All Collectible Card Games (like Magic the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh!) I know require the players to shuffle their decks before the game begins. Also, the deck's card order is unbeknown to the players.

For the game I'm currently designing I thought about letting the players arrange their decks beforehand (so they know exactly which card they draw when, assuming a perfect memory or a virtual match). However, to find out if this is a good idea, I'm looking for at least one CCG that incorporates this mechanic to study it's rules. Do you know any?

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    This sounds like it would play a little bit like roborally. Each turn you chose the order of the 9 cards you will play.
    – xorsyst
    Jan 3, 2014 at 17:04
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    It's not a CCG per se, but Mage Wars is a no-shuffle dueling card game.
    – asfallows
    Jan 13, 2014 at 16:52
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    There is at least one MtG "format" I know of that does not use shuffling: mtgsalvation.gamepedia.com/3-Card_Blind Jun 21, 2014 at 9:05

6 Answers 6


Not sure how applicable it is, since it never had an actual physical card-based implementation (and ergo isn't strictly on-topic for this site), but Alteil was an online game based on CCG deck-building mechanics. While the original Japanese game still appears to be in active development, this answer is based on the English localization of it that has been defunct since 2017.

Decks are built of thirty cards, limited only by a maximum of three copies of any given card. One card can be played each round, and this card is freely chosen from all available cards so there is no shuffling or randomization involved; the player has full access to his own deck.

(Again, this doesn't strictly meet your requirements of "letting the players arrange their decks beforehand" as there's no actual drawing involved — the player's "hand" is effectively his entire deck throughout the game — but it arguably does meet "so they know exactly which card they draw when" so I'll keep going...)

All the randomization that's not in the card selection is found in the actual card abilities themselves. For example, whereas targetting is common in a typical CCG (at least the ones I've played), it's actually an exception in Alteil. Most attacks — even the default attack action — only hit random units within range, but the player has no control over which units beyond ensuring the intended targets are "within range". Targetted attacks do exist, but usually with a trade-off (e.g. higher cost or lower damage). As such, gameplay itself is much more akin to a tactics game than most CCGs, with a higher emphasis on field layout and timing.

Detailed rules can still be found in the Wayback archive of Alteil's Rule Book; the fundamentals of game phases and stack resolution and card-text-trumps-everything are clearly in-line with existing deck-building games, even if the whole game is probably too complex to (enjoyably) play as a physical CCG.

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    Thanks. Replacing drawing with all-cards-available is probably the best option to overcome the time consuming sorting mentioned by K.L. Dec 30, 2013 at 14:51

Zatch Bell The Card Battle TCG (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/18287/zatch-bell) is a TCG with no shuffling.

It also features deck as health and deck as resource.

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    Does it have no shuffling? It's worth being explicit when it's the main drive of the question. May 30, 2014 at 13:15
  • Yes. It has drawing but no shuffling. Fixed now. Thanks!
    – user294
    Jun 6, 2014 at 23:53

Mage Wars is a living card game and not a CCS, but that is an irrelevant point once gameplay begins. Unlike a CCG, a living card game sells packs open so you always know what you are going to get. I think the most popular idea of this is actually Warhammer 40k where players buy the exact units that they want for their armies.

In Mage Wars, players build spell-books by putting cards into a binder. During play they page through their spell-book, pull out the card that they want to play, and play it. No shuffling, no randomisation.


Anachronism is a CCG that has no shuffling. On the other hand, that's because your "deck" is only five cards and you start with them all in your hand.


IMHO letting players set up their decks pre game in a CCG is a bad idea.

First of all, Magic has the shuffling for a reason. One of them is porviding randomness to the game and giving the players the chance to work with what they got. Without that, all of the actual game would be happening in the metagame.

