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Cards VS Tiles/Tokens

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

I was making an fast prototype to do some quick testing. I had a lot of cards, and my idea was that this game should be very card intensive. I like cards, but I realized that they could actually become a problem if they take a lot of space, if they are not used to keep hidden information and if they do not have enough information to fill up a card.

Then I realised that tokens, or small tiles (like Arkham horror monsters) could be cool and more elegant in many situation. But one of the reason I try to avoid tokens is that I consider them to be harder to assemble because you need to mount them. While the cards, you just need to cut them and you can even easily make double sided cards.

So I was wondering are you the type of designer that would go toward the card way or the tile/token way. Here are the various pro/cons of each.

Cards Pro

  • Can hold many information
  • Easy to randomize (simply shuffle)
  • Useful to hold hidden information
  • Easy to assemble, you only need a few cuts
  • Can be sleeved if the appropriate size
  • Enough space to write special ability text

Cards Con

  • Cards layout on table to not hold well, they do not stand in place.
  • Cards on table are harder to manipulate if there is a lot of them
  • Can fit few cards (max 9) on a 8-1/2x11 sheet. So it's more expensive.
  • Cards on table can take a lot of space.

Tile Pro

  • Takes little space.
  • Easier to manipulate because they are thicker
  • Can fit more of them on a 8-1/2x11 sheet.
  • Stay better in place.

Tile Cons

  • Less space for information
  • Harder to assemble, because they must be mounted.
  • Hard to make doubles ided tokens
  • Little space for unique special ability text.
  • Harder to shuffle if there is a lot of randomness.
  • Cannot be hold in hand for hidden information.

They I thought of a compromise. Maybe smaller cards, like those used by fantasy flight games. They gain the advantage of

  • Not taking as much space as cards
  • And you can fit more of them on a sheet. Less expensive


  • It's harder to find sleeves for these cards

So do you have any personal preference?

Relexx's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010
Have you thought of using

Have you thought of using square cards, like Catan card game? They act as tiles and cards.

As for randomization, my dungeon game had tiles that are need to be randomized. It is not difficult, just cumbersome (there is 40).

A compromise might be extra thick cards, say 1mm thick card stock. Realistically the issue with cards being played on a table is more to do with the table surface, rather than the cards them self.

I personally have no particular preference. Do cards or tokens/tiles feel better for the game.

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010
Different Conceptual Spaces

I think that you have struck on the key differences between cards and tiles. Cards are very well suited to gameplay which encourages the accumulation of hidden resources and the ability to play unique special actions. It is much more difficult to handle tiles than cards and they are ill suited for a large variety of rules. So, tiles put the focus on the composition of the board far more than the composition of your hand.

Depending upon the game that you would like to make, either focus may be desirable. I tend to be more fond (in designing) of games which have a hand management and hidden information component to them. Tiles tend to be more suitable for games which involve a lot of emergent complexity of space which requires people to see patterns and organization. This can be fun and difficult, just as much as it is fun and challenging to balance all the considerations of when to play a card in your hand. But, usually when you play a card, the action is taken and the effect is transitory. Cards are in fact well-suited to be discarded. Tile laying is almost always permanent, so resources accumulate on the board and build upon themselves.

Joined: 05/15/2009
Some people dislike tiny

Some people dislike tiny cards, finding them awkward to hold and sometimes too small to read the text clearly. So you might want to list that as a con.

3ddevine's picture
Joined: 10/13/2010
Nice breakdown!I tend to

Nice breakdown!

I tend to lean towards cards, its what I am used to and there is nothing like the feeling of fanning out cards in your hand if you ask me. :)

Relexx's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010
One of the games that I am

One of the games that I am working on now, I had originally slated to be mostly card based, just because it was easier. However each time I looked at the game, and the reliance to flip a card and place it directly on the table, the closer it got to being a tile. Which lead me to one important factor. If the cards can/needs to be hidden from other players (ie only seen by one player) before it is played then it probably should be a card, otherwise it is a likely candidate for a tile. There is not a whole lot of information presented on the card anyway, making the transition to tile easier.

The tile con of harder to shuffle, I think, is a little redundant. The nature of a tile means that you are unlikely to shuffle them like a playing card anyway.

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