Sourcing Board Game Components: Cards

This is the first in a series of articles that are meant to help aspiring designers and published designers alike. The goal of these articles is to simply list some of the sources for different components that we designers like to use in our game prototypes. While I have not used all of these different sources, I’ve done my research and feel confident that you’ll receive a decent quality production from any of these sources.

Today’s post is about sourcing cards for your prototypes. But over the next few Thursdays I’ll be posting articles about other components:

  • Meeples
  • Chits
  • Dice

They won’t be dreadfully exciting articles, but I hope they can help you out as your on your way toward a high quality prototype. But first, my inspiration comes from this post:

That is a way better list than I’m going to make. But my sources seem to be some of the more mainstream sources. If there are component sources that you use, and like, that I have not mentioned in these articles, please let me know and I’d be happy to keep these articles up to date.

So let’s get to the sources I would use for cards… Note: The Game Crafter is my go-to source, and thus they are listed first.

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The Game Crafter

This is the one source that I have used. They have a large number of sizes available. They provide a template for each size. And overall I have never had any problems with my cards. They are not going to be the highest quality, linen finish, and all that, but they are great for putting together a quality prototype that you could feel confident pitching to a publisher.

Here’s the details about sizing and pricing (click the link to go to the template page for each item):

Printed Item Cost Per Sheet Cost Per Item Items Per Sheet Image Size (in pixels) Finished Size (in inches)
Bridge Deck $1.56 $0.09 18 750×1125 2.25 x 3.5
Business Deck $1.89 $0.09 21 675×1125 2.0 x 3.5
Hex Deck $2.29 $0.19 12 1200×1050 3.75 x 3.25
Jumbo Deck $1.25 $0.21 6 1125×1725 3.5 x 5.5
Micro Deck $3.99 $0.07 56 450×600 1.25 x 1.75
Mini Deck $2.89 $0.09 32 600×825 1.75 x 2.5
Poker Deck $1.56 $0.09 18 825×1125 2.5 x 3.5
Square Deck $2.29 $0.19 12 1125×1125 3.5 x 3.5
Tarot Deck $1.89 $0.19 10 900×1500 2.75 x 4.75

When you upload files you can upload a bunch at once, or one at a time. When you are ready to have them printed, you’ll have to “proof” each one. When I order cards I usually go with the Mini Deck since you can get them for a pretty good price. They are also one of my favorite sizes for games in general. They are large enough to hold a lot of information, but small enough to not be a nuisance.

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My wife has used ArtsCow for a few scrapbooking things, so I can attest to the quality of those. However, I have not used ArtsCow for any cards. So take this for what it’s worth.

On the ArtsCow page you can choose from custom playing cards, cards shaped like circles, and cards shaped like hearts. While ArtsCow doesn’t seem to have the game designer in mind with their products, I think people have had success with ordering customized cards.

The best option I’ve seen for custom double sided cards is the “Multi-Purpose Cards.” This seems like the best option for custom double sided cards from ArtsCow. They measure 2.5″ x 3.5″ and start at $10.99 for a 54 card deck, which seems quite high for 280 gsm matte paper. But like I mentioned, they don’t think like game designers.

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Printer’s Studio

I have not used Printer’s Studio for any cards, but I know people who have. Like ArtsCow most of their options for cards are decks of custom playing cards. But they do have a page for blank playing cards that can be fully customized as well.

Sizes include:

  • Mini Size (1.75″ x 2.5″) starting at $4.39 for up to a 64 card deck
  • Bridge Size (2.25″ x 3.5″) starting at $7.99 for up to a 54 card deck
  • Poker Size (2.5″ x 3.5″) starting at $7.99 for up to a 54 card deck
  • Tarot Size (2.75″ x 4.75″) starting at $1.89 for up to a 10 card deck
  • Large Size (3.5″ x 5.75″) starting at $13.99 for up to a 54 card deck

Those prices seem a little high to me, but these are for 300 gsm card stock. Each card size also has an option for 310 gsm linen finish.

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Print & Play Productions

While I have not ordered cards from Print & Play, I have ordered hex chits. I was very pleased with their quality, so I would likely be pleased with the quality of the cards as well. But that’s not a guarantee.

Print & Play offers several sizes of blank or custom printed cards:

They also have an option for a letter size sheet of custom cards starting at $1.25 for double sided printing.

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Other Sources: EAI / Amazon

If all you’re looking for is blank cards from which you can make a prototype, then perhaps EAI or Amazon is your best bet. Here are the details:

EAI: Single deck of 54 blank playing cards is currently $0.99 per deck (regular price = $1.55 per deck)

Amazon: 500 Blank cards for $13.50


So those are the sources that I am most familiar with for blank cards. The other option is to use something like nanDECK and create/print your own cards that you could then sleeve. I haven’t had much luck trying to use nanDECK, so good luck with that.

Please let me know if you use someone else. I’d love to add it to this list and make it more complete. Thanks for reading. I hope this list and the next three covering meeples, chits, and dice will be helpful to you as a designer!


Posted on September 5, 2013, in Game Design, Prototyping, The Boards and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. “I haven’t had much luck trying to use nanDECK, so good luck with that.”
    Why? nanDeck is a pretty straightforward and powerful program; plus well-supported by its creator on BoardGameGeek. Its hard to find a (free) program that is as capable…

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