Knowing what your opponent plays and in what order would be instawin if you had proper cards in your collection. The best cards would be very pricey in such a ccg. If two different first turn win combos could be set up with your card base, the game would effectively become rock paper scissors. The players would not be thinking "what can I do with the cards at hand" during play - play would be just the execution of patterns the deck was designed and set up for. If you set your deck the wrong way pre game you would lose. If you were lucky, you would win.

Perhaps it is possible to invent mechanics that let you get around these problems, but in my opinion it is not worth it, as the pre game deck setup isnt really a part of the game thats interactive and fun, and it would be tiresome to set it up again after each game before you can play another. Shuffling is easier and more convinient. So - what do you actually want to achieve with pre-game deck setup mechanics? Perhaps this is a case of the XY problem, and there are in fact better solutions?

On a side note, I feel that making another ccg is not viable. Magic was first and still is the biggest after 20 years. It aint going away anytime soon. Its kind of like WoW in the MMO world. There are some other MMOs, and they do thier little thing, but they cant compare to WoW and its playerbase.

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    The tiresome sorting is a good point. However, I have chosen goldPseudo's answer as it comes nearer to the question. Dec 30, 2013 at 14:54
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    PS (exceeded 5 minutes edit frame): Primary I wanted to explore this mechanic to eliminate the random element. I hoped I could encourage players to build a balanced card sequence with small, pre-built combos. You still don't know what cards your opponent has, so you may not always play your pattern as planned. Regarding viability: It's just a hobby project, nothing to conquer the market. I would release it as an open "source" game anyway. Dec 30, 2013 at 15:11
  • -1: I agree with the premise that you'd get a very different game, and one where even minor advantage (unavoidable in a CCG) would probably lead to an unbeatable position (which is bad), but crucially, that's not the question being asked.
    – deworde
    May 30, 2014 at 7:46
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    This answer sounds like it's only from the perspective of current, popular CCGs. Of course Magic requires shuffling, because the rest of the mechanics in Magic dictate that shuffling makes sense. But it's not impossible to have a set of game mechanics/rules where shuffling isn't needed. And there's also plenty of new CCGs around, such as the reprint of Android: Netrunner.
    – Ellesedil
    May 30, 2014 at 13:25
  • @deworde still, I'd argue that if someone asked "what hammer should I use to kill a flu on the wall", "don't use a hammer, use a newspaper" would be a valid answer, even if it doesent STRICTLY answer the question.
    – K.L.
    Jun 12, 2015 at 7:56

I am designing a game (already in public testing) in which everything is about the order of the cards in the deck. Of course, it isn't a MtG or YGO copy. It would not work in those systems for the reasons K.L. said.

In my game, players start with a set number of 'characters' and a deck of 10 cards per character. Each card card represent actions that a character can do, such as moving or attacking to gain health.

The interesting part is that every five turns, all discarded cards go to the back of the deck in the same order they were discarded AND that they may draw any number of cards from their deck every turn but they must discard every unused card.

This creates an interesting game play of cost reward analysis in which the player is trying to pull a good combo of cards (which cards to discard and which to keep). The 'ideal strategy' changes constantly depending on what is available to the players at the moment and what they may choose to do with it.

The 'chaos' in each match does not have to come from randomness in card draw, but from the players' choices in situations where there is no obvious 'perfect strategy', plus an unlimited number of other things such as card effects that are outside player control.

Also, the idea that you should not create a new game just because somebody else did a good one before you is just false. If people chose not to create games out of fear that it would not be good enough, there would be no games.

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    While this is an interesting discussion (and a sentiment that I agree with), StackExchange is not a discussion site (from boardgames.stackexchange.com/tour : "This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.") and this doesn't answer the OP's question. Nov 16, 2014 at 16:27
  • The first sentence did not contribute to the answer. It seemed like an attack on K.L., so I just removed it. The body of the answer has some important material, but it hides behind your opinions. You should probably try to write answers that are objective, but if and when you can't be objective, at least try to avoid strongly opinionated words like "good" and "dumb".
    – Rainbolt
    Nov 17, 2014 at 15:51

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