Welcome to the Guardians CCG Page

This is a site dedicated to the Guardians collectible card game released by FPG in the mid '90s. This was a great game featuring beautiful artwork and a complex battle system. The game is now out of print and some cards are extremely difficult to find.

Here you will find alternate rules and game mods (including solo play), homebrew cards, and links to other Guardians sites.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Time to Make Juice

If you’re like me, you’ve got Guardians cards sitting around and can’t find anyone else to play. Maybe you’ve boxed them up, or they’re sitting in a folder full of 9 card pocket protectors gathering dust.

Last year I picked up two board games, Runebound and Arkham Horror. What intrigued me about the games, besides the gameplay and atmosphere, was the ability to play with a solo rules variant. So when I pulled my Guardians cards out of the basement a few weeks ago, then found C. J. Burke’s Event Cards and philbarfly’s Adventure Cards on the Web, I started to wonder if there was a way to play Guardians solo.

The quick answer is no. What I mean is, not the way the current game is set up. You can’t play both sides because you have to pretend you don’t know what cards the “other side” has, despite the fact that you are playing the “other side”. And victory is hollow, since you’ve basically beaten yourself.

To make a solo version work well, you can’t know what cards will be in play. You will know what’s in the opposing deck, but you won’t know how that deck is ordered. Unfortunately, this invalidates the mechanics of several cards that depend on being able to “see” an opposing card or hand. Still, exclusion of such cards is necessary. Victory will feel sweeter because you didn’t know what the next card you turned over would be.

There are some things, however, that you just can’t simulate. A human opponent has cunning and intelligence – he or she would know where to move a Shield, which creature to discard, when to burn a power stone, etc. There is really no way to simulate this in a single-player environment. The best you can do is introduce some randomization and hope it works out. Which lead to…

The adventure aspect. I felt that simply randomizing creature combat wasn’t enough – it was a shell of the original game. I almost immediately realized if randomization was to be utilized, the game needed something more, something to work at, a sense of urgency, and a feeling of accomplishment. Thus the adventure aspect was born. (This is not to be confused with the “Adventure Cards” on philbarfly’s site.)

Guardians has sometimes been referred to as a board game in a card game’s clothing. So I added elements to simulate things you might find in an adventure-type board game like Runebound or Arkham Horror. First, there is the map or board. Next, you have a character (I call it a Champion) who can take wounds, and whose death would cause you to lose the game. You have a way to progress your character or your “adventurers”, in this case experience and gold. You can buy items. You have a time limit, after which you are dead. Your enemies get tougher as the game goes on to continually challenge you.

I also used an idea or two found in the Traveler’s Guide to the Midrealms book by Dave Gentzler, specifically the “Into the Great Wide Open” variant.

In adding the adventure or board game elements, some things had to go – things like Terrain changing hands, Shields moving all over the place, the way movement works...there are about 85 cards that just don’t work (mostly Spells and Magic Items) under my rules, and 60 more (mostly creatures) that needed modification. However, I don’t think that’s bad out of almost a 700 card base, considering how radically different this concept is from the base game.

Make no mistake. These are not your basic Guardians rules. Although I tried to maintain the spirit of the original, I have made some drastic changes. But in reality these are only meant to be a baseline, to spark creative interest. If you come up with a mechanic that works better than something I’ve done, by all means use it, and post it here or over at the Yahoo! Group. There will be a lot of reading, and probably some initial confusion. I’ll also be posting some variant rules to make the game harder if it’s too easy, or easier if it’s too hard, and looking for ways to incorporate incompatible cards. I will also be creating some new cards just for this version of the game.

Right now I’m doing some last-minute playtesting. I should have it up by this coming weekend. So once I post it, try it out and give me some feedback. It’s not comparable to the base game, but if you pull out your cards and give it a chance, that’s a good thing. The Guardians CCG doesn’t deserve to be sitting in a box or in a book on a shelf, collecting dust.

So with the preamble aside, and in fond memory of Keith Parkinson - one of my heroes…stay tuned for:


Monday, April 14, 2008

From out of the Drifter's Nexus...

Welcome to Guardians CCG, a blog devoted to the out-of-print Guardians Collectible Card Game from FPG.

There is a lot to like about Guardians, which is only represented by a few decent sites on the Web. Check out those sites in the links in the Sidebar.

My goal is to publish information of use to the Guardians community. I hope to post at least once per week.

Many thanks to philbarfly for his awesome work in keeping the community going!

Also thanks to C. J. Burke for Event Cards and just hanging in there...

