Basic luck is a core element of card-drafting games. From establishing epic empires to creating the tastiest sushi, you can only work with the cards you draft. But is life a game of luck… or do we make our own?
Card drafting board games will put this question to the test as you draft, determine strategy, and eliminate unwanted cards. These cards are either dealt and distributed (closed drafting) or chosen from a common pool (open drafting). While you strategize you also need to get inside the mind of your opponents. What cards do they want? What are they planning? How can you stop them?
If you’re looking for some card drafting games that combine luck and skill then read on, as we discuss our top picks for the best card drafting board games.
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Card Drafting Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
Players: 2 – 4
Playing Time: 120 minutes
Through the Ages is an epic, open drafting, civilization, and tableau-building board game. It is complex. It is ruthless. But for the serious gamer, it is also incredibly rewarding. Play your cards right and you will build an empire for the ages. One of architectural wonder and technological advancement. Play them wrong and your empire will crumble and fall.
This game is a balancing act. As you guide your empire from the dawn of civilization to the modern era you need to recruit a military, choose competent leaders, advance your technology, grow your population and foster your culture.
During each age, you draft and play civic cards to earn culture points. Strategy is essential and there are multiple ways to win — and lose, with overall points added at the end.
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Ancient civilizations vie for power and the race is on to build a wonder. Will Babylon be built before the pharaohs perfect the pyramids? 7 Wonders is a closed drafting board game that puts you in charge of one of the great cities of antiquity.
Efficient resource production, strong trade links, and a powerful military are all essential features of any ancient city worth its salt. Cooperate and compete with your opponents as you aim to erect a monumental wonder that will inspire awe through the ages.
7 Wonders is a card development game. Cards are played immediately after drafting so you can keep an eye on the schemes and strategies of your ambitious neighbors. Some cards have an instant effect while others come into play later in the game. Victory points are tallied at the end of the third age.
Just need a quick 2-player fix? Try 7 Wonders: Duel
Players: 1 – 5
Playing Time: 50-70 minutes
Birds of a feather flock together so gather friends and family with an interest in ornithology and a love of card drafting. Wingspan is an open drafting board game that is competitive and complex but also family-friendly and educational.
There are over 170 birds to spot, and each card includes a detailed description of each bird. You, the budding birdwatcher, aim to glimpse as many of these birds as possible and entice them to your bird sanctuary.
In each round, you can choose to lay eggs, gather food, draft new bird cards or play bird cards from your hand. Points are counted at the end of the fourth round in Wingspan. Will you be a lame duck or soar like an eagle in your aim to be the greatest birdwatcher of a generation (or at least of the game)?
Sushi Go Party!
Players: 2 – 8
Playing Time: 20 minutes
Why does sushi love to party? Because that’s the way that sushi rolls!
It’s sushi night, you’re the host, and the time for your sushi party has arrived! But not all sushi is created equal. Who will select the most succulent sashimi? Who will make the most maki? And who will be tempted by tempura?
Sushi Go Party! is a quickfire, pick-and-pass, closed drafting game. The aim of the game is to create the most delicious dish at the table. The mechanics are simple and competition is fierce. Food cards are worth points and you gain the most points by getting the best combos.
As you try to perfect your dish, beware of others sabotaging your culinary pursuits. This game is perfect for family and friends alike.
Playing Time: 40 – 60 minutes
Ever wonder what those crafty rabbits have been plotting? World domination of course. Really, it’s only a matter of time before we must bow to our new rabbit overlords.
In Bunny Kingdom, the age of bunnies has arrived, as they breed like, well, rabbits. From humble beginnings, bunnies will soon conquer and expand to control all of the rabbit realms. Will you dominate the new kingdom?
Bunny Kingdom is a combination of closed drafting and territory control. Lead your ambitious band of bunnies to total victory by founding cities and establishing territorial dominance. Add fiefs to your fiefdom and towers to your territory as you outmaneuver your enemies.
