Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Ten Greatest Card Games

10. Dominion

For such a new game (only two years old) it may not seem right to include it in a list which has games containing so much history and tradition. Yet its massive popularity and intriguing new game mechanics cannot be ignored. Dominion is a game where players use a unique card deck to build their kingdoms and conquer the lands of the other players. A unique and thematic game which has captured the imaginations of many.

9. Apples to Apples

Party games are very popular, even though most aren’t really that good. Apples to Apples however is brilliant and one of the best in the genre. Its simple, easy to learn, and perfectly suited for a great time. It allows for everyone to become involved and be creative and funny, even for those people who usually aren’t those things.
Apples to Apples is a game of matching people, places and things to descriptions, but also leaves room for taking personal tastes and opinions into account. One of the best party games out there for any type of group.

8. Mille Bornes

In the 50’s the French created this interesting card game which involves an automobile race which became an instant family hit. Mille Bornes brought something different to the table other than games with the standard 52-card deck and has now reached classic status, even making it into the Games Magazine hall of fame.

7. Tichu

Tichu puts a twist on the usual card-shedding game, adding four special cards to the deck; the mah jong, the dog, the phoenix and the dragon. This recent version of older Chinese card games has brought elegance and complexity to the card table.

6. Gin Rummy

The Rummy series of games is immensely popular with many different variants. The most widely acclaimed of these variants is Gin, a quick-moving two-player game which has become one of the most popular card games in the world.

5. Cribbage

If Backgammon is the world’s most prominent race game, Cribbage is a close second. This game of finding card combinations for points where strategy comes in choosing which cards to sacrifice is easy to learn and highly addictive.

4. Pinochle

This trick-taking game is very popular and also quite unique through its need for a double deck and its mechanic of “melding”. Pinochle is a wonderful game which perfectly dances the line of relaxing, fun game-play and complex strategic thinking.

3. Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering was a game-changer; which is no easy task when we’re talking about something as traditional and ingrained as card games. But Magic popularized the genre of collectible card games, with many different types of cards with many different traits and ways of affecting game-play. You could collect more of these card by buying new packs and building a customized deck to use during your games.
Magic was a revolution not just with card games, but with games in general. Dungeons and Dragons geeks had a whole new venue to explore their fantasy game-play and card-based adventure took off.

2. Poker

The most notable card game in the world, poker takes the number two spot on this list. Poker has a unique place in gaming culture. When you think of high stakes gambling, you think of poker. When you think of male bonding in a smoky den, you think of poker. When you think of classy James Bond-esque showdowns, you think of poker.
Poker is a very human game as far as card games go. So much hinges of reading your opponents, as much as it does playing the odds. It is strategic and sociological at the same time.

1. Bridge

Dating back to the 16th century, Bridge is the Chess of card games; elegant, strategic, sophisticated, yet very, very popular. It is one of the first trick-taking games and perhaps the best, requiring both partners to communicate through the bids and the cards while also understanding their style of play.
When it comes to both game mechanics and style, none surpasses Bridge. It is the game of serious card players, where luck is reduced and skill is brought to the forefront. Yet it is also incredibly fun, which is why droves of players keep returning to Bridge time and time again.

6 Responses to “The Ten Greatest Card Games”

  1. I’m so glad you included Pinochle, and not Euchre.

    Also – kudos for the Apples to Apples shout out.

  2. Thanks for the reply. I had to put Apples in. Its just so accessible and fun.

  3. Holy moly I had no idea there were so many interesting cardgames; conquering kingdoms and all!

    The good thing about cardgames is that they are fun without electricity, solar power or botox.

    On another front, do you think there is a market for people with cell phones that can run a cool “scoring” application for card games? My friend’s site is http://www.scorelackey.com and his name is Gary. He has one score lackey for Spades and it’s really nifty for Android cell phones. He’s doing one for Bridge (“Bridge Lackey”) and would appreciate any design suggestions for other popular games where an instant scoring machine (aka without pencil and paper) would be really useful.

    This is not a gaming site advertisement, just trying to see what interest card players might have for a nifty phone application!


  4. I haven’t played the majority of the card games you have listed, but it makes me endlessly happy that you made a top 10 list of card games.. totally something I would do. đŸ™‚

  5. I love Apples to Apples.

  6. I just spotlighted cribbage on my blog. I’ve always been a fan of card games but this one is going to take some time for me to warm up on. I haven’t quite got the strategy down just yet. It’s more of a guessing game for me still. I think once I start to figure it out more it’ll be just as addicting to me as it seems to be for you.
    Great list.


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