To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best card games 2022: Grab a deck and start playing from £5.99

While away your Sunday afternoons with our pick of the best card games around

The best card games are ones that hold your undivided attention and quickly ramp up to all-engrossing levels. You can go old school with games that require a standard pack of classic playing cards, but there are plenty of other enticing options out there. Fancy dealing with exploding kittens or giant slices of pizza? You’ve come to the right place.

For children, you’re looking for something entertaining, fast-paced and not so complicated that they don’t understand the rules. For long car rides or train journeys (with an all important table) you’ll probably prefer something quieter. When it comes to card games for older adults, it depends on your mood: a fast and furious game that gets everyone riled up? Or a slow, complex and strategic game to really get your teeth into? 

We’ve uncovered some of the best card games on the market. Whether creative, dastardly, delightfully complex or furiously energetic, these card games are all designed to keep you occupied. Happy playing! 

READ NEXT: The best board games for adults

Best card games: At a glance

READ NEXT: The best jigsaw puzzles

The best card games to buy in 2022

1. Sushi Go: Best card game for speed

Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

Sushi Go is a super-fast “pass and play” game that’s easy to pick up and beautifully illustrated to boot. Each card features a different type of sushi that holds various points – maki rolls are worth the least, but tempura and sashimi are more valuable – and the aim is to create different combinations of sushi dishes to score the most points. Once the hand is dealt, players choose one card they want to keep. They pass the rest of their hand to the left, then reveal their chosen card at the same time before play continues. 

As different card combinations can raise or lower points, there’s a certain amount of strategising involved in Sushi Go: for instance, sashimi scores nothing on its own, but by holding three sashimi cards you’ll score ten points. While you’re aiming for certain cards, you can also block opponents by keeping hold of cards you don’t want but they do! 

The cards themselves are great quality, made from a heavy cardstock, and easy to transport thanks to the decorated metal tin. It’s a great game for whiling away the afternoon in a pub with a group of friends. 

Key details – Players: 2-5; Age range: 8 years and up; Estimated game time: 15 mins; Difficulty: Easy 

2. Exploding Kittens: Best strategically enjoyable card game 

Price: £15 | Buy now from John Lewis

Exploding Kittens has one of the best taglines around: “For people who are into kittens and explosions – and laser beams – and sometimes goats”. Players take turns to draw cards from the deck until someone reveals an exploding kitten card. They’re out of the game at this point – unless they have a Defuse card that can reverse the explosion. Defusing these furious kittens can be achieved with various imaginative cards featuring catnip sandwiches and laser pointers, allowing players both to remain in the game and to strategically trick their opponents into exploding instead. 

Learning the rules can be a little complicated at first, but you soon get used to playing various cats, goats and magical enchiladas against each other. It’s great fun for all ages, particularly older children who tend to find the imaginative aspect really enjoyable. The creators of Exploding Kittens have plenty of other games on offer, too, so if you find this one up your street then it’s worth checking them out. 

Key details – Players: 2-5; Age range: 7 years and up; Estimated game time: 15 mins; Difficulty: Medium

Buy now from John Lewis

3. Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game (Link Strike Starter Set): Best complicated trading card game 

Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

Though Yu-Gi-Oh is played as a card game in its own right, it’s actually based on a fictional game used in the manga franchise of the same name. As a result, both the franchise and the game have become hugely popular. Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments are played at comic book stores and there are thousands of holographic cards in circulation, the rarest of which fetch thousands of dollars at auction. 

To play this turn-based card game, two players cast spells, summon monsters and set traps in an effort to defeat each other. The players shuffle their opponent’s deck and deal five cards, which are then drawn in “battle”. At the start of the game they each have 8,000 life points, and try to reduce their opponent’s points to zero. There’s plenty of information on each card about the character or object represented and the points they hold. 

With new booster packs and decks released every year, it can be a bit daunting to pick your first Yu-Gi-Oh deck. The general consensus is to get a starter deck, which includes commonly used cards, a few rare cards, a game mat and an instruction guide to follow. 

