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Subject: Is there a market for new 'classic' card games? rss

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Koen Hendrix
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I would call myself an avid board gamer, but I've noticed that I hardly ever play the 'classic' card games of my youth anymore -- thing like Hearts, Whist, 31, 21/Blackjack, and loads of other games I used to play in high school lunch breaks.

Is it just me, or do those games feel a bit dated now? They just use numbered and suited cards, there's no theme at all... If I want to play a quick and fun card game now, I'd break out Bohnanza, not blackjack.

Do you still play classic card games? Is there, in your opinion, still a market for new games of that type? Abstract games, played with just numbered cards... or has 'having a fun theme' become a requirement for any card game nowadays?

The game that started these thoughts is James Ernest's Pairs. It become a big success on KickStarter recently, whereas I thought it would fall flat because of a lack of interest for a new pub card games. I was obviously wrong. But I don't know whether it succeeded because people thirst for classic card games or just because he's famous..? Other recent-ish examples... Coloretto is very successful? The Great Dalmuti?

Anyway I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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James Wahl
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I don't think that there's much of a market for standard french-suited card games because there's no reason to buy anything to play the game - you already have a deck of cards, and if you don't, they're only 50 cents at the dollar store (or 50p at the pound shop.)

If you come up with a new one, your best bet is to change the number of cards in a suit, change the number of suits, add weird trumps, or add heavy theme decoration that conceals the fact that this is just a plain deck of cards.

The Pairs deck isn't standard; it's more like the Crazy Chicken deck.
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Daniel J Isom
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The games you listed are games that are still very popular today because they are easy to learn, cheap, don't take long to play (unless you're playing War devil), and some of the first games most people learn. I love classic card games but I also love abstract games so while having a theme is nice, it doesn't really matter to me. That being said, the games I've played the most in my life are all card games with the likes of Palace, Poker, Hearts, and Pitch.

I'm starting to play more gamer's games but I'll never get tired of the classics.

Edit: I forgot to answer your question. Is there a market? Not one to make any money from but there's always a market to create a game and teach it to people. I didn't learn Palace until I was in college and now it's the most played game at family functions.
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P.D. Magnus
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I bought a copy of 7 Sceaux on a trip to Europe recently, and it's become a favorite at the local game shop. It's as close to a classic card game as Pairs is. It's a shame that it isn't available in the US.

Clubs is another local favorite that uses an almost but not quite regular deck. I highly recommend it.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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James' point on "there's nothing to buy" is well taken.

On the other hand, what if you treat it as a "micro-game" wherein all you're selling are the rules (which might fit on a couple of cards).


James' point on having a thematic deck is also good.

So, what if you came up with 2 or 3 games that could all be played with a standard deck of playing cards (aka "french suited") and all shared a theme.

That's kinda the idea behind:
Empire Trilogy (three games in one package)
Stormtower wrote:
Daniel J Isom
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Part I: Duel for an Empire
.... The plots to assassinate the Emperor.

Part II: Jacks & Jokers
.... The Emperor and his heirs are dead, Kings vie in a secret power struggle over the Empire.

Part III: A War of Suits
.... Political Intrigues are over, Alliances have been made. Open War breaks loose!






edit: I see that my fellow collaborator Daniel has chimed in while I was typing. Hi Disom!
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Austin Andersen
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I think a lot can still be done with just number cards. I think even more can be done with just number cards that are used with other cards that provide some sort of variability. I don't think all cards need be as complicated as a Magic: The Gathering card.

I think it is very difficult for publishers to market a game that only uses number cards in this day in age because of the sheer number of games. Something has to make the game stand out.

The last "big classic style" game I can think of that stood out is Hanabi.
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Pablo Schulman
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khendrix wrote:
I would call myself an avid board gamer, but I've noticed that I hardly ever play the 'classic' card games of my youth anymore -- thing like Hearts, Whist, 31, 21/Blackjack, and loads of other games I used to play in high school lunch breaks.

Is it just me, or do those games feel a bit dated now? They just use numbered and suited cards, there's no theme at all... If I want to play a quick and fun card game now, I'd break out Bohnanza, not blackjack.


Of course they feel dated, they are old, created with a different mindset than today's. But it doesn't mean they aren't good, maybe you just got burned out of playing them, or feel like playing something more actual.

khendrix wrote:
Do you still play classic card games? Is there, in your opinion, still a market for new games of that type? Abstract games, played with just numbered cards... or has 'having a fun theme' become a requirement for any card game nowadays?


I do still play them, mostly Buraco, Truco and Poker (for the classic). Also, I think there's a market for those games, even if not big. The great appeal of those games is that they feel familiar, hence they are more easily undestood by non-gamers.

For the modern ones, I play Indian Chief, Coloretto, Tichu and Haggis.

