The 16 Best Card Games on Nintendo Switch

Monster Train
Image credit: Shiny Shoe

The best card games on Nintendo Switch perfectly blend on the fly strategy with keen preparation. While luck certainly plays a major factor, it’s up to the player to create favorable circumstances in the first place.

For video games, card games are broken down into three subgenres. First, traditional card games, where you use the standard 52-card deck. Second, trading card games or collectible card games, where the goal is both to battle and amass a collection.

The last genre is the virtual card game, which is a catch-all term for the many digital card-based video games available. These games can take advantage of their medium and offer an experience real-life can’t replicate.

Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch is ripe with a great selection of card games. The portability of the console truly shines here, as you can have a quick session in between traveling.

It also works during lengthy campaigns, as you could take as many breaks as you wish. These are the 16 best card games on Nintendo Switch; while they all offer different mechanics, they are all pretty solid in what they seek to accomplish.

Virtual Card Games

Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire takes a few straightforward mechanics and polishes it to the highest level. Interesting enemy design, difficult bosses, and expressive cards make this one of the best indie games on Nintendo Switch.

Play as one of the four unlockable characters, each with their unique set of cards. As you learn and master the game, you’ll find out which cards synergize and bring out the best in each other.

Slay the Spire encourages you to create a lean and specialized deck. There are many opportunities to remove cards from your deck, generally at the cost of something else.

Because of the roguelike nature of the game, you’ll have to create a build on the fly based on what cards and relics are given to you. As a result, the game is endlessly replayable as it constantly forces you to try new playstyles each run.

The game lets you know what your enemies will do at the end of each turn. This creates a tense and strategic gameplay as you’ll try to deal as much damage while simultaneously mitigating what you’ll take.

Slay the Spire has demanding bosses who will happily send you back to the start if you’re playing suboptimally. You’ll quickly develop a fun, all-or-nothing playstyle as you attempt to collect as many relics and good cards before the gatekeeper of the act.

Finally, when you think you’ve conquered the challenge, it throws its Ascension system, where the game becomes harder each time you win. Slay the Spire is an essential pick up as it is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is undoubtedly one of the best open-world games on Nintendo Switch. While it is commonly praised for its compelling narrative, its in-universe playable card game called Gwent was a surprise hit and even spawned a thriving, standalone online game.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is a spin-off of the Witcher games, where you play as warrior Queen Meve. However, your personal army and combat are represented through a revised and improved version of Gwent.

Gwent is a strategic bluffing game where you have to win two out of three rounds by having a higher score than your opponent. A big twist on the genre is that you can’t traditionally draw cards until the end of the round, forcing you to think carefully about each unit you put down.

You’ll be exploring the Witcher universe from an isometric perspective between battles. Here, you’ll look for hidden treasures, puzzles, quests, and people to help on your journey.

Thronebreaker is more than a card game, it is an engaging RPG as well. There are choices to be made with varying consequences that will change the story.

Thronebreaker gives us more Witcher, and most importantly, more Gwent. It is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch, and a worthwhile singleplayer experience.

Monster Train First Class

Monster Train sees you control clans that are denizens of the underworld protecting the last burning pyre to unfreeze hell. Repel heaven’s assault on a moving train in one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch.

Monster Train lets you choose two clans for your current run. While you can collect cards from both factions, you’ll only have the champion card of your primary clan.

At the beginning of the run, you’ll be able to view the whole route including the bosses gatekeeping each zones. You’ll have more than enough time to tweak your deck for the final confrontation.

Combat takes place on three vertical train compartments, with the fourth floor holding the pyre, which acts as your health. After each turn, enemies will attack first before you. Then, any enemy left alive will ascend one floor.

You have to place and assist defenders to defeat invading divine forces using cards, like a tower defense game. Cards like spells and buffs will be recycled when your deck resets, but units can only be placed once per battle.

Monster Train may seem complicated, but it’s surprisingly intuitive and easy to comprehend. Once you do master it, you’ll go up another Covenant rank, which adds more difficulty modifiers to the subsequent runs.

