A lot of people today who played card games want to know how to design a card game. Therefore, we have decided to provide this article to help you understand how you could manage to create your card game. One of the significant advantages of creating a card game design is that it does not require sophisticated technical knowledge. You need to write down your ideas on paper. In this article, we will provide several ways you could use to improve the layout of your game. Stage of the development does not matter. You can easily apply these tips to give a better gaming experience for your users. Methodologies we will describe will mostly be about completed designs. However, you can use them on black and white prototypes, as well. 

Choose a Topic for your Card Game

Select a topic that interests you most. It should grab attention immediately and fun to play. You will test this design on others. We will talk about it soon. But for now, keep in mind that you need to create a game that you will want to play. Creating a game is a complex process. You need to start with something simple. It is simple in card game design because you already have everything in slices. The main action you need to do is to place aspects of each card. 

While thinking about the game, you will design, think about limiting the players. It is essential to limit the players and force them to make choices. Once you define the players, they will create tactics. And tactics will create gameplay. For example, if you limit the number of cards they can play, players will think about the card they play in each turn. As a card game designer, you have a considerable advantage. While playing these kinds of card games, players want to interact with each other. It means your primary job here is to find ways to facilitate their job. Creating different ways for players to compete or cooperate is an excellent way to do so. 

Three critical factors during card game design

card game design

The first important thing you need to consider while creating your card game design is about your story. What story will you tell your gamers? What is going to be the objective? Or, what will be your game characters? And what abilities will those characters have? You need to answer these questions before starting the card game design. Secondly, artwork and production are other critical steps you need to consider. How to design a card game if you cannot draw? Will you be able to outsource the game development process? How are you going to prototype your card design? And finally, you need to decide whether the game will depend on luck or not. How do gamers win? What kinds of actions players could take? And how players will interact with each other? 

You might think that once you have game characters on the cards, you will get a successful product. However, the card game design process does not work like that. You need to find out original and memorable characters for your design. But how could you come up with creative ideas for your game? Collaborative Sketching will help you a lot in that. It is about collecting different people sharing different ideas about the design. This methodology contains different stages. Firstly, you need to grab five people. Each person will get blank paper and unique marker color. Then each will draw three different ideas. After fifteen minutes, each will pass the paper to the next person. And everyone will get five minutes to edit a previous person's thoughts. The process will continue until you get back your writing. In the end, all people will review the ideas together and make decisions. 

This methodology will unlock your imagination. At the same time, you will interpret and complete the ideas of your game development team members. 

Drawing might be the hardest part.

Let's admit that not everyone is excellent at drawing. Your drawing could be sufficient for testing, but for the real product, you need to have drawing skills. But what could you do, if you cannot draw? The best way is to outsource that part. You could find hundreds of talented artists online. First of all, provide a brief description of the design that it should be. You can give several details. But we recommend you give the artist the freedom to create a creative design. If you cannot find the best one among lots of options, you could create a shortlist. Then try to find one designer whose work appeals to use most. 

While describing your design, do not forget to mention about two or three essential points that you want to see. The main point is to be visual while explaining the idea to the designer. The artist cannot read your mind. Therefore, you could indicate what you want to get. Do not expect the artist to start from scratch. You need to provide several things to start. Else, you will waste your money and do not get what you want. Before finalizing their drawings, you should contact with the artists and ask rough sketches. Editing design will be more comfortable during the sketching process. It will become more challenging to make the artist change something when everything is ready. 

Importance of testing

Remember that you are not creating a plush toy. It doesn't matter how cute the design you have; if the game is not fun, it will not be successful. It is always better to start the game testing phase early. You can test it with different age groups, a different number of players, different card types, different professions, different card sizes, and unlike winning conditions. To make the testing process more comfortable, you could recommend several methodologies. First of all, focus on the target group for who you are designing the game. As we have mentioned earlier, you could test it with a different group of people. However, try to focus on the feedback of the target people. Through the test phase, your game will evolve from a simple to an exciting card game design

When you have fast rules for the game, then you could let players break them. In card game design, instants are an excellent way to achieve this. They destroy the normal flow of events. Therefore, we call them like this. These cards will add counter events and give players defense against some actions. To add successful instant cards, you need to remember that card game is about people. To get the best result from it, you need to understand human emotions. Think about the Poker game. Winner in this game is not the one who has the best hand, yet who convince other players that have the best side. While designing your game, try to create different cards that bring those emotions to the fore. 

How to design a card game? Card game design tips 

card game design

Now, we will continue with different ways you could use to improve the design of your turn-based game. The first thing is about the importance of space. Players will not like cramped design in the card game. Therefore, during card game design, you need to give enough space for each element. It will help players to distinguish the essential elements from others. When you manage to do spacing correctly, it will take seconds for players to get the meaning of a card. At the same time, it will allow players to spend their energy on playing rather than learning the game. 

