Deck-building Games: Your favourites and why
Ender Wiggins
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The success of Dominion (2008) speaks for itself - by the end of 2010, worldwide sales of Dominion and its expansions numbered over one million (source). But Dominion's deck-building has also spawned an entire genre, and the deck-building mechanic has been enjoying immense popularity ever since (see an early history and pedigree of the mechanic documented here).

The amount of new deck-building games emerging all the time means that the genre is quickly becoming crowded for the rest of the field. Do the newer horses in the deck-building race bring anything new to the table? Of Dominion's many offspring, which are the best and the more interesting ones? The good news is that there are new and exciting deck-building games emerging all the time, drawing on the richness of the ideas and gold that can be mined from the wealthy heritage of CCGs. Geeklists on the subject have appeared before, but I figured it was time for a more current one, which could have the benefit of including recent games as well.

I'm not concerned with games in which players customize their decks before playing, but with games in which shaping your deck happens during the game, and where this is one of the central mechanics. The BGG page for this mechanic describes it as follows:

Deck / Pool Building is a mechanism in which players start the game with a pre-determined set of cards / player pieces and add and change those pieces over the course of the game. Many deck-building games provide the players with a currency that they use to "buy" new items that are integrated into the deck or pool. These new resources generally expand the capabilities of the player and allow the player to build an "engine" to drive their future plays in the course of the game.

This mechanism describes something that happens in play during the game as a function of the game, not customization of the game from a body of cards prior to play.


So what do you think are the best deck-building games, and which are your personal favourites? How well is the mechanic implemented in those games? And what is it that you like about the mechanic, or how it works in those games? These are the kinds of questions I'm interested in, and here's where I need your help and input.

Please add to this list your favourite games with a deck-building mechanic. If you add a game to the list, please share something about how the deck-building mechanic works in the game in question, and what you like about it. I'll get things started with two of my personal favourites. I know that there are many other great deck-building games out there, but I'll leave them to be added by people who are more familiar with them and can comment on the game-play. If one of your favourites has already been added, please just comment under that item rather than having multiple entries of the same game.

I look forward to reading the comments and contributions from my fellow gamers about some great deck-building games!
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1. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Let's start with the grand-daddy of them all, and still one of my own personal favourites.

How it works: Everyone has a small starting deck, and on your turn you play cards to purchase money or other cards from an available pool of 10 special action cards, thereby trying to improve the efficiency and power of your deck, ultimately enabling you to purchase as many of the point-scoring victory cards that you can.

Why I like it: There's a lot to like about Dominion. I liked it when it first came out in 2008 and still do. It's easy to teach, and accessible entry level and quick game-play makes it ideal to introduce to new gamers who are familiar only with standard card games. It's got beautiful artwork, and the fact that there are 25 different cards from which you choose a starting pool of 10 cards makes for great replayability - which is only further enhanced by the many expansions. It's generally not too vicious, and it's just a whole lot of fun pulling off combos and seeing different cards interact together.

If you're honestly not familiar with it (you're not serious, are you?), here's my review from 2008:

Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: So you're wondering about the game with 500 cards that everyone is talking about...


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2. Board Game: Fantastiqa [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1450]
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This is the game that inspired this list, and got me thinking about other deck-building games.

How it works: In Fantastiqa, deck-building goes in a new direction because players are moving on a board, using cards from their hand to subdue creatures and so conscript them into their deck, and using them to complete point-scoring quests that will win you the game. The spacial aspect isn't at all tacked on, but is a meaningful part of the game, and this puts a whole new spin on the deck-building genre. We've arguably seen this done before in games like A Few Acres of Snow and Mage Knight, but in Fantastiqa it's at a more family-friendly and accessible level, with a very whimsical and convincing theme.

Why I like it: There's many reasons I've been really enjoying Fantastiqa, not least because of the mechanics that use the board for travelling. You're not just shuffling and playing cards, but moving around on a board, subduing creatures, and completing quests, and this feels fresh and different. This also creates lots of tactical options that aren't available in most deck-building games, although it does mean that some well-worn strategies like deck-thinning just won't work here, and you'll be forced to try very different approaches to the game! I also love the theme, which is whimsical and humorous, and a welcome departure from typical fantasy, invites story-telling, and also makes a great deal of sense for the gameplay. Finally, it's worth mentioning that the quality of the components is second to none.

I've just reviewed it here:

Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Deck-building goes down the rabbit hole into a wonderful new world, and I love it!