Additionally, the game is a visual treat. Every card effect and monster is beautifully animated. Once you get the hang of the game, it is hard to stop playing after just one run. After Slay the Spire, this is the game where I have the most played hours.

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech masterfully combines turn-based RPG mechanics with a card-based combat system. If you care as much for the linear story rather than just playing cards, SteamWorld Quest is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch for that.

SteamWorld Quest is the fifth installment to this steampunk franchise. In this standalone adventure, take control of five steam-powered robots on a mission to stop the evil Void army.

Before combat, you have to choose three playable characters for your team. Each character can bring up to eight unique cards, with their stats, equipment, and level affecting the potency of its effects.

Swapping around characters and switching cards is part of the fun of Steamworld Quest. You can choose to dedicate party members as defensive supports, healers, damage dealers, or a healthy mix of all.

There’s a big emphasis on team synergy in the game. There’s a mechanic called Tag Team Combo where you’ll have an extra effect after playing certain cards after a matching team member.

Another mechanic called Heroic Chain, lets one character shine during the round. Playing three cards from the same character in one round gives them a unique fourth card. For example, the elemental powerhouse Copernica’s Heroic Chain grants a team-wide shield.

As the game is an RPG, you’ll have to deal with status effects, resistances, and weaknesses too. It is also important to balance out your party’s elemental damage to account for the different enemies.

Griftlands

Griftlands has various elements in play to deliver a cohesive narrative told through three playable characters. Part visual novel, part immersive sim, part science-fiction role-playing game, and part roguelite deckbuilder, it is one the best card games on Nintendo Switch with a compelling story.

Play as either Sal, a bounty hunter, Rook, a retired captain, or Smith, an alien described as a colossal walking disaster. Navigate through these characters’ personal narratives that even intersect at times.

There are two approaches to card-based battle system. The first is called Combat, where you battle enemies using cards as attacks, and the second is through Negotiations, where cards are deployed as arguments to convince or threaten.

Choices and consequences extend from the result of battle as well. For example, choosing whether or not to spare your enemies will affect your reputation.

Reputation is an important element in the game, as this affects how factions and characters treat you. It is best to avoid notoriety and making plenty of enemies.

Upgrades are contextualized seamlessly in Griftlands. You have to visit shops in the overworld in order to enhance your cards, and even buy pets to assist you in battle!

Griftlands lets you use the money earned during the run in different ways, like spending it at shops or bribing a guard to look the other way. As with everything else in the game, the way you approach the game matters most.

Cardpocalypse: Time Warp Edition

Cardpocalypse takes you on a nostalgic trip where you get to play as an elementary kid during the 90s. Meet and battle new friends, collect cards, and rig the rules of the game in your favor in one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch.

Jess and her friends are addicted to Mega Mutant Power Pets, a popular TV show, and card game. However, after the school bans the game, you resort to playing it in secret.

Not only that, but the characters from the show started spilling out into the real world. You’ll have to battle both friends and monsters in this story-driven role-playing game.

The core of Cardpocalypse’s combat centers around your champion. You have to bring down the health of your opponent’s champion to win, while simultaneously protecting yours.

You can summon minions and other cards by using food. Food is refreshed every turn and increases by one point, letting you summon bigger cards. Most of these cards are hilarious animal-based puns.

When a champion reaches half health, they transform into their mega state. This empowered form grants them new effects that will help turn the tide in their favor.

After some battles, you can change the rules of the game for future encounters. For example, you can increase the attack power of cards with a certain effect.

After beating the campaign, you can try the combat-heavy Gauntlet mode. This strips away the story and lets you play a roguelike-style game mode, where you fight until you lose.

Nowhere Prophet

Nowhere Prophet is a complicated game to understand. However, if you can power through all its intricacies and steep learning curve, it is truly one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch.

Choose between different religious prophets and lead your followers to the Crypt across the dangerous Soma desert. The long trek is filled with many hazards, especially from other survivors.

