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Subject: Print-on-demand card games? rss

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David Etherton
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Tom Jolly's game design page (http://www.silcom.com/~tomjolly/design.htm) mentions that print-on-demand is becoming a viable way to publish small print run games. However, one of the main links he lists doesn't work right, and the other is pretty sparse on information.

I'm curious if some of the folks doing small run card games (Gene Pool, Archaeology: The Card Game, others, I'm sure) have considered any of these relatively new outfits?

What's the going rate per 55-card or 110-card full-color deck? How many different card backs can you have typically? Some of them will even do tuck boxes for you.

Some of the prices I saw mentioned (could be misremembering) were $2-3 per deck in quantities of 500, which is pretty affordable, really.

Like many here, I have a few design ideas brewing in my head, and if I can get them produced much easier as a "tuck box" game that will affect how I proceed.

Just curious,

-Dave

Edit: Fixed bad game links, added URL to Tom's page, grammar.
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David Etherton
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Some information buried in this thread over on bgdf -- one printer's rough estimate was $5.50 including tuck boxes:

http://www.bgdf.com/tiki/tiki-view_forum_thread.php?comments...

-Dave
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Phil Walker-Harding
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Hi Dave,
Living in Australia, with our dollar and the shipping costs involved, it is very tough to make manufacturing overseas work for me. However there are a couple of sites listed on Tom's page that I hadn't come across before, so I will look into their prices and see how I go!
 
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etherton wrote:
Some information buried in this thread over on bgdf -- one printer's rough estimate was $5.50 including tuck boxes

Interesting, though that is for 1000 decks (80,000 cards). I wonder what kind of pricing you could get on ~5000 cards (50-100 decks) - the range you might be in when you're still treating game production as a sideline/hobby rather than really trying to go into it full steam.
 
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David Etherton
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Random idea -- there are already "development kit" games like Piecepack and Icehouse, and more recently, Stonehenge: An Anthology Board Game, but anything you produce with them is likely to be a little short on theme, in my opinion.

Back in the 80's or 90's, many arcade game systems standardized on a JAMMA connector setup, so that as long as your game could use a joystick and N fire buttons, you could drop a new logic board in, slap some new stickers on the cabinet, and have a totally new game.

What about something similar for board games? There may be a market out there for print-on-demand where there are a few "standard" box sizes, board sizes, die-cut-cardboard sheets, etc. You'd supply a bunch of pdf's (or whatever) for the cards, counter sheets, boards, box art, etc, and the printer would crank out small print runs of your unique game.

There could be three different "loadouts" of the "Kosmos-two-player" box, five different "loadouts" of the "FFG/DOW square box", and so on. Plastic minis would probably be out of the question, But cardboard, plastic stands, and maybe even custom dice wouldn't be unheard of?

The key here is that for it to be cost-effective, there couldn't be any massive retooling for different runs, and I have no idea if that means that every game has to have exactly the same component distributions (but with different art printed on everything) or not.

(I know nothing about the printing industry, so I apologize in advance if what I'm suggesting is totally bogus).

-Dave
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Rob Rob
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etherton wrote:
Some information buried in this thread over on bgdf -- one printer's rough estimate was $5.50 including tuck boxes:

http://www.bgdf.com/tiki/tiki-view_forum_thread.php?comments...

-Dave

Wow, IIRC you need to sell a product for twice its production costs to make a profit (after distribution costs, etc...) it's amazingly expensive to try and make even a simple card game!
 
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David Etherton
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Well, I suspect many of us here would be happy doing this as a hobby, not a source of income, so we'd be happy to just break even. Of course, the danger of print-on-demand becoming too affordable is even more (potentially dubious) product to choose from in an already (by some opinions) saturated market.

-Dave
 
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Paul Blake
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etherton wrote:

What about something similar for board games? There may be a market out there for print-on-demand where there are a few "standard" box sizes, board sizes, die-cut-cardboard sheets, etc. You'd supply a bunch of pdf's (or whatever) for the cards, counter sheets, boards, box art, etc, and the printer would crank out small print runs of your unique game.

There could be three different "loadouts" of the "Kosmos-two-player" box, five different "loadouts" of the "FFG/DOW square box", and so on. Plastic minis would probably be out of the question, But cardboard, plastic stands, and maybe even custom dice wouldn't be unheard of?

The key here is that for it to be cost-effective, there couldn't be any massive retooling for different runs, and I have no idea if that means that every game has to have exactly the same component distributions (but with different art printed on everything) or not.

In order for what you describe to be feasible, you would basically be given a few choices among some commonly manufactured bits.

Box and board size would be the ones with the least variation. Tokens would be the pain, though: You would have a choice of a few pre-specified counter sheet layouts. Said manufacturer would try to make the most commonly used shapes and sizes, so expect to see a lot of Catan-sized hexes and Carcassonne-sized squares. Other options would probably include wargame chits and cardboard coins.

