Deck building games have become super popular off late and are quite similar to collectible card games when it comes to gameplay. In this list, we have gone through several boxes of deck building games and have compiled a list of the top 10 deck building games out there. There were tons of contenders to choose from but these were the 10 which made the cut. Furthermore, we will be elaborating on some of the main features and also shed some light on the gameplay as well. So without further ado, here goes.
10. Penny Arcade
2-4 Players • Ages 15+ • 30 minutes to play
Inspired by Dominion and Ascension, Penny Arcade follows the tried and tested formula of building a deck of cards and the victor is decided based on the number of victory points one has accumulated in the end. Based on the webcomic Penny Arcade, players need to select a hero card and the game itself is very light and easy to play. The humor of penny arcade is showcased brilliantly through its well-designed cards and the random setup rules keep the game from becoming repetitive. The incredible division between Tokens and Power, the added thrill and excitement of boss fights and the unique deck-building experience makes Penny Arcade an extremely addictive and hilarious game to be played between 2-4 friends.
1-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 30 minutes to play
Based on the movie, Resident Evil puts you in charge of one of the several protagonists of the successful movie franchise with the primary task to fend off the hoard of zombies while trying to seek asylum in the mysterious mansion. Every game offers a randomized environment and the best thing about the game is that one really needs to take risks to truly survive and win the game. Unless players explore the mansion, there is no clue where you can find special items, weapons, action cards are hoarded up. With over 250 cards to choose from, building your deck and combating zombies has never been so much fun. With over several hours of maddening fun, resident evil offers great replayability value owing to its randomized environment is a wonderful offering for fans of the Resident Evil franchise.
8. Star Realms
2 Players • Ages 12+ • 20 minutes to play
Star Realms is a spaceship combat deck building game which is not only easy to learn and teach but also offers quick and extremely engrossing and competitive gameplay for a riveting yet different deck building experience. With 128 gorgeous detailed and illustrated cards, Star Realms combines the excitement of a traditional card game with the thrills and mechanics of a deck building gaming experience built around the interaction of players. Unlike other deck builders, there’s no victory points or collecting various items in Star Realms; instead, you take control of devastating ships and space stations to attack your opponents and simply put, the first player to blast their opponents health ( Authority) to zero wins the game. Winning here is purely down to your skills rather than your total value of items at the end of the game which means a lot of strategy goes into playing a game of Star Realms. With a well-balanced gaming system which offers high replayability value, Star Realms is one for the ages.
1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 150 minutes to play
Mage knight is an epic deck building game that seamlessly combines different systems: a combat system, deck-building system, and exploration system to create a truly compelling gaming experience. With character development added into the mix, your start and finish to the game with your chosen character will be entirely different thanks to the abilities to loot, buy spells, recruit allies and added different skill levels with the help of new ability cards. You can either choose to don the role of a courageous hero or a vicious villain and either play cooperatively or compete against your fellow players while trying to conquer new lands, attain fame and gather experience. The learning curve is steep compared to other deck building games but once you get to grips with its gameplay, no other game holds a candle next to the marvelous experience Mage Knight has to offer. With gorgeous gaming components and exquisitely printed quality cards, Mage knight is a one of a kind deck building experience for you and your family.
1-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 60 minutes to play
Often compared to Dominion in terms of story and gameplay, Thunderstone is a revelation in the card building genre and offers a whole variety of heroes, terrifying monsters and various village items to ensure that no two games will ever be the same. Essentially a fantasy deck building game, the game puts you in charge of the villagers who sole aim is to protect the Thunderstone lying in the dungeon from the clutches of the evil doom knights while fighting the evils of the dungeon themselves. As you do so, you gain hold of powerful weapons and transition into powerful heroes. With Over 500 cards to choose from, Thunderstone offers great replay value and a lot of variety and is right up there with any other card game.
2-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 45 minutes to play
Nightfall is quick, challenging and extremely interactive deck building game like no other where you witness a battle between mankind and creatures of the night. You take on the role of a creature and cast spells to inflict more damage on your fellow creatures. The most unique thing about this game as compared to other deck playing games is that even while you’re awaiting your turn, you have a role to play via constant banter. Ideal for 4-5 players, each game last 30-40 odd minutes and the player with the least damage or wounds inflicted wins the game. All in all, Nightfall brings a fresh angle to the card game arena and if you’re a fan of werewolves and creatures lurking in the shadows, this game is specially designed for you.
1-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 30 minutes to play
Another popular game in the deck building genre, Ascension offers a dynamic play experience where each player needs to acquire cards from a pool of 6 center row cards by either buying them by spending runes, acquiring them by way of defeating monsters with the help of another resource, combat power. The crux of the game is to fight monsters and acquires items and heroes. One can either choose to acquire or battle or simply mix it up and try and do both as long as you have the Power and Runes to do so. Ascension works best with 2-4 players and each player starts off the game with a 10-card deck. Additionally, it must be pointed that the artwork on the cards and the board is simply magnificent. Ascension makes for quick gameplay and each game tends to last between 30-45 minutes.
2-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 45 minutes to play
Eminent domain is an excellent sci-fi deck building game where you need to build and expand your space empire. Inspired by various other popular games like Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, Glory to Rome et al, this game combines all the popular elements and mechanics of the above-mentioned games and combines them to create one slick package. Ideal for a group of 2-4 players, each game is relatively short and takes about 45 minutes to complete thus adding to its replayability value. With several decisions and choices to choose from, the sole aim is to gain as many victory points as possible by conquering new planets or trading resources; the sheer number of paths one can take to achieve glory is quite overwhelming.
2-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 30 minutes to play
Dominion is a tactical card playing game ideal for 2-4 players where you don the mantle of a monarch with one single objective; to take over as much unclaimed land and expand your dominion before other lords lay claim to them. You will enlist the services of minions, fortify your castle, construct various buildings with the single aim to conquer and expand your kingdom. Every player starts off with the same 10 cards to ensure a level playing field and each game lasts 30-35 odd minute which makes for an addictive and fun experience. With over 500 cards to choose from and around 25 different action cards, entails for a whole lot of strategies and scenarios to be played out. The player with the maximum number of victory points, in the end, will be declared the victor and will lay claim to the kingdom.
1-5 Players • Ages 17+ • 45 minutes to play
Legendary: Alien Encounters is a fantastic deck building game from Upper deck for 1 to 5 players. Equipped with 600 cards, this game is the ideal platform for close encounters and nail-biting fun. Players need to take on various character roles and recreate scenarios as played out in the very successful Alien movie franchise. Players can work together to get the alien specimen back to the company or even fight against each by either turning into an alien ( via a face hugger) or turning your back on comrades by turning traitor. This, in turn, makes this game extremely fun to play while adding an element of suspense as well. The large colorful play mat is extremely well designed and the artwork quite exquisite. All these aspects combined with each other make this a very compelling and dark game, and fans of the movie will have a great time relating to it.
All these games are great in their own right but Legendary has truly stepped up to the plate with its amazing reiteration of the Alien Series. There were several other which were in contention to be included here but with so many great games to choose from, these were the 10 which truly deserve to be part of the list. Deck building has been extremely well known due to its mechanics and gameplay and this list will surely help you zero in on the best deck builders out there.