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How It Began: Give & Go

What happens when a few soccer friends get together for the

weekend and accidently create a soccer card drinking game?

That is the story behind our latest spotlight, Give & Go

 

One night in Salem, MA, a group of friends sat down together in search of a fun drinking
game
to play, but were disappointed in the options they found. Existing games had pieces
that would inevitably get lost, complicated rules, and were expensive to boot. 

So, they decided to create their own.

They ripped out pieces of paper, wrote down their own prompts, and started playing
what would eventually become Give & Go.
Fun fact: it was initially called ‘Home & Away’

While playing they felt a certain magic in their discussions and banter, all stemming from
the prompts. Rather than a one-off impromptu game,
they realized this could be something. 

From there, the group got to work. The idea was to create a free flowing game which
would
unite & bring people together. Much like footy, the inspiration behind it all.

When CLUBELEVEN first came to us with their game, it was very much still in
the design phase.
They had a great concept but needed some assistance putting it
over the goal line, which we were happy to provide.

We tested different designs and formats until we found the magic recipe. Playing
the game is super simple. All you do is shuffle your cards then pull your first prompt.

Players then take turns drawing cards, discussing the prompts, and the banter begins! Each
deck is made up of action cards, discussion-based cards, and some that are just silly & fun.

All three come together to help spark insightful banter, all centered around soccer.

We worked together to polish things and create a beautiful product to be enjoyed by many.

The team behind Give & Go printed a few prototype copies at first just to playtest.

The played in different cities and settings – at home, the pub, bus rides, and even a little at work.
This allowed them to really  test the game and see what it is capable of.

Their testing went incredibly well, with the team receiving responses like
“I can’t believe this doesn’t already exist”, “This game is fire”, and
“This has brought back footy memories I haven’t thought about in years.”

It’s safe to say they were successful – Give & Go is already bringing people together,
creating camaraderie, and celebrating the beautiful game like never before.

After all those months of designing and playtesting, their project is now live on KickStarter!

We have loved seeing this project come to life and hope you check them out!

You can see their full story here: KickStarter. We also encourage you to see what they
are up to on their website, Instagram, and TikTok

Have a card story you want to share with us?
Please reach out to our team at social@shuffledink.com

How it Began:
Rt. 60 Man Gaming Co.


Rt. 60 Man Gaming Company creators Caleb Huff,

Michael Valentine, and Kyle Quinn

ONCE UPON A TIME…

In the spring of 2018 in Huntington, West Virginia, my cousin Caleb Huff told me

he had a bunch of ideas for board games. That’s nice,” I thought. It was only a few weeks

later  that my longtime college friend Kyle Quinn, unprovoked and out of the blue said,

“I’d like to make a board game, I just don’t have any ideas.” “That’s nice,” I thought…

Wait a minute…a rusty cog started to slowly turn in my brain as I connected the dots…

“My cousin was just telling me about all these ideas he had for board games! Let’s sit

down with him.” And so began my unpurposeful interest in designing board games,

stuck somewhere in between creativity and craftsmanship. Caleb pitched us a few

suggestions, some lavish, sprawling, complicated, worker-placement games  with

resource gathering-over my head, but others closer to my level of competence  and

patience,  such as one idea that captured our imagination immediately –

A game he was considering naming ScrapBots.

The original proposal involved collecting money and multi-tiered upgrades,

but being the resident dummy in the group, I championed for stripping it

down to its essence and trimming out any of the over-complicated concepts.

We beat it around for a couple weeks and once we had our mechanics settled

on and did some play testing, Kyle and I (being former art majors at Marshall

University) went to work drawing out the 60 Mission Cards,

110 Junk Cards, and 105 Robot Parts.

Some of Kyle Quinn’s prototype homework

Finally, after settling on the name JunkBots, we met at Caleb’s office with a paper

prototype – he’s one of those baby-delivering doctors btw.  Hey,” we thought, “This

game is actually fun. How did we do this? Making games is easy.
We might have this printed in a few months.” Har har.

How innocent.  How ignorant.  How imbecilic.

Caleb Huff and Kyle Quinn take the prototype for a spin.

We knew right away who we wanted to do the actual artwork.

