When I think of card games I don’t think of Poker or Rummy. I enjoy those games but I want something a little more when it comes to tabletop games. I want card games that tell a story, force me to think outside the box, duel my friends, or explore galaxies.
Not all card games are created equal and not all card games need a colored suit or sequential numbers to be played. In this article, we’re looking at the best tabletop card games of all time. I’ve collected a list of my favorites and I hope you enjoy it.
🏆Our Top Picks for Best Card Games Of All Time
In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.
It’s hard to skip over the original deck-building game when you start thinking of the best card games of all time. Dominion has probably one of the highest replay values of any of the games on this list… and that’s saying a lot.
Dominion introduced deck-building mechanics to the world and has consistently released incredible expansions that keep making the game better and better.
It offers highly competitive play and lets players pursue almost any strategy they can think up. To make the game even better, there are multiple variable setups that only improve the game as new expansions are added.
- 2nd Edition features updated cards, artwork and streamlined rules
- Tactical game for 2-4 Players
- 30 minute playing time
#2. 7 Wonders: Duel
Experience 2-player 7 Wonders the way it was meant to be played. The original 7-Wonders does have a modified 2-player variant but it’s clunky, to say the least. The Duel version has revamped the entire system while still feeling like the original classic.
Now all paths to victory are intertwined and don’t feel like an afterthought. The mechanics will keep you on your toes trying to balance tech levels, pushing back your opponent’s military, and wishing there were more cards or turns available to build the absolutely perfect civilization.
It’s rather amazing to not only see a big box game condensed down to a 2-player card game but also to see it done so well making it one of the best civilization-building games out there as well.
- Similar style of play as the award-winning original, 7 Wonders
- Designed specifically for two-player, head-to-head battles
- Build a civilization that will crush your competition and...
Welcome to the valley of Everdell, a beautiful valley hidden within the forests, ready to be settled by cute little woodland creatures.
Everdell is a worker placement card drafting game, that is absolutely stunning. Every single design choice has been meticulously made. The setup and layout look amazing, the mechanics offer strategy and compelling gameplay, and the game itself is absolutely dripping with thematic elements.
Players each control a new settlement of woodland creatures that are hoping to make Everdell home. They’ll need to gather resources and build up their own village to make a thriving community. There’s a reason players have fallen in love with Everdell and it’s because, behind the gorgeous artwork and theme is a truly impressive game, which doesn’t happen too often.
- A BOARD GAME FOR 1-4 PLAYERS: Only 20 minutes per player. (40 -...
- STUNNING ARTWORK: A detailed world realized through stunning...
- SIMPLE TO LEARN: A streamlined experience that is easy to learn...
#4. Star Realms
This is one of my favorite 2-player card games.
The mechanics are solid and the card design and gameplay are out of this world. Players can come up with some great synergies between the 4 different factions and have a fully satisfying gaming experience in under a half-hour.
Unlike Magic: the Gathering that I used to play with my brother, all the cards come in one box. There are additional expansions of course, but there are no purchasing tons of booster sets to look for a specific card you want since the card lists are all set.
- Fun Amazingly rich yet easy to learn game play
- Portable The whole game comes in a deck box that can fit in...
- Expandable One copy supports 2 players Add additional copies...
#5. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
The Legendary series takes popular fandoms and lets players relive their favorite stories. Alien is my favorite of the series. In Legendary Encounters, players fight against the board’s ever-present threat deck.
Legendary comes with a ton of cards to relive the classic first 3 Alien movies. They were the only ones that really mattered anyway (Prometheus never happened). Legendary puts a twist on the deck-building mechanic by adding a cooperative element to the game.
- Each core set comes with 500+ playable cards featuring all...
- Also included is a Legendary Encounters Alien game mat to help...
- Full color game mat and rule book
#6. Sentinels of the Multiverse
I’m a huge fan of Sentinels of the Multiverse. The creators wanted to play a specific type of game but couldn’t find one that fit their criteria, so they made their own.
Sentinels is a Superhero vs. Supervillain slugfest using premade card decks. The interesting part here is that all of the cards are based on fictional comic books designed specifically for Sentinels of the Multiverse. You’ll see iconic powers but completely unique characters.
All of the cards are beautifully done with comic-inspired artwork and each villain and hero has their own set of strengths and weaknesses that keep me pulling the box off the shelf time and time again. If you don’t believe me, they actually made a really nice smartphone app that lets you play around with the core set for free.
- For 2-5 Players
- 60 minute playing time
- Enhanced second edition
#7. The Grizzled
The artwork of The Grizzled is what first attracted me to the game. It’s a little cartoony-looking but grim all the same which works perfectly with the theme of the game.