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3. Board Game: Hands in the Sea [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:1854]
Judd Vance
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Wichita
Kansas
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This is (as of this time) unpublished, but I have been playtesting it. It blew my mind.

It uses the system introduced in A Few Acres of Snow and improves on it. Where Acres (a fine game in its own) isn't really a war game, but rather a war-themed game that plays much like a Euro, this is actually the first real deck-building war game.

It covers the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage and players are trying to settle Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia, and since the areas are so limited, you are going to bump heads and start cracking them. It incorporates numerous historical tidbits (a.k.a. "chrome") into the system (ex: unpredictability of elephants, decreasing seaworthiness of Roman naval vessels due to the corvus, etc).

Besides the traditional land battles (recognized from the Acres system), it uses a clever naval combat system for control of sea zones, that in turn affect supply.

It has no "useless" cards (unlike a British trader or a French ship in Acres). Every card is important and useful. There are also random events played at the end of the turn (when one player goes through his deck). It also uses strategy cards, that players purchase (only holding one at a time) that allows him to bend the rules.

The game creates a fine balance of purchasing units, managing supply lines, fighting many fronts, developing, and constantly altering your strategy.

And unlike Acres, there is no "Halifax Hammer" strategy. Another interesting take: a thin deck is not necessarily a good thing. A fat deck is bad, but I thinned my deck out once, try a Hammer-like strategy, and it bit me in the rear and I found myself re-drafting cards into my deck. The deck size, the strategy, the focus -- constantly changing and many different routes you can take.

This game could end up being like the card driven game mechanic: a whole new way to play wargames. Here is hoping!

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4. Board Game: Ascension: Deckbuilding Game [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:505] [Average Rating:7.04 Unranked]
Ryan James
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One of my personal favorite deck-builders.

How it works: Everyone has a small starting deck, and on your turn you can either purchase a card from the center row (or one of the 'always there' cards) and/or fight a monster. The cards available, during a single game, aren't static like in Dominion or Thunderstone. Instead, a main deck is shuffled, and any time a card is purchased or defeated from the center row, its spot on the board is replaced by the top card from the deck, making the game much more tactical and random. There is a pool of victory point gems that gets depleted as monsters are defeated, and once that pool runs out the game ends, and points are counted from both gems in front of you as well as points on cards. The combined total is your final score.

Another difference between this and a game like Thunderstone is that when you defeat a monster, it doesn't go into your deck to clog it up, it instead goes into a "void." Also, you can both purchase cards AND defeat cards on your turn, if you're able. Not just one or the other.

Why I like it: This game gets very mixed reviews among people around here. Most people cannot stand the artwork. I, for one, think it's great and don't understand the complaint. Others complain that the game is too random, and that it's impossible to plan ahead due to way the cards come out.

Personally I think the game is fantastic. I love the tactical options the game provides. What do you do? Go for the best available card in the center row, or just hoard some mystic cards and wait for something really expensive that will probably sit there for a while? The game moves incredibly fast, which can help ease the sting of an unlucky draw. Perhaps my favorite aspect of it is the setup and teardown time. It's virtually non-existent. You just shuffle the main deck and you're ready to go. It also works the best with 2-players out of all the deck-builders I've played.

There are tons of expansions out that slightly alter the way the game is played and just add more content to an already great game.

Check out this review if you're on the fence: Ten Things to Like - And Five Things to Dislike - About Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
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5. Board Game: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:126] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
Ryan James
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Another one of my personal favorites.

How it works: Marvel's take on the deck-building genre. This is a semi-cooperative game (everyone tries to take down the mastermind, but the person with the most points is the OVERALL winner) where you're building your deck with superheroes from the Marvel universe to defeat the Mastermind (Magneto, Red Skull, Loki, or Dr. Doom). Similar to Ascension, the cards that you put into your deck are from a randomized deck that you populate before the game starts, depending on player count. During the game, you can purchase more heroes and/or defeat villains. The game has an interesting mechanic that builds off of different icons on the hero cards. The synergy between them and how they interact can create some devastating combinations, IF you pick the right heroes to be in the game.

There are also villains that come out in a separate villain deck, randomly, on every player's turn. If you don't regularly defeat these enemies, they'll escape and do damage to you that can cripple your chances of victory. On top of that you will pick a different "scheme," which the Mastermind is trying to accomplish throughout the game. There are certain conditions on this card that dictate the losing condition of a particular game. Defeat the Mastermind before triggering the loss condition of the scheme and you win.