As you say, plastic bits would be just a little out of the realm of possibility, but wooden counters would be fairly simple. Even so, it would be a limited number of choices, such as a bag of assorted Puerto Rico barrels.

The biggest problem, however, would be that of unauthorized game reprinting. Not in the sense of an epidemic of piracy, but the simple fact that such a manufacturer would have no way to police such things. The first customer to order a homemade copy of Acquire (which couldn't be simpler to create in such a system) could open the company up to litigation from Hasbro.

Don't believe it? Try printing a page from a magazine at Kinko's or through WalMart's printing service: If it looks too professional, they won't print it unless you legally attest that you either have signed permission from the creator of the item, or you legally attest that you are the creator of the item.

I know, it's pretty shaky legal grounds for a suit, especially since Board Games aren't really protected works per se. But Hasbro has deep pockets for legal action, and has swung a pretty heavy hammer when it came to Monopoly knockoffs.
 
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David Etherton
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Found this site referenced elsewhere in the BGG PNP Wiki:

http://www.tmcards.com/

(these are only estimates, based on what was on their site at the time I posted this message)

100 $5.51 - $8.81
200 $4.78 - $7.47
500 $3.70 - $5.71
1000 $2.54 - $3.93
2000 $2.08 - $3.16
5000 $0.72 - $1.26
10000 $0.53 - $0.91

It looks like this is for a typical 54-card deck, and it's not clear whether you really have full control over each card or you're just inserting the same custom picture into the center of every card (and another custom image on the back).

Certainly does show how the curve falls off quickly with quantity.

Noticed elsewhere on their site you can get quotes for arbitrary-sized decks of cards as well.

-Dave

Edit: typo
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David Etherton
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I asked for a quote from the same company that (based solely on public forum posts here on BGG) did the "reprint" of Glory to Rome, www.playingcardsindia.com, and they told me that they could do a 58 card totally custom deck (either bridge or poker sized) with tuckbox and shrink, shipped by sea, for about $1.50 per deck, minimums of just over 2000.

They could do a 200 card deck for just over $5.00 shipped by sea, with the same minimums.

Their minimums are pretty high, but their cost is so low that it balances out. I know I could design a game about 250 people would want. Not sure sure I could design a game 2000 people would want...

-Dave

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Rob Rob
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etherton wrote:
They could do a 200 card deck for just over $5.00 shipped by sea, with the same minimums.

Their minimums are pretty high, but their cost is so low that it balances out. I know I could design a game about 250 people would want. Not sure sure I could design a game 2000 people would want...

Easy enough, with a 400 card deck you could reprint 2000 copies of Up Front for under $10 each. Market it at $20 to cover your distribution costs and you'd sell out in a couple months.

Have I mentioned how much I hate MMP?
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Brett Myers
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Robrob wrote:
etherton wrote:
They could do a 200 card deck for just over $5.00 shipped by sea, with the same minimums.

Their minimums are pretty high, but their cost is so low that it balances out. I know I could design a game about 250 people would want. Not sure sure I could design a game 2000 people would want...

Easy enough, with a 400 card deck you could reprint 2000 copies of Up Front for under $10 each. Market it at $20 to cover your distribution costs and you'd sell out in a couple months.

Have I mentioned how much I hate MMP?

You could certainly print it for that cost, but 400 cards is a *lot* of layout and graphic design work to pay for.
 
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Rob Rob
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disclamer wrote:
You could certainly print it for that cost, but 400 cards is a *lot* of layout and graphic design work to pay for.

Well, not to stray too far from the topic but if MMP didn't license the original artwork when they purchased the game rights, historical photos are both plentiful and free. If drawings are preferred over photos, Photoshop and many other graphics programs have the ability to quickly render a photograph into a rotoscope of the original. If specific poses or scenes are desired, there are any number of WWII reenactment groups with 100% historically accurate uniforms, weapons and equipment who would just love to serve as "models" in a photo shoot to get this game back on the shelves.
shake
 
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I love print-on-demand card games. I recently added all the cards to play my game Joker's Drain to BGG: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/32934

Since I have a nice printer, a laminater, and a high-quality paper cutter, I am happy to print out as many card games as I can find.
 
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Brett Myers
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Robrob wrote:
disclamer wrote:
You could certainly print it for that cost, but 400 cards is a *lot* of layout and graphic design work to pay for.

Well, not to stray too far from the topic but if MMP didn't license the original artwork when they purchased the game rights, historical photos are both plentiful and free. If drawings are preferred over photos, Photoshop and many other graphics programs have the ability to quickly render a photograph into a rotoscope of the original. If specific poses or scenes are desired, there are any number of WWII reenactment groups with 100% historically accurate uniforms, weapons and equipment who would just love to serve as "models" in a photo shoot to get this game back on the shelves.
shake

I guess it depends on how professional you want the end product to look. MMP is having new artwork done:

http://www.multimanpublishing.com/OtherGames/produpfrnt.php
 
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Rob Rob
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disclamer wrote:
I guess it depends on how professional you want the end product to look. MMP is having new artwork done:

http://www.multimanpublishing.com/OtherGames/produpfrnt.php

Sure, but just so you know...

