Card games are so much fun and so easy to whip out during a game night. After all, the components of the game usually involve just cards. There are so many card games out there that we wanted to dedicate a whole post about digging into the world of card gaming. Here is our ultimate list of card games everyone should know and own.
We’re going to list tons of card games based on different categories, so we don’t expect you to know or own all of these card games. If you are looking to dive deeper into the hobby of card gaming, then you should definitely have the ones listed in this article on your radar.
Find the perfect card game for your next game night using this article and you will be sure to have a great time!
The Best Card Games for Game Night
If you follow the blog, then you know that we like to have different game nights revolving around different occasions and themes. Most of our game nights are casual that usually lean more towards party games.
We also like to have game nights with our more “serious” gamer friends that like to try out different strategic games, or games that involve a lot of thinking. This is where choosing competitive card games or deck building games come in.
Other times, we are in the mood to play a quick card game that usually lasts about 15-20 minutes in order to get in our gaming fix for the day. We like to call these our quick play card games.
If we are playing games with people who have not played a lot of card games before or are new to the idea of card gaming, then we usually go for cooperative card games so we can all play together and not have the stress of competing against each other.
Lastly, for occasions like big family barbecues or playing with our grandparents, we like to whip out the classic card games that you can play with any old deck of cards (52 card deck).
With all the different scenarios above, we decided to put this list together based on different categories whether you will be having a casual game night, a more competitive game night, or just want to get a quick game of cards in.
Here are the different categories we will be going over so that you can skip around and find the perfect card game for your game night group:
- Party Card Games
- Deckbuilding Games
- Cooperative Card Games
- Competitive Card Games
- Quickplay Card Games
- Classic Card Games with a Deck of Cards
Gather around the table and whip out some cards, we are about to dive deep into all of the card games everyone should know and own.
Best Party Card Games for Game Night
If you are having a more casual game night where the goal is to just sit back, relax, and have fun, then you may want to pick up some of these party card games listed below.
These are fun party games that only consist of cards. They are quick to set up and easy to teach to your guests. I’ll also mention that they are loads of fun!
Unstable Unicorns is a card game built to destroy friendships… in a good way. Don’t be fooled by the cute unicorns; these unicorns are full of destruction and betrayal. Recruit unicorns to your stable and work to build up your unicorn army in order to destroy your friends and come out victorious.
This card game can be played with 2-8 players and is the perfect party card game for your next game night!
Exploding Kittens is by the same makers of Unstable Unicorns and is the most backed game in kick starter history. Exploding kittens is a fast paced, intense card game that can create a lot of laughs and shouting around the playing table.
It’s basically a highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette that can provide your group with fun for hours as you can keep playing rounds over and over again. And trust me, we have played many rounds of this game.
5 Minute Dungeon
5 Minute Dungeon is a card game that consists of exploring a dungeon, killing monsters, and defeating a boss. Oh wait, did we mention that this all needs to be done in 5 minutes!?
It’s chaotic, cooperative, and so much fun! You must work together to defeat all of the monsters in the dungeon within 5 minutes.
Everyone knows and loves this classic, cut-throat card game. Players take turns matching a card in their hand with the current card shown on top of the deck either by color or number.
Special action cards deliver game-changing moments as they help you defeat your opponents. Uno is an easy card game to learn that makes for a fun and exciting game night.
Phase 10 is the rummy-type card game where players compete against one another to see who can complete 10 varied phases first. The cards look a lot like uno and the different phases consist of matching different sets of cards or creating runs of consecutive numbered cards.
This game can be a bit chaotic as some players can move to new phases while others are left behind. Work fast to complete your phase before others so that you can leave your opponents in the dust!
Pass the sushi! In this fast-playing card game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi.
Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. But be sure to leave room for dessert or else you’ll eat into your score! Gather the most points and consider yourself the sushi master!
Happy Salmon is a silly card game that is perfect to play with friends or family. It’s a simple card game that will be easily learned by your friends and will be sure to create a lot of chaos and laughs.
In Happy Salmon, there are no turns. Players call out the action shown on their cards as fast as they can. When two players have a match, they celebrate by performing the action. Actions include the classic “High 5”, the unifying “Pound It”, the frantic “Switcheroo”, and the delightful and bizarre “Happy Salmon”.
Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity is one of the most well-known adult party card games currently on the market. It doesn’t take much to get the hang of matching cards together to make up hilarious scenarios and wildly inappropriate statements.
