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| 1. May 2021

Top Digital Card Games for Mobile in 2021

Digital cards games are still as popular as ever in 2021 and, in fact, have gotten a “new lease on life” thanks to a myriad of different reasons — chief among them being mobile gaming. CCGs are, in a way, almost exclusively digital nowadays. Now sure, there are still millions folks around the globe who collect physical cards and buy booster packs and whatnot, but the number of such devoted, ardent enthusiasts pales in comparison to those who game digitally.

Playing in person is always better, but it’s not vogue anymore (at least not as it once was). This is especially true given the current state of the world and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Digital, therefore, seems like a fairly good alternative — one that is endlessly less expensive and void of any hassle. You just whip out your phone, press an icon on your home screen, and you’re good to go. And it is precisely this influx of mobile gamers that has pushed card digital CCGs into the mainstream.

Mobile Gaming — The Most Lucrative Option These Days

Such a diverse (often “casual”) playerbase is a prerequisite for a thriving CCG, one that can sustain itself in the long run. And, naturally, with mobile gaming being all the rage these days, it should come as no surprise that most publishers and developers are scrambling to port their CCGs over to Android and iOS — they have to meet their players where they’re at.

Fortunately, with digital card games being relatively undemanding in terms of hardware (and today’s mobile devices being so incredibly advanced and powerful), you’re able to enjoy these stellar titles on-the-go as if you were playing on a full-fledged gaming PC. We’re talking 1:1 ports with full feature parity. That, in short, is simply mind-blowing! And it all looks and plays so incredibly well — “smooth as butter,” as they say.

So, let’s go over the most popular digital card games that are available on mobile today.

The following list applies to both iOS and Android.

Legends of Runeterra

Riot’s first foray into the digital CCG genre has been nothing short of spectacular — and we really do mean it! Their take is by no means as layered as some of the games listed below, but it has a unique advantage: a pre-existing world rich with exciting storylines and a slew of idiosyncratic champions, most of whom have become a staple part of pop culture. As if that wasn’t enough, the folks over at Riot obviously know what they’re doing as they’ve already delivered a product that is staggeringly fleshed out and feature-rich.

Legends of Runeterra is as easy to pick up as it is hard to put down — the perfect combination most of us crave. Once you reach a certain point in your life (the point when free time becomes a scarce commodity), you really don’t have the luxury of sitting down and going through thousands of cards, theory-crafting the most mind-blowing decks and whittling away for hours on end. Instead, you just want something that’s light and fast-paced, a game that won’t overwhelm you with the granular details and a slew of overly complex strategies and combinations.

This isn’t the most complex CCG out there, but that’s far from a bad thing; in fact, it’s the perfect game to start with if you’re looking to dip your toes in the genre!

Hearthstone

This perennial CCG needs no introduction. Hearthstone has “only” been out for about seven years and yet it already holds an enviable position in the pantheon of all-time great CCGs. Seven years is by no means a meager amount of time, but it certainly pales in comparison to MTG’s three decade’s worth of history.

Now, Hearthstone has had its fair share of ups and downs, primarily because it shifted from free-to-play to pay-to-win — to the dismay and disappointment of many. Blizzard’s (let’s put it euphemistically) idiosyncratic approach to balancing didn’t help out either. A game is only free as long as there’s no paywall behind it. If you’re forced into buying the latest and greatest (not to mention most expensive) cards, then you can’t really find much success, especially if you’re into climbing the ranked ladder.

Fortunately, Blizzard eventually saw the error in their ways and have made numerous quality-of-life improvements, most of which have revitalized the game in all the right ways.

Hearthstone isn’t as popular as it was during its heyday, but it’s still a mighty good game, and is more than worth your time and attention.

Magic the Gathering: Arena

This is a brand-new addition to the list, and it’s definitely been a long time coming. The folks over at Wizards of the Coast sure did take their sweet time in making it, but at least it’s been worth the wait! Magic the Gathering: Arena is every bit as good on mobile as it is on PC. And that, given its depth and complexity, is nothing short of awe-inspiring! Now you can truly enjoy the beauty of MTG wherever you go, although it’s best to game on a slightly larger screen, given just how complicated a standard MTG board can get.

The game is still in early access at the time of this writing, but it’s surprisingly polished and has full feature parity which means you’re getting the whole MTG experience on-the-go! All in all, for those who are partial to the depth, history, and nuance that MTG brings to the table, this is pretty much a “must play!”

GWENT: The Witcher Card Game

Now, Gwent is by no means as popular and omnipresent as, say, Hearthstone (or any other game on this list, for that matter), but that doesn’t mean it’s unworthy of your time and attention — quite the contrary! It is every bit as polished and well-rounded as you’d expect, given CD Projekt Red’s pedigree! (we’ll ignore Cyberpunk 2077 for the sake of this argument) We’re talking high-resolution splash art, smooth animations, transitions, VFX, and everything in between! There’s also a thorough tutorial that’ll introduce you to the game and its many layers.

If none of the games listed above managed to pique your interest, make sure to give Gwent a try — it’s much better than you’d expect, and is far more entertaining and layered than you could ever imagine!