DIY Card Game: Monster Mages

Earlier this year at Guelph Game Jam 2, I decided to go analog and build a card game with real, physical cards. After the 8 hour jam, I ended up with a quick little game called Monster Mages, heavily inspired by aspects of Dominion and Magic: The Gathering.

Some of the tools, tokens, and finished cards of Monster Mages Some of the tools and finished cards for Monster Mages

Since 8 hours really isn't a lot of time to build a game, I did a bit of prep work the night before by building a set of blank playing cards to use as templates. The design is based on the layout of cards from Dominion, with a card name across the top, a short description across the bottom, and the rest of the space divided evenly between a picture and long description.

A blank card template for card game prototypes. A blank card template for card game prototypes

I printed the templates on white 199 g/m^2 card stock from the local office supply store and cut out 216 blank cards by hand. Real playing cards seem to be a bit heavier (around 320 g/m^2), but the card stock seemed to work well enough for prototyping purposes. I also used a set of card protectors usually used by Magic players to make it easier to handle and shuffle my home made cards. It also prevented players from seeing what their opponent was holding, since the thin cards are slightly transparent.

Before creating any cards, I wrote a bit of python code that would let me simulate my card game, so that I could try and make sure the game was fair. The contents of the card game are defined in a separate JSON file, which I was hoping would let me reuse the python code for future card game design work, but I ended up writing so much game-specific code into the python that it's not really feasable to reuse it.

If you're interested in building your own version of Monster Mages, you can get a deck list and rules from the project's github page.