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The best card games on PC 2024

If you're after more games like Hearthstone, we've got deck-builders, freebies, and more of the very best card games and card battlers available on PC.

Best card games on PC: a Legends of Runeterra hero shuffling cards

What are the best card games on PC? It is not a question we would have been asking a few years ago, when some basic ports of paper-based systems and some minigames in larger titles were all we had access to.

Now, there are heaps of games like Hearthstone vying to be among the best card games on PC – it is one of the fastest-growing genres in the industry. Card games offer players a rich and constantly shifting meta, potentially limitless replayability, and are approachable to boot – so it is not hard to see why they have started to emerge on our best PC games list. Our list covers everything from the biggest player in the genre today, the best ports from paper, the up-and-comers you might not have heard of, and some of the best free card games out there.

Here are the best card games:

Magic: The Gathering Arena

Magic: The Gathering Arena is one of the best digital versions of Magic to date, and Magic is arguably the best paper card game around. Arena offers many of the gameplay possibilities and formats of classic Magic, one of the most popular trading card games, but with the sensory cues and lavish animations many newly converted CCG players have come to expect thanks to games like Hearthstone.

Magic: The Gathering Arena will appeal to veteran Magic players looking for a more comfortable and convenient space to ply their trade, but also CCG players who are after more challenge and complexity than digital card games like Hearthstone, The Elder Scrolls: Legends, and Gwent can offer. Check out our guide on how to play MTG Arena if you’re interested in giving it a go. Our sister site Wargamer also has the MTG release schedule and all of the MTG sets in order, so do swing by.

Play Magic: The Gathering Arena for free.

The best card games: Balatro uses Poker mechanics and modifier Jokers to provide a new experience

Balatro

Balatro is the Pac-Man of card games. It’s simple to understand, but things get extremely complicated the further you progress. Borrowing elements from Poker, you must construct specific hands from your selection of cards to earn chips and multipliers. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about Poker, the game includes a cheat sheet that you can always refer back to.

As you make progress in Balatro, you earn money that can be spent on tarot cards, planet cards, jokers, and vouchers. All you need to know is that it’s easy to combine these items to create card synergies, allowing you to score massive amounts of points. Every time you lose in Balatro, you can just start a new run as if nothing happened. Before you know it, you’re three hours past your bedtime, and you’re still no closer to beating the game or unlocking the Balatro blank voucher.

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Moonstone Island

As a Stardew Valley-like life, farming, and dating sim, creature collection game, and deck builder, Moonstone Island is an adorable and unique combination of genres.

While you explore the open world, collect monsters and resources, and grow and harvest crops, you’ll also consider your best deck for tough dungeon battles. In the game’s turn-based combat system, your cards are your attacks and buffs, so choosing the right ones might be the difference between success and failure.

Best card games: Wildfrost has a versatile deck of characters and attacks to face off against each other in battles

Wildfrost

A combination of Hearthstone and Slay the Spire, this deck-building roguelike game is a delightfully frosty card game with an adorable art style and unique mechanics. After selecting a leader for your run through Wildfrost, you combine creature cards and buff attacks to create deadly moves against your opponent. Instead of a countdown timer between goes, the game adds a dynamic counter system to each card for you to map out your next move and counter enemy attacks.

As you venture through the snowy landscape, you rescue creatures and find hidden treasures to help build your deck. Between runs, you can upgrade your cards and expand Snowdell’s hub to give you better starter cards.

Marvel Midnight Suns best card games on PC

Marvel Midnight Suns

Part card game, part strategy game, Marvel Midnight Suns explores the dark side of the Marvel universe as the Midnight Suns resurrect your character, Hunter, to help take down Lilith and the elder god Cthlon. Mixing RPG elements with turn-based combat, you can forge friendships with the many staple Marvel characters, including Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Dr Strange, before taking them into battle against Lilith’s forces.

You can spend the night hanging out in the Abbey, or exploring the grounds and its many secrets, leveling up characters and creating deeper bonds. The combat itself is turn-based and cards are played as character abilities with a certain amount of ability points available on each turn. Though it isn’t your typical card game, it’s well worth the outing, read more in our Marvel Midnight Suns review. We also have a Midnight Suns character tier list if you want to pick only the best fighters.

The best card games: Spiderman, Venom, Wonder Woman and more prepare to face off in Marvel Snap

Marvel Snap

They say lightning never strikes twice, but clearly, lightning hasn’t heard of Ben Brode and the team at Second Dinner. The ex-Hearthstone devs have created another smash hit card game, this time focusing on the Marvel universe as it draws from iconic comic series such as the X-Men, Spider-Man, and so much more.

Each game is played out across three iconic comic book locations, with each location granting a unique effect. Your cards react not only to the board state at that location but also to the location itself. Building a deck is incredibly easy as the archetypes are all fairly straightforward, and most games last a maximum of three minutes, so you always have time to hop in and out of matches. Check out our guide on the best Marvel Snap decks while you’re here.

