15 Best "Pure" Card Games (NONE are in the BGG Top 100!) | No Tokens Allowed - Only Cards - c4gamingstudio.com

15 Best “Pure” Card Games (NONE are in the BGG Top 100!) | No Tokens Allowed – Only Cards

All You Can Board
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Don’t let some of the smaller boxes or lack of other components fool you; these games pack a big punch. I’m looking at 15 of my favourite pure card games, ones that don’t use other components and deliver an awesome and memorable experience using only cards! and believe it or not, NONE of these games are in the BGG Top 100!
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0:00 Intro / Criteria
2:24 6 nimmt! (1994)
4:06 High Society (1995)
5:58 Bohnanza (1997)
7:38 Lost Cities (1999)
9:18 Battle Line (2000)
11:20 Coloretto (2003)
13:07 Dominion (2008)
15:14 Innovation (2010)
17:08 Arboretum (2015)
19:17 Hero Realms (2016)
21:42 Sprawlopolis (2018)
23:39 Point Salad (2019)
25:49 Stellar (2020)
28:28 Abandon All Artichokes (2020)
30:29 Enchanted Plumes (2021)


  1. Strongly agree with you that the BGG rankings and ratings are skewed towards bigger, heavier, more expensive games. Not a problem for those who like that sort of thing – but it does mean that a lot of interesting, small games get overlooked. Although who knows how this plays out in the real world in terms of games sold, profits etc. I’m currently really enjoying Ohanami – sort of a cross between Lost Cities and Point Salad. Other current favourite card games are Similo, The Mind, Village Green, Cockroach Poker, High Society, Cross Clues. So many great games that only cost a few bucks and don’t eat up shelf space.

  2. Additional ones that come to mind are Team Play, Port Royal, Linko, and Wizard. I don’t particularly love Saboteur, but my family does and it plays a bunch of people.

  3. Piepmatz and Game of Trains are great little card only games. We love 6 Nimmt! and Enchanted Plumes. Ohanami is another great card game.

  4. My list: Port Royal, Fantasy realms, Tichu

  5. Great video. I actually think Cover Your Assets doesn't get enough love.

  6. I love a great card game! Perfect topic for a video. Other than your mentioned games, I would also recommend Hanamikoji, Fantasy Realms and Ohanami.😀

  7. Great list! It's hard to pick a favorite, but I've played Point Salad and Lost Cities a ton and recently discovered Enchanted Plumes. Some other card-only games I love: Fuji Flush, Fantasy Realms, Ohanami, Ecosystem, Subastral, The Game (as well as Quick & Easy and Face to Face versions), Piepmatz, Go Nuts for Donuts (with the number tiles), and Herbaceous (without the garden markers).

  8. These are some solid games- nice list, Carlo! I just picked up Enchanted Plumes on a whim at my FLGS and it greatly surprised me.

    My suggestion for you to play (cheap, easy, and pure fun), is Cabo (second edition). This game is so much better than it has any right to be.. highly recommended.

  9. Prefect video concept! Surprised SdJ winner Fantasy Realm wasn't on your list? With Knizia being basically out of the BGG Top 100, I think s whole series of "the best (insert type here) games NOT in the top 100". Sort of like what Zee Garcia is just finishing in his Hidden Gems segments on the Dice Tower. I appreciate those, esp since they're mostly smaller, less expensive games.

  10. Is there a game that's similar to Stellar in terms of gameplay, but is multiplayer? The two player only restriction lessens my interest.

  11. From what I saw 6 nimmt and Bohnanza are pretty fun games to possess indeed. For now, I've only got Dominion but the mobile version, and Point salad. But I'm looking into adding some of this list here.

  12. I love a good deckbuilder such as star and hero realms for sure. The first of the genre that I try was Harry Potter Hogwarts battle the duel version.

  13. Fantasy Realms? I like this type of listing.

  14. Some of my favorites are Fantasy Realms, Fuji Flush. The Game, Air, Land &Sea, and any version of Fluxx.

  15. Some great games there. I’d add Sticheln, Kakerlaken Poker, Saboteur and Steam Donkey (this in particular is awesome for crunchy decisions in a tiny package).

  16. Great Video! My top card games are The Mind, Cockroach Poker, and Fluxx

  17. So considerate of you to include people who haven't that big a budget! And to value also the smaller games.
    Several games came initially to my mind as also pure card games, but after checking weren't really, because of those meeples, or those cubes, etc.
    Got 8 out of your 15, and why haven't I got Arboretum yet?!
    In the nature-themed games, I'ld like to add Ecosystem, Fungi (overseas known as Morels, I believe), Herbaceous, Village Green and Tussie Mussie.
    Others that I like are Squire for Hire, Lanterns, Onirim, Claim, and – of course – Sushi Go!

  18. Great video! I've also heard great things about Valley of the Kings (the newer premium edition)… have you played it? Any thoughts?

  19. Fantasy realms 100% should be checked out. Also PUSH is a great family push your luck card game

  20. If you haven't played it, you should try Bottle Imp. The rules are simple, but the way what's trump keeps shrinking and shrinking–hold a card long enough and it won't be trump anymore–it can burn your brain pretty regularly.

  21. Arboretum and Sprawlopolis are great card games.
    I could add Valley of the Kings to the list. Cubirds also.

  22. I love Point Salad so much that when I saw it in the video image, I had to watch this. I first played it at AEG’s Big Game night at my first GenCon (2019) and was so surprised by it. So simple yet so strategic, like you said. It’s now a family favorite! You’re spot on, too, that the BGG top 100 skews towards heavy + expensive games (many of which I love!) but a good simple card game can be so delightful and so deep. Can’t wait to check out more of these!

