Deck-Builder Boardgame Mechanic

Deck-Builder Boardgame Mechanic

What is a Deck-Builder game? Some people in the boardgame and trading card game community might think of Magic: The Gathering (MTG), Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, or another Trading Card Game (TCG) when they hear of deck building as a game mechanic. However, deck-building is a game mechanic for strategic boardgames and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite game mechanics because it encourages great replayability.

Typically, with these types of games you will have a “starting deck” with around 10 cards or less and then throughout the game you earn a currency which you use to “buy” more cards to upgrade that deck. These cards will typically go in your discard pile and you will draw them later after shuffling. You may also find ways to get rid of some of the starting cards to improve how your deck works. As you play the game, you will use cards from your deck and then discard them. Once you have no cards to draw you will shuffle the deck you are carefully crafting and start drawing again. The goal is not only to build a great deck. Typically, in these types of boardgames you have another end goal and your deck is just the racecar you are driving to get to that finish line (see Heat: Pedal to the Medal). 

As far as I can tell, the first modern boardgame to employ this game mechanic was Dominion when it came out back in 2008. The end goal of this game is to build a small kingdom that is grander than the other monarchs you are competing with (the other players). Since then, many other titles have built great games using this mechanism. Here are some popular examples from our very own boardgame library here at MeepleCity: 

  • Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure (2016) → Can you quickly build a deck that allows you to escape dragon breath, capture a treasure from the depths of the dungeon, and climb back out in time? 
  • DC Comics Deck-building Game (2012) → Craft a hero deck that can take out the most villains and super villains! 
  • Lost Ruins of Arnak (2020) → Explore, build, and choose carefully what action you will take on your turn because you can only choose one! 
  • Robot Quest Arena (2023) → Build a deck that will help you push, fight, and defend against other robots in the arena!  
  • Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game (2023) → Use well-known characters from either the dark side or the light side of the force to attack or sabotage your opponent. 
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Deck, Bag, and Pool Building | Board Game Mechanic | BoardGameGeek 

Deck-building game - Wikipedia

My Top Boardgames with deck-building mechanic 

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