During combat, you’ll pull from two separate decks. The Leader Deck depends on your Prophet, and represents their abilities. While Convoy Deck represents each of your individual followers.

Positioning is an important element during fights, as you have to place the cards in a grid of columns and rows. You want to lead and assist your followers to bring down the opposing leader’s health to zero.

These cards are your followers, so if they die during combat they’re permanently gone from your convoy. If they don’t die but incurred damage, they’ll be injured and will stay that way until healed.

Followers who landed the finished blow on an enemy will become Blessed. It’s an important buff that increases their attack, only losing it the next time they’re attacked.

Out of combat, you have to lead your convoy through a series of nodes representing locations and events. Moving around the overworld costs food and hope, adding a survival element to the game.

Exploring the overworld to scavenge for gear, supplies, and recruiting new followers is essential to overcoming the difficult game. A full run is quite long, which means it is perfect for the portability the Switch provides.

Cultist Simulator: Initiate Edition

Cultist Simulator is a strange game to describe and summarize. The game itself tells you that there’s no tutorial, and half of the fun is discovering its mechanics.

Generally, there are two groups of cards in the game: cards and actions (also known as verbs). You have to place action cards within cards to produce different effects. These effects can produce more cards and even more action cards, and so on and so forth.

The win conditions for your run depend on your character’s choice. There are mundane and minor victory conditions like having a successful job and retiring, and there are more esoteric endings like realizing the endgame of your cult.

Following that trend, there are also many conditions for you to lose your run. For example, you could fail to survive if you succumb to disease or starvation, or get arrested if you can’t shake off the police. Other losing conditions are going mad and even losing to another rival cult.

Cultist Simulator is all about experimentation, and it is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch because of that. You have to find out what works for you, or just explore all the possible scenarios in the game.

Meanwhile, the game will keep you entertained with its atmospheric music and stellar writing. Cultist Simulator knows how to keep you immersed and lost, both narratively and mechanically.

Roguebook: Deluxe Edition

From the developers of Faeria, Roguebook is a roguelite deckbuilder with a fairytale aesthetic ripped straight from a storybook. Control two legendary heroes and watch them grow stronger in one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch.

In each run, you’ll get to choose from two heroes from Roguebook’s rich roster. Whoever you choose to lead the party will activate their unique bonus. For example, Sharra, one of the first characters, gains +3 power when she’s holding the front.

During combat, the hero in the front will be the one to soak up damage from enemies. Make sure to defend or swap your heroes to mitigate their damage.

Unlocking these characters and testing out how they synergize is part of the fun. Additionally, the more you play a hero the more you’ll expand their pool of cards, opening up more combos.

Your heroes are trapped inside a storybook, and you have to guide them to escape. The world map is initially closed off for exploration.

You have to carefully use a magic brush to reveal areas on the map. Then, you’ll be able to travel to access events and combat encounters.

Acquiring treasures and gems will boost your stats in combat. Particularly, you have to manually apply gems to your cards out of combat. These gems have various effects and are important for higher difficulties.

While most deckbuilders encourage a leaner and meaner deck, Roguebook is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch because of its talent system. At certain deck sizes, powerful talents will unlock depending on your hero.

After beating the game once, you unlock Epilogue levels, which scales the difficulty of the game by adding modifiers. Increasing the difficulty lets you earn more lore pages, which you’ll use to upgrade a hero’s stats.

Hand of Fate 2

Hand of Fate 2 mixes a real-time RPG combat with a roguelite deckbuilder to supplement your adventure. These two seemingly disjointed mechanics go hand-in-hand to create one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch.

Hands of Fate 2 feels like you’re witnessing a great dungeon master at work. You’ll be up against the mysterious Dealer, the primary narrator, card dealer, and board game master.

The game offers 22 quests to go through and explore. These quests have their own unique objectives and special rules to follow.

In every quest, you’ll roleplay as a distinct character suited for that scenario. Then, you’ll have the option to choose your own adventure by expressing yourself with different choices.

