Whether you're hanging out with your closest friends or trying to break the ice at an awkward work function, strategy games are a great way to have fun while also giving your brain a workout. The best strategy card games allow you to hone your logic skills while also relying on a little luck.
One of the first things to consider when you're on the prowl for a new game is the number of players it requires. If you tend to play in big groups, you obviously want one that can accommodate a larger number, whereas folks drawn to more intimate settings will be better matched with two to four player options.
Once you've thought about the numbers, look over the summary to see how the game is played. The best
strategy games are easy to learn and don't require you to spend an hour reading directions. Aim for games with simple instructions that everyone can quickly get on board with.
Finally, think about your personal interests. Do you like sci-fi or horror themes with things like zombies or cyborgs? Or are you more into kitschy, hipster stuff like kittens and unicorns? Or maybe you like more general interest games? Each game has its own specific genre (or two), so think about what you enjoy most.
Below, I've gathered some of the best strategy card games in a variety of genres, all of which are simple to learn and fun to play. Take a look to find your next go-to card game.
1 The Best Overall Ages: 7 and up Number of players: 2 to 12 The details: With more than 27,000 fans on Amazon, this fun strategy card game is super popular for a reason. Reviewers love that it's simple to play and doesn't involve a bunch of complicated instructions. Plus, people of all taste preferences can enjoy it — you don't have to specifically be into war games, sci-fi, fantasy, or other niches. Just play a card and put a chip on the corresponding board space — when you get five in a row, you win. According to one fan: “This game is great. You play just one round if you need to keep it brief, or you can go for a long tournament if you want to have a full night of it. So easy to learn and play. Young children to senior adults, everyone can enjoy playing this game together.” 2 The Runner-Up Ages: 14 and up Number of players: 2 to 8 The details: This strategic card game in which you "destroy your friendships in a good way," according to the manufacturer, involves building armies of unicorns and then trying not to let your friends kill any of them. It only takes 30 to 45 minutes to play, and the cards feature funny drawings of unicorns jump-roping and wielding chainsaws for horns. This is another cult-favorite on Amazon, with nearly 17,000 five-star ratings. According to one fan: “This game is great. You play just one round if you need to keep it brief, or you can go for a long tournament if you want to have a full night of it. So easy to learn and play. Young children to senior adults, everyone can enjoy playing this game together.” 3 The Best Adult Party Game Ages: 16 and up Number of players: 2 to 5 The details: Intended for silly, raucous, loud, and inappropriate fun, this adult party game has won over many fans on Amazon and boasts a 4.6-star overall rating. The premise is basically that you read irreverent cards while trying to prevent kittens from exploding. The game has funny illustrations from the artist behind the webcomic "The Oatmeal," and it boasts the title of "Most-Backed Kickstarter Project in History," per its manufacturer. For a more family-friendly game, it also comes in a clean version. According to one fan: “This game is absolutely hilarious. If you want non-stop fun [buy] this game. We played it for hours and laughed the entire time there was some fun bantering as well. You see the game requires you to, make temporary alliances, screw everyone, or be sneaky, or [all] of the above! The cards are hilarious. The picture are completely [inappropriately] awesome. 4 The Best Family Game Ages: 10 and up Number of players: Up to 6 The details: Just the opposite of NSFW, this family strategy game is a fun, wholesome option that's suitable for playing with any group. Featuring a cute twist on the Disney princess theme, the idea is that each player acts as as a famous villain (think: Maleficent, Jafar, and Ursula), using tools like wishes, pixie dust, and "fate" cards to carry out their agendas. Games take about an hour or longer and can be played by anyone age 10 and up. According to one fan: “A high quality, strategy game! It does take a bit of time to learn, but I suggest checking out YouTube for video tutorials! It’s also great to note that each player has their own character who has an individual goal in the game! There are expansion packs to add more characters as well! Amazing game for a Disney Lover!” 5 The Best For Two Players Ages: 10 to 15 Number of players: 2 The details: Based on the 7 Wonders strategy game, 7 Wonders: Duel is specifically designed for two people and features all of the same intensity as the original but in a one-on-one format. With the objective of building a dominant ancient civilization, you can win by either storming your opponent's capital or achieving a scientific monopoly. "This is the best 2-player game I have ever played, bar none," wrote one reviewer. According to one fan: “This game is amazing. I really love it. Basically, you put the cards out in three different designs for the different ages and each player takes turns buying cards from an arrangement of cards. You can only purchase cards that have been revealed and are not covered by other cards. It really captures the 7 Wonders feel without it actually being a card