  23. Dominion is easily my favourite of this list as it was my gateway game. Also love 6 Nimmt!, Coloretto (except at 2 players), Arboretum, and Point Salad.

    Not a huge fan of Bohnanza, High Society, or Sprawlopolis, but maybe I just haven’t played them enough or in the right circumstances.

    I haven’t played the others. I have played Star Realms but not Hero Realms (I like it except for how you win by eliminating your opponents.) Haven’t played Stellar but I own its sister game, Subastral. I am a big fan of Riddle and Pinchback … they make plenty of super thinky small-box games.

    Speaking of Riddle and Pinchback, Piepmatz is a great game of theirs. As for others, Stick ‘Em is a fantastically underrated but vicious trick-taking game. “The Game” is fun if you toe the line with the communication rules. SET is the only game I can think of in which kids generally do better than adults.

    Thanks for the video, Carlo!

  24. Spicy!! Spicy is one of our favorite card games. So much fun and the card quality and art are just fantastic!

  25. I love your videos. We just bought Enchanted Plumes after hearing you rave about it, and it is delightful. Some other fun ones we enjoy often are Fedelitas (a game of medieval meddling), Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Kings Afterlife (especially the original version with the small cards), Ausonia, Wizard, Five Crowns, and Circus Flohcati.

  26. We love Cubirds that I discovered on BGA and then got a physical copy. Stellar and Abandon All Artichokes are also played very often. You should check out Parade if you have not played it yet.

  27. Great video, thanks for this! I only own 2 of them 6 Nimnt (Take 5) and Lost Cities, and all but 2 of the games you listed really interest me. A favourite card game in my family has been Play Nine for many years. Kharma, Phase 10, and good ole Skip Bo are all older games that although they don’t come down off the shelf anymore, used to be great family card games and easy to learn. Looks like I have some more shopping to do! 😁

  28. Great list. I would add Oh My Goods and Tybor the Builder by Alexander Pfister.

  29. Really good list – I very much enjoy card games – I’m enjoying Silver bullet at the moment

  30. Some very good designs here, the first 7 or so would mirror my own choices as well. I would add Circus Flohcati by Reiner Knizia, and Crazy Chicken by Michael Schacht, which has had many different versions/names, probably best known as Drive. Regicide by Paul Abrahams, Luke Badger, and Andy Richdale would be my more recently designed choice.

  31. Spicy – really nice and fun version of ‘Cheat’

  32. Lots of good games here. Dominion is definitely my favorite of the bunch, although it's best when you add some of the expansions such as Prosperity and Empires that start introducing different tokens and such….taking it out of the pure card game realm. Still, it's the OG deck builder and for pure deck building there is no better IMO. That said, I also really like Valley of the Kings as well, which is just cards.

    I would also recommend checking out Parade: a great and underrated filler. Also, for something on the heavier side with pure cards check out Oh My Goods.

  33. Looking forward to playing some of these soon! Some I own and love! You should play Organ Attack if you haven’t I think it deserves a spot in this list! Always a huge hit with the groups I play with!

  34. Fantasy Realms is a card only I believe, and I really want to get it. Other Button Shy Games are great too, Circle the Wagons is my current favorite. Herbaceous is one I would also add, it has tokens for players but they aren't used in game.

  35. I like your list for pure card games, but I must admit I would probably have put in a couple of card games that try to reimpliment board games and are therefore slightly heavier and longer but do really well to recreate that board game feel. The 2 I have in mind are Castles of Burgundy – The Card Game and San Juan (effectively Puerto Rico – The Card Game).
    I also really like the Alexander Pfister card games; Oh My Goods! and Port Royal.
    Other games I would have considered for this list are Red7 and The Builders: The Middle Ages.

  36. People rarely mention Guillotine, not sure why, it's a fun little game.

  37. Any of the Friedman frisée fabled games would be my choice, I like some of the games you mentioned but some I have never heard of. Will do some research and see if they are good for camping,,not a lot of table space.

  38. Very nice video – great to see Battleline getting some love. One of my favorites! Innovation is also nice, but after playing quite a bit of it and Mottani, I still think Chudyk's original 'pure card' design in Glory to Rome is the best of the three. It feels a bit more elegant and less swingy based on card draw, at least for us. Sad that it's trapped in rights/publishing limbo so it's pretty much impossible to get a legitimate english copy for anything approaching a reasonable price nowadays. Though there are some very good fan-made P&P versions on the BGG forums that seem to be ok, since they never got taken down.

  39. Two card games that I absolutely love that weren’t on your list are parade and zany penguins! Both pure card only games with lots of strategy that I think you’d really enjoy if you’ve never checked them out!

  40. I love "not in the bgg top 100" lists. "Cult of the new" and "flavor of the month" is a huge factor in ratings on that site.

    Also I'm SHOCKED that Dominion isn't higher ranked.

  41. I like Friday the 13th(Knizia), Push, and Skyjo.

  42. Great list Carlo. Some I haven’t tried yet and I’m curious to try. One of my favourite set collection game, that is 100% card game, is Cubirds. All the best.

  43. Great selection” i have most of these and i agree with you, so underrated and funny that they are not in the top 100

  44. Thank you for this lovely selection. Another cardgame that I highly recommend is Ohanami, by Steffen Benndorf.

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