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Sets of cards used as a unit in a game.

Cards are found in many games. Decks are in many games simply the collection of all cards while in some other games different Decks exists for different functions or each player have their own Decks.


All traditional Card Games, e.g. Contract Bridge, Poker, and Whist, makes use of Decks. In all these cases they use the same set of 52 cards, while games such as Bang!, Dominion, Fluxx, Frank's Zoo, Munchkin, No Thanks!, Race for the Galaxy, The Great Dalmuti, and Uno make use of Decks customized for those games.

Collectible Card Games such as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon Trading Card Game, Star Trek Customizable Card Game, and Illuminati: New World Order also make use of Decks, but in this case each player creates (or is assigned) his or her own Deck to play with. Deck Building games such as Dominion, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game, and Thunderstone function in the same way, but here players expand their Decks during gameplay.

Using the pattern

The design of how Decks are used in games rely primarily on deciding which Cards can be used. A secondary choice is how many Decks should be used, e.g. should each player have their own Decks? Deck Building or Pre-Customized Decks allow players to construct the Decks used and is very often used when players have their own Decks. The use of these patterns in Collectible Card Games make Decks a common occurrence in this type of games.

Each Deck in a game can be design as Closed Economies or Faucet/Drain systems, with Deck Building as the primary way to design the latter choice. The most common use of Decks is as Drawing Stacks, often to let players create Hands. This can be modified by Drafting Spreads that let players choose which Card from a limited set they wish to take. Discard Piles are typically used whenever the number of Cards in Decks are not sufficient for the intended gameplay time or when re-use of Cards for new Drawing Stacks are intended; this creates true Closed Economies if no new Cards are introduced and lets new Cards be randomized with the old ones when Deck Building is used (since new Cards are typically placed in Discard Piles).

Interface Aspects

Decks in an Interface Pattern.


Decks provide Randomness for games using Cards. Keeping track of which Cards are left in Decks often provide gameplay advantage and because of this the presence of Decks encourage Memorizing. It can also provide Strategic Knowledge either when players know which Cards are in Decks or when they can create them through Deck Building or Pre-Customized Decks.


Can Instantiate

Memorizing, Randomness, Strategic Knowledge

Can Modulate

Collectible Card Games

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Closed Economies, Deck Building, Discard Piles, Drafting Spreads, Drawing Stacks, Faucet/Drain, Hands, Pre-Customized Decks

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.