The best card games: Choosing a hand in Shark

Card Shark

In Card Shark, your ability to disguise your actions and bamboozle your opponents is far more important than your ability to play cards. Climb the social ladder, making your way from local card parlors all the way up to the King’s very own table. Master your sneaky techniques as you learn to swap decks, mark cards, and perform false shuffles to best your opponents.

Best card games PC: a villager fighting a rat in Stacklands

Stacklands

Is it a roguelike? Is it a survival game? Is it a city-building game? Yes, to all of them. Stacklands takes core gameplay loops from various genres and distills them into a deceptively simple-looking game about matching and stacking cards.

You start out with a few cards on the board – food, materials, and villagers – and you have to stack them all together so that the people are fed and those people are working on harvesting the resources. With each passing day, you’ll have new elements to stack efficiently across the board – livestock, money, housing, expansion, expeditions, and even waves of hostile monsters – and after your first couple of in-game weeks, you’ll be doing well if your board isn’t packed with a chaotic mixture of perfectly symbiotic stacks and half-finished, dysfunctional piles. It only takes about six hours to beat the campaign, so Stacklands is a great card game to clear in a weekend.

Best card games: Called by the Grave's card effect being activated by a special face down minion in Yu-Go-Oh Master Duel

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel adapts the 20-year-old trading card game into the definitive digital edition. It has been designed for all duelists, regardless of their skill level. If you’re just starting out, you may want to read our best Yugioh Master Duel starter deck guide to equip yourself with a powerful set of cards right away.

Not only is the game completely free to play, but there are also plenty of opportunities to create incredible decks that are capable of winning tournaments. Our sister website, Wargamer, has an excellent guide on the best Yugioh Master Duel meta decks if you’re an expert-level player looking to take on the world.

Best card games PC: looking across the table in Inscryption

Inscryption

Inscryption is a roguelike deck builder and psychological horror game, built on a twisted and sinister narrative told through talking cards and mysterious challengers sat on the other side of the table. Starting out in a remote cabin, you slowly build up a deck of woodland creatures and learn the rules of the game – you can sacrifice your weaker cards for blood, and use the blood to place other, more powerful cards against your opponent.

Inscryption doesn’t get bogged down in rules, either, and the story sweeps you along in waves of short matches. Working your way through different acts, you desperately try to piece together Inscryption’s fragmented and chilling narrative – placing cards, scouring video archives, pulling out teeth, and running through a labyrinth of crazed computers – is all a part of Inscyption’s relentless menace, which makes it one of the best indie games on PC.

Best card games PC: picking a fight in Griftlands

Griftlands

While nominally a roguelike RPG, Griftlands uses cards in place of everything from speech skills and combat moves to currency and character traits. As you explore Klei Entertainment’s raucously charismatic sci-fi world, you’ll use diplomacy and combat cards to navigate bar brawls, roadside robberies, and tricky trades. You’ll gain new cards from every encounter, expanding your options going forward.

Best card games PC: taking on the Outback Heavyweights in The Solitaire Conspiracy

The Solitaire Conspiracy

Speaking of Solitaire, the latest game from Mike Bithell is perhaps one of the shorter ones here, but boy, it is gripping from start to finish! You are tasked with playing games of solitaire as part of a simulation, planning actions for your team of spies ahead of dangerous missions, both in the main campaign and the skirmish mode. They must be dangerous; the music playing in the background is so tense!

Each face card also has a unique action that helps you by switching around the locations of some of the cards. You can probably guess where the story is going, and the main game itself isn’t very long, but the recent free Return of the Merry update adds a fair bit more to keep you busy.

Best card games PC: surveying a board full of avian cards in Wingspan

Wingspan

One for all the ornithologists out there! If you don’t immediately snigger at the mere mention of the ‘shag’ (steady now), then you’ll love this board game/card game hybrid.

Wingspan is a game about being a bird watcher and researcher who must develop the best habitat for the local birds. It’s a somewhat relaxing engine-building game with beautiful hand-drawn art of many different species of birds. The board game version is arguably better because you can build a dice tower, but the digital version is far more reasonable for those with budget constraints (board games are expensive!)

Best card games PC: a side view of the playing field in Monster Train

Monster Train

Monster Train is a deck-building roguelike in the same vein as Slay The Spire. There are five demon clans to choose from, each with its own theme and playstyle; you choose two of these to form your deck with: one primary clan and one secondary clan. Hell has frozen over, and your job is to transport the last burning Pyre to the depths of hell, fighting heaven’s soldiers on your way. Your train has three floors, and the precious Pyre is at the top – you must defend it from attacking angels who move up a floor each round until you take them out, adding a tower defense element to each battle.

Between encounters, you can decide which way to steer your train, allowing you to take the path with the best bonuses for your strategy. You can also upgrade and duplicate your cards in search of a killer combo. There’s even a fast-paced, real-time competitive multiplayer if you’re up to the challenge.

