Board games vs card games, featured image

Board Games VS Card Games

These are the main differences between board games and card games:

  • Board games are typically played with physical pieces on a board (card games are played with cards).
  • Board games are typically longer and more complex than card games.
  • Board games often involve more strategy and planning than card games.
  • Board games can be more enjoyable and engaging than card games.

However, as you’re about to find out, there’s a lot more to the history and evolution of the two.

How Do You Define Card Games and Board Games?

The Oxford Dictionary defines board games as:

“Any game played on a board, often using dice and small pieces that are moved around”.

On the other hand, card games hold a separate definition in the same dictionary:

“A game in which playing cards are used.”

If the dictionary doesn’t give the two a singular meaning, that definitely means that board and card games differ in a lot of aspects.

Board games vs card games, a man opening pawns, cards and a board

How do Board and Card Games Differ from Each Other?

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the primary differences between the two:

1) There is No Board Involved In Card Games

With board games, a board is the center of all player activity.

All your game pieces are placed on the board.

Usually, there are fixed directions inscribed on the board. Players cannot put their counters or pawns anywhere else.

On the other hand, card games usually don’t have a separate board.

The players are likely to have individual cards. Depending on what’s in those cards, the game goes on in favor of certain players.

The cards that the players reveal are either stacked in one place or are stacked individually for each player.

2) The Main Gaming Element

The difference in the physical format results in a difference in the general playing themes as well.

Board games such as checkers, backgammon, Go, etc., are primarily about location and maneuvering.

The players get access either to the full board or only certain areas of the board. These games are played through clever schemes and strategic location planning.

Some board games are about resource management.

Scrabble, for instance, is concerned with how you use your vocab and integrate it with the letters available to you.

The better direction, placement, and length your words have, the higher your score.

Other games are about an auction.

Monopoly is perhaps the most popular one in this regard. It concerns money, buying, selling, upgrading, and renting. The player who is the richest at the end of the campaign wins.

On the other hand, most card games are primarily based on secret planning. Players can only know what’s in their own cards.

Whether it’s UNO or Casino gaming, players can only guess what the others are hiding. This makes card games more exciting and less strategic.

3) The Number of Players

Most board games come with a square board.

There are four colors of game pieces.

Scrabble comes with four slabs on which the players can place their tiles. In the case of games like Chess, there are only two players allowed at a time.

This allows only four people to play at a time. T

hey can either be individual players or play in teams. Either way, the number of players is restricted, mostly to four, by the game’s format.

On the other hand, card games can be played according to the number of cards available.

You can have more than four or less than four players. Each game has separate instructions.

4) Price

Most board games come in elaborate packaging.

They contain pouches for game pieces, spare game pieces, the game board, accessories, collectibles, instruction guides, and so on.

On the other hand, most card games contain just cards in simpler packaging.

This automatically brings down the price of the latter, making the former more expensive for your pocket.

5) Portability

Board games require considerable space, are heavier and their game pieces can get misplaced every now and then.

Card games can fit into your pocket or your purse and are a lot lighter in terms of weight.

Therefore, they are economical, and they’re also extremely portable for playing anytime and anywhere.

Board games vs card games, a man playing a board game including cards

Similarities Between Board Games and Card Games

Both are played by more than one person, both come in boxed packaging, and both are indoor games.

Board games and card games do have quite a lot of similarities, such as:

The Unpredictability

Ludo is a board and pawns game and is played with dice.

Apparently, you can categorize this as a game of location and maneuver.

However, it also has that characteristic unpredictability that you usually find in card games; it is the role of the dice that determines how the game will go.

Both Employ Cards (Sometimes)

Similarly, Monopoly and Who Will Become a Millionaire employ cards along with the board.

Paper money, property cards, instruction cards, and questionnaire cards make these games an amalgamation of board games and card games.

Dungeons and Dragons is another game that’s also played on a board, and has cards, as well as dice.

There’s usually only one player who knows everything about the campaign.

The others just guess and predict their way according to the dice numbers or the cards they get.

Therefore, this makes the game a perfect mix of board games and card games.

However, since most of the action takes place at the player’s choice and not the card’s content, they’re also classified as board games.

Board games vs card games, a board of chess with cards

What Are the Various Types of Card Games?

Just like all branches of indoor and outdoor games, card games, too, have a range of playing mechanisms.

Some have even been shifted to online tournaments and engage champion players from all over the globe.

To put things in perspective, card games generally fall into three categories:

1. Collectible Card Game Sets

Most manufacturers release card games with complete instructions and campaigns.

These are available in a single box and are only a one-time purchase.

In other words, these are complete sets, and there aren’t any extensions or sequels.

2. Living Card Games

These are the ones that have extensions and sequels.

Once the original game set is released, the manufacturers work on adding more cards in separate packs.

Even if the original set is a complete game on its own, you can buy the additions to broaden the card deck and play better games.

3. Legacy Card Games

These are usually the ones with an overarching campaign, where players permanently impact the value of cards.

They can use stickers, open envelop, and destroy cards.

This type of card game can be played only once because the campaign affects the value of the cards.


Card games are different from board games.

Like the rest of the gaming world, card games are also undergoing constant change and development.

Many have shifted to the virtual realm, and many others now integrate board games, too.

Both are enticing in their own capacity and require fairly similar skills to excel at.

Over to you now – do you prefer board games or card games?

Let us know by leaving a comment below and make sure to read our other articles too!

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