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We love card games! They fundamentally are a necessary component to many board games. What’s incredible is there are so many standalone card games.

We have picked 5 of the best games we own or have played. Every game in this list has been played by Flashback Generations and comes with our recommendation.

#5 Star Realms

Star Realms is a spaceship combat deck-building game by Magic Hall of Famers Darwin Kastle and Rob Dougherty .

Star Realms is a fast paced deck-building card game of outer space combat. It combines the fun of a deck-building game with the interactivity of Trading Card Game style combat. As you play, you make use of Trade to acquire new Ships and Bases from the cards being turned face up in the Trade Row from the Trade Deck. You use the Ships and Bases you acquire to either generate more Trade or to generate Combat to attack your opponent and their bases. When you reduce your opponent’s score (called Authority) to zero, you win!

 

#4 Boss Monster

Inspired by a love of classic video games, Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game pits 2-4 players in a competition to build the ultimate side-scrolling dungeon. Players compete to lure and destroy hapless adventurers, racing to outbid one another to see who can build the most enticing, treasure-filled dungeon. The goal of Boss Monster is to be the first Boss to amass ten Souls, which are gained when a Hero is lured and defeated — but a player can lose if his Boss takes five Wounds from Heroes who survive his dungeon.

Playing Boss Monster requires you to juggle two competing priorities: the need to lure Heroes at a faster rate than your opponents, and the need to kill those Heroes before they reach your Boss. Players can build one room per turn, each with its own damage and treasure value. More attractive rooms tend to deal less damage, so a Boss who is too greedy can become inundated with deadly Heroes.

Players interact with each other by building rooms and playing Spells. Because different Heroes seek different treasure types, and rooms are built simultaneously (played face down, then revealed), this means that every “build phase” is a bidding war. Spells are instant-speed effects that can give players advantages or disrupt opponents.

As a standalone card game with 155 cards, Boss Monster contains everything that 2-4 players need to play.

 

#3  BANG!

“The Outlaws hunt the Sheriff. The Sheriff hunts the Outlaws. The Renegade plots secretly, ready to take one side or the other. Bullets fly. Who among the gunmen is a Deputy, ready to sacrifice himself for the Sheriff? And who is a merciless Outlaw, willing to kill him? If you want to find out, just draw (your cards)!” (From back of box)

The card game BANG! recreates an old-fashioned spaghetti western shoot-out, with each player randomly receiving a Character card to determine special abilities, and a secret Role card to determine their goal.

Four different Roles are available, each with a unique victory condition:

  • Sheriff – Kill all Outlaws and the Renegade
  • Deputy – Protect the Sheriff and kill any Outlaws
  • Outlaw – Kill the Sheriff
  • Renegade – Be the last person standing

A player’s Role is kept secret, except for the Sheriff. Character cards are placed face up on table, and also track strength (hand limit) in addition to special ability.

There are 22 different types of cards in the draw deck. Most common are the BANG! cards, which let you shoot at another player, assuming the target is within “range” of your current gun. The target player can play a “MISSED!” card to dodge the shot. Other cards can provide temporary boosts while in play (for example, different guns to improve your firing range) and special one-time effects to help you or hinder your opponents (such as Beer to restore health, or Barrels to hide behind during a shootout). A horse is useful for keeping your distance from unruly neighbors, while the Winchester can hit a target at range 5. The Gatling is a deadly exception where range doesn’t matter: it can only be used once, but targets all other players at the table!

Information on the cards is displayed using language-independent symbols, and 7 summary/reference cards are included.

 

#2 One Deck Dungeon

One Deck Dungeon is a card game “roguelike” — a dungeon delve that is different every time, difficult to survive, with a character you build up from scratch. The deck consists of various foes to combat and other perils from the dungeon. Each card, though, depicts both the obstacle to overcome and the potential rewards for doing so. When you defeat a card, you claim it as either experience, an item, or a skill, tucking it under the appropriate side of your character card to show its benefits.

The longer you take exploring the dungeon, the deeper you’ll delve, and the difficulty will scale up quickly! If you make it far enough, you’ll have to fight the dungeon boss. Survive, and you’ll be a legend!

One Deck Dungeon is designed for 1-2 players. With multiple sets, you can add more players.

 

#1 Magic the Gathering

In the Magic game, you play the role of a planeswalker—a powerful wizard who fights other planeswalkers for glory, knowledge, and conquest. Your deck of cards represents all the weapons in your arsenal. It contains the spells you know and the creatures you can summon to fight for you.

This is the grandfather of the collectible card game genre. Cards are categorized as common, uncommon, rare, and mythic rare. Players collect cards and build decks out of their collection.

Players build a deck of cards and duel against an opponent’s deck. Players are wizards attempting to reduce their opponent’s life total to zero. The first player to reduce his opponent’s life to zero (or meet another set win condition) wins the game.

An important part of the game is deck construction, which is done prior to the actual game by selecting what cards are included in a particular deck. There are nearly 20,000 different cards from which to build your deck!

Cards can be lands, which usually generate mana of various colors, or spells, which require a certain amount of mana to be used. Some cards (creatures, artifacts, and enchantments) stay on the board and continue to affect the game, while others have a one-time effect.

Players randomly draw spells to see what they get and can play each turn. Although this limits your choices, there is a lot of strategy in how you play those spells. A robust list of game mechanics, including intricate rules for reactive card play called “the stack,” provide for rich tactics and tough choices each turn.

Though traditionally a two-player duel, there are several casual and tournament formats to Magic that allow more players to play.

 

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