Secondly, try to use visual hierarchy. Before, starting your design, find out what information will be the most important for your players. For example, does the game has some restrictions like the time a player can play a specific card? Or do cards have some elements that impact the player order? Figure out what information on your cards has the most significant effect on the gameplay. Then design your tickets based on that information. For example, you can bring several essential elements to the center of the card with a unique and colorful border. It will be the first thing to attract players and take seconds to understand the meaning of the card. The aim here is to figure out essential elements and making them more eye-catching. 

You can achieve this hierarchy using several methodologies, and making essential elements the biggest ones in the card design will not do the job. You need to apply different colors, shapes, texture, location, border to add more visual effects to the elements. With the help of these methodologies, you can transfer players' attention to the essential information. It will subconsciously give vital signs to your players about how to play the game. 

What you should not add to the design

While designing your card game, do not pay attention to the flavor text. Any pictures or text which does not add anything to the gameplay should not exist. It will decrease the understandability of the cards and make the gameplay hard for players. If the flavor text is large and appears before the critical book, your players will receive the wrong message from that card. Try to hide unimportant text and send it to the background using visual effects. And keep the essential book in the center. To do so, first, you should decide what information players should see first. Then you can bring that information front. 

Think about UI and UX

How will players use your cards? Will cards mostly be on the table on players' hands? Does the orientation of cards matter? You need to find answers to these questions. You might not be a professional UI or UX designer. However, if the players will interact with the cards you have designed, then you need to understand the essential concepts of UI and UX (user interface/user experience). There are lots of information on the internet about how you could improve UX or UI of your design. Take time for search, adjust your knowledge, and use the knowledge you gained to your advantage. 

To understand the importance of user interface and user experience, think of a standard deck of cards. How do you think, why numbers and suits are in the top left rather than the center? It is because when you collect all your cards in your hand, you can quickly get all the relevant information. You do not need to take each card separately and look at it. While having this kind of behavior, it is not a bad idea to use this interface and design your card game. In other words, the most apparent card design for your game could be placing essential elements on the top left corner.  

Durability Mechanic

durability mechanic

Another practical usage of UI in card design could be durability. Players could use weapons or individual items several times by rotating the card. Every 90 degrees rotate the loss in strength. For example, if there is a single rotate, then it means the player has been used the card once. If the rotate is 180 degrees, then the player has been used the card twice, and so on.

As you can see, only orientation matters in this case. It is a simple graphical detail. However, this method improves the usability of your game. We encourage you to think of creative ways like this to create your card game design using unique features. 

Front matters

Typography has a set of rules. In this section, we will offer you several ways to improve the layout of your card design. First of all, do not try to overuse the neat header you have found online. The theme might match your idea correctly. However, if players could not focus on the crucial information on the card, then use it only for the box cover. You can add it to the card back, as well. 

The next important factor is the font size. Font size smaller than 8pt is not the right choice. Of course, it depends on the individual, but generally, font sizes below 10 pt create the accessibility problem for players. It will visually challenge for players to read the text. Or do not try to use wordy sentences on the card. If you cannot keep the text within the border, then try to reorder the sentences. Or another way could be changing the size of the text box. 

Spacing is another essential component of the card design. You need to leave enough space for each element in the design. Space should not be only between the text and its border. At the same time, you need to provide enough space between each line of text. In the typographer's name, we call it leading. Most of the programs adjust this spacing automatically. But if they do not, do not forget to put approximately 1.4x - 1.5x the font size. If you use 9pt font size, then leading should be 12 pts. You can use a little bit lower. Nevertheless, print the card and see how it looks on paper. 

Keep in mind that the tips mentioned above are not rules. So you could break them. Sometimes, you could not change the sentence or remove the word from a text. The only way becomes to shrink the font size. If it is an exception only for one card, it is okay. Do not try to make everything perfect because sometimes it is not possible. But try to do your best to build your dream game for your players. 

Bigger isn't better

Some designers think that simple design is boring for players. Therefore, they try to create more complicated designs. In the end, if simple is boring, then complicated should be interesting, right? It could be, but not for all players, and not always. Most of the time, complicated cards are too difficult to focus on for players. Because of the design, your players could not get the primary information from the map, And it becomes challenging for them to understand the gameplay. 

If you always find yourself adding more stuff to the card design, try to create vanilla creatures. Creating a card game design is like landscape photography. Everyone could see an excellent picture of an impressive view. However, the real challenge is to make a single leaf to look impressive. Only practicing and simple effects could help you to achieve this.