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Too Many Cards?

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Gorgoo
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I've began working on a board game with a friend that involves different types of spaces, all of which have their own decks of cards for things that can happen. It's a space game with "deep space" spaces, and planets. While on a planet space, you must draw one card from that type of planet's deck at the end of your turn. The 7 types of planets plus 4 "Specialist" decks adds up to a total of 12 different decks of cards. We approximated that the decks would have about 50 cards each, adding to a total of 600 cards.

My question is, though, is 600 cards too much? And if so, what could we do to lower the amount? We realize that it's quite a bit of cards, but we're not sure how we could alter the mechanics to allow for less cards.

Shellhead
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too Many Cards?

Depending on how much art and/or text your cards can handle, you might try to make one deck with each card serving multiple functions. Maybe you could have a different symbol/color for each of your card types, and each of your cards could have 3-6 symbols with related effects next to them. For example, a card might have icons on it for planet types #1, #2, #4 and #7, with different text for each. If somebody is drawing a card while on planet #2, they would draw and discard until they got a card with the planet #2 icon, then use that card. If it was the sample card I described above, they would ignore everything on the card except for the text next to the icon for planet #2. The different colors will make it easy for people to quickly identify whether they should discard and continue drawing, and the shape of the icon will be helpful for the color-blind players, or even those who just seem indifferent to differences like orange versus red.

Gorgoo
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too Many Cards?

That's a really good idea, thanks. Probably, though, what we'd do is have each card have 6 different possibilities on it, organized by letter or number. (Color as an extra would work well, too.) There'd still need to be the "Specialist" cards, so that using a card for one specialist wouldn't disqualify another player of one for theirs, but 250 cards is much more managable than 600. That would work well.

seo
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Too Many Cards?

Gorgoo wrote:
There'd still need to be the "Specialist" cards, so that using a card for one specialist wouldn't disqualify another player of one for theirs, but 250 cards is much more managable than 600. That would work well.

Depending on how the cards are used (specially if players keep the cards for some time or just play them as they grab them), you might simply add a "return the cards to the bottom of the reserve pile after playing it" sort of rule, or have several copies of each card. This might mean the same amount of cards in the deck, but not as many distinct cards. That will help a lot on the production costs department if you (or any company) ever Publishes the game.

Seo

TheReluctantGeneral
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too Many Cards?

Where 'card complexity' is heading in an unsustainable direction, you could consider using an indexed book instead. There have been quite a few threads on this forum regarding the use of paragraph books (remember those Fighting Fantasy choose-your-own adventure books?) in games, mostly to add 'narrative' elements to the game.

You have no need of narrative in your game it seems, but the book idea could still work well in this game. Simply divide the book into twelve sections (onr for each 'deck'), and have as many numbered paragraphs in each section as you like (say 100 per section). Then instead of drawing a card, roll a D100 and look up the corresponding paragraph in the book and follow the instructions. Each paragraph is a direct replacement for a card.

A book has the following advantages over cards:

1) For a large number of cards, it may be cheaper to produce, depending on production quality.
2) There is potentially more space in a book for flavour text, images and so forth. However each paragraph need not have image or flavour text, just distribute enough throughout the book to support the theme and get production costs at the right point.
3) It would be easier to manage than mulitple towering decks of cards.

Also remember that a book can still be supplemented with cards, For example, if a specific paragraph confers ownership of a special ability, piece of equipment etc, then you only need cards to represent these special items, which can then be kept by a player. Depending on your game complexity, such items might be representable by chits or counters with symbols, rather than cards.

What would the disadvantages of using an indexed book be as far as your game is concerned?

Gorgoo
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too Many Cards?

The idea of a book works much better than cards, actually for the various planets. I'd have to talk to my friend before actually implementing it, but it would give much more room for text and images. The only problem I see with it, though, are the Specialist cards, which I suppose I should explain in more detail since they keep coming up.

While ending a turn on a planet makes you have to draw a card, read it aloud (or show it to the other players) and follow its instructions (All of which could be done using a book and dice), the specialist cards are gained by "buying" a specialist using the game's currency. When you have a specialist, you can draw from their respective deck (As of now, it's weapons specialist, research specialist, engineering specialist, and diplomatic specialist), and keep the card in your hand, playing it (and showing everyone the effect of it) when you decide to.

I could just use cards for that mechanic, but since this discussion seems to be going in the direction of alternatives for cards, I'm open to suggestions. The only thing about using tokens and such for specialist cards is that there will be many of them, and even if the token had, for example, a number on it that corresponded to a page (or division of a page) in the book, experienced players might be able to tell what the person is about to do just by catching a glimpse of the page number.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Too Many Cards?

How many specialist 'cards' are there? If there is under 100 you could use cards, or if your use the smaller cards (rather than playing card size) you could get away with even more.

It also seems to be the case that players could peek at cards as much as they could peek at a book.

Other than that I can't really think of any more suggestions.

Patriarch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Too Many Cards?

Gorgoo wrote:
I've began working on a board game with a friend that involves different types of spaces, all of which have their own decks of cards for things that can happen. It's a space game with "deep space" spaces, and planets. While on a planet space, you must draw one card from that type of planet's deck at the end of your turn. The 7 types of planets plus 4 "Specialist" decks adds up to a total of 12 different decks of cards. We approximated that the decks would have about 50 cards each, adding to a total of 600 cards.

My question is, though, is 600 cards too much? And if so, what could we do to lower the amount? We realize that it's quite a bit of cards, but we're not sure how we could alter the mechanics to allow for less cards.

Have you had a look at what 600 cards cost? Just curious.

Gorgoo
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Too Many Cards?

Patriarch wrote:
Have you had a look at what 600 cards cost? Just curious.

Actually, no. We were planning to make this game for more of a hobby thing, and while publishing it is something that we are seriously considering when the game is finished, this topic was mostly started because, commercial game or not, 600 cards would be cumbersome.

TheReluctantGeneral, I originally planned for 50 cards per deck (Which would be 200 specialist cards), but reducing it to 25 wouldn't have a huge impact on the game, as specialist cards are intended to be a mechanic that players use later in the game to get an edge on their opponents, not something frequently-used. I'll think about using counters for specialist "cards", though. You're right about the peeking, and it might be easier to hide what number is on your counter than what your card does. The only problem with that seems to be that while checking what your event is at the end of a turn can be done almost as easily as checking a card, finding the page of your specialist counter's effect both when you first get it and when you intend to use it can be time-consuming. But then, maybe the amount of time would be trivial. I guess that sort of thing is best figured out by playtesting.

Thanks for all the help, everyone.

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