Even though games like Overwatch, Fortnite, Mortal Kombat 11, and Apex Legends are in the gaming spotlight, card based games has been a constant source of entertainment to millions of people for years. The rankings are based first on gameplay, then the accessibility and then overall style, originality and replay ability. Here is the guide and (personal) ranking of the best digital card games available now:
Out of all the card games, Hearthstone is the most simple and straightforward: summon minions, attack the enemy and use magic to damage, buff or find minions. Hearthstone has never became anything more in reality, but that’s a good thing. There are always new key-words and new mechanics to change the focus of decks with each expansion, but if a person is playing on a slightly regular basis, then they can keep up and have fun with the game without paying for any pack (that is what I’ve done for years). It isn’t perfect, I particularly don’t like that they phase out a whole year of cards and all old key words or specialty cards with new expansions. However, the gameplay is always fun, I have been playing it daily for a long time and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
The digital card game giant from Japan, Shadowverse is everything that I would want possible, but this make the game a little too cumbersome at times. The cards are the most beautiful on the list, seriously, the art here is unbelievable. Shadowverse’s gameplay is very similar to Hearthstone and Eternal, but it is about ten times more complicated which makes it a lot of more fun and horrible at the same time. The cards can synergize super well, but those combinations normally take a lot more cards and time to accumulate from pack (or crafted) compared to the other games on the list. This is a great game, it just may take some time and patience to get into the meat of it. However, when those combos come around, there is no feeling like it in the other games.
Elders Scrolls Legends
Legends seems like the mature, cooler older brother of all these games. The art is refined, the gameplay tight and straight forward with a lot of good depth. There are two lanes to attack from and extra cards given with each chunk of health lost which is a great catch up mechanic. The only thing that holds this game back from being super addicting is its lacking variety or card abilities or creative decks. The pieces all work well to let you win, but you never feel a grand sense of accomplishment by creating a deck with a plan and seeing it come together in an amazing win. But overall a fun and good game.
This is one of the newest game on our list and the one I am most unfamiliar with to be honest. The game has three boards and plays more or less like a mix of Hearthstone and Legends. The game focuses on winning two out of three boards or destroying one board’s health totally. It is a game of balance, but it comes with a cost. Literally, it costs $20 and then more for more card packs or individual cards. This is what makes it different than most of the other games the price. It is still in its early stages, but I think it is worth its price if you are into card games and want something fresh and fun.
A Steam game that is free to play and very fun. This game is a lot like Smite’s game, an arena card-strategy game. Duelyst has a lot of personality for it’s minimalist retro graphics, I was very surprised. The decks and cards are also more interesting and diverse than Smite’s. The set back about this game is it seems to be a little less accessible and is more difficult to really dive into the competitive nature because of its complexity and poor menu interfaces. The game also doesn’t give the play enough things to do to earn a reasonably diverse deck. I would love to play this game more, but the player base feels low and it can feel like more like a fun little solo indie game than an online card battling game.
Veering off the simple task of putting out minions to attack a enemy hero or health, Gwent brings a new spin. Each player has a number of rows to place minions and it is become a more arena battle with set rows of warriors, like two armies with rows or reinforcements . Gwent is best two out of three rounds forcing you to carry cards and a hand from the last game to the next round. The game has some great potential, but the lower player base and lack of major variety in cards holds it back from being really good. Being based off of The Witcher is one of the biggest selling points, it is cool, but it doesn’t have too much of a foundation to be a great game otherwise.
Smite: Hand of the Gods
This game really surprised me. Hi-Rez Studios has taken they’re widely enjoyed MOBA, Smite, and thrown into a card game/tactical battle card game. This game like a few others has a lot of potential to be amazing and even have a small professional gaming following. However, this game suffers from some rough graphics, somewhat uninspired gameplay and cards with little individual personality or ability. The game is fun, don’t get me wrong, I would just want to play it on mobile. It isn’t exciting or engaging enough to be a console title in my opinion and should find a home on mobile to gain more traction.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
This game is a bit of a mixed bag. In one way, it does feel like the game come to life on your phone or tablet. But in another way, it was filled with a lot of micro management and I never was able to get to the cards I wanted or really remembered well. If you really like the physical card game and none of these other games takes your fancy, then go ahead and pick this up, but it isn’t really great and won’t scratch that itch to play some intense Yu-Gi-Oh! matches.
Eternal Card Game
If you want a rip-off of Magic the Gathering with a surprisingly tasteful amount of card variety and style, this game works really well. I enjoyed the tasteful rip-off and subsequent additions and flavors the game added. It really doesn't have much to offer outside of the other games, but it was more enjoyable than MTG Arena for all intensive purposes and can be played on you mobile device unlike MTG Arena.
Magic The Gathering Arena
If you enjoy Magic the Gathering and want to play it digitally, it is here. The game will feel the same and the way to obtain cards is similar to all these other formats. The game isn’t keeping totally up to date with the physical format and expansions, which makes sense, but is also slightly disappointing. How fun would it be to be able to use your physical cards inside the digital game (and quite logical because of the ever rotating meta of Magic)? It is a good translation of the physical game, but lack animation, style and innovation that the digital games bring.
There are still many other digital card games that could have been on list like the RWBY Deck Building, Card Heroes or even hybrid action card games like Clash Royale. As this is a personal ranking and opinion, I feel it safe to put in my two cents about what is the best game to get started in/master/have fun with. It is an easy choice, Hearthstone. It is simple to pick up, doesn’t take too much to get somewhat competitive and is always beautiful and fresh. Shadowverse is beautiful, the artwork alone is one of the most constantly amazing things I’ve seen in any media. It is also wonderfully complex and gives the player a lot to do everyday. Gwent is like card chess, very strategic in placement and deck refinement. Artifact and Elder Scrolls Legends also have a ridiculous amount of added fun to the normal summon, magic and fight mechanics.
These five games are the best digital card games out there. They have personality, complexity and are all free-to-play/pay-to-climb. Which is your favorite? What did you think of the rankings and what should it be different? Let us know what you’re playing and we’ll see you on the digital tables.