Best Duel Card and Board Games (2024)


Modern board games are filled with games in which players compete individually to optimize their own strategic approaches, or even work together to achieve goals set by the game itself. It’s great that we get to enjoy this variety. But sometimes, all you really want to do is sit down with a friend and tear the metaphorical parts out of each other through the medium of a board game. Thankfully, the dueling game genre that satisfies this desire perfectly is thriving just like its co-op brethren, with dozens of excellent examples to choose from. Here are a dozen top tiles.

Magic: The Gathering

Magic 2023 Starter Kit

Magic 2023 Starter Kit launching September 8, 2023

Let's start with Thorn Mammoth in the Room, the biggest dueling game on Earth in the form of Magic: The Gathering. Despite being 30 years old, it continues to go from strength to strength. Why not, when it has such a gripping core mechanic: hope that the right cards appear from the top of your deck, trying to make the most of what you have and striking and counterattacking against your opponents and their minions. Getting into Magic is easier than ever thanks to a range of starter decks like the one linked here. If collecting and building decks isn't for you, you can still enjoy the game with a pre-built deck from one of its fantastic Beyondverse incarnations, like the excellent Lord of the Rings tie-in.

Warhammer Underworld

Warhammer Underworld - Wintermaw

Warhammer Underworld – Wintermaw

Underworlds is the unsung hero of Games Workshop's series, with the company's superb miniatures team engaging in an intense half-hour showdown on a hexagonal board with surprising strategic depth. While there's plenty of dice to roll and excitement to be had, clever support and targeting systems ensure onboard planning and maneuvering lead to victory. Each team also requires a set of support cards, which you can build yourself, as you do in Magic: The Gathering, or for a faster, more casual way to play, you can use the game's pre-built opponent decks to try and find Which decks are best suited for which deck characters. With tons of decks and characters to choose from, it's fast, fun, and full of variety, making it a real hidden gem. If you want to explore further, check out these Warhammer alternatives.

Radlands

Radlands

Radlands

Radlands is a post-apocalyptic online game, a term that seems more appropriate for a MOBA game than a duel game. But there is no doubt that this is the truth: each player must protect three structures, from reactors and cannons to tribal totems, by placing units in front of them, which can also in turn attack units in the opponent's lane or buildings, If it is undefended. The game's economy is extremely tight, forcing you to make painful choices every turn: what to play, what to protect, what to sacrifice in exchange for water to power existing units. It's also packed with an incredible variety of effects from a simple rules framework, and its abandoned world is brought to life through some vivid cartoon artwork. Combined with a clever event system that adds to the tension as you see powerful cards work their way to the end, it's a ton of fun in a small package.

Incomparable: cobblestones and fog

cobblestones and fog

cobblestones and fog

A key marketing point of the Incomparables series is that it lets you take characters from mythology and popular media and have them fight each other, whether it's Medusa versus the raptors of Jurassic Park or Bigfoot eyeing Bruce Lee. The fact that it offers such delightful variety using a simple three-step rules system, and that it deftly taps into all the fighters in the different sets, is just the icing on the cake. It keeps you stuck between attack and defense, and keeps your hand stocked with action cards while fighting enemies. Cobble & Fog is the best box in the entire lineup, featuring gothic masterpieces from Dracula to Sherlock Holmes to ensure some truly memorable showdowns.

star field

Star Realms: Deck-Building Card Game

Star Realms: Deck-Building Card Game

We've covered some games, like Magic: The Gathering , where you have to create a deck of cards from your collection before playing. But Star Realms is a deck-building game, which means you create your decks as you play. You start with a weak deck, with eight income cards and two attack cards, and you use the latter to lower your opponent's “authority” – reads, health – in an attempt to win the game. But your income cards can be used to enhance your deck from more powerful alternatives on the market. Many of these can be added to your tableau, providing ongoing bonuses from turn to turn, but also making them potential targets for enemy attacks. Easy to learn and quick to pick up but surprisingly difficult to master, Star Realms takes the sometimes staid deck-building genre and turns it into an aggressive dueling experience.

Summoner's War

Summoner's War

Summoner's War

You can roughly divide dueling games into head-to-head card games like “Magic” and board miniature games like “Unmatched.” Summoner's War attempts to do both by letting players play cards directly on the board, allowing them to become command units. Each player will have their own faction to play in a unique style – the Linked Masters set contains six such factions, from angelic vanguards to crazed cave goblins. To win, you must try to defeat your opponent's summon cards using level units, powerful heroes, and one-shot spells from your deck. But since there's no reshuffling, the game often comes down to the last minute, with the last remnants of your forces duking it out for supremacy.