The Grizzled is a hidden information game about surviving the trenches of WWI. Players work together to survive, and as with most cooperative games, you’ll win or lose together. The object is to get through the draw deck while simultaneously playing all the cards in each player’s hand.
That’s not an easy task, because too many disasters mean everyone loses, and the different hands are hidden from each other, making working together that much harder.
- Beautiful Illustrations - The art by Tignous powerfully...
- Work Together - The Grizzled is fully cooperative. Players will...
- Quick Challenge - Each round can be very tough to survive. It’s...
#8. T.I.M.E. Stories
This card-based time-traveling adventure uses an innovative card-based system to send players back in time to inhabit hosts in order to solve mysteries. It’s one of the most unique game mechanics that I’ve ever seen. As time agents, players will be sent back in time to various points in the past to search for clues and solve the case.
Each expansion comes with a new scenario and setting and they’re completely different from each other while using the same core mechanics and rules.
The game has a bit of an expiration date, limiting the number of playthroughs, but it’s a unique experience all its own. You can check out our full in-depth review here.
- Unique time travel mechanic allows you to relive past events
- Each deck of cards is a new adventure to play
- Beautiful artwork fully immerses you in each different scenario
It’s all about the art of the deal in Jaipur. Two rival traders go head to head to become the most successful merchant.
What I like about Jaipur is that it’s very balanced when it comes to risk vs. reward. Players can go either way and how they adapt to the changing resources ensures victory. The mechanics of the game allow only 1 resource type to be sold at a time but it rewards players for turning in larger sets of resources. It can get pretty intense waiting for the opportune moment to snag the big haul, then it all comes crashing down if the opponents decide to cash in early.
Jaipur is an absolute classic set collection game and the camel cards are pretty freaking adorable.
- A classic, award-winning card game by Sebastian pauchon
- New, beautiful artwork by Vincent Dutrait. Same great gameplay
- Easy to learn game that offers a lot of depth and strategy.
#10. Love Letter
For a game consisting of 16 cards, Love Letter has given me hours and hours of entertainment. It’s one of the most portable tabletop games I’ve ever seen while still being fun and entertaining.
In Love Letter, the card in front of a player represents which character in the castle currently holds your love letter to the princess. The object of the game is to get your letter to the highest-ranking character at the end of the round and not have it destroyed (getting knocked out of the round).
It’s a simple and quick game that’s a lot of fun and requires strategy, a bit of deduction, and a little bit of luck.
Who doesn’t love fireworks? Honestly, probably these guys.
Hanabi is a hidden information card game in which players need to work together to successfully play cards in the proper order to put on the best fireworks show of all time.
The problem is that players can’t see their own cards. Everyone can see everyone else’s cards, though. Just not their own. Players have to give each other clues without outright telling them what cards they have, making a successful fireworks show tricky.
Hanabi is an oddly social game that requires players to not talk to each other too much.
- For 2-5 players
- 2013 Spiele des Jahres game of the year
- Takes about 20-30 minutes to play
#12. Thunderstone Quest
I wasn’t initially blown away by Thunderstone. I did give it another try when Thunderstone Quest came out and I’m extremely glad I did. The original Thunderstone was a decent deck-builder that felt like it never really came together. It had a cool them and I had just been introduced to Dominion, so was very familiar with the mechanics. Instead of simply going for arbitrary victory points like Dominion, there was an actual goal and a dungeon to explore, but it just never seemed like it was well-thought-out.
Thunderstone Quest completely fixes any misgivings I’ve had about the original game. The Quest system has been improved and the economics of buying and selling cards is much smoother. Everything from mechanics to rules has been completely revamped and if you’re like me and only experienced the original Thunderstone or Thunderstone Advanced, give Quest a look. It’s definitely one of the cooler deck-building card games I’ve seen come out in a while.
- Thunderstone Quest is the smash hit deck building Game of dungeon...
- Explore the dungeon, fight monsters, collect treasure, complete...
- 2-4 players
#13. Star Wars Destiny
I was a little hesitant the first time I tried out Star Wars Destiny. I didn’t really feel like getting sucked into another booster pack situation but get sucked in, I did.
Star Wars Destiny is a little unique to make this list because not only are the cards collectible, but the dice themselves are collectible. Each character card comes with its own unique dice and allows a fair bit of customization for load-outs. Players pick the light side, dark side, or neutral cards to mix in with their deck and heroes.
