Check Out These Top Digital Card Games
Collectible card games aren’t just for hobby shops anymore. Now, you can play with your friends on your PC or mobile device from almost anywhere. And with card games having gone digital, you can undertake solo adventures with the same intricate rules and endless variety as their physical counterparts. Whether you want to hone your Magic: The Gathering skills or try something totally new, check out the best card games in the digital space. (Image Credit: Nejron Photo/Shutterstock)
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Android, iOS: Free, in-app purchases)
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Android, iOS) is that rarest of species: a fun, free and fair digital collectible card game. Players take on the role of the great heroes (and villains) of the Warcraft universe such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore and Gul'dan, engaging in epic duels and summoning allies and minions into the fray. Hearthstone features simple, easy-to-learn rules and full cross-platform play across PCs and mobile devices.
Magic: The Gathering Arena (PC: Free)
Magic: The Gathering is the granddaddy of the entire collectible card game genre, debuting in August 1993 and ushering a new genre of card games. Magic has since gone through a number of digital iterations, the latest being the free-to-play Magic: The Gathering Arena. Featuring the core set and all of the cards in the Standard format and featuring a wide variety of game modes from Standard games to sealed deck and booster draft formats, Arena offers the full Magic: The Gathering game experience in a free to play digital format. In-game and premium currency can be used to purchase booster packs and event entries.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales (PC: $29.99)
Take the quick-playing tactical fun of Witcher 3's Gwent card minigame and then wed it to a compelling single-player RPG story and you get Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, part of CD Projekt Red's dark fantasy universe. As Queen Meve of the twin realms of Lyria and Rivia, you'll explore war-torn landscapes and majestic vistas on your quest to defend your realms as you face tough choices and intense card-driven battles. Along the way you'll gather resources and recruits that you can use to improve your war camp and army, thereby unlocking new card choices and ways to customize your army, here represented by your Gwent deck.
Duelyst (PC: Free, in-app purchases)
Duelyst combines pixel art with collectible card game mechanics and turn-based tactics gameplay to create a quick-playing free-to-play card battler. The battlefield grid adds a wonderful layer of positional tactics for players as you not only streamline your deck design, but also jockey for position on the battlefield, deploying resources to threaten your enemy's commander unit or denying your opponent's moves with smart placement of your own troops.
Pokémon TCG Online (Android, iOS, PC: Free, in-app purchases)
The Pokémon video games also spawned a wildly successful trading card game that draws in fans both young and old with its simple but competitive gameplay. Pokémon TCG Online (Android, iOS, PC) allows players to learn the basics of play with starter decks, as well as engage in head-to-head battles with AI and human opponents in order to unlock new cards and decks. Players can eventually build their own decks, as well as apply cosmetic changes to their cards and avatars.
Pathfinder Adventures (Android, iOS: Free, in-app purchases)
Pathfinder Adventures (Android, iOS) is the digital port of Paizo's Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, a curious mixture of deck-building and role-playing games. Pathfinder Adventures is a co-op deck-builder, with each player's deck representing a fantasy adventurer's weapons, gear and other special abilities. Players use these to defeat a series of themed location and quest decks. The app includes both single player and pass-and-play coop modes.
Meteorfall: Journeys (Android, iOS : $2.99)
A deck-building rogue-like games that blends both Reigns and Adventure Time, Meteorfall: Journeys (Android, iOS) is a fast-playing card RPG where you choose a hero to take down the Uberlich. Each battle is a balancing act between attacking and regaining stamina and spell charges. You swipe right to play a card or left to skip your turn, regaining energy by resting. As you progress, you can unlock new cards or upgrade existing ones, while facing a variety of random challenges. With five different heroes to play, each with their own cards and playstyle as well as a host of randomized quests, challenges and combat encounters, Meteorfall offers a lot of replayability.
