The best new card games published in 2010 let you work as a waiter, build a railroad, win a presidential election, achieve glory by destroying nasty beasts, and create an entire civilization.
Here are my picks for the 10 best card games published in 2010. What do you think were the best new card games of 2010? Please share your thoughts here!
1. Hey Waiter!
Players are waiters trying to serve their dishes before their opponents do the same in this clever, innovative card game. Poker-style chips (white, green, red, and blue) represent four types of dishes: soup, salad, pizza, and blueberry pie. There are also four types of cards, each matching the color of one of the dishes. On a turn, you play two cards. The right half of one is combined with the left half of the other to determine your action (such as delivering a dish, or moving a complaining customer to block an opponent). The first team to serve all of its food wins. This is a five-star card game!
2. 7 Wonders
In each of the game's three ages, players are dealt seven cards, from which they choose one and pass the rest to an opponent. The selected cards are revealed simultaneously and either "constructed" or exchanged for three gold. This continues until each player has six cards in play during an age. At the end of the third age, the player with the most victory points wins. Cards can sometimes be constructed without a cost but most require resources (such as raw materials and manufactured goods) or gold. Structure types include civilian, scientific, commercial, and military.
Campaign Manager 2008 recreates the U.S. presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain. The game opens with players building a deck of 15 cards (out of 45 possible cards), which are used throughout the game to win electoral votes in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. The first player to exceed 270 electoral votes is the winner. Getting there requires a solid deck-building strategy and superior hand-management skills. This is the second excellent election game from this design team (see 1960: The Making of the President).
This card game takes players from the Stone Age to modern times in about 30 minutes. Each player builds a civilization using the 105 technology cards, each of which has a special power ("dogma" in the vocabulary of Innovation). The technologies are ordered (1 through 10) from pre-history to the present, covering such advances as the wheel, oars, masonry and fission. Using a dogma can allow a player to win achievements, force other players to help you, or... well, all sorts of things. There is little long-term planning in Innovation; it is definitely a tactical game. Innovation won the 2010 Golden Geek Award for Best Card Game.
This completely reworked version of The Settlers of Catan Card Game was designed to be easier for new players to understand, according to Teuber. There are similarities to The Settlers of Catan, with players developing their provinces by building roads, settlements and cities. But there are plenty of differences as well, including four different ways to play. It is highly recommended for players who find themselves jonesing for a two-player Catan game. Teuber has blogged about the development of the original Catan Card Game and this new version. Expansions are planned for 2011.
This card game is based on Railways of the World, a board game published in 2009 that was a new version of Railroad Tycoon (my pick for the #7 board game of 2005). Players use cards to build railroad tracks and deliver goods (wood, grain, ore and cattle) to cities. Points are earned during the game for both actions; additional end-game points are awarded for engines built during the game, collecting identical or unique goods, and for placing the highest-valued track cards which lead to a city. Railways of the World: The Card Game should appeal to fans of both its parent board game and Ticket to Ride.
With a 2009 publishing date, Thunderstone should have appeared on last year's list, but I wasn't able to play it until 2010. It is often compared to Dominion, another deck-building game, and that comparison is fair. But where Dominion's theme is superficial, Thunderstone's theme (fighting monsters in a dungeon) adds flavor to the game. On each turn, players must decide whether to buy more fighters and/or equipment or head to the dungeon to attack a beast. Two expansions (Wrath of the Elements and Doomgate Legion) were published in 2010, and a third (Dragonspire) is scheduled for 2011.
In this cooperative card game, players, who each control a team of two Space Marines, work together to fight off the Genestealers. Each player has the same three action cards (support, attack, and move and activate) and secretly chooses one to play. These choices are then resolved before the Genestealers attack. At the end of a round, an event card is drawn -- adding more Genestealers to the battle. Space Hulk: Death Angel is set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000, a popular science fiction miniatures game.
Designed by Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour champions, this deck-building game challenges players to acquire powerful cards by effectively spending runes. Six cards are always available; when one is taken, it is replaced from the top of the draw deck. More tactical than either Dominion or Thunderstone, Ascension requires players to constantly be willing to shift their approach to the game. If you're a fan of the deck-building genre, as I am, Ascension is worth a try.
Prosperity and Alchemy are both expansions for Dominion (my pick for the best card game of 2008), otherwise they would be ranked higher on this list. Focused on the theme of treasure, Prosperity adds 25 new Kingdom cards and two new Basic cards to the game and won a 2010 Golden Geek Award for Best Expansion. Alchemy adds some powerful potions to the mix. Both are recommended for hardcore fans of Dominion.