Board vs. Card Games: Which Are Better?

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Whether you want to have some fun with friends or you’re looking to start a new family game night tradition, one of the things you’re definitely going to need is a good game. Generally speaking, your choices are going to fall between board games and card games.

Sure, they may share some similarities, but they do also have like a great number of differences between them. So, if you were forced to choose between board games and card games, which one would you go with? Let’s find out exactly what you’re getting into.

Board vs. Card Games

Are Card Games Board Games?

We are going to do our best to answer this question as it is actually quite subjective in nature. Now, according to the dictionary, a card game is technically not a board game, mainly because there is no board that the games are played on. However, with that being said, if you ask most game experts and enthusiasts, the general consensus is that card games are actually board games.

As you can see, it can be a bit confusing, because whose word are we supposed to take for here? The game experts or the dictionary? Personally, we would rule on the side of the dictionary. We say that card games do not qualify as board games. Card games are usually played with cards only, whereas board games, although they may also involve cards, always involve a game board as well as other pieces.

They are most definitely not the same things, not in the least.

Board Games vs. Card Games: Similarities and Differences

OK, so now that we have established that board games and card games are two very different things, it is important for us to look at both the similarities between them and the differences. Let’s find out whether you want to buy board games or card games for your next family game night.


Let’s start with the similarities.

1. Both Are Tabletop Games

Although we definitely don’t put board games and card games in the same category, what can be said is that both of these games are considered tabletop games, or in other words, they are generally played on top of a table. OK, so you can play on a bench or any other such surface, but the simple reality is that you do need a surface to play on. This is perhaps the most basic of the similarities, which these two types of games share.

2. Both Are Manual in Nature

Another very simple and basic similarity that both card games and board games share is that they are manual in nature. What we mean is that unlike televisions and video games, both of these types of games do not require any sort of electricity to play. Sure, video games are a whole lot of fun, but what do you do when your power goes out? When a winter storm hits and your electricity cuts out, board games and card games are going to be your only option in terms of entertainment for the family.

3. Both Involve Strategy and Luck

Although different board games and card games do differ in terms of how much strategy and luck they include, generally speaking, both of them do include both a bit of strategy and luck. For instance, Monopoly is strategic in terms of which properties you buy and where you build hotels, as well as luck-based in terms of what numbers you get when you roll the dice.

The same can be said for a card game like poker, which is very strategic in terms of bluffing and building the right hands, but also luck-based in terms of getting the right cards dealt to you.

Yes, there are going to be some differences in terms of strategizing between these two types of games, which is something that we’re going to cover in this section on differences further below.

4. Both Come with Plenty of Variety

Another basic similarity between current games and board games is the fact that they come with plenty of variety. There are literally hundreds of card games (here’s some of the most popular ones) that you can play as well as hundreds, if not thousands of board games. Yes, there are many more types of one of these games than the other, which is another thing that we’re going to discuss in the section on differences between them further below.

5. Both Can be Easy or Hard

What is also really nice about board games and card games is the fact that they can generally be played by people of all ages depending on which ones you play. There are both board games and card games that can be played by children as little as two or three years of age, as well as those that are ideal only for adults. The fact that both of these types of games allow for such great choice in terms of age requirements is a pretty big deal.

6. Both Can Be Played on the Go

Another similarity that both board games and card games share is that they can be played on the go. Now, card games do tend to be a little more portable than board games due to the fact that all you need is a deck of cards. That said, there are tons of travel-friendly portable board games designed just for travel. You’re not going to be setting up a PlayStation 5 on the go, but you can set up a nice quick board game or card game.

7. Both Can be Played by Various Numbers of Players

Although it does depend on the exact games in question, both board games and card games allow for as few as two and as many as eight people to play (give or take).

Board Game Play


Now that we know what the similarities between board and card games are, let’s figure out what the differences.

1. The Game Pieces

One of the major differences is that for card games all you need is a deck of cards, whereas for a board game you need the whole board along with many other things. For a board game, you need the board, you will usually need dice, there are generally cards involved, and other game pieces too. Simply put, you can play a card game with nothing more than a deck of cards, something that you won’t be able to do with the board game.

2. Setup and Portability

Although you can find travel-friendly board games, lots of them in fact, the simple reality is that card games are still much more portable and don’t require nearly as much space to play. In this sense, card games are definitely the better option to go with in terms of travel.

3. Board Games Are Usually More Complex

Now, it does somewhat depend on the specific card games and board games in question, but that said, board games are generally more complex. They have more rules to follow more pieces that move and more actions that players can take.

While there are many card games that are quite heavy in strategy, the amount of strategy required for card games is usually not quite as high as for board games. That is especially the case if you go for very complicated board games such as Go, Chess, or Shogi. In fact, both Chess and Go are considered to be some of the hardest games in the world across the board, pun totally intended.

4. Board Games Usually Take Longer to Play

Most card games usually won’t take more than about half an hour to play, whereas there are some board games out there that could take two or even three hours to play. Two of the board games that will take the longest to complete include Monopoly and Risk. A normal game of Risk usually lasts for around 90 minutes at the very least. Even the most lengthy of card games usually don’t take more than 30 minutes for a single round. At the very most.

5. Overall Versatility

When you buy a board game, the only thing you can do with it is play that one specific game, whereas with a deck of cards you can play literally hundreds of games with that single thing. In this sense, card games are definitely more versatile.

6. Board Games Are Flashier

One of the biggest advantages that you get with board games over card games is the fact that they are much more entertaining, much flashier, more colorful, and definitely way better for children. There’s just a whole lot more going on with board games, and this can make them a lot more entertaining. All you need to do to realize this is take a look at everything that’s present on a Monopoly board.


7. Difference in Cost

You can buy a deck of cards for a few dollars and even specific card games like Uno usually don’t cost more than $15 or $20. On the other hand, there are some board games out there that can cost nearly $100.

Board Games vs. Card Games: Which Should You Play?

If you have plenty of room to spare, you have money to pay for board games and you want maximum fun, entertainment, and flashiness, then you definitely want to go for board games. There’s just a lot more to board games that can provide a large group of people with plenty of entertainment. Moreover, board games are usually very theme-specific, which can make them very fun for people who are interested in those themes.

On the other hand, if what you’re looking for is a very quick game that can be played nearly anywhere with nothing more than 52 cards, and you want something that is generally very simple to play, then card games are what you want to go with.

A Deck of Cards


There you have it, folks. Now that you know all of the similarities and differences between board games and card games, you can make an informed decision between the two. All that being said, we really don’t think that you have to make a choice between the two, because you can go for both.