I just introduced (yesterday) Indian Chief to several non-gamers, and they really liked it. The game is played with one or two deck (depends on number of players) and feels very modern, despite being played without a strong theme or special components.

khendrix wrote:
The game that started these thoughts is James Ernest's Pairs. It become a big success on KickStarter recently, whereas I thought it would fall flat because of a lack of interest for a new pub card games. I was obviously wrong. But I don't know whether it succeeded because people thirst for classic card games or just because he's famous..? Other recent-ish examples... Coloretto is very successful? The Great Dalmuti?
Anyway I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Coloretto is in the market for +10 years, and I consider it a "modern classic". Coloretto doesn't quite resemble a "classic card game", but it's a card game without the complexity we can find in some card games like Glory to Rome and Race for the Galaxyand that's a plus depending of the social group. I can play it with any person, at any time, not only in my gaming circles.

I think Pairs did great on kickstarter due to the variety of (awesome) decks and because of the "The Kingkiller Chronicle" series of books tie-in. Of course, I think there's a game there, and that's why it had such a sucessfull kickstarter.

Regardless of that, classic card games withstood the test of time, are easily recognizable and are played by more people than the entire "gamer-nation". They can pack a huge amount of decision making on a single deck of cards, and it's a pity more people don't play them (classic or modern).
 
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Daniel J Isom
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Stormtower wrote:

edit: I see that my fellow collaborator Daniel has chimed in while I was typing. Hi Disom!


It's been a while Stormtower! I was just thinking about our compilation of games the other day. The three games in the Empire Trilogy are a perfect example of blending theme and playing cards. As I said in my post, is there a market to make money? Probably not, but that's not a reason to not create a game.
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khendrix wrote:
Do you still play classic card games? Is there, in your opinion, still a market for new games of that type?


I still play them, there is an amazing variety for something that fits in your pocket.

There must be still a market for them, they are still being produced although most new games hide it by having custom decks that obscure elements of a standard deck that they don't need - for example, they might have four different coloured suits that go from 1-13. Recent example was a German or Polish game that has a wolf head on all of the cards (can't remember the name of it!).

Not sure if people are still adding to this geeklist:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/14369/master-list-of-games...
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Maréchal de Camp
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khendrix wrote:


Do you still play classic card games? Is there, in your opinion, still a market for new games of that type? Abstract games, played with just numbered cards... or has 'having a fun theme' become a requirement for any card game nowadays?


I still play and enjoy the classic card games but I wonder if there will be a big business or market in them. A game like Lost Cities is in the category you mention, running a theme over a simple Rummy mechanism. I do not find it so attractive and would prefer a classic Rummy game instead.
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Raymond Gallardo
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Hi Koen,
khendrix wrote:
Do you still play classic card games?

Some friends of mine meet on a regular basis to play Tarot. I have a couple of friends who love Schnapsen as the ultimate two player trick taking filler. Still, I find it very difficult to find many games to play card games with a standard deck of cards; I'm a huge fan of games designed by David Parlett.

khendrix wrote:
Is there, in your opinion, still a market for new games of that type?

Linko! was published recently and is getting a lot of buzz. The game can be played with two standard decks of cards and five jokers. Suits don't count. For the "theme" of the game, each card as a head of a lynx. I bought my copy while I was travelling in Switzerland; perhaps the market for these games is stronger in Europe.

As for markets, when I think of my typical gamer friends, they prefer to play board games over card games. And if they want to play a card game, they prefer something with lots of complexity and multiple mechanisms, like Android: Netrunner, Pax Porfiriana, or Race for the Galaxy (when it was still new). As for my non-gamer friends, I have a better chance of convincing them to play something like Port Royal than the traditional card games that I adore. I think it's because some of these traditional card games have somewhat complex rules or scoring, while more contemporary card games have the rules incorporated on the cards themselves. It also might be that my gamer friends are simply tired of older game mechanisms such as trick taking or rummy.

Then there's the casual gamer who prefer games that are easily found in department stores like Jok R Ummy, Sequence, and Super Tock 4 (a game that is apparently popular in Quebec; it's similar to Dog and Sorry!). These games include a regular deck of cards as part of their components. So it looks like there is a market for these kinds of games, but perhaps these markets can't accommodate too many new games of these types; I don't think the casual gamer is as willing to purchase new games than the BGG gamer type.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Stormtower wrote:
James' point on "there's nothing to buy" is well taken.

On the other hand, what if you treat it as a "micro-game" wherein all you're selling are the rules (which might fit on a couple of cards).

I suspect you'd still have a hard time selling it for more than it costs to print.

In one sense, the rules are the game, and are the only truly indispensable part of the product you're selling. But psychologically, it seems pretty hard to get people to pay for pure rules, at least if those rules are short enough to memorize (which most board game rules are). Most modern board games actually give away their rules as a marketing strategy--I can't remember the last time I was unable to find an official, free, downloadable PDF of the rules for a board game.

Even D&D, arguably the most famous example of selling pure rules, still gave away the core rules of its most successful edition in a (seemingly successful) marketing bid.


When I was a kid, I remember my parents had a big book (roughly the size of a novel) full of nothing but rules for different games that could be played with standard playing cards. I assume they paid money for that book, but I have a hard time imagining they would have bought any of the games inside it one-at-a-time (even at an equal price-per-game, which would probably be massively uneconomical to the seller). If you try to sell pure rules, that's the sort of thing you're competing against: not another game, but a reference manual covering (IIRC) around a hundred different public-domain offerings.

And that was before the Internet. Nowadays you can probably find all those rules for free with a few minutes on Google.
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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khendrix wrote:
The game that started these thoughts is James Ernest's Pairs. It become a big success on KickStarter recently, whereas I thought it would fall flat because of a lack of interest for a new pub card games. I was obviously wrong.


I backed it, but I did so because I want cards with pretty artwork, not because I'm particularly interested in the main game intended to be played with them. I've also got several tarot decks I don't really do anything with other than occasionally look at them.
 
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Koen Hendrix
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Great response, thanks everyone!

I wasn't really thinking of selling just rules for a game... though that might be an interesting low-cost option? I can't really imagine just trying to sell a few cards of rules, but I could imagine a Kickstarter that'd offer a full game (cards+rules) and a much cheaper rules-only with low shipping costs.

Hanabi and Lost Cities are indeed also excellent examples of succesful games that could almost be played with a normal set of cards -- both add a 5th suit/color if I'm not mistaken. And, of course, theme and art.

A theme and (pretty) art is probably essential to marketing/selling a new classic-style game. I guess it conveys the idea that people are buying a unique game, it's a more tangible thing to pay for.
 
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Martin G
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Linko! mentioned above is getting a lot of buzz without really having a theme at all. And it's playable with two standard decks.
 
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Ian Scrivins
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khendrix wrote:
Do you still play classic card games?


Certainly. Pubs are great places to play games and cards provide an ideal vehicle: minimal equipment, easily understood rules, small playing space and are reasonably spill proof.

khendrix wrote:
Is there, in your opinion, still a market for new games of that type?


If you want to sell something, then it depends. Standard deck games are invariably in the public domain, you can't sell a set of rules that will be passed on by word of mouth. If you want to make money add something to the standard deck: a 5th suit (Lost Cities, Haggis) or special cards (Tichu), but more games of this type are certainly welcome as they are among the best card games currently available.
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As others have said I don't think there is any market for a standard deck game unless you add something. However I don't think you need to add extra cards, you might be able to make money by making a really nice deck, or adding a few extra symbols to some cards (i.e. make a card game that could be played with a standard deck but give someone a reason to buy your standard deck).

Consider the following games:

Haggis - it's a 2-3 player game. 3 players requires 5 suits, but 2 player only uses 4 suits so can be played with a standard deck, however you have to remove some cards, remember which cards score, and fish out the JQK after each round. None of that is that difficult but people will still buy a haggis deck even if they only want to play 2-player, because it makes it easier, because they like the artwork or because they want to support the designer (or all 3).

Cribbage - 2 players, standard deck could be scored on paper but most people would buy a cribbage board and some can be fairly expensive.

P.S. Indian Chief is a excellent example of a standard deck game that is quite different to any other standard deck game I'd played before. Good to know others are playing it too.
 
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Koen Hendrix
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I'll definitely have to check out Indian Chief then, thanks!

Seems I should start thinking about a theme to apply to the abstract game I'm currently developing for the 'microgame' contest. Will be tricky -- the game uses Poker-like hands like 4-in-a-row (straight), so I can't replace the numbers... It'll probably end up being 'themed' with virtually no connection between the theme and the mechanics, like Hanabi or Lost Cities. That's still very, very worthy company of course! meeple

(If anyone happens to be aching for a classic card game now, you could try the current version (with your own deck of normal cards), rules are in this WIP forum thread: TWO THREE FOUR - a new classic card game)
 
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Z-man's card game series (Parade, Chimera, Tichu, Arboretum, Black Spy) is very nice, both artistically and gameplay-wise.
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Pete
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I think if you create a quality new game with a standard 52 (or 54) card deck, theme it well (art on the cards and on the back) and don't ask for too much money (say $15 or less), people will buy it.

True, they could play the same game with a standard deck of cards, but if that was the standard, my daughter would not own fish-shaped colored cards for playing Go Fish.

Pete (thinks there's a market for those sorts of games)
 
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