# Cards... How many is too many?

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Anonymous

Occaisonly while I am working on games, I find that I have 50-70 cards in my game. In my oponion, you could play a game with that many cards, but wouldn't it be a little weird? I mean, in a TCG it is normal for both players to have 60 cards each (usually, it's a rule to have a certain amount of cards. The lowest I've seen in a card game is 40), but in a board game it is different.

So, how many cards is too many cards?

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Joined: 04/23/2013
Who knows?

I think every game is a special case and the number of cards that is considered too many is unique to each one. For instance, if the discard pile is shuffled back into the deck every turn, then you do not need a huge number of cards, but simply a minimal ratio of cards. Also, consider how many players your game will support. If you want to have up to 6 players, and each player can have a hand size of 6 cards, well then you know you will need at least 36 cards from the very start. If you want to support several rounds of card play without reshuffling the discard pile back into the draw deck, then you will need considerable more cards to support your game (depending upon how many cards a player can play/draw in one turn). So I would have to say 50-70 cards is not too many cards. Also consider what function the cards serve. Is the entire board game pretty much centered around card play? If so, then having a lot of cards isn't out of the ordinary. Also, how often will the cards be accessed during the game? For example, say your cards represent events within your game, and on average they are drawn once every round of turns. If you estimate you might have 15 rounds, then having 50-70 cards would probably be too much. 20-25 might be more in order. Again though, every game is unique, so it's hard to say without exact specifics about your particular game design.

HTH,
Darke

Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Re: Cards... How many is too many?

DragonKid wrote:

So, how many cards is too many cards?

You might consider the economy of how many cards fit on a photographic plate. Printers are different, but I think they can fit around fifty (5 x 10 cards on the plate) cards of 2.5"x3.5", or if you desire a slightly smaller size of 2.25"x3.5", I think you can eke out 55 cards (5 x 11). At least that is my experience. It's been a while since I did this, but if I remember correctly, the plates were the most expensive part of making the cards.

I believe this is why you see a lot of games have 110 cards (2 plates of 55 cards each). Those plates are expensive, so if you ever think about publishing (especially funding it by yourself) you would want it to be as efficient as possible. You probably don't want to waste half a plate by making a 75-card game. If you do a CCG then you can probably get whatever size deck you want out of it, but your initial mix will probably come from the same plates, and therefore, you should try to make it efficient.

Of course, I didn't know this when publishing my first game. I wasted three spots on my photographic plate. Curses! I won't let that happen again. It's legal to ask the printer, "Is there a way I can do this more efficiently?"

-- Scott S.

Johan
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Joined: 10/05/2008
Cards... How many is too many?

Hello

In my game "The princess and the bard", a fantasy game based on cards, will the player try to build their own kingdom. The game includes backstabbing, earthquakes, wild battles, thieves, happy and unhappy love and more...

The game has three decks of cards.
The first deck contains 167 cards. From this deck will the player build the kingdom. The deck contains 2 x 5 families with a 4 personality's (king, queen, prince and princess), four towers (one in each direction) and 4 guards. It also contains element cards (earth, fire, wind, water, life, death and metal (and a wild one)). When it is a player turn he can draw 0-3 cards from the deck (depending on how many other things he/she wants to do). It is possible to play the complete game from this deck.

The second deck contains 45 cards. 10 cards are faced up and it is possible for the players to trade cards from the second deck with combinations from the first deck. When a card is traded, a new card is drawn. Each card in this deck in unique. There are cards as stepmother, thief and grand thief, tyranny, bards, master chefs, a little giant and more. Every card has its own profile and the rules are printed on the card.

The third deck has 9 cards. This deck contains events.

The first deck with 167 cards is not too many. If the deck runs out of cards, the games end. This happens 1 time out of 20.

The second deck with 45 cards gives the game a little extra. In all play tests; this deck has never run out of cards.

The third deck with 9 cards is circulated, the same event can come up several times during a game, and with the game mechanism, some events never appears.

"The princess and the bard" has over 200 cards and it is not many. It also gives the players a slightly new game with new tactics every time. But this is not all (I sound like TV shop):

The first expansion "The princess, the dragon and the knight" adds 45 more cards to the second deck and 9 more to the third deck.
The second expansion "The princess that came in from the cold" adds another 36 cards to the second deck and 6 more to the third deck.
When we play tested with this expansions (over 300 cards) that where still not to many cards, just a new flavour added to the game.

The number of cards in a game depends on how the game is played and how the cards interact with each other.

// Johan

P.s. This game will be on my home site as soon as I have the possibility to reach it (problem with the internet company). It will only be in Swedish.
P.s.s I will not have the possibility to publish this game (to expensive for a card game)

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Joined: 04/23/2013
Interesting....

I guess you need to ask this question with your intent in mind. If you want to have the game published, then having too many cards, or more appropriately, having the incorrect ratio of cards (multiples of 50 or 55 as Yekrats suggested) could be cost ineffective. Yekrats, just curious, why do normal playing card decks usually have 55 cards (52 normal cards, 2 jokers, and suit ranking card) if they can only squeeze 50 on a plate?

If your intent is to just make an enjoyable game, and publishing is not a primary concern, then it probably just depends upon the game. Also consider the mathematical implications of having a large deck. You need to figure out a good estimate of just how deep into your deck an average game will go. If your deck is 70 cards and a normal game only uses 35 cards, then almost half the deck is unused every game. Perhaps there are some cards that absolutely have to come into play in order for the game to give the players the proper experience. There is a good chance that such cards will not come into play at all, thereby 'breaking' the game experience. These are all things you need to consider when trimming (or fattening) your deck.

