Before I get into my top ten list, I'll mention that the definition of a "card game" might be ambiguous. I think Alhambra qualifies, for example, because the card play (among four suits or "currencies" of a range of values) drives the purchase of the tiles that are placed for scoring. But I wouldn't include games that just "have cards in them," like Agricola or Clue, because card play isn't the primary aspect of the game (even if they are essential to the mechanics). I'm not sure how to write the definition of a "card game," but I'd be curious to know people's thoughts on which games are close to the frontier between card games and "other games" and how you decide on which side of the boundary a game falls.
My honorable mentions would include:
Chrononauts: A goofy title from Loony Labs that my wife really seems to like. I prefer Martian Fluxx, but this one is also a likeable game.
Incan Gold: I'm always fascinated by the way teenagers play push-your-luck games, so this is a fun one to play with my kids. I never know what they're going to do.
Guillotine: The artwork in this Wizards of the Coast title still makes me chuckle.
Triumvirate: A recent discovery that I am only beginning to appreciate
Mille Bornes is a nostalgic favorite that has fond memories going way back to when I was growing up. It was a family favorite then and still sees the light of day from time to time even now.
So, my top ten card games:
10. Alhambra: I used to dislike this game because I thought it had a "run-away" aspect to it, in which an early leader was hard to catch. That is, until I thought I'd run away with a game in the PrezCon semifinals and then lost somehow in the final scoring. Perhaps I completely misplayed near the end, but I prefer to think that my worthy opponent had a more subtle appreciation for the game and how to score big without leading in many categories.
9. Munchkin: My kids have taken a sudden recent liking to this game, and I like anything I can get my kids to play. Another good one for laughs.
8. Empyrean, Inc. This is a regular go-to game for my wife and me, a surprise hit we received as a gift. We love this game so much that we started to wear the cards out, so I bought a backup copy.
7. Martian Fluxx: A genius little game from Loony Labs. What a crack-up.
6. Down in Flames III: Zero!: A very clever card-play mechanism for air combat
|Image courtesy of|
Rio Grande Games
4. Battle Line: Great mind-bending game with my wife, except that she always wins. What is up with that?
3. Condottiere: I haven't had a chance to play this nearly as much as I'd like. I fell in love with it in just one session. I wish I could play it a lot more to fully appreciate it.
2. Pacific Typhoon: Very fond of this game with a bigger group of people. I love the historical photographs. Very clever game-play structure that motivates some pretty lively negotiation.
1. 7 Wonders: Currently my favorite game of all. I will play this at the drop of a hat. Will Wonders never cease?