Mechanics 101 - Deck Building

In Mechanics 101 we discuss board game mechanics! This is to help provide context when we say "This game is a ......"

In the first Mechanics 101, we are going to talk about Deck Building

Deck Building refers to a mechanic where the player has a personal collection of cards that are played as different actions and/or resources. This collection or deck will have cards added or removed throughout the game. The most common purpose of a deck building game is to make your deck the most efficient for a given objective (dealing damage, scoring points, etc).

Some key terms in deck building games:

  • Deck: Each player has a personal deck of cards
  • Draw: Take cards from the Draw Deck
  • Hand: Cards that have been drawn to your hand
  • Discard Pile: Each player has a personal discard pile
  • Discard: To place a card in your discard pile
  • Banish/Destroy: Remove a card from play
  • Play Area: Your piece of the table 
  • Market: Cards that can be purchased
  • Resource Card: Cards that give you a resource, often used to buy other cards from the market
  • Action Card: Cards that allow you to take set actions, e.g. draw another card.

Examples of Action Cards include; dealing an opponent damage, drawing another card, banish/destroy a card from your hand or discard pile, refresh the market (remove all market cards and replace with new ones), etc. 


A players turn in a standard deck building game could consist of: 

  1. Playing cards out of your hand to collect resources or complete actions
  2. Purchase any cards and place them in your personal discard pile
  3. Discard any unused cards
  4. Draw back up to the hand limit (often 5)

If at any stage your draw deck is empty, shuffle your discard pile to make a new deck.

Examples of win conditions in deck builders: Your opponent has 0 health, you have X victory points, and you have the highest score when X happens.

Some examples of our favourite Deck Builders are:


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