Card games have been one of the oldest types of games in history. As Neal Taparia, an owner of FreeCell Solitaire, points out, the foundation of card games is a lengthy and exciting odyssey that has been intertwined with numerous romanticized interpretations over centuries, not all of which are historically accurate. What will the future bring to the simple card game, and what will be our generation's gift to the design and content of a "standard" deck? In the meantime, you can appreciate a modernized deck, realizing that it has a remarkable resemblance to the playing cards of 15th-century Europe and that card games have been a part of recreation across the world for almost 600 years.

With the advancement of technology and video games, digital card games were born and mixed with various elements to make them more interesting and fun to play while keeping the strategic aspects. Here are the top 5 best digital card games on the market right now.

1. Hearthstone

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Simple rule, free-to-play, regular update with new contents, Hearthstone is the best card game right now

Hearthstone is a multiplayer digital card game made by Blizzard Entertainment based on World of Warcraft. The game was released in 2014, featuring World of Warcraft elements, characters. Ever since the released of it, Hearthstone has been the best digital card game on the market with exciting solo adventure mode and multiplayer mode. The graphics of the game is beautiful, clean, just enough to make cards lively and fun to watch.

There are 9 classes, 6 minion types, 4 card types in total. Each class has its own exclusive cards and a unique hero power.

The game releases updates seasonally several times every year, adding new cards, mechanics, solo adventures into the game. With the support of World of Warcraft, Hearthstone is sure to have much more content to be released in the future. Even though in the last few years, there have been lots of card games that threatened the top position of Hearthstone such as Artifact, Elder Scroll, Autochess,... but Hearthstone still consistently stays on the top as the best digital card game, at least for now.

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Hearthstone graphics is amazing for a card game

Hearthstone currently has 5 main game modes: Play mode, Arena, Tavern Brawl, Solo Adventure, and the latest mode Battlegrounds.

  • In Play mode, you can create 30-card decks from cards in your collection and fights against other players Ranked or Casual.
  • Arena costs you 150 golds each run and lets you draft a deck from random cards to fight with other players. You will receive rewards after each Arena run based on your number of wins (max 12 wins). Your run is over if you reach 12 wins or lose 3 games.
  • Tavern Brawl is a weekly event that allows players to play special matches with unique rules.
  • Battlegrounds is the latest mode of Hearthstone, inspired by Dota 2 Autochess. Players will build a board from random cards and fight each other in a battle of 8 to find the winner.
    Hearthstone is available for PC, touch-screen devices for free and is playable cross-platform.

2. Slay The Spire

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Slay the Spire is the best offline card game at the moment

Slay The Spire is a single-player card game made by Mega Crit Games. The game was released on Steam's Early Access in 2017 and officially released in January this year. Ever since it came out, it attracted the attention of many players and received lots of praise.

Slay The Spire combines roguelike elements into a card game. Right off the bat, after choosing a character, players will be thrown into a spire to climb to the top of it. You will be given a number of basic cards such as Attack, Defense, and a few basic class cards at the start. Through fights with monsters and mysterious events along the way, you can receive different relics, cards, curses, or remove cards to make your deck stronger. Playing cards will cost energy. A character has 3 energy at the start of a turn and they will be refreshed in the next turn. You can see what the enemies are going to do next turn and plan out ahead.

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The game has unlimited replayability

Slay The Spire has extremely high replayability thanks to roguelike elements. Each run in Slay The Spire is a totally unique run with 3 procedurally generated chapters. There are currently 4 classes, each with their own unique cards pool and strategy. In order to win, players will have to be flexible and play with whatever they are offered. The game also offers players a peek into its mysterious story and character's background through descriptions in events for curious players to find out. Players can unlock more card types after each game and unlock more difficulty levels after a successful run. The game also has a huge community that is creating mods that has all kinds of rules and challenges that you can think of.

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The game features 4 classes, each with different strengths

Mega Crit is still updating the game very regularly now to balance the game and add more content.

Slay The Spire is easy to play, challenging, has a high amount of depth and is undoubtedly the best single-player card game that every card-game fans should not miss.

Slay The Spire is currently available for PC on Steam with a price of $25. A version for Android and iOS is expected to be launched later this year.

3. Magic: The Gathering Arena

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Magic: The Gathering Arena has great graphics

Magic: The Gathering Arena is the digital version of the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, the first trading card game ever. Magic: The Gathering was created by Richard Garfield and released in 1993. The digital version Magic: The Gathering Arena was later released in beta in 2017 and was officially released in September 2019. The game uses the same basic mechanics as the original such as mana, HP, deck,...

Magic: The Gathering Arena has done a great job bringing all the creatures in card to life. But, it has one thing that no other card game will ever able to achieve, the unimaginable complexity. The game is currently having about 18,000 cards and tons of mechanics that allow players to make counter plays. In recent research, they said that Magic: The Gathering is too complex even for computers to figures out how to win in some cases. Granted that there is still luck element involved, but Magic: The Gathering Arena has one of the highest skill ceilings, even comparable to Poker, while still being fun to play at a lower skill level.

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The game is one of the most complex game in the world

Unlike Hearthstone, players need mana cards to increase their mana and more importantly, Magic has a respond mechanic which let a player play card in their opponent turns, creating endless possibilities and counter plays.

Being a collectible card game, you will need lots of cards to build a good deck and the game provides you enough ways to enjoy the game without paying any money. If you want to try hard and take the game seriously, of course, grinding won't be enough, but the cost is fairly reasonable.

Because of Hearthstone, almost every other digital card games have been dropped to death, but this one will stay. Maybe it can never become a "Hearthstone killer" ever, but it is a great card game for any kind of player, casual or competitive.

Magic: The Gathering Arena is now available for PC for free.

4. Legends of Runeterra

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The new Riot's card game, inspired by Artifact

Legends of Runeterra, or should I say the Riot version of Artifact is an upcoming card game based on the Leagues of Legends world, possibly will become a real "Hearthstone killer."  When I take the first look at Legends of Runeterra, I couldn't help thinking about the latest and biggest failure of Valve, Artifact. There are just so many similarities and Riot has always been known for their way of making new games. None the less, I don't think Legends of Runeterra is going to have the same fate as Artifact and it might even turn out big.

First, let take a look at the gameplay. The mana system is the same as Hearthstone with each player have 1 mana at the start and the mana pool increases each turn to the maximum amount of 10 mana. Each player has 20 health. Both players can play cards every round, but only one player can attack per round, which changes alternatively. At the end of a turn, excessive mana will turn to spell mana, which can only be used to cast spells (max 3). Both players will play cards alternatively in a round and all the effects, battles will happen when the round ends. There are 3 types of cards Champions, Followers, and spells. It is pretty basic and easy for everyone to learn. We can't say anything about the complexity or the balance among cards, but the game is surely promising.

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The graphics are cartoonish like LoL, but card effects sometimes are too much

Unlike Artifact, Legends of Runeterra will be free-to-play and allow players to grind for cards through missions, events. That means everyone can try out the game without spending a single penny and they can spend more if they want to go competitive.

In terms of graphics, I would say it will be a familiar experience to League of Legends, pretty cartoonish and simple. The card effects are not very suitable for a card game sometimes as they cover the whole board, which should be avoided.

Anyway, with Riot support and resources, the game should be in great shape in no time even if it is not perfect in every way so definitely you should keep an eye on it.

Legends of Runeterra will be released next year for PC, Android, iOS with cross-platform ability.

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