Best card games PC: a one-on-one fight between warriors in Ancient Enemy

Ancient Enemy

Grey Alien Games has been mixing solitaire and card battlers with captivating results for a few years now, and Ancient Enemy is no different. The turn-based combat is mixed with solitaire puzzles, but there’s also a full skill tree and inventory system to ensure players can take any number of routes through the game’s scourge-ridden world.

Best card games PC: a strategic battle in Eternal

Eternal

Dire Wolf Digital is one of the best card game makers in the business, and its follow-up to The Elder Scrolls: Legends occupies a glorious space between the tactical complexity of Magic and the accessibility and rewarding free-to-play card game mechanics of Hearthstone.

Mid-round gameplay is more volatile thanks to the addition of mana cards and ‘instant’ cards, which can interrupt an opponent’s elaborate chain of commands and spoil their carefully laid plans. And while its aesthetic is quite similar to that of Blizzard’s Hearthstone, Eternal is arguably a little more generous when it comes to handing out free packs, making it one of the best free Steam games around. Best of all, Eternal features a draft mode where you get to keep the full collection.

Best card games PC: a battle playing out on the Gwent board

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Despite our mission to save our surrogate daughter – and the world, no less – in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we couldn’t tear ourselves away from the taverns and gambling tables on which the land’s favorite card game is played. It might have been pretty deep for an in-game distraction then, but the fully-fledged Gwent: The Witcher Card Game has swallowed our free time all over again.

This free PC game is the ultimate CCG game for Sapkowski devotees, boasting many more spells, units, and special abilities than in Geralt’s third adventure. As a result, it’s going to take much more time to master as you take on friends in Gwent’s best-of-three rounds or get competitive in ranked or casual matches. You can never expect Gwent to boast the complexity of other card games, but there’s still a lot of depth here.

Best card games PC: using lightning against an enemy in Slay the Spire

Slay The Spire

This grueling deck-building roguelike game has you scrambling up its titular spire – battling hordes of enemies as you go. Should you perish, you’ll find that the tower is a different place when you return, packed with different foes and obstacles. However, whether or not that’ll work to your advantage is another entirely different case. That said, it does allow you to experiment with different cards and chance upon various relics to give your deck a jolt.

In our Slay the Spire review, Ali mentions that “Slay the Spire’s simple gameplay masks a devilishly complicated game. Synergies and counters are woven so finely together that it’s often difficult to tell which is which. A single card can appear to break a deck apart, only for a relic to stick it haphazardly back together. A triumphant run can come to a dramatic halt as an uncaring boss casually sends you tumbling to the bottom of the tower”.

Best card games PC: building a deck in Ascension

Ascension

If you ever thought the best card games were all rather similar, then guess again: Ascension is a deck-builder rather than a card battler. But what, you may ask, is a deck-building game? Deck-builders are a subgenre of card games where each player starts with an identical deck and then a line-up of cards they can purchase using various resources generated by those starter cards. Those cards then go into their discard pile, which is shuffled into their deck whenever they run out of cards. You start each turn with five cards and discard any you do not use – usually, that will not be any of them – at the end.

It has a completely different focus, moving the strategic deck-building portion of the game into the spotlight but keeping basic concerns like card sequencing and resource spending in place. Ascension is among the best card games on PC if you like playing combo decks with big single turns. Beautiful art, regular updates, and very fast games round it off as a great thing to waste a little time with. This is also one of the few genuine deck-builders available on PC.

Best card games PC: a duel in Hearthstone

Hearthstone

The cream of the crop, the top of the stack, and one of the friendliest free-to-play card games out there. This best card games list probably would not exist without Hearthstone as it jump-started the genre’s popularity after a few years of passive popularity and quickly became one of the most-played games in the world.

But why is it so good? Simplicity, flow, and regular card expansions. Anybody can pick up and play Hearthstone, and it will make sense to them. Maybe they will not wholly understand what they are doing or make the best tactical plays, but there is immediate pleasure in dragging your men around the sandy battlefield, watching them clash into each other and large, friendly numbers popping out. Thanks to this, it will also run on pretty much anything, including tablets and phones.

Perhaps best of all, there is a thriving competitive community. Playing catch-up to it is no mean feat after so many set releases (that is why we made a list of the best Hearthstone decks for beginners), but Blizzard is looking into ways to alleviate that struggle for new players. It is also quite easy to play for free if you use your gold smartly and keep up with daily rewards, even if you are not particularly good.

Hearthstone’s new Battlegrounds mode turns the card game into a refreshingly addictive auto-battler. If you’re wondering how to play Hearthstone Battlegrounds or which Hearthstone Battlegrounds heroes to play as we’ve got you covered.

We’ve played our last card, which means that’s your lot: our list of the very best card games on PC is complete. Our sister site, Wargamer, deals in the physical stuff, so if you want some of the best card games for adults or the best board games, then head their way. Be sure to check out the best strategy games on PC if you like your games with as much scheming and plotting as possible, or the best building games will offer you an outlet for your creativity. If you were thinking more along the lines of GPUs, then you should read our best graphics card guide instead.