For some, card games are the ultimate way to relax. Killing time on your morning commute or unwinding at the end of your day playing cards can now all happen on your phone, which is fantastic. You can play solo games, connect with friends or random online opponents over classic card games, or dive into fantasy card games of every kind.
Here are some of our favorites now available for Android. When you're all wrapped up here, be sure to check out our best Android games!
Ascension is a deck-building game designed by a small team of Magic: The Gathering tournament champions. The game is available as a physical card game, and in this digital version, you can play on your phone. The gameplay centers on spending Runes to acquire more powerful cards to help you defeat monsters and earn Honor Points.
As with Magic: The Gathering, this game is highly addictive, and you'll end up spending money in-game if you decide to pick it up. There's a growing list of expansions available that each cost around $3. I don't have a problem with this, but thanks to Hearthstone, this is just how things work.
Ascension is one of my new go-to card games on Android. As I said, it's insanely addictive (especially since I was an MTG player back in my youth). So give it a try: If you like Magic, you might find Ascension to your liking.
Stealth is the name of the game in Card Thief. You play a thief who must sneak their way through a deck of cards collecting treasure while avoiding detection. You can use equipment cards to assist you in your thieving ways, too, but don't get too cocky, or you'll run out of sneak points and get caught.
You'll do things like extinguishing torches, pickpocket guards, and other dastardly shenanigans. It's an easy game to pick up and learn, and each game takes only a couple of minutes to complete. It plays similarly to Solitaire if you're looking for something to compare it to.
Card Thief features daily challenges and deep strategies, plus a nice progression system that lets you upgrade equipment cards as you pull off heists. There's a bit of a steep learning curve involved here, but it's a rewarding game for fans of strategy card games.
Evil Apples: You Against Humanity
This is an unofficial mobile version of Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples that lets you play online anytime. There are over 5,000 answer cards and 1,300 question cards so each game should be uniquely hilarious. You can connect and play with friends over SMS, Twitter, or Facebook or join random Blitz Mode games against strangers for a quick fix.
To top it all off, there are wild cards that let you add your own custom text. There are in-app purchases for unlocking expansion decks, but you can also purchase them with the in-app currency that you earn by winning games. Nice!
Exploding Kittens is a game created by Matthew Inman, the brilliant artist behind The Oatmeal. The goal of the game is to force your opponents to draw cards until they pull an Exploding Kitten card. If they cannot play a Defuse card to eliminate the threat, they blow up and are eliminated from the game. Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? More like ridiculously fun!
Think of it, as the Play Store listing says, as "kitty-powered Russian Roulette." The mobile version of the game is a fantastic version with great artwork on each card and some amazing animations. You can play with 2-5 friends or strangers in online play. Best of all, there are no distracting ads.
There are optional in-app purchases to unlock more content, but it's overall a straight-up premium title. It's a ton of fun and worth many, many laughs.
This game lets you play Gin Rummy on the go against 15 different levels of CPU opponents. This is one of those classic card games I fondly remember from my childhood. This game runs beautifully on any device, and it's one that I highly recommend.
However, I want to shine a broader light on the app developer, AI Factory Limited, which offers 14 well-designed mobile versions of classic card and board games. You can choose to play ad-supported versions of Euchre, Solitaire, Hearts, and Spades or pay $2 for an ad-free experience. It also offers Sudoku, Backgammon, Chess, and Go, among others.
Gin Rummy is a quick and easy game to pick up, and it's tons of fun IRL. The app does some things extra, like offering three different decks and automatic deck sorting. You also get an undo option and several hints to help you along the way. There's an ad-supported free version, or an ad-free premium one.
If you've read some of my other roundups, you knew this one was coming! Gwent is my absolute favorite card game on Android, mostly because I'm a huge fan of The Witcher universe. I loved Gwent when it was but a mere mini-game in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt; now that it finally landed on Android, I couldn't be happier.
Gwent has you choosing from different decks, each with its own abilities and weaknesses. Unlike Hearthstone, you don't have a health pool to deplete. Instead, your goal is to score the most points at the end of a round. The player who wins two rounds is victorious. You earn points by playing cards, each with its own point value.
There's more to it than that, though. You can attack your opponent, depleting their point pool by destroying their cards. They'll be doing the same to you. Sometimes, you'll need to take a loss to preserve your deck for the next round, a tactic I'm quite fond of.
Gwent is free (and a huge download!) with in-app purchases. It's also cross-platform, meaning you have a huge pool of players to pit yourself against.
Hearthstone needs little introduction. It's a massively popular card battling game set in the World of Warcraft universe that more or less ushered in the free-to-play online digital collectible card game genre. It's been going strong since 2014, and there have been many expansion packs released — so it might feel a bit overwhelming for new players.
