Collectible card games have been popular on and off since 1993. Magic: The Gathering is the OG that’s remained the popular since then, but several others have entered popular culture since.
Blizzard pumped new blood into the genre in 2014. Since then, it feels like everybody is making a CCG (or at least adding elements into their games).
Some are great, while others suffer from serious balance issues or paywalls. Having played through dozens of CCGs, this list collects the best available to play (unfortunately it doesn’t include Tekken Card Tournament, which was one of the best until it was discontinued in April 2017).
SolForge was created in 2016 and is similar to Magic: The Gathering. That’s because it was created by M:TG designer Richard Garfield and Pro Tour hall of famer Brian Kibler. It adds a lane-based element to the card format, and deck strategies will take a bit of time for new players to figure out. Still, it’s a great game to play if you’re in love with CCGs.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is based on the card game played in the cartoon series. You’ll find all your favorite characters from Duel Monsters, although the rules have been simplified from the original game. It still feels authentic. The game has a sleek visual appeal and fun play that’ll appeal to both new and veteran players.
Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time has a great episode called Card Wars that mocks all of these card games. In a twist of irony, there are also two card games based on the show and its card game. It’s not as impossible to pick up as Finn and Jake found. In fact, it’s actually quite fun and a must-play for anyone with a sense of humor.
Now that Tekken Card Tournament has been discontinued, Animation Throwdown is the closest you’ll get to playing it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same fight mechanics. Fortunately, it does have cards and heroes based on Fox animation favorites like Futurama, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, King of the Hill, and American Dad!
Pokemon TCG was launched in 2011 and follows the same rules and structure as the IRL card game. It offers several game modes and features exclusive to the digital version too. Pokemon TCG is a must-play for any Pokemon fan, and even newcomers to the franchise will appreciate the game’s depth and graphics.
Shadowverse was created in 2016 by Cygames and uses an anime art style to recreate Hearthstone with much tighter game mechanics. It’s not uncommon for Hearthstone players to win a game due to random dumb luck, but that’s not the case with Shadowverse. If Hearthstone is too frustrating for you, Shadowverse can satiate your thirst.
4. Magic Duels
Magic Duels launched in 2015 and is the digital version of the popular Magic: The Gathering franchise. It follows the same rules as the IRL version, but also includes a few features and play modes that can only exist in the digital realm. Single player story mode is just one example of the many reasons you’ll want to download this game, even if you have an extensive deck built.
Released in 2017, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a CCG based on Bethesda’s popular Elder Scrolls franchise. While it plays mostly similar to Hearthstone, it differs because of the two lanes. Each lane has different special abilities, which adds a level of depth to the game. Elder Scrolls fans will be delighted by the fan service in Legends.
PVZ Heroes was released in 2016 by PopCap Games and Electronic Arts. Adding a new dimension to the card genre, you choose either a plant or zombie hero and face off against the other side. There are five lanes, and each player takes turns playing cards in their choice of lanes. If you’re a fan of Plants vs Zombies, this new twist will definitely hook you.
Hearthstone has been entertaining (and infuriating) players since 2014. Blizzard’s crown jewel is based on the popular Warcraft series, but it’s been outperforming every other Blizzard franchise since its release. If you’ve ever dueled or played an arena in World of Warcraft, you’ll be instantly familiar with the mechanics. This game has a ton of depth, and the constant release of updates makes it almost an entirely new game every year.