Your Best Deck-Building Games

Supporter

Let's talk about deck-building games!

  • How do you feel about them?
  • What are your favorites?
  • What do you think separates the good from the great when it comes to deck-building games?

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • If it's for a puzzly solo session, deck-building games are among the top choices for me. For multiplayer, I prefer deck-building games with more theme and other mechanics involved. In general, I enjoy deck-builders because they offer multiple viable paths in strategy, satisfaction of refining your deck/purchasing new cards, and have an element of luck in card draws.
  • Favorite to solo is #Friday. Multiplayer, it's #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated.
  • I really haven't played many deck-builders to answer this question. 

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28 days ago

My issue with most deckbuilders is that they feel like multiplayer solitaire, even when you're attacking a player it feels mechanical and uninteresting. My two favorite ones break this mold.


#Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game is a fully cooperative game that can turn into a very non-cooperative game for an unlucky player but whatever you do, the game promotes looking at what other players are doing and communicating with them constantly.


#Dynamite Nurse is a competitive goodness that has players being very mean to each other. In the crazy world of anime nurses helping moe adventurers, you'd expect the game not to be very cutthroat if you just looked at the illustrations. But who gets admitted where is decided by players at the end of their turns so if someone is in the lead, everyone else will throw the most difficult cases at them. Just when you've barely stabilized an adventurer, 2 more appear at your doorstep and each of them is 1 turn away from dying. Great little gem that's less serious but more fun as a result. 

Supporter26 days ago

I'd also suggest #Vikings Raid & Conquer Game for this.  Ok, it's not the best deck builder out there but I picked it up because it has an awesome mechanic where you look at your hand and then decide if you are going to defend your "territory", attack a specific other player, or go raiding.  You are always trying to figure out what other players are going to do combine that with what you have in your hand to decide what you are going to attempt later on in that turn.


Everyone then plays their hand, buys cards etc but everyone's plans (they chose at the beginning of the round) are then revealed simultaneously.    It really adds something to the game that I quite enjoy.  

You need a boat to go raiding, you didn't draw one but you have some card draw.  Maybe you'll get one?  You also know that Bob wants to go raiding and he has lots of boats so he could bring you with him.  But Mary has been eyeing that powerful card you have in your discard pile.  She could try to come get it. Do you take a chance and go raiding, defend your territory, or maybe surprise attack Mary instead?

Lots of fun with that aspect.  The only caveat is you will want to play with 4 or 5 players to really get in to. 

Supporter26 days ago

Cool, I like the sound of this game.  

Supporter26 days ago

It's a pretty cool twist to the formula.  I wouldn't put it up there as the best deck builder ever but if you like deck builders and have a group of players that are willing to mix it up a bit I think it's worth it.

26 days ago

Cool I'll give it a shot. It sounds really interesting, kinda lilke #Arctic Scavengers but bluffing got old really fast in that game.

Supporter26 days ago

I have heard good things about arctic scavengers.  I'll have to see if I can play it online somewhere.

Supporter27 days ago

That's the strange thing about deck-builders for me. I love what it does when it comes to solo gaming, but when it comes to playing with my wife, I've never thought about getting a pure deck-builder because we prefer games with more player interaction. #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated works for us because it keeps us interested in each other's moves a whole lot more.

As for Legendary, I've looked into the Marvel version a few times because I was interested in #Marvel Champions: The Card Game and wanted to compare. Still haven't gone for either!

27 days ago

I agree it feels like that at times.

Supporter27 days ago

I feel like #Arctic Scavengers: Base Game + HQ + Recon would be my favorite but I've never had the opportunity to play it more than 2-player which I think would improve the game.

#Star Realms is always good for a quick 2 player game

Supporter27 days ago

What is it about #Arctic Scavengers makes it your favorite do you think? Does the theme play into it?

Supporter26 days ago

I like digging in the junkyard and potentially finding useful cards.

I like that each round you reserve some of your cards for a fight with the other players for a more valuable resource card that is otherwise unavailable. It adds some player interaction that is missing from a lot of deckbuilders.

Supporter26 days ago

"Player Interaction" = music to my ears.