drafting game. There is a ton of strategy and it is really fun.” 6 The Best Quick Game Ages: 5 and up Number of players: 4 The details: If you love strategy games but don't always have several hours to invest in complicated fantasy worlds, this quick strategy card game is a great option you can complete in 10 minutes. On top of that, the deck is ultra-portable, so it's easy to take on the go. To play, you simply divide into two teams and take turns flipping numeric cards, attempting to locate your opponent’s “Crown Card.” If you succeed and manage to destroy it, your team wins. To play with more than four people, you can purchase more decks to expand the teams. According to one fan: “I used to love relatively involved card games, like Magic the Gathering, and although this doesn't come close to that kind of game play, it IS the closest strategy game I've found in recent years that people are willing to play. Anything more involved is 'too hard to learn', or 'it costs to much to play', or 'it takes way too long to play'.Its fun, its easy to pick up, easy to accommodate more or fewer players. I heartily recommend!” 7 The Best Cooperative Game Ages: 14 and up Number of players: 2 to 5 The details: In this dramatic and fast-paced cooperative card game, you have to work together with other players to win. It's set on the battlefield during World War I and involves foiling imminent threats to help your fellow soldiers stay alive. With stunning artwork by the late French cartoonist Tignous, the game is action-packed but can be played in about 30 minutes. According to one fan: “This was a great purchase for me. I run a lot of board game nights / events and this has quickly become a hit. It's simple to setup, has easy to learn concepts, and everyone gets to participate cooperatively. However, don't think it's easy. Until you get the hang of things it can be quite difficult. I think we lost our first 3 games but then started winning 80% of the time with the standard rules. We haven't tried the "hard" rules yet.” 8 The Best Sci-Fi Strategy Game Ages: 13 and up Number of players: 5 to 10 The details: If you're into apocalyptic or futuristic sci-fi games, The Resistance strategy card game will be right up your alley. It's part of a bigger game universe (The Dystopian Universe), which includes games like Coup and Hidden Agenda. The goal is to bring down a corrupt dystopian government by ousting spies and making fast decisions. The best part is that, despite being linked to other games, reviewers agree that it's accessible for first-timers and easy to jump into. Plus, you can play a round in 30 minutes. According to one fan: “If you've never given a game like this a try (like: Werewolf, Bang!), Resistance is as good as any a place to start. The rules are very straight forward and you will get the hang of it after a round or two. The subtle nuances of strategy come through experience though. In my opinion, it's best to play this with as many players as possible. It makes the games more unique and enjoyable overall.” 9 The Best Bluffing Game Ages: 13 and up Number of players: 3 to 6 The details: If you and your gaming group love to bluff, deceive, and get seriously competitive, then Skull is the game for you. A highly strategic game that’s based around betting, you’ll have to use your sleuthing skills to try to figure out which of your friends are lying about the cards in their hand. The average round takes around 30 minutes to play, and reviewers say that while the game can seem a little complicated, it’s actually very quick and easy to learn once you get the hang of it — however, that doesn’t mean the game itself gets any easier. One of the things fans love most about this game is the fact that you can replay it again and again. An editor’s take: “My friends and I love playing this card game, since it involves bluffing and deception. It moves quickly, as you go around in a circle playing cards face down that either have a flower or a skull on them. When you’re feeling bold, challenge the game and turn over as many cards from the pile as you feel comfortable. If the cards are flowers, you’re safe and you earn a point. If there’s a skull in there, you have to turn in one of your four cards. You can play first to two points, or until everyone loses all of their cards. There’s a slight learning curve and it involves reading people, making this a relatively short game that is consistently challenging. I’d recommend it to anyone strategy card game lovers.” — Amy Biggart 10 The Best For Foodies Ages: 8 and up Number of players: 2 to 5 The details: Ramen Fury is a fun, easy-to-learn game that’s great for anyone who loves a good bowl of ramen. The goal of the game is to make the most delicious bowl of ramen during a single round by stacking complimentary ingredients that will earn you extra points. But don’t get too attached to your precious creations — you can also steal ingredients from other players’ bowls or add spicy chilies that will make their recipes too hot to handle. A great family-friendly game (that’s also super fun for adults), a round takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. An editor’s take: “I play this game with my group of foodie friends, and it’s always really fun. I love how easy it is to learn and set up, and things can actually get really complex and competitive with all of the stealing and sabotaging. It’s more strategic than it might seem at first, and the ramen theme is really well executed.” — Carina Finn
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This article was originally published on
July 27, 2019