16 of the Best Card Games to Play with Friends
You can please everyone! You just need the right card game.
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There’s always a joker in the pack
What’s fun, portable, and flexible enough to accommodate your five-year-old nephew, 85-year-old grandma, and a bunch of your friends? Any of the best card games, of course! From competitive to cooperative, these card games are perfect for every gathering. Sure, everyone loves a classic board game, but they’re just not as portable as they could be, and while online board games are great for virtual fun, sometimes you just want something physical to play. If there’s only two in your game-playing team, you can choose one of the best 2-player card games, but if you need to keep yourself (and your children!) entertained on long journeys, or break the ice with new friends, bringing out one of the best card games will keep everyone in a good mood.
Best matching card game: BLINK
Perfect for two players aged seven and up (although reviews say younger children enjoy it too), the aim of BLINK is to play all your cards first by matching the shape, color, or count into one of two discard piles. Deal all the cards out to the players, and get ready to match! The cards have symbols like diamonds, stars, triangles, lightning bolts, and crosses to be matched. BLINK bills itself as the world’s fastest card game. It will test your hand-eye coordination! Kids will love the simple rules and intense competition.
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Best party card game: Monikers
This hilarious name game is a modern update on the forehead game, where you try to guess the name of the character stuck to your forehead. In Monikers, you give your friends clues to get them to guess the name on the card. The rules are simple: In the first round, you can say anything to get them to guess the title (short of saying the title itself). In the second round, you can only say one word, and in the third round, you can’t speak, but can only do charades. The titles on the cards range from names, to pop culture references, to very specific descriptions (the cone of shame, anyone?) Note that, while not as crude as Cards Against Humanity or the like, there are a few slightly inappropriate names in there so to play with younger folks it’s best to take a quick scan through the cards. Glowing reviews confirm that this is one of the best card games for parties!
Best memory card game: Scrimish
This card game comes with two packs that allow up to four players to play in teams, but more can be purchased to allow additional players. Gameplay of Scrimish is similar to War. Each player has five piles of five facedown cards in front of them and attacks the other player by drawing cards from the top of one of the piles. The aim of the game is to get the other player to reveal their Crown card, which is at the bottom of one of their piles. You can try to recall where your opponent’s cards are placed in order to strategize against them. Portable and fast-paced, with the game lasting only ten minutes, Scrimish is perfect for filling those in-between hours at the airport or before dinner.
Best bluffing card game: Coup
Coup is a great bluffing strategy game for two to six players. Coup is set in a dystopian future where the government is made up of a group of multi-national CEOs. The Resistance efforts have destabilized the government, which creates an opportunity for each of the playable characters (powerful governmental officials) to bluff and manipulate their way to the top. The aim of the game is to be the last player standing, as players whose bluffs are revealed are eliminated. It’s a challenging game of double-crossing villainy that will have a group entertained for hours!
Best deductive card game: Death on the Cards
Any group who loves Agatha Christie, or murder mysteries in general, will enjoy this game. The premise of Agatha Christie: Death on the Cards is that there has been a murder, and all the suspects sit around the table. Each player must cooperate and use their detective skills to figure out who the murderer is while keeping their secrets hidden. Meanwhile, the murderer is quietly working against the group, and you don’t know who to trust! Every game is different and features beloved Christie characters like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. This exciting strategy game is definitely one of the best card games to play with a group of up to six people. If you enjoyed this, then make sure you play these trust-building games.
Best numbers card game: Skyjo
Skyjo is a great game for two to eight players, but it’s more fun with more. If you’re looking for a super competitive card game, this isn’t it; Skyjo is played for the individual, and there is no way to undermine other players. It involves strategy, but also a healthy dose of luck! The aim of the game is to keep your score as low as possible by swapping out the cards in your hand for those of lower value (including negative numbers!). Points are added up each round, as soon as one player reaches 100 points the game ends. Players start with 12 cards facedown in front of them. Each round, they draw a card from either the draw or discard pile and replace them with facedown cards or flip cards over. This game is a sneaky way to practice math skills with children, as they will need to add their scores after each round, but it’s fun for adults, too.
Best two-player card game: Codenames: Duet
This special version of Codenames (which always makes the list of the best card games) is designed for two players. It’s a cooperative game, which means that you and your partner have to work together to win. The object of the game is to find your agent’s cards among the 25-word cards laid out in a 5×5 grid. Each player can see one side of a keycard where agent cards (in green) and assassin cards (in black) are clearly marked. Giving one-word clues over nine turns each, you try to indicate to your partner which card is one of your agent cards. If either of you guesses an assassin, you both lose immediately. Wrong guesses reveal innocent bystanders and take up valuable turns. Codenames: Duet is suitable for ages 11 and up. It plays through pretty fast (about half an hour for a game), but you’ll want to keep playing all night!
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Best card recognition game: Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
This free for all and fun for all game is one of the best card games for families! Also, the illustrations are absolutely adorable. The rules of Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza are simple: divide the cards equally amongst all the players (two to eight) and pile them up facedown. Going around the table, each player puts down one card face up, saying, “Taco,” “Cat,” “Goat,” “Cheese,” “Pizza,” “Taco,”, etc. If the spoken word matches the card, everyone has to (gently!) slap their hands on the pile. The last person to get their hand down adds the discard pile to their card stack, and the first person to finish their cards wins. There are also three special cards that require actions before you can slap them: gorilla, groundhog, and narwhal. You need good eyes, as the background color changes to keep you on your toes.
