From CCGs to deckbuilders, card games have improved so much in the past few years. Animations are crisp, card interactions are less buggy, and most importantly, game mechanics are becoming more innovative!
Plus, attaining a collection is easier than ever. More and more developers are beginning to implement better rewards models, which is a huge win for players.
2021 is a great time to start getting into card games, and today I’ll be sharing with you my list of the top 7 best card games available out there.
Legends of Runeterra – The best card game overall
Without a doubt, the best card game to try out in 2021 is Legends of Runeterra. Since the game is still relatively new, the card pool is slightly more limited than other card games. However, Legends of Runeterra has the best gameplay experience overall.
First and foremost, Legends of Runeterra‘s mechanics reward skill over luck. An example of this philosophy is the mana crystal system, which allows players to save resources to cast bigger spells a few turns early. This requires a lot of decision making, crafting accurate predictions, and even some bluffing.
On top of all of that, the game is extremely free-to-play. There are no booster packs. Instead, you earn cards by playing games, and purchase wildcards to craft the exact cards you want.
Reasons to play Legends of Runeterra:
- The most free-to-play competitive card game out there.
- Animations are beautiful and well-made.
- Active updates and expansions, keeping the game fresh.
MTG Arena – The best card game for competitive players
Despite MTG Arena‘s ups and downs, I still love it. Whether it be draft, standard, historic, or brawl, there’s always a new way to play the game.
For a beginner, the learning curve in MTGA is very steep and can feel challenging. The mechanics are complicated and take a lot of time to wrap your head around, and even longer to get good with. That said, the process is extremely fun and rewarding. I mean, there’s a reason why the game is over 25 years old and is still going strong.
The only thing missing is that is a mobile version…
All in all, MTGA has several formats for every type of player. Each format its own competitive meta, making this game perfect for any competitive card game enthusiast.
Reasons to play MTG Arena:
- It’s a skill-based card game with extremely dynamic gameplay.
- Great way to experience MTG without having to invest in physical cards.
- Many different strategies to choose from.
Hearthstone – The most fun-filled card game
Hearthstone needs no introduction. It’s been one of the Blizzard’s biggest hits for a while now, and has been receiving constant updates since its inception. Plus, with the addition of Battlegrounds, Hearthstone has a unique play mode no other card game currently has. It’s fun, well-designed, and its gameplay is engaging for all skill levels.
Now, Hearthstone gets a lot of bad rep for being an RNG-based game. However, I think that’s one of its greatest strengths. Wacky combos and randomness are extremely fun to watch as a spectator, which is why the Hearthstone esports scene thrived in the first place. Who doesn’t love seeing someone beat the odds and pull off a crazy Yogg’s Saron Hope’s End win?
Reasons to play Hearthstone:
- Explosive, fast-paced gameplay.
- Easiest card game for beginners to pick up.
- Hearthstone Battlegrounds is fun and addictive.
GWENT – The most unique card game with an amazing reward system
When I play card games, I’m mostly in it for the gameplay. It’s very rare that I ever get sucked into the lore or universe of the game. This isn’t the case for GWENT.
To be clear, I’ve never played a single minute of The Witcher. But GWENT got me hooked to every single detail about its fantasy universe. The overall gameplay experience made me feel like I had an army of troops who were ready to die for their faction.
Ultimately, GWENT is an incredibly unique card game that takes a very different approach to the traditional card game formula. It’s best for those who enjoy layered decision-making and elaborate deck construction.
Reasons to play GWENT:
- The Witcher‘s fascinating fantasy universe.
- A unique approach to the core gameplay structure.
- Very generous and engaging progression system.
Shadowverse – The best card game for anime fans
Anime-lovers, Shadowverse is for you. Shadowverse’s art-style is very polished, and the game resonates with the themes and characters its inspired by. The game also has the occasional crossover event, adding content from existing anime series.
In terms of gameplay, Shadowverse plays very similarly to Hearthstone. For example, in Hearthstone, cards are labeled Minion, Spell, and Weapon. In Shadowverse, they are labeled Minion, Spell, and Amulet instead. The most notable difference between the two games is that Shadowverse is less RNG-based, and there are no hero powers present.
Overall, this game is great for those looking for a Hearthstone alternative and enjoy the anime art style. Shadowverse is very generous with the rewards, looks beautiful, and even offers a campaign mode with a compelling story.
Reasons to play Shadowverse:
- Very balanced classes and an interesting story.
- Generous with the booster packs.
- Beautiful anime graphics and art.
Slay the Spire – The best single-player card game experience
Slay the Spire is a fantasy single-player roguelite deckbuilder game in which you slowly progress through increasingly difficult encounters as you climb a shadowy spire. Over the course of each run you will constantly revamp and upgrade your deck until you have a finely-tuned strategy.
There’s a reason Slay the Spire has inspired an entire genre of imitators, yet remains at the top. The pacing of this game is incredible. It doesn’t just throw everything at you, nor does it treat you like a little kid. It progresses at just the right speed and makes sure that you’re rewarded for making the right choices.
If you enjoy constant problem-solving and crafting crazy combos, Slay the Spire is the perfect game for you. It’s easy to learn but hard to master, making it insanely addictive and fun.
Reasons to play Slay the Spire:
- A captivating campaign filled with surprises.
- Near-unlimited deckbuilding options.
- High replayability, and each run feels unique.
Pokemon TCG Online – The best card game for Pokemon fans
Pokemon has always had a healthy community and this is true for their card game as well. Pokemon TCG Online is an amazing outlet for those who want to play the game digitally.
In my opinion, the best aspect of Pokemon TCG Online is the new-player experience. The tutorial in this game is well-made and the progression system is easy to grasp. Plus, it’s crazy that every card you buy physically can be redeemed online. This easily makes Pokemon one of the most accessible card games.
If you are interested in learning more, we have a library of Pokemon TCG Online guides you can check out!
Reasons to play Pokemon TCG Online:
- Easy to learn for beginners.
- The gameplay is fast-paced and doesn’t require a heavy time commitment.
- It’s a Pokemon game!
I really like how several of the biggest online card games are improving their progression and rewards systems lately, and I hope the trend continues through 2021. Developers are moving away from traditional booster packs and are putting more emphasis on cosmetics, quests, and crafting. This finally allows players to focus on crafting interesting decks without needing to worry about spending hundreds of dollars to do so.
If you’re a beginner and have trouble picking a card game from this list, I would highly recommend you start with Legends of Runeterra. It ranks well in all aspects and has an extremely beginner-friendly tutorial.
Anyway, this concludes my list of the best card games to try out for 2021. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.
Stay tuned to SQUAD for more lists and guides!