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Image via Wizards of the Coast and MTG Arena

Best Digital Trading Card Games (And Duds To Avoid) In 2018

Not every digital trading card game is a hit. However, most developers are tuned in to their target audience, creating a digital experience similar (and sometimes better) than real life. We’ve got the best and worst available digital trading card games to play in 2018.


Best OG: Hearthstone

Hearthstone Digital Card Game by Blizzard
Image via Blizzard and TheVerge

Wizards of the Coast may have begun the trading card revolution, but Blizzard was the first to successfully digitalize it in a free-to-play format with Hearthstone. Blizzard boasts of over 100 million players as of November 2018, raking in over $40 million a year (earnings from 2017).

Hearthstone uses constructed decks consisting of 30 cards, as players tap into their powers, summoning creatures to destroy their opponents. The digital FTP format offers regular and ranked matches, expansion packs, arena battles, and single-play adventures.

Worst: Artifact

Artifact, developed by Valve Corporation, launched the first of December 2018 and was pounded with over 1500 negative reviews on Steam by the following day. Designed by MTG creator Richard Garfield, expectations were high upon Artifact’s launch.

Unlike other popular digital trading card games, Artifact is pay-to-win, creating a hostile flood of negative reviews. Using elements found in Valve’s battle arena game Dota 2, gamers and critics aren’t thrilled about the mechanics or the complexity of the game.

Best: MTG Arena

MTG Arena Digital Trading Card Game by Wizards of the Coast Magic the Gathering
Image via Wizards of the Coast and MTG Arena

Taking a page from Blizzard’s handbook and customizing it towards their target audience, Wizards of the Coast is currently running a free-to-play digital trading card format for newbies and veterans in beta called MTG Arena. It’s simple to play, provides an abundance of rewards and opportunities for FTP players, beautifully designed, and hasn’t even officially launched yet (currently PC only).

Set to release in 2019, the beta version is open to all and is nothing like its predecessor Magic Online. Developers are consistently listening to fans and tweaking while Wizards enlists top streamers to develop their own arena style tournament play for short-term events.

Classic Trading Card Game With Issues: Pokémon TCG Online

Not many digital trading card games can boast of financial and pop-cultural success like Pokémon can. Launched in 2011 and arriving on Android devices in 2016 Pokémon TCG Online remains a classic amongst a sea of other digital and real-life trading card games.

Players can choose from a variety of modes, fighting either AI or other gamers with pre-constructed decks or originally designed ones. Pokémon TCG online is beloved mostly because of its name and loyal fans but has issues too, which aren’t getting resolved. From old cards becoming worthless to newbies having no idea how to play, Pokémon lives on in name only.

Best: Gwent

Gwent The Witcher Card Game by CD Projekt Red
Image via CD Projekt and Gwent is Life

Officially released in fall of 2018, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is a free-to-play digital card game developed and published by CD Projekt and is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Instead of using mana abilities like other digital card games, players must throw a card down each turn from a minimum deck of 25 cards.

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Gwent uses Factions with “leaders” who have their own special abilities, separating themselves from the pack of mana-based strategies.

Best: The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Available on PC and Android, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a free-to-play digital card game worth checking out. Playing with decks (50-100 cards) each player uses a variety of cards and runes to defeat their opponents.

Five play modes exist of which four are always available, allowing players to compete in casual modes, AI, or against friends. There is a campaign mode as well as Gauntlet events which run during limited times.