Many board game publishers make a decent profit on upgraded components like metal coins and card sleeves that make their products more attractive at the table. Or look at Chip Theory Games' poker-style chips and custom dice, 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: clear plastic playing cards.
Clear cards allow gamers to access gameplay features that were previously unavailable in board games. Both John D. Clairs' Dead Reckoning and Corey Konieczkas 3,000 Scoundrels are excellent examples of this.
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. 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 one side. Each is then paired with an identically sized traditional card and a matching card sleeve. Players simply remove the traditional playing card from the sleeve, revealing new stats that are hidden beneath the transparent card on top.
Konieczka's 3,000 Scoundrels is a game where players design other characters to work alongside them in order to get the most treasure. These 60 unique cards combine with 50 traditional cards to create tens of thousands of potential characters, 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 art for NPC faces, clear job cards overlay clothes and other props on top, sort of like a paper doll. It makes setting up for each new game a matter of discovery, further bolstering the games futuristic time-traveling narrative.
Dead Reckoning is just the latest in a long line of AEG games, including titles like Mystic Vale and Custom Heroes. The cardcrafting system is a popular term for the system.
Why have two different companies brought such high-profile games to market with such similar components? That's one of the joys of tabletop gaming. While names, locations, and certain mechanics may be legally protected, more common items like dice cannot be.
Although both games use clear cards to accomplish different things, they also occupy very different places in the commercial landscape. 3,000 Scoundrels is priced at a very affordable $49.95, while Dead Reckoning is priced at a very high-cost $49.95, which you can anticipate to hike once it retails.
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 at friendly local game stores on Sept. 23, 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, which do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for items purchased via affiliate links.
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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 in the same category.
Cash N Guns is a game that includes cash.