The Best Card Games to Add to Your Collection

Published: November 21, 2013

You are looking to expand your game collection. Things that you are looking for are fun, replayability, and maybe even the opportunity to expand upon the original base game. In this list, I detail some of my favorite card games. By the end of this list, you'll probably not only have a great list to refer to, but a backorder on card sleeves.

  1. Munchkin

    Munchkin is a game created by Steve Jackson which strips away all of the storytelling elements of a traditional role playing game and leaves behind the fun bits. Players are dealt a hand of cards that they will use to get to level 10.

    Why it's great: Munchkin gives players the opportunity to enjoy what many consider the fun parts of role playing games without having to dress up, understand key terms, or even like role playing games at all. It's a great party game with replay value and many expansions and standalone games with thematic difference from the original. It's also fun because players generally aspire to work together to destroy whoever's in first.

    Why it's not higher on the list: There will, without fail, be one player that will be completely hosed by the deck. They will draw powerful early game monsters that they cannot beat, and most likely be stuck around levels one to five. The game becomes a lot quicker with more expansions that you add on, so I highly recommend limiting the number of expansions that you add to the game to 2 or 3 at most.

    Bottom line: Munchkin is a fun, easy to learn game that adds great value to your collection.

     

  2. Gloom

    Gloom is a counterintuitive scoring game where the object is to enact horrible events upon your characters and to do nice things for your opponents. It's a hilariously fun game driven best by creative minds and quick witted anecdotes.

    Why it's great: If you play this game with creative people that like role playing and telling stories, this is the game for you. The strategy is a little light, so the game is driven mostly by good background given by the players. It's a great game to start off a game night, since gameplay shouldn't take too long, especially with four players.

    Why it's not higher on the list: It loses value with less players, especially if you are playing a two person game and your counterpart is not as enthused about storytelling as you.

    Bottom line: Make sure you play this game with people who really enjoy storytelling. The expansions are marginally okay, but not recommended.

  3. Magic: The Gathering

    Magic: The Gathering has been around for a very long time. Created by Wizards of the Coast, this game gives you the opportunity to become a Planeswalker, summoning powerful creatures and casting crafty spells.

    Why it's great: Magic is easy to pick up, pretty addictive, and to this day there remains a lot of different places you can play with other people. Especially popular is Friday Night Magic, held at many local game stores.

    Why it's not higher on the list: The introductory game curve is pretty light, but understanding the depth and complexity of the strategy behind each deck can take a while. Additionally, your enjoyment of Magic may be limited to the community you play with. Not all communities are particularly new player friendly, which can be discouraging.

    Bottom line: Magic is a fun game, but your enjoyment of the game can largely be affected by the community you play in. Buy an introductory deck, sleeve all of your cards, and find the right place to participate in Friday Night Magic.

  4. Android Netrunner

    Android Netrunner is a living card game designed by Fantasy Flight Games. While the base game gives you enough enjoyment to last you and a friend for quite some time, the heart and soul of the game comes from being able to build your own deck through expansions.

    Why it's great: You don't need to purchase expansions, but if you do, a vast majority of them add to the game's value. There are places that hold tournaments for Netrunner that you can participate in as well. The artwork is fantastic, and the theming is well executed.

    Why it's not higher on the list: Fantasy Flight Games has a unique vendetta against well written rulebooks. Their attempts to explain the game via the rulebook are generally met with confusion. If you pick up the game, I highly recommend watching a game in action via Youtube. There may be forums available that you can refer to as well.

    Bottom line: Once you get past the confusion and the rules are clarified, Netrunner is a worthy add to your collection.

  5. Hanabi

    Hanabi is a cooperative card game designed by Antoine Bauza, known for Takenoko, Ghost Stories, and other great games. Hanabi is basically a variation on Blind Man's Bluff, where you can see everyone's cards but your own. You work together to create a fireworks show for the populace to enjoy.

    Why it's great: Hanabi is probably one of the best games to kick off a game night on this list. It's quick, it's fun, and you can actually really improve communication in a team setting playing this game. There is extra entertainment value added when someone forgets some key information that their boyfriend or girlfriend has relayed to them. The artwork is also fantastic.

    Why it's not higher on the list: If you really wanted to, you could recreate the game with your own set of cards.

