Marcelle, Peppy, and Ron got me interested in collectible card games late in my last stint in Manila to the point where I actually bought a starter set. Ever since then, I have been tempted to get into Magic: The Gathering as well.
Except, of course, I am too cheap, and the whole business of overpriced booster cards and the artificial economy just doesn't sound right to me.
All the same, I found the customized card game concept very intriguing. Cheapskate that I am, I scoured the net for free CCG games and found a close alternative: Dvorak card games.
Here's a description of the Dvorak system:
Dvorak is a card game where all of the cards start out blank; players choose a theme, make up enough cards to get started, shuffle and deal, then add further cards to the game as the game progresses. It provides you with enough rules to start a game, but leaves the theme and the depth up to you.
You can use it as a skeleton for making a solid and standalone card game, you can play it as an experimental or cut-throat Nomic, you can use it to kill half an hour drawing silly pictures and forcing your friends to make drinks, you can throw together an amusing card game based on your favourite film or sport or in-joke - it's blank cardboard, it's fairly multipurpose.
The games written under Dvorak are pretty light. One of the latest ones to get published is Magical Battle Girl. Marcelle should be pretty pleased with that.
You can play Dvorak via a MUSH engine, but there's also a Windows-based engine for playing some of the games.
Best of all, they're free!