Articles · General Gaming

Game Mechanics That Don’t Stand Out

While I was going through my games the other day, I started to notice a trend that surprised me. I have very few games that focus on deckbuilding, in fact I think I only have three in my entire collection: Ascension, Carthage and Dark Gothic. I found this to be a bit surprising, as I do enjoy deckbuilding games. Ascension is one of my most frequently played phone games in fact. This lead me to wondering more about why the deck building mechanic does not stand out to me when I am looking to purchase a game.

The only conclusion that made sense to me is that in deck building games there is usually no component that stands out. The games are usually just made up of decks of cards, with the exception of games like Clank, Tyrants of the Underdark and Carthage.  Personally when looking to buy games I always look for games that attract me by great table presence. Many of the games I pick up are because of pictures I have seen or game play I have watched. Often times I just feel I do not have that draw to games that are solely based around cards.

Now there are obviously exceptions to this rule, as I do have many games that are based around cards only. However most of those games tend to be lighter filler games that are easy to teach. Often times I find that people struggle with the concept of deck building games, so they do not always fit into the filler category for me. There are definitely deck builders that I want to add to my collection though like Clank and Tyrants, however they tend to get pushed aside when it actually comes time to purchase.

What deckbuilders do you enjoy? Also, are there any mechanics in games that you enjoy but don’t often go out of your way to add to your collection?

6 thoughts on “Game Mechanics That Don’t Stand Out

  1. Oh I LOVE deckbuilders, though I admit I don’t have the ones you mentioned, except Ascension. We recently finished the Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, which is a deck builder. If you skip the first three years (if you are experienced), then the game starts to become more challenging. It is very thematic and each hero character starts with a slightly different deck of cards, so combining different decks with different styles of play could make the game harder or easier. It’s also easy enough to teach to kids to get the concept of deck building across.

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  2. dominion was my Gateway Game into the hobby, so of course I peddle it at any moment I can. It has the best arc of almost any game I’ve played where the focus of strengthening your deck vs buying VP cards that weaken the deck is so important to balance. We also love the co-op version of the DC Comics Deck Building Game because you get to be Batman and bat-punch Paralax in the face with teammates. It introduces a puzzle aspect to the game that’s understatedly excellent.

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  3. Ascension and Star Realms are my go-to app deckbuilders, but on the table I prefer deck builders with a bit more substance. Tyrants of the Underdark is a great deck-building area control game, and one of my favourites.

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  4. If you’re looking for deckbuilders, see if you can track down Arctic Scavengers. It’s a solid game, but it never really seemed to take off.

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