deepest card games- please help!
Nick Bentley
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Madison
Wisconsin
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I am on the prowl for deep card games. I prefer games that have no boards and no bits outside of the cards themselves, but it's not an absolute requirement. When I say "deep", I have a specific definition in mind.

Imagine that you forced a population of one million people to study and play a particular game religiously for a couple of decades, to the best of their abilities. Afterward, if you divided that population into skill-level groups such that the members of each group would win 95% of their games against the group one skill level down, and would lose 95% of their games against the group one skill level up, how many groups would there be? For my purposes, deepness= number of groups. Of course, this experiment can not actually be performed for most games, so use your imagination. When you add a game, if you can, also include your rationale for thinking that the game is deep in this sense.

Since I know very little about card games, I'll start this list with only one entry, for the only even remotely deep card game I've played: bridge (you see why I so desperately need this list to be filled out). I suppose some ccgs will qualify, but I don't know enough about them to confidently put one on the list myself. Also, what about Up Front?
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1. Board Game: Bridge [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:489]
Nick Bentley
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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Not being a particularly good bridge player myself, I can yet claim that it is fairly deep, because the bridge playing population is large and the number of different skill levels in that population is large as well. Duplicate bridge is deeper still.
 
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2. Board Game: Control Nut! [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:5357]
Chris Bailey
United States
Broomfield
Colorado
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While the theme and the art looks a bit childish, this trick taking game has a lot of depth and you really need to know what you're doing to do well.
 
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3. Board Game: Middle-earth [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:915]
Nigel Buckle
United Kingdom
Thornton Heath
Croydon
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This applies to other CCGs too, most obviously Magic. But I prefer MECCG ...

Middle Earth CCG is pretty deep - there's a steep learning curve and because it's a CCG you've got deck building too. So to play well you need to know how to play, know how to play your deck and also how to build a good deck ... bit of a catch 22 situation.

Player skill is a definite factor - a good player with an average deck can beat a weak player using a 'good' deck. And deck building is also a big factor - 2 players with similar skills, then the deck building is the deciding factor.
 
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4. Board Game: Skat [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:1479]
klausbh
United States
Bowie
Maryland
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There are at least two groups (your definition) of skat players based solely on their understanding of the complex rules. Then, among "real" players, I'd say there are several more groups with serious tournament players at the top.

-Klaus
 
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5. Board Game: Legend of the Five Rings [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1024] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Thomas Giaquinto
United States
Norwood
Pennsylvania
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This is an amazingly deep Card game. Granted it is a CCG but it has a lot going for it.

- Excellent Multiplayer Cabality
- Grand History and Story Line
- Multiple ways to win
- Hugely Strategic
- Rewards ingenuity and knowledge of your enemies
- The richeness of the cards allow for YEARS of study

If you are looking for a deep card game this is as deep as I have seen.

 
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6. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:157] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
klausbh
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Bowie
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Due to the sheer number of unique cards, the depth of MTG is hard to beat. There must be at least four "95% groups": about 6 million casual players, almost 200,000 tournament players, hundreds of Pro-tour players, and a handful of people who actually make a living playing magic.
 
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7. Board Game: Sticheln [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:808]
Andy Daglish
United Kingdom
Cheadle
Cheshire
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Even the low rated comments recommend the game. eg:-

3/10. This is no light filler. It requires serious concentration. I feel that it is much easier to lose huge amounts of points than to reach the scoreline of 100 since every game I've played had included only small positive gains each turn. Even with the suggested 10 rounds I doubt it's possible to reach 100. The scoring penalises too much and players are often removed from contention in the early game. Not a favourite.
 