In art school, Kyle and I had become close friends with Glen Brogan,

who has earned a name for himself doing illustrations for Disney, Marvel,

and many other big time fancy-shmancy corporations. We anxiously

wondered if he could make time for his old pals in between his more

illustrious gigs, and he did…kind of. Glen began by designing the

box art and creating three of the 21 full robots for the game before

he got buried in other work. Of course we totally understood  and were

grateful to even have some of his original art included in our game. The reins

were picked up by Jesse Lewis, an artist I had worked with while managing

a frame shop a few years prior. We waited patiently – drawing hundreds of

pictures can take a while – especially when you have another full time job!

RustBots artists Glen Brogan and Jesse Lewis

When we finally had our art, we produced 3 copies of the game, ordering the cards

through Game Crafter, then spray gluing to chipboard and cutting the robot pieces

by hand (for those of you keeping count at home, that’s 105 pieces x 3 = 315 at 4 cuts

for each side, drumroll…1,260 cuts, phew!)  Now who is going to print this thing?

Having no clue what we were doing, we more or less flipped open the phonebook

and stuck our finger down. Got a few quotes from China and actually began working

with a company that ended up changing ownership and in the end didn’t seem to fully

understand what we were asking for. We decided to find a printing company in the

United States so there would be no language barrier misunderstandings. Staring at a list of

US printers I found online-…Hmm Florida. Sounds exotic. Shuffled Ink it is!

So totally by random chance we began work with the Americans at Shuffled Ink and

couldn’t have been happier with their customer service. Charles Levin and his team are

professional, patient, and detail oriented. He had every opportunity to take advantage of

us  (again, if all we knew about producing a game was leather, we couldn’t saddle a flea),

but rather, mentored and advised us even when it meant making less money for his company. 

And here comes October 2020. It is brought to our attention that there is a toy called

JunkBots where you use pieces of trash to build robots. Sound familiar? Oof.

Rather than chance it, we renamed the game to RustBots and with some clever photoshopping,

were able to redo the box title. With the new name in place, it was off to Kickstarter where we were

most thankful to have our project successfully backed by 260 wonderful individuals! Next came

some final tweaks to the art -I’m sure my over-attentiveness to tiny details bugged  the snot out

of the Shuffled Ink staff, but they remained tolerant throughout the years of email exchanges.

It was exciting for us to receive our white box and proofs from the printer as well as to approve the

production copy which began the process of manufacturing 1,000 of our games. We couldn’t have

been happier with the quality of the components. After five years of on and off work and through

our trusted relationship with Shuffled Ink, in February of 2024 we finally got to hold our

completed games. It’s a pretty crazy and humbling feeling to go from scribblings on a

piece of notebook paper to something that looks and feels like a real live

board game and further unfathomable that is now on four continents!

-Michael Valentine, co-creator of Rt. 60 Man Gaming Company/RustBots

Caleb Huff and Kyle Quinn contain their excitement

checking out the first RustBots shipment

Check out what else we are working on at: rt60mangamingco.com
Or, you can find Rt. 60 Man Gaming Company on Instagram and Facebook

ATTENTION ALL ARTISTS AND DREAMERS: IT’S HERE!

Our Brand New Artist Affirmations Deck is Live

and Ready to Help You Become Your Best Self. 

This project has been a long time in the making, but well worth it. 

Back in August, for artist appreciation month, we conducted

our largest contest ever and collaborated with 54 different artists

to bring you an amazing deck filled with insight and whimsy! 

After sorting through hundreds of contest submissions,

we picked the best and brightest affirmations to help

get you through any situation. 

One of the main benefits of affirmation cards is building a more

positive mindset, and we like to think we’ve accomplished that

with the help of our contest winners.

Affirmations are a great way to practice self care, and we kept that

in mind while selecting the artwork. One of our favorites is

“Embrace your Weirdness”, something we do every day here

at Shuffled Ink. It’s a great reminder to embrace and

encourage what makes you you! 

Did you know affirmation cards actually have scientific backing

behind them?  Studies have found that affirmations activate the

reward center in our brain, which then elevates the mood.

These mood elevations encourage real-life behavior changes.

Affirmations have also been linked to an overall decrease in stress.

How cool is that?

Artistic Affirmations is not just a fun product, it’s actually good for you!

All proceeds of this gorgeous deck benefit ArtCares for Kids, an amazing nonprofit!

They are located in the Miami area and work in hospital settings

to help children dealing with physical, emotional, and psychological challenges.

They aim to nurture a child’s spirit through art, and have been doing so since 2010. 

There were a lot of nonprofits to choose from, but we ultimately picked

ArtCares for Kids due to their incredible work helping kids foster their

creative spirit, allowing them to heal inside and out. 

