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Best trading card games 2024

The best TCGs and collectible card games in 2024, from classics Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon cards to up-and-comers like One Piece TCG.

Best trading card games guide - Marvel Champions artwork showing an advancing line of Marvel superheroes, with Spiderman in the center

What are the best trading card games (TCGs) in 2024? It’s a tough field. We’ve played an awful lot of collectible card games (CCGs) over the years, with countless publishers looking to bottle the same lightning as Richard Garfield’s Magic: The Gathering, recreate the collectible joy of Pokémon cards, or match Yu-Gi-Oh! cards’ surrealist shenanigans – and some have succeeded. This guide profiles the best trading card games around, to help you pick your next cardboard adventure.

You’ll likely have tried some of the best card games already – but some of the best TCGs may be unfamiliar to you. Though they vary wildly in gameplay, systems, and themes, with each one you can enjoy the core thrills of a good CCG: expanding your understanding of the game over time, discovering cool new cards and decks, and deploying them in skill-based strategic challenges.

For superb games without the collectible/trading element, try our guides to the best two-player card games; the best card games for adults; the best deck-building games; or the best family card games to enjoy with the young’uns. Oh, and if you need a laugh, check out our favourite funny card games. Otherwise, shuffle up and get ready, because…

Magic: The Gathering

The best trading card game for most people.

MTG booster box deals
Magic: The Gathering specifications:
Original release date August 5, 1993
Publisher Wizards of the Coast
Reasons to buy
  • Rich, complex TCG with its own unique settings
  • Multiple formats, including 4-player
  • Free-to-play online version
Reasons to avoid
  • Takes a long time to build up a good collection
  • Complexity ramps up over time
  • Mana system and variance can be frustrating

The original. The master. The granddaddy of trading card games. Magic: the Gathering has all the acclaim and mythos it deserves. You’ve likely come across its illustrious cards, but might not have dipped your toe into its vast world. You don’t need to be a master strategist, a collector of the most expensive MTG cards, or a dedicated lover of the Multiverse to learn how to play MTG (or fall in love with it). Easy to play, but hard to master, it’s worth trying out, even just for the card-curious.

Magic’s core gameplay rules are simple. Assemble a deck of cards, then duel it out. MTG land cards must be played to generate mana, which in turn is used to summon creatures, and cast various spells, with each MTG color representing particular themes and playstyle. Whittle your enemy’s life to zero, and you’ll be declared the winner.

Successive releases of new MTG sets introduce more cards, and new mechanics each year, making this one TCG that’s fairly easy to learn, but very difficult to master. Take one look at the MTG release schedule, and you’ll see just how much new content is coming out all the time.

Alongside a range of game formats (dictating deck size, MTG banlist restrictions, and other gameplay requirements), MTG has an indefinable depth. You can spend hours learning how to build an MTG deck that’ll win every game, or experiment with unusual strategies and different MTG color combinations. You can also have fun by just picking up a starter set, and blasting through a few mono-color matches with your mates.

Throw in gorgeous card art that far surpasses the quality and detail found in any other trading card game, and you’ve not only got a game that’s fantastically tactical but one full of miniature works of art that could serve as mantlepiece displays.

The game’s latest digital adaptation, Magic: the Gathering Arena, is a super-accessible interpretation of the tabletop game. All the cumbersome calculations and too-easily-forgotten keyword abilities are taken out of your hands, and the UI is arranged to make information easily accessible. A tutorial walks you through all the rules and fundamental strategies of each mana color, and a wealth of free MTG Arena codes will give you a stack of cards to get started with.

Pokémon TCG

The most accessible trading card game.

Pokémon booster pack deals
Pokémon TCG specifications:
Original release date (Japan) October 20, 1996
Original release date (US) January 9, 1999
Publisher The Pokémon Company
Reasons to buy
  • Strong cards are relatively affordable
  • Amazing artwork
  • No resource system
Reasons to avoid
  • No way to interact on opponents’ turns
  • Many collectors, but can be tough finding players

Everyone knows the joy of Pokémon cards. The competitive Pokémon Trading Card Game – which has you throw down your prized cardboard pocket monsters to fight, faint, and evolve – has been a staple of playgrounds and international gaming tournaments since the 90s. And its appeal hasn’t diminished since.