It's a 1v1 game where the goal is to whittle down your opponent's health pool before they do the same to you. Your deck is stacked with a variety of cards to help you achieve victory or defend yourself. It's a pretty simple concept, but the game is open to some pretty wild strategies.
You're going to get more value out of it by spending a bit of money to build out your deck, but you can start for free and play through the tutorial levels to see if it's a good fit for you. It's not for everyone, but I have poured quite a bit of time into this game.
Legends of Runeterra
Hearthstone was bound to have a big competitor come out, and that turned out to be Legends of Runeterra. This collectible card game functions very similarly to Hearthstone, except it's set in the League of Legends universe. It's a 1v1 game where your goal is to deplete your enemy's health pool.
Each player gets an attack and a defense round, instead of just one turn like in Hearthstone or Gwent. Each card has its own attack and health stat, and many have special abilities. There are also spell cards that have varying levels of speed (some are instant, others take a turn or two). These can be healing spells, barrier spells, and so on.
There are some good variety in deck builds and strategies, so if you're tired of Hearthstone, give Legends of Runeterra a shot. It's also centered around microtransactions, which themselves get quite exhausting. Alas, that's how it goes.
Magic: the Gathering Arena
One of the most iconic card games of our era, Magic: the Gathering, is having something of a renaissance thanks to its foray into the digital world with Magic: the Gathering Arena. For the uninitiated among you, Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game wherein players take on the role of a Planeswalker and then battle it out with other players by casting spells, using artifacts and equipment, and summoning creatures big and small from their individual decks. A player typically wins by reducing their opponent's life total to 0.
Cards in Magic: the Gathering are often built around fantasy and mythological themes like vampires, angels, dragons, and so much more. MTG Arena brings all of this action into the palm of your hand, brought to life by gorgeous graphics, vibrant animations, and great sound design. MTG Arena may even be a great place for totally new players to dip their toes into Magic, since the built-in tutorial levels do a great job of introducing the game's core concepts and mechanics.
Players can unlock cards and decks just by playing, but, of course, this free-to-play title has in-app purchases for things like booster packs just like you would buy in real life. The plus side of this is that there's nothing to stop you from giving it a try today!
Microsoft Solitaire Collection
Microsoft single-handedly made Solitare a household name by including it with every version of Windows since 1990. You can now keep yourself distracted on the go with the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which includes the iconic Klondike version along with Free Cell, Spider, Tri Peaks, and Pyramid. Sure brings you back, huh?
It's a free game supported with ads with the option to pay a monthly or yearly subscription (ew) to remove them. There are daily challenges available to complete, helping the gameplay stay fresh, and you can link your Xbox Live account to earn achievements and compete against your friends and family.
Anyone who grew up with Solitaire on Windows XP should surely enjoy this game. I just wish that it didn't require a subscription to remove the ads; that's just awful, but it's also typical Microsoft.
Reigns: Her Majesty
Reigns is a single-player card-based game where you play as a monarch and make decisions that affect four aspects of the kingdom: the church, the people, the army, and the royal wealth. Your goal is to keep all four in balance — if any meter fills to the max or is entirely depleted, your reign is over and a new reign begins!
Her Majesty is a sequel that plays nearly identically to the original game, except this time around, you're playing as Queens instead of Kings, and there are completely new characters to interact with and multiple branching storylines to discover.
Reigns: Her Majesty offers a ton of replayability. There's an inventory system and challenges to keep you interested in the long-term, so you can keep your reign going as long as you can. It's a silly and fun game, and I highly encourage you to check it out.
RWBY: Amity Arena
RWBY fans also have their own card game with Amity Arena. Much like Hearthstone, Gwent, and Legends of Runeterra, you collect cards to build up your deck, min/max until you're happy, and then go head-to-head with other opponents to prove yourself superior.
However, I wasn't thrilled with most of the matchmaking and the in-app purchases are pretty predatory. Spend more money, get more powerful cards to take into battle — you know, the usual.
It's pretty mindless, and I found it required less strategy than some of the other games on this list. However, it's aimed squarely at RWBY fans (a fandom I don't belong to), so you'll probably enjoy it if you are one.
Shards of Infinity
Another deckbuilder, Shards of Infinity is a beautiful card game with a really cool premise, in my opinion. Designed for 2-4 players, you earn cards as you go and make the best of the situation. That also means that not every game will be the same, which is, of course, something that you want in a game like this.
The goal is to be the last one standing in a free-for-all. Like other games on this list, there's a lot of complexity behind Shards of Infinity. Cards come in four different factions that can be paired together for additional effects, or you can play mercenary cards that do their thing and bail. Games last about a half-hour.
The Android version features local and online multiplayer, as well as an AI mode for solo play. It's super fun and worth the asking price if you like deckbuilders.
