Hello again, gamers! And welcome back to another Top 10 List! In July of 2019, I did my first Top 10 Deck Builders, but times have changed, tastes have changed, and I decided the list needed updating! I have expanded to include bag builders as well, since they are very similar in nature. Let’s check them out!
Theme – Fantasy; Gnomes establishing a new city for their families
Overview – Players draw gnomes from their cups each round and their color(s) determine which actions players can take. Players are trying to construct new buildings, hire new workers, and more to ultimately earn more coins than their opponents and win the game!
Why It Made The List – It’s a really smooth game and turns are super snappy. Players have plenty of room for strategy and lots of options turn to turn, but choice doesn’t overwhelm you, so it doesn’t bog the game down. It’s a game I actually wish ran a little longer in playtime since I usually want to keep playing!
9. Mystic Vale
Theme – Fantasy
Overview – Players push their luck each turn to get enough resources to buy new advancement cards to improve the cards in their deck. The improvements will make their deck stronger and eventually help them earn points; most points wins the game!
Why It Made The List – I haven’t been playing it as much as I used to, which is why it dropped a bit from the last list, but, that said, I still haven’t found another deck builder that does this quite as well. I think it’s really cool that your deck never gets any bigger, but instead your cards just get better throughout the game. Very unique!
8. The Few and Cursed
Theme – Post-apocalyptic; Western
Overview – Players work their way around the board dealing with encounters, collecting artifacts, bounty hunting, completing jobs, and more in order to rack up the most points among their opponents. They have to keep an eye on their health and their curse level as well if they want to come out on top!
Why It Made The List – I think it’s really unique that this game doesn’t have a ‘store’ like most deck builders, you just get a few cards to choose from each turn and always add to your deck. I also just think the combination of things players can do during the game, coupled with the various character abilities, is a lot of fun and allows players to try slightly different strategies with every play.
7. The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Theme – Medieval; Quack doctors stirring up potions
Overview – Players draw various ingredient chips out of their bags, pushing their luck until they bust or choose to stop. They can earn points each round, and spend any money they earn on more chips. After a certain number of rounds, the player with the most points wins!
Why It Made The List – The push your luck element works really well in this one, and since busting means choosing between points or money, players really need to be careful not to bust too often. The game also has a lot of variety; ingredients have multiple options to choose from before each game, and players can try different strategies each time by buying different ingredients.
6. The Quest for El Dorado
Theme – Adventure / Exploration
Overview – Players play their cards each turn to try and move along the board as much as they can, racing to the finish where all the gold lies. Better cards become available throughout the game, but there are not many cards of each type, so players want to try and grab them quickly before they’re gone!
Why It Made The List – My favorite thing about this game is how variable it is. The board layout is a little different every game, and while the starting card store is the same, new cards only become available as players themselves fill in the store, so if you don’t have the chance to fill a spot on your turn, the card you want may never make it’s way into the store. The racing element works well with the deck building and players have a lot of room for strategy as they can aim for different paths to the same end point.
5. Meeples & Monsters
Theme – Fantasy / Adventure
Overview – Players are trying to add meeples of various classes to their bag to build a grand team of heroes. Players will upgrade meeples, fight monsters, upgrade the town, complete quests, and more in order to earn the most points in the game!
Why It Made The List – I think it’s really interesting to balance collecting the right colored meeples for your strategy in order to defeat monsters and complete quests, which is where your points mostly come from. A big reason I like this one is that I always feel like I have good options on my turns, even if I don’t draw my best hand.
4. Heart of Crown
Theme – Anime / Royalty / Fantasy
Overview – Players utilize cards to buy up useful actions and money-generating cards to ultimately back the princess they think is most worthy of the throne. Then, players buy up succession cards to give their princess enough points to win!
Why It Made The List – I still think it’s so neat how the cards limit whether or not you can keep playing more cards from your hand; it really forces you to pay attention to what you’re buying (too many dead-end cards in your deck can be a big problem) and plan your strategy accordingly. I also love how the vibe of the game shifts about halfway through as you try to gather succession cards, and want to avoid flooding your deck with anything else.
3. Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck Building Game
Theme – Cartoons
Overview – Players take on the role of one of their favorite Cartoon Network characters, equipped with a special ability to help them in the game. They’ll collect heroes, equipment, villains, and more to try and take out nemesis cards, and gather more points than their opponents.
Why It Made The List – It’s such a fun combination of familiar characters in a system that is simple, but entertaining. The character abilities also add some variety which can give players something to shape their strategy around game to game, which is neat.
2. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
Theme – Superheroes / Marvel Comics
Overview – Players recruit heroes which they’ll use to defeat villains and save bystanders. They must work together to defeat the Mastermind, or else lose the game entirely. Defeated villains are all worth points, though, so the player with the most points at game end can be the biggest winner of bragging rights.
Why It Made The List – It’s another one where I love that you can combine all your favorite characters together to create the ultimate team. I also like that you can choose to work together completely, or play to be the “best” team of heroes (which I personally prefer). The game has so much variety, but even if you combine stuff from ten different sets, it all melds together with ease and creates a really fun experience.
1. Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade
Theme – Cowboy Bebop (Anime) / Space
Overview – Players take on the role of a member of the Bebop’s crew. They’ll use their cards and special abilities to pick up bounties across different planets, and ultimately defeat the infamous Vicious. All their hard work will earn them reputation points, and the player with the most reputation at the game end is named the best Bounty Hunter of them all!
Why It’s #1 – It’s a really engaging and very thematic game that keeps players on their toes. Moving between planets is neat, and the element of managing your fuel is cool to make sure players are paying attention, and don’t get stuck where there’s no bounty. I also love how differently the four characters play, because it really has players change their strategies depending on who they are using. Really cool game that always keeps me coming back!
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