Anurag loves playing video games. His guides and listicles revolve around popular iOS, Android, PC, and console games.
Collectible card games (CCGs) for the iOS platform bring back those good old days when we collected physical game cards. While they don't quite re-create the fun of real-life card battles, they still give you a sense of accomplishment, especially when you unlock a rare card. The enticing card artwork and new card battle mechanics make gameplay more interesting.
The only drawback of most mobile card battle games is the inclusion of a paid model. In-app purchases can be a real turn-off, which is why some players avoid these “freemium” titles and stick to physical card battles. However, mobile CCG isn’t dead, and many games still have a strong community who love to battle online opponents via multiplayer card battle modes. Here are some of the top collectible card games for iPhone.
1. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer offers the best deck-building experience. You draw cards from a starter deck and interact with six random cards laid out on the game board. The fun begins when you start acquiring these cards by spending runes and adding them to your current deck. There may be monster cards, hidden within these six, that will give you victory points.
To ensure proper balance, both teams have weaker cards at the start of the game. With a little bit of luck and some strategy, you will be able to create your dream deck and defeat opponents.
Based on the classic card game Dominion, the iOS port of the original card game does exceptionally well with the layout, which is like card battle games you have played with your friends. The card artwork is amateurish, though the simple hand-drawn graphics may appeal to some. But Ascension’s gameplay is something to look out for, and this aspect distinguishes this game.
2. Dragon Collection
Dragon Collection combines traditional CCG with simple Pokémon-style gameplay. To build really formidable attack and defense decks, you will need to complete quests. Besides the usual fetch quests, you will be battling opponents for monster cards. Cards you collect in the battle arena can be combined with rare cards to make them more powerful.
The game’s creature-collection feature lets you use those mean machines to attract more creature cards and enhance them. The game also features an alliance system that lets other online players join your team and defeat enemies on the battleground. Card artwork isn’t animated, but they boast excellent anime-style visuals in the style of Dragon Ball Z. You will fall in love with these adorable creatures.
Dragon Collection’s gameplay is simple, yet rewarding. The free-to-play model may turn some players off, but there are plenty of card-collecting quests and daily energy refills to keep you busy for days.
3. Guardian Cross
Guardian Cross is another iPhone CCG title with gameplay elements similar to creature-collecting card battle games. The fantasy TCG from Square Enix lets players hunt down guardians in order to recruit them to their deck. You step into the shoes of Bran, who sets out on a mission to capture creatures using his enchanted rifle.
With the rifle, you can capture as many creatures as you can, but to get the rare creatures you will have to invest a lot of work in spotting and hunting them. As in most social games, energy plays an important part. And though your energy will gradually refill on its own over time, you may be tempted to buy energy packs to speed up the process.
The game has a special battle arena where you can lock horns against other Guardian masters and rake in special rewards like card enhancement stones and rare cards. Like traditional creature-collecting CCGs, the game offers ways to enhance and fuse creatures. You can level-up creature cards and combine cards to create a more powerful creature.
Guardian’s artwork is in Square Enix’s visual art style, reminiscent of popular RPGs. The Square Enix style will surely attract RPG fans, but the game may not appeal to serious card battle fanatics because of the simplistic gameplay and lack of any tactical elements; some may call it just another screen-tapping CCG.
4. Duel of Fate
Duel of Fate’s multiplayer card battles are easy to master but can turn out to be quite challenging when they involve online opponents. Based on the rock-paper-scissors formula, the game is quite addicting and offers a variety of beautifully-designed cards. While battling opponents, you will need to keep this simple setup in mind and then make use of those secondary cards to inflict maximum damage.
What I like about this game is the visuals and a simple interface. During card battles, characters and creatures come to life, making card combat more exciting and fun. The anime-inspired art complements its gameplay well.
The game borrows several elements from Magic the Gathering, including spell cards and special item cards. Unfortunately, Duel of Fate does not provide an in-depth tutorial mode to explain card advantages and uses. A couple of single-player missions will teach you some gameplay elements, but one needs to play multiplayer battles to get acquainted with elemental cards and other aspects of the game.
Duel of Fate’s card battles may not impress hardcore CCG players, but are suitable for causal gamers looking for a simple, addicting game.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Recollection
Recollection takes place in the AC universe and offers a nice RTS/collectible card game hybrid. The game has over 15 single-player missions and a multiplayer matchmaker mode, where you can showcase your card battle skills against online players.
Recollection’s card battles are not easy to master, which is why players must play the in-depth tutorial mode first to understand gameplay aspects fully. The goal is to score 10 points to control a territory before your opponent does. Points can be scored by deploying “Assassin” cards or special cards that earn points automatically once placed in a territory. The card battles are fun, but take some time before getting more immersive.
The game’s biggest drawback is its focus on in-app card purchases. You can’t have a full set of cards unless you pay for them. Only half of the game's 228 card can be unlocked for free.
Recollection’s card artwork is beautiful and polished. Bonus content includes short movies and high-resolution concept art. While the concept is interesting, it may not entice those who are used to Rage of Bahamut-type gameplay.
6. Orions: Legend of Wizards
A fantasy collectible card game for iPhone, Orions contains gameplay elements from Magic: The Gathering in an attractive, touchscreen-friendly package. Gameplay may not be as deep as in Magic, but it is addicting and competitive.
The game has a nice campaign mode which lets you control islands by defeating a rival wizard in a card battle arena. Not only do you go island-hopping to defeat rivals, but you also construct castles and summon and capture monsters. The game throws in lot of variety, making card battles less monotonous.
Duels are fun only if you get your strategy right. Because the game is wizard-centric, spells and monster summons will play a key role in your card battle strategy. The game also lets you combine color-coded cards to create powerful combos that can inflict maximum damage to rival wizards.
While the card battle mechanic is solid, rare card collection can be a bit tedious if you don’t opt for in-app purchases. There’s an upgrade tree to get access to powerful spells, but that’s not as easy as you might think. One can also get powerful cards for free, but again the time-consuming harvesting and construction elements may steer players towards buying cards with real money.
Orions has a nice presentation and the card layout is designed pretty well. 2D graphics will remind you of early-90s games. The retro visuals and card presentation, along with excellent card battle mechanics, create a nice CCG environment. A must-download game, if you are a fan of fantasy CCGs.
All screenshots courtesy of their respective developers/publishers.
Anurag Ghosh (author) on April 23, 2013:
Will English on April 23, 2013:
Can't say I play these kinds of games, not on my phone anyway. The ones you selected sound fun though.