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Scott’s Toy Box: Deck Building

This month I wanted to learn how to play deck-building games. I had never played a deck-building game before and thought it would be fun to learn. First, I found out that some games that I thought were deck-building games were actually called collectible card games. The difference between these two games is that in collectible card games you purchase cards in sets and build your deck outside of the game. Then playing the game consists of you attempting to defeat an opponent and their deck of card with yours. In deck-building games you buy one box of cards and that’s all you need to play. Part of the game is creating the deck that you battle with and both opponents use the same cards to create their deck. So now knowing that distinction, let’s dive into the games that I played around with.


The first game credited for the deck-building genre is Dominion. Dominion has a middle age theme. The game is set up with stacks of cards on the table. On one side you have properties that give you victory points you will be collecting to win the game and on the other side you have coins that value from 1-3, which you use to buy the properties. In between the two sides are several different stacks of cards that you also buy and add into your deck. Each card has its own different power, which is easy to understand. You have three phases on your turn: an action phase, a buy phase and a clean up phase. You start each turn with one action; here you play one of the cards that buy from the middle. If the card gives you more actions you can continue playing action cards, but if not you move to the buy phase, even if you have more action cards in you hand. In the buy phase you have one buy (unless an action card gives you more buys) where you play all the money in your hand and buy one card (possibly more) from anywhere on the table. In the clean up phase you discard all the cards you’ve played, have bought, and the leftovers in your hand into a discard pile. You then draw a hand of 5 cards. If you run out of cards in your deck, you only reshuffle your discard pile when you need to draw another card. The game continues until either all of the Providence cards have been taken (the highest of the property cards) or until three of the decks you are buying from (action cards, properties, money cards) have been emptied. You then add up all of the property cards and whoever has the most points wins. Dominion can be found for $29 on but I was able play it on my computer at for free (you do have to sign up to unlock most of the game).

DC Deck-Building Game

Next is the DC Deck-Building Game. It’s similar to Dominion but also very different. In this game you play as one of the icon Superheroes from DC Comics and your objective is to defeat the Super Villains. Power is used to buy cards and instead of several decks of cards in the middle, there is one main deck of cards that can be bought with a line of five cards being shown for purchase (the main deck replacing what has been bought at the end of turns). There is also a deck of Kick cards that you can buy if you can’t afford any of the cards in the line that will increase the power of a future hand. You aren’t limited to 1 action & 1 buy during your turn. You can do as much as the cards in your hand will allow and cards will have both actions and power on them. Play continues until all of the Super Villains have been defeated or if the main deck of cards has run out. Every card has victory points which sounds like a lot of adding but if you separate the number values (most of them being 1) and start with the cards that have the highest and add down it takes no time to add up your deck. DC Deck-building Game can be found on Amazon for $34.

Magic the Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers board game

Although Magic the Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers board game is based on the collectible card game titles Magic the Gathering, everything you need to play it comes in the box. You get 35 figures, 6 pieces of the board to create the arena, cards with powers on them and dice to combat with. In this game your turn consists of drawing a card, choose which figure you’re in control of to play for that turn, moving them, and attacking with them. The cards in your hand can be used either before you more or after you attack. There are three scenarios in the book that show you how to set up the board, the goal of the scenario, and how to obtain victory, either by accomplishing the goal or after a certain number of turns. If the game ends when the turns run out then you gain points based on how many figures you still have on the board. Magic the Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers board game can be found on Amazon for $30 and expansion packs with new figures will release in January so look out for that.

About The Author

M Scott Anderson

M. Scott Anderson grew up in Hattiesburg and now currently lives in Jackson. He went to college at USM and got a degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. He has always loved to be a storyteller. Friends from childhood would tell him of stories he would say he’s writing that included them in it. He enjoys comic books and superheroes and loves having friends over to play both table top games and video games.

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