27 days ago

If I had to pick just one, my absolute favorite would be #Dale of Merchants and that whole series, mainly because as you get more of the sets, it becomes just a super customizable deck building game that can fit any type of gamer and you can discuss what aspects you want in the game before you start playing.

Supporter26 days ago

While I'm wanting to hold off on new games for the rest of 2020 I do need to consider a deck builder for 2021 so I'll be checking this out.  How many players can it play at?

46 hours ago

Sorry about the delayed response, it plays up to 4 players.

Supporter26 days ago

I had never heard of this one but have now added it to my list of games to checkout. Looks interesting.

Supporter27 days ago

Nice, I've heard great things about it. Did you end up backing #Dale of Merchants 3? How would you compare DoM vs. #Dominion: Second Edition? I've seen the two mentioned alongside each other quite often.

46 hours ago

I haven't played Dominion in years. I did back #Dale of Merchants 3 . You don't need it all, more expansions just give you more versatility because each animal deck can add different mechanics to the game. So you can make it a  very friendly no take-that game with certain decks, or you can double down on it and make it a mad crazy super attacky game with other decks.

Supporter27 days ago

I like deckbuilding games, my favorite deckbuilder is #Star Trek: Frontiers. Of course, deckbuilding is only one of many parts of this superb game. 

If I have to go with a purer deckbuilder my first pick would be #Dominion: Second Edition and my second is #Star Realms.  

28 days ago

I don't own a lot of DB games, but I have one I really like. It's called #Path of Light and Shadow and it was a Kickstarter by Indie Boards and Cards. I don't think it got to retail, unfortunately , but it's an amazing game that mixes deck building with tech trees and area control. 

Supporter26 days ago

This sounds like it hits a lot of other check marks for me.  I've never heard of this game but will definitely be doing some research on it.

Supporter27 days ago

I remember seeing the Kickstarter but didn't get into it. The combination of mechanics sounds awesome though, I really like tech trees and area control haha. Do you think it would work well for 2p count?

27 days ago

I'd say it scales well to two (the map is double sided), but it turns itself into a completely different game. Even with a smaller map, the game with 2 tends to be a bit more of multiplayer solitaire, because there's not a lot of conflict and interaction. With 3 and 4 is where I think the game really shines, precisely because there is a lot more conflict, interaction and fighting for certain areas. In short, yes, plays well with two, but it wouldn't be my first recommendation for a 2 player game.

28 days ago

I have a general rule about deck builders, I want deck building to be a mechanic, not the entirety of the game. I can clarify here. I am looking at a game like #Dominion: Second Edition where all you are doing is buying cards from the market and building your deck. To me this is a bit of a snoozer, you just are waiting for your turn and hoping you get all of the cards you just bought into your hand so you can have a monster turn and have everyone wait for you to combo everything. I like a deck builder to have theme and to impact a board or a situation. The games that I feel do this well are #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated, #Great Western Trail, #Aeon's End: The New Age. You build your deck for a purpose, and to impact the board state rather than just having a sweet deck. 

28 days ago

I will defend #Dominion. I still think it's a worthy classic. I have more exciting games, but I would absolutely play a base game of Dominion + Prosperity anytime, with anyone. A lot of games sand off corners of deck management, or make it a smaller part of a bigger game. But there is something really fun about starting with the same set of resources and building your way up. And with how simple and scaleable the game is, it can be wildly different each time you play it in a way that the other games simply cannot. 

28 days ago

I can respect that. I have only played the base game so I am sure there are some good expansions that liven it up, but my first play through left me wanting. 

28 days ago

The two deck builders I have played and have resonated with me are #Star Realms and any Aeon's End game. Love the implementation and the feeling of growth in these!

28 days ago

I really enjoy them. In fact, I'm working on my own right now. (Well, it's been a few months, but I am working on it.) I like the choices that I can add to my deck and make it mine.

#Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure is my favorite, and I'm sure Legacy will top that once I get it played. I also really like #Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game and Star Realms.

I think a "good" deckbuilder needs to provide something different, and give lots of options for how to build your deck. Clank! offers movement and combat, and a growing threat as the game progresses, for example. I think Dominion is a really good game, but I also think it has been improved on with many other deckbuilders. Still, I won't hesitate to play Dominion if asked.

