April 18, 2020

Best Deck Building Games

#1 Best Deck Building Game: Dominion

Dominion: 2nd Edition

Quick board game facts

  • 2nd Edition features updated cards, artwork and streamlined rules
  • Tactical game for 2-4 Players
  • 30 minute playing time
  • Lots of expansions available to add depth and complexity

What we thought of this game:

Players: 2-4

Duration: 30 mins

Time to learn: 15 mins

Dominion was the first game to introduce deck-building mechanics. Its influence can be felt in every other game on this list. However, despite its age and status as the very first game of its kind, Dominion has been refined and reworked over the years into the polished product that it is today. Since its release, Dominion has won award after award and subsequent expansion packs have only made it more popular.

New players will probably need to run through a game or two in order to get a grasp of how the game works and how to formulate strategies. But once you know what you are doing, coming up with new strategies is a breeze. Many people have described Dominion as a “gateway game” that is likely to spark a love for deck-building games, an assessment that reflects our experience with the game.

However, while Dominion is an excellent game and any deck-building fan is likely to enjoy it, in order to get the full experience, you really need the expansion packs. The base game isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but once you have played with the expansions, you won’t want to go back.

Dominion: 2nd Edition

Dominion: 2nd Edition

Dominion: 2nd Edition

Pros

  • ​One of the first deck-building games
  • ​Easy to learn how to play
  • ​Gameplay has been refined over time
  • ​Deep, involved gameplay

Cons

  • ​Needs expansions for the full experience
  • ​Involves too much luck for some players
  • ​Difficult to keep track of your deck as the game goes on

#​2 Best Deck Building Game: Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition

WizKids Mage Knight Board Game: Ultimate Edition

Quick board game facts

  • The critically acclaimed, award winning Mage Knight board game combines elements of RPGs, deckbuilding, and traditional board games while capturing the rich history of the Mage Knight universe.
  • Now, after wowing solo game players and groups of up to 5, this Ultimate Edition brings it all together in a self-contained gaming experience.
  • The Ultimate Edition includes the original base game plus all three expansions: The Lost Legion, Krang, and Shades of Tezla. It features comprehensive integrated rules text, 5 all-new cards, alternate paint jobs, and a great price that cant be beat!This is the Ultimate Edition fans have waited for!
  • Package Weight: 3.719 kilograms

Players: 1 - 4

Duration: 60 - 240 mins

Time to learn: 45 mins

Why We Chose This ​Game:

Since the release of the base game, there have been numerous expansions and additional content released that have enhanced the experience in a variety of ways. The Ultimate Edition of Mage Knight brings all of this additional content together with the original game to provide players with the, well, ultimate Mage Knight experience.

Mage Knight is a complex game and it has a significant learning curve. Players who are able to traverse this curve will be rewarded with an in-depth game and a deeply strategic experience. In fact, Mage Knight is possibly the most strategically-rich deck-building game out there.

Of course, such a steep learning curve isn’t for everybody. If you are looking for something that you can pick up and play and easily teach to others, Mage Knight isn’t the answer. Whether you are playing solo or with other players, the experience is engaging. However, if you are planning on introducing someone to the game for the first time, be prepared to spend a good hour or so getting them up to speed.

The Ultimate Edition of Mage Knight includes a lot of content, but it comes with a correspondingly high price tag. However, despite the relatively expensive cost of the game, it still represents great value for the content that you get.

WizKids Mage Knight Board Game: Ultimate Edition

WizKids Mage Knight Board Game: Ultimate Edition

WizKids Mage Knight Board Game: Ultimate Edition

Pros

  • ​Requires deep strategy
  • ​Can be played solo or multiplayer
  • ​Lots of content included
  • ​Lots of options for character progression
  • ​Great combat system
  • ​Endless replay value

Cons

  • ​Expensive
  • ​Steep learning curve
  • ​Lots of downtime in games with more than 2 players

#​​3 Best Deck Building Game: Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Quick board game facts

  • Each core set comes with 500+ playable cards featuring all original art
  • Also included is a Legendary Encounters Alien game mat to help organize the playing field
  • Full color game mat and rule book
  • Card inserts for easy organization
  • 500+ total original art card set

Players: 1 - 5

Duration: 30- 60 mins

Time to learn: 10 mins

Why We Chose This ​Game:

The Legendary series has tackled a range of famous IPs, the Legendary: Marvel Experience is another very popular deck-building game. Alien Encounters is based on the beloved sci-fi series and, like any product based on such a well-known and respected IP, there is a lot of pressure on the product to live up to expectations. Fortunately, with the exception of its disappointing artwork, Alien Encounters lives up to its theme and creates an atmosphere that few other deck-builders can match.