Through The Ages (Android, iOS, Desktop: $9.99)
Vlaada Chvatil’s Through the Ages (Android, iOS, Desktop) is often cited as one of the best board games ever made. You must lead your civilization from antiquity all the way to the modern day, competing for resources, technologies, and cultural dominance. In the process, you carefully draft cards from a shared pool with other players while managing resources and making sure your military doesn’t get overwhelmed by aggressive enemies. The mobile version of Through the Ages comes with a detailed tutorial, single player challenges, local play against the AI and other human players, as well as online multiplayer.
Sentinels of the Multiverse (Android, iOS, PC: $6.99)
Assemble a team of costumed heroes and take down nefarious supervillains in Sentinels of the Multiverse (Android, iOS, PC), the video game port of the hit cooperative card game. Players choose from decks of cards representing 10 different heroes, pitting them against any of four villain decks and a location to do battle in, resulting in numerous possible game combinations. A detailed tutorial helps players starting out, and the app takes advantage of the digital format by automatically doing the math to calculate damage and other combos for the players. Sentinels' interface itself is a visual treat, with page flips and text bubbles evocative of its comic book inspirations. Numerous expansions provide additional heroes, villains and environments in which to battle.
Ascension: Chronicles of the Godslayer (Android, iOS: Free, in-app purchases)
Ascension: Chronicles of the Godslayer (Android, iOS) sports an impressive pedigree, with Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Champions Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty and Brian Kibler contributing to the original game's design and Playdek in charge of the mobile app. A fantasy deck-building card game, players start with a limited set of cards, and then slowly build up a repertoire of heroes, mystics and constructs, as they compete against other players and monsters to earn victory.
Star Realms (Android, iOS: Free, in-app purchases)
Rival interstellar empires clash in Star Realms (Android, iOS), a lean and mean deck-building card game that takes the action to the stars. Starting out with a small clutch of scout ships and fighters, players race to draft a variety of warships, freighters and starbase cards from various factions as they outwit and outfight each other in a battle for dominion. Easy-to-learn rules combine with solid deck-building mechanics and a tricky faction combo system to provide short but intense games.
Card Crawl (Android: Free; iOS: $2.99)
Card Crawl (Android, iOS) is a fast-playing solitaire card game that's all about risk and reward. As an adventurer crawling through a dungeon, you must make it out of a dungeon alive carrying as much loot as you can carry while fighting your way through a mob of monsters. Simple rules, challenging play, and neat art make it a great pastime, with each game playable in 2 to 5 minutes.
Miracle Merchant (Android, iOS: $1.99)
TinyTouchTales continues its streak of clever mobile card games with Miracle Merchant (Android, iOS). As an apprentice alchemist, you have to brew up potions from a limited supply of ingredient cards, aiming to score points based on ingredient combos and each customer’s list of required and favorite ingredients. Not all of your ingredients come from a good batch, so you’ll have to balance the gains of chasing high-priced potions with the risk of having only bad ingredients at the top of each ingredient deck.
Card Thief (Android, iOS: $2.99)
TinyTouchTales takes a sneakier turn to their Card Crawl sequel with Card Thief (Android, iOS). As an ingenious burglar, players evade guards, traps and torches while trying to steal as much treasure as possible. Players sneak through a 3 x 3 grid, with each move potentially draining your thief's stealth value. Players must balance risk and reward, nabbing treasure, eliminating guards, and looking for places to hide, while trying to make their way out of each castle. While it's not as beginner-friendly as Card Crawl, Card Thief's more involved mechanics, daily challenges and quick play time makes it a mobile puzzle winner.
Clash Royale (Android, iOS: Free, in-app purchases)
Supercell's free-to-play Clash Royale (Android, iOS) may be a surprising addition to a list of old-school card games, but it features a cool mix of card management and tower defense, all within tight, 3-minute rounds. Using a variety of unit cards played on a tower-defense style map, players must carefully balance offense and defense in quick-play rounds where a single misplay can swing an entire match.
Exploding Kittens (Android, iOS: $3)
Love it or hate it, you’ve almost certainly read The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman’s wildly popular webcomic about cats, dinosaurs, bodily functions and life lessons. Exploding Kittens (Android, iOS) is a card game that channels The Oatmeal’s bizarre mix of offbeat creatures and over-the-top artwork. As the game suggests, the first player to draw an Exploding Kitten is dead meat — unless he or she can counter it with something even weirder.
Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Champions (Android, iOS: Free)
Take up arms for the Grand Alliances of Order, Chaos, Destruction and Death in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Champions (Android, iOS), a trading card game set in Games Workshop’s grimdark fantasy universe. You’ll find a familiar 4-lane battling system in Champions, though this game also includes a lot of other cool ideas. There’s a rotating card mechanic that unlocks new powers for your cards and champions when you fulfill their requirements as well as a tight action economy that forces you to choose between playing new cards or drawing to your hand. At the end of the day, Champions offers a distinct take on the digital collectible card game genre, with owners of the physical card game able to scan physical cards for digital extras.
Card Wars - Adventure Time (Android, iOS: $4)
Are card games about stoic knights and eldritch wizards leaving you joyless? Perhaps you should try Card Wars - Adventure Time (Android, iOS), which takes all the traditional fantasy trappings and turns them on their heads. Based on the popular Cartoon Network series, Card Wars – Adventure Time pits you against familiar characters from the show as you build up a deck of pigs, flowers, frogs and other surprisingly angry little critters.
Card City Nights 2 (Android, iOS: $4.99)
Cult digital card game Card City Nights is back with a cartoonish sci-fi twist. In this sequel, you explore the strange Starship Frivolity and the many characters that inhabit it, all obsessed with The Card Game. Combining classic collectible card game mechanics with tactical board control, Card City Nights 2 (Android, iOS, Desktop) has players laying out their cards on the playing field, charging them up and blocking off enemy plays. The ultimate goal: outwit and defeat your opponent. Card City Nights 2 is a premium game with nary a microtransaction in sight, and the game features both story and online multiplayer modes.
Heavenstrike Rivals (Android, iOS, PC: Free, in-app purchases)
Arguably more of a strategy role-playing game than a traditional card game, Heavenstrike Rivals (Android, iOS, PC) still hinges upon you collecting units and combining them in novel ways. Square Enix developed this title, which looks and feels a little like a Final Fantasy game. Players can access more than 700 cards as they tackle both a single-player campaign and ongoing multiplayer challenges.
Solitairica (PC: $12)
Digital card games don’t have to be all about deckbuilding; sometimes, it’s enough to put a new spin on an old favorite. Solitairica is a variation on Solitaire, with a fantasy role-playing twist. Now, instead of killing half-an-hour at your grandparents’ house, solitaire is the key to collecting magical items, defeating fearsome foes and leveling up powerful avatars.
Shadowverse (Android, iOS, PC: Free, in-app purchases)
Like Spinal Tap, Shadowverse (Android, iOS, PC) is really big in Japan. With an anime-inspired aesthetic, more than 400 cards and seven different character classes, Shadowverse has tons of depth for competitive play. If you’re more in the mood for a single-player story, though, Shadowverse has that, too — complete with a full voice cast. If Magic: The Gathering had come from East Asia, it would look at lot like this.
Faeria (PC: Free)
Faeria is still in Early Access on Steam, but if early reviews are any indication, it’s going to make a big splash in the digital card game community. Unlike more traditional card games, locations and terrain play a big role in Faeria. The game plays out on a hex-based grid, and cards can affect not only players and creatures, but the landscape itself.
Elder Scrolls Legends (iOS, PC: Free)
If you’ve already explored the fantasy world of Tamriel in Daggerfall, Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls Online or any of the other series titles, maybe it’s time to kick up your feet with a card game instead. The Elder Scrolls: Legends (iOS, PC, with an Android version on its way) leverages creatures, spells and characters from the franchise to pit players against each other. The game makes use of two lanes, each one of which can host different creatures and spells.
Gwent (PC: Beta)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt had hundreds of quests and a moving story, but that aside, it also had one of the best collectible card games since Magic: The Gathering. Gwent will soon be a standalone title in which players can employ creatures and spells to compete for a high score But beware: The 10 cards you get at the beginning are your entire hand for the game’s three rounds.