Best cooperative card game: Spaceteam
As long as you don’t need to be quiet, Spaceteam is one of the most enjoyable cooperative games around, and definitely one of the best card games. It’s fast-paced and involves lots of shouting as your team does their best to repair your spaceship before you’re sucked into a black hole. Each member of your team (of three to six players over 12) starts with tool cards in their hand. The tools are unique and have funny sci-fi names (centrifugal disperser? Kilobypass transformer?) and every tool can fix a failing part of the spaceship. You have to match malfunction cards with tool cards that can only be passed through adjacent players. As malfunctions are fixed, All Systems Go cards are slowly revealed. If all six are found in under five minutes, the spaceship escapes the black hole! If not, your Spaceteam becomes full-time residents of the black hole.
Best card game for kids: Taco vs. Burrito
Created by a seven-year-old (really!), this hilariously disgusting foodie card game is suitable for two to four players, ages seven and up. The object of Taco vs. Burrito is to build your own taco or burrito by adding ingredients to get the highest-point meal. Watch out for action cards (like Health Inspector or Food Fight) which might mean swapping your hand with another player, or doubling your points! Kids and adults love this game, and the action cards add a fun layer of strategy.
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Best card game for teens: Goat Lords
Hilarious, strategic, goaty: Goat Lords is one of the best card games around. The aim of the game is to become Lord of the Goats by accumulating the biggest herd of goats! Different goat types have different point values. Stack identical pairs of goats to build your herd. You can also duel goat-ponents and win their goats for your own herd. Action cards change the game by doing things like stealing cards and skipping turns. The goat characters are very funny, from Fairy Goatmother to the Flying Goatacorn. Teens would love this quick and easy game for two to six players, with its elements of chance and strategy.
Best themed card game: Marrying Mr. Darcy
Fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will undoubtedly love this card game, but anyone who enjoys games and strategy will find that Marrying Mr. Darcy is one of the best card games! The gameplay is pretty simple: Pick a heroine, whose character traits (such as wit or beauty) will draw the attention of your perfect match (it may be Mr. Darcy, or it may not!) and draw events cards to determine play action. You collect character points along the way to help you in your wooing. There is some opportunity for chance derailments and foiling other players (such as Mr. Wickham appearing with a surprise elopement!), but in the end, it comes down to a roll of the die as to whether your heroine will end up married, or an old maid. Character points can help to raise your bad match to a great marriage! Austen fans will be enthralled, but so will anyone who enjoys a themed card game.
Best dice and card game: Trash Pandas
This charming dice-based card game is fun for all the family (as long as the family is between two and four!). In Trash Pandas, you play as a raccoon, scavenging through trash cans for food. Rolling the dice gives you actions and cards, which you can save to count as points, or use to undermine your competitors: Often a difficult decision! Rolling the dice again might get you more actions, or scrap your whole turn if you roll the same action twice. When the cards run out, the raccoon with the most points wins. This game is listed as suitable for eight years and older, with a fun element of suspense as players push their luck to roll again.
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Best long card game: Five Crowns
If you’re looking for a longer card game that’s still a lot of fun, Five Crowns is the best card game, hands down! If you’ve ever played games like Gin or Rummikub, you already have the basic skills for Five Crowns. Basically, there are eleven rounds in which each player is dealt the number of cards of the card that is wild in each round. So the first round has three cards, and threes are wild, the second has four and fours are wild, and so on, up to kings gone wild. Each round players pick up a card from the draw deck or discard pile and try to make either a run of three or more cards either of the same type or sequentially, with the wild card standing in as necessary. If you can’t get rid of all your cards, you must discard one card at the end of your turn. When one player puts down a run, all other players have one more turn to do so. Points are added up at the end of each round, and the lowest score at the end of eleven rounds wins! Gameplay takes about 45 minutes and supports up to seven players from eight years of age.
Best card game for UNO fans: Skip-Bo
If you and your family love UNO but are interested in playing something new, Skip-Bo is the best card game for you! Using strategy and a little bit of luck, players aim to use all the cards in their stockpile to win the game. At the start of each turn, players turn up the top card on their stockpile, draw five cards from a central draw pile, and try to place the cards from their hand and stockpile into four central piles of sequential (one through twelve) cards, which all players place cards into. When one of the middle four piles reaches 12 cards, it is shuffled back into the central draw pile. Once you can place no more cards in any of the four center piles, you must discard one of the cards from your hand into your own personal four discard piles. Placing these cards strategically (as they must be used top card first) for later use can help you win!
Best deckbuilding card game: Marvel Champions
If you’ve got a game-loving, Marvel Cinematic Universe-loving person in your life, Marvel Champions is the best card game to tick those boxes. It’s a cooperative deckbuilding game where you embody one of the Marvel heroes and work together with your fellow heroes to defeat a villain before they eliminate you, or succeed in their dastardly scheme! Inconveniences appear and some of the strength of your hand depends on the luck of the draw, but reviews note that this game has a lot of replayability—it just gets better and better! Card games are great, but if you’re itching to get outside, here are the best backyard games for the whole family and the best outdoor games for kids.