The core game remains the same, and all your favorite Pokémon are still kicking about, plus a lot of cutesy new additions. Our ‘how many Pokémon are there‘ guide – and Pocket Tactics’ excellent Pokédex – currently list the total number of Pokémon as 1,015 – but change the question to ‘how many Pokémon cards are there‘, and that number shoots all the way up to 13,178. It is one seriously popular TCG.

The trading card game replicates Pokémon battles near-perfectly. Play Pokémon from your hand to your bench, attach energy cards to launch attacks, use trainer cards for a supportive advantage, and evolve your Pokémon mid-game to gain access to more powerful attacks and monsters.

More recent, optional gameplay modes complicate things, but the basic format is simple and massively gratifying. It’s just plain fun to watch your meek Cutiefly evolve into a deadly Ribombee.

Much of the game has been taken over by collectors focused on bagging the most expensive and rare Pokémon cards for cash – looking to buy and sell Pokémon cards online – rather than battling creatures on the tabletop.

But the game’s tournament community, where the best Pokémon decks are forged and tested, still thrives, and we can teach you how to play Pokémon cards if you’re looking to get started on the road to becoming champion. With new Pokémon sets releasing regularly, the Pokémon TCG is still very much alive.

Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG

The best TCG for fast gameplay and wild combos.

Starter deck deals
Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG specifications:
Original release (Japan) 1999
Original release (US) 2002
Publisher Konami
Reasons to buy
  • Fast and furious gameplay
  • Explosive turns with cool combos
Reasons to avoid
  • Highly inaccessible, with a premium on insider knowledge
  • Games can feel *too* fast and swingy

Anime-styled, unashamedly unhinged in theme, and joyfully chaotic to play, Yugioh cards, and fondly remember hurriedly dueling between classes, or showing off your newly-built deck in the playground. If you did, you probably didn’t follow any of the Yugioh banlist regulations, ignored its tribute summoning rules, and filled your deck with as many Pot of Greed cards as you could (at least, some eight-year-olds we know certainly did).

Based on the 90s manga and following anime, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game has been going strong for over 20 years. There’s never a bad time to learn how to play YuGiOh, though. Take turns summoning monsters to the field, laying traps, and casting spells to destroy your enemy’s defenses, and decimate their ‘life points’.

With no resource system, you’re free to play anything in your hand, but you will have to sacrifice smaller monsters as tribute to summon the toughest creatures to the table. Advanced summoning rules can get complex, and you might occasionally find yourself fed up with the jargon, but Yu-Gi-Oh!’s intuitive phase order and hand management make it a great TCG for card-wielding newbies.

With no set rotation, most old cards aren’t removed from the game or made illegal in its meta (except the few dozen on the Yugioh banlist), so it’s remarkably easy to buy some packs, learn how to build a YuGiOh deck, and jump in. Picking up one of the best Yugioh structure decks is also a smart way to get started.

Its artwork will appeal to any manga fans, but really hilarious cards like Humpty Grumpty or People Running About lend the game a sense of self-aware silliness. There are also a couple of excellent ways to play Yugioh online these days – so you’ve no excuse: time to duel!

Disney Lorcana

The best new trading card game on the block.

Lorcana starter deck deals
Disney Lorcana specifications:
Original release date August 2023
Publisher Ravensburger
Reasons to buy
  • Subtle but meaningful tweaks to classic TCG gameplay
  • A multiverse full of beloved Disney characters to play with
Reasons to avoid
  • Difficult to get into if you don’t love Disney
  • No way to play online yet

In 2022, when family board game specialist Ravensburger announced it was making an official Disney trading card game, the primary question in our minds was “well, duh – what took them so long?” Nevertheless, the TCG market is a crowded, competitive place, and Disney Lorcana‘s success certainly wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

Two years later, however, it’s fully cemented itself as a major player in local game stores everywhere, with the first three Lorcana sets and popular Lorcana starter decks selling out like wildfire, prompting the publisher to ramp up production for its upcoming releases.

As far as the Lorcana rules and gameplay go, there are many similarities to granddaddy Magic – it’s still a game about generating resources, then spending them to bring characters in on your side, and take actions that either block your opponent, take you a step closer to victory, or both at once. The Lorcana ink colors are clearly inspired by MTG colors, too.

But there are some refreshing changes in the formula: the cards you use to generate your main resource – Ink – aren’t a dedicated type of their own, like MTG Land cards, but can be cards of many types, with other uses too. This makes for interesting decisions, both in-game and when building Lorcana decks.

And – like Keyforge, but unlike many TCGs – winning isn’t primarily about combat. You gain victory points, called Lore, not by defeating enemies or attacking your opponent, but by sending your characters on ‘quests’ – so successful strategies are often more concerned with evading or shutting down character Challenges, rather than mounting assaults.

This subtle shift of focus, combined with a spread of other refreshing gameplay twists, and nearly a century’s worth of Disney stories to draw art, narrative, and general inspiration from, has made Lorcana a formidable, fast growing new game on the block. All it needs now is an official way to play Lorcana online

Flesh and Blood

The best TCG focusing on brutal single combat.

Flesh and Blood booster box deals
Flesh and Blood specifications:
Original release date October 11, 2019
Publisher Legend Story Studios
Reasons to buy
  • Tight focus on one-on-one combat is a refreshing change
  • Every turn is packed with weighty, interlocked tactical decisions
  • Each hero can be built around in many different ways
Reasons to avoid
  • Initial learning curve is very steep, with high complexity beyond the basic rules
  • Strategic variety cuts both ways – learning a new champion can be like starting from scratch

A more grounded, but no less tactically-charged trading card game, Legend Story Studios’ Flesh and Blood dispenses with grand battles between ranks of creatures in favor of brutal fantasy brawls. Rather than fielding monsters and spells to do battle on your behalf, you’ll be dumped in the fight directly to dictate your own magical duel. Choose a character, equip an array of weapons and armor, and plunge forwards into battle, taking turns to play cards that simulate attacks and defensive moves.

Flesh and Blood is all about anticipation. Each attack card requires you to discard another, making for some tense moments of do-I-don’t-I decision-making, as you weigh up the cost of a reckless blow against a shrewd defense. Add in an ‘arsenal’ of hidden attacks, that might halt your opponent’s master plan with a surprise strike, alongside a panoply of distinct heroes, and you’ve got as close to a TCG variant of Mortal Kombat as you’re ever likely to get.

Each game rushes into the action, with no time spent building a resource base or managing your hand. Kick off with a brutal assault, and keep the punches coming.

Marvel Champions

The best superhero trading card game.

Starter pack deals
Marvel Champions specifications:
Original release 2019
Publisher Fantasy Flight Games
Reasons to buy
  • Challenging co-op gameplay
  • An unusually excellent solo card game
Reasons to avoid
  • High rules complexity means a serious learning curve

The Marvel brand has been plastered onto just about every type of merchandise you can think of, and that includes Marvel board games and card games. But while Marvel Champions is notable for its vast roster of masked adventurers, it doesn’t stand out solely because of its theme. It’s the gameplay of this living card game that’s unique: this is a cooperative game.

You and up to three buddies will each assume the mask of a superhero, and do battle with a random villain terrorizing the neighborhood. Each player takes turns performing gravity-defying attacks, summoning allies to the fray, and upgrading their power to fend off whatever evil minion is thrown their way. All the while, you’ll be working to thwart the dastardly scheme of your main target, before their master plan is unleashed.

Be prepared to face a steep learning curve, and keep the game’s rulebook handy for your first few games. But once you internalize its turn order and learn the varying strategies of each hero’s deck, you’ll be rewarded with a well-balanced, cooperative action game. Handing just enough decision-making to each player, the game lets you strategize as a team, without ever feeling like one player is able to dominate.

Plus, Marvel Champions is still very much alive, with more expansions and hero packs releasing. You’re certain to find your favorite costumed crime fighter in its ranks.

