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The Best Deck Building Games

Updated on March 24, 2014

Deck Building Games!

I love deck building games. Normally I hate board games. But my brother wanted me to play this new game he had just gotten (Dominion). So I started playing and loved it. If you like board games but are tired of all the old standards you should try deck building games. And if your like me and you don't really like board games as a rule you may find you like these types of games. They are great (especially Dominion, but we'll get to that in a bit).

Below is my list of the best deck building games available today. These games meet all of the following criteria: (1) deckbuilding format (e.g., you are creating a deck of cards to use during the game, etc.); (2) compelling "theme" (not too abstract); and (3) fun to play (the most important thing). This is a list of the BEST! As always, your mileage may vary and some entries may be "controversial." As such, please feel free to comment, debate, or just express your own point of view.

What Is A Deck Building Game?

This is a great explanation of what a deck building game is and how to play them.

Dominion

This is not the first deck building game but it is arguably the one that started the current the current popularity of deck building games. It's the one that got me addicted to deck building games. And is probably the best one if you've never played a deck building game before. The rules are simpler than some of the games on this list but still not super easy. I feel that anyone over 10 years old should be able to play and enjoy this.

In Dominion, each player starts with an identical deck of cards. And there is another set of cards that are added to each players hand as the game progresses. Players "buy" these additional cards as they can afford them. Through their selection of the cards they buy, and how they play their hands as they draw them, the players construct their deck , The goal is to build the most efficient path to the precious victory points by game end.

From the back of the box: "You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner.

"But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn't be proud, but your grandparents, on your mother's side, would be delighted."

There are also a number of expansions packs available.

Dominion
Dominion

This is the basic version of the game it's really all you need.

 
Dominion Intrigue
Dominion Intrigue

This is an expansion pack for the original game. It focuses on more characters such as thieves and spies. I found this to be the best expansion pack.

 
Dominion Seaside
Dominion Seaside

This is another expansion pack. It offers buildings, rooms, objects and characters all having an ocean/seaside theme.

 
Dominion: Prosperity
Dominion: Prosperity

This is another expansion pack. It offers cards that are similar to the markets and traders found in the original game. This is a great expansion if you base your tactics on these types of cards.

 
Dominion: Big Box
Dominion: Big Box

This is the ultimate collection. It's a great way to start off playing dominion. I actually

bought it to expand my game. Now my games are twice as long.

 

Dominion on iPad

There is now an unofficial iPad app version of Dominion. It works great and allows you to play against the computer or others online. I've been using it to practice and develop new tactics. Look it up on the app store. I recommend giving it a try.

Tired Of Dominion?

The Joy's of Expansion Packs

I'll admit that since I wrote this article several years ago I got tired of Dominion. It's a great game but after you play it every 2 or 3 days for over 3 years it can get a little boring. Fortunately they make expansion packs that add to or in some cases completely change the game. All of the basic game play remains the same but with new cards entirely new strategies have to be created. I can't recommend a specific expansion pack because I keep changing my mind about which I like most. I will say I've never disliked any of them. Having 2 or 3 expansion packs and the base game give you a large variety of decks to create. My favorite expansions (the ones I keep coming back to over an over again) are: Dominion: Intrigue and Dominion: Alchemy. I'm going to buy the Dark Ages expansion pack next.

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer

Ascension is very fast paced. In this game players spend 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.

Ascension is similar to other deckbuilding games, with the player adding cards to their deck by purchasing them from a central deck, which has the top six cards revealed and available for purchase. When cards are removed, they are replaced with a new one from the top of the deck. Victory points are earned in three ways: firstly, each card purchased is worth one or more victory points; second, victory points can be gained by defeating monsters with a power resource featured on several of the cards; finally, some cards give victory points directly each time they are played.

If you don't like for games to take long this is the deck building game for you. Most games take somewhere between 5 - 15 minutes. While the games are short they are always different. You can't always use the same tactics to win. And if you add the expansion packs thing get even more interesting.

This game is also available on the ipad and there are additional expansion packs as well.

