Deep within the board gaming sphere are different genres of gameplay that you may not know about. One of our favorite types are deck building games. Like the title insists, the main element of deck building games is the construction of your own personal deck of cards. Each player has their own deck of cards that they are carefully constructing in order to obtain power and money, upgrade their character, and unlock specific abilities. We will go over some of the best deck building games currently on the market.
If you have heard of a very popular game called Magic: The Gathering, then you may know that it is a very intense game that involves players bringing their own pre-prepared decks to the table top. Deck building games are a bit of a step back from an intense game of Magic: The Gathering, as they don’t involve having to learn each cards and carefully craft your deck before gameplay. You will not have to worry about players with the most money overpowering you as they can afford the more powerful cards.
Deck building games are one within itself and you will build your deck during gameplay. There is no need to be overwhelmed by hundreds of different cards and expansions. You will use what is currently in front of you in the game and will learn how to obtain better cards as you play.
We recommend easing yourself into the realm of deck building games if you have not dived in already. We will go over some of the best deck building games in this article. However, if you are new to deck building games, then we recommend starting with two of the games on this list for your first play throughs: Dominion and Hogwarts Battle.
What are Deck Building Games?
Deck building games consist mostly of cards, unlike other board games that may have many different moving parts or elements. Each player will start with a basic hand of cards that they will work to unlock and buy new cards that will slowly build up their deck and make it more powerful against other players.
New cards will grant players with new abilities that they can use to perform actions throughout the game. The end goal of deck building games is usually to have the most points to eliminate all of your opponents.
Most deck building games consist of players using every card in their hand in some sort of way during their turn. They will discard any leftover cards before drawing a new hand on their next turn. If the deck runs out, then the discard pile is usually shuffled, creating a brand new set of cards to pull from.
Deck building games can usually start off slow. As gameplay progresses, a rhythm will usually form as player’s decks become more complex and more actions become available. You have the opportunity to choose your own pace and play style, making it drastically different from other players.
Deck building games bring a great tabletop experience to all game nights. Deck building games are just one type of board game that is part of a larger array of board game types.
Best Deck Building Games
We will go over all of these games in detail, but here is the list of our favorite deck building games.
- Star Realms
- Tyrants of the Underdark
- Aeon’s End
- Thunderstone Quest
- Hogwarts Battle
- Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
- Mage Knight
These deck building games range from beginner friendly to more strong experiences that can pivot you into a world of board gaming that you have never experienced before. Unlike trading card games, these types of deck building games can be more forgiving, but still offer a challenge that can leave players satisfied by the end of it.
It’s time to take on a new adventure with deck building board games. We will go into more details about these best deck building games below…
1. Star Realms
Star Realms is a fast paced deck building card game of outer space combat that consists of players fighting for dominance over the galaxy. It combines the fun of a deck building game with the interactivity of trading style combat. Each player will start the game with their own personal deck composed of 10 ships.
As you play Star Realms, you make use of trading your cards in order to acquire new ships and bases from the cards being turned face up in the Trade Row from the Trade Deck. The Trade Row is a set of 5 cards that players can add to their deck on their turn by trading cards from their current deck. Adding cards from the Trade Row will help build a player’s deck and will make their deck better.
Once you acquire more ships and bases, you can either use them to generate more to trade or use them in combat to attack your opponent and their bases. When you reduce your opponent’s score (called Authority) to zero, you win!
Star Realms is also available as a board game app on mobile devices so that you can practice and perfect your strategies before your next game night.
Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure is a deck building dungeon race that is full of intense adventures. Player’s will sneak into a dragon’s lair in order to steal precious treasures and artifacts. The gameplay consists of acquiring cards for your deck and growing your abilities in order to obtained more valuable loot.
Why is this game named Clank!? Well one false move can cause a CLANK sound that can awaken the dragon and fill it with rage as each artifact is stolen. You must be quick and quiet in order to escape the depths of the dungeon with as much loot as possible.
Each player with play the game with their own deck and will work to build their deck to be more powerful throughout the game. Most cards will generate resources that include increasing your skill, giving you swords that will help fight monsters, and boots that are used to move around the board.
When you acquire a new card, you will put it face up in your discard pile. Whenever a player needs to draw a new card and finds their deck empty, they will shuffle their discard pile and and turn it face down to form a new deck. Every time a player shuffles their deck, the new cards acquired become part of a bigger and better deck that will be used throughout the game.
