There are two clear contenders for the best board game of 2022

There are two clear contenders for the best board game of 2022 ...

Many board game publishers make a tidy profit on upgrades such as metal coins and card sleeves that make their products more appealing at the table. Or look at Chip Theory Games' poker-style chips and custom dice used in Leder Games' Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile.

These unusual transparent sheets act like regular playing cards. They are also possible to be shuffled and sleeved, allowing designers to combine art or conceal gameplay elements from view. In two of the year's greatest games, John D. Clairs Dead Reckoning and Corey Konieczkas 3,000 Scoundrels put them to work in their own unique ways.

Dead Reckoning is a sandbox-style game of exploration and conflict on the high seas. Each player at the table has a crew of sailors to man their ship. That crew can be upgraded over time, giving players a stronger sense of ownership.

The art on these transparent cards occupies only the upper half of the other side. Each is then paired with an identically sized traditional card and a matching card sleeve, revealing new statistics that follow the transparent card on the top.

Konieczka, the designer of 3,000 Scoundrels, has developed an elaborate bidding game in which players draft other players to work alongside them in order to win the most treasure. In his design 60, Konieczka uses a lot more transparent cards, compared to Dead Reckonings8, as a rogues gallery that shares the game's promise of variety.

The use of clear cards in 3,000 Scoundrels is particularly inventive. While traditional cards include artwork for NPC faces, clear job cards overlay clothing and other props on top, sort of like a paper doll. Both games also interact by creating new combinations of stats, bonuses, and costs depending on how they are matched. It further reinforces the games futuristic time-traveling narrative.

Dead Reckoning is just the latest in a long line of AEG games, including titles such as Mystic Vale and Custom Heroes. The company has even used a trademark for its particular solution: the Card Crafting System.

Why have two different companies brought such high-profile games to market with so similar content? That's one of the benefits of tabletop gaming. While names, locations, and certain mechanics can be legally protected, more common items like dice cannot be used in their own games.

Both games employ clear cards in the same manner to accomplish different things, but they also occupy very different places in the commercial landscape. 3,000 Scoundrels is priced at a very reasonable $49.95, while Dead Reckoning is priced at a very high-cost $79.95, which you can expect to pay once it enters retail.

Dead Reckoning is available on Backerkit, where a second printing is currently available for pre-order. On Sept. 23, 3,000 Scoundrels will be available for pre-order at the Asmodee website and friendly local game stores in the United States, with a worldwide retail release on October 7.

AEG and Asmodee provided a final retail version of Dead Reckoning and 3,000 Scoundrels, respectively. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships that do not impact editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for purchases made through affiliate links.

  • $50
  • $50
  • 0% off

Prices were taken at the time of publication.

2-4 players, age 12+

Play time: 60-90 minutes

Card game type

Bluffing, bidding, and drafting are among the categories.

Cash N Guns is a collection of similar games.