Ascension: Deckbuilding Game
Ascension: Deckbuilding Game

This is the base pack for the game. By itself it's a great game.

 
Ascension: Return of the Fallen Game
Ascension: Return of the Fallen Game

This is the best expansion pack available for the game.

 
Ascension: Storm of Souls Game
Ascension: Storm of Souls Game

THis is another expansion pack for the game.

 

Resident Evil Deck Building Game

Resident Evil is a well known video game and movie franchise. The Resident Evil Resident Evil Deck Building Game brings the story to life in a game of strategy where players construct their card decks while they play. Play as: Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, or Albert Wesker among others.

Players start with only the most basic of items and weapons. As the game progresses, players build their arsenal with additional Weapons, Ammunition, Action or Item cards to customize their deck and improve their ability in defeating the Infected! Your deck will be your lifeline to survival. How will you survive the zombie outbreak?

The Resident Evil Resident Evil Deck Building Game consists of 250 playing cards, 3 different game modes (Story, Mercenary and Versus) and hundreds of possible scenarios within each mode giving this game a great replay value. No two games are ever be the same!

Players start with a deck of 10 cards, which consist of Weapons and Ammo. Players must use their resources to obtain more powerful Weapons, Ammo, Items, and Action Cards that they add to their deck. As you progress in the game your Deck will become stronger and more efficient. You must use the cards in your deck to fight the "Infected" creatures which awards you Decorations . To win the game you must defeat more "Infected" creatures then your opponents, but the game only ends when the strongest "Infected" creatures is killed. Once he is killed, the player that has gained the most Decorations wins the game.

There are also many expansions packs available for this game.

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Resident Evil Resident Evil Deck Building Game
Resident Evil Resident Evil Deck Building Game

The Resident Evil Deck Building Game is extremely fun. If you liked the video game or the movies you will also enjoy this game. This is the base pack for the game.

 
Resident Evil Deck Building Game "Nightmare Edition"
Resident Evil Deck Building Game "Nightmare Edition"

This is another edition of the game it's slightly improved. I included it because depending on the day it is sometimes cheaper than the original version. If it was me buying I would buy the cheaper game since the benefits of the special edition are minimal.

 
Resident Evil Deck Building Game Mercenaries Expansion
Resident Evil Deck Building Game Mercenaries Expansion

One of the great things about this game is how many expansion packs are avaliable for it. They make sure the game never gets old. Check them out.

 
Resident Evil Deck Building Game Expansion "Outbreak"
Resident Evil Deck Building Game Expansion "Outbreak"

This is my favorite expansion pack available for this game.

 

Arcana

Game description of the 2011 revised edition from the publisher:

Are you ambitious and cunning enough to rule the city of Cadwallon?

In the revised edition of Arcana 2-4 guild leaders send their loyal Agents into the districts of Cadwallon to entice, bribe, or win over powerful citizens, buy precious treasures, and utilize locations. Whichever player earns the most victory points wins!

This vibrant game creates a fantastical atmosphere for players to enjoy while they attempt to best their opponents through strategic card play. Make your guild the most influential by winning Stake cards and strengthening your deck with impressive Personalities, advantageous Locations, or tempting Relics to use in bribery.

The revised edition of Arcana introduces two new guilds, and six new rule options for players to choose from, or play with them all for a more challenging experience. Players can customize their guild, fulfill objectives, recruit Militia, invoke the ability of their Guild Masters, affect game play through random events, or optimize tactical strategy through card discards. Which variant will you use in your game?

Assassin's Creed Recollection

Assassin's Creed Recollection is a new iPad real-time board game from the Ubisoft Montreal studio that will allow players to live an entirely new experience in the world of Assassin's Creed. Fans of the franchise will be able to discover and amass a wide variety of artwork created for the Assassin's Creed games. They'll also be able to compete in political battles in a real-time board game with key characters and locations from the games.

If you want a deck building game that you can play alone and on the go I recommend this one.

