Deck Builders Round Up

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Deckbuilders! I love 'em. Slay the Spire got me into this genre digitally, after originally feeling the pull of Magic the Gathering in the late 90's. After over a hundred hours playing Slay the Spire, the classic that invigorated the whole genre, I had the bug, bad. So since late 2019 I’ve been hunting for more. MOAR! Here’s a round up of a few favourites.

Let’s start with a couple of Proton-only titles, then look at the native options.

Neoverse [Steam]

(Note: Proton)

Yes, this is full of scantily-clad, over-sexualised ladies, thanks for noticing. Judge me all you like, but after landing this in a Humble Bundle, I was gobsmacked at how good it is and I stand by that assessment.

This is the game in this round up most like Slay the Spire, and like its inspiration (it launched almost exactly one year later), each of the three characters have very different styles. The right amount of challenge combines with surprisingly deep gameplay and brilliant synergies if you land the right cards. Well worth playing.

Tainted Grail: Conquest [Steam, GOG]

(Note: Proton. Also, I didn’t test the GOG version under Lutris/Wine, apologies)

Another single-player vs the world game, but this time, with a beautifully realised 3D world which acts as the map. The map has a clever lighting mechanic which revolves around a dwindling torch, driving the gameplay forward. Some unusual design choices in this one – for example just a single “block” will block ALL damage from one source, while other stats drive armour and dodge. There’s a lot going on and it’s pretty challening, but beautfully done. I've not played much yet, but it looks like there's about 7 characters to unlock.

Across the Obelisk [Steam]

Still in early access, but showing a lot of promise, this is the first "team" game I'm covering - this features a cast of four characters from different classes. The mechanics are under heavy development, but there's a nice combination of in-game progress as you build your deck and between-run progress as you build up city resources. There’s also the glimmering of a cool story developing already, and the lore of a fantasy world recovering after decades of conflict. Already fully playable for multiple hours, this is also one to keep an eye on if you prefer the finished product, as I suspect it’s going to be pretty special.

Roguebook [Steam]

My personal favourite, this game revolves around a party of two taking on a series of challenges inspired by the developer's other game, Faeria. Amazing (truly AMAZING) synergies are at play here, allowing you to develop awesome teamwork with much less RNG than Slay the Spire.

I honestly can’t recommend it enough. Full of character, an incredible overland map mechanic, inventive challenge system, beautiful graphics, clear, clean gameplay – it’s a must-buy in my opinion.

Hadean Tactics [Steam]

I’ve covered this one before and it continues to develop apace, as you can see when Liam covered it 6 months later for its huge content update. It’s the combination of classic deck building with grid-based auto-battling which makes this so unique and compelling.

The auto-battling is frantic, but freezes every 7 seconds to allow you to spend your three energy by playing cards from your draw pile. Your tactics here can deal damage, boost allies or reposition units, which all follow their own rules about how they attack on the field of battle. Intense and unusual.

 

Honourable mentions

Steamworld: Hand of Gilgamech [Steam, GOG]

Much more story-based than the others I've mentioned, but still recommended. Some synergies, much more limited deck-building, but because it's driven by its narrative, there's much more of a slow-burn going on here.

Dicey Dungeons [Steam, GOG]

This one hopefully needs no introduction. Is it really a deck builder? I don’t really care about pigeon-holing it – it’s great, and deserves to be played!

Deep Sky Derelicts [Steam, GOG]

A brilliant sci-fi team-based deck-builder. I recommend sticking to it for a while, because it starts out very slowly. It pays off in the longer run though.

 

If you have any other deck-building suggestions, holler in the comments!

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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I'm a Scottish Ubuntu user since 2006 and an Ubuntu-only gamer since 2013. I used to contribute to GOL's Funding Crowd articles, but now contribute the odd article directly, most recently the Play It Now series.

