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Maximum number of cards in a PnP game (for play testing)

11 replies [Last post]
The Great Nothing
Joined: 06/29/2020


I am working on a deck building/exploration/survival game at the moment - and it is ending up at approx 250 cards (plus a handful of tokens).

Due to not knowing many local gamers/Covid issues, I am struggling to get this to the table with other gamers for play testing and feedback. I thought about making a PnP file, which would allow me to email it out, but I think that 250 cards is way too much to ask anyone to PnP!

I have developed a stripped down version which comes in at 70 cards (and although not quite as balanced or variable - it still makes for a good play through).

Is 70 cards too many to ask folks to PnP for a play of the game? Assuming the theme/art grabs their attention?

Many thanks,

The Great Nothing Games

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
PnP Tolerance

Personally speaking: yeah, 250 is quite a bit much. Your 70 card set seems much more approachable for PnP purposes. With Pnp games, I have to cut out all the cards and then sleeve them. I'm much more accustomed to assembling microgames in this regard, but my patience runs thin. If it's beyond a usual deck of 54 cards, then I'll frequently just pass on it.

Not sure how the rest of your game is organized, but you may be able to assign the rest in such a way that an additional 70-100 cards is a "module" used to expand upon your base set. This way, if someone is pleased with the first set and want more of the options you've made available, it's possible for them to grab an expansion and build off the base game they're using.

Juzek's picture
Joined: 06/19/2017
watch the ink. No matter how

watch the ink.

No matter how many cards, if you are doing a print and play, please just use light grey or thin lined black without color. I have definitely opted out of a print and play test just because of the ink.

I would try out up to 72 cards as long as the printing didn't use up all my ink.

How many cards end up in someone's deck by the end of it? perhaps use this number * 2 for a good shot at how many cards to include.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I would explore The Game Crafter

If you are worried that playtesters won't want to PRINT and CUT any amount of cards, you maybe can use "The Game Crafter" (TGC) for producing a couple of prototypes. I know you'll probably need to drop like $50 USD for a two copies (including shipping) and send those out to people who have a vested interest in playtesting your game.

Yes I know it cost a bit... But it ensures that people who PLAY your game will not start with a: "Of frig -- I need to cut 70+ cards?! This game better be AWESOME..." And then you are left with a bit of a bias when the game gets played.

TRUST ME: TGC is great for prototypes. And it can be used later on for "reviewer" copies if you plan to KS the game too... You're going to NEED a reviewer or two to give you a thumbs up (so-to-speak).

Like I said there is a REASON TGC is around. And it is to HELP designers make their prototypes easier to handle and require no printing or cutting such that the game arrives at the intended person's home and READY, out of the box, to be played!

Please take a look a TGC ... Because they will definitely HELP you make your game MORE ACCESSIBLE. Cheers!

The Professor
The Professor's picture
Joined: 10/25/2014
PnP is fading in my experience

As a developer, I can tell you that PnP is quickly fading with designers as it requires a tremendous amount of time on the front end. I advise my clients to not spend two of the four hours they may have hired me for playtesting for me to perform arts and crafts. To Kris' point, and per other threads on playtesting, I'll simply provide you two solutions:

1. Game Crafter can produce fairly good-quality prototypes in a reasonable amount of time. These you can send out to folks for playtesting in short order.

2. Prepare your cards (and no, 250 isn't too many if they're already in digital format) for Tabletopia and establish a schedule for playtests. Advertise it out here and allow folks to sign-up.

Unless I missed your point about going from 250 to 70 cards, in no way diminish your game in that way. Run iterative playtests (including blind playtests) and only when you analyze the data should you decrease (or possibly increase) your card count.

Good luck!

Professor's Lab

Joined: 02/11/2015
One of my games has a 72 card cut out

So one of my prototypes consists of two decks. One is a 72 card deck (fixed size) and the other you can swap decks (each deck is a different size, but the biggest was about 42 cards). By the time I got through cutting out just the 72 card deck, I had to put the game away for a few days. I was that burnt out on production. Then I had the other decks on top of that.

Another game I had was 60 cards. I didn't feel quite as run down on this one, so I'd say about 63 (7 sheets x 9 cards per sheet) is my limit before burnout. And 6 or 7 sheets isn't too horrendous on ink (so long as you have a simplistic gray scale version. All this to say I repeat the other sentiments already posted.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
So I'm not 100% sure I agree with The Professor because...

I do believe there is ROOM for PnPs and "PNP Arcade" one of our sponsors do SELL PnPs online. Granted it is usually LESS than $5.00... The important part is that they are SELLING PnPs.

