The best board game of 2022 is contested by two clear contenders

The best board game of 2022 is contested by two clear contenders ...

Many board game publishers make a tidy profit on upgraded items such as metal coins and card sleeves that enhance their products' visual appeal at the table. Or the neoprene game board at the center of Leder Games Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile this year, another rare and expensive component has had its breakout moment.

These unusual transparent sheets, which are just like regular playing cards, work seamlessly with traditional cards. They can also be printed on, allowing artists to layer art or conceal certain game elements from view. Both games, John D. Clairs' Dead Reckoning and Corey Konieczkas 3,000 Scoundrels, have been used in their own unique ways.

Dead Reckoning is a sandbox-style game of exploration and conflict on the high seas. Each player in the table has a crew of sailors to man their vessel. That crew can be upgraded over time, giving players a stronger sense of ownership. For each of these crew members, there is one clear plastic card for the bosun, the first mate, the deck hand, and so on.

The art on these transparent cards only occupies the top half of the other side. Each is then paired with an identically sized traditional card and a matching card sleeve, giving players additional stats that cannot be seen through the transparent card on the top.

Konieczka's 3,000 Scoundrels is a puzzle game that players construct other characters to play alongside them in order to win the most treasure. These 60 unique cards combine with 50 traditional cards to create thousands of potential characters, as well as a rogues gallery that supports the game's promise of variety.

The use of clear cards in 3,000 Scoundrels is unusual. While traditional cards include NPC faces, clear job cards overlay clothes and other props on top, almost like a paper doll. Both cards act as tools for exploration, further strengthening the game's 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 have two separate companies brought such high-profile games to market with so similar graphics? Thats one of the joys of tabletop gaming. While names, locations, and certain mechanics may be legally protected, more common items like dice cant be.

Both games use clear cards to accomplish different goals in a similar fashion, but they also have very different commercial identities. 3,000 Scoundrels is priced at a very inexpensive $49.95, while Dead Reckoning is priced at a very high-cost $79.95.

Dead Reckoning is available on Backerkit, where a second printing is currently available for pre-order. 3,000 Scoundrels will be available for pre-order on the Asmodee website and local game stores on September 23, 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, which do not impact editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for purchases made via affiliate links.

  • $50
  • $50
  • 0% off

Prices are taken at the time of publication.

2-4 players, age 12+

Play time: 60-90 minutes

Card game type

Bluffing, bidding, and drafting are all categories.

Cash N Guns is a game that includes cash.