Follow TV Tropes


Deckbuilding Game

Go To

Subgenre of Card Games that focuses on deck construction. While superficially similar to the Collectible Card Game (CCG), there is a key difference: The deck construction happens during the game, not before.

Like CCGs, players in deck-building games (or "deckbuilders") have their own personal decks that they draw their hand from. Unlike CCGs, but like traditional card games, these personal decks are made from the fixed cards of a game set rather than a personal collection.


Unlike CCGs which typically focus on "card battle", deckbuilding games typically focus on resource competition. At the start of the game, each player's deck begins with the same low resource or weak victory/offense cards. To win, the player must use these limited resources to purchase more powerful cards from a common pool. Cards that they purchase are added to their decks, making them stronger and more effective.

A key aspect of most deck-building games is that players don't get to keep their hand from turn to turn. At the end of a player's turn, they take all the cards they played, and all the cards they have left in their hand, and sweep them into their discard pile, then they draw a new hand from their deck. If the player runs out of cards to draw, they reshuffle their discard pile to re-form their deck. This way, players will begin to draw the cards that they purchased and will be able to see their decks gradually improve. There are often also ways to permanently remove cards from players' decks, as getting rid of weak cards further improves the player's draws.


The challenge in deckbuilding games is figuring out how to design your deck to maximize efficiency. Players have to consider the types of cards they need, their abilities, how many cards they have, and what to keep. They need to clean out clutter, get cards to expand their actions, and to figure out which cards work best with each other. The ideal draw should be able to combine into a winning hand.


Deckbuilding Games include:

  • Adventure Mart: A relatively light deckbuilding game in which the players run competing supermarkets and buy stock with which to sell to would-be adventurers, bidding against other players for the adventurer's patronage.
  • Ascension Chronicle Of The Godslayer is based on a fantasy theme.
  • Barbarossa: World War II focus (specifically the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union), but the art is all WWII-themed cute anime girls.
    • El Alamein: A compatible sequel to Barbarossa, focusing on the North Africa campaign.
  • Cerberus Engine Games, a catch-all term for a number of deckbuilders based on popular properties such as Naruto, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies. The DC Comics Deck-Building Game, the first of this line, is based on the main DC Comics continuity.
  • Chrono Ark is a Deckbuilding Roguelike with party-based RPG aspects.
  • Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure is a dungeon crawler, featuring not only deck-building but also a board representing the dungeon that players explore.
    • ''Clank! In! Space!'' features largely the same mechanics as Clank! but takes place onboard a space ship.
  • Core Worlds: A sci-fi game set during the decline of a galactic civilization. Players attempt to expand their barbaric space empires on the ashes of the old.
  • Deck Building: The Deck Building Game combines the genre with the theme of building a patio deck.
  • Dominion: Launched the genre back in 2008. The first deckbuilding game, it was influential and spawned many expansions and imitators. The players are feudal lords trying to expand their estates into provinces and colonies to win victory points.
  • Eminent Domain: Space opera themed (despite the title). Players seek to explore the stars and build their civilization through expansion, trade, research or force.
  • The video game app Empire has a deck-building mechanic integrated into the 4X gameplay. As the game continues, more cards become available to add.
  • Flip City: Players buy and upgrade buildings to win, while avoiding too much unhappiness. Notable for having double-sided cards (flipping them over to get a better building), integrating a push-your-luck mechanic, and having no hand (the players play from the top card of the deck). Originally named "Design Town", probably changed to be more marketable.
  • Friday, a solitaire deck builder based on Robinson Crusoe.
  • Griftlands has the player manage two decks for encounters; one for physical combat, and one for getting the upper hand in conversation.
  • Hand of Fate, a video game that combines deck building, roleplaying games, and Roguelikes. A physical version based on the digital game, Hand of Fate: Ordeals, also includes deckbuilding as well.
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft first introduced a deckbuilding game mode with Dungeon Run, and other future single-player content follow a similar format. It later introduced Duels mode, a PvP mode that combines CCG and deckbuilding modes.
  • Heart Of Crown, where players are attempting to get their Princess to become the ruler of the land. Featuring anime style artwork, set in a low fantasy world.
  • Legendary mixes a deckbuilding game with an Adventure Board Game. The main game and its expansions uses the Marvel Comics as the setting. Spin offs include other settings such as Alien, Predator, Firefly, Big Trouble in Little China and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Loop Hero, a roguelike taking place in an empty world where forests, dungeons, and treasures are summoned by playing them from a hand of terrain cards.
  • Millenium Blades, a deckbuilding-like game about building a deck and playing in a CCG tournament.
  • Monster Train, a roguelike deckbuilding game with Tower Defense-like elements.
  • Night of the Full Moon
  • One Step From Eden uses a deck as the players' main form of abilities in a Mega Man Battle Network-like combat system.
  • Paperback mixes the genre with word building.
  • Phantom Rose and Phantom Rose Scarlet, a Roguelike that involves a Ninja Maid fighting her way out of a deadly mansion.
  • Puzzle Strike, which simulates puzzle fighting games ala Super Gem Fighter. Instead of having cards, the game uses cardboard chips.
  • Quantum Protocol: Deck building in this game takes place in the middle of gameplay. The player also starts with a prebuilt deck, but by defeating enemies, they can randomly obtain additional cards, which can be added to the deck by playing the Reprogram card. However, these additional cards are temporary and don't persist into subsequent missions.
  • Reigns uses deck building to some extent. The player's choices may add in new cards, and thus new abilities and problems to deal with.
  • Signs Of The Sojourner has the protagonist interact with other people by using a deck of cards that represent different ways to communicate, having to choose which to keep and which to discard after every conversation, with the goal of successfully managing a caravan route in order to keep your family business stocked and operational.
  • Slay the Spire is a deck-building game that is also a roguelike video game. It was probably the very first deckbuilding game built from the ground up as a video game and the Genre Popularizer of roguelike card games.
  • Space Dandy Galactic Deck Building Game, based on the anime series. Here, the titular protagonist has somehow merged the multiverse into a singular universe, with multiple versions of various characters and events existing simultaneously.
  • Star Realms, an Ascension spinoff where the players fight each other in a Standard Sci Fi Setting using starships and bases. It has its own spinoffs:
    • Cthulhu Realms, a Cthulhu Mythos based spinoff, done in a more humorous tone.
    • Hero Realms, a medieval fantasy spinoff, with bases being replaced by Champions and ships with Actions and Items. In contrast to Star Realms' strategic viewpoint, players are characters operating in a traditional fantasy city.
  • Talecraft
  • Tanto Cuore has anime artwork and focuses on hiring Meido.
  • Thunderstone with the theme of Dungeon Crawling.
  • A Touch of Evil: Dark Gothic, and the standalone expansion Dark Gothic: Colonial Horror. Both are set in Colonial America with Flying Frog's boardgame A Touch of Evil.
  • Quarriors!: a fantasy game where the players are the titular magic warriors. The game has the mechanics of a deckbuilder but replaces the cards with custom dice.
  • Sanctuary Saga: a retro SNES inspired deckbuilder in which players lead their guilds to settle and survive a hostile new land. Instead of playing against each other, players players cooperate to survive a narrative.
  • XenoShyft: Onslaught where the players must build a sci-fi army to survive wave after wave of attacking aliens.