But these are NOT the run-of-the-mill games. They have been designed to BE PnP games. Such that their components are very limited, the amount of cards is reduced and the entire production is relatively simple to perform.

So what I am saying is that THOSE kinds of PnPs can SELL and are relatively easy to produce. Because they were DESIGNED to be PnPs...

In your case it is the opposite: you want to take a GAME and make it into a PnP. Not recommended! High card counts, lots of printing and cutting are not what make a GOOD PnP.

So while I agree PnPs are not the grail of Board Games... There is a NICHE market for them when a game is MADE to BE A PnP. Otherwise I agree with The Professor... Regular Games are not good as PnPs. They are not the IN thing. Head on over to The Game Crafter (TGC) and get a professional prototype made for $20 to $30 USD.


The Great Nothing
Joined: 06/29/2020
Hi all, Thanks for the

Hi all,

Thanks for the replies. Some excellent ideas and thoughts.

Not sure why I had not thought about printing it via The Game Crafter. This seems like a perfect, simple and not too costly solution to knocking up a few professional samples of the game for play testing. Brilliant :)

Also really interest in the idea of setting it up on one of the virtual platforms - although I don’t like using them - I can see they are better in some ways than printing the cards and posting them to testers. So will try and get my head around setting up on one of them.

Many thanks


questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
A word of "advice"...

If you have only currently ONE (1) Game ... You can use TableTopia Online (TTO) for FREE for ONE (1) Game. After this it costs $9.99 USD per month for up to 5 games (with 5 setups).

In the other realm, TableTop Simulator (TTS) offers very little games with the "core" package. But you can design your OWN "DLCs" at no extra expense to you or your playtesters.

Clearly TTS is the better choice because it comes at a ONE-TIME purchasing price and allows you to create AS MUCH DLC content as you need. From a design and playtesting perspective this is GREAT.

Where as TTO shines is the available games to players. There are literally a thousand different games you can play ... And many of them *NEW* games that are not available to Brick & Mortar Shops (FLGSs)... But the Publisher needs to pay a $9.99 USD per month fee after the FIRST game which is FREE to publish, then it costs a fee.

My advice to you is to BUY TableTop Simulator (TTS). Learn and create your own DLC that you can e-mail to potential playtesters and then hold a virtual playtest meeting and/or session with the various playtesters. Once you have a solid game with all the art and components... Then you can release a Tabletopia Online (TTO) e-version of the game to publicize the game and get more market traction as to having YOUR game online.

Again these are just recommendations, you are free to do so as you see fit. Cheers.

Joined: 07/23/2010
Max is pretty high

Cards are the easiest thing to PNP. I can PNP 300 cards a lot easier and faster than I can PNP 30 tokens.

So, 250 seems fine to me.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
OMG you must have a LOT of patience...

nswoll wrote:
Cards are the easiest thing to PNP. I can PNP 300 cards...
So, 250 seems fine to me.

I don't know HOW you cut your cards... I use a stencil cutting machine that allows me to trim cards down to individual cards and then with a built in cutter that does corners of cards too. For like 10 pages it takes me OVER one (1) DAY to do like 50 cards.

I'd imagine that 300 cards would take me a week of SHEER torture to just be sitting there CUTTING my life away! I would limit PNPs to somewhere under 30 cards ... Preferably in the 15 to 20 card count.

Anything more ... And I would be totally opposed to the idea TBH...

Joined: 04/08/2012
I cut all my cards

I cut all my cards by 2 index cards each with a random yugioh card for the same width. 50 cards for me is about 5 to 7 minutes. 300 cards is 30 minutes to 45 minutes with the same formula of 2 cards each. 2 index cards cut gives me 4 cards. 5 index cards gives me 10 cards. 50 index cards cut by scissors is 100 cards.

For this last part of the game, I might invest in a paper cutter for my goal to be cut in half the time. I dont use a round cutter for my cards.

I thought about it several times to purchase a round edge cutter but since it was a prototype index card, I didnt see the need. I did it once with scissors on 1 monster encounter card but that was it.

If you get a graphic paper booklet, draw your top line 12 across and 17 down, you'll get the same size as a Yugioh card. You will get 8 cards per sheet. Out of a 80 page booklet of graph paper, you'll get 640 cards.

It took me one entire month to hand cut 16,000 cards for one game. I was so content and had tons of patience and that was back in 1999.

When you have no other choice to find a way to cut up 30 cards to 250 cards or 16,000 cards, you will find easier ways to short cut your process time in half. Plus, I enjoy hand cutting cards. Though, I've never purchased a PNP before.

Some people love arts and crafts, some people don't, but how else are you going to cut the cards out off the sheet if you dont have finances like some designers do?

Just an observation from a long time scissor cutter????.


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