The Best Deck-Building Games In 2023

Ah, deck-building games. It almost feels like they’re a dime a dozen, but that’s hardly an indication that there’s too many out there. If anything, the reason there have been so many deck-building games entering the market in the last fifteen years is because of how attractive and satisfying the systems can be. They manage to take the same joy and inertia of rolling dice and pack them into a stack of cardboard that you design in the moment of what you’re playing.



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These days it’s less of an issue to find any good deck-building game befitting your tabletop fun. It’s more of an issue to figure out which of them is the best. So let’s put the debate to rest, shall we?

Best Deck-Building Games

Dominion Board Game


Best Introduction

This is the best place to start if you’re new to deck-building.

Dominion is arguably the father of all deck-building games, being one of the oldest games of this genre, and still holds up today.The new streamlined rules of the 2nd Edition make it even easier than ever to get started.


  • Widely approachable.
  • Huge pool of expansions to choose from.
  • A great introduction to the deck-building genre.

  • Theme is somewhat tacked on.
  • Tends to bog down at higher player counts.

Make no mistake. Including Dominion here isn’t so much out of homage to its legacy as it is because of the accessibility and fulfillment that comes out of playing it. It has fifteen expansions that have been steadily released since 2008, all with their own special flare that breathes new life into the system.

Because of how simple the core mechanisms of Dominion are, the game remains very comforting for people who get familiar with it. Dominion, for all of its purity and minimalism, ought to be the first deck-builder you try out. It will give you a solid foundation of the object of a deck-building game, which will go on to inform your perspective on other games of its ilk.

Star Realms Box

Star Realms

Best Value

Packs a lot of gameplay in a small box of cards.

Star Realms, is earning its position as a mainstay in the world of deck-building games.It’s a simple to learn and fast-paced experience that makes it ideal for a wide range of ages and experience.


  • Simple to teach and play.
  • Games are fast.

  • The base set has limited strategic depth.

Star Realms pits two players against each other with a humble set of ten identical cards for each player, representing a mixture of combat value and money. The goal is to reduce your opponent’s authority (their life total) to zero, at which point you’ll be deemed the ruler of the galaxy.

What makes Star Realms great is its ease to teach and play. You’ll have a river of cards to purchase from, all to amplify your deck with more powerful spaceships that will ultimately smash your opponent into oblivion. Turns are quick and decisions are simple to digest, yet compelling to strategize. It offers a dynamic, clean experience and is also fairly affordable to jump into, making it an easy choice for anyone’s game shelf.

Clank Catacombs game box

Clank! Catacombs

Best Push-Your-Luck Game

Clank! handles luck in very creative ways, making you push the envelope with every turn.

Clank! A Deck-building Adventure took the hobby gaming scene by storm as a beautiful marriage of deck-building and moving pawns around on a board.Throw some dungeoneering and dragons into the mix, and you have what is a thrillingly tight race to acquire the most loot.


  • Best title in the product line.
  • Great combo of deck-building with pieces on a board.

  • Downtime between turns can take a little while.

Clank! Catacombs sees players building their deck which they’ll use to navigate a cavernous dungeon, trying to steal away more treasure than their opponents in as little time as possible. The catch is that many cards that you use will make noise called “Clank” which accumulates over time to arouse a jealous dragon who takes none too kindly to intruders.

Where Clank! Catacombs comes into the equation is for its variability. The original game, although completely competent on its own, features a static game board that never changes. Clank! Catacombs uses a modular tile system where players craft the dungeon as they explore it, making for an unpredictable and new experience every time you play. It’s easily the strongest title in the game line to this day, and well worth a look. And if you favor sci-fi settings over a fantasy theme, you can try out Clank! In! Space!, which borrows the same mechanisms and boasts a healthy array of references to sci-fi media.

Undaunted Normany Box

Undaunted: Normandy

Best for Two Players

A tightly balanced experience for two players.