Other Deck Building Games Worth Playing

Star Wars: The Card Game
Star Wars: The Card Game

If you love Star Wars and DBGs you'll love this game. This game features all of the heroes and villains from the saga. The rules of this game are a bit different than the others on this list so it can be fun to play if you're getting bored with the others on the list. If you decide to get this game take a look at the expansion packs, they are a great addition to this game. Please note that this game only allows 2 players.

 
Upper Deck Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Upper Deck Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Play as Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man, etc. The whole pantheon of Marvel heroes are here. This game is very fast paced. While similar to many of the games on this list it's a bit different which I feel makes it worthy of note.

 

What is your favorite Deck Building Game? - General comments are also welcome.

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    • RuthMadison profile image

      RuthMadison 3 years ago

      I love deck building games. They are my favorite style. I just tried Legendary and Ascension this weekend and they were great. Thanks for filling me in on more to try!

    • NoProblemmo profile image

      NoProblemmo 3 years ago

      I am afraid I am familiar with Domino an Solitaire only, but now I know there is more, so much more ... Thanks for sharing all these great games!

    • profile image

      Vicki_P 3 years ago

      When my son was younger we started with Pokémon, then did some Neopets, and he also did a bit of Yugiho. I enjoyed Pokémon all right, and even tried to revive his interest in it a while ago (it didn't work, lol), but of those three I thought Neopets was the best. Of course, I'm pretty positive that game is long gone. Neopets cards were funnier and more creative than Pokémon (which is kind of sad, since the Pokémon TV series had a lot of good humor in it). I guess he also tried to get into Magicka, but video games are just way more enticing to him.

    • LouCannon profile image

      Amanda Louise Cannon 3 years ago from Wynndel BC Canada

      This sounds like something that my son would love! Thanks for making a lens on it!!

    • amytrumpeter profile image

      Amy Trumpeter 3 years ago from Oxford

      Love these! Just boosted this lens for you as I am the 'Game Night' contributor on Squidoo! Dominion is definitely my favorite deck building game!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      I play solitaire and other games on my computer everyday, it is the way I relax. I have never seen or played this games, but I wouldn't mind learning how to play Dominion. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Scrabble and solitaire are the ones I play most - I'd never heard of Deck Building games before, so thanks for the info

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      This is the first time I am learning about deck building games but from the explanations given I think that I would love playing since I like board games. Nice deck building lens, TenPoundenor!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      It sounds like this may be over my head. I will have to stick with Go Fish. lol

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      I had not heard about these types of games before. Very interesting!

    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 3 years ago

      These look really good. I've learned something because wasn't familiar with them

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Oh you hate board games?! Well I do like playing both deck building and board games :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I really like Ascension, but Legendary is just awesome! Especially if you make the Mastermind harder when you have experienced deck-building-game players

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 4 years ago from Europe

      We had a total Dominion craze about a year ago - it's great for non-gamers as it's so easy to learn.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 4 years ago

      INWO is the most fascinating one for me!!! And what a cult following it has!

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 4 years ago

      I just played Dominion last night at my house. We had a board game night with a lot of friends, it was fun! I haven't played any of the other games you mentioned yet though.

    • TenPoundTenor profile image
      Author

      TenPoundTenor 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for the heads up I'll change that and add Androminion. I'm glad you liked the page.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer is only available on iOS, not Android. :) The only Android deck building game is Androminion. But I love reading this. I have never heard of Arcana - I am going to check it out.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Tanto Cuore!!!

    • profile image

      Spectresoft 5 years ago

      I was always partial to Spellfire (I think) from like 15 years ago or so :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Dominion sounds like something I would like. The youtube video you chose was a good one.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      The one you chose sounds like fund to me. All the others are pretty gory sounding.

    • profile image

      mmatrainingrevolution 5 years ago

      very original lens, I love the content!

    • TenPoundTenor profile image
      Author

      TenPoundTenor 5 years ago

      @pufek77 lm: Agreed, though I have to admit that after the 15th time playing through the game it starts to feel a bit stale. But just a bit. Thanks for the comment.

    • pufek77 lm profile image

      pufek77 lm 5 years ago

      Assassins Creed RULES!

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      I have never played a deck builing game before, but it sounds like it might be interesting to try.