There are two clear contenders for the best board game of 2022

Many board game publishers make money from improved components – such as metal coins and card cases, which make their products more attractive at the table. But some companies build whole games around these kinds of bits. Just look at the poker-style chips and custom dice used in Chip Theory Games, or at the neoprene game board at the Leder Games Hub. Oath: Chronicles of the Empire and Exile. This year, another rare and expensive element had its breakthrough: transparent plastic playing cards.

These unusual transparent sheets resemble regular playing cards. You can shuffle them and place them in the sleeves, thanks to which they will fit seamlessly into decks with traditional cards. But they can also be overprinted, which allows designers to overlay graphics or hide certain game elements. Cleverly used, the blank cards offer players new mechanics and features that simply weren’t previously available in board games. Two of the best games of the year – John D. Clair Dead settlement and Corey Konieczka’s 3000 scoundrels use them in your own creative way.

Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

Transparent card, traditional paper card and linked card sleeve.

Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

Dead settlement is a sandbox style game about exploration and conflict on the high seas. Each player at the table has a crew of sailors to handle the ship. This crew can be upgraded over time, giving players a stronger sense of ownership. Clair uses one clear plastic card for each of these crew members – the boatswain, first mate, deck hand, and so on.

The graphics on these transparent tabs only take up the top half of one page. Each one is then joined to a traditional card of identical sizes and a matching card holder. As players upgrade their crew, they simply take the traditional playing card out of their sleeve and either flip it or flip it, revealing new stats that can be seen through the transparent card at the top. It’s a clever system both in terms of using cutting edge materials and in how it reinforces the feeling that players are investing in their crew.

Traditional and blank cards collection.  They exhibit qualities such as the elderly, patient and malicious, alongside jobs such as hacker, butler, and seeker.

Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

Transparent card, traditional card, combined with a card sleeve.

Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

In 3000 scoundrels, designer Konieczka has created a complicated bidding game in which players choose other characters to work with them to collect as many treasures as possible. Konieczka uses many more of these transparent cards in his design – 60 vs Dead settlement‘s 8. These 60 unique cards are combined with 50 traditional cards to create thousands of potential characters, a rogue gallery that likewise supports the promise of variety in the game.

The horse cover turns you into a horse.

Apparently, “horse” is a job.
Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

Implementation of blank cards in 3000 scoundrels he is particularly inventive. While the traditional cards in the game have drawings of NPC faces, clear job cards are superimposed on clothes and other props – sort of like a paper doll. Traditional and transparent cards also interact, creating new combinations of stats, benefits, and costs depending on how they’re paired. This makes the preparation of each new game an act of discovery, further enhancing the futuristic storyline of time travel.

A set of boxes and instructions on how to return to the box.

Along with the premium price, Dead settlement offers one of the best packaging solutions I have seen in a modern board game.
Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

Of course, this is not the first time that blank cards have been used in board games. One of my personal favorites, Darknesshas existed since 2005. Dead settlement this is just the latest in a long line of similar AEG games such as titles Mystical Valley and Custom Heroes. The company even owns the copyrights to the name of its specific solution: they call it the Card Crafting System.

But why have two different companies launched games so loud with such similar beats? Well, that’s one of the joys of playing on a tablet. While names, locations, and some mechanics can be legally protected by forbidding other companies from using them in their own games, more common items like dice can’t be. The idea of ​​using cards to play games is as old as the game itself, leading to these kinds of co-evolutionary designs.

More interestingly, while both games use bright cards in similar ways to achieve different things, the games also occupy very different places in the commercial landscape. 3000 scoundrels it’s priced at a very affordable, large box friendly $ 49.95. Dead settlementon the other hand, it has incredibly expensive components like plastic miniatures, sturdy boxes, and 3D resin chips. It also has a premium price of $ 79.95, which is expected to increase when it hits retail.

You can find Dead settlement on Backerkit, where the second print is currently available for pre-order. 3000 scoundrels It will be available for pre-order on the Asmodee website and in friendly local game stores on September 23, with a global retail premiere on October 7.

Dead Reckoning and 3000 Scoundrels were presented with the final retail version provided by AEG and Asmodee respectively. Vox Media has affiliate companies. They do not affect the editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find more information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.


3000 scoundrels

Prices taken at the time of publication.

• 2-4 players aged 12+

• Playing time: 60-90 minutes

• Game type: card game

• Category: Bluffing, bidding, plotting

• Similar games: Cash “N Guns”

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