Why I like it: Obviously this game is well liked due to the Marvel license. It has all original artwork as well, and it is very awesome. However, people seem to have issue with the fact that there isn't different art on each card, an issue that I believe is being corrected in the future expansions. I really enjoy getting into the spirit of the theme in this one, and it's just really fun trying to make all the combos work and lay the smack down on the Mastermind. The gameplay is enjoyable and the production quality is great. The game is really a joy to look at.

For those who think the game is too much like Ascension, here is a thread on why I think both of these deserve a spot in your collection: Legendary vs. Ascension - Why I think there is room for both
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6. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:376] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Matt Green
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Horsham
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Trains is the only deck building game I will give my time to. It plays like someone has put an engine in a car. You can compare the effectiveness of engines, but you can race cars and that's much more exciting.

How the deck-building mechanic works
When you build a structure in Trains it generates waste. Waste is represented as dead cards in your deck, so a section of track might generate 1 waste- so you add a dead waste card to your deck. There are then cards that deal with waste that a player can include.

The player interaction becomes more than just spatial because of this mechanism: building in built-up areas generates more waste, therefore you can influence other players' deck composition by building aggressively.

What I like about it
Trains makes the players interact on the board with route optimisation, area control aspects and the sort of player-on-player parasitism that makes games like Chicago Express work so well: "we're both here...you build the city and we'll share the points..." Or do you withdraw from competing on the board and go for a deck win with buildings?

There are a diverse range of board strategies that couple with the different deck building strategies all tempered by the the waste mechanism. The decision to make all cards have an effect and generate currency to buy more cards is fantastic. Buying a card that generate more currency than it costs is a real thematic bugbear of other deck builders I've played.

Once it gets a wider release I think it's going to be a very well thought of addition to the deck-building stable.

edit: re-structured the post.
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7. Board Game: StarCraft: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:346]
Alex H.
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Berlin
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Ok, this one might cause some disagreement but I still think it is a valid entry.

Starcraft was really the first game I know of that had in-game deck-building mechanics. While the deck-building is not as central to the game as it is in Dominion and the likes, it is still an important part of the overall design.

Here's a quick description of how it works for those who have never played:
Starcraft is primarily a tactical area-control game with lots of fighting. Each faction has its own deck of cards and these cards are used for battle-resolution.
(pic by ajfel)
Hand management is thus integral to winning battles and thus successfully playing the game. Each player actually has two decks: one deck is available to him from the begining of the game. The other deck, termed the technology deck, contains several cards that can be purchased as upgrades and which then go into the main deck. Really, very much like new kingdom cards in Dominion. The new technologies unlock new and special abilities for your units so deciding carefully what to purchase is critical and will often depend on the upgrades other players decided to get.

Here's a picture of the Science Vessel and three available technology upgrades for this unit:
(pic by MrWeasely)

Why is it my favorite deck-building game?
First of all, Starcraft manages to seamlessly fuse several mechanics into one coherent and well designed game. Deck-building is, as I have argued in the last paragraph, one of the central aspects to successfully playing SC but doesn't dominate gameplay. By linking the deck-building mechanic directly to the battle-resolution-system, it also makes a lot of sense thematically; or at least more sense than in most other d-b-games.
It's a shame SC went OOP. In many ways a unique game that deserves more success beyond the hardcore fans.
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8. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:528]
meepleonboard
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I hesitate to add this to the list, because I do not see it as a pure deck builder, but it fits the definition in the header pretty well.

The difference in Core Worlds is that, while in Dominion you'll go through your deck multiple times in the course of a game, here you'll get through it twice, maybe three times. Every decision is critical, and, from the start of the game, you need to have a much clearer direction of where (in this case, which Core World) you want to go.

Your initial deck represents rather weak troops and equipment, and you use them to get hold of better troops and equipment, also planets to help with your energy stores. Crucially, though, as you take planets from the central area you are allowed to colonise them, effectively removing a weak card from your deck. The momentum builds up as the game goes on, but there is never enough time in which to get it all done. Scarcity and hand management are the order of the day, and getting those weak cards out of the way is crucial.

My initial reaction to this game was lukewarm, but later play revealed what I had not seen before. The simple fact of drafting two cards at the start in the "proper" rules changes the outlook of the game entirely, reinforcing how important even the smallest decisions are. One does this from a predetermined deck, so I see this as part of the "building", rather than pre-game construction, especially as the pool is open to all players.