Players build decks using cards depicting many of the most famous characters from the film series, with the goal of fending off a xenomorph invasion. There are a number of different scenarios for players to tackle, each of which has its own set of unique objectives. Fans of the series will feel right at home, but even if you have never seen an Alien movie in your life, there is still a lot to love about Legendary’s take on the franchise.

Whether you are playing solo or with a group of friends, the game is easy to pick up and get to grips with. However, there is plenty of scope for players to develop complex strategies, despite the relative simplicity of the gameplay.

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Pros

  • ​Takes full advantage of its theme
  • ​Great atmosphere, even if you aren’t familiar with the films
  • ​Easy to pick up and teach others
  • ​Forces the player to take risks
  • ​Plenty of scope for strategy

Cons

  • ​Set up and breakdown times are relatively long
  • ​Players need to sort through 600 cards before they can play the game
  • ​Artwork doesn’t live up to the theme

​#​4 Best Deck Building Game: Clank!

Renegade Game Studios Clank! A Deck Building Adventure!

Quick board game facts

  • For 2-4 Players
  • A fast and intense dungeon delving experience!
  • Push your luck to collect more treasure but watch out for the Dragon!
  • A perfect melding of map exploration and deck-building in one game!

Players: 2 - 4

Duration: 30 - 60 mins

Time to learn: 10 mins

Why We Chose This ​Game:

Thematically, Clank! is treading on well-worn ground, albeit with a fresh pair of shoes. It is also the deck-building game that is light on the deck-building, it is as much a board game as a deck-builder. The game’s USP is the ‘Clank!’ mechanic, which raises the pressure on the players the longer they play for.

The goal of Clank! is for players to venture into a dragon’s lair, accruing more currency as they progress deeper. This currency can then be used to purchase better equipment which enables players to progress further into the cave, and so on.

Despite a simple gameplay loop, the use of novel mechanics provides a unique challenge and makes this a great game for short sessions with your friends.

Renegade Game Studios Clank! A Deck Building Adventure!

Renegade Game Studios Clank! A Deck Building Adventure!

Renegade Game Studios Clank! A Deck Building Adventure!

Pros

  • ​Lots of potential strategies
  • ​Clank! mechanic adds a unique sense of pressure
  • ​Excellent map design adds to the challenge
  • ​A new twist on an old theme

Cons

  • ​Little interaction between players
  • ​The endgame is a bit of a letdown
  • ​Experienced deck-builders will find the theme a bit dated

​#​5 Best Deck Building Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager

Fantasy Flight Games Blood Bowl: Team Manager - The Card Game

Quick board game facts

  • Card game for 2-4 players
  • Based on the beloved Games Workshop classic
  • Control one of six famous and vicious teams
  • Customize your deck as you play in fast-paced matches
  • Play in 60-120 minutes

Players: 2-4

Duration: 90 mins

Time to learn: 10 mins

Why We Chose This Product:

Blood Bowl is a parody of American football set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. It is a series that will no doubt be familiar to any experienced tabletop games players. As with all things Blood Bowl, Team Manager is satisfyingly violent and has an irresistible sense of humor. There are 6 teams for players to choose from - Humans, Chaos, Dwarves, Wood Elves, Orcs, or The Skaven. Each team has their own unique playing style and strategy, enabling players to choose the team that best reflects their preferred approach.

The rules of Blood Bowl are easy to pick up, Games Workshop has a lot of experience when it comes to setting the rules for tabletop games. Once you know what you are doing and what the order of play is, it is easy to get lost in the enchanting world of Warhammer. The Warhammer universe is extensive and is represented in a variety of media. If you are already familiar with the Warhammer Fantasy world then Blood Bowl: Team Manager is particularly engaging. However, even those without any experience of Warhammer will find this an engrossing experience.

Fantasy Flight Games Blood Bowl: Team Manager - The Card Game

Fantasy Flight Games Blood Bowl: Team Manager - The Card Game

Fantasy Flight Games Blood Bowl: Team Manager - The Card Game

Pros

  • ​Rules are easy to learn
  • ​The theme is unique and entertaining
  • ​Benefits from the fleshed-out Warhammer universe
  • ​Each team is unique with their own playstyle
  • ​Quality artwork

Cons

  • ​Endgame is sometimes a letdown
  • ​Luck can derail a carefully-crafted strategy

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About the author 

Randy Collerman

My name is Randy and for as long as I remember my family and I have played board games, card games, video games and all sorts of games, and I always loved them. As soon as I was old enough I got my friends interested and for the last 20 years we have enjoyed gathering together and playing a variety of different games. We have played so many that I decided to start a website where I review what I think are the best ones based on my experience.

  • I think clank! In space would have been a better choice than the original Clank! Due to more in depth gameplay, better variety in cards, and overall more to do on the map. The original Clank! Has started to feel very dated at this point

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