Deck building game is one of the quickest growing genres in the industry.  A deck-building game is a card game or board game where the construction of a deck is a main element of gameplay. Deck-building games are similar to collectible card games (CCGs) in that each player has their own deck. However, unlike CCGs, the cards are not sold in randomized packs, and the majority of the deck is built during the game, instead of before the game.

In this article, Gurugamer is going to showcase the top 5 best deck building games to play on PC in 2022.

1. Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire is a deckbuilding roguelike. You start the game with a very simple 12 card deck, gather cards as you climb up and fight battles/go through events/rest at campfires/shop at... shops, and then hopefully the deck grows into something cohesive enough to challenge the bosses of the Spire. Mechanically, it's quite simple - deal enough damage to reduce the enemy's health to zero, use Defend cards to protect against incoming attacks, and your deck reshuffles when you go through the whole thing.

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However, the game uses this mechanical simplicity as a rock-solid foundation to build complexity and depth. Cards like "Draw a card. Discard a card." can become the absolute foundation of a deck, while a card like "Deal 32 damage" can be an absolute dead draw... depending on your other card picks. Relics, passive bonuses to your character, add another layer to consider. You have a relic that lets you keep drawing cards when you empty your hand - should you focus on 0-cost cards and eliminate your higher cost ones, when removing cards from your deck is a rare and expensive service?

Slay The Spire Gameplay

The game's art style is unique, and while it may not appeal to everyone, it's at least refreshing and fun. It's a funny game without leaning too hard into humor, it's a cute game without leaning into weeb cuteness, overall everything is at the least well-made.

2. Inscryption

Inscryption is a deckbuilder where you'll be playing unlimited cards per round on a grid and sometimes examine your surrounding to solve puzzles like it's The Room. These are the only constant mechanics, the connective tissue, but I won't be going into detail. Suffice to say that I found the core card game as well as the puzzles extremely enjoyable. Besides, the game teaches you its mechanics gently and patiently, you can always click RMB to get a tip on just about anything and check the Rulebook at any time.

Inscryption Board

The enemy doesn't necessarily adhere to the exact same rules as you do and I loved how thematically coherent it is. Battles usually start with your adversary having a few cards on the board, bosses have more lives than you are allowed. So, don't expect a fair fight, it's an abusive relationship where you're a pawn doomed to sacrifice your brethren - spill their blood and conjure their bones. Leshy gets all he wants for free because he's in control. Sometimes it may seem unfair, so I've prepared a word of advice next.

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The game has so much to offer, don't give up. If you think it's too hard for you early on, just pray for a milk run. The first act is the hardest part of the game, but it's balanced in a way that makes breaking it easy if you pay attention. Counter-intuitively, cannon fodder is valuable, don't dismiss weak creatures. In droves, they will be very useful on most of the bosses, including the "last" one. Bosses tend to destroy/transform/steal your first wave of troops, so best make them ants, rabbits, and bees. Finally, always go for Mantis Gods, all game long.

3. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

If you are someone that has grown up with the first original Yu-Gi-Oh! then you will love this game! The design is crisp and clean, the updates are legitimate, the game never gets boring due to its evenly fun events that took place during the show; such as Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, famous duels with Yami Bakura and Yami Marik and much more. It does a great job of letting you play the game without having to use real money. The best part of all, they use the actual voice actors from the show!

Yu Gi Oh Duel Links

Duel Link's rules are a little more basic compared to the original Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game and its animated TV-series. Rather than having five Monster-Zones and five Spell/Trap-Zones, the player only has three of each. The main deck is limited to 20-30 cards and each player starts with 4000 life points, instead of 8000.

Duel Links

At the start, players have the option to play as either Yami Yugi or Seto Kaiba and challenge AI duelists in a hub area called the Duel World to complete missions, earn money and obtain experience points to level up. As they continue to win duels, other characters become unlocked. There's also a PvP mode included, where players can duel in real-time with friends, as well as participate in ranked matches with other players around the world.

4. Monster Train

Monster Train has a ton of fresh new ideas, and most of them are just fantastic.

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First, the deckbuilding itself. Monster Train very clearly understands what makes a deckbuilder fun, and is built off of the idea of finding crazy unexpected synergies between its cards, artifacts, and champions. It chooses to focus on multiplicative scaling as opposed to additive, and it gives you a lot of control over which cards and units you choose to lean into with its upgrade system. You get to make a bunch of decisions constantly, and you're challenged to find the highest-value options out of a lot of interesting ones. The game is decently challenging, and if you make good calls, you're rewarded handsomely with crazy emergent synergies that just feel really awesome to pull off. But, the encounters scale exponentially too, and if you don't keep up, the denizens of Heaven are going to overpower you and shatter the last remnants of your Pyre.

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The tower defense aspect of the encounters changes the flow up quite a bit as well, asking you interesting questions about what units go in which lanes. At first, it seems like a no-brainer to just shove all your big dudes into one lane and kill things before they can even get further in, but the bosses challenge you not to do that. All it takes is one time for a wave to catch you off-guard and break through the floor where you invested all of your power to understand the tactical importance of having a plan for every lane.

The presentation is great, and each faction has a strong identity in both its visuals and mechanics. My personal favorite is the Melting Remnant, literal candle people that burn out after a while, but use graveyard recursion effects to re-form new bodies out of wax and come back stronger. The music is good too, an enjoyable soundtrack that's consistent enough to be thematic, but also just varied enough to stay interesting.

5. Griftlands

This game takes the deck building, card battling mechanics of Slay the Spire and wraps it up into a fun interactive story format where choices matter. The deck building and card battles are still the core of the game. However now instead of simply following a line on a map going from one encounter to the next, there's a visual treat of a world for the story to play out. You'll make decisions that will matter in the game.

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Some of the ways decisions have impacted me are: Making someone hate me and now whenever they're nearby I suffer some penalty from them buttin' in. Someone else likes me and will help and provide a bonus. I helped someone out of a jam and every so often they send me a gift. It's also easier to negotiate with someone who loves me than someone who hates me. The love/hate status is also important in that each character will provide a bonus if they love you or a penalty if they hate you. These aren't permanent in that it seems possible that relationship statuses can change.

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You're also not alone in that you may have characters temporarily join your team for one encounter or a series of encounters. You can temporarily hire people and costs will depend on relationship status. You can get a pet and train them. There are also one-time rewards that allow you to summon a creature for a battle.

The card battles are also fun. There are two types - battles and negotiations. I really like the negotiation card battles but I do have trouble with the keywords/concepts and what they do. I still find myself having to pause and check the arguments and what they do. It's something that I'm sure will become more familiar enough over time. One feature that I wanted to mention because I love it is that cards gain xp when played. When that bar is filled the card will evolve and you'll be presented with a choice. So even basic cards can become better over time.

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