We love playing cards against humanity and it is one of the easiest games to whip out during a party with friends. The concept is simple, but you need to turn on your charm and sense of humor to make sure you are making the best combinations with the cards you have been dealt.
If you are looking for a fun and energetic game for a large group of people, then this is the perfect game. We have had so much fun playing numerous rounds of Mafia that results in a lot of playful arguments and people talking over each-other.
Everyone has a secret role and the villagers must work together to identify the mafia and execute them! The Mafia must lie and pretend that they are part of the villager group so they do not get executed. It’s the perfect social deduction game!
You can either play this game by creating roles yourself by looking up a guide online, or purchase the actual Mafia game that will help guide you.
Best Deckbuilding Card Games for Game Night
A deck building card game consists of building up the cards in your deck during the whole game in order to come to the best possible end result.
Deck building card games bring a lot more strategy into gameplay than a party card game. I would say that they are more for advanced players and more “serious” game nights, but you may find that you will really enjoy a deck building game once in a while if you consider yourself more of a casual board gamer.
Here are our favorite deck building card games for game night!
Star Realms is a fast paced deck-building card game of outer space combat. It combines the fun of a deck-building game with the interactivity of trading style combat.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Best Cooperative Card Games for Game Night
The next set of card games we will be listing out are card games that are played cooperatively, meaning everyone is on the same team and working together towards a common goal.
These card games are great for players beginning to explore the hobby, as the competitive aspect is revoked, and players can focus on learning the strategies of card gaming together.
Here are our favorite cooperative card games for game night!
Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Those with a love of adventure and horror, will find the perfect fit in the card game Arkham Horror! Players will be put as the head investigator of evil throughout Arkham City.
As the investigator, you have specific strengths and weaknesses and must use your abilities to gather clues and solve mysteries. Every task and mystery you solve allows you to gain experience points which you can use to upgrade your character and deck.
The horror aspect of the game shines through the strange creatures and haunted houses that you will encounter along the way.
Hanabi is a cooperative game in which players try to create the perfect fireworks show by working together to place cards on the table in the right order.
The card deck consists of five different colors of cards, numbered 1–5 in each color. For each color, the players try to place a row in the correct order from 1–5. Sounds easy, right? Well, not quite, as in this game you hold your cards so that they’re visible only to other players and must work together to let others know which cards they hold.
To assist other players in playing a card, you must give them hints regarding the numbers or the colors of their cards. Players must act as a team to avoid errors and to finish the fireworks display before they run out of cards.
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor. Each player plays as one of ten heroes, against one of four villains, and the battle takes place in one of four different dynamic environments. How exciting!
On each player’s turn, they may play a card from their hand, use a power printed on one of their cards in play, and draw a card from their deck. Play continues until the heroes reduce the villain to 0 or fewer HP, or until the villain defeats the heroes.
It’s the perfect superhero vs villain card game, that also happens to be cooperative!
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game, is a fully cooperative card game based on the four movies of the Alien series.
Players must cooperate in order to survive against hordes of aliens. Players take turns recruiting cards for their deck from a central selection in order to improve their deck and defeat Xenomorph cards that are added to the central game board.
This card game is a deck building game AND a cooperative game, so it can go in either category.
Best Competitive Card Games for Game Night
Similar to the deck building category, these card games are competitive and are geared more towards “hardcore” gamers. They involve a lot of strategy and hold some in-depth gameplay.
Others may find these games a bit too intense, but if you are interested in expanding your horizons and digging deep into competitive card games with lots of strategies, then this section is for you!
Here are the best competitive card games for game night!
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
In Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, conflicts rage between cosmic powers who want the world for their own unfathomable purposes and the human agencies dedicated to stopping them.
Players will be fully immersed in this world and players will be placed in control of some of the facets of that world. A typical game plays very quickly between two players and it has a high-level of player interaction, analysis of open information, planning and strategy.
Magic the Gathering
This is the grandfather of the collectible card game “Magic.” In Magic the Gathering, cards are categorized as common, uncommon, rare, and mythic rare. Players collect cards and build decks out of their collection.
Players build a deck of cards and duel against an opponent’s deck. Players are wizards attempting to reduce their opponent’s life total to zero. The first player to reduce his opponent’s life to zero, wins the game.
An important part of the game is deck construction, which is done prior to the actual game by selecting what cards are included in a particular deck. There are nearly 20,000 different cards from which to build your deck!