I had a real awakening about my attitude to games with Core Worlds and wrote about it here. This is the kind of game where you'll kick yourself afterwards for having bought one card when you could have bought another - there is no sense of it all shaking out in the long run.
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9. Board Game: Nightfall [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1343] [Average Rating:6.52 Unranked]
Trey Chambers
United States
Houston
Texas
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It used to be Thunderstone, but now I almost feel like it's too bloated.

This is quick, interesting, has unique mechanics, and has direct player attacks.
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10. Board Game: Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:329] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Fernando Robert Yu
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How it works:

Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin is the latest version of this game, and it is said that it fixes a few of the flows of the original Thunderstone (I cannot really specify since I started with the Advance version). It basically attaches a fantasy theme to Dominion where instead of simply buying the victory cards (ie the monsters in the game), you must defeat them. The combos involve selecting the right hero(es) and equipping the right weapons, items, and spells to them. There is also an element of levelling up, as defeated monsters grant experience points, which you can use to make your heroes more powerful.

The game also has options for a solitaire mode, and if you have the Thunderstone Advance: Root of Corruption expansion you can also opt for a cooperative siege mode as well. There is also an "epic" variant where you can use every card in the game. This makes the system among the most flexible among deckbuilders.

Why I like it:

I really like this game since it gives me the old school fantasy RPG feel. I also like the system's flexibility, and I especially like the solo and cooperative siege mode since here the game actually "fights back" as the monsters advance in the dungeon if you do not attack them (this mechanic is also present in Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game). The standard multiplayer game may have moments where the game drags since the dungeon may get clogged with powerful monsters (which is less likely if you use the 4-4-4 variant), but otherwise it is different and unique enough to be part in the collection of every deckbuilding fan.




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11. Board Game: Tanto Cuore [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:1363] [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
Bryce Journey
United States
Omaha
Nebraska
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I'm adding this one behalf of my wife. This is her favorite deck builder. It shamelessly rips off Dominion for most of its mechanics but adds enough unique differences to make both games worthwhile additions to my collection. If I could just get my wife to dress up in a skimpy maid outfit while playing, it might become my favorite deck-builder too.
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12. Board Game: Shadowrift [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1469]
Shannon Kane
United States
Nashua
New Hampshire
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This game has ruined Dominion for me forever. Having multiple groups of enemies you can fight to change up games, all that interact with the board differently, does a lot for the replay value. It has a very clear goal (which I would argue is Dominion's greatest weakness, having no goal beyond point generation) and can really make for a tense co-op.

And I think it's pretty.
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13. Board Game: Arcana [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:2671]
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My favourite is actually Arcana, a game which receives too little recognition and attention, in my opinion. You send out your agents to "entice, bribe, or win over powerful citizens, buy precious treasures, and utilize locations". In other words, you use your cards to beat the values of other cards so you can add them to your deck. You'll have to find a balance between cards that you can use to acquire other cards and cards with high VP values. As other players will be interested in getting the same cards as you, there will be battles over attractive cards. It's obviously a quite confrontational and interactive game and you have to pick your battles carefully.

This is a very simplified description of the gameplay. For more details, I recommend that you read this excellent review.
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14. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:308]
Caitlyn Paget
Canada
Toronto
ON
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How it works:
Friday is a solitaire deckbuilder where you are using one deck to defeat another deck in preparation for fighting the pirates. The first deck represents Robinson Crusoe's abilities, and it starts off with cards of very limited utility. The second deck is the Hazard deck with two-sided cards to represent a hazard (which you fight) as well as a new skill (to be added into the Robinson deck once you defeat the card). Finally, the pirates are like the "boss" levels in a video game, and you only attack them after cycling through the (shrinking) Hazard deck three times.

Why I like it:
It does an excellent job linking theme and mechanic. Many other deck builders have a bit of a pasted-on theme, such as Dominion (which I do really enjoy) or even Thunderstone (I know people praise it for it's theme, but I found it quite disconnected). In contrast, Friday has Robinson learning from his adventures, aging over time, and regrouping after losses. It's a tough little game with lots of great decisions.

What I would change:
The card backs need to be asymmetrical to allow easy line-up vertically. I get quite OCD while setting this up to ensure that each card flip off the Robinson or Hazard decks has the skill side or danger side pointing up, respectively.
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15. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:20]
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It's time to add a few of the more popular games with deck-building that haven't yet been added to this list, with the hope that folks who have played them can add some useful comments about them.

This Vlaada Chvátil design is currently ranked #8 on BGG. It's not a pure deck-builder, but it still belongs on this list because it definitely has a strong deck-building mechanic, which it combines with elements of traditional board games and of RPGs.

