The collectible card game (or trading card game) genre of video games has seen a revival after the global popularity of Blizzard’s Hearthstone.
The trading card game was first made popular in its physical tabletop form by Magic: The Gathering – the most competitive and widely-played physical trading card game in the world.
There have been various Magic: The Gathering digital titles, some of which were fairly successful, although they did not come close to the success of Hearthstone.
Since Blizzard’s success, other developers have been quick to try and capitalise on the interest in the genre.
Let’s take a look at some of the best free-to-play trading card games available right now.
Hearthstone (Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS)
Let’s get the obvious candidate out of the way first, shall we?
Hearthstone is almost single-handedly responsible for the renewed interest in this previously niche genre.
Available on multiple different platforms, the game presents relatively simple mechanics coupled with engaging and accessible gameplay.
Hex: Shards of Fate (Windows, Mac OS, iOS)
Hex is the best trading card game released in 2016 so far – and set to be Hearthstone’s strongest challenger.
The game has scored high amongst most critics and features unique mechanics that are more complex than Hearthstone’s, without sacrificing accessibility.
Hex: Shards of Fate has a single-player campaign which allows players to become acquainted with the complex and revolutionary trading card game, blending elements of multiple genres to create a unique title.
Spellweaver released to a mixed reception despite its appealing depth.
The game scored points due to its originality and high level of polish. Coupled with complex and balanced gameplay, these mechanics allowed Spellweaver to gain a fair level of popularity.
The gameplay is similar to that of Magic: The Gathering, allowing veteran Magic players to quickly grasp basic concepts and mechanics.
Magic Duels: Origins (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Xbox One)
Magic Duels: Origins is Magic: The Gathering’s best attempt so far at reclaiming its hold over the genre.
However, Magic Duels does not seem to hold up against a title like Hearthstone. Despite being a free-to-play Magic: The Gathering game, Magic Duels: Origins has failed to captivate players in the same way as Blizzard’s title.
Magic Duels: Origins is a limited version of Magic: The Gathering, featuring less cards and trading complexity for simplicity.
SolForge (Windows, iOS, Mac OS)
SolfForge is a free-to-play trading card game that initially gained popularity due to its mobile platform.
However, the game has since been criticised as pay-to-win, stunting the content of free players with microtransactions.
The game remains a very decent mobile title despite the pay-wall, and features solid game mechanics coupled with a fair amount of depth and complexity.
What is your favourite online trading card game? Let us know in the comments and forums.