Choosing the right one trading card game it can be a complicated decision for you. You have to consider not only what you think is the coolest, but also how much it costs and who else is playing in your local area. Fortunately, the genre is more diverse than ever and there are many different paths you can take.
Whether you just want to break out packs and look at pretty cards, want something more anime-themed, or want to get in on the ground floor of a new game and discover it with everyone else, here are the best TCGs to watch in years 2023.
Flesh and blood
The best new TCG
TCG for adults
Developed and published by newcomer Legend Story Studios, this New Zealand TCG launched in 2019 offers a more mature take on the fantasy genre than similar MTGs. Combine this with high value cards to chase and a vibrant personal play scene, and Flesh and Blood will become a force to be reckoned with in the TCG space.
- A mature and hard fantasy world.
- Complex and strategic gameplay.
- Constructed and limited play support.
- It’s hard to find stores that sell it.
- The unique ban system could confuse new players.
- A few balance issues here and there.
Launched in 2019, Flesh and Blood has quickly become one of the biggest potential contenders for Magic: The Gathering’s throne as the fantasy TCG to beat, thanks to its strong focus on collectibles, deep and strategic gameplay, and plenty of in-person events and tournaments.
Flesh and Blood has a darker, more mature tone than most TCGs, being violent, gory and often dark – but still full of amazing world building and the kind of stunning art you’d expect from a TCG. Add to that some really fun, complex gameplay and Flesh and Blood will become a must-see in just a few short years.
Digimon card game
The best TCG for beginners
The second TCG to come out of Namco Bandai’s Digimon series, Digimon Card Game may be a newer addition than most here, but it’s already garnered a dedicated player base and over a dozen deck-building expansions. It features characters from all over the world. DIGimon series like Tai, Agumon, Taiga, or Angoramon, whether you’re a long-time Digimon fan or just curious about the monsters available here, there’s plenty to enjoy without being a newcomer too overwhelmed.
- Easy to learn and has a smaller deck than other games.
- Includes all your favorite Digimon.
- Lower cost than famous games like MTG and Pokemon.
- Because it’s so niche, it might be harder to find a local scene.
- Newer cards tend to be more powerful (prone to ‘power creep’).
- Hard sell if you don’t already like Digimon.
The Digimon card game has been quietly building a reputation in the TCG genre since its launch in 2020. A lively and exciting game full of stunning art, it’s also extremely beginner-friendly and a great way to break into the community.
There are plenty of starter kits to choose from to get you started quickly, or you can pick up a few rebuild packs and start building your own kit with ease. It’s also a good cheap choice – you’ll be able to get a decent collection in no time.
While it’s a great starting point for new TCG players, it’s still relatively niche, meaning you may have to do a bit of digging to find your local scene. Luckily, you’re sure to find someone to play with, as more and more local game stores are hosting events to do just that.
The best TCG anime
It’s time for a dddd-duel!
Yu-Gi-Oh, which began as a manga, completely unrelated to the dueling monsters we know today! has become an extremely successful anime series and TCG. With multiple expansions per year and a slew of special products, the big appeal of Yu-Gi-Oh! his lavish manga art. Choosing your favorite archetypes – from deserts and cute animals to demons and robots – and mastering their strategies also gives you endless learning and mastery.
- Cheaper than other TCGs.
- Fast, highly tactical games.
- Top notch anime art.
- The cards can be difficult to parse.
- A very difficult combination, with many wins on the front row.
- Smaller cards need special sleeves for protection.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a major player in TCGs, having spent over 25 years building on his wild and wonderful selection of characters, aesthetics, and archetypes. After all, no other game will let you build kits that combine cute anime animals, delicious desserts, and Egyptian god dragons.
While it appears that Yu-Gi-Oh! the design a bit dated and the card frames desperately need a visual overhaul, this is still by far the best TCG to get into if you want brilliant anime art, a high skill cap is taken over by fast and combo play.
It’s also much cheaper than other TCGs, with booster packs, boxes, and even the sets themselves costing less than similar games like Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering.
Best for collectors
I have to collect them all!
Based on Nintendo’s mega-hit, the Pokemon TCG has been around for over 25 years, bringing with it thousands of Pokemon, trainers, energy and item cards. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Pokemon is how collectible they are, with older cards being highly sought after (like the famous Shadowless Base Set Charizard) and each expansion adding new alt-art and secret rare cards to hunt.
- Suitable for all ages.
- Beautiful art.
- Lots of promos, rare cards, and alternate art to collect.
- The game is more random than other TCGs.
- Older cards can set you back hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Due to high demand, it is hard to find.
The cool thing about TCGs is that they are collectibles, just like the game. A lot of people put a lot more effort into finding and showing off their rare Pokemon Trading Card Game cards than they do into the game, and Pokemon is happy to oblige.
In addition to the regular cards, each Pokemon expansion is full of secret rares with glorious full art, special holo foiling, and more, making cracking booster packs more exciting. If that’s not enough for you, Pokemon regularly releases specials like 2021’s Celebrations or 2023’s Crown Zenith that give you the chance to get exclusive promotional cards that can’t be found anywhere else!
But if you want to get into big collecting, be prepared to drop some serious cash. The rarest cards only appear at auction once in a blue moon, and even then they often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whether you want to break packs or go for the best, Pokemon is a great way to get into the trading side of card games.
Magic: The Gathering
The best overall
30 years old and strong.
Created by Richard Garfield in 1993, Magic: The Gathering is considered the world’s first card game. With hundreds of decks, tens of thousands of cards, and dozens of different rule sets (known as “formats”) to play with, this is a tactically dense game full of discovery and creativity.
- Tens of thousands of cards.
- An almost infinite number of strategies.
- Stunning art.
- Learning can be intimidating.
- It’s hard to keep up with the constant releases.
- It can be expensive.
The granddaddy of all trading card games, Magic: The Gathering popularized the idea of trading cards and has been going strong for over three decades since. Set in a vibrant multiverse with worlds inspired by everything from gothic horror to cyberpunk, each edition takes you somewhere new and exciting with lavishly illustrated maps.
More than just pretty pictures, Magic is a deep and complex strategy game with an almost unlimited number of decks you can build. Best of all, Magic isn’t really one game: between formats like Standard, Pioneer, Modern, and the ever-popular Commander, you can change the way you play the game and always find new ways to breathe life into it.
MTG’s long history can make the starter intimidating for newcomers, but if you can crack it, you’ll find one of the most rewarding TCGs. Just don’t expect it to be cheap, as Magic releases new sets every few months and keeping up with new cards turns it into a complete hobby!
NEXT: Magic: The Gathering – Best WUBRG Commanders