Many board game publishers make a tidy profit on improved items 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 that are featured in 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 players to see certain game elements without having to see them before. Two of the year's best 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 man their ship. That crew can be upgraded over time, giving players a stronger sense of ownership. For the bosun, the first mate, the deck hand, and so on, each clear plastic card is used.
The transparent cards only cover 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 are hidden within the transparent card on top.
Konieczka's 3,000 Scoundrels is a game that involves players drawing other characters to compete for the most treasure. These 60 unique cards combine with 50 traditional cards to create tens of thousands of potential characters, as well as a rogues gallery that supports the game's promise of variety.
3,000 Scoundrels' use of clear cards is unusual in that they mimic NPC faces, while clear job cards overlay clothes and other props on top, sort of like a paper doll. It makes setting up for each new game an act of discovery, further strengthening the games futuristic time-traveling narrative.
Dead Reckoning is just the latest in a long line of AEG tabletop games, including titles like Mystic Vale and Custom Heroes. The company has even created a new name for its particular solution: Card Crafting 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 can be legally protected, less common items like dice can't be.
Both games use clear cards in similar ways to accomplish different things, but they also have very different commercial markets. 3,000 Scoundrels is priced at a very inexpensive $49.95; Dead Reckoning is priced at a very high-cost $79.95.
Dead Reckoning is available for pre-order 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 local game stores on September 23, with a worldwide retail release on October 7.
With a final retail version provided by AEG and Asmodee, Dead Reckoning and 3,000 Scoundrels were previewed. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.
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Prices were taken at the time of publication.
2-4 players, age 12 and up
Play time: 60-90 minutes
Card game type
Bluffing, bidding, and drafting are all categories in this category.
Cash N Guns is a collection of similar games.