Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

RE: [Icehouse] Generic Gnostica Deck

  • FromDavid Artman <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateTue, 17 Jul 2007 08:06:56 -0700
RE Art for card:
Thanks, Andrew/Zarf! That SVG Tarot deck is very cool; I might very well use it, as the colors are muted enough that I *think* I could layout rules text over top of them. At worst, I'll use a text box with about 40% transparency on its fill color, mainly only if I find most of the card text ends up overlaying the black ink strokes--I won't do so if it's only a problem on a few cards (I'll do a white drop-shadow on the text, for those problem cards, if so).

By the way, I presume it's OK for me to stretch or crop or rearrange the art (or extend the backgrounds), to make it square?

RE Square cards:
What do folks think? I like square for being the "right shape" for the routine board rearrangement and because it will keep a board from spreading out too "long." It seems to me that the use of Tarot decks was an expedience, and "dealing with" rectangular cards was just the price of that access to a ready source of cards. I do not think the flip-flop arrangement is (a) a desired feature, (b) relevant to play, or (c) worth preserving out of "tradition" or whatever. I am trying to make a set that plays fast and is VERY easy to teach/demo; being able to excise all obvious "hoodoo" of Tarot-ness is a bonus feature (card names and, now, abstract art will be all one sees of the original Tarot; and I am thinking of renaming the "suits" to the actual functions in the game: Create, Move, Grow, Attack).

RE final size of cards:
The 2 x 3, 3.5"² size actually seems like a nice compromise between limiting board sprawl versus having room on the card for pieces and still seeming (most of) the text. The 3 x 4, 2.625"² makes REALLY tiny play areas, though, which is of use to me demoing (not to mention at the pub). That's a tough call: basically, is a Post-It Note big enough, or should it be the size of a small coaster (NOT a pub coaster/beer mat, which is much bigger than a "home coaster")?

Also, I've been thinking about the actual needed number of sheets for the PDF:
10 Minor 1s x 4 suits - they needn't be numbered 1 to 10; just "1"
4 Royalty 2s x 4 suits - they needn't be Page, Knight, Queen, King; just "2"
22 Major - because no two Majors play the same, the set must be complete and, further, they might as well be  named per Tarot, with a "3" on the name line.

Then again, maybe I *should* number then 1 through 10 and the royalty names: that way, the set could also serve as a full Tarot deck (and, thus, also a playing cards deck). Of course, that doesn't allow me a sheet savings in the PDF file... see the next paragraph below for the math on that.

For 3.5"² (6 per sheet), I could place 2 Royalty and 4 Minor, one sheet for each suit. Print each sheet twice, to get 4 and 8 per suit, leaving us short 2 Minor per suit. BUT, the 22 Major / 6 cards per sheet requires 3 sheets and 4 slots on a 4th sheet, leaving 2 open: perfect. Those 2 complete the missing 2 Minors for one suit, and an additional sheet completes the missing 2 for the other 3 suits. Summary:
4 - Suited sheets with 2 Royalty and 4 Minor
(Those 4 Suited sheets must be printed twice each; all others below are only printed once.)
1 - Sheet with 3 pairs of Minors, in 3 of the suits
3 - Sheets with Major
1 - Sheet with Major and 1 pair of Minors, in the last missing suit

Savings in PDF size = 4 Suited sheets not included (the ones printed twice to make full deck) = ~33% reduction in final file size, all things being equal. BUT, is doing "minimal pages" in the PDF worth it, as it means folks have to be more fiddly when running a print-out? It comes down to bandwidth versus ease of use... and, frankly, if the "full set" PDF is too big, at the end, it takes about ten seconds to delete the "doubled up" pages, to reduce the file size. I guess I can wait to decide this point, but 33% of what will probably be under 200KB might not be worth the savings, in exchange for giving up actual Tarot deck or playing card utility.

In closing, my noodling about with layout has shown that they will end up looking like Monopoly deed cards, if I go with my initial idea of a "band" across the top. Therefore, I am going to try other basic designs for the Suits (using Andrew's card coloration as inspiration), in the hopes of giving the set a consistent "feel". I want the Minor and Royalty and Majors to be recognized at a glance without seeming like a jumbled together mess. My current thinking is this layout:
|Name/Suit        #|
|                  |
|                  |
|      (art)       |
|                  |
|  ______________  |
|D/              \ |
|O|   (rules)    | |
 #     = the Tarot value/royalty abbreviation (P, N, Q, K).
 N     = the sum of the dots; the value of the card in Gnostica (1, 2, or 3).
 D O T = the standard dot icons artwork (aligned to bottom, if 1 or 2 dots).

That layout is neigh-ubiquitous for CCGs for a reason: in a typical fanned hand of cards, you can see all that you need to see on the left edge and by the color of the card. You know, at a glance, what you have in terms of effects (and the card rules explain anything you've forgotten).

Thanks, everyone, for the resources and inspiration!