The game lasts for four rounds and points are calculated through a combination of territory, resources, and towers.
Playing Time: 40 – 80 minutes
Winter is coming and the creatures of Everdell must do all they can to prepare for it. Don’t panic though – it’s spring and winter is still a long way away. But just as night becomes day, spring will become summer, the year will march on and winter will arrive.
In the enchanting forest of Everdell, a woodland civilization knows it has a very busy year ahead. There are resources to collect, seasons to prepare for, and cities to build.
Everdell is a beautifully designed open drafting board game. All activity occurs within the shade of a three-dimensional tree that dominates the board. With over 120 cards, there is huge variation in gameplay and strategy. Can you build a thriving city before the deep freeze of winter sets in?
Playing Time: 60 – 90 minutes
The ancient Celts were ferocious warriors and proud clansmen. They lived and died by the sword but also swore allegiance to powerful, charismatic leaders. Once the dominant culture in Europe, their legacy and language is still felt throughout Ireland and Great Britain.
On the island of Inis, competing chieftains battle for dominance. Join them, and put your military and tactical skills to the test.
Steeped in Celtic legends and history, Inis is a closed drafting, area control board game. From a rabble of disparate tribes, one chieftain will unite the clans and become the undisputed king of Inis.
Leadership is essential in Inis, as power can be finely balanced between the clans. There are multiple paths to victory, and shrewd drafting and impeccable timing are crucial. Can you unite the tribes and become high-king over the ancient Celtic isle?
Tides of Time
Playing Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Though great empires can never imagine their own demise, the tides of time sweep all away. The Roman, Persian, and Mongol empires were once colossal, conquering giants but they were swept away by the unstoppable tide of time, leaving nothing but ruins, legends, and memory.
And yet, we remember these ones. For many, only a tiny scrap of parchment, or some obscure ruins are all that remain. Will you fade into obscurity? Or will you reverberate through history, gone but never forgotten?
Tides of Time is a super quick, super easy open drafting card game. Strategy is essential as you try to lead your civilization to greatness. Over three rounds, develop your civilization by playing the right combination of cards at the right time. But beware your opponent, who will hinder your well-laid plans at every turn.
Feeling a bit crazy? Tides of Madness throws in a Lovecraftian wild card: madness.
Playing Time: 20 minutes
Between mid-March and early May, the cherry trees blossom in Japan. Flower lovers from far and wide come to see the amazing spectacle. The Japanese call it Ohanami, or flower viewing.
Do you love flowers? Do you have a passion for beautiful gardens? Then maybe Ohanami is the perfect drafting game for you.
Ohanami is a closed drafting card game where the aim is to construct the most beautiful garden over three rounds. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Well in Ohanami, beauty is in numbers. Beauty is in perfection. Cards are worth points and the highest-scoring garden wins.
Not just any card can be added to any garden and this game requires intelligent drafting. Deciding when to discard and when to play is key to cultivating the greatest garden.
Playing Time: 40 minutes
Ever watch an Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider movie and think “I could do that”? Treasure Hunter allows you to awaken your inner Indy as you attempt to unearth the most valuable treasure before your opponents get there first.
Who will collect the most loot, who will uncover hidden gems, and who won’t bag any booty?
In Treasure Hunter, you will need to draft your intrepid team of fortune seekers carefully as unexpected dangers abound. Hoards of goblins, rival explorers, and worthless artifacts can all thwart your plans of plunder.
During each round try and nab the booty on offer. After five rounds add the total score of your riches. Whoever has the most wins the game. Sounds simple, right? So, grab that map, follow the clues and find that treasure.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best card-drafting board games! Do you like this board game mechanic?
Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
Ever since I first played Risk as an 8-year-old I’ve been hooked on board games. Growing up in rural Ireland there wasn’t much to do but luckily I’ve always been surrounded by board game addicts. Over two decades later I now write about what I love, which is totally awesome. Writing about all things board game related is literally the perfect job. When I’m not writing I still love a good board game night.