I thought some info might be in order on why I started this blog...

From 1996 to 2006 I lived in a rural area with no gaming stores around and no high speed internet access, only dialup at a whopping 28k. I had heard of Magic the Gathering in its early days just from the media coverage it received, but I did not have access to the cards, or even money to buy cards. At that time there were no internet stores and no eBay. And when eBay did come along, prices were incredibly high; the novelty of bidding caused a frenzy.

Fast forward to 2001...I was now making a much better wage, but had no interest in trying to catch up Magic. One of my faults is that I am a completist, and Magic was going to be impossible to complete, at least financially.

One day my friend is over, killing time on the internet, and he says, "hey, check this out." He's an artist and he loves great artwork, and he shows me an eBay auction of a CCG like Magic with fantastic art, called "Guardians." It seems like it might be easier to complete than Magic, so we say what the heck and buy a couple of starter boxes.

A couple weeks later they arrive and we start tearing open the packaging. "Cool! Look at this one!" we exclaim to each other as each pack reveals more treasures. We read the rules (too briefly) and then dive into the game, but we miss the concept of secondary attackers until my friend says, "what am I supposed to do with these extra creatures in my hand?"

A closer look at the rules reveals we have been playing wrong. I try to get my friend to play again but he's not impressed with the combat and all the modifiers ("it's too complex"), which I feel is the best part of the game. So we don't play again, but being a completist and loving the art work I get back on eBay and buy a case of boosters. I complete my set except for Flame Cannon - a case of boosters and no Flame Cannon?!! - and I join the Guardians Yahoo! Group.

In the group people are talking about Dagger Isle, Necropolis Park, and Drifter's Nexus. So I go back to eBay and buy two booster boxes of Dagger Isle. Complete. But NP and DN are proving to be hard to find. I finally win an auction for some NP booster packs, but am nowhere near complete. So I win another auction for a complete set. I still want multiples of some cards that I only have one of though, so I bid on and win a booster box. Now I'm good with NP. I even win a Cheesy Con Tweezle and Exploding Tweezle from Dave Gentzler himself.

DN, on the other hand, is a pain in the ass. I finally win a booster box, but come up short for a complete set. But before I can get more, some guy (C. J. Burke refers to him as keylink) starts buying all the sets up at outrageous prices. Winning auctions is difficult for me to start with due to my connection speed. Meanwhile, I'm having another problem - I can't get anyone to play it with me.

A new hobby store opens up about an hour away from me and I drive in. No Guardians cards, no plans for Guardians games. However, they are coming out with a new game called Warlord: Saga of the Storm. Cards, tournaments, decent artwork, other players...I get hooked into the game...

...while Guardians cards sit in a box in the basement, unused.

The years roll by. I move to a new place in 2007 and get high speed internet. I dropped out of Warlord for various reasons years ago, and had turned to board games such as Runebound and Arkham Horror, and my Xbox 360.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, when I'm cleaning out the basement, getting ready to sell my old house, which I've been remodeling for a year. I open up boxes, deciding what I want to move and what I want to get rid of. I pull the lid off of a large card box containing 4 rows of cards in clear sleeves. I pull out a handful and thumb through them.

Guardians cards.

Seeing them rekindles my love affair with the artwork, and the complexity of battles. I haven't thought of Guardians in years, though. I got online, not expecting to find much. And at first I didn't. Many of my old links had dried up or hadn't been updated in years. But C. J.'s page talked about event cards, and some guy named philbarfly. So did the Yahoo! groups page, which has been surviving. So I went to see what was going on.

At philbarfly's site I experienced an epiphany, looking at cards that shouldn't exist but do, at new mechanics and artwork, at the blessing of Luke...wheels began turning in my head. I downloaded the Seven Seas cards, the event cards, the adventure cards, the card templates (thanks to philbarfly for emailing the files!), anything I could get my hands on. I sorted through my own cards to see what I was missing (still don't have that damn Flame Cannon!).

Now, "what good is that?" you might ask. With no one to play, the cards just aren't of much use...

I believe I have a solution. I'm working out the details, which I may need some help fine tuning, but I'm hoping the result is a use for these beautiful cards. More to come in my next post.

A blog seemed like a good tool to help keep a little interest in Guardians going, since I don't know a thing about creating web pages. Please feel free to comment...

Disclaimer: Guardians is a copyright of FPG. This blog is a fan site and has no affiliation with FPG. All artwork used in this blog is the copyright of its respective artist.