Crusaders Games

Deckbuilder (cards)

Recently for quicker solo play I have had a growing fondness of fantasy deckbuilders & card games. These are usually but not always co-operative where deckbuilding or pre game deck construction is often a primary gameplay mechanic, and a campaign upgrades your card pool over time, usually culminating in a boss enemy to take down or a mission to complete :


1. Lord Of The Rings LCG (2011) – Fantasy Flight

A living card deck construction game based within a famous fantasy setting, and featuring amazing artwork. You embark on varied scenario quest challenges which are determined using a specific encounter deck from which locations, monsters and treachery events will emerge. To combat this you choose three hero characters to adventure with, and build yourself a custom deck of allies, events and equipment to support you. The questing mechanic provides an amazing co-operative or solo game experience, as you decide each turn who to quest with and who will defend or fight for you. This is one of the toughest deckbuilders to consistently beat, but many expansions will enable better deck building which improves your chances of success. This is a hugely collectable game too and quests will feel like a different journey each time. My more detailed overview > Lord of the Rings


2. Thunderstone Quest (2018) – Alderac

Thunderstone was re-launched as Quest with fresh looking artwork and adding in new village locations, lovely dungeon room tiles to explore, wounds and generally making the gameplay more interesting and engaging. As a dungeon themed deckbuilding game, players each turn work from a hand of six drawn cards to build a strategy, gradually improving their deck by obtaining or upgrading heroes, and buying new weapons, equipment and spells and / or entering the dungeon tiles to and defeat monsters. This game has great theme and artwork, and is easy to learn and play, and more depth to the previous versions which can increase gameplay time. Originally competitively designed, the excellent addition of the solo and co-operative expansion called ‘barricades’ completes the game for me. My more detailed overview > Thunderstone Quest


3. Dice Throne Adventures (2021) – Roxley

Dice Throne was originally a competitive dice battling game based on the yahtzee three roll mechanism to activate character abilities and wear down your opponent. The adventures box is a co-operative expansion upgrade that turns it into a light dungeon crawl experience with minions and boss battles, wrapped together by a simple campaign to beat four bosses. This game is now a real mix of dice rolling, dungeon crawling and light deck building, as after each stage of the adventure you will obtain loot to improve your deck of cards, which you play to boost or tweak your dice rolling. The artwork and production of all elements of this game are amazing and its easy mechanics and really fun dice rolling make it family friendly, where learning and building up a character is a neat experience. My more detailed overview > Dice Throne Adventures


4. Aeon’s End : The New Age (2019) – Action Phase

A cooperative deckbuilding game where you play a mage defending their home city Gravehold from the nameless invasion. Each mage has unique starter cards and an ability, and spends aether in a market to improve their deck from gems, relics and spells. Spells are your primary way to damage the nemesis attacking you, and these are played from breaches you must open, preparing and casting the spell on a future turn, making planning ahead important. The nemesis enemies provide variable challenges with different decks and abilities for you to overcome, and generally things get worse the longer you take. There are many core versions of this game since the original in 2016, and New Age, adding in a short expedition campaign story is where i returned, and its general ease of play is so good compared to other deckbuilders. My more detailed overview > Aeon’s End

5. Thunderstone Advance (2012) – Alderac

This was the second edition of the dungeon themed competitive deckbuilding game, where players each turn work from a hand of six drawn cards to build a round strategy, improving their deck by upgrading heroes, and using gold to buy new weapons, equipment and spells from the village. With a good hand of heroes, enter the dungeon to fight creatures and earn victory points, and these enemy cards will go into your hand providing gold or occasionally extra abilities on future turns. This game has great theme and artwork, and is easy to learn and play, with so many different set up options for enemies and available village items. It is a customisable game and does have some basic solo rules which i added to, but is more a competitive game than co-operative. My more detailed overview > Thunderstone Advance


