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Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports

Top 10 Deck Building Games

First let me give my quick definition of a deck building game. In a deck building game you add cards to your deck that you then continue to play with and build. Next be sure to note that this list does not contain deck builders that I have not played, but if I have heard good things about them they are listed in the Honorable Mentions.

Here are my Top Ten Deck Building Games:

10. Assault on Galactus Prime – You must run the gauntlet and destroy the Ion Supercannon. The components hurt this one a bit but it is fun and fairly strategic.

9. Core Worlds – You build your army to expand your space empire and try to score the most VPs. It is fun but can be frustrating to miss out on cards you spend a turn setting up to get only to have the player before you take the card you geared up to get.

8. Puzzle Strike – You use tokens instead of cards in this Tetris-like game. It is a bit complex and the characters are unbalanced or it could be ranked higher.

7. Quarriors – This is another game that doesn’t use cards, but dice instead. It can be pretty random, but pretty fun too.

6. Pixel Lincoln – Unique gameplay and some creative use of old Abe make this a fun game. This simulates a side-scrolling video game but in card form.

5. Eminent Domain – This deck builder combines elements from Race for the Galaxy and Glory to Rome to create a fun space exploration game.

4. Ascension – You beat monsters and buy cards to claim an ever-dwindling pile of VPs. This game offers different paths to victory.

3. Nightfall – A little complex but not too hard once you get a handle on it. You must summon minions to hurt your opponents. The player with the least number of wounds in their deck wins. Fun and confrontational.

2. Thunderstone or Thunderstone: Advance – This game has a ton of theme. You hire heroes, buy equipment for them then raid the dungeon. It can run a little long but is very fun and thematic.

1. Dominion – The first and still the best. It may lack in theme a bit and be dry. But it is smooth, tight, easy to teach and a blast to play.

Honorable Mentions: For the Crown, Friday, Miskatonic School for Girls, Penny Arcade: Gamers vs Evil

Disagree or have some to add let me know in the comments.

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13 Responses to “Top 10 Deck Building Games”

  1. Matt says:

    Little surprised to not see “Citadel” on the list; but I agree with the top 3!

  2. Josh says:

    I have Friday, if you want to borrow it (I’m assuming it was an Honorable Mention because you haven’t played it). Also, I’ve never actually played Assault on Galactus Prime, but I’d probably have the Star Trek DBG on my list. I didn’t realize you had had an opportunity to try Pixel Licoln. Congrats on that.

  3. jason@play-board-games.com says:

    Yep I have heard Friday is great but not played it. Thus it has to be an Honorable mention. I have heard less about the Star Trek DBG so that is why it is not there.

    I got to try Pixel Lincoln at Redcap’s Corner. It was fun and Jason was cool.

  4. Hank says:

    Terra Evolution should be on the list. Excellent and unique.

  5. GeekInsight says:

    I’m surprised to see Core Worlds way back at number 9. I think watching the other players and seeing what they can possibly take from you is a key aspect of the game and a great way to include interaction without direct attacks.

    And, on my list, Quarriors wouldn’t even get an honorable mention. Yelgh.

    That said, thanks for the list! Always cool to see where other people are coming from. Happy gaming.

  6. jason@play-board-games.com says:

    I have only played Core Worlds a bit and maybe I was in a bad mood but I was really frustrated by other players taking stuff I was trying to get and then being left empty handed. It is just annoying to plan and not get the card you are aiming for, but half the time you are left getting nothing. Maybe more plays would help me understand the subtleties of the game and raise its rank.

  7. Pretty good, comprehensive list. there’s a couple on here that I’m not familiar with though, i’ll definitely check it out.

  8. Justin R says:

    Have any of you played Arctic Scavengers?

    It was actually one of the first, after Dominion and was pretty good. A unique twist in that you were “digging” for useful cards.

    It was a small publisher and got picked up by Rio Grande a couple of years ago. I understand it’s finally releasing to a larger audience sometime soon.

  9. jason@play-board-games.com says:

    I have heard of Arctic Scavengers, but not played. Now I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the feedback.

  10. John Weldy says:

    Arctic Scavengers was great when it was first released, as the first Dominion clone. But now, it’s mechanisms seems dated and clunky. Try it, for sure, but don’t expect much.

    Skip Terra Evolution, altogether…bloated and BORING!

    On the positive side, Rune Age is a major oversight. If you haven’t had a chance to play it and you love DBGs, do it NOW!

  11. jason@play-board-games.com says:

    Ok I will have to get a hold of Rune Age or meet someone who has it. Thanks for the feedback.

  12. cpanthersfan says:

    You forgot about Resident Evil DBG!! :)

  13. jason@play-board-games.com says:

    I have never played Resident Evil, but have also heard mixed things about it. So, I didn’t put it in the Honorable Mentions.

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