For more information and a deep dive into one of Marvel Champions expansions, check out our Marvel Champions: Mutant Genesis review.

One Piece Card Game

The best trading card game for anime mega-fans.

Starter deck deals
One Piece Card Game specifications:
Original release December 2, 2022
Publisher Bandai
Reasons to buy
  • Innovative approaches to resource, life points, and combat break the mold
  • Artworks are wild, colorful, and burst with energy
  • Powerful cards are more affordable than other TCGs
Reasons to avoid
  • Massive popularity growth since 2023 has left cards in short supply
  • Tiny card text can be hard to read

The One Piece card game has seen spectacular growth since launching in English in December 2022. It’s regularly competing with the big boys of the trading card game landscape, often popping up to the status of best-seller when Yugioh, MTG, or Pokemon doesn’t have a huge release.

With really cool artwork (and some blingy rare cards), plus a simple gameplay style that’s easy to get started with, it’s not hard to see why the One Piece CCG is gaining popularity. And it probably helps that the source material is the most popular manga ever.

One Piece gameplay is the traditional ‘reduce your opponent’s life’ style, but it has a few unique innovations.

One of these is that you’re required to pick a ‘leader’ for your deck, borrowing some ideas from the MTG commander format. The other is a novelty: you have to bring a distinct DON!! deck which you draw from separately throughout the game. These DON!! Cards are your resource in the One Piece card game, the equivalent of energy or lands in other TCGs. They not only help you pay for cards, they also can be attached to your characters to increase their strength.

Final Fantasy TCG

The best TCG for JRPG lovers.

Final Fantasy TCG booster box deals
Final Fantasy TCG specifications:
Original release (Japan) 2011
Original release (US) October 2016
Publisher Square Enix
Reasons to buy
  • Built in system to prevent mana screw
  • Catch-up mechanics
Reasons to avoid
  • Dwindling player base means you may lack for ‘pickup games’

Inspired by Square Enix’s legendary series of RPG videogames, the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game is now a decade old in its native Japan, but was only released to the wider world in 2016. You’ll find familiar faces from across the franchise’s long history, in this competitive, two-player TCG that’s visually inspired by Final Fantasy characters and monsters, but mechanically distinct from the JRPG.

Gameplay-wise, it’s similar to Magic: the Gathering. You’ll spend Crystal Points of particular Element types to play cards, before flipping them horizontally to use their powerful effects, and ‘activating’ them at the start of your next turn (much like the typical mana-driven summon-tap-activate loop of MTG). Use characters and monsters to deal damage to your opponent, and block incoming attacks with your minions on the field.

But some notable gameplay differences remain. With no resource cards or land equivalents, Crystal Points are generated by playing and discarding cards from your hand. It forces you into constant difficult decisions, as you weigh up whether it’s best to hold out another turn, or sacrifice your hand to quickly field characters to the table. Character cards only have one fighting stat, representing both their attack and defensive abilities, and the lack of combat keywords streamlines the fighting process.

The Final Fantasy Trading Card Game manages to reverently bring the acclaimed videogame series to the tabletop without feeling like a quick cash-grab or uninspired reskin. Characters’ abilities echo their in-game selves, and its level of strategy makes it enjoyable for those who’ve ever delved into the monstrously large series. Pick it up if you’re after an MTG alternative with a bit of bite.


The best creative, asymmetric TCG.

Buy the cards or download and print free
Netrunner specifications:
Original release date September 6, 2012
Original publisher Fantasy Flight Games
Current operator Null Signal Games (Non-profit community project)
Reasons to buy
  • Asymmetric gameplay is totally unique
  • Compelling cyberpunk theme and artworks
Reasons to avoid
  • Still something of an ‘underground’ game, and can be tough to find players

A brutish, cyberpunk dystopia of megacorporate profiteering and dubious cybernetic enhancements, Netrunner could be applauded for offering a card game that isn’t baked with fantasy tropes, but it has something much better to get excited about – balanced asymmetrical gameplay.

