The three best free strategy card games – courtesy of Clash Royale

Clash Royale has me absolutely hooked at the moment. It’s a fantastic little competitive experience that has reignited my interest in strategy card games. Because of this, I have been diving back into some recent classics in the genre. Here are my three picks of the best.

Hearthstone (Window|Mac|iOS|Android)

Hearthstone belongs on any list of card games. Taking the formula popularized by the physical collectible card game (CCG) Magic the Gathering, developer Blizzard perfectly translated the action into a streamlined digital format using their popular World of Warcraft (WoW) universe for inspiration.

The aim is to attack your opponent with various minions and spells that you summon using mana. Before entering the arena you must build your deck, this is then drawn randomly to create your hand as the battle unfurls. This means you must balance weaker cards with a low mana cost, like Murloc Raider, with more powerful but costly ones, such as the Molten Giant, to ensure you always have cards to play.

But perhaps Hearthstone’s greatest victory is in using the WoW license rather than building a new lore. This provides a shorthand for their huge fan base to enter an entirely new genre, by giving them a clear foundation for cards’ abilities without the need of extensive explanation.

With more cards, multiplayer, and single player content constantly being added through downloadable content, Hearthstone is sure to remain on any list of CCGs for years.

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (iOS|Android)

It may not look like a card game, but to unlock new characters and abilities in Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes you need Data Cards, so it is making this list – plus it’s great. The action in Galaxy of Heroes is similar to Final Fantasy’s classic combat system. After picking the squad you want to take into a mission or multiplayer arena, you enter into turn-based combat. Your characters determine your abilities, such as Count Dooku’s skill of attacking multiple enemies at once and Chewbacca ability to absorb huge amounts of damage. Characters take it in turns to act.

A simple interface, enables you to easily select who to target next and which ability to use. Here is where the game’s strategy comes into play. Powers take time to recharge, so you must use special techniques carefully or you may find yourself without them at a crucial moment. What makes Galaxy of Heroes moreish is that it offers plenty of missions and daily challenges to help you constantly unlock classic Star Wars characters to add to your roster – all without having to pay.

Clash Royale (iOS|Android)

Finally, the game that inspired this article, Clash Royale. This new Supercell app is an interesting blend of tower defense and card game, that has you warring against an opposing king across a river.

You do this with a hand of cards that are dealt to you at regular intervals while the action unfurls. These can be area attacks that can deal large amounts of damage to structures, or units that march across the arena’s bridges to attack anything in sight.

Cards draw on Clash of Clans (iOS|Android) characters. Ranging between Archers to Giants, everyone has their own unique skills that must be considered when building your deck.

Playing cards costs Elixir – an energy that refills during combat. This keeps the action balanced as cards cost a varying amounts of this to use. As a result, if you build a powerful deck, you could be left constantly waiting for your Elixir to recharge while your opponent floods the field with cheaper units.

Clash Royale is very deserving of its popularity and I recommend downloading today to make sure you are refining your strategies and deck starting day one.

I know, I say this every time, but this week more than ever I know I’ve missed dozens of amazing card games. If your favorite is not here, let me know what it is and why you love it in the comments.

I’ll be back with another Click-Swipe-Play next week, until then remember to like, share, and subscribe.

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