Looking back on a lifetime of gaming it seems that, for many of us, our first real memories of competition come from the world of cards. Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Old Maid – these are the seeds that helped us blossom into the gamers we are today. And they all have one thing in common – they’re played using a standard 52-card playing deck. But what about the card games that aren’t?
Gamezebo takes a look at 10 card games use their own unique decks, all of which are available on iOS devices. From battling mages to car races, our list has you covered!
Shadow Era – When most people think of card games that don’t use a standard deck, their immediate thoughts go to Magic: The Gathering. It’s not surprising – during its debut in the 90’s, Magic was one of the preeminent forces driving geek culture. Its popularity seemed to reach a huge cross-section of the population. And while Magic isn’t on the App Store just yet (you can currently find it on other digital platforms like the PC), Shadow Era delivers a similarly addictive and well-polished customizable card game experience. With great design and a freemium pricing structure (your starter deck is free, but you can buy booster packs), this CCG has managed to capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of iOS-toting Magic fans everywhere.
Bang! – If three seasons of Deadwood and two Young Guns movies have taught me anything, it’s that the Wild West was about two things: horses, and gambling. If you didn’t get shot over one, you were bound to get shot over the other. And since cowboys were so quick to gamble with cards, it only seems fitting that we’re equally as quick to play a card game about cowboys. Players will take the role of a lawman or a bandit, and like a good spaghetti western, the objective is to kill all the bad guys and bring justice back to town (unless, of course you’re the bad guy, in which case you’ll want to kill all the lawmen!) If you’re looking to get in on the action for free, check out the celebratory Fourth of July and Italia 150 versions.
Alien Menace – Xenomorphs are always bad news. Just ask Lt. Ripley. And if she’s not around to protect you (and in Alien Menace, god help you, she’s not) you might just have to take matters into your own hands. Alien Menace is a solitaire combat game that puts players in the boots of a lone Space Marine as they attempt to survive in the face of a seemingly endless alien horde. Every room you enter will have heavy weapons, but they’ll also have new terrors for you to face. Can you make it to the teleportation portal alive?
Reiner Knizia’s Battleline – Vie for control of flags in this two player card game by master game designer Reiner Knizia. With seven flags set up across the middle of the screen creating the titular battle line, players will play their own numbered army cards on either side of the line, attempting to create different types of formations and point totals to claim the flags in question. Get enough flags and you’ll win the game, become a master of the battlefield!
Bohnanza – Beans, it would seem, are big business nowadays. At least they are in the world of Bohnanza. Based on the real world card game of the same name, players will grow, harvest, and sell different kinds of beans in an attempt to become the richest bean farmer and trader at the table. The game emphasizes trading, as well as keeping a close eye on what the opposing players are growing.
Ascension :Chronicle of the Godslayer – Based on the real world card game of the same name, Ascension is the only deck building game on the App Store so far (or at least the only worthwhile one – read our Battle of Gundabad review to see why you should steer clear of that mess!) So what’s a deck building game? It’s kind of like a collectible card game, except everything you’ll ever need comes in a single purchase. Players will then use a starting hand of cards to purchase even better cards that are on the table, eventually using those cards to slay monsters, summon heroes, and win the game.
Reiner Knizia’s High Society – You know why television programs like Pawn Stars and Antiques Roadshow are so popular? Because everyone wants to see who can get the best bang for their buck. With this in mind, Reiner Knizia designed a collection of card games that all tickle this part of our brains, focussing on the exciting world of auction houses. Players will bid on all sorts of luxury items and other high class goods in order to become the snootiest bidder in the room. High Society is just one of several similar games by Knizia, with other iterations like Money and Modern Art also on the App Store.
1000 Bornes – Vroom vroom! Also known as Mille Bornes, this family favorite dates back more than 50 years and challenges players to get behind the wheel and be the first to complete a 1000km race. Different cards will advance you on your journey while others will slow your progress with traffic accidents, red lights, empty gas tanks, and more. If after trying the iOS version you like the game and want to pick up a real deck, there’s a Hasbro version available in most stores for around $5.
Urban Rivals – Build a team of card-based combatants and take to the streets of Clint City to battle other players from around the world in this simple card-based battle game. Urban Rivals may be on the lighter side of card battle games, but having a chance to evolve your team and decide whose stats to boost each round adds enough to the formula to keep players coming back – especially if they want to add all of the more than 500 characters to their deck.
Kard Combat – If you’re looking for a touch of magical combat, and Shadow Era and Ascension didn’t quite manage to scratch that itch for you, maybe Hotehead Games’ upcoming Kard Combat might. A two player battle of magic powers, players will select cards of different element types and play them against the spell cards of opposing players in an effort to destroy their cards and deal damage directly to their opponent. At the time of this writing, Kard Combat is only available in Canada. However we’ve been assured that the game will launch internationally before the end of the month.
Got Facebook? There are some great card games on there too! If you’re a Facebook gamer, be sure to check out the solo version of Reiner Knizia’s popular card game Lost Cities. And if games like Magic: The Gathering are more up your alley, don’t forget to give Zynga’s often overlooked Warstorm a play!