The Best Trading Card Games

16 May 2018
Trading Card Games are more than just Pokemon nowadays, and while the great remains great, there are tons more to choose from. Our list also includes collectable and expandable card games, from Arkham Horror and beyond. Prepare your deck for a world of fun!

Looking for your next gaming obsession? You won’t find much better than these, the best trading card games, with hundreds or even thousands of cards to discover and fine-tune your custom deck. Co-op and competitive fans alike, prepare to surrender your free time – and your wallet!

Originally written for Tabletop Gaming magazine, and updated by Charlie Pettit.

Pokémon Trading Card Game

I choose you! Like its video game counterparts, Pokémon remains agelessly entertaining, bringing pocket monster battles to life with an approachable twist on the Magic formula mixed with the games’ signature rock-paper-scissors elemental combat. Possibly the best trading card game for being well known amongst non gamers, everyone has some kind of lasting memory of Pokemon. Plus, it’s got some of the most recognisable characters around (Pikachu! Squirtle!) and is generally a bit cheaper to keep up with than some of its competitors – it’s not just for kids! 

The cover of Pokemon Battle Academy, featuring Pikachu and Chamander

Buy the Pokemon Battle Academy on Amazon for the easiest introduction to the game, or My First Battle an even smaller starter deck. We reviewed the original Pokemon: Battle Academy too!

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Disney Lorcana

Bringing the trading card world back to the public sphere is Disney Lorcana (and our praise filled review is here too), the crossover between the hugely beloved worlds of Disney’s animation, and the trading card world. Having imagery that appeals to children worked incredibly well for Pokemon, and Disney Lorcana does similarly with some familiar faces, but just like Pokemon, has the gameplay to back it up. It’s been going from strength to strength with no signs of slowing down, and now is as good a time as any to dive into its world. 

Assemble your Disney Lorcana Deck, available on Amazon

Related article: Easter eggs and hidden details in Disney Lorcana cards

Star Wars: Unlimited

The new kid on the block is making a real stir, Star Wars: Unlimited may not be the first foray into card games for Fantasy Flight games, but it comes out swinging. Players use their deck to attack the base of the opponent but will do so over two separate grounds – ground and space. Not only does this give you the best opportunity to get the feeling of Star Wars, with your X-Wings just as important as your Probe Droids, but as turns pass with each action, it keeps up the cinematic peaks of energy. 

Pick up a Star Wars: Unlimited Starter Deck on Amazon, which contains everything you need to get started. 

Related article: Star Wars on tabletop, through the ages!

Arkham Horror: The Card Game

There’s no need to be a horror fan or Lovecraft lover to appreciate the polished co-op gameplay in this spin-off of the globetrotting board game, although it certainly helps. With tight mechanics and mysteries to uncover, Arkham Horror: The Card Game isn’t just one of the greatest recent card games – it’s one of the finest games in years, full stop! A living card game, rather than a trading card game, it grows with you in additional packs, allowing you to investigate yet further into the unknown of the mythos…

Buy the Revised Core Set of Arkham Horror: The Card Game on Amazonthe original Arkham Horror Core Set is still happily playable, the the revised edition makes it a smoother experience. 

Magic: The Gathering

It’s a classic for a reason. The first collectable card game is still one of the absolute best around, thanks to simple but deep mechanics and a highly active community that is all too happy to introduce newcomers. It looks great, plays fast and there are 25 years of rich lore and meta to dig into if you find yourself under its spell. There are multiple formats of play available depending on how you like to play, and how many opponents you wish to play with, and there are some real fun crossovers in recent decks. Perfect for collectors and players alike. 

Buy Magic: The Gathering on Amazon as a two player starter kit to get going. Want to play with more? There's also a game night version!

Flesh and Blood

From a once professional Magic: The Gathering player comes Flesh and Blood, described as a hero centric fantasy trading card game. You play as one of the heroes, but with typical fantasy elements like magic and melee attacks. Fights are one on one, though new formats have been released to suit different play styles, and the Flesh & Blood competitions are going from strength to strength.

A great place to start with Flesh and Blood is a Blitz pack, which you can find on Amazon. 

One Piece

One look at the artwork of One Piece confirms it’s a based on japanese manga, with a distinctive art style and recognisable characters. The game therefore, allows you to play around the characters, building decks that maximise the potential effects, with easy to learn clear themes to suit all styles of players. Recent competitive scenes have been hugely popular for One Piece Card Game, which suggests whilst it may not have the mass market appeal of something like Disney Lorcana, it’s captured the heart of the card gamers for sure.

The main character starter set is the perfect place to start, and that One Piece Starter Deck is available on Amazon

Final Fantasy Trading Card Game

Designer by a former Magic pro, Final Fantasy Trading Card Game is more than a simple clone reskinned with the popular Japanese RPG series. It adds an interesting option to pay for cards by discarding other cards, meaning there’s no need to wait around to summon powerful spells and monsters, as well as the EX Burst mechanic that offers the chance to benefit from taking damage. It’s an exciting and unique idea that works wonders, especially as matches tend to wrap up quickly. You’ll want to immediately play again.

Pick up a starter set for Final Fantasy TCG on Amazon


An interesting addition, but one that’s worth noting. Keyforge promised that with each purchase, what you opened would be a fully playable deck, meaning whatever you picked up would require no immediate crafting – something that stood it apart from every other card game. Whilst there was a tumultuous period for Keyforge, where the thousands of possible combinations were found to be slightly overstated with an issue found in the algorithm that created them, the game was picked up once again and has garnered further release. Whether you play the original decks, or the new, it’s a novelty that doesn’t wear off.

Pick up a Keyforge Deck on Amazon 


Universus isn’t new, but it certainly made a splash with its Critical Role/Mighty Nein set recently, with a glossy trailer and popular IP. Once the Universal Fighting system, it’s a multi-IP game, meaning you could be playing with characters of Cowboy Bebop in one, and RPG characters in another. If you’ve ever wondered who would win between characters in different franchises, here is how you might find out!



The original of this article was featured in the July 2018 issue of Tabletop Gaming, and has been updated. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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