Digital card games are strange because converting a physical medium directly into a digital game often doesn’t work. However, they have actually done well enough to be an entire genre of games. Part of the reason for their success is that they fully accept the fact that they are a digital medium by including elements that only video games can. These five games are the best of the genre, in my opinion of course.
Magic: The Gathering is the first, longest running, and most popular collectible card game of all time. As a result, it has slowly become more complicated since its release in 1993. Wizards of the Coast, the creators, have added new cards and mechanics to the game every year or so, making it almost impossible for new players to understand everything about the game. Duels of the Planeswalkers manages to solve that problem for the most part. It comes with pre-built decks, and all of it is simplified enough to easily understand what is going on. People who have played for years might think that it oversimplifies everything, but they aren’t really the target audience in the first place. It’s a great game to start with if you have ever thought about getting into Magic.
Solforge is essentially Magic if you multiply all the numbers by 2 and turn everything into Pokemon. Your creatures actually become stronger and eventually evolve, much like Pokemon do. It’s certainly more complicated than Pokemon, but it is cheaper – Solforge is one of the best card games you can play completely for free.
This game is much less polished than every other game on this list, even including the website. What makes it great is that it breaks the form of traditional card games; it throws the player right into a scenario. In other words, instead of building a deck of cards and playing from the beginning against a person or computer, it plops you down right in the most interesting part of the game. Every level is basically a scenario that the player has to solve in order to win. This turns it into more of a puzzle game rather than a strategy game like many of the others.
Created by the team that made Solforge, Stoneblade Entertainment, Ascension is true to its name – it is a deckbuilding game. Lots of card games involve building decks, so it doesn’t seem unique at first. It definitely does not seem like it should be interesting enough to be in the title of the game. However, in Ascension, you build your deck as you play. Each player’s deck starts off very simple and only has ten cards. Throughout the game, they each put more and more powerful cards into their deck. As you remove the bad cards and put in better ones, your deck slowly becomes better. It’s a unique game that actually works and is incredibly fun.
If you are interested in games enough to be reading this right now, you almost definitely know what Hearthstone is. While it has its flaws, such as dozens of small programming bugs, it is an amazingly well done game. I think one of the biggest reasons for its popularity is the gradual learning curve. It is probably the least complicated game in this list on the surface, and it has a great tutorial on top of that.
The tutorial hides everything in the interface that it hasn’t taught yet, so that anyone learning to play isn’t overwhelmed by all the things they don’t understand yet. Despite how simple it is, the skill cap is high enough that it is actually a competitive event. It is one of the most watched games on Twitch, despite the fact that it is free, letting everyone play it for themselves. The simple reason is that Hearthstone is just as much fun to watch as to play. The game is slow enough that viewers can try to figure out what the correct play is or what the player is thinking. It is the most accessible game on this list and also one of the most fun.
Did we leave out any of your favorite digital card games? Let us know!