because that card game is much more efficient than the board game variant in destroying friendships.

  3. Bummed they didn't get touch back on deck building games buuuut challenge me in Star Realms I'm "Starcat" 👍

  4. its pronounced "mo-dern" – not "mo-der-en" (unless you are purposely trying to sound smart by mispronouncing easy words)…

  5. Are you planning on making a video about augmented-reality games, like Pokemon Go and Ingress? They're a fairly new phenomenon, but they look like they can become really big. Or maybe they're just a fad. It's probably too early to tell.

  6. I love the Pokemon TCG. I don't just collect, I like a good battle, too. I've been playing for 8 years now. Too bad there aren't a lot of people that actually play these days. At least, not where I live.

  7. I'm surprised/pleased that Dominion showed up in the video at all, even if only as a brief mention.

  8. I actually play and own an old Swiss card game that uses similar suits to the German ones mentioned. They're Bells, Shields, Acorns and Flowers. The game is called Jass and I don't believe it's well known outside Europe or Swiss communities but if you've ever played Pinochle then it's like that, a trick-taking game with a similar deck, but MORE complicated. There's a big focus on the Trump Suit, a suit that beats everything but a higher Trump card.

  9. It's neat that you guys did this video right before yugioh nats 😛 We just had our largest nationals this weekend with 2253 people playing. I didn't win 50 grand or 7.6 million but I did manage to get 23rd and roughly 950 bucks :p so it was still fun

  10. It doesn't inspire much confidence to have Crash Course videos with corrections annotated all over them. Come on guys, you're better than this.

  11. Seth Manfield
    At first Oh he won MtG world Champs? Respect!
    sees his deck ABZAN CONTROL? THIS GUY IS A ****.

  12. Allegedly the 22 high suits used as Suite Cards in Tarot were used as things that could be pointed at to help merchants communicate across languages.

  13. this video seamed rushed. Lets first starts with the history of card games, i would like to see a video just based on the history of card games and not as much on what we know and love as today's as the world wide phenomenon know as magic the gathering. it seems as if this video jumped the evolution of card games represented as a evolution in gaming, gaming can be spanned as several different interpretations of people and what brings us together as a community of gamer's. there's defiantly a certain break in the gaming field from table top games to multi e platform computer based games and i wish that this video was more broken up into part of the gaming sphere that is what we konw and love as today's gaming scene.all im asking i guess is that i wish this video focused more o what built the gaming culture of today rather then what just got us her. i hopw tom green and the rest of the wonderful world over at crash cousre could expand an and explore. PS this video needed some more mongols…

  14. Honestly all i would have liked to see is a 2 part video. HOPE YOU SEE MY TWO PoSTED CRASH COURSE; i love your work.

  15. I actually stopped playing MTG when I got into university, since noone I knew at the time played it. Then again, I'm definitely not one of the hardcore card game players because I normally enjoy making heavy combo decks.
    I mean, most of the competitively viable decks in ALL of these games basically revolves around "Find one way to win the game with as few cards as possible, put all the cards you need for that into one deck, fill out the rest with cards you can easily cycle through to get what you need." Me on the other hand, I like having at least three ways to win the game available, preferably with interactions between them, and that usually makes my decks too slow.

    However, people HATE playing sealed against me because I'm apparently very good at taking random new cards and making them work together, so I guess that's something.

  16. Very disappointed to see Tarot cards reduced to hocus pocus fortunetelling. In fact, Tarot cards, just like your average set of Bicycles, are, at their heart, PLAYING CARDS. Though virtually unheard of in the US, popular tarot games like French Tarot and Danish Tarok are still significantly popular in Europe. It is unfortunate that the actual history of these cards has been lost to the absolutely bull** mysticism with which they are now commonly associated. As an example, just check out a Tarot Nouveau deck. Regular suits, and then a set of 21 trumps; no death, high priestess or whatever else the heck in sight.

  17. I'm doing research on Magic The Gathering! Especially about how it's localized, but there's much more ^^

  18. Didn't even mention Cards Against Humanity? It's the card game I see played most often in small social circles.

  19. Seems odd that you didn't even mention the "trick" games, like whist, hearts, spades, bridge, etc. There was a time, I think, where they were the dominant card game in the US. I know contract bridge is basically only played by old people, now, but it really is one of the greatest card games of all time.

  20. Every time he says "deck building" I keep thinking he's saying "d*** building"

    (Censored because I know kids watch this stuff)

  21. Interesting factoid: Wizards of the Coast didn't have a lot of confidence in Magic: The Gathering, so wanted Richard Garfield to give them a 'money maker' first, and he gave them the board game called Robo Rally.

  22. Kind of hilarious that this series has 8 videos on the 40-year history of video games, and one video on card games which have been around for centuries.

  23. Funny interface and a good game will raise your spirits! More than 300 different online games including classic table games such as roulette, baccarat and blackjack http://ads.casumoaffiliates.com/redirect.aspx?pid=539123&bid=5653&redirectURL=http://www.casumo.com/
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  24. These videos are amazing. I know nothing about the gaming world I need this channel since I have so many gaming friends!

  25. This series is so fascinating! I didn't think I would be interested when it first came out but I'm learning a ton and it's so interesting.

  26. I like how they threw in the more spiritual/divinatory significance of Tarot cards. Regardless of your personal stance on such things, I appreciate anyone who doesn't make fun of and further ostracize such groups. 🙂

  27. Primero that literally means first in Spanish or more accurately the first geez looks like the YouTube trend of saying first on a video as invented centuries ago

  28. My favorite GAME was born in 2003.
    Wait, you thought I meant the arrival of Pokemon in the US?
    WRONG. COMMAND AND CONQUER – GENERALS AND COMMAND AND CONQUER – GENERALS ZER HOUR.
    Look it up. Its an RTS 🙂

  29. Pokemon TCG was in the states as soon as the games. 1998. There was a ban on Pokemon cards at my school in 1999.

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