Netrunner: The Card Game
Netrunner is a cyberpunk-themed collectible card game where two players are the Corp (who wins by completing Agendas) and the Runner (who wins by infiltrating the Corp and liberating Agendas).
Each side has a limited number of both actions and bits (money) to spend per turn; bits are gone once used, and actions must be spent to gain more. It has the feel of a “capture the flag” game, with the Runner moving in dataforts to steal Agendas from the Corp.
Innovation is a journey from the stone age through modern times. Each player builds a civilization based on various technologies, ideas, and cultural advancements, all represented by cards.
Each of these cards has a unique power which will allow further advancement, point scoring, or even attacking other civilizations. Be careful though, as other civilizations may be able to benefit from your ideas as well!
To win, you must score achievements, which you can attain by amassing points or by meeting certain criteria with the innovations you have built. Plan your civilization well, and outmaneuver your opponents, and with some luck you will achieve victory!
Race for the Galaxy
In the card game Race for the Galaxy, players build galactic civilizations by playing game cards in front of them that represent worlds or technical and social developments.
Some worlds allow players to produce goods, which can be consumed later to gain either card draws or victory points when the appropriate technologies are available to them. These are mainly provided by the developments and worlds that are not able to produce, but the fancier production worlds also give these bonuses.
Best Quickplay Card Games for Game Night
This next section is dedicated to card games that are quick to play and can be played over and over again until it’s time to move on.
We love quick play card games when we are looking for games that we can just whip out and play some quick rounds between heavier board games or card games.
These card games usually last between 15-20 minutes to play through a whole game and are loads of fun.
Here is our list of the best quick play card games for game night.
Pandora’s Box is a fast paced matching game featuring your favorite Greek Gods & Goddesses! Will the luck of the Gods be on your side helping you to reveal a Gad Zeus OR will your fellow playmates cast Lock/Key leading to your demise?
We thoroughly enjoy the laughter and intensity this game offers. Don’t let the quick play through time fool you, we guarantee you’ll be wanting to play multiple rounds (because we do that ourselves haha).
In Love Letter, players are trying to get their love letter delivered to the princess who has locked herself away in the castle. The cards in the deck represent the various members of the court who all have a different role and action when playing a card.
During gameplay, players start with a card, draw one more, then play one of the two cards in their hand. When playing a card, players have the chance to seek information, perform a duel, or grant immunity.
At the end of the game, the member of the court remaining in one’s hand represents who carries your letter to the princess. The player with the highest value card remaining in their hand wins the round, first to win a set number of rounds wins the game.
The Mind is a team experience in which you can’t exchange information, but must work together to defeat all the levels of the game.
Collectively you must play cards into the center of the table on a single discard pile in ascending order, but you cannot communicate with one another in any way as to which cards you hold. You simply stare into one another’s eyes, and when you feel the time is right, you play your lowest card. If no one holds a card lower than what you played, great, the game continues! If someone did, all players discard face up all cards lower than what you played, and you lose one life.
The number of lives you start with are equal to the number of players. If you lose all your lives, then you lose the game. Complete all the levels, and you win!
Point Salad is a fast and fun card drafting game that is perfect for anyone and everyone. There are over 100 ways to score points and players must use a variety of strategies, making every game of Point Salad unique!
All of the cards within the deck represent a different type of veggie. The back of each card has a different scoring method, depending on the veggie. For example, one of the cards may award 2 points for every carrot you have, but deduct a point for every onion.
Therefore, players must draft different combinations of veggies and point cards that work for their strategy. The player who scores the most points using their combinations and strategy, wins!
Classic Card Games with a Deck of Cards
These are card games that you can play with just any old deck of cards. This is your standard 52 deck of cards that we all know and love. Most of these games are considered “classics” that span back hundreds of years.
Here are our favorite classic card games with a deck of cards:
- Go Fish
- Old Maid
- Crazy Eights
- Twenty One (Blackjack)
- Knockout Whist
- Poker (Texas Hold’Em)
You can easily learn these games by searching “how to” guides online. We love to always carry a standard deck of cards with us anywhere we go so that we can play any of these classic card games when we find ourselves in situations of boredom.
Card Games Everyone Should Know and Own
We hope you enjoyed this article on card games everyone should know and own. There are so many card games out there that are so much fun and easy to learn. If you want to dive deep into strategy and heavy gameplay, then there are card games for that as well!
No matter what kind of game night you are having, card games are great for any occasion! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below!