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Play Testing My Card Game

4 replies [Last post]
Flint Underwood
Joined: 02/16/2010

Right now I'm still in the process of making the starter deck for my card game so I can playtest it properly. I'm using microsoft paint to do it so they're not done to perfection, this is more about getting something I can look at for now. But my question is as follows:

Is there any program I can use to test my game on computer? Even just a program that generates a number from 1-40, then next time it will generate from 1-40 (discluding the number already picked). This would be a very unusual way of immitating the effect of shuffling/drawing but it would do for testing.

It was just a thought and I'm unable to find one, but maybe someone here might know a program like that. If not, I'll probably just resort to scribbling the card names on pieces of paper and using those scraps as makeshift cards to playtest, while having my netbook next to me with all the cards done up so I can see the details. A bit awkward but it means I won't have to use up all the ink in the house (Parents will make me stop if I end up costing them money to do this hobby).

MarkKreitler's picture
Joined: 11/12/2008
This would work, but...

At one end of the spectrum, you could use this:

Vassal will let you prototype virtually any board or card game, but it's got a healthy learning curve. Also, you'll find that it takes awhile to get fast with it.

At the other end, you could download Open Office from and use their spreadsheet program to randomize your cards (entered as a column in the database).

In general, you'll probably find whatever solution you choose requires an initial investment of time significantly greater than just cutting out some cards and shuffling them yourself. However, the investment will be worth it in future products, or if your testing requires a large number of trials.

Good luck!

Pastor_Mora's picture
Joined: 01/05/2010
It can't be that hard

Print a set in grayscale and photocopy. That can't be that hard!

I use really little cards for initial playtesting (2in squares max). No fancy images, just name (, cost) and effect. Once you have the game going smoothly, you can sketch in real sizes and colours. My advice, stick to the basics first, then do the art part. You will probably change a third of them anyway is you playtest it right. I use my open office powerpoint (whatever is called).

Keep thinking!

Joined: 07/08/2009
Um . . .

. . . I don't know how it would work, but I know you can create custom cards for Magic Work Station and/or Apprentice: two programs that allow you to play with magic cards (and other games.) I don't know how, or how hard it would be, but it's probably not very difficult.


Joined: 04/14/2009
You could also try GameMaker

Since you don't have the time to learn a programming language, you could try using Game Maker. Go to to download a free copy. It's pretty cool. It uses a fairly simply drag and drop mechanism for creating simple, casual games. No programming required! The licensed version is only $25.00, but you don't have to pay for it. The free version will probably let you do what you want to do. There are even a bunch of tutorials on the site that have music, sound effects, and graphics for the games you'll be making. This frees you up to concentrate on making the game and become familiar with the interface. They've also got a pretty active community that's helpful if you run into trouble.

If you want to get more advanced, there's a book you can buy called "The Game Maker's Apprentice". It comes with a CD that has the program and all the resources necessary for making 9 games. I bought the book and after about the 4th lesson, I made a game called Keith Invaders. Keith is my boss. It's a Space Invaders clone that uses my boss' head as the aliens. My daughter runs along the bottom of the screen shooting rubber bands at the Keith heads. It's simple and silly and it got lots of laughs at work. It took me a fair amount of time to create it, but as one of the other posters said, it'll be worth it in the long run for future projects!

I came across it because I was looking for a system that would allow me to easily make the artwork for a board game. I found GameMaker and another program called Dundjinni ( This is pretty cool mapping software for D&D type games, but I see no reason why you couldn't use it for making a game board.

For my current game, I'm using paint.NET. It's a free "photoshop type" painting and image manipulation program with a good support community.

Good luck!


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