6. Aventuria (2016) – Ulisses Spiele

A card based rpg adventure game with various play modes including solo, co-op and competitive duel, set in the Dark Eye fantasy world. It essentially offers a narrative driven combat game which feels very similar to a dungeons and dragons adventure episode but without a dungeon master, using 20 sided dice skills checks and combat dice system. This is a lighter deckbuilding card game, with card choice decisions but is very dice dependent with a nice easy turn based flow. Whilst the core box feels a little limited in scope, expansions have added more adventures and then more recently two new solo specific adventures for the game. Overall an endearing rather than challenging game, which makes for a nice solo or co-op experience that is easy to pick up and play and very suitable for family games. My more detailed overview > Aventuria


7. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (2013) – Paizo

The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is co-operative with mix of styles being card based and having slow long term deckbuilding with dice rolling resolution for skill checks and combat. The game is very hero character driven, all with roleplaying class character statistics which determine what skills you are good at. Your adventures take place over multiple short missions with levelling happening over multiple plays by gaining new card items, spells and equipment alongside skills upgrade which ultimately add to you dice rolls. The gameplay has a relatively easy card and dice rolling play style which does feature repetition, its artwork is for the most part really good, and there are many adventure themed sets you can decide on with different themes and enemies. It is a great way to experience roleplaying games solo. My more detailed overview > Pathfinder Adventure

8. Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game (2015) – Fantasy Flights

This small box co-operative card and dice dungeon crawl game sets up a neat character and player interaction, as your heroes interact and support each other to complete quests. Monsters will come thick and fast from the shadows, and your characters each have a set of four actions to use to combat the dungeon, and combining them with each other is critical. There is a light but specific storyline being told by each of the quest cards, and the mechanic of using your card actions and dice rolling works beautifully. It is a relatively quick dungeon experience, and mostly about combat, and its strength is in the hero interaction that takes place. I enjoyed the game so much i wrote four custom scenarios for the original game, which have become popular with game fans > Warhammer Quest Adventures


9. Ravage : Dungeons of Plunder (2018) – Beardy Brothers

This smaller box dungeon crawl and a reasonably quick game for its type, offering solo, co-operative and competitive options, and featuring Orc characters as the main heroes. This is standee based and uses standard size cards as dungeon tiles, making it a more compact, cheaper game. The usual dungeon exploring aspects are all here, with varied locations, enemies, some boss monsters with more intelligence, a goblin to sell you new equipment, and skills levelling. With excellent artwork and illustrations, this is lovely looking game providing a dungeon crawl experience on a slightly smaller scale, and offers enough depth within the four hero player boards, with varied skills that play quite differently. My more detailed overview > Ravage

Previously Owned Fantasy Deckbuilder Games …due to space and funding restrictions i regularly trade out games to fund and try newer ones, producing an ever changing favourites list, but one of these games may be right for you.
Marvel Champions (2019) – a living card deck construction game where you get to play as your favourite superhero. flipping between your alter ego and hero state and calling on allies to support you. This game features smooth card play, and a cut down deck construction experience and is an excellent choice for the genre. My more detailed overview > Marvel Champions

Dungeon Alliance (2018) – a dungeon themed game with deckbuilding where you play four heroes, and is more of a puzzle than an exploration journey. A good game but quite a complex brain burner and a little lengthy too. My more detailed overview > Dungeon Alliance

Xenoshyft Dreadmire (2017) – an aliens attacking the base survival deckbuilder, where heroes set up in defensive formation each turn to repel the onslaught from the aliens and prevent damage getting through to the base. A good deckbuilding game with great monster artwork

Dragonfire (2017) – dungeons and dragons themed deckbuilder with many expansions and characters, however its mechanisms and rules felt overly fiddly and it uses stickers to place upgrades on hero cards as you progress, which gives it a legacy feel, but is not an ideal process

Arkham Horror LCG (2016) – a fantasy flight living card game strong on campaign and storyline with a Cthulhu theme, however its token drawing for every test and location map lock outs became tiresome for me with Lord of the Rings LCG feeling so much smoother and more enjoyable

Marvel legendary (2012)– a superhero theme and generally a lighter less complex deckbuilder, and a nice entry point to the genre for newcomers or less experienced gamers and loads of expansions to collect