These quests are the highlight of the game, and seek to contextualize your actions using cards. My favorite quest is the Hierophant, where you need to discover clues to sniff out which assassin is planning to kill another character.

You’re also free to tackle these quests in any order you wish. So, if you find yourself having a hard time with one scenario, you could always come back with better cards and items.

Rewards are given in the form of cards to help progress further adventures. You’ll receive gear to improve your character, resources to survive, and even companions to assist you during combat. Sometimes, you’ll have a chance to trade with merchants.

Speaking of combat, you’ll be thrust into a real-time combat system if you can’t handle an encounter diplomatically. Combat is sticky and snappy, similar to the Batman: Arkham games or even Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.

While combat is relatively simple, campaigns are fairly long and small mistakes will see you lose by attrition. Make sure your dodges and parries are on point, as your decreased health can prove fatal during future encounters.

Hand of Fate 2 is beautifully presented, especially concerning its fantastic voice acting. It’s a fast-paced RPG for you to get your questing fix in bite-sized chunks.

Frost

Frost is a cold and punishing single-player survival game. Lead a band of survivors to Refuge through a frozen world plagued by a harsh snowstorm.

First and foremost, the looming snowstorm “Frost” is hot on your survivor’s tails, represented on the top left corner of the screen. When the counter drops to zero, you and your survivors perish.

You have to outpace the lethal snowstorm by committing resources to travel through regions. However, gathering these resources is the hard part, as you have to delegate your survivors to hunt and scavenge for them.

These survivors can grow fatigued, injured, and even die. You have to make sure to dedicate enough time for rest too.

Aside from that, there are random events that could potentially hurt your group if you don’t have the resources or the right hand to conquer it. Another hard choice is deciding between taking the damage yourself and risk losing, or sacrificing a survivor to take the fall.

Idea cards have powerful effects that can buy you precious time and save you resources. However, these cards are scarce so you have to think about when you’ll deploy them.

Frost is a stressful deck management game, but it’s simple and punishing execution makes it one of the best card games on Switch. If you master the core gameplay, there are more modes to test your knowledge, like endless mode or new scenarios.

Monster Slayers

Monster Slayers is a turn-based dungeon-crawling RPG where you battle with cards. While the game is generic and doesn’t seek to innovate, it is still a fun game to further scratch that card game itch.

There are six playable classes with distinct cards and playstyles. For example, if you’re a player who loves big damage numbers at the cost of high mana, Wizards can offer that experience. You can even customize these avatars every run, which is a welcome addition to the game.

If you beat the final boss of the game, you’ll unlock a secondary class for that character. For instance, you’ll have access to the Assassin class if you beat the game using the Rogue.

During combat, cards draw from your Action Points and Mana. You can increase these during the run by equipping better gear or leveling up by defeating monsters.

Companions also alleviate the burden of the battle. They come with game-changing abilities with cooldowns that persist to other battles.

There’s also an element of strategy when moving between the maze-like structure of the dungeon. You’re free to choose which room to enter, as you can see what waits for you in the nearest room.

Persistent upgrades and gear make future runs a bit easier. You could even invest points into a permanent talent tree for your class. However, if you manage to beat the final boss, that character retires and takes their equipped gear along with them.

Finally, if you’re looking for a harder challenge, consider Legendary mode. This mode changes Monster Slayers from a roguelite to a roguelike.

Found gear and items don’t carry over to the next run. Instead, you have to rely on your skill and a little luck to beat the final boss.

Iris and the Giant

Iris and the Giant is a sincere tale about a woman battling her demons and attempting to overcome depression and anxiety. While it comes from a place of sadness, the game is ultimately about overcoming these hurdles.

The main character Iris is first seen struggling during her swimming lesson as other kids are laughing at her. After that, she’s next seen on a boat crossing river Styx inside her imagination.

She’s then dropped to the bottom of a mountain separating the real world from her imagination. You have to help her defeat all the demons on the way to the peak.

