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
This fun strategy card game, which has more than 2,600 reviews, is super popular for a reason. 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. As a bonus, it's cheaper than comparable games, too.
"My daughter got this for Christmas and the family has enjoyed playing this game quite a lot," wrote one reviewer. "There is some strategy to the game if you want to win, but the element of chance plays a huge role in this game. There are very few rules and the game easy to learn"
2. The Runner-Up
Ages: 14 and up
Number of players: 2 to 8
Anything with unicorns deserves an honorable mention if you ask me. 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.
3. The Best Adult Party Game
Ages: 16 and up
Number of players: 2 to 5
Intended for silly, raucous, loud, and inappropriate fun, this adult party game is like Cards Against Humanity but with more kittens. Much like its raunchy contemporary, the NSFW game has a serious cult following with 12,700-plus reviews. The premise is basically that you read irreverent cards while trying to prevent kittens from exploding. It 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 manufacturers. If you like it and also want a safe-for-work version you can play with the family, check out the clean version here.
4. The Best Family Game
Ages: 10 and up
Number of players: Up to 6
Just the opposite of NSFW, this family strategy game is a fun, wholesome option that's still spirited yet suitable for playing with kids. 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, and they can be played by anyone age 10 and up.
5. The Best For Two Players
Ages: 10 to 15
Number of players: 2
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.
6. The Best Quick Game
Ages: 5 and up
Number of players: 4
If you love strategy games but don't always have six 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.
7. The Best Cooperative Game
Ages: 14 and up
Number of players: 2 to 5
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. "This game is absolutely beautiful," wrote one reviewer. "[It is] challenging without being impossible. We have been winning with greater frequency now, we might be at a 50% average, but it is only through strict diligence and following a previously agreed upon strategy."
8. The Best Sci-Fi Strategy Game
Ages: 13 and up
Number of players: 5 to 10
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 say it's accessible for first-timers and easy to jump into. Plus, you can play a round in 30 minutes.
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