Anyone care to comment on how the deck-building mechanic works in this game, and why they like it?




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16. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:245]
Ender Wiggins
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This two-player Martin Wallace design is in the BGG Top 100, and while the initial enthusiasm for the game appears to have dropped off as a result of the winning "Halifax Hammer" strategy, it still remains popular.

Like Mage Knight, it's a hybrid design, that mixes the deck-building mechanic with a board game, which in this case results in a card-driven war game about the French and British conflict in North America. One interesting thing about it is that the cards have multiple uses.

Anyone care to comment on how the deck-building mechanic works in this game, and why they like it? Or has the Halifax Hammer put the final nail in this game's coffin?





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17. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:426]
Ender Wiggins
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Eminent Domain definitely uses the deck-building mechanic, but it features a mixture of various mechanics familiar from other games, notably Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, and Glory to Rome. Like Dominion, it’s a deck-building game, but it adds other elements, especially the role-selection mechanic, which evokes frequent comparisons with Glory to Rome and Race for the Galaxy. Overall the blend of these mechanics seems to work well, and it makes for a good game for 2-4 players that can be played in 45 minutes.

If you're not familiar at all with Eminent Domain, here's a good place to begin reading:

What you need to know and what people think about Eminent Domain

Anyone care to comment on how the deck-building mechanic works in this game, and why they like it?





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18. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:697] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Ender Wiggins
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Currently ranked #299 on BGG, Quarriors adds a real twist to the deck-building mechanic, by having players customize dice-pools instead of cards. This avoids the tedium of shuffling, but it is arguably still a deck-building mechanic. The dice represent creatures and spells, which players buy in order to add to their "deck". These are then rolled in order to attempt to gain new creatures and attack others. It's very light and fairly quick, and has appeared to enjoy a fairly strong following.

Anyone care to comment on how the deck-building mechanic works in this game, and why they like it?



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19. Board Game: Puzzle Strike [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1392]
Ender Wiggins
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This is the third edition of the original Puzzle Strike game by David Sirlin from 2010, and was released in 2012. It also relies on the deck-building mechanic, but uses cardboard chips instead of cards.

Thematically the game is intended to simulate a puzzle video games like Puzzle Fighter and Tetris. Players start the game with one of different characters, which helps make each game feel different.

Anyone care to comment on how the deck-building mechanic works in this game, and why they like it?



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20. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1201]
Ender Wiggins
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A relatively new kid on the block from Friedemann Friese, Copycat borrows elements from various well-known games, blending them into a new whole. It's been described as "a deck-building, worker-placement, drafting race game."

I've not played this myself, and don't know how strong the deck-building element is. But I've seen comments which say that it feels like a deck-building game with worker placement tacked on, that it avoids some of the issues that some have with deck-building games, and as a result even people who don't like most deck-building games have enjoyed Copycat.

Anyone care to comment on how the deck-building mechanic works in this game, and why they like it?



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21. Board Game: Arctic Scavengers [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:954]
Aaron Cappocchi
United States
Los Angeles
CA
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This is a fairly new offering from Rio Grande - despite the 2009 date on it here I think it's just come out.

Most deckbuilders leave me flat - Too much shuffling, too little game. I like theme-heavy games that make me feel like I'm in the middle of a story. This one is very theme-rich. Civilization has ended and you and the other players each represent a tribe scavenging for equipment, food and bare survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Standard deckbuilder "draw more cards" and "buy new cards (i.e. recruit new members of your tribe)" actions are here. Innovations and new gameplay elements include:
- A competitive skirmish phase - everything you DON'T play during your turn is sent to the end-of-round skirmish for a Contested Resource (high VP tribe members, or powerful weapons). A hand of Scouts and Medkits might buy you some new tribe members this turn, but a hand of Thugs, brawlers and weapons might win you the bigger prize by force.
- scavenging for equipment in the junkyard pile. You might get a handy new weapon or you might get nothing. As the game progresses, the junkyard is largely picked clean and this pile gets diluted - there is less treasure to be found.
- building structures (to hold extra cards - you can extend your hand and play a bunch of cards at a critical time or before a high-VP skirmish)

Although there are a few "mini-expansions" in the main game box, playing with all of them only results in a game with ~15 different types of cards available to draft/purchase (though there are separate decks for somewhat randomized buildings, equipment and Contested Resources), and is not overwhelming, which has led me already to that familiar deckbuilding yearn for MORE! I need more cards, new expansions now!