Like its metaphorical point, each combat encounter sees you fighting an overwhelming amount of enemies. They come in waves in a grid, and it’s up to you to use your cards to drive them back.

Don’t expect to reach the peak on your first few tries. The game is punishing when you make a single mistake, and you’ll lose a lot of health.

However, through mastery and earning powerful cards, you’ll be able to solve the almost puzzle-like approach to combat. It’s so satisfying to perfectly knock away hordes of enemies without taking a single hit.

It also helps to grind out stars to level up your personality. Personality are your stats that boost combat traits like drawing more cards.

After clearing out the enemies, you can ascend to higher levels. There are optional hidden paths to take that could lead to better treasure, if you’re willing to take on a grueling combat encounter.

Iris and the Giant is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch for how seamlessly it blends its themes with persistent upgrades. Ever so often, you’ll come across Iris’ memories.

These memories delve deeper into her past—the events and reactions that molded her. Gameplay-wise, finding a core memory unlocks a permanent power-up for the titular character, mostly passive bonuses.

Finally, you can choose to bring Imaginary Friends to assist you during the run. While they do have helpful effects, they also have negative modifiers that could catch you off-guard.

Imagine Friends are difficult to unlock, as you mostly have to limit yourself to get them. Expect to dedicate a run with the sole purpose of just acquiring them.

Signs of the Sojourner

Signs of the Sojourner is a special card game on this list. This is one of those rare games without violence, instead, it focuses on creating meaningful relationships during your journey of self-discovery.

The developers describe the cards as representations of your voice. You’ll deploy your cards like a puzzle, with the ultimate goal of connecting to the person and bringing back a valuable item.

You play as a traveling merchant who inherited a shop from your mother. The primary goal of the main character is to collect precious items and trinkets to keep the store afloat so you can stay with the caravan.

For such a peaceful game, it isn’t realistic to create a lasting bond with every single character. Sometimes, your deck just isn’t suited for the conversation, or you don’t draw the right combination.

While the card-based gameplay is simple, it is a great metaphor for how we communicate in our day-to-day lives. There are only so many cards you can reasonably carry, and thus, only so many relationships you can keep.

Signs of the Sojourner has a colorful art style, ambient music, and poignant writing. It is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch, and an important indie title.

Trading/Collectible Card Games

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution

Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution is a treat for any fans of the series and card game. The game is absolutely packed with content and is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch to introduce Yu-Gi-Oh! to newcomers.

Legacy of the Duelist has a lengthy story mode archiving every animated series, from the original adventure all the way to VRAINS starring Yusaku Fujiki. There are over 184 scenarios with 158 characters to experience!

During duels, you’ll normally play as the protagonist. But, there are also duels where you’ll play as other characters, even opting to play as the villain of that fight.

For the campaign, you can choose to use the deck featured in the story, or use your custom-build deck. Legacy of the Duelist features over 10,000 cards up to the Hidden Summoners pack.

Fortunately, there are no microtransactions in the game. You’ll have to grind your way through winning it through duels or purchasing booster packs at the in-game shop.

Of course, you can duel other players locally or through Nintendo’s online service. Aside from regular duels, the Draft and Sealed format also made it into the game. Legacy of the Duelists uses the New Master Rule (April 1, 2020 revision) and features new mechanics like Link Monsters and Pendulum Cards.

Traditional Card Games

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics provides what the title promises, 51 traditional games played around the world. This is one of the best card games on Nintendo Switch to bring during parties, as there’s always a fun game here for everyone.

Clubhouse Games lets you play locally with your friends or even online with other players. You could even play alone with CPUs to get a better grasp of the game.

You’d be spoiled for choice with card games. There’s Texas Hold ’em, Blackjack, President, Sevens, Takoyaki, Speed, Pig’s Tail, Solitaire, and War. Additionally, there’s a game called Last Card that plays exactly like Uno.

If you need a break from card games, there are more to choose from. Including sports games, board games, variety games, party games, and even games from around the world, such as Shogi (Japanese chess) and Mahjong.

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