-Darke

Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Re: Interesting....

Darkehorse wrote:
I guess you need to ask this question with your intent in mind. If you want to have the game published, then having too many cards, or more appropriately, having the incorrect ratio of cards (multiples of 50 or 55 as Yekrats suggested) could be cost ineffective. Yekrats, just curious, why do normal playing card decks usually have 55 cards (52 normal cards, 2 jokers, and suit ranking card) if they can only squeeze 50 on a plate?
-Darke

Well, a plate can hold 55 cards, if you make them the right size: I think the magic size is 2.25" x 3.5". (I'm not exactly sure about the figures, but you can find your own ruler and deck. :-) That should fit onto a plate. My game had to be slightly larger to accommodate some of the text on the cards, so it fit onto the plate in a 5 by 10 pattern, so fifty cards total on the plate.

So, I think regular decks fit on the plate in a 5 x 11 pattern, making 55 cards: 52 regular cards, 2 jokers, and usually one promotional insert.

Speaking of promotional inserts, there are several companies out there that use the last space on a print run for special promotional cards. They hand the special card out at conventions, etc. Looney Labs come to mind, but several companies do this. I'm thinking about doing it for my next game. People like getting special cards like that. I know I do.

-- Scott S.

NuYawkDawg
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Joined: 08/22/2009
re Cards...how many is too many

Ok, if a plate holds 50 or 55 cards depending on size, does that mean card games must be in multiples of those? I have games that range in size from 135 to 150 cards. The 150 card deck should not be a problem, in the offchance that the funds show up to have it printed, but what of the other games? Also, what about cards that have multiple copies per deck? One of my games has a card called "House" and there are 20 copies of this card. Are plates made up of full decks or can you have them made of individual cards and then get them collated into decks?

Nu Yawk Dawg

Yekrats
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Re: re Cards...how many is too many

NuYawkDawg wrote:
Ok, if a plate holds 50 or 55 cards depending on size, does that mean card games must be in multiples of those? I have games that range in size from 135 to 150 cards. The 150 card deck should not be a problem, in the offchance that the funds show up to have it printed, but what of the other games? Also, what about cards that have multiple copies per deck? One of my games has a card called "House" and there are 20 copies of this card. Are plates made up of full decks or can you have them made of individual cards and then get them collated into decks?
Nu Yawk Dawg

OK, mind you, this is the experience of just one attempt at getting a game printed, with all the wisdom that imparts... ;)

Before signing off on a game, the printer should show you "proof sheets" showing what the printer will print. When I saw my proof sheet it was five cards down by ten across. If I would have made my cards a little more narrow, I'm sure I could have got 55 cards out of the deal, instead of 50.

I had 2 identical reference cards in my deck, and they took up two spots on the proof.

You'd have to talk to an actual printer about collating for CCGs and that sort of thing. I would assume that if you had 20 cards that were exactly the same (like a "Plains" card in M:tG) each of those in the mix would take up a spot on the proof.

Even though it's a little more efficient to go in multiples of 50 or 55, I don't think it's a requirement, unless your wallet says so. You can have a 135 card game, and that's fine; it's just not as efficient as running a 150 or 165 card print run, IMHO. (I mean, why not do something with that extra fifteen spots on the photographic plate?) Also, perhaps they have other ways of sticking them on the sheet... or different sized printing plates... or... who knows? :) It's always best to ask your printer(s) about such things. Get quotes from different printers, then go with the one you feel the most comfortable with.

Deviant
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Cards... How many is too many?

I always have a few spots left over for cards, so I've gotten into the practice of including 3-6 "blank" cards, for the players to draw on and add to the deck. It's a fun idea, and a good use of a little extra space, IMO.

Anonymous
Cards... How many is too many?

The one good, thorough estimate I've gotten for my game ("Mage Warfare") stated that there would be 121 cards on a plate. The cards would be 63mm x 88mm (very close to 2.5 x 3.5). And this printer knew exactly what was required to produce a ccg; tuck boxes, finseal for packs, distribution of rare cards, etc. Are there maybe different types/sizes of these plates? I don't know, I'm new here. You can see my long-winded posts is the Game Production discussion. (edit): Oops! Make that Game Publication!

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Cards... How many is too many?

I guess it has already been mentioned, but I want to highlight something. The number of cards in a deck essentially dictates the statistics of when a specific cards will come out. Smaller decks ensure that each specific card will come out more often than in a larger deck. This sort of analysis is very common in CCG´s, in that a smaller deck means that the card you ´need´ is more likely to come up.

So if you have a big deck that is lot of various types of things, I think it will tend to be more chaotic than a smaller deck. Basically the chance of getting any specific type of card is smaller. However big decks with lots of the same type of card may feel bland, meanign that you could get the same type of card over and over in a long string.

Second little thought. I just bought the expansion to Bohnanza here in Germany. It has two identical decks in the packet. Basically each type of card occured even number of times in finished deck. So printing two identical decks was better than collating two different decks with all the types together.

Bohnanza is a good game for card probablities. I think there is a link on BGG about the math of Bohnanza. It is neat, and informative for those doing cardgames, which I liek to design too.

Andy