Many board game publishers make a tidy profit from upgraded components such as metal coins and card sleeves that make their products more appealing on the table. Or look at Chip Theory Games' poker-style chips and custom dice that are used in Leder Games Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile. This year, another rare and costly component has had its breakout moment: clear plastic playing cards.
Clear cards complement traditional cards in that they are easily shuffled and sleeved, allowing artists to layer art or conceal certain gameplay elements from view. Two of the year's greatest games John D. Clairs Dead Reckoning and Corey Konieczkas 3,000 Scoundrels put them to use in their own unique ways.
Dead Reckoning is a sandbox-style game of exploration and conflict on the high seas. Each player has a crew of sailors to manage their ship. That crew can be upgraded over the years, giving players a stronger sense of ownership.
The transparent cards only take up the top half of one side. Each is then paired with an identically sized traditional card and a matching card sleeve, revealing new stats that show through the transparent card on the top.
Konieczka, the designer of 3,000 Scoundrels, has created an elaborate bidding game in which players draft other characters to work alongside them in order to win the most treasure. In his design 60, Konieczka uses a lot more transparent cards than Dead Reckonings8, a rogues gallery that supports the games' promise of variety.
The use of clear cards in 3,000 Scoundrels is particularly inventive. While traditional cards have NPC faces, clear job cards overlay clothes and other props on top, sort of like a paper doll. Both cards interact by creating new combinations of stats, perks, and costs depending on how theyre paired. It makes setting up for each new game a process of discovery further strengthening the games futuristic time-traveling narrative.
Dead Reckoning is just the latest in a long line of similar games from AEG, including titles like Mystic Vale and Custom Heroes. The company has even trademarked a name for its particular solution: Card Crafting System.
Why did two different companies bring such high-profile games to market with such similar features? That's one of the joys of tabletop gaming. While names, locations, and certain mechanics may be legally protected, less common items like dice can't be.
3,000 Scoundrels is priced at a very inexpensive $49.95 in big-box stores, while Dead Reckoning is priced at a very high-cost $79.95. You can expect it to climb again once it enters retail.
Dead Reckoning is available for pre-order on Backerkit, where a second printing is currently available. On September 23, 3,000 Scoundrels will be available for pre-order at the Asmodee website and nearby local game stores in the United States, with a worldwide retail release on October 7.
AEG and Asmodee provided the final retail version of Dead Reckoning and 3,000 Scoundrels, respectively. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for purchases made via affiliate links.
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Prices are taken at the time of publication.
2-4 players, age 12 and over
Play time: 60-90 minutes
Card game type
Bluffing, bidding, and drafting are all categories.
Cash N Guns is a game that includes cash.