Deck building games use one of the most prolific game mechanics. In deck-building, you start off with a small deck of very basic cards and over the course of the game you buy better cards to add to your deck. Typically, a round in a deck builder goes something like this:
- Draw 5 cards from your deck.
- Use 1 or more of these cards.
- Purchase cards to add to your discard pile.
- Discard remaining cards from your hand.
This will continue like this until your draw pile runs out, at which point you will shuffle your discard pile, therefore adding in all the newly purchased cards.
While many deck-builders follow this recipe verbatim, there are some games that add a nice twist to it and I will highlight these below.
The Best Deck Building Games
Throughout this article, we’ll break down some of the sub-genres and styles of deck building, but if you just want to check out the best implementations of this mechanic, here are some of the best deck building games:
Types of Deck-Building Games:
Here’s a look at some of the different categories of deck building games. Which ones appeal to you the most?
Deck-building lends itself very well to cooperative play due to the shared knowledge of the card market and each player have multiple ways to build their deck. Because of this, it is important for players to build synergistic decks with the overall team goals in mind.
Here are some examples of some interesting cooperative deck-builders:
The twist in Aeon’s End is that you never shuffle your deck. You always know what cards will come up and in what order. You can create some consistently good hand combinations if you optimize your purchase timing.
The twist here is that when you purchase cards, they go directly into you or a teammates hand, rather than into a discard pile. This makes them available for use immediately.
Competitive Deck Builders:
Here are some unique competitive deck-building games:
Clank: A Deck-Building Adventure
Clank is a game where you are burgling a dungeon that is being protected by a dragon. At it’s core Clank is actually a pretty pure deck-builder, but what makes it stand apart is that the mechanics are so married to the theme that you lose sight that it is just that, a pure deck-builder.
The twist in arctic scavengers is that during your turn, you can contribute some or all of your cards to a battle with other players in hopes to receive a unique and powerful card. Also, the cards that clog up your deck can be discarded into a searchable deck. This is important because the least useful cards actually are worth points at the end of the game so you want to either hold on to them or gclear up your deck and just hope to get them back.
Pool-building is a sister mechanic to deck-building and it is so similar that it deserves mention in this post. Basically, it is deck-building using a bag and components other than cards. i.e. dice, cubes, chits, etc.
Here are some examples of unique pool-building games:
Quacks of Quedlinburg
The twist here is that there is no set number to pull from the bag. You can keep pulling and pulling, but eventually, your luck will run out. Another neat thing about Quacks is that all players play simultaneously and this makes the game feel much smoother than many other deck/pool builders.
Orleans is unique because it is one of the only games that pairs a worker placement game with the deck/pool building mechanic.
If nothing has caught your interest yet, and you want to explore some of the best deck building board games, here are some more that are definitely worth checking out. If you’re new to this genre, it’s not a bad idea to start with some of the staples/classics before branching out too much, just to get a feel for it. In any case, hopefully you found this page helpful and informative, and if you have anything to add, please let us know!