One player takes the role of a corporation, advancing its heinous agenda and accumulating credits to satiate the profit wheel. All the while, they must spread their tendrils along the information superhighways of the future, securing data terminals against the opposing runner (or hacker) who’s attempting to break their firewall. With each player served totally different mechanisms of gameplay, and vastly different objectives, it makes for a complex game of surprises.

Until relatively recently, the main difficulty in playing Netrunner was finding a copy, and other players. The game’s original version, Android: Netrunner, was discontinued by publisher Fantasy Flight Games in 2018, and after that both starter sets and fellow players became harder to come by.

In the years since FFG ceased producing the game, however, independent non-profit outfit Null Signal Games has revived it, with new cards that you can either buy at effectively cost price, or download to print and play for free.

For our money, Netrunner’s refined asymmetry has yet to be matched in other card games. Combine that with a relentlessly enthusiastic grassroots community organized around Null Signal’s volunteer-driven reboot, and you’ve got an extraordinary game that’s well worth diving into.


The most technically innovative TCG in ages.

Starter pack deals
Keyforge specifications:
Original release November 2018
Publisher Fantasy Flight Games
Reasons to buy
  • Every single deck is unique, making matchups less predictable
  • Avoids having a resource or cost system, cutting out admin
  • 100% pre-built decks means deck-building isn’t a barrier to entry
Reasons to avoid
  • No good if your favorite part of TCGs is deck-building
  • With the game in development limbo since 2021, the community is waning

One of the many card games designed by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield, Keyforge only released back in 2018, but immediately boasted one of the most rigorously designed cardplay systems, and most enticing metas, across the whole tabletop space.

In a deliberate disruption to the standard card game system, each individual Keyforge deck is complete and unalterable, meaning there are no booster packs or additional cards to buy as you craft the perfect collection. But – and here’s the real kicker – each deck is entirely random, with every set containing a different assortment of cards. Some gargantuan number of possible permutations means that no two Keyforge decks are the same, and a very clever design process makes sure each deck is (largely) balanced.

No deck-building means you can grab a fully-formed, ready-to-use, randomly-constructed set, and dive in immediately. Great if the cost of other card games is an issue, and fantastic for those players who are wary of investing in yet another money-hungry game.

And you’ll be rewarded with a novel rule system that ditches many of the genre’s cliches. Rather than hurling attacks at your opponent to whittle down their health, you’ll be using creatures, artifacts, and action cards to accumulate ‘Æmber’. Acquire sufficient stores of the valuable resource to forge three keys and win the game, all the while disrupting the similar efforts of your opponent.

Also of note: there’s no cost system. You won’t have to expend mana or discard cards to field more powerful creatures, but instead declare a ‘house’ at the beginning of your turn, and play any number of cards belonging to that house as you wish. An innovative take on the card game formula, check out Keyforge if you’re craving something a little bit different.

KeyForge was originally published by Fantasy Flight Games, though they suffered a strange snafu in 2021 that ‘broke’ the algorithm that generated unique decks. Since then the game was picked up by Ghost Galaxy, who’s working on new expansions.

Legend of the Five Rings

The best cult classic trading card game.

LOTFR Core Set deals
Legend of the Five Rings specifications:
Original release 1995
Publisher Fantasy Flight Games
Reasons to buy
  • Fate system presents constant, crunchy tactical challenges
  • Card artworks and general aesthetics are enchanting
Reasons to avoid
  • As a long discontinued game, finding sets and playmates can be tricky
  • Fantasy East Asian theme can feel like dated, poor representation these days

Set in the East-Asian-themed fantasy world of Rokugan, Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game hands you control of one of seven clans to battle for supremacy in the game’s eternally conflictual political system. The basics are familiar enough: field warriors and nefarious political leaders onto the tabletop to attack your opponent’s provinces, and crush their stronghold to win the game. Use ‘attachments’ to your characters, and ‘holdings’ to improve the abilities of your provinces.

But Legend of the Five Rings’ main mechanical flavour stems from its ‘fate’ system. You might arrange a killer frontline that will have your enemy weak at the knees, but characters won’t stick around for long. On each turn, every played character loses one ‘fate token’. If their token count drops to zero, they’re swept out of play.