Shelter Free combines deck-building card games and castle defense strategy. You wake up to find that the world is overrun with zombies and you have to continuously fight them off to make your way out of the danger zone. You move through hazards, seeking cards to build and strengthen your deck, and dueling with zombies who have equally powerful card decks.
The graphic novel artwork style is enough to keep you coming back for more gameplay, but the storyline and intense card battles will keep you hooked for sure. It's an easy game to pick up, but you can spend several hours learning to master it.
Slay the Spire
If you've missed the boat on one of the best card-based games released in the past few years, then it is my pleasure to introduce you to Slay the Spire. A deck-building roguelike, Slay the Spire gives you a handful of playable characters with different specialties and an ever-changing spire to pit yourself against.
Your goal, of course, is to work your way up the Spire and defeat every last enemy you come across. You do this by building out your deck, which ranges from basic attack and defense cards to more specialized cards that can dole out buff, de-buffs, and so much more. Winning battles will reward you with new cards, but it's crucial in Slay the Spire to weigh each card in your deck very carefully to ensure you maintain a winning balance.
As you progress, you'll also come across powerful relics that can further aid you in your trials, but don't count on getting the same relics each time. With each new run, the spire layout changes, and so too does the order and type of enemies you'll encounter, where your merchant is, and where you might find relics. Failure and experimenting are key pieces of the puzzle here, so expect to die a whole lot and try again many times over. But that's all part of the fun!
Slay the Spire was ported to mobile earlier this year and carries a premium price tag of $9.99. This title is well worth your time and money though, and ten bucks is a small price to pay, weighed against the hundreds of hours that you can wind up sinking into this fantastic game.
Simplicity is the name of the game here with Star Realms. The premise is wicked easy to understand, gameplay is a breeze, and yet there's plenty of room for anyone who enjoys deckbuilding games to have fun. Star Realms has been out for quite some time, but next to Gwent, it's my favorite card game on Android.
Star Realms is a two-player event, with each person starting the game with a single money card and an attack card. Each turn, you can either use your money to buy another card from your deck or directly attack your opponent. You can also get armor later on to bolster your health pool.
While easy to play, Star Realms features some hidden complexities to keep it interesting. The Android port is pretty good and it features things you can't do in the physical game, such as battle an AI and do campaign missions. The full version lets you battle different AI difficulties, play online against other players, and offers new campaign missions and leaderboards. There is also a metric ton of additional content for you to purchase.
Uno! was a game night staple in my household growing up, as I'm sure was the case for millions of families. It's a cultural icon at this point. It follows Crazy Eights rules where your goal is to get rid of all your cards by playing the same color or suit as the last card played.
This mobile version of Uno! manages to offer the best execution of the core gameplay with many ways to connect and play with friends in the Fun Room, where you can play with custom house rules. Unfortunately, it also includes dumb leveling mechanics, in-game currencies, and microtransactions, known as the bane of any good mobile game.
Alas, it doesn't stop Uno! from being a fun time, especially for a quick round or two here and there. There's also a 2v2 mode so that you can team up with a friend to take down another pair. You can also join tournaments to show off your Uno! skills. There's even a voice chat option that lets you yell "UNO" when you're about to win.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
Despite being an older game, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links holds up pretty well in today's landscape. Given that it's supported by Konami, I never held much hope for it, but I was proven wrong. Sure, the monetization is typical for card games these days, but the gameplay is quite good.
Yu-Gi-Oh was my gateway to Magic: The Gathering when I was a kid, when I got "too old" for Pokemon, so I have fond memories of the game. Duel Links does a nice job of capturing the original spirit of playing with paper cards.
Collect your cards, build your decks, and defeat your opponents (both AI and real people). There's a lot to do and see with Duel Links and I think Yu-Gi-Oh fans will find a lot to love.
Shuffle up and deal!
These are the best card-based games you can play on your phone. You might be wondering why there's a lack of casino-style games on our list, and the simple answer is that so many of those games are designed to hook you in and get you spending for fake in-app currency, so I can't recommend them in good conscience. They're also super easy to find and a dime a dozen in the Google Play Store if you're still interested.
My top pick is Gwent, mostly because I was already quite familiar with the gameplay from hours wasted with The Witcher 3's minigame. I've played this more than almost any other game on my phone, and there are a lot of good games I have installed.
I'm also a huge fan of both Exploding Kittens and Ascension. The former is an awesome casual card game that will always have a spot on my phone. It's also affordable, and it won't bog you down with ads or offers to spend on in-app purchases. Ascension, on the other hand, is addicting as all get out, but it skews toward pushing microtransactions on you.
Update October 2021: Added Magic: the Gathering Arena to our list.