The Deck of Many Games: A Game Design Tool

The Deck of Many things isn't a game, it's a method of prototyping a game. Creator Zack Hiwiller has put together 110 tarot-sized cards that are intended to make it easier to quickly prototype and play card-based games. This includes "cards that track values, cards used as randomizers, cards used as roles, and so forth."

What is the Deck of Many Games?

The deck is made specifically to be durable, and each card contains roles, ranks, resources, numbers, letters, currency, dice, and mechanics. As an example, a card might have the role "security" to be used in a security game and it may have the mechanics "negotiation" to be used in a negotiation style game. The appeal of The Deck of Many Games lies in its consistency. You can easily whip out a deck and assign roles, without having to do a mock-up on your own. 

The entire deck costs $25 and it has already funded its initial $2,500 goal. 

Is It Worth It?

Reviewing the cards themselves, it's hard to see how they would be used for anything but very early stage prototyping. It's easy to understand, for instance, how cards like "doctor" would be used, but things like resources appear to include gems, clocks, crates -- specific items. It feels as though when play testing one would spend more time trying to remember what each thing meant in your game than the cards would save. And, of course, the tried-and-true method is simply to whip out a bunch of index cards. 

A deck of high quality cards with a variety of markings that allow designers to quickly prototype and test many types of analog games.

But that isn't what the card deck is for. The card deck is for extremely early stage prototyping, which I want to emphasize. The deck also feels as though it would be mostly useful to prototype very specific types of games, such as social deduction games. Where it starts tracking resources, victory points, currency, and dice, the premise feels a bit shakier; there are some things that tokens and actual dice simply do better than cards ever will. 

The Deck of Many Games looks like an excellent tool for early stage brainstorming more than detailed prototyping, as it's hard to imagine that games created with these would be playable by anyone but the creator themselves. Taken as that, however, it's as good as it possibly can be: it gives you a huge amount of variety in a very small package.

Funding Date: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2018