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Creating cards for play testing

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Joined: 12/31/1969

I've read a number of posts about creating mockup cards for prototypes and play testing where the price per card runs into the tens of cents. I've been using a method where I pay an initial price of 2 cents per card and less than 1 cent for reused cards. This is how:

I use magic cards and deck protectors. The magic card goes into the deck protector providing a nice card back and my own card, printed on standard printer paper, goes in front of it.

The cards are playable, they're not visible through the backs and they can take a lot of use without any problems.

Common Magic cards are easy to come by - I go to friends or to Magic gatherings and ask for them. My friends who play Magic gave me a few hundred cards each - when I went to the convention I walked away with a backpack full of junk cards - nobody needs lands an commons.

Deck protectors cost ~$2 per 100 here in Sweden. They don't need to be of very high quality, it's enough that they're not too loose.

I can fit 9 cards (sized ~ 2.5 mm/ 1/10 of an inch smaller than the Magic cards around the edges) on a standard sheet of paper. Printing costs me ~5 cents/sheet.

I whip up simple artwork in Illustrator in 10 - 15 minutes / card (or use artwork from the internet, something I won't be able to do if I want to make a business prototype), print all the sheets and cut them apart using a Guillotine (the paper kind) at work (takes me 5 minutes flat for all the cards). When doing individual cards (that will have only one in the deck) I draw a blank "card frame" and fill it in by hand, or use only type and no artwork.

If I need to replace a card text I simply print out new cards and replace them in their "holders".

I've used the cards for play testing and gotten positive comments about their look. I don't know if this type of prototype will work when submitting games but for now I get to spend time and resources on designing and play testing instead of card creation.

Hope this helps someone

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