The interesting part of the game, that makes me overlook the collectible booster packs are the dice and card load-outs themselves. Dice are unique to specific characters, and cards are limited by their faction. It’s really fun theming out an entire deck or recreating a certain Star Wars era to duel with friends.
- Control the heroes and villains of the Star Wars saga with two...
- Features sixteen unique and beautifully crafted dice used to...
- Easy-to-learn rules have you playing within minutes
Gloom takes me back to my emo/goth days of high school. Gloom is a card game about giving your 4 characters the worst possible time of their lives that culminates in their eventual demise.
Gloom has possibly the coolest cards I’ve ever seen in a game. The cards are all clear plastic and are played on top of each other. As they’re stacked, the stats on each card gets overridden and changes value throughout the course of the game, showing the current overall score of each character.
Dixit is a very pretty card game that lets players use their imagination.
This card-based party game is all about how you interpret pictures. In a turn, one player as the storyteller chooses a card and gives a simple short description of the card. The cards are a glimpse into Alice’s adventure into Wonderland and often have conflicting or wondrous imagery.
Every other player then secretly submits a card that they think fits the storyteller’s description. Whoever fools the rest gains some points and the storyteller gains points if he/she successfully gets players to guess the original card.
Dixit is one of those perfect family-friendly games for large gatherings. It has beautiful artwork, easy rules, and a large player count.
#16. Sushi Go!
For on-the-go adorable gaming, Sushi Go! delivers a delicious bite-sized game.
Sushi Go is a card-based set collection game about getting the best meal possible. Each turn players collect adorable-looking sushi cards and build up their collection of dishes eaten over the course of the game. Each iconic sushi dish scores differently, and there’s no wrong strategy to pick. After 3 rounds final scoring is tallied up, and the winner is named.
The artwork is sickeningly cute but in a good way, and although it looks like it’s geared towards kids, the game itself is fun at any age. Also, check out Sushi Go! Party for fun with larger groups!
- Includes 108 cards
- Rules of play
- Reinforces probability, visual discrimination and strategic...
#17. Race for the Galaxy
Complete galactic conquest is in the palm of your hand.
Race for the Galaxy is such a cool concept for a game in a tiny package. Players expand out to colonize and develop different planets. Each turn, players secretly choose an action to perform, and sometimes players piggyback off your action, so planning ahead and trying to stay one step ahead of your opponents should always be in the back of your mind.
Race for the Galaxy is one of those card games that’s endlessly playable. There’s always a new strategy to try out and if somehow you get bored, there are a ton of official and fan-made expansions to keep you going for quite some time.
- For 2-4 players
- 60 minute playing time
- Check out all the great expansions to Race for the Galaxy
#18. Exploding Kittens
Let’s be honest. We’ve all tried this game because of The Oatmeal’s ridiculous artwork. The fact still remains, however, that it’s one of the most fun and over-the-top card games I’ve ever seen.
The object is super simple: DON’T EXPLODE.
It’s basically a Russian roulette-style card game with exploding kitten cards hidden within the deck. The object is to simply not draw them. There are also ability cards and set cards. The most powerful card is the Diffuse card. It lets you not explode once if you accidentally draw an Explode card. The other cards give additional abilities like stealing a card from another player or looking at the top cards of the deck.
- Hologram ensures Authenticity.
- Exploding kittens is a card game for people who are into kittens...
- Family-friendly, party game for 2-5 players (up to 9 players with...
Scrimish shows that a seemingly simple game can deliver serious strategy and complexity with nothing but a set of cards. Without any of the bells and whistles you might see in a lot of other games on this list, Scrimish is a simple-looking deck of cards the hide a serious and fast-paced game.
In Scrimish, each player takes their deck and organizes it into 5 stacks. They then take turns attacking 1 stack of their opponent’s deck. The higher card wins. Simple right? There’s a bit of memory involved when playing.
Scrimish is one of those fast-paced card games that can fit into your pocket and be taken and played anywhere.
- FUN AND FAST-PACED GAME - Quick and simple epic 10-minute battles...
- GREAT FOR ALL AGES - Easy to play, Scrimish is great for...
- HOW TO WIN: Uncover the other player’s crown card!
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Munchkin has been making friends stab each other in the back to steal their loot for years now.
I personally love the quirky jokes and goofy artwork. Munchkin promises a brutal, friendship-ending experience when every player gangs up on whoever is in first place.
It’s one of my go-to card games for killing some time with friends and it’s portable enough to travel with. The original copy that we’ve had for years has seen almost as many countries as we have.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best card games of all time! How many of these card games have you tried? Did we miss any of your favorite card games? Drop a comment below and let us know!