Supporter28 days ago

This was the only thing I didn't really love about Dominion.  Yes there are options to build your deck but around the table they are largely the same.  I would still play it again and would like to see the different cards but it would be nice to have some cards that are solely yours to choose from to give you a little bit of variety in the play.  

Supporter28 days ago

This is still a genre I don't really own.  #A Few Acres of Snow (which was my entry point into the hobby) included a large portion of deck building.  I think I like needing to plan around the draw and playing my cards at the exact right moment in deck building.

I did play #Dominion: Second Edition for the first time last week and enjoyed it.  It was an easy learn.  I do feel like the components and connection to the theme are lacking for me in it though.  Maybe because I'd prefer Deck Building with more combat or something more concrete than what you build to in Dominion.

I am hoping that #Fort is going to fill that hole in my collection at some point.

Supporter26 days ago

I always forget about #A Few Acres of Snow

Only played it one time and really enjoyed it. Then made the mistake of reading about a potentially game breaking strategy and have felt ever since like I can't get back into it. So do yourself a favor and never read up on that topic with this game!

Supporter26 days ago

Yeah, I've heard of it, the Halifax Hammer.  I haven't played in years because I almost never need a 2P game.  I'd say that of all the times I've played it in the past the Halifax Hammer only worked 1 - 2 times (out of probably 8 - 10 plays).

Supporter27 days ago

If #Fort actually succeeds in making you feel like you're building a fort, then I'd be getting it 100%. My wife would love that theme.

Supporter26 days ago

I definitely don't want to get too hyped just because it's Leder Games, but based on look and theme I hope it'll be the Deck Builder I choose to start that part of my collection.

26 days ago

It seems like an accessible theme, fun mechanics and high quality components. Definitely seems like a good starting point!

28 days ago

Fort sure looks interesting! I am digging the look and the production value for sure. 

Supporter28 days ago

Yeah, I still need to do a lot of research.  I'm a bit surprised that there isn't more out yet unless they are just holding off on rules videos and reviews until right before preorder.

28 days ago

I know it is a re-implementation of SPQF so that could give you an idea of how it will play?

Supporter27 days ago

Good idea, I'll check it out.

Supporter28 days ago

How is Clank Legacy as far as player interaction?

Supporter27 days ago

Assuming you haven't played a Clank! game before, there's a constant tension in gameplay where players are racing to explore the dungeon and bring back the most valuable treasure/artifact. The deeper you traverse into the dungeon, the more valuable goods you'll find but greater the danger level. This is because there's a giant dragon creeping up on you with every noise the adventurers make.

These are the kinds of interactions you'd see in #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

  • Many of the players' movements disturb the dragon and increases the frequency/ferocity of the dragon's attack.
  • There's a tension of how far you should push your luck and try to go for something valuable, while others might take advantage of this and decide to settle for a low value item and run back to the HQ as fast as possible (once a player returns to the HQ, the frequency of the dragon's attack increases as well).
  • Like with any other deck-building games, there's a market where you can buy better cards. You'd be competing with others to get the cards you want.
  • On the legacy side--mechanically speaking, a player will often trigger an event from the book and this will present new findings like discovering a new location, a new challenge/contract to fulfill, an alternative pathway, a better artifact, etc. It'll be yet another thing that players can compete for. Besides this, I think there's another layer of social interaction that the legacy adds. And it's that the gameplay becomes so immersive that players are genuinely interested in the events triggered by another player. Even if that event is not involving them specifically, I was impressed by how much of a shared experience this game becomes for the group (me and my wife).

28 days ago

I think the only deck builder I've played is #Star Realms, which is a cool game. Great game in terms of box size to game ratio.

#Century: Golem Edition and #Concordia have kind of a slow "hand building" mechanism, but I don't really think that's the same thing.

I've backed #Dale of Merchants on Kickstarter, so I'm waiting for that, but that seems like a really fun, customizable deck builder with tons of variety.

The only other one that's really caught my eye is #Baseball Highlights: 2045. I love baseball, so the theme appeals to me, but by all accounts, it's a great game aside from the theme.

28 days ago

For some reason I though you owned Baseball Highlights! I have a friend on the East coast who owns it and enjoys it!