Undaunted: Normandy is a two-player head-to-head combat game modeling the European theater of 1942 World War 2.No other World War 2-themed game has as much personality as Undaunted: Normandy, and that’s because of its emphasis on deck-building.


  • Beautiful presentation.
  • Conservative use of dice resolution with card play.

  • Not a lot of deck-building variety from game to game.

At its bare bones, Undaunted: Normandy is a light, tactical war game with simple enough rules. The real challenge is in managing your deck of cards. Your deck largely represents soldiers on the field. The more cards you have in your deck that correlate to one particular squadron of troops, the more likely you’ll be able to activate that group. However, that also means you’ll be activating other squads on the map less often as well. For that reason, it creates a very intriguing mind game in managing the density of cards in your deck so that it doesn’t cater too heavily to one group.

The other interesting aspect of Undaunted: Normandy is how casualties are dealt. When you or your opponent inflicts damage on your squad, you permanently lose a card out of your deck that represents the squadron that lost a troop. This element is an emotional roller coaster that weaves nuance into your deck-building decisions, and it’s part of what makes Undaunted: Normandy so great.

Great Western Trail Box

Great Western Trail

Best Strategy Game

Rewards careful planning, taking a more methodical approach.

Great Western Trail positions you as a rancher herding cattle from one side of the U.S. to the other in the effort to sell the most valuable lot in a single transaction.You’ll be stopping at checkpoints on a board, interacting with merchants and buyers, trading away your humble starting cattle for higher-value cattle, such as the prized Texas Longhorn.


  • Very evocative of the theme.
  • Satisfying efficiency loop.

  • Lacks a player aid and the rules aren’t the most intuitive.

Great Western Trail is definitely a heavier title on this list, but it happily deserves a place in anyone’s collection for the depth of decisions it offers. Every juncture in every turn offers ample options for you to choose from, all with the intent of maximizing the total value of the cattle cards you’re holding in your hand by the time you reach Kansas City.

Great Western Trail is a game that places less emphasis on how and when you acquire cards into your deck. Rather, it makes you think very strategically about how to use what’s in your hand at the very best moment. It’s a nice deviation from most other deck-building games where the driving force is making your deck bigger and bigger.

Dune Imperium game box

Dune Imperium

Overall Pick

Best for value, theme, and replayability.

Dune Imperium became an overnight hit in 2020 preceding the movie’s theatrical release.It’s a deck-building worker placement title with immense depth and satisfying player interaction.


  • Incredible depth of choices
  • Highly replayable
  • Does justice to the theme

  • The level of luck involved may deter some
  • Other titles in the game line aren’t compatible

In Dune: Imperium, cards that you acquire into your deck have multiple functions. They provide resources and abilities, but they are also used to send your agents to spaces on the board to gain even more rewards. The most meaty decisions often come from in your hand, trying to figure out what the best sequence of card plays will be to get the most maximum effect out of your turns. It’s a majestic design that few others have managed to encapsulate this well.

Expect an in depth experience that makes great use of its theme and setting to bring you an engaging and immersive game you’ll want to play again and again. The award-winning game has also spawned sequels which have been equally well received.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of a deck-building game?

A deck-building game is any game where the core emphasis of the gameplay centers around adding and removing cards from your personal deck in order to make it more efficient at doing something.

Often, deck-building games will start players out with the same set of cards, and it’s then up to them to make choices as to how they will fine tune their deck to accomplish something specific to achieve victory.

What makes a good deck-builder game?

Good deck building games will give players several options. They will give them the freedom to experiment with different card combinations to achieve their goal. In the best case scenario, a deck-building game will combine ease of play and quickness with a robust array of card options to choose from.

Is MTG a deck building game?

No. While Magic: The Gathering involves building a deck before playing with it, it is not a deck-building game because players do not add or remove any cards from their deck in the course of a single game. The main element that makes a game a deck-building game is the notion of changing cards in your deck as a core mechanism of the game.

Next: The Best TCGs In 2023

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