Best Modern Deck-Builder Games


  • Deck-builders have gained popularity in recent years, with games like Slay the Spire and Marvel Snap leading the way.
  • Zoeti, Wildfrost, and Aces & Adventures are three deck-building games that offer unique experiences and immersive worlds.
  • Each deck-building game has its own mechanics and twists, providing strategic challenges and engaging gameplay for both beginners and experienced players.

The world of gaming is vast and saturated with creativity and charm. As of late, it has been drawn to one particular style of play: the deck-builder. Inspired by board games such as Dominion and Ascension, a deck-builder is a game where the player develops their deck over the course of the adventure, instead of the traditional method where pre-determined cards available from the beginning of the game are used throughout (as in CCGs like Magic: the Gathering, where decks have already been built prior to play).


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This framework has been the foundation for many games within the last few years, especially early access games. Some stick to the formula that inspired them, while others take what came before and put their own twist upon it. What are the best deck-building games?

Updated December 24, 2023, by Mark Sammut: The specifications have been added for every deck-building game included in this discussion.

2019 is the cutoff year for games.

12 Wildfrost

Steam User Rating: 79%

cards in Wildfrost


April 12, 2023

Deadpan Games, Gaziter

Digital Card Game

Wildfrost is one of the best deck-building games on Steam with a vibrant design and a fun story. This tactical roguelike deck-builder transports its players into a freezing cold land where they’ll have to journey across a tundra while battling against the Wildfrost to banish the eternal winter from their land.


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Players can build unique decks that fit their style the best as well as use the help of various elemental items, powerful charms, and card companions. Wildfrost is a great choice for beginners and avid players who are looking for a new deck-builder game that’ll improve their strategic skills while immersing them in an entertaining story.

11 Ratropolis

Steam User Rating: 88%

managing cards in Ratropolis


December 22, 2020

Cassel Games


There is no shortage of 2D city builders, but what Ratropolis does differently is add deck-building elements to the mix. Face off against waves of zombies and build a humble rat kingdom by balancing a deck of cards. The player must not only manage their gold to get new cards and to play other cards but also their time. It’s possible to use all the cards in a given hand and be left with nothing until a timer goes off and allows a new hand to be drawn (unless gold is paid).

While the game is its unique combination of ideas, no individual concept or mechanic really helps it to stand out. This fun and creative title can feel just a little bit ‘busy’ as a result.

10 Signs Of The Sojourner

Steam User Rating: 89%

Conversation system from Signs of the Sojourner

Signs of the Sojourner

May 14, 2020

Echodog Games

RPG , Digital Card Game

Besides a beautiful art style and relaxing atmosphere, what helps Signs of the Sojourner stand out is its concepts. In this game, decks aren’t built to conquer enemies or to defend the player from damage. The goal here is to have a successful conversation with another person, trying to connect with them via the careful use of cards.

As the player progresses, their deck will change, making it easier to converse with some people but harder to converse with others. Unfortunately, each character encountered over the course of the journey only requires a few conversations before that particular NPC’s arc is complete, leaving a slight feeling of lost potential.

9 Aces & Adventures

Steam User Rating: 92%

cards in Aces & Adventures

Aces & Adventures

February 23, 2023


Digital Card Game , RPG

Aces & Adventures is a low-spec game that is a great choice for beginners and avid gamers alike. Players who love video game RPGs will love this simple but unique deck-building RPG with its poker-powered attacks.


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This strategic deck builder combines poker hands with powerful ability cards and provides a challenging and one-of-a-kind experience. Gamers will get to embark on a magical journey with 13 fully-voiced campaigns and try to save the Life Tree from the evil that already started destroying its roots.

8 Marvel Snap

Steam User Rating: 84%

the onslaught-tribunal deck

Marvel SNAP

August 22, 2023

Second Dinner

Digital Card Game

A free-to-play option, Marvel Snap enjoyed a fruitful stint in early access prior to making its full PC release. Second Dinner’s project provides an accessible deck-building experience that is very simple to understand, while still offering enough challenges variety, challenge, and depth to remain interesting after a few hours. In matches, players have to place cards from their deck in one of three zones that all feature unique modifiers. Each Marvel Snap contest lasts six rounds, with each one raising the energy limit for the cards that can be played.