Prop up your most powerful characters with extra tokens, and try to anticipate which cards will be of most use in the upcoming rounds. Of course, you can also play offensively, removing tokens from your opponent’s characters, and wiping clean their side of the table.

For all its acclaim, publisher Fantasy Flight axed Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game in 2021. But the mammoth supply of previously-released boosters and sets still provides much content to dig into. Plus, there’s always the Legend of the Five Rings roleplaying game, if you need to satiate that mythical-Feudal-Japan itch.

Arkham Horror The Card Game

The best story focused collectible card game ever made.

Core set deals
Arkham Horror The Card Game specifications:
Original release date November 15, 2016
Publisher Fantasy Flight Games
Reasons to buy
  • Authentic, well written eldritch horror stories in each campaign
  • Deck-building experience gets better as you add expansions
  • Card art and general aesthetics are gorgeous
Reasons to avoid
  • Exploring locations RPG-style is a little clunky in card form
  • Quite a steep difficulty curve when you first start
  • A run of bad luck can result in punishing defeats

The card game variant of Fantasy Flight’s much-acclaimed Lovecraftian board game of the same name, Arkham Horror The Card Game is a living card game of eldritch mystery, and one of the best horror board games around. Played as a solo board game or cooperatively across a persistent campaign, you’ll assume the role of an investigator, following a breadcrumb trail of phantasmal peculiarities, and otherworldly insanity, through the haunted streets and decrepit houses of Arkham.

Investigators are split into classes, and you’ll have to build a bespoke action deck to overcome the many monsters and traps thrown your way. But Arkham Horror plays out as more of a mystery game than an action scenario. Explore new locations to uncover their secrets, and attempt to fulfil the objectives of the scenario before you succumb to a loss of sanity, or meet a grizzly end at the appendages of some tentacular horror.

Despite the glut of Lovecraftian tabletop offerings out there, Arkham Horror: The Card Game might have a good claim to capturing the cosmic mystique and psychological absurdity of the Cthulhu-mythos best. Each scenario of the many, many expansions, feels true to form but has enough variance in storytelling and setting so as not to feel overplayed.

But the game’s brilliance comes from its persistence. Played through a series of set scenarios, your choices have lasting effects on the unfolding plot of later missions. Your investigator will twist and squirm under the horrors that you uncover, adding a nice RPG flavor to the card game.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions

The best Warhammer trading card game.

Booster box deals
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions specifications:
Original release date April 16, 2019
Publisher Games Workshop
Reasons to buy
  • Card-rotating ‘cooldown’ mechanic is fun and distinctive
  • Superb card art and production quality is a joy for AoS fans
Reasons to avoid
  • Almost no active community to play with
  • Future releases for the game look doubtful

Did you know Warhammer Age of Sigmar has a spin-off trading card game? We bet you didn’t. Despite some fanfare when it launched in 2018, Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions quickly fell off the radar, and has been widely overlooked by Warhammer enthusiasts, and card game aficionados alike.

But behind a poorly-publicized physical release, and a monetarily predatory digital adaptation, lies a quick-fire, streamlined trading card game with all the beautiful art of your favorite Age of Sigmar armies that you could hope for. Align yourself with the Grand Alliance of Order, Chaos, Destruction, or Death, and play cards to field units, cast spells, and summon powerful ‘Champions’ to do battle in the best way possible – assailing your opponent with physical harm of every kind possible.

Your ultimate objective is to run down the health of your opponent, but unique ‘quest objectives’ will have you deploying certain units, or using specific abilities, to accrue extra buffs, and hasten your victory. Card order and the arrangement of unit lanes is also important for resolving ability effects, encouraging some forward planning and positional thinking.

With decks consisting of only 38 cards, and matches lasting around 20 minutes, Champions works best when played fast. Plus, getting to play Archaon the Everchosen, and namecheck other Warhammer beloveds, feels pretty great. The fact that the game flopped also means that you’ll have no trouble picking up cards from retailers, or second-hand, for very cheap.

For more TCG content, read our lists on the best Pokemon cards, and the most expensive Yugioh cards – not to toot our own horn, but there’s some pretty great stuff there.