Deckbuilding video games have established themselves as one of the most popular forms of entertainment in 2022. The immersive board games utilize card collection and require strategic planning for players to craft the mightiest deck of cards possible, allowing them to fortify their character and conquer the game along the easiest path possible.
Of course, deckbuilding games come in all different varieties and offer unique gameplay options depending on a player’s experience. From beginners to experts alike, the most satisfying deckbuilding games present a slew of unique challenges for gamers to endlessly explore, whether in single players or multiplayer mode.
For novice deckbuilders looking for a cool introduction to the card games, Friday is a solo effort that is ideal for learning the ropes of how to navigate the genre’s gameplay. Players venture on a deserted island with Robinson Crusoe and collect buried treasure, fend off pirates, and fortify their deck along the way.
The great thing about Friday is that it is specifically designed for solitaire gameplay, meaning players do not need to round up others to play and learn the ropes of deckbuilding strategy. As such, it’s a great entry point to the deckbuilding brand and will definitely steel players for more advanced games to come.
9 Star Realms
One of the most popular deckbuilding games in 2022 includes Star Realms, a supremely balanced spaceship trading and combat game that never bores for a moment. Easy to learn and highly amusing to play, Star Realms is the logical next step from Friday as it was designed for a two-player mode (now up to six players) for gamers to improve their combat skills and collaborative teamwork in a card collection setting.
Beyond the mechanical simplicity and affordable price (roughly $15), Star Realms is portable, expandable, and has won several awards for its brilliant blend of sci-fi space combat and old-school deckbuilding that make it feel like a riveting mash-up of Magic and Dominion. As such, it’s ideal for the novice deckbuilder looking to take the next step.
8 Core Worlds
Although Eminent Domain and Race For the Galaxy deserve a mention, Core Worlds is the next best space-traveling deckbuilding game to check out. Players manage an imperial space-faring vessel out to conquer various planets in the galaxy. In order to advance through the cosmos, players must build their ships and state-of-the-art tech in order to travel deeper into space.
Thanks to its awesome Galactic Orders expansion pack, Core Worlds is vastly improved and upgraded to become one of the most involved deckbuilders on the market. Players can buy troops, fortify squads, attack planets, and more, all of which lead to strategic decision-making and the dire ramifications of making one false move.
While Clank! In! Space! is another worthy sci-fi deckbuilder, its dungeon-based predecessor, Clank!, is the next best video board game for fans of the genre to try out. The amusing adventure game allows players to work together as thieves tasked with pilfering as many priceless relics as possible while evading a fire-breathing dragon guarding a subterranean lair.
Clank! is a terrific 2 to 4 player game that forces gamers to come up with the best strategies imaginable, making the consequential risks of card collection a real compromise. If players get too ambitious, they’ll inevitably pay the price. If they remain too passive, they’ll also suffer interminably. As such, it’s a perfect game for novice to mid-level deckbuilders to really fortify their decision-making.
6 Thunderstone Quest
For gamers looking for multi-narrative playthroughs that vary depending on how their deck is built, Thunderstone Quest is the place to be. A major upgrade to 2009’s Thunderstone, players enter a dungeon and are tasked with building spells, weapons, tools, and other items needed to slay a horde of beasts.
What makes Thunderstone Quest such a special deckbuilder is its immense replay value. Since the game tells a specific story based on pre-selected dungeon tiles, heroes, ghouls, and support cards, multiple outcomes are possible depending on the specific in-game strategy a player takes. Even better, Thunderstone Quest is cooperative, allowing gamers to work together with their friends rather than taking on solo missions like Friday.
Currently holding a 93 Metascore for iOS, Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone is still one of the most universally acclaimed deckbuilding games in 2022. Aside from being free-to-play, the mass appeal derives from its fast pace of play, basic mechanics that everyone can learn, and impeccable attention to detail in its stunning artwork. Of course, that the game builds on the Warcraft lore is among its major draws.
Named by Forbes as the best digital card game of 2013, Hearthstone has seen tons of expansion upgrades in past decades (including the awesome Boomsday Card expansion), giving gamers a vivid continuation into the medieval realm of Warcraft. The best part of Hearthstone is its countless game modes, which include 1-on-1, Classic, Multiplayer, Arena, Tavern Brawls, Battlegrounds, Duels, and Mercenaries, making it ideal for deckbuilders looking for more advanced challenges.
4 Aeon’s End
Released in 2019, Aeon’s End is another acclaimed and highly advanced deckbuilding game that requires complex cooperation to conquer. Players control one of four mages protecting the long-lost subterranean metropolis Gravehold from an enemy called The Nameless, building their decks using runes, relics, gemstones, and minions.
As teams of up to four peruse the D&D-like setting, what sets Aeon’s End apart is its use of randomness. Rather than shuffling a player’s deck, the game shuffles the players’ order of turns, forcing them to think and strategize well in advance like a 4D chess player. With endless gameplay options and unpredictable outcomes, Aeon’s End is one of the most difficult cooperative deckbuilders that experts will have an absolute blast trying to defeat.
Supervised by former Magic The Gathering champion Justin Gary, Ascension is arguably the best card-based video game on Steam for die-hard fans of the subgenre who require a heightened difficulty level. Constantly upgraded with expansion packs (15 to date), Ascension tasks players with building their card decks by spending runes, brilliantly balancing mental strategy with physical adventure gameplay mechanics.
Despite the immense complexity of its various challenges, Ascension is surprisingly easy to learn and boasts a fast tempo that keeps players engaged even as they figure out how to maneuver early on. For those looking for the most satisfying multiplayer deckbuilders, Ascension is the way to go.
2 Mage Knight
While Magic The Gathering Arena is always a safe bet, Mage Knight will challenge even the most advanced deckbuilders to conquer the game in short order. Loaded with intense puzzles that require a steep learning curve, players can take on solo missions or cooperate with up to three others. Each character starts by drawing five cards before increasing to a total of 16 by taking a slew of horrifying enemies and solving a rash of brain-busting puzzles.
The coolest part? Players actually build the game board itself using tiles as described by certain prompts. In controlling one of four mage knights, players can fight, conquer cities, explore realms, control lands, and investigate mysteries. Named as the Best Solo RPG deckbuilder by Board Games Land in 2018, Mage Knight is reserved for the most advanced gamers who favor cerebral strategy over simple adventure. It’s even a great solo game for fans of multiplayer mode.
Universally recognized as the grandfather of all deckbuilding games, Dominion remains at the top of the class. Without it laying the foundation of an entire subgenre of card games, none of the other deckbuilders mentioned would exist. As such, it deserves all the respect in the world.
The game that started it all, Dominion is set in a medieval realm where players purchase cards to upgrade their decks in order to take on enemies, evolve their character, and earn valuable points. The game has been expanded 14 times as of 2022, giving players endless options to spend hours navigating while mounting decks that range from Victory, Curse, Treasure, Attack, Action, and Reaction cards. Winner of multiple awards, Dominion is at once a great entry point for beginners and a terrific challenge for experts who obtain the expansion packs.