There are many games like Magic The Gathering, but only a few of them actually offer a variety of different playstyles, while maintaining a good balance in other aspects of a card game. While Magic The Gathering is the most popular card game, there are that are more accessible and easier on the wallet. One of the most important things when choosing a card game is the monetization strategy that the developers have implemented. The reason for this is that you don’t want your favorite card game to trick you into buying expensive card packs, expansions, etc.
While being inexpensive is a huge factor, it’s not the only thing to look for. We will take into account things like beginner friendliness, variety of playstyles, and overall depth of the game itself. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to every card game, so finding a good balance is the key. Nevertheless, here is our list of the best card games, ranked by a good balance between variety, depth, payment, and overall experience.
7. Elder Scrolls: Legends
We know that a lot of big developers are trying to get their hands in the card game market, and that is also true for the Elder Scrolls: Legends. This game has, like any other card game, many pros and cons. We don’t want to get too much in-depth into their overall mechanics, but there are some interesting things revolving around Prophecies, Runes, and the overall complexity of the deck building. However, we must warn you that the overall sense is that the game is half dead, and at some point, there were some questionable implementations regarding the balance of the game and overall mechanics. This is most prominent within the introduction of the Houses and the Tricolour control.
The things that made this game fun are the lack of RNG elements and overpowered decks that tend to pop out in games like Magic The Gathering. This is not the case anymore, since there were a lot of bad updates and the game is in a steady decline. There seems to be a strong community revolving around it since the whole Elder Scrolls is kind of “outdated”. This is generally because the last big game that came out was Skyrim, which is more than a decade old. Nevertheless, this is a game made for the Skyrim universe fans.
6. Marvel Snap
Marvel Snap is a recent game that takes the card experience directly into the Marvel universe. The trend of different companies and brands trying to create the perfect card game experience is very established now. We always welcome new innovations and ways of playing. The game itself is pretty beginner friendly and the overall experience feels satisfying. Probably the best innovation in the game is the location system, which in a way gives you modifiers for every new game based on the location that it’s played. The visuals are extremely impactful and well done. Each card has a little fun animation, and you can see that a lot of thought has gone into creating a good overall experience.
While the games are really short, it does not influence the depth of strategies and playstyles that Marvel Snap has to offer. It sort of gives you a little short burst, instead of a half an hour long game, which can be a positive in some scenarios. There are some heavy monetization strategies that we are not fans of. Nevertheless, you can go pretty far with free play, and you can also spend a little on a battle pass to give you a lot of new opportunities and cards. While it may not be the best card game ever, we have to acknowledge that Marvel Snap has done a lot of things correctly, and is worth giving it a shot.
This card game has a very unique history because it is first found in the original Witcher 3 game. It is much more evolved than the card game in the Witcher 3 and it is somewhat similar to Magic The Gathering. T overall gameplay has a parallel to games like Magic the gathering and the mechanics of deckbuilding are deep. Moreover, the cards have beautiful aesthetics and a lot of lore behind them. There aren’t any campaigns or single players, so it’s strictly an online multiplayer game.
If you are a fan of Witcher and don’t prefer the overall Hearthstone, and Magic The Gathering “vibes”, this is a good alternative. It gained massive popularity because the developers knew that the card game that has been implemented in the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gained traction and was very successful in capturing broad audiences. This was a green light to invest time and energy into GWENT and it paid off.
4. Legends Of Runeterra
Legends Of Runeterra strike an extremely compelling balance between the complexity of the game and beginner friendliness. The payment model has been really well implemented, and it is seen as one of the best games like Magic The Gathering. On the other hand, we just can’t get into the lore and atmosphere of this game. Even though the mechanics, variety of deck building, and overall experience are good, it just isn’t the complete package with the overall dumbed-down story of League of Legends. On the other hand, if you’re a League of Legends fan, this card game is a must-try.
