I started playing board games heavily around August of last year. Taking a chance on a meet up, I found some really cool (and stressful) moments of the night that piqued my interest. The best part about it was that I met up with some amazing players and we now get together regularly to play. One of the more common board game genres I played while learning the ropes was card drafting.
Card drafting games are games where players are tasked with picking up cards to collect in their hand. Assembling hands of cards, they are to be used in either long-term game play or used immediately to gain an advantage on players. Card drafting games ensure players have options, not just pulling from a deck. The main focus, as you guessed, is managing your cards. Pairing them, strategically discarding, and playing select ones at the right time are the sole purpose of card drafting.
Adulting is hard, so a break with a board game may just be the outing you, your friends or family are looking for! If you’re not sure where to start and more importantly invest, I compiled a list of newcomer-friendly card drafting games so you can dive right in!
Sushi Go! is a GREAT, affordable game for all ages. Adults and kids alike can get into Sushi Go!
Sushi Go! is based on conveyer-belt sushi restaurants in Japan where patrons sit in front of an ever-moving conveyer-belt stacked with different forms of sushi. You pick your sushi as it moves by! Cute, right?
Keeping the movement in mind, the core foundation of Sushi Go! plays very subtle card drafting aspects: players are dealt cards to make a full hand, play one card to put in their inventory, then pass their hand to the player left of them.
Each turn, you will have to manipulate your next move to benefit you or bring misfortune to the person you pass your hand to. This concept of deck building – of thinking ahead – is very useful and typical, but what makes this game so much fun is how unpredictable it is! Our table has had endless amounts of fun drama, heartbreak, and triumphs (with sticking people with certain cards).
Sushi Go! is a fun and easy to grasp game that can see the table within 10 minutes of explanation. This is one of its greatest assets – a quick explanation and simple gameplay has made this a frequently played game at our house.
DON’T WORRY, YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE IT
Sushi Go! is colorful and cute for such a basic concept with nothing but cards to be played. It’ll be a definite hit for kids with siblings they can toss some crappy cards at. Nan Rangsima does a great job bringing the theme of sushi train restaurants to life.
The plethora of different cards will keep game plays fresh – I try not to always go for the tempura, sushi, or dumplings. Depending on how others play, the game can change drastically in just a few short passes. I never believed in the sudden “underdog” victory settings, but Sushi Go! provides a lot of those. Just… try not to get stuck with a pudding unless you plan on collecting the holy hell out of them!
Overall, I like to say this is the best way to learn how petty your friends can be. The goal isn’t to just take out your competition, but man, some things can’t be helped. The mechanics are fast paced, easy to learn, and quick to start a second game. This is my #1 vote for those wanting to dive into the mechanics while sacrificing some of the intricacies.
Ticket To Ride
Ticket to Ride is a more “traditional” board game to outsiders: big board, lots of pieces, lots of cards. In reality, it’s fairly simple and only took around 15 minutes to explain to our table for the first time. This title is normally considered one of the best “gateway games” to board gamers in general – a title not easily obtained. It’s admittedly VERY intimidating looking and setting up (if you want to organize everything) may take a little more time than expected. Once those new game jitters are up, it’s time to play.
The main objective is to use “ticket” cards to gain victory points at the end of the game. On these tickets, you are tasked with connecting one city to another with your train tokens. To do this, you collect different color cards needed to complete a train – 5 train cars require 5 corresponding color cards to place. That’s where drafting comes in!
The card drafting aspect in Ticket to Ride focuses on two aspects: using “tickets” to gain large amounts of points in the end by completing the routes and pulling specific color cards for specific color trains to get from point A to point B. These two aspects work easily and makes the game challenging – your color cards may get snatched up or you may pick a “ticket” that is completely blocked off.
The thing I like most about Ticket to Ride is the different game styles which can appeal to a variety of players. Some may choose to go for longer and harder routes to complete for bigger points or complete a ton of smaller routes for multiple points at the end of the game. The thing players need to worry about is their routes: some cities only have one or two entrance ways which can be blocked off completely by other players, leaving routes incomplete. At the end of the game, you are penalized negative points for the routes you have incomplete, so be careful and don’t get ambitious.
This introduces a great concept of competition in a more serious setting. Ticket to Ride is universally praised as one of the best drafting games and a common game to get onto tables. It introduces principles for all ages and prepares users for thinking long-term with their actions in game. This one gets a big thumbs up from me for older gamers.
No, this isn’t a Fleetwood Mac song. 7 Wonders is a fan favorite among card drafting fans for its superb theme and enriching gameplay. The most intricate out of the three games I chose for this guide, 7 Wonders provides a challenge for experts and a great starting point for newcomers. Antoine Bauza created the game based on supply gathering and accomplishing tasks on “Wonder Boards” the players choose at the beginning of the game. Since 2010, it has won over 30 gaming awards, so you can see why I’m praising the hell out of it.
7 Wonders is a larger game, lasting from 30-to-45 minutes (easily) with the intent of playing through three ages. These ages give players the time to draft appropriate cards to meet requirements on their Wonder Boards. Gather supplies, draft cards to help boost your future turns, and completing the board earn you victory points to be tallied at the end of the game.
An interesting aspect of the game is that there is a very small window for direct competitiveness. You work your hardest to build your deck, play your deck, and get your points without purposefully screwing anyone on your table over. It happens, especially with military cards in play, but in my games they have always been an afterthought.
7 Wonders was one of the first games I purchased on my own. It was mine, a prized possession I’ve put on my table multiple times. I even purchased 7 Wonders: Duel because of the amount of times I find myself trying 2 players. For smaller or larger games (up to 7, funnily enough), this has a lot of standing.
Ask gamers what their experiences are like with 7 Wonders and they vary: some play it ambitiously and quickly while others drag the game on with thoughtful, crucial plays that benefit in the long run. The variety of cards (Science, Military, Civilian, and Commercial) offer different gameplay styles. There were many times in my experiences with 7 Wonders that I had a come-behind victory by collecting Science cards and racking up the points by the time we were all tallying up. None were the wiser until it happened. These mechanisms help give players choice to triumph or make mistakes by investing in the inappropriate style of play for that particular match. The risk involved with the random cards and investment in certain aspects keeps our table refreshed, but it may be a bit challenging for others to grasp.
Although it is a beautiful, widely acclaimed game, I must give warning that it can be a bit more advanced when it comes to the explanation. One of the issues I encountered learning the game was hearing the instructions and falling behind during play. This is still, in my opinion, a great game for beginners as it provides a realistic approach to more hardcore card drafting games.
If you want to throw yourself or your friends into the fire, 7 Wonders is your game to go.
So there you have it. This, by far, is not the most comprehensive list of card drafting games. The genre grows every year and includes some really awesome games in its arsenal. The games I’ve listed are a few that I’ve personally had the joys of owning or diving into with friends. The most important thing about card drafting games, like all board games, is to have fun with friends. Make sure to use the hashtag #boredgames and let us know which card drafting game is your favorite!