How to Build a Game #85 One Card Face, Many Functions

Cards might be the most useful tool for a designer. Cards can be hidden information, cards can perform more than one function at the same time. Cards can save on the cost of components and allow for the game to benefit from all kinds of actions. Cards are a platform for art. Cards are awesome.

What I would like to focus on is the ability to segment cards. We played Kanban recently and the game used segmented cards so well I wanted to write about it.

Segmenting a card can provide incredible flexibility. Just because a card is printed one way, doesn’t mean it can’t be oriented in multiple ways. In Kanban, the segmented card was used to add parts to the game board that players could collect. Depending on how players oriented the card, they had access to different kinds of parts. It was a small part of the game, but a small part with a lot of flexibility will provide overall flexibility to the designer.

I encourage you to check out the way Kanban used this mechanic and if you know of any other games that do the same, please let us know. How can you play with what part of a card is active or turned off? Does your card need to effect a single region of a board, or can it have different effects in different areas?

This concept is new to me so I don’t have any good examples to share. If you use segmented cards or card orientation in any of your games, please share what you do and how it is working for you.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.

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