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How To Make Your Own Trading Card Game

Updated on March 16, 2009

So you want to make a game...

If you've played trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokémon, yet have found the flaws, seen the mistakes, and wanted to change certain things about them, this is the Hub for you!  I have seen trading card games like that before, yet have seen the imbalance or flaws in them.  Instead of living with it, I decided to make my own game. 

After going through the process of creating several trading card games, I decided that all of you should know about it.  Someone out there might be wondering how to make their own game, and I can share my knowledge with them.

If you don't want to make a trading card game, there are plenty of other great Hubs out there just waiting to be discovered, but if you're wanting to know how to custom design your own game, then read on to find out more!

This Hub IS NOT Law

This isn't the only way to make a trading card game.  If you think a different way will work, by all means try it and see where it leads.  I would love to hear the different experiments many of you make and to see what kind of game you make up.

Step #1 - Deciding On The Name

Although many people may consider this step un-important or second-hand, I think that this step is important. Depending on the name of the card game, you will want to create certain card types, develop a theme, and perhaps even decide the powers of the different cards you will make. Decide on a name that:
1) Seems interesting and captivating
2) Relatively gives an idea of what the game is about
3) You can see being advertised (no vulgar language, obscenities, etc)

If you want to save this step until later or even last, that's absolutely fine. As I said earlier, this Hub is not law and you can change it up however you see fit. It's your game, not mine.

Step #2 - Deciding On A Theme -

This step ties closely with the first one. As I said before, the name that you choose for your trading card game needs to somewhat resemble the theme of your game. If you're wondering about more of the technical stuff, such as the strength value of the cards, the names, graphics, and such, then this is an important step. If you are wanting to make a more medieval-type game with swords and sworcery, then you're going to want lower attack and defense values, more old-timey characters such as magicians, goblins, warriors, and orcs. If you want to make a sci-fi type game, then you're going to want high attack and defense values and more advanced card names, with things like robot, laser, and technology in them.

I'm going to give you the tools to create any type of game that you want, but just to make it easier in the explanation, I'm going to be making my own card game alongside you. If you want to copy and make my game yours, by all means go ahead, but if you have your own idea of what you want, then, as I said before, don't take this Hub as law.

Step #3 - The Basics Of A Trading Card -

To let you start making your own trading cards, I'll have to explain to you the different components of one. Let's start with:
1- Name -
The name of the card should be in-sync with what kind of theme and name of the game you have created. Since I have picked a sci-fi theme, the name of the card I'll pick is "Robotic Chimp." This may sound stupid or dumb, but when you need to think of 300+ names of cards, even the dumb or stupid start to look inviting.

4- Type -
You may want to have different "types" of cards. This may include just basic types, such as fire/ice/water or more advanced, such as the Magic and Trap cards in Yu-Gi-Oh. In this game I'll be making, we're going to have just two types of cards:
1) Combat cards, or your basic cards that "battle" on the battlefield that will include "Tech," "Robot," and "Laser."
2) Intervention cards, or cards similar to the Magic and Trap cards in Yu-Gi-Oh, which I will call "Advancements."

3- Graphic -
The picture that goes on your card, representing the card. You may want to be in-depth and detailed anc create your own artwork for each card, which might be long and tedious, but if you're artistic and have time, by all means, go for it. You might also want to look online for artwork, which may be nice, but inconsistencies in art type as well as possible legal issues might deter you from that path. Another choice, the one I'll be making, is just using one design for each type of card, such as fire/ice/intervention, instead of making new ones for each card type. This will be quicker and easier to use for demonstration. I'm going to use a simple circle.
TIP: There are quite a few simple pictures in Microsoft Word that you can use for the types of your cards.

4- Attack/Defense -
These will be the main part of the card - the one your game players will be looking at. As I said a little bit earlier, a sci-fi type game will have higher attack and defense (abbreviated atk/def from now on) but a medieval type game would have lower values. When I say high and low, I don't mean 10 and 2 or 1,000,000 and 200,000. I'm talking in between 100-10,00 values. These are entirely suggestive, and you can choose to do whatever you choose. If you think adding and subtracting 1-10 will be easier, go for that. I'm going to choose rather high-value numbers for my game, as it is sci-fi, with the lowest value being 1,000 and the highest being 10,000.

5- Frequency -
The "rarity" of the card, if you will, is another important factor of the game. If a card states that it is common, people aren't going to think that it's worth a lot, but if it says that it's "rare," people will want to hold onto it more. This DOES NOT MEAN that you should create a lot of "rare" cards. It'll change it around of that is true, and people will be less likely to hold onto "rare" cards, because they aren't "rare" anymore. In order to keep things balanced, for my game I'm going to make there be only "Common," "Uncommon," and "Rare." Also to keep things balanced, I'm going to make a ratio to go by when creating cards of this:
Common - 10
Uncommon - 4
Rare - 1
That way rare cards truly will be rare.

These are the basic components of a card. You can add some if you think that they'd work, and you can get rid of some if you think it would subtract from your game. It's your game, not mine.

Step #4 - Creating Your First Card -

Depending on the type of game that you'll want to make, you'll want to lay out your cards differently. This is the way that I did it:

Step #4 - Creating Your First Card Cont. -

It's easier for me, as I've made other card games that way and it's what I'm used to.  I put the item together simply by making a table and then editing each cell as a card.  To make it simpler, I'll break it down.
1) Create a table and make sure it fills up the whole page.
2) Copy this page now.  One will be the cards that you make, while the other will be the backs of the cards, the consistent picture on the back of every card that makes it stand out that it's your card.
3) In the fronts of the cards (the consistent side) make a picture that you think captures what your game is about and be sure to include the name of your game.  Copy this into all the other cells.  You will no longer need to worry about this file until printing.
4) Make a card.  Fill in the basic information and put it in the layout that you wanted.  Now copy this card into all the other cells.  No, you aren't going to be making multiple copies, you're just going to be using this first card as a layout so all you have to do is fill in the information and *boom*, you're done.

Although this is broken down into four *simple* steps, it's a lot harder than you think.  Getting the table set up right is tricky and getting the back design of your cards in place without messing up the table is harder said than done.  Stick with it and you'll get the set-up sure enough.

Step #5 - Creating A Database -

When you start creating tons of cards, you'll want to make sure you don't create the same card twice with different values.  To do this, just open an Excel document, create headers for the different parts of the card, and then put in the information as you create the cards.  This will also let you create another of the same card later on to keep "balance."  Simple, yet incredibly important.

Step #6 - Printing/Publication -

I suggest getting some high-quality paper, such as cardstock, instead of using simple paper that will easily be destroyed or bent.  Print the backs of the cards first, then, according to your printer, feed the paper back in so that when you print off your card sheet, it will print accordingly so that the two sides are aligned right-side up.  Don't worry, it will take a few tries before you get it right.  After you print the cards, you can either cut the cards out by hand or you can get a paper cutter for a more exact cut.  After printing out a lot of cards (roughly 100), find some people that you think might be interested.  For example, younger siblings, friends, other family, or even create a website and start selling them.yourself.  Whatever you choose, have fun!!


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    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i am only a kid.


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