Feature

Best Digital Card Games To Kick Off The New Year

by Daniel Tack on Jan 01, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The digital card game space has a ton of options, and whether you like orcs or Pokémon, there's something out there for you. With so many choices, it can be tough to find a good fit. Here are my picks for digital trading card games you should check out as we head into 2018.

Hearthstone

The Kobolds and Catacombs expansion delivers, breathing lots of new life to Blizzard's classic. If you're not a daily player who's interested in climbing the ladder or participating in PVP, the single-player Dungeon Run content is amazing, free, and accessible to everyone - even if you don't have a collection to speak of. Even if you're not chasing dragons, summoning up legendary weapons, or becoming a Death Knight, Hearthstone continues to crush it on content offerings. If you are into the PVP, a wealth of new cards offer new play strategies and takes on old archetypes. So what are you waiting for? There are decks out there that aren't Jade Druid waiting to play you, I swear! While the Dungeon Run is well suited to the theme of Kobolds and Catacombs, it's something I hope to see lots more of in the future - maybe even 2018!

HEX: Shards of Fate

Hex has quietly continued to push out significant content updates (check out our original review here). 2017 gave the game an icy expansion landscape that added a number of interesting new mechanics, like the Verdict - essentially your opponent picking from the lesser of two evils from a semi-randomized pool every time you trigger the ability. It's a lot more fun than I'm making it sound here. On top of that, there are gladiator gnolls by the truckload, sweet new transform mechanics, and the Portal ability. Portal cards transform in your hand every turn, meaning that your opportunities are constantly and continually shifting over the course of a game. 2017 was one of the best years for the game in terms of card design, so if you've been sleeping on this one maybe now is the time to jump in.

Pokémon TCG Online

Pokémon can sometimes be left out of the greater online card game conversation, but it definitely shouldn't be. The online version of the physical card game has a lot to offer, even for starting players. You don't have to worry about being steamrolled by EX Pokémon or super rare evolution, as a novice or entry-level player can dive right in with a theme deck and only be paired against other players using the same restriction. This lets you learn the game or take on players with an even playing field, and as your collection grows you can dip into tournaments or constructed play. As you play, cards and in-game currency are kicked out at a good clip, with big rewards going to those that commit to playing a lot during an in-game season.

Eternal

Eternal just got a new update that adds day/night mechanics to the game, and is a great option for those looking for something of a mix between Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone philosophies. A huge variety of game modes and a solid reward structure complement each other, and the draft format is hard to beat if you're a fan of limited-style gameplay. If you're looking for something off the well-worn digital card game trail that has a great foundation and lots of room to grow, check it out!

Gwent

This game has been in beta for what seems like forever, but don't let that stop you! Over 100 cards just got thrown in the mix for the holidays, and they shake up the established decks quite a bit and offer some much-needed new ways to build out. Gwent is a highly-strategic affair, being one of the few players in the space that doesn't have "casting costs" on cards but instead plays out somewhat more like a board game where you're always trying to piece together exactly what your opponent is holding, and how much you need to commit to any given situation. Gwent's complete philosophical disconnect from everything else out there makes it a refreshing and interesting play, especially if you're looking to shake the chains of resource cards and making a deck that ramps up for maximum efficiency.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

We finally got Yu-Gi-Oh's best game on Steam in 2017. A port of the mobile version, it's a great way to play with and as all your favorite characters from the original series (and now as Yu-Gi-Oh! GX characters too!). That's right, you can summon up your Ancient Gear Golem as Dr. Crowler and live the dream, or go with more classic fare like Joey and his Red Eyes Black Dragon. The game is surprisingly fair with currency and progression considering it comes from the cell phone game world, and often has two to three events all running at the same time to keep the cards coming in. There are new sets and characters coming all the time, so you can jump into the new hotness for the metagame without worrying about being completely destroyed by people who have been playing since the start. It's time to duel!