The world of trading card games, also known as TCGs, is vast and ever-changing since their rise to popularity in the 1980s. With a market flooded with thousands of TCGs, it can be hard to settle into a new game, especially since most come with higher entry costs that are constantly going up.

While a friend introducing a new player is typically the way to get into a new TCG, those looking on their own have to parse through the sea of options to find a great fit. From branded TCG adaptations to games built from the ground up, the possibilities of play are endless.

Updated September 7, 2022 by Declan Lowthian: While the field is dominated by some giants, there are a ton of interesting trading card games just waiting to be discovered by new players. We've updated this list with some extra information about the best card games available today.

10 Digimon TCG

No official online version, several fan-run services

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The latest attempt at a Digimon-themed card game the Digimon TCG launched in 2020 and has seen an explosion of players in the 2 years since release. The game features new releases nearly every 2 months.

The cards are divided into 4 types; Digimon, Digi-Eggs, Tamers, and Options, and have 7 colors; Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Purple, Black, and White, as well as recently introduced dual-color cards. Fans of the franchise and new players can enjoy the game together with various playstyles and monsters.

9 Yu-Gi-Oh!

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One of the longest ongoing TCG franchises, Yu-Gi-Oh! started as an anime-based game, but quickly outgrew the bounds of the show. There are 3 overall types of cards including Monsters, Spells, and Traps, but these are all broken down into various sub-categories.

In the last few years, Yu-Gi-Oh! has offered different, specialized versions of dueling called Speed Duel and Rush Duel, which feature only top zones and 3 bottom zones, and removes later introduced gimmicks like XYZ and Pendulum summons. With over 10,000 cards to build with, this game offers variety and fun.

8 Flesh And Blood TCG

No official online version, several fan-run services

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Debuting in 2019 by New Zealand-based creators Legend Story Studios, Flesh and Blood is an equipment game where the players use a hero that is given weapons and equipment that is used to attack the other player, while the other player defends. Each hero has a “Hero Type” which determines the playstyle and equipment that can be used.

As a newer game, Flesh and Blood has quickly found its footing around the world. It is a quick game to learn and is a perfect way to spend some time in a game store.

7 Magic: The Gathering

Free official digital version in Magic: The Gathering Arena

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The longest-running TCG, Magic: The Gathering has been enjoyed for almost three decades. The game features five major colors; Red, Blue, Black, White, and Green, and several card types including Artifacts, Creatures, Enchantments, Instants, Lands, Planeswalkers, and Sorceries, which all have sub-types as well.

As Magic is nearing 100,000 unique printed cards worldwide, with hundreds more released each expansion, the diversity of play is immaculate. There are a ton of different formats to play, from the somewhat-randomized booster drafts to the large-group-focused Commander to competitive staples like Standard and Modern. No matter what a player is looking to get out of their card games, Magic can provide.

6 KeyForge

No official online version, several fan-run services

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KeyForge being named next to Magic: The Gathering is inspired by the game’s origin, as Richard Garfield created both. The player uses a deck of creatures, artifacts, actions, and upgrades to gather Æmber and, titularly, forge three keys. Doing so wins the game for the player.

The production team of KeyForge suffered some setbacks due to the pandemic, but a new era has been hinted at by the creator. The hype around the game is big, so finding players is not a problem for newbies.

5 Cardfight!! Vanguard

No official online version, several fan-run services

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Cardfight!! Vanguard is another card game that also shares the spotlight with manga and anime versions. Created by artist Akira Ito, who formerly worked on several Yu-Gi-Oh! properties, the game uses the two card types of Units and Orders. These card types are further broken down into Normal and Trigger Units and Normal, Blitz, and Set Orders.

The game includes the player in its lore, naming them Astral Spirits that call on the planet Cray to solve battles. Since its launch in 2010, Cardfight!! Vanguard has regularly been voted a top choice TCG, and that hasn’t changed in 2022.

4 Bakugan

No official online version

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It might seem confusing to see Bakugan receiving attention in 2022, but the franchise has been through a resurgence in the last few years thanks to a new anime and renewed interest. Another thing that changed is that the game uses cards more than ever.

Players begin by setting BakuCores, which are tiles that replaced the original Gate Cards, then rolling their Bakugan while shouting “Bakugan Brawl” together. The players then take turns using their cards and BakuCores to boost their Bakugan. Though the game technically has other parts like the Bakugan, Tiles, and Gear, it is still a TCG at its heart.

3 Dragon Ball Super

Mobile app for tutorial only

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Dragon Ball is another anime franchise that took time to find its footing in the trading card game space. While the anime and video games follow the exploits of Goku, Gohan, and their friends, the TCG allows players to use any of the characters available.

DBS features 4 card types including Leader, Battle, Extra, and Unison, with the deck consisting of a single Leader card and a mix of the other 3. Each leader, which can be any character from Goku to Zen-Oh to Dragon Balls themselves, also features an awakening that gives the player a massive power-up that can change the game.

2 Final Fantasy TCG

No official online version, several fan-run services

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For fans of Final Fantasy that have been wanting a game featuring all the protagonists together, the Final Fantasy TCG is there to fill the void. Featuring iconic heroes like Cloud and Zidane, and monsters like Bahamut and Chocobos, there are 4 types of cards: Forward, Backup, Monster, and Summon.

The main goal of the game is to deal 7 points of damage to the player. While the game is a welcome place for fans of the franchise, it welcomes new players who are willing to learn and love the characters.

1 Pokémon TCG

Free official digital version in Pokémon TCG Online

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While Magic: The Gathering is the oldest TCG, the Pokémon TCG is the most iconic for several reasons. The lasting power of Pokémon as a whole has kept the game going for decades and the game goes through significant periods of renewed love. Thanks to streamers, the last few years have been a resurgence for the TCG.

The game has 3 main card types: Pokémon, Trainer, and Energy cards. The win condition of the game is by defeating Pokémon and taking the six prize cards. The cards are also easily collectible, which itself has brought drama.

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