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15 comments
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AciD a day ago
You forgot Griftlands, Gordian Quest and Fate hunters ;)
Furyspark a day ago
You also forgot Last Evil. :P

Still, a good list to have for this genre.
scaine a day ago
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Quoting: AciDYou forgot Griftlands, Gordian Quest and Fate hunters ;)
Griftlands! How did I forget that! I love Klei games. Never heard of Gordian Quest - thanks for that. And yep, Fate Hunters is excellent and of course there's the "spiritual remake" of that, Dreamgate, also excellent.

Quoting: FurysparkYou also forgot Last Evil. :P
Never heard of it! Incredibly, it looks even more gratuitous than Neoverse!

And separately, just yesterday, a couple of days after writing this article (even though it only got published today), I bought Incryption, which is also worth a shout out, because it's just all kinds of awesome and even has a Linux beta.
Helvedeshunden a day ago
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I think the most interesting by far is Inscryption. Deck building combined with overarching narrative, escape room and a table-top D&D-vibe really makes it stand out.

Black Book is a decent Slay the Spire-wannabe, too, with a witch theme. I only tried the prologue, though.


Last edited by Helvedeshunden on 14 May 2022 at 12:20 pm UTC
Furyspark a day ago
Quoting: scaine
Quoting: FurysparkYou also forgot Last Evil. :P
Never heard of it! Incredibly, it looks even more gratuitous than Neoverse!

That's putting it mildly. ^^
jaylittle a day ago
Monster Train is a pretty good one as well I think. Worth checking out.
eldaking a day ago
Good write-up, though there are of course many more - with Slay the Spire and its exceptional success, "Roguelite deckbuilder" truly became a new genre. I am partial to Monster Train and Griftlands, but there are others I want to check - though I usually just play Slay the Spire until I burn out, wait and repeat. :P

An interesting thing I'd like to point out is that "deckbuilders" take their base mechanic from boardgames, in which it is both a big genre and one of the (relatively few) big "fundamental" mechanics (things as basic as "area control", "push your luck", "worker placement", "hand management", "variable player order", "engine building", etc). The mechanic was first introduced with the boardgame Dominion, still a very popular game though a bit "basic" considering all the things that were done thing. Dominion recently got a digital adaptation (in early access): https://store.steampowered.com/app/1131620/Dominion/

Other digital boardgames include "Ascension: Deckbuilding Game", "Aeon's End", and "Star Realms" and "Cthulhu Realms" (similar but differently themed games, the base version is free). Those boardgames, of course, lack the roguelite mechanics introduced by Slay the Spire, they are "just" deckbuilders.

I should also point that "deckbuilder" as a genre has nothing to do with CCGs, card battlers and other games where you build your deck before the game - it is a genre of game where you build your deck during the match, where selecting what cards to add to the deck (or remove from it) is the basic gameplay (and not a "meta-game" separate from the "game").


Last edited by eldaking on 15 May 2022 at 10:57 am UTC
skye a day ago
A few personal notes on some of the games as someone who really enjoys these types of games and traditional roguelikes:

Neoverse: I was initially very turned off by the visuals because they were overly flashy, anime themed and sexual but I eventually tried it because I had a key from a bundle and ended up up enjoying the gameplay a bunch. If you like these types of games but don't like the ui it might be worth considering playing this game anyways, it does some fun unique stuff that I haven't seen in other games. If you like overly flashy anime themed games where characters clothes blow off and also card based roguelikes then you should definitively try this

Hadean Tactics: I've been really enjoying this game. The auto-battling adds some interesting strategic elements, it has some pretty interesting unit based strategy etc and the devs really seem to be putting their heart into it. I'm often still finding new strategies after playing it a bunch which is a great sign for games like this.

Deep Sky Derelicts: This game wasn't perfect but I think the way unit equips were both stat boosts and your deck pool alongside a unit talent tree was a really neat way to do deckbuilders that added a lot of strategic tension. Also the in game quests felt unique and interesting which added a lot of charm to the game. I'd love to see a sequel.


Last edited by skye on 14 May 2022 at 1:27 pm UTC
hatniX a day ago
Another one, I like to play is Nowhere Prophet (available on Itch, GOG, Steam).
Eike a day ago
From the heading, I really thought this would be a round-up of people building a new version of their game for Steam Deck. :D
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