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The Best Card Games for Friendly Competition

Happy young family playing card game at dining table at bright modern home
Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

From Blackjack to Go Fish and everything in between, card games are a beloved means of high-stakes competition between family, friends, and even complete strangers. They know how to bring us together or quietly fill us with teeth-gritting frustration in a matter of just a few hands. And even if the card games you own have a designated spot on the top shelf three weekends out of every month, you remember how much joy they can conjure once they’re sprawled across the table again. If you’re in the market for a classic or new age card game that will really bring the family together, here are a few options that you should check out.

What to Look for in Your Next Card Game

Consider these factors when making your selection:

  • Player Capacity: Oftentimes, the best way to enjoy a card game is with a lot of people around the table. That’s why it’s important the game you buy offers an opportunity for plenty of players to join in. Most card games cover the bare minimum of two players but can max out at four to five players. So, if you’re having multiple people over, consider an option that will accommodate everyone at once, rather than having to wait for a round to end before a new group of players takes over.
  • Age Demographic: It should go without being said, but if you’re buying a card game that may require a learning curve for younger users, then you must be prepared for a few pauses during your session. Of course, there are still plenty of exciting card games that are age-appropriate for users as young as 7 years old, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • Uniqueness: And with a change of pace in mind, it’s also important to consider a card game that piques the interest of everyone at the table. You can get a lot of mileage out of a regular deck of 52 playing cards, but there’s plenty of variety on the market shelves. Some games are almost too ridiculous to be real, while other sets are geared toward bringing partners a little closer on date night. There’s no shortage of barrier-breaking card games; you just have to be prepared to leave your comfort zone for an hour or two.

The Classic: Mattel Games’ UNO

A classic and easy game to pick up for parties or during your downtime, UNO is a color-coordinated matching game that always finds a way to bring out some friendly competition. Each tin of UNO cards comes in a deck of 112 cards and includes detailed instructions on how to play and win. The goal is simple: quickly get rid of the cards in your hand by matching one of them to the number or color of the card the person before you slaps down. Can’t find a match? Just pick up a card from the draw pile and forfeit your move until all players have played their hand again. It’s a game of speed, strategy, and the occasional hard stare.

The Classic

Best for Couples: OUR MOMENTS Couples

Looking for a new way to spice up evenings indoors? OUR MOMENTS Couples is a card game intended to draw you and your partner out of the comfort zone and into honest and always romantic conversations. There are 100 cards in total in the deck, each featuring a question geared toward getting partners to open up and discuss the special moments they’ve shared. The only rule? Listen. Listen to what your partner has to say thoroughly because nothing is more cherished in a relationship than effective communication.

Best for Couples

OUR MOMENTS Couples: 100 Conversation Starters for Great Relationships - Fun Conversation Cards Game for Couples

This card game for partners ensures healthy communication in a wholly entertaining way.

Best Family Game: Throw Throw Burrito by Exploding Kittens

Enjoy all the excitement of dodgeball without having to relive the worst years of junior high, Throw Throw Burrito mixes plush toys and cards for one wildly addictive outing. That adorable burrito with the anime eyes? Yep, you launch that at your siblings from across the room, but not before finding three cards of a kind in the deck before everyone else does. These cards nab you points, but getting hit by the burrito loses them, so don’t forget to duck. Go to war with squishy Mexican food without feeling bad about hitting anyone in the face.

Best Family Game

Throw Throw Burrito by Exploding Kittens - A Dodgeball Card Game - Family-Friendly Party Games - for Adults, Teens & Kids - 2-6 Players

This adorable card game takes things airborne and is ideal for groups between two to six players.

Best for Kids: Hoyle Fun Pack Card Games

For anyone on the hunt for those tried-and-true classics, this Hoyle Fun Pack offers users six easygoing card games that any kid can pick up. Ideal for players ages 3 and up, this game pack includes Go Fish, Memory, Old Maid, Crazy Eights, Slap Jack, and Matching. Each game set features cards with unique themes and graphics. These qualities only heighten the cognitive skills and color identification proficiency a child can develop while competing.

Best for Kids

Hoyle 6 in 1 Kids Playing Cards Multi Game Pack, 6 Fun Games in 1 (Ages 3+)

A multipack of six cherished games that children will have no problem playing for hours on end.

Best for Parties: Exploding Kittens Card Game

Prior to creating Throw Throw Burrito, The Oatmeal company created another zany card game with an equally ridiculous premise: Exploding Kittens. This Party Pack Edition of the game is still as family-friendly as the original version while making room for more players to get in on the fun (two to ten players). It’s a game of hilarious chance: draw an Exploding Kitten from the deck, and you lose. There are various other cards and ways to evade the explosive shunning, but it’s still easy enough for players as young as age 7 to pick up and enjoy.

Best for Parties
Hollis Mills Hollis Mills
Hollis Mills is a freelance journalist and a content writer for LifeSavvy. He has a bachelor's degree in English literature, and as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, Hollis wrote and edited for the nationally recognized student newspaper, The Battalion. When he's not writing, you can find him complaining about Boston Celtics basketball or giving plenty of peanut butter biscuits to his always-hungry Catahoula dog, Blue. Read Full Bio »
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