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Card games

Theming ideas

I’m thinking that the new game, which has the working title Hands Up! because I’ve reused a load of the art from Shape Up!, could benefit from being lightly themed rather than abstract.

Theming is not one of my strong points, though – so if you’ve got any good ideas, please say!

What I need is a grid of 3 * 3 characters of some sort. So at the moment I have [red|blue|green] [circle|square|triangle]. But it could be eg. [honest|treacherous|cowardly] [mouse|bear|ocelot], or [protoplasmic|silicon-based|humaniform] [telepath|parasite|uplifter], or [gripping|tearjerking|mind-numbing] [novel|screenplay|autobiography]… etc etc.

Each card also has an associated action (which involves manipulating other cards), so I’m thinking that having the entities being characters of some sort might be a fruitful approach. For example, cute animals, or interesting-looking aliens at some sort of galactic convention, or manga-style schoolchildren, could be appealing. They could have individual names as well, eg. Oscar the cowardly ocelot, Geraldine the treacherous ocelot, etc.

(I recently got hold of Love Letter, and found that it has some things in common with my game. Including the theming of the cards as characters matched roughly to their actions. But hey ho, there are no new ideas etc.)

The downside of theming like this is it means having to have text on the cards, which at the moment don’t have any. But that might be a price worth paying if it makes the game more fun. The abovementioned Love Letter is a pretty simple abstract game really, but they’ve themed it cleverly enough that it automatically generates elements of story around the play.

6 replies on “Theming ideas”

Seems tricky trying to theme a game without knowing the mechanics…

I randomly suggest [loyal|revolutionary|mercenary] [noble|soldier|priest], aiming for some kind of loose civil war theme.

but perhaps ‘memorability’ is something else that I need to try a bit harder at

Only of the game name – but presumably if you do theme it then it can be switched to a less generic name at that point?

If it’s that game you’re reskinning the civil war theme might work quite well since some of the victory conditions will probably end up sort of making sense in terms of the theme. (eg. “Control the church” or “Peace treaty”).

if you do theme it then it can be switched to a less generic name

Yes, indeed. A good name that immediately makes people think ‘oh, that’s the one about…’ is a real asset I think.

I’ve had to change the victory conditions slightly (as those ones were too easy) so now they’re like “red triangle, red any-shape, any-colour square, blue square, green circle, any-colour circle” – but what you say is still true I think.

Perhaps as there are two of each [][] combo in the deck, those could be a male and a female loyal noble (either of whom can be used to satisfy the ‘loyal noble’ victory condition), etc. That could work quite well.

Not been following the game stuff so don;t know how it really works, so this may not be practical.
How about a disease spreading theme of some sort where you’re trying to ‘kill’ your opponents with various diseases: Virus/bacterium/fungus and respiratory/blood-borne or STD/fecal-oral transmission routes. May be a little technical [and the themes might be non-obvious which could make the game play differently with beginners] but has a charming sort of bloodthirstiness that might appeal to some players…

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