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8. Board Game: Schafkopf [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:2931]
Jeff Binning
United States
Rollinsville
Colorado
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Sheepshead is a very deep card game played heavily in Wisconsin, which has a large population with German heritage. In spite of the very nice picture that goes with this game entry, the game is played with 32 cards from a standard deck. pagat.com has a nice description of the game,and there are other websites devoted to it as well.

http://www.pagat.com/schafk/shep.html
 
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9. Board Game: Spades [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1320]
Jeff Curtis
United States
Plainfield
Indiana
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Spent many an hour playing this game. While it is not as 'deep' as bridge, there are still a lot strategy and partner interaction involved.
 
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10. Board Game: Four Dragons [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:3158]
Jeffrey McBeth
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Rochester
New York
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This would be my pick (after bridge)
 
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11. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:878]
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
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They describe the game as the noncollectable collectable card game and that's not a bad description. It has many CCG elements without the money pit aspect. Your strategy changes depending on which race you play and you can purchase different race decks as expansions. Extremely good quality cards and board as well. I'm just getting into this game but so far I'm impressed.
 
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12. Board Game: Star Trek: Customizable Card Game (first edition) [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:4321]
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With 9 years of expansions, 3 different quadrants, multiple dimensions, 10 or 11 factions this game near the end of its run rivals Middle Earth CCG and Star Wars CCG for being the most "deep" and complex card game I've ever played. There are times where you have to keep track of 70 or 80 cards on the table at a time.
 
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13. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:373]
Richard Irving
United States
Salinas
California
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This card wargame is very deep with a wide variety of scenarios.

It is very different experience from a traditional card game such as bridge, but fantastic game nonetheless.
 
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14. Board Game: Mü & More [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:823]
Mark Blanco
United States
Charlotte
North Carolina
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Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)
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Excellent partnership trick taking game, where the partners can change every round! Sounds chaotic, but it's quite a deep, and skillful game.
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15. Board Game: Victory & Honor [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:4139]
Geeky McGeekface
United States
Manassas
Virginia
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This is a mindbending trick-taking game. Three tricks are being played to at the same time and the one you play to determines which player goes next! There's all sorts of factors that make this a deep and subtle game. Clearly a game that requires skill and experience to play well.
 
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16. Board Game: A Game of Thrones Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2299]
Damien Browne
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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A friend of mine introduced me to this game recently.
He beats me at it more than 90% (clearly a higher skill level than me.) However, he has been to two tournaments, where he lost 75% each time. Obviously, if I play somebody still new to the game, I'll beat them 95%. I'd wager that the guys beating my friend would lose to some major players of the game if they went to USA... they may in fact have different tiers of levels within their own circle of friends.

The game mechanics are interesting and deep - you make a deck of at least 60 cards, which include characters, locations, attachments and events. You also make a sub-deck which includes 7 (and only 7) plot cards. Using the intricacies of the game, you battle for power, having the ability to earn, block and steal power each turn.
 
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17. Board Game: Hearts [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1536]
Robert Birks
Australia
Trafalgar
Victoria
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This game has surprised me with it's skill level. However it doesn't meet your criteria of 95%; against weaker company I can win over 50% of my games but that's about it. Against people slightly weaker it's about 40% win ratio.
 
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18. Board Game: Watten [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:8038]
Peter R.
Italy
Bozen
Italy
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Definitly a 'deep' game!
It depends on which variant you're playing, but this can become 'deep' too.
 
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19. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:119]
Dan Rosewater
Switzerland
Zürich
Switzerland
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When geeks are adding Schafkopf or Hearts to this list, Tichu must be mentioned too.

Experienced players (teams of 2) will probably win 90-95% against newbies. So this should meet your criterias as well.
 
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20. Board Game: Pinochle [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1950]
Denies Gaskins
United States
Little Rock
Arkansas
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Double-Deck Pinochle is among the best of all trick-taking card games.

Great partnership game.
 
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21. Board Game: Double Some'R'Set [Average Rating:7.94 Unranked]
Jonathan Franklin
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Amazing trick-taking game. I'd never heard of it and it was created over 100 years ago, yet uses a special deck and has Foppen-like suit distribution + cards with special point values and bidding!
 
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