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22. Board Game: DC Comics Deck-Building Game [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:701] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
Michael Denman
United States
Katy
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I can't explain why I like this one but... I do.

It's Ascension 1.1. They've gone from two currencies to one. The lineup doesn't refill instantly. That's all that comes to mind. And I hate Ascension. But I LIKE this game?

A certain game reviewer (who I almost never agree with) seems to be most upset by the lack of theme. Yeah, it's thin. Have you ever played poker with... oh... say special Star Wars poker cards? They're just like normal cards but Princess Leia is on the Queens? That's what the theme is like here. I SEE Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc but I'm not really feeling them. I WOULD very much like a good superhero game where I can feel the theme (crossing fingers and hoping that the Vindicators is THAT game), but this game isn't that. But I'm okay with that. I just like playing this one.

Oh, and if you DO enjoy one of Cryptozoic's deckbuilders, don't buy any others because you already own them. It's CRAZY how incredibly similar they are. It's like they plan to just keep re-skinning the same game and trying to see how many copies they can sell based on whichever license they happen to have that day.
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23. Board Game: Briefcase [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:3336]
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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How it works.

A rather unusual deck builder as there are only four different cards that go into your deck. The game is more about using those cards to aquire and activate the various companies in the game.

You have buy cards, you can either buy resourceses that you use to activate buildings (concrete, paper etc) or you can buy companies. You need between one and four buy cards to buy a company. Activate cards, that you need to activate companies. Obstacle cards, which in typical deck builder fashion clog up your hand. (Though some of the companies can make them useful). Hire cards which allow you to use other player companies.

Why I like It.

It has a very different feel to it. The actual deck building side is very simplified with only four card types. It does not mean it’s easy though. You still need to get the ratio right of the cards you have in the deck.

But the main emphasis is in working out the best synergy between the companies and taking full advantage of it.


Want to know more (I can push my reviews as well )

A not so brief review

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24. Board Game: Rune Age [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:883]
Boss Beau Blasterfire
United States
Berrien Springs
Michigan
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I just ordered so I can't tell you how it is, based off the reviews I've read the game needs the expansion for a good experience. The things that led me to purchase this are:

- Set in the fantasy realm of Terrinoth (Runebound, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Runewars, and DungeonQuest)
- Rune Age is a unique deck-building game that centers around scenarios.
- Rune Age present alternate win conditions for players, from an all-out war to determine the victor to a cooperative game experience where players all win or lose together.

Scenarios not only dictate the win conditions, they also determine which card types will populate Terrinoth (forming the central card pools) and which Event cards will form the Event deck. The Event deck contains thematic challenges, enemies, and happenings that are tied to the chosen scenario, creating a new play environment each turn.

Gameplay in Rune Age centers around players working to develop their individual deck of cards. At the beginning of the game, each player begins with a small assortment of cards in their deck, drawing five cards each turn to carry out their actions. Each player's deck represents their faction's military strength and capabilities. These decks will be formed with their faction-specific Unit cards and a central collection of Neutral Unit cards, Tactics cards, and Gold cards.

I hope it's good. The versatility, and price is what ultimately led me to purchase this game along with the expansion.
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25. Board Game: City of Iron [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:851]
John Thompson
United States
Illinois
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This is another game that falls into the category of "not primarily a deck-building game but uses it as a mechanic in an interesting way." I recently played it for the first time and have been really enjoying it.

How it Works: Each player has two decks, a civics deck and a military deck that start with a couple cards each. The first contains characters who can expand you research capabilities, establish new towns, collect taxes, etc. while the second contains characters that allow you to attack and conquer other cities. At the end of every turn, you can use your money to purchase cards from your individual pool of cards to add to your deck via your hand. Each player has access to their entire pool (a la A Few Acres of Snow). When you run through your deck, you flip over your discard pile WITHOUT shuffling it.

Why I Like it: The deck-building manages to feel fresh and new. There are a plethora of options open to you. Do I pursue a military strategy or invest in exploration and try to establish new towns? If you need a particular card, you can always buy it to add to your deck. In addition, the order you play your cards in is incredibly important, as that becomes the order of your draw pile. If your strongest cards are at the top of your discard pile when you replenish your draw pile, you will have to draw through all of them (possibly using precious actions to do so) in order to get your strong cards again. The deck-building is only part of the game. You will also spend time drafting resource producing cards from a communal pool to build up your tableau in an effort to corner the markets on the production of specific types of goods (turnips, yaks, demon's blood, gears, crystals). Did I mention the theme and art are pretty awesome?
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