Supporter27 days ago

Same here, I thought that too. But I just remembered what I'm thinking of is the message I got from @Skurvy5 a while back that he got a copy haha

28 days ago

No I just talk about wanting to get it often, haha. The only reason I've waited so long is that I'm not sure who'd play it with me, haha.

28 days ago

Do your gaming friends not enjoy baseball? I have heard it can play 4 tournament style?

28 days ago

Not to the level that I do. They'd definitely try it, I'm just not sure how much they'd enjoy it. Usually they lean toward theme in the games they enjoy. If I see a particularly good deal, I'll have to pick it up, though.

28 days ago

What a sad day, I miss baseball so much...

28 days ago

😢

I have a feeling Trout is going to call it quits for the season as soon as his wife goes into labor

28 days ago

I honestly would be shocked if he even plays which would be a huge loss...It does pave the way for Adell to get some playing time though. 

28 days ago

Yeah I guess that's one bright side. I was really looking forward to seeing Trout/Rendon/Ohtani at 2/3/4 for a full season, but I guess that will have to wait until next year.

28 days ago

At least we will see Ohtani pitch and hit!

28 days ago


28 days ago

VERY GOOD

28 days ago

I usually give less priority to card games when it comes to adding games to my collection although right now the reasons why I did that are less important. That being said, I think deck building games are fun, fast paced and very engaging since there is usually no downtime in between turns.

I've played a couple of deck builders but not consistently, mostly as part of a game night as a one off. One that comes to mind is #Rick and Morty: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind Deck-Building Game cause of the particular theme. It's a pretty simple straightforward game though. I've also recently played some dominion and I really enjoy it.

Looking forward to reading answers to the last question since I feel I've not experienced the full potential of a deck building games.

28 days ago

I really enjoy deck-building games, they tend to have a great arc. I think to be enjoyable you have to have the cards integrate and allow for satisfying combos allowing the player to take pride in their creation.

Games I have enjoyed: 

#Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game, one of the first deck builders I think I played, relatively simple mechanics, and co-op which allowed for a lot of planning and co-ordination between player's decks. Enjoy the franchise in general and the missions had great theming based on each movie. A good introduction to deck builders in my opinion.

#Valley of the Kings a relatively small deck-builder but has a wonderful mechanic of also being a deck destruction game. You are constantly (and fairly easily) acquiring new and ever more powerful cards but you only score points for the cards you have managed to 'entomb' (ancient Egypt theme) which removes them permanently from your deck and will cost you on that turn as well. So the whole game is a very fine balancing act of buying new cards but also wanted to time when you entomb them (as entombing is limited to one card a turn normally, but you can get cards that allow you to do extras) as the end of the game can really sneak up on you.

#Cry Havoc is kind of a mini-deck builder driving an area control game - integrates the two mechanics seamlessly. You only get 15 actions the whole game, and adding a card to your deck is a whole action normally so cost-benefit is a huge part but they allow for some really enjoyable plays. Overall a seriously fun game.

I think in my experience a great deck builder tends to be one that is relatively generous (as in all the cards do enjoyable and positive things so you are never stuck unable to do anything) but makes decisions interesting by saying 'you can do any one thing you like but not all the things you want to so you're going to have to chose' 

Also, I love it when each player's deck feels very different by the mid-game and certainly by the end. I often feel like in #Dominion that there isn't enough variety within a given game. (obviously a lot of variety over different games)



Supporter27 days ago

#Valley of the Kings has definitely caught my attention.  

26 days ago

I picked it up on sale and wasn't expecting anything special but it has been a real hit, one of my favourite deck-builders and it plays in like 40 minutes at most

28 days ago

#Dale of Merchants has a similar deck building/deck deconstruction mechanism to Valley of the Kings

28 days ago

#Valley of the Kings sounds interesting, specially that theme. I'll check it out.

28 days ago

Would definitely recommend it, I actually have #Valley of the Kings: Afterlife but I think they are all pretty similar and can be merged. Also, the artwork is very pretty if that adds to the appeal.

28 days ago

It definitely does. I love great artwork.

New User44 hours ago

I like deck builders a lot. Haven't played one in a while. Star Realms, Clank!, and Vikings Gone Wild are some of my favorites. Always on the look out for good ones. I've been thinking about getting Baseball Highlights 2045 for a long time. I'm not much of a baseball fan, but this pretty thematic.