2023's looking like another banger year for deckbuilders

Friends vs Friends
(Image credit: Brainwash Gang)

There’s just something deliciously moreish about drawing a fresh hand and rolling with the punches as long as you can. From solitaire to Slay The Spire, single-player games of chance-laced strategy have always been popular, but never so varied. Deckbuilding games are a genre I’ll never get good at—not for want of trying, but because you need to dedicate hours to learning each game’s laws and loopholes. And yet I cannot resist trying every new one that catches my eye.

My curse is that there’s too many deckbuilders to pick from, and too few hours to get good at any of them. Just look at this list of some of the notable deckbuilders from the past couple years alone:

All of these games use cards in some way, but the deckbuilder has all sorts of sub-genres. Some roguelikes, some long-form story driven games, and some downright experimental concepts I don't really even know what to call. It feels like we should've hit Peak Deckbuilder already, yet there are dozens—hundreds, even—on the horizon. Here’s a few upcoming stand-outs to keep an eye on or add to wishlists: 

Jupiter Moons Mecha  

Release Date: "To be announced"

Developer/Publisher: RockAndBushes

Familiar roguelike deckbuilding with a Battletech-inspired spin on character building. Collect and swap in mech components to change your overall stats as well as your deck. Manage heat and keep an eye on locational damage. There’s a demo out now.

Rogue Command 

Release Date: "Coming Soon"

Developer/Publisher: feneq

An RTS spin on the roguelike deckbuilder inspired by both Total Annihilation and Starcraft. Short, focused battles with a limited pool of units and abilities that change based on your deck and choices through the procedurally generated campaign. There’s a demo out for this one, too.

Undaunted: Normandy 

Release Date: "Coming Soon"

Developer/Publisher: Bookmark Games

A digital adaptation of a popular WW2-themed tabletop deckbuilder. Allied and Axis forces square off on an assortment of fixed scenarios. Designed for two players (although this version will have AI to play against), this will be launching into early access mostly complete, with the option to play a multi-scenario campaign coming in later updates.

Duelyst 2 

Release Date: "Q4 2022"

Developer/Publisher: Dream Sloth Games

PvP turn-based tactics with a collectible deckbuilding spin. Despite being branded as a sequel, this is a fan-led re-launch of Counterplay Games’ Duelyst. Clearly there’s some interest in this revival. Dream Sloth took the game back to Kickstarter, and fans were eager to fund some new features, including a roguelike PvE mode. The re-launch is planned to be free-to-play, with monetization driven by cosmetics like alternate character sprites and arenas. 

Friends vs Friends

Release Date: "TBA"

Developer/Publisher: Brainwash Gang/Raw Fury

A vividly colorful furry FPS deckbuilder from the ever-creative Brainwash Gang. Tense 1v1 or 2v2 arena shooting, but each player has a personal deck of modifiers and power-ups that they can invoke at any time. Big Head Mode is a viable weapon. People loved this when they played it at Gamescom. This one started out as a free prototype called Friends Killing Friends, and as with most of Brainwash Gang’s projects, it also had a great vocal track on its trailer

Duelists Of Eden 

Release Date: "2023"

Developer/Publisher: Thomas Moon Kang

A standalone PvP spinoff from 2020’s On Step From Eden. Same ultra-fast Mega Man Battle Network-inspired combat as its single-player predecessor, but this time players will be building their decks to corner and flummox human opponents instead of predictable AI. Will have rollback netcode for maximum cred in the fighting game scene. A good call, considering how twitchy and evasion-focused the single-player game was.

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection 

Release Date: "2023"

Developer/Publisher: Capcom

Speaking of Battle Network, Capcom are set to bring back one of the great granddaddies of modern deckbuilding games sometime next year. Set in a world of Saturday morning cartoon cyberpunk silliness, the story alternates between controlling human hero Lan in the real world and his AI partner ‘Megaman.EXE’ in cyberspace. The six original GBA games are coming to PC, split across two compilations. No word on the many spinoffs and the Star Force sequel trilogy, however.

Dungeon Drafters 

Release Date: "To Be Announced"

Developer/Publisher: Manalith Studios/DANGEN Entertainment

Grid-based tactics and deckbuilding have long been a popular combo, and Dungeon Drafters fuses them nicely to a familiar roguelike dungeon-crawl scenario with charming retro JRPG aesthetics. This has been in development for years, and seen several demo releases each more polished and refined then the last - the version currently on Steam makes a very good first impression.

Hellcard 

Release Date: "Q4 2022"

Developer: Thing Trunk

A solo and co-op deckbuilder spinoff from the well-liked Book Of Demons, building on its adorable papercraft Diablo-like aesthetic. Combat is card-based, but with a major focus on enemy positioning and targeting area-effect attacks. While playable solo, the 2-3 player co-op mode looks interesting, breaking the battlefield up into segments controlled by each player. There’s a demo out now. 

Slopper Johnson: Graviton Agent 

Release Date: "Coming Soon"

Developer/Publisher: Horizont Computergrafik/TBA

An extremely unusual take on the genre, backed up by an astonishingly weird (bordering on unpleasant) title. A dark sci-fi deckbuilder where your ‘cards’ are pieces of hardware you plug into a modular synthesizer-style board of components, then wire up different inputs and outputs to generate resources and attack enemies. Mechanically interesting, and with a grungy palette-crushed look.

Breachway 

Release Date: "Coming Soon"

Developer/Publisher: Edgeflow Studio/Hooded Horse

A striking-looking take on the FTL formula with turn-based card battles. A complex mix of standard deckbuilding and ship design, with different hulls providing base stats and internal component slots, while your equipment and crew determine what options are available each turn in combat. Interestingly, your crew loadout looks to affect the story as well, with each crewmate having their own wants and allegiances.

Even more upcoming deckbuilders we've previously covered

🎸 Power Chord - A literal battle of the bands with an over-the-top cartoon heavy metal aesthetic, and your choice of vocalists, guitarists, bassists and drummers shaping your deck.

🎲 Astrea - Trading in cards for dice with interesting powers, Astrea is a beautiful-looking deckbuilder where you’re trying to heal your enemies before they can corrupt you in return.

Wildfrost - Behind a cute and cuddly aesthetic (it’s all rather Adventure Time, which I like) lurks a winter-themed deckbuilder with absolutely cutthroat difficulty, demanding high-level strategies. Out in Q1 2023.

👨‍🚀 Warhammer 40K: Warpforge - More of a traditional collectible card game than what we’d consider a deckbuilder, but it’s looking very slick, and promises solo campaigns for each faction. 

Dominic Tarason

The product of a wasted youth, wasted prime and getting into wasted middle age, Dominic Tarason is a freelance writer, occasional indie PR guy and professional techno-hermit seen in many strange corners of the internet and seldom in reality. Based deep in the Welsh hinterlands where no food delivery dares to go, videogames provide a gritty, realistic escape from the idyllic views and fresh country air. If you're looking for something new and potentially very weird to play, feel free to poke him on Twitter. He's almost sociable, most of the time.