You may have already heard, but trading card game (TCG) fever is back with a vengeance. If you’re looking to join in the fun, you’re spoiled for choice. There are a multitude of TCGs out there, in both physical and digital forms. What’s more, each TCG has a cool mix of characters that appeal to fans and interesting gameplay mechanics.
If you’d like a quick guide on which card games are worth checking out, here are our top and upcoming TCGs to keep an eye out for.
1) Magic: The Gathering
Released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast, Magic: The Gathering is the world’s first trading card game. It sees players engage in magical duels, with each player’s deck representing their arsenal (including spells and creatures to summon).
Like any TCG, deck construction plays an important role in Magic, as players can choose from more than 20,000 cards to build their deck of 60 cards. Magic has also collaborated with various other recognisable properties to lure players — such as The Walking Dead, Street Fighter, Fortnite, Transformers, and more.
The game’s evolving list of keywords, strategies, storylines, and even gameplay formats mean that there’s plenty to explore and discover in Magic. This level of depth also means that there’s a high skill ceiling, leading to intricate matches and satisfying victories.
There’s also Magic: The Gathering Arena, a digital adaptation based on the physical card game. The game is available on Windows, macOS, and mobile, allowing players to take the game with them on the go without bringing along their entire 60-card deck.
Ask anyone about TCGs and Yu-Gi-Oh! will probably come up in the conversation. Launched in 1999 in Japan, the franchise has found massive success, building upon its popular anime and manga series as well as several video game adaptations. Most recently, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel became a sleeper hit on Steam, surpassing a number of AAA Blockbusters.
Nostalgic players will probably remember the captivating lore from the anime, which hyped up cards like Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Exodia the Forbidden One — making players actually want to hunt and, well, trade for them. Of course, the flashy monster designs across over 10,000 different cards definitely add to their charm.
Pokémon is adored by millions around the globe, with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet recently selling a record-breaking 10 million physical and downloadable units in just three days. So it’s no surprise that the biggest entertainment property in the world has its own card game. Chances are that any fan of the franchise has dabbled in the Pokémon TCG, which has existed since 1996.
Aside from the Pokémon TCG‘s strategic gameplay, coveted rare Pokémon cards are also highly sought after by players. In fact, the right cards can sell for thousands of dollars, adding to the allure of the game.
4) One Piece Card Game
After 25 years, the shounen anime and manga powerhouse, One Piece, finally has its own trading card game. Fans will fall in love with the amazing One Piece art, which boasts completely unique art in addition to scenes from the manga and anime.
In the One Piece Card Game, decks are built around a Leader Card, which have varying abilities and life points. While other TCGs usually have players mirror each other’s life points for a fair game, what makes the One Piece Card Game interesting is that the Leader Card’s life points represent the player’s life points. As a result, players could start the game with lower life points than their opponent, but have a Leader with more noteworthy abilities. This adds an extra layer of strategy to the game.
Blizzard’s Hearthstone is a free-to-play online card battler that draws upon the rich lore of the studio’s Warcraft universe. The game’s thoughtful design offers a virtually endless number of tactics to employ through Hearthstone’s large pool of cards. The variety of strategies at play means that almost any deck you assemble could prove to be fruitful for success.
The newly-announced March of the Lich King expansion adds new cards and a new class, shaking up the game and introducing even more new strategies to discover.
6) Marvel Snap
Online free-to-play card battler Marvel Snap comes from Ben Brode, the former game director behind Hearthstone. And it comes with a level of polish that you can expect from the studio behind games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch.
In Marvel Snap, players build decks of 12 cards to battle against other players. The rules are simple, and the fast-paced game typically lasts six turns. This makes the game easy to pick up and play, while allowing deeper strategies and mind games for more advanced players.
Plus, the cards look cool — the wide range of cards come in different variants, which can all be upgraded with neat visual features like 3D effects, shiny logos, and more.
7) Disney Lorcana
Up-and-coming TCG Lorcana taps on Disney’s nearly 100-year history of pop culture supremacy to offer a strategic card game that rivals others. While the rules of the game haven’t been completely disclosed, a look at the cards reveal inspiration from TCGs like Magic, Hearthstone, and Pokémon.
The vibrant and unique fairy-tale-style art will appeal to players looking for a more cutesy TCG to dive into. What’s more, the first cards for Disney Lorcana are already being sold for high prices, hinting towards a surge in popularity on par with Magic and Pokémon.
8) Flesh And Blood
Launched from New Zealand in 2019, Flesh and Blood comes from James White, a Magic: The Gathering pro turned entrepreneur. True to its name, Flesh and Blood is meant to be played in person, at local games stores, to nurture a like-minded community.
Players take on the role of their Hero Card, which determines the weapons and equipment cards that they can use. Gameplay-wise, Flesh and Blood offers plenty of decisions that players can make, and the back-and-forth is more fast-paced than its competitor Magic.
In addition, the game has diverse appeal. Polygon notes that “different parts of the world are playing the game very differently. Singapore and Southeast Asian countries, for instance, favor draconic warriors like Fai and Dromai. Meanwhile, devotees in Poland favor Bravo and Viserai.”
CD Projekt Red’s Gwent started off as a minigame in The Witcher 3. However, its success allowed it to spin off into its own standalone free-to-play game, which saw players enjoy the story of The Witcher through the lens of a card game.
While the studio has announced that they will be phasing out support for the game, they intend to hand over control of the game to its fervent community. After all, players of the game are perhaps the best equipped to decide how to steer and balance the game. That said, Gwent will still see 72 cards released across three expansions in April, July, and September 2023.
10) Genshin Impact — Genius Invokation
Set to be released in Genshin Impact‘s Version 3.3 update on 7 December 2022, Genius Invokation is a casual TCG mode for the beloved game. The cards are all based on characters and creatures from the world of Teyvat, and will employ Genshin Impact‘s element-based combat. Given the enormous popularity of Genshin Impact, Genius Invokation will no doubt be a hot topic for discussion among players when the mode releases.
The developers have said that it will mainly be a PvE mode that’s “light and casual,” and PvP won’t have any rewards. They added that “all cards can be acquired through gameplay,” so players won’t have to resort to gacha mechanics to acquire precious cards.
Here’s hoping that it won’t be too difficult to obtain a Ganyu card.