Slay the Spire’s successful year-plus Early Access run and launch last year helped popularize an exciting new genre. While “card battler” could be used to describe digital adaptations of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, it’s increasingly used to describe RPGs, roguelikes, and strategy games that happen to use cards to represent items, buildings, or abilities.
If you’re looking for more excellent card battlers besides Slay the Spire, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites.
Over the last several years, Swedish indie developers Image & Form Games have been quietly and expertly expanding their colorful robot-filled SteamWorld universe. Impressively each of these games embodies completely different genres, such as action-platformer with SteamWorld Dig and turn-based tactical strategy in SteamWorld Heist, while still maintaining lovely 2D artwork and funny robot heroes.
SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech features a full on fantasy world – but still starring quippy robots, and adds yet another new genre to the SteamWorld library: deckbuilding RPG. The card-based combat is intuitive and rewarding, bolstered by the colorful SteamWorld art design.
Game of Thrones has ended. No matter your feelings about the show, you can read up on the many different tabletop games based on the TV series and novels with my feature in the latest issue of Tabletop Gaming Magazine.
Review of A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King, designed by Bruno Cathala, published by Fantasy Flight Games.
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Review of Game of Thrones: Westeros Intrigue, designed by Reiner Knizia, published by Fantasy Flight Games
Opening my Starter Set for Keyforge: Call of the Archons for the first time, including the two included random decks. I also provide my thoughts on whether the Starter Set is worth getting.
Most fighting games boil down to one theme: mind games with your opponent. Uncaged: World Fighters is a two player duel card game designed to replicate the bouts and rounds of a Mixed Martial Arts tournament as players take turns attacking and defending using different fighting moves and styles.
Uncaged is even more about the mind games as you must prepare your cards into a single combo ahead of time, while anticipating your opponent’s cards in return. It’s far easier to jump in and play than other fighting games and uses its MMA theme well, though the actual gameplay often comes down to the luck of the draw more than intricate strategy.
A good villain usually makes for a good story, and one of Disney’s strengths throughout every era was its memorable cast of villains. Some, like Maleficent, have even become more popular than their heroic rivals. Yet we’ve never seen a tabletop game that focuses solely on the darker side of the Disney universe, until now.
Disney Villainous is an elegantly constructed, asymmetrical card game where you play as one of six classic Disney villains. Each villain has their own deck of cards, player board, and goals, all of which reflect their sinister machinations in each film. Being bad never felt so good.
The life of a cloned, intergalactic bounty hunter is about what I expected, though with a lot more loot boxes. Brig 12 offers an interesting mix of character class progression, tactical turn-based battles, and crew management, but it’s hampered every step of the way by free-to-play card mechanics that turn the gameplay into a repetitive grind.
The basic loop of Brig 12 is simple: Select a bounty target, track them using my crew—a fun mechanic I’ll talk about more later—then beam down with my landing party for a series of turn-based battles.
Card games can be tricky for younger kids. It can be challenging to hold very many cards in tiny hands, and privately manage their own resources.
Ink Monsters alleviates these issues by providing a streamlined set collection card game, themed around drawing kid-friendly monsters. The enchanting artwork and simple iconography helps sell the light-hearted experience, though end game scoring quickly grows complex and unwieldy.