Key details – Players: 2; Age range: 6 years and up; Estimated game time: 40 mins; Difficulty: Easy to hard

4. Big Potato’s P for Pizza: Best word association card game 

Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon

The aim of P for Pizza is to collect nine triangles of pizza so you can build your own giant pizza slice. Each triangle has three categories on one side and three letters on the other, and the pizza cards are placed in a central pile, category side up. Flip over the top three cards to resemble a triangle shape with the categories no longer visible, and think of words that connect the category and the letter. Shout out your guess before anyone else and, if you’re fast enough, the pizza slice is yours.

This is a great game for helping kids to think on their feet and is really easy to get the hang of. The categories have difficulty levels – green is easy, yellow is medium, red is hard – and we particularly like that the game is always different because the card combinations are virtually endless. P for Pizza works for two players and large groups, with no upper limit to the number of players, and all 120 cards fit into a deliciously designed pizza slice box.

Key details – Players: 2-4; Age range: 8 years and up; Estimated game time: 15 mins; Difficulty: Easy/medium

5. Avocado Smash Card Game: Best simple card game 

Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

This fast-paced game is a variation on everyone’s favourite classic, Snap, where players race to get rid of all their avo-cards. 

All the cards are dealt out evenly, with one card face up in the centre. With every card that’s turned over, players must shout out a sequential number of avocados, ignoring the numbers written on the cards. If the numbers match then everyone shouts “SMASH!” and slams their hands on the pile. The fastest hand wins; the last hand has to pick up all the cards and place them at the bottom of their pack. To up the ante, there are action cards that disrupt game play, such as the smash card (everyone smashes) and the guacamole’card (everyone shouts “guacamole!”). 

Avocado Smash comes in an adorable little avocado container for easy storage and minimal loss of cards. It’s easy enough for kids as young as five years old to play, and as it can get wonderfully competitive and noisy we recommend playing it at family occasions with plenty of people joining in. A word of warning: remove jewellery before playing in case your competitors are particularly aggressive with their smashing. 

Key details – Players: 2-99; Age range: 6 years and up; Estimated game time: 10 mins; Difficulty: Easy

6. Monopoly Deal Card Game: Best classic card game 

Price: £5.99 | Buy now from Amazon

For lovers of the original board game, this card-based version of Monopoly is a much neater way to rule the property market. Of course, there’s a small adjustment to make: the familiar models and plastic coloured houses we’ve known and loved for years are now represented in card form: House and Hotel Cards, Property Cards, Rent Cards and Money Cards. These cards all have relevant information displayed on them, including their debt and rent values.

Cards are shuffled, and five are dealt to each player, with the rest as a draw pile in the centre. At each turn, you draw two cards and play up to three cards, with the chance to add money to your bank, add properties to your collection, or play an Action card. You don’t win by bankrupting your friends, either: the aim is to collect three complete property sets, denoted by their matching colours. 

The rules can be a little tricky to grasp at first, particularly if you’re not familiar with the original Monopoly. That said, it’s much faster-paced than the board game (which will no doubt be a relief to some). 

Key details – Players: 2-5; Age range: 8 years and up; Estimated game time: 15 to 30 mins; Difficulty: Medium

7. Cards Against Humanity, UK Edition: Best adults only card game 

Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

With the tagline “a party game for horrible people”, Cards Against Humanity isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it’s certainly found its footing as one of the most popular modern card games. 

A pack contains 600 cards (500 white and 100 black), and as each player asks a question from a black card, everyone responds with their chosen answers on the white cards – the funnier or more inappropriate, the better. There’s no specific aim or goal as such: instead, the game is more of a social ice breaker that often devolves into hysteria and/or embarrassment. 

This UK-specific pack includes specific vocabulary and references that Brits will appreciate, as long as you have a good sense of humour and aren’t easily offended. It’s definitely not for children, although there are family-friendly versions, along with around 30 different expansion packs that you can add to your main deck. 

Key details – Players: 4-20+; Age range: 17 years and up; Estimated game time: 30 to 90 mins; Difficulty: Easy

Read more

Best Buys