We don’t like Riot for essentially copying games all the time, for example, CS: GO into Valorant, Dota into League of Legends, Dota Autochess into TFT, and now this. Riot is good at the execution of a formula, but not creating formulas itself. This is why we can’t give this game “the respect it deserves “, but we got to give credit where it’s due. The fact is that Legends of Runeterra is an extremely well-made card game.
3. Yu Gi Oh! Power Of Chaos Series
As you all know, Yu-Gi-Oh! Yu-Gi-Oh! has been around for some time. While the newer games are pretty good and have a lot of different cards, we tend to go back to the old-school classic, and that is the Power Of Chaos series. These include Joey The Passion, Yugi The Destiny, Kaiba The Revenge, and Marik The Darkness. There are a lot of cards in this series. This game doesn’t have any monetization strategies, and you unlock all the cards by playing the game or simply downloading the cheat file that unlocks all the cards.
The game can be played online, but with a little bit of work and tinkering around. The cards don’t include the new-age Yu-Gi-Oh! quirks and mechanics and they stick to the old and classical way of playing the game. On top of all this, the visuals are done correctly, and the playstyle of your AI opponent is highly varied. The cards and the overall experience feel exactly like they should, compared to some other newer Yu-Gi-Oh! titles that are not so well regarded. We highly suggest that you try this game if you love Yu-Gi-Oh!
2. Slay The Spire
Slay The Spire is a game that took everybody by surprise. Its dungeon crawl elements combined with Magic The Gathering format of play is perfectly combined into a very addicting and replayable game. The main difference from other card games is that it’s mostly single-player, and that means no additional costs to the game besides the base cost. This is extremely important since many card games can lure you in and backstab you with a paywall or some other restriction that you need to overcome with a heavy wallet.
The game combines a lot of elements that are present in games like Magic the Gathering. The RNG element provides that replayable factor and it makes sense here. If you ever played similar games, this game will feel very good from the start. It has well-made mechanics and fluidity that make this game so addicting and playable. It averages a rare 10/10 Steam review and is extremely popular among the newer card games.
Without a doubt, Hearthstone is one of the most popular card games ever and is one of the best games like Magic The Gathering. While we are not the biggest fans of recent Blizzard practices, it can’t be denied that Hearthstone is an extremely robust and in-depth card game. It has some of the same principles as similar games like Magic The Gathering. These include yearly card rotations (last year’s cards are rendered unplayable in the standard mode), and some new modern ways of playing like the Battlegrounds mode. If you want to have the regular experience, you can play the Standard Mode of the game at no cost, but there are a few catches.
The best decks can be acquired with free play, this is because new cards come out every year and the old ones can’t be played. This mechanism prevents old-school veteran players from making extremely powerful decks from cards that they acquired over a span of a decade. You can get a pretty powerful deck with the crafting mechanism. Basically, you naturally receive a lot of free card packs from free-to-play, and you can disenchant these cards into dust and focus on buying the most powerful cards for one or two decks only. So the game is generally not paid to win, but it’s more “pay to have a variety of different powerful decks”.
This is pretty understandable, and we’ve seen much worse from similar card games. In recent times, we had a lot of fun playing with the new class, Death Knight, with 3 very powerful decks (Blood, Frost, and Unholy) that we crafted with no cost. Also, the ranking system is pretty beginner-friendly and it doesn’t require extreme dedication, at least at lower levels. If acquiring cards and sticking to only a few decks seems like a hassle, which sometimes it is, there are other fun ways of playing the game.
The most popular one is surely the Hearthstone Battlegrounds mod. This model of playing Hearthstone is completely free, everybody gets the same opportunities and cards, and it’s something that you can play with absolutely zero cost and time investment. This is perhaps our way our favorite way of playing the game, because there are absolutely zero catches, paywalls, unbalanced things that are created with additional spending, and other sorts of shenanigans you see in today’s online card games. Battlegrounds mod really stands out in this regard and honestly, it’s a big surprise from Blizzard. Combining all of these factors, we can say with certainty that Hearthstone is probably the best card game in 2023.