We live in the golden age of board games, but one of the downsides of lavishly designed modern board games is that they tend to be expensive – and many of them come in massive boxes, too. If you’d rather have something that won’t break the bank and can be easily chucked in a bag, your best bet is to go for a card game instead.

Card games tend to be simpler, lighter, cheaper and quicker to play than their board-based cousins, but that doesn’t mean they lack depth or quality: the ones in this article are all strategically rich and beautiful to look at.

In truth most board games involve cards of some kind (Cosmic Encounter, Pandemic and Celestia are all based around them) but when putting together this guide we chose to restrict ourselves to ones where cards are the only significant component. A few of these come with tokens to tally scores or money, but that’s it – no pieces moving around a board (no board, for that matter), and no dice.

Finally, note that we’ve ignored traditional card games here, simply because they are too immense a subject. But a standard 52-card deck is the most cost-effective purchase of all.

1. Coup

2. Love Letter

Love Letter

3. Sushi Go

Sushi Go

4. Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity

5. Bohnanza


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