"Dedicated deck" or "novelty" card games are many. Game mechanics vary widely. Most can't be played with a regular pack of cards; what they all have in common is that they are usually played on a specially printed deck. Below are some of the best on the market.
Killer Bunnies, one of the best recently introduced dedicated-deck card games, distinguishes itself in two ways. Winning is probabilistic--at best, players' actions increase their chances of winning in the end--and play is for the most part two turns in advance.
The object: obtain carrots, mainly through the use of "bunnies". Like real rabbits, these bunnies are fragile and must be fed and watered or they will die. Atomic bombs and more commonplace violence kill them also--and one must have at least one bunny alive in the end to be eligible to win.
The many expansions available for this game--it has a small but dedicated following--make it difficult to keep track of what plays are available to one's opponents. The "Starter Deck", however, is well-balanced and large enough to be interesting but small enough to follow.
The nerd classic, Munchkin
A "Munchkin" is a Dungeons and Dragons player who favors rulebooks, rule-based petty tactics, and the occasional "hack" at the expense of roleplaying. Munchkin, accordingly, is a dungeon crawl-themed card game, with (according to the product website) "none of that stupid roleplaying stuff".
It's probably the dedicated-deck card game with the largest current following, and has spawned many expansions and spinoffs, the most notable of which is Star Munchkin.
The game mechanic is simple: on each turn players kick down a door and try to kill the monster that comes out, gaining levels and treasure. Players can assist others on mutually agreeable terms, usually involving the exchange of a bonus-conferring item or the divison of treasure. The player who attains the target level (usually Level 10) first wins.
Munchkin isn't a very serious game. It's one big D&D joke full of many in-jokes (a gazebo, which you must face alone, is among the monsters) and a lot of the humor would be lost on someone who hasn't played any Dungeons and Dragons or at least played NetHack. That having been said its mechanic is well-thought and play is well-balanced enough that it's an enjoyable game even after the jokes go stale. The semi-cooperative mechanic and "underhandedness" allowed by some of the cards are what give it real replay value.
However, its current popularity--there are now Munchkin tournaments!--is unwarranted. It's an average light card game that seems dull in comparison to Killer Bunnies, the classic Mille Bornes, or many games that can be played with a standard deck.
For those who aren't avid Munchkin or Killer Bunnies players Uno is probably the first dedicated-deck card game to come to mind, especially to those who grew up in the 1980s.
International Games (who acquired the game from Merle Robbins in 1981) and then Mattel both cashed in on the Uno trademark by releasing spinoff after spinoff: Uno Dominoes, Uno Dice, and a host of others so stupid--including one involving water and waterproof cards--that they shouldn't even be named. At best these had some novelty value, but the original was a solid card game in the Crazy Eights or "shedding" family, with a lively and simple visual design that made gameplay easy on the eyes.
The only problem: were it not for specially printed "Reverse", "Draw Four", "Skip", and "Wild Draw Four" cards, Uno could be played with a standard deck of cards.
Mille Bornes, the grandfather of the genre
Before even Uno, there was 1954's French motoring-themed Mille Bornes, which may in turn derive from 1906 introduction Touring. Players compete to accumulate distance cards and can thwart each other by play of road hazards; safety and repair cards in hand get them going again.
Once the (French) terminology of the game is learned, play is straightforward, and strategic enough for this to have great replay value.
Parker Brothers (who bought Touring in the 1920s) produced the English-language edition of this for decades. Recently it has become more difficult to find, but is still available produced under license by Winning Moves Games.
Guillotine, a good light game
Guillotine is a light and easy to explain French Reign of Terror-themed point-scoring game. Players score by executing high-ranking figures and can also play action cards that tamper with opponents' execution tallies or rearrange the execution queue.
Perhaps it's too light: the deck is large enough and the action cards haphazard enough that it's difficult to plan ahead and keep track of opponents' possibilities. Nevertheless it's enough fun to open or fill time in a game night, and simple enough to be played reasonably well the first time around.
Fluxx can be said to be in the same genre as Mao (played with a standard deck) but considerably lighter. The "rules" of the game and the winning condition are themselves set by play of cards from players' hands. Players usually win by playing "keeper" cards (e.g. a brain and a toaster) that match the goal card in play, but there are a few goal cards that don't involve keepers.
Gameplay can be a bit unpredictable, but play of action cards, rule cards, and goal cards can be tactical and there is even some room for strategy.
Since the rules are specified on cards, and since good gameplay doesn't depend strongly on knowing the contents of the deck, Fluxx can be learned when first played.
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