Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you
 find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this time around is a term that is applicable to board games, but can also be found in some video games:

Deck Builder

A deck-building game is a card game where players begin with low-value or undesirable cards. Over the course of the game, players curate the cards that are in their deck. As they add new cards, it creates a new individual draw deck to optimize what they draw. Players accomplish this curation by both discarding and/or adding different cards to their personal decks. The ways players can add new cards to their deck varies game to game. Many games have a central field or market which players can select from to acquire more powerful or desirable cards.

The First Deck Builder Game

Dominion by Rio Grande Games is credited with being the first deck-builder game. They also won the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) in 2008. As of the time of this writing, Rio Grande Games has published 15 expansions to Dominion. You can learn more about Domino of the Rio Grande Games site here.

Are Collectible Card Games the Same as a Deck Builder?

A Deck builder card game is different from Collectable card games. In a deck builder all the cards a player will need are included in the game box. Players are trying to improve the cards in their deck over the course of the game. In contrast, Collectable Card Games (CCGs) players work outside the game session to craft a deck by collecting cards often in random sets. Much time, effort and money is used to create a strong deck. Once a game begins the cards in the deck do not change. Some of the most well-known Deck builders are Magic The Gathering and Pokémon.

Examples Of Deck Builder Games:

  • Abandon All Artichokes’
  • Sushi Go
  • Dominion

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By Linda Wrobel

Managing Editor: Board Games Mother, Educator, and Board Game Editor.

2 thoughts on “Game Definition: Deck Builder”
  1. Thank you for this insightful explanation of the term “Deck Builder” in the realm of gaming, Linda Wrobel! Your article clarifies the concept beautifully for both board game enthusiasts and those new to the concept.

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