1) That MMP page is from 2001 and they are no closer to actually publishing the game now than they were six years ago.

2) Honestly, PC assisted rotoscope can produce a very nice finished product in a minimal amount of time and for pennies on the dollar compared to hand drawn animation.
 
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Brett Myers
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Robrob wrote:
Sure, but just so you know...

1) That MMP page is from 2001 and they are no closer to actually publishing the game now than they were six years ago.

2) Honestly, PC assisted rotoscope can produce a very nice finished product in a minimal amount of time and for pennies on the dollar compared to hand drawn animation.

Ah, I thought the page looked a little out of date. I wonder what the holdup is.
 
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David Etherton
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http://www.guildofblades.com/pod.php

(Noticed they were used in a recently-announced card game)

-Dave
 
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Iain McAllister
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etherton wrote:
http://www.guildofblades.com/pod.php

(Noticed they were used in a recently-announced card game)

-Dave

I think the game you are referring to might be mine, Revenge of the B-Movie.

I can tell you that Guild of Blades(GOB) have been fantastic through the whole process. Ryan has been my point of contact over there and he has been helpful, honest and supporting through the whole process. I got my first half of my 100 deck order the other day and you can see some pictures of the product over on my blog.

The quality of the print is great and the cards are nice and heavy and shuffly well. The tuck box is a little tight for the 63 deck size I went for, but it is nothing that can't be dealt with. For my next run Ryan is going to provide me with a larger tuck box.

I would be happy to answer any other questions you have about the product.

Cheers

Iain
 
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David Etherton
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Yup, that's the one. I'm curious what software you used to do the artwork on the cards, and any details you could share on getting "all the way" to a print-ready PDF for them.

They seem just about perfect for somebody doing a small print run, particularly for somebody like me already in the States.

Of course I need to actually finish designing my game now. And playtesting it enough to make it even worth the trouble to proceed to physical publishing...

-Dave
 
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Iain McAllister
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Happy to help.

The artwork was done by a friend of mine 'Paul Bourne' who has done work for Contested Ground Studios on all their roleplaying games. I will check with him but I think he will have used paintshop pro to do the card art. He then sent me the images and I put together the cards using Adobe Indesign CS2 on my macbook.

GoB provide templates for their cards and tuck boxes so all you need to do is take those measurements and layout a page, I can send you those for indesign, to their specifications. You then lay the cards out and stick the text on top.

Once this was done I turned them into pdfs and sent the pdfs and the indesign files, just in case, to Ryan via email and flipdrive.

The game prior to this was black and white during the playtesting stages which where over about 2 years off and on. I did some blind playtesting with local groups as well and got some important feedback on rules strucuture from those tests.

Money wise I have invested £500 in my company of which about £280 has gone straight into getting the game printed and shipped. For the amount I have put in I am very pleased with the quality of the cards and tuck boxes. The rules arrived seperately the other day and I will post photos of those as soon as I have them.

The rules themselves were first written in word then exported into indesign and layed out, again to Ryan's specifications.

One thing you need to keep in mind with GoB is that they only do things in multiples of 9, so you should plan your game around that fact.

Does that help?

Cheers

Iain
 
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Justin N
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I don't know if it helps him, but it certainly helps me, Iain. That's pretty much the same system I use for building games (layout in Indesign, export/print to .pdf), but at this point I'm printing onto pre-perforated cardstock and punching the cards out. I've been interested in the GoB thing since I heard about it a few months ago, and it is nice to see the end result and hear that the process is compatible with my method. Thanks!

--justin
 
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Iain McAllister
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Yeah I looked at that option but I really wanted the game to look as good as I could afford and didn't fancy the perforated edges. I was just lucky that GoB came along when it did otherwise I would be sinking about £1000 into the project at least.

GoB have been fantastic to deal with, very communicative and have bent over backwards to give me what I needed. The experience has made getting the game out a lot less stressful.

Iain
 
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I've only talked estimates with them, but GoB does small print runs, too. Depending on how many cards are in your game, they require a minimum of 10 copies to do your game. My game has a ton of cards, so they were willing to work out a deal for fewer copies since I'd be printing more cards than their posted minimums.

When I compared prices, they were cheaper than printing on the pre-perforated card stock. Considering the amount of time, materials, and labor it will take to make my play testing batch of 6 copies myself, it will be more economical to do it through GoB.
 
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Iain McAllister
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Can I ask why you are paying anyone to print playtesting cards for you at all? Surely you would be better just printing off paper copies, putting them in card sleeves along with some backing cards of some description.

When I was playtesting B-movie the closest I got to the finished product before printing was printing full colour paper fronts and backs and putting them in card protectors with a doomtown card in between.

I am primarily curious how other people do it and why.

Cheers

Iain
 
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