Mage War Arena

Mage War Arena

Mage War Arena

Mage Wars has one of the coolest gimmicks among dueling board games: an actual spell book. Okay, so really it's just a fancy binder with multiple pockets for storing your spell cards, but it still feels special to flip through the pages as you decide what devastating magic you're going to unleash to annihilate your opponents in Arena of. You'd better choose wisely: you only get two spells per turn, choose them in advance, though your mages and summoned creatures can still move and fight. It's a fairly complex game, with a lot of strategy to enjoy, a variety of mages and spells to try, and even more available through expansions. What initially looks like a brawl becomes, with experience, a more strategic affair of reconnaissance and exploration as you learn to combine offensive and defensive effects with complementary summoned creatures in the ultimate magical duel .

Read beauty

Yomi: The First Round Fighting Card Game

Yomi: The First Round Fighting Card Game

Yomi takes the concept of dueling games to the extreme by trying to simulate the feel of a fighting video game. While it wisely doesn't try to replicate the reflexes required of a game like this, it instead focuses on rewarding combos and anticipation. Each player is given a deck suited to their combat role and attempts to begin a sequence of moves using a simple rock, paper, scissors system, where attack beats throw, throw beats block, and block beats attack. Once you land a hit, you can try to combine it into a powerful combo, but only if you have the right cards. With cards and character special abilities, and a plethora of additional warriors that can be added to the linked starter set, Yomi is both a simulation and a genre in its own right.

destroy

destroy

destroy

Like our previous Unmatched, Smash Up is a genre mixer where you choose two different decks from a variety of options, such as Pirates and Dinosaurs, and then use them together to knock your opponents off the map Crush on. When it's your turn, you can play action cards and follower cards from your hand, and each follower is assigned to a base. Points are scored when there are enough minions on a base, and a player's score is determined by their accumulated minion strength at that base. Of course, most of the cards have additional effects to liven up the game, which is full of chaos and confusion, which suits a game where half the fun comes from the ridiculous teams you can create from different factions. There are eight in the starter set, and there are more games you can choose from in expansion packs, which unlike most other games on this list can play with more than two games.

ghost

ghost

ghost

While Ghost is said to depict a conflict between two martial arts schools, it's actually a head-to-head abstraction, with all the direct interaction and rich strategy available. It's pretty simple: Each player has a master and four students, in a five-by-five grid. To win, you must capture your opponent's master or move your master to the middle space at the end of their board. You start with two random cards that describe how your pieces should move, then you choose a piece, move it the way the card describes, then swap it with the middle piece and your opponent will move next Pick it up in one turn. This gives it a variable startup setting to prevent it from getting stale, but also means it's rich in strategy due to its non-random nature. This makes victory all the sweeter and defeat all the more exasperating, as it's all down to your skill and choices, ratcheting up the tension with every quick exchange of moves.

divine tears

Godtear: Borderlands Starter Pack

Godtear: Borderlands Starter Pack

Despite its stunning miniatures, Godtear looks a lot like a typical skirmish game if you just look at the hexagonal spaces and objective markers on the board. However, it has unusual mechanics that make it fun to play with. First, it has a unique turn structure where each player activates all their models in a brawl to gain position and claim objectives, and then there's a more typical model activation model where you take out the pain. This rewards planning ahead and taking risks because you have to identify your goals before you can ensure you achieve them. Secondly, each turn of the game awards more points to the winning faction, meaning you can strategically time your playthrough throughout the battle to either try to end the game early or conserve firepower for the big turn at the end used in. As with many other games on this list, there are many expansions available to add even more adorable models to your collection.

Blitz!

Blitz!

Blitz!

Promising to re-fight World War II in 20 minutes is a bold claim, but Blitzkrieg delivers on its promise brilliantly. The board consists of a series of tracks, each representing a different conflict battlefield. Players take turns placing randomly drawn Army, Navy, and Air Force tokens into the appropriate spaces, thereby turning the trajectory of the war zone in their favor. Forced placement can also net you cool bonuses, like special weapons or the ability to shift other tracks to your advantage. Win enough battles in different war zones and you'll win the war, sometimes in less than 20 minutes! It's a clever design that gives you the basics of Combined Arms Conflict in a simple, fun, and surprisingly replayable package.

Matt Thrower is a freelance board game and video game writer for IGN. (Boards, video games, games of all kinds!)



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *