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Subject: Rectangular Cards vs Square Cards rss

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Mike Sokalski
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I've seen a number of games out there (e.g. Shadows over Camelot: The Card Game, Among the Stars) use square cards instead of rectangular cards. As a novice designer I must ask; why would a developer would use cards that are square instead of rectangular?

A couple things that immediately come to mind:
* Cost (can get more square cards for less money?)
* Differentiation (other cards in the game are rectangular and shouldn't be mixed with the square ones during the game)

Any other reasons?
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Robert Szalai
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In the case of Among the Stars, you use the cards to build a station and it does matter where you put them, which cards will they be neighbours with. The final stations will look like this: http://boardgamegeek.com/image/1426153/among-the-stars
It looks much better and easier to use in this case, than with rectangular cards.
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J C Lawrence
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Most of all, this is a publication/presentation choice and has little to do with game design. Do your job and design your game and let the publisher do his job and figure out what it should look like, how to make it and then how to sell it.
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Sarah Reed
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I've usually seen square cards for tile-laying games so that the board is symmetrical.

I also think it depends on the designing needs. If you need more space, square cards offer that extra inch of width that poker cards don't. At least by Game Crafter specifications, poker cards are 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches whereas square cards are 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches. So you actually get fewer square cards per sheet (12) than poker cards (18). So it's more cost efficient to do poker cards, but it may not fit the design.

But I can see people using square cards to be different than other games, which many use poker-sized cards.

Just my two cents.
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Darrell Hanning
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Square cards are more functional for tiling purposes, and for rotating in a tableau, without requiring more room when horizontally oriented. But they are harder to shuffle, usually, because they'll be stiffer than rectangular cards. (Depends on the material and size of the deck, of course.)

Think about what you want the cards to do. If one shape seems more functional, then it might merit attention; otherwise, you probably shouldn't worry about it.
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Erik McGrath
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From my perspective the shape of the card is only a consideration when it will add to the game. If you are placing tiles to make locations or maps then use squares or hexes, but if you don't need to do that then just use whatever is most cost effective.
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Rich Uncle Pennybags
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Catan card games must rotate the cards to show changes in status, rectangular cards would not rotate without upsetting the dispplay.
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Nate K
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I've never seen a game do this, but square cards, when face-down, can have four "states" or orientations without giving any information away to another player. For example, a card may have different effects depending on which edge is pointing towards you, and as long as it's face-down, the opponent cannot know which of the four effects to expect when the card is revealed. With rectangular cards, the opponent could quickly eliminate two possible states based on the card's orientation.
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Joe Mucchiello
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kurthl33t wrote:
I've never seen a game do this, but square cards, when face-down, can have four "states" or orientations without giving any information away to another player. For example, a card may have different effects depending on which edge is pointing towards you, and as long as it's face-down, the opponent cannot know which of the four effects to expect when the card is revealed. With rectangular cards, the opponent could quickly eliminate two possible states based on the card's orientation.

One problem (or perhaps advantage) with this is method of flipping. You said the effect is based on which edge is pointing at "you". Does that means the cards have to be flipped such that the edge closest to the owner now points away (and thus "you" is the owner)? Or to you flip them left-to-right or right-to left horizontally and "you" is the opponent across the table from the owner.

Basically, the person flipping the card can decide at flipping time whether to show the face down far edge or the face down near edge as the face up far edge. (And as I noted above, perhaps this is an advantage although I can also see the scenario where the person immediately wants to take back the flip: "Oh wait, I meant to flip it this way.")

I can imagine people not wanting to play this because "Dan doesn't flip the cards in a consistent direction just like I can't play Bohnanza with Dan because he won't obey the hand order rules."
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Greg
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In Space Alert the manner in which facedown cards is flipped is very important, it's stated in the rules and you pretty much have to abide by it or mess up the game I see no reason that couldn't be done in a different game.

A player who's willing to cheat will probably mess up the game whatever the rules are
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Joe Mucchiello
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x_equals_speed wrote:
In Space Alert the manner in which facedown cards is flipped is very important, it's stated in the rules and you pretty much have to abide by it or mess up the game I see no reason that couldn't be done in a different game.

A player who's willing to cheat will probably mess up the game whatever the rules are

I'm not talking about a cheater. Some people just don't deal with fiddley details well. Having fiddley details like that narrows the number of people the game is appropriate for.
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Greg
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Ah, okay, when your example involved someone who "won't obey the rules" I took it to be about cheating.

If we're talking about accessibility then there are other ways to improve that. For instance an arrow indicating which way the tile must be flipped could be worked into the tile somehow (either on the design on the back or on the hidden side so it would be clear if something had just been flipped improperly). Or the flip events could be explicit (i.e. if other cards calling for the tiles to be flipped specifically said "flip horizontally" or "flip vertically")

But yeah, no solution is perfect, it'll wind up being a bit fiddly.
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whiskey tango foxtrot
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It comes down to Aesthetics or Mechanics. Either the square cards fit the theme better than rectangular cards, or the square shape is required for something specific.

For my game (shameless self-promotion), Influence, the Setup and Castle cards need to be square because their placement/alignment/orientation on the table are important. The other cards don't need to be square by any means, but they are because I think it's a better fit aesthetically.
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James Mathe
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Almost all printers have free dies and single line cut dies to make standard sized cards. Most printers do not have square options and will charge you $300 or so for a special die. I do know PandaGM.com does have square options though.

James
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