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Great examples of beautifully designed cards?

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Blake
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I was just looking at these examples of alternative cards for Knizia's "Modern Art" and was really impressed by them:

http://mdoyle.blogspot.com/2008/05/from-vault-arte-moderna.html

As I've been thinking a lot about card games recently, and how to design them, I was just wondering if anyone knows of any cards in particular that they love the design of (not even necessarily from games that they like, or have even played)?

Both FFG's Warhammer: Invasion, and their upcoming Lord of the Rings LCG have impressed me, but off the top of my head I'm not at all sure what cards I would list as my favorites? I was quite impressed with Haggis, and in fact picked up the game in large part because I found the cards so beautiful. But at this point I'm still challenged to say just what makes a card "well designed." However, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that I do find well designed cards an inspiration to look at!

RacNRoll Gaming
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Sadly...

I think everyone is so used to the MTG format that most people just try and work with that in some variation.

mdkiehl
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Mike Doyle

Mike Doyle does some good design for games, take a look at: http://mdoyle2.blogspot.com/

Great art and great games are a wonderful combination.

Regards,
Matthew Kiehl

http://mdkiehl.wordpress.com

Blake
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I agree x 2!

Matthew, I completely agree with you on Doyle's designs, very nice stuff!

I've also been looking at todd sanders work (he posts over on BGG). I don't know if he's ever published any game design work (other than print and play), but I'm finding it very interesting to read about what he's working on:

http://spanglemakermidsummerfires.blogspot.com/search/label/boardgames

And RacNRoll, I agree about Magic the gathering too. While I love much of the illustration, it does seem that its "template" or "aesthetic" has permeated the whole market. Certainly Warhammer: Invasion and the new Lord of the Rings LCG appear incredibly similar. Off the top of my head, the most innovative use of card design to come out recently might be (no pun intended) "Innovation," a game I hope to try out soon!

Best,
Blake

sedjtroll
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mdkiehl wrote:Mike Doyle does

mdkiehl wrote:
Mike Doyle does some good design for games, take a look at: http://mdoyle2.blogspot.com/

Great art and great games are a wonderful combination.

Regards,
Matthew Kiehl

http://mdkiehl.wordpress.com


While some of Mike Doyle's stuff is very pretty, some of it is a disaster in terms of usability. In particular, the readability of the cards in Municipium is low due to the thin lettering chosen. And I remember when playing El Capitan that the art was pretty, but the patterns which were to differentiate different items were busy and similar. I'm not well versed in Mike Doyle's other work, and nothing else sticks to mind, but those 2 examples are things I noticed firsthand.

I assert that "beautifully designed" game components, by definition, be usable first and foremost, and pretty second. That does not mean artistic integrity must be compromised, rather that it's tricky to do a good job.

Blake
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sedjtroll wrote:I assert that

sedjtroll wrote:
I assert that "beautifully designed" game components, by definition, be usable first and foremost, and pretty second. That does not mean artistic integrity must be compromised, rather that it's tricky to do a good job.

An excellent point (though I'm not quite sure I'd go that far, if I understand you correctly). I haven't actually played any games with Doyle's designs (that I know of), but if functionality is hindered, then yes, that is certainly a problem (and probably, though not necessarily, a decisive strike against them in my mind). However, miniatures games, for example, seem to rely heavily on their aesthetic elements, often at the expense of functionality, to help facilitate immersion (I'm thinking here in particular of the use of rulers and all the potential problems that ensue). That being said, as a general rule, yes, I would agree, "usable first and foremost, and pretty second."....

On a side note, one game that I've been enjoying a lot recently and that does (at least in my mind) have really well designed cards, is Coloretto. Excepting the gray and brown cards, I quite enjoy all of the colors. The fact that each card also has only one piece of information to convey (its color, +2, or "wild") is very relaxing. The chameleon logo is both attractive and thematically complements the game's emphasis on colors. And last, but not least, the use of subtle differences in the background texture of the cards (based on color) is not only interesting, but presumably helps those who are colorblind to differentiate between the different cards.

mdkiehl
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Mike Doyle extended

I haven't played any of his games actually... I've just seen his work around. By no means am I saying that Mike Doyle is the Raphael of game design or anything, I've just seen some. I agree, the art should facilitate even simplify the game play. Too much decoration can hinder the game play.

SiddGames
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Doyle is all about functionality

If you read his old blog or his comments on why he quit doing game art, you'll see Mike Doyle is actually very keenly aware of the function of art and graphic design in games. Some of his stuff was controversial (though I hesitate to use such a strong word), but I think he was always striving to advance the state of game art; whether he was successful is debatable, as we see here in this thread. I love his Titan board, and I think the Municipium cards are just fine ( http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/367425/municipium?size=large ).

Card designs tend to follow similar patterns because they generally have similar functional requirements, typically good scanning while held in the hand, leading to the use of edges and corners -- and particularly the top left corner and left edge -- to hold significant data. There's a reason the key design element of poker/bridge cards hasn't changed in forever (suit and rank in the corners). CCG cards are in the same boat.

Those Innovation cards are meant to overlap and so you see the use of the icons along the edges for that purpose, but I don't think many people would call them beautiful cards.

Anyway, if cards meet a certain level of functional design, then aren't we back to praising good art and aesthetically pleasing card templates?

I love Doyle's design for the Brazilian reprint of Modern Art. I most like the CCG/LCG cards that use full bleed art and have clean and/or thematic templates. Heresy went a step further with oversized cards to show off the artwork, though some might argue the non-standard size helped kill the game. I really liked the simple elegance and antique art of the original printing of Condottiere, rather than the "standard fantasy" style art of the FFG edition.

infocorn
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Other favorites

I really liked the layout for -- though never could make heads or tails of the rules for-- Hyborean Gates back in the day. I know the artists are what you're "supposed" to like (and the stuff is pretty high quality for a CCG at the time, while still looking almost...romance-novel-covery), but the layout was very freeform and featured full frame art long before other games started with it.

On that same vein, I thought Spellfire did their layout nicely too, despite some of the criticism for recycling D&D art.

Personally, I favor the full frame look m'self. Too many boxes and such in some games just makes it look like your design team played too much MTG.

Willi B
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Titan board

I really think that the Titan relaunch was a major fail.

The game is needlessly complex. The board in all versions has connections that are uninviting to the new player (are arrows too hard to use?) and just further the gap between veteran and new player.

Hopefully those bringing back old games realize that they should have new rules alongside the classic to make the game more approachable, and therefore more successful.

I think if you want an artist that truly understands modern games, you need Josh Cappel. He should be on top of everyone's list by now.

mdkiehl
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