Each player will hold a different deck that is dependent on the cards they acquire, as different cards can do different things. Therefore, their strategy may be very different than the person next to them as their deck will become more and more unique as the game unfolds.
The goal of the game is to either retrieve an artifact token and escape the dungeon OR accumulate enough points with your loot to beat out your opponents.
Dominion is a board game for 2-4 players that can be played in 30 minutes. Each player starts with an identical deck of cards. Another set of cards are placed in the center of the table. These cards can be “purchased” with in game currency once players are able to afford them.
Players must construct their own deck of cards by purchasing cards and playing their hand depending on which cards they draw. The goal is to create the most efficient path to victory points before the game ends.
Dominion comes with 500 cards! You select 10 of the 25 Kingdom card types to include in any given play, making Dominion a very replayable game. Play your cards right and you just might be victorious!
4. Tyrants of the Underdark
Tyrants of the Underdark adds territory control to the deck building element. Players will control “minions” that are represented by cards within the deck. Each minion will have special actions that you will use for different strategies throughout the game.
There will be a central marketplace in the middle of the table where players can recruit new minions to their deck by using resources available to them. Acquired cards will be placed in the player’s discard pile and then reshuffled to be applied to the player’s deck when necessary.
There are two resources in the game: influence and power. Influence can be used to purchase new minions and add to your deck. Power allows players to place troops on the game board and expand your forces in order to manipulate the events in the city and assassinate enemy troops.
The way you earn points is by controlling cities, recruiting valuable minions, and assassinating troops. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.
5. Ascension: Deckbuilding Game
Ascension is a deck-building game in which players spend their currency, called Runes, to acquire more powerful cards for their deck.
It offers a dynamic play experience where players have to react and adjust their strategy accordingly during gameplay.
Each player starts with a small deck of cards, and they must use those cards to acquire more and better cards for their deck, with the goal of earning the most Honor Points by gaining cards and defeating monsters.
6. Aeon’s End
Aeon’s End is a cooperative deck building game that also explores other mechanisms, such as variable turn order systems and deck management rules that require careful planning.
Players will work to defend the remnants of a society called Gravehold from The Nameless and their hordes by using uniques abilities and powerful spells that they will gain by crafting their deck of cards.
Strategically craft your deck by adding powerful spells, gems, and relics. All of these items can be used to defeat enemies that cross your path. This game offers great replayability as you will never be playing the same game twice.
7. Thunderstone Quest
In Thunderstone Quest is a fantasy deck building game where preparation begins before players will have to enter the dungeon. Players will recruit heroes, arm their party, and then visit the dungeon.
Each player begins with a basic deck of cards that they will use to to purchase and upgrade their deck to obtain more powerful cards.
8. Hogwarts Battle
If you are a Harry Potter fan AND and looking to play more deck building games, then this is the perfect game for you. Hogwarts Battle is a cooperative deck building game where players will work together to defend Hogwarts by defeating villains and building up their defenses.
Players will take on the role of a Hogwarts student: Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Neville. Each student will have their own personal deck of cards that will be used to acquire resources during gameplay.
In order to add more cards to their deck, influence is needed in order exchange for cards that come in the form of iconic characters, spells, and magical items. There are also cards within the deck that can be used to regain health or fight villains.
Players will have to work together in order to defeat all of the villains using dark magic and secure the Hogwarts castle from the forces of evil.
9. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
If you are a fan of the Marvel superhero movies, then you should definitely add this deck building game to your card game collection. It is set in the Marvel Comics universe and players are required to choose a mastermind villain that they will use hero decks to fight against.
Over the course of the game, players will recruit powerful hero cards to add to their deck in order to build a stronger and more resourceful deck against their villains. As players fight and defeat villains, they collect those cards, which will be worth points at the end of the game.
Players can also fight the mastermind. If all of these cards are claimed, the game ends and players tally their points to see who wins. If the mastermind completes his scheme, however, then the players all lose.
10. Mage Knight
In Mage Knight, players battle to conquer cities and emerge victorious in this epic fantasy game. Mage Knight offers a highly unique gaming experience for solo gamers as players are set on a path of exploration and conquest.
You must build your army, learn powerful spells and actions, explore caves and dungeons, and conquer powerful cities. Become immersed in the Mage Knight universe in this self-contained gaming experience. As a Mage Knight, you must upgrade your character and fight off monsters in order to progress further through the game.
Best Deck Building Games
There are many deck building games currently on the market, but these are our favorite ones that we think everyone will enjoy. If you are looking for more board game ideas, then be sure to check out our complete list of the best games for game night.