As players win matches and earn cubes, they will gradually unlock new cards they can add to their decks. The card selection is decent since they have a wide range of special abilities that allow for unique combos and blends.

7 One Step From Eden

Steam User Rating: 94%

battle in One Step from Eden with Saffron

One Step From Eden

March 26, 2020

Thomas Moon Kang

Deckbuilding , Tower Defense

One Step From Eden involves real-time strategy, as the player actively avoids their enemies’ attacks. At the same time, of course, they need to deal as much damage right back as they can, all while darting around on an 8×4 battleground.

Cards are abilities that use a slowly-building pool of mana. However, only two abilities can be accessed at a time. It’s a hectic title that does well to blur the sometimes complex line between roguelike and roguelite. Ability cards work in a queue here: play one card, get the next. Add to that a hefty list of varied characters, and what is left is a solid action game with interesting deck-building mechanics, bringing a wealth of strategy into the mix. The sheer breadth of content and adrenaline-pumping action is worth the price alone.

6 Hadean Tactics

Steam User Rating: 91%

Cards in a Shop in Hadean Tactics

Hadean Tactics

February 25, 2021

Emberfish Games

In this game, the player’s cards act more like buffs and curses. After the available energy is spent on whichever cards are drawn, control is relinquished momentarily as the party clashes with the enemies on the field. Time passes before the game pauses again, and that precious energy is restored alongside a newly assigned hand of cards.

It’s all about understanding the needs of the party after every round of fighting. The more passive role the player takes really helps the game to stand out among its peers while still being an engaging experience.


4 Griftlands

Steam User Rating: 94%

Sal and Mercenary in Griftlands battling monsters

Nintendo Switch , Xbox One , PlayStation 4 , Linux , Microsoft Windows , macOS

July 11, 2019

Griftlands reinvents the deck-builder genre. It’s narrative-driven, for one thing, with three unique characters and their respective campaigns. This game also boasts two separate battle systems driven by their own decks, combat, and negotiation. Be wary, though, as putting too much focus on one deck may leave the other too weak to deal with an unavoidable encounter. It’s even possible to train up a pet.


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To upgrade cards, the player must use them in battle. They will then be able to choose the upgrade the card takes on. Managing relationships also affects gameplay, as people’s opinions of the main character will grant the protagonist buffs and debuffs (as will the Grafts). A truly unique experience, though its slightly longer campaigns and narrative focus may not suit all deck-builder fans.

3 Monster Train

Steam User Rating: 96%

looking over cards in Monster Train

Monster Train

May 21, 2020

Shiny Shoe

Roguelike , Deckbuilding

In Monster Train, the objective is to aid demonic forces in their train-bound quest to reignite the flame that powers the underworld. There are two distinct card types to play: monster cards and action cards. Monsters are the first line of defense in stopping the forces of good moving up the train and attacking its power source. Action cards, meanwhile, affect enemies and allies.

This game forces the player to push their synergies to the extreme as they develop their deck against an onslaught of increasingly difficult fights. It stands out as a true evolution of the deck-building experience. It’s brash and brilliant, and genre fans shouldn’t miss it.

2 Inscryption

Steam User Rating: 96%

A game of Inscryption


October 19, 2021

Daniel Mullins Games

Roguelike , Deckbuilding

The 2020s have produced more than its fair share of deck-builders, to the point that new releases really need to set themselves apart or risk getting lost in the shuffle. Inscryption might fall within the genre in the grand scheme of things, but the game is nothing like most of its contemporaries. For one, it leans into horror territory, something that very few card-based games attempt to do.

Inscryption traps players in a life-or-death situation where they have to play a card game against a mysterious opponent, and that is only one part of this overall weird and unforgettable experience. While the roguelike deck-building element is executed well without being all that innovative, the overall package defines Inscryption‘s brilliance.

1 Slay The Spire

Steam User Rating: 97%

Battle between shapes and Defect in Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire

January 23, 2019


Roguelike , Deckbuilding

The current surge in popularity of deck-builders owes much to Slay The Spire. It’s still a genre highlight, despite all that came after it. Its mechanics are tight, its synergies are easy to grasp, and its characters are all distinct from one another. As with most examples of the ever-addictive roguelike genre, games are quick and extremely replayable.

Every encounter is tense, and every decision the player makes will determine whether the run ends in triumph over the final boss or catastrophic defeat.

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