    Bottom line: The gameplay is fluid, quick, and very enjoyable. I highly recommend this game.

  6. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer

    Ascension is a great deckbuilding card game. You play a faction and attempt to earn the most victory points in order to win the game.

    Why it's great: It's everything right about deckbuilding card games, and minimizes the things that make these types of games uninteresting or even frustrating. The artwork is fantastic, and there are a number of expansions that improve the player's overall experience.

    Why it's not higher on the list: Like every deckbuilding card game, you'll find that the cards players draw at the beginning can have a significant impact on a player's overall success in the game. Like I said, the game highly minimizes these sorts of problems, but like every card game based on luck, they still exist. Additionally, the expansions mostly add more art and allow for more players than significant gameplay changes.

    Bottom line: If you are looking for a card game with a great number of expansions to choose from, this is the game for you.

  7. Fluxx

    Fluxx is a game of ever changing strategies. The object of the game will always be changing depending on how players play their cards. It's quick, easy to play, and there are a number of thematic decks available with their own twists, like Pirate Fluxx and Star Fluxx.

    Why it's great: It's quick, it's simple, and it's pretty addicting. The overall strategy will change depending on the objective for victory, and the game has high replay value.

    Why it's not higher on this list: Different decks do not synergize well, if at all, which some people can find detracts from the value of the game.

    Bottom line: Every deck is pretty cheap, at around 15 dollars, so find the right themed Fluxx for you and add it to your collection.

  8. Cards Against Humanity

    Are you the kind of person that plays Apples to Apples and uses Red cards for inappropriate categories for a cheap laugh? Then Cards Against Humanity is for you. Cards Against Humanity is Apples to Apples, but with black and white cards. The white cards are about every inappropriate word, idea, or theme imaginable and the black cards encourage all sorts of strange combinations for hilarious results that should be read out loud.

    Why it's great: Cards Against Humanity is a hilarious game that derives pleasure from cheap adolescent humor. It's a great party game that will always be enjoyed by people of the same age. It's basically a guilty pleasure game. Additionally, the creators of the game have made it possible for you to print out your own set of cards at a cheaper price than if you buy it for 25 dollars online.

    Why it's not higher on the list: It's not a game you play with your parents. Or, at least, not a game that I'd play with my parents.

    Bottom line: The game is funny, and well worth your money. Buy it or print your own set of cards.

  9. Dominion

    Dominion is a competitive deck building game that plays relatively quickly, but is a lot of fun. The basic object of the game is to have the most victory points at the end. 

    Why it's great: The mechanics are solid, the artwork is fantastic, and like basically every other game on this list, there are expansions for you to enjoy. Some of them, like Intrigue, can be played as standalone games.

    Why it's not number 1: Some players have found the gameplay slow, although I personally believe that a game is best influenced by the people that you play with. Maybe those detractors just have really boring friends. That aside, if you purchase all of the sets currently available, your card total will reach about 3,000, which is a lot of cards.

    Bottom line: This is a game that you must try. If you don't like it, it isn't that expensive, but if you do like it, avail yourself of any of the expansions available. Some of them add new mechanics to the game, which can't be said for every expansion on this list.

  10. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set

    My current favorite card game available in today's market is the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. This game is derived from the popular role playing game series Pathfinder, takes the Rise of the Runelords campaign and boils it into a card game.

    Why it's great: It is the first time I have seen a role playing game successfully turned into a card game. You will not need a game master to play this game, and many people I have played with are inspired to start another role playing campaign, without the cards. You can play through the entire Rise of the Runelords campaign by purchasing the expansions, which continue the story.

    Buyer beware: The Pathfinder game is not for everyone. If you're already a hardcore role playing gamer, I highly recommend just purchasing the Rise of the Runelords book instead and fulfilling the campaign that way.

    Bottom line: If you've been trying to get your friends to play role playing games and convince them that RPGs are more about the story than dressing up, this is the best tool you could possibly use.

These card games are all solid adds to anyone's collection, but my favorite is clearly the Pathfinder card game. Any game that can make role playing gaming available to any group of people is the best on my list. Some people may disagree about the way I ranked my top 10 card games. In that case, I highly encourage that you add to the general knowledge of the internet by publishing your own top 10 list.