Deck building games have established themselves as one of the most strategic genre of board games. They require strategic planning in terms of which cards you want to buy so they’re in your deck later, and a lot of tactical skill to play the cards in your hand as effectively as possible. In this post we rank the top 5 best deck building games.
Dominion is the first deck building game and it’s still the best. It just has everything. It has a fantastic theme and great artwork. There are amazingly strong card combinations yet the game as a whole remains balanced. It’s easy enough to learn but takes years to master. There’s a reason Dominion won pretty much all the board game awards when it came out.
Moreover, the long list of Dominion expansions that have came out over the years cement its number one spot in this ranking. These expansions also have fantastic themes and introduce interesting new game mechanics. And if you combine several different expansions you’ll keep finding cool new card combinations to play with.
There’s just no question about it: Dominion is number one in this ranking. We recommend it to everyone who is buying their first deck building game.
In Ascension players build their deck with powerful cards by spending runes. It’s a fast paced deck building game with incredibly solid and balanced game mechanics. This is not surprising, as its creators are professional Magic the Gathering players (among which Brian Kibler, a famous Hearthstone commentator).
The creators continually put out great expansions to the game. (Similarly to how collectible card games like Magic and Hearthstone put out expansions regularly.) So, Ascension is a game that you’ll be able to enjoy for a long time.
We recommend Ascension for die hard deck building gamers especially. The professional gamers that designed just really put in a lot to be discovered.
3. Star Realms
Star Realms is a space ship trading and combat game. Players use trade to acquire ships and bases, which they then use to trade more or to combat their opponents. The balance of trade and combat is at the core of this game.
Star Realms shines in its simplicity. It’s the quickest to learn deck building game in this list, and also the quickest to play. But, there’s still enough strategic depth in the game to want to master it by replaying it many times.
The base game was originally designed for 2 players, which is why it’s the best deck building game for duels. But, later expansions enable you to play the game with larger groups as well.
We recommend Star Realms to pretty much everyone because of its low price. But, it’s especially great if you’re looking to pick up a lighter deck builder gamer.
4. Aeon’s End
In Aeon’s end the players defend their forgotten underground city of Gravehold. They build their deck with relics, gems and minions in their attempt to defeat their Nameless assailants.
Aeon’s end is a unique deck building game because it’s cooperative. The players fight against the Nameless together. The game reminds one a lot of a D&D campaign, as it’s a cooperative with a great theme, random turn order and seemingly infinite options for the players. It’s also by far the most complex game in this list, and the hardest. In the beginning you’ll often lose quickly.
We recommend this game if you want to play a cooperative game with a great theme, and you’re able to keep up with its steep learning curve.
In Clank! the players are thieves robbing a dungeon. They must rob as many valuable items as possible, while avoiding getting caught by the dragon that guards the dungeon.
The game really drives off its adventure theme. The players continually decide whether they dare to push their luck for bigger rewards in face of the danger of the dragon ascending. The deck building mechanics of Clank! are relatively straightforward, but the adventure theme almost makes up for this.
If you’re looking for a cool combination of an adventure and deck building game, Clank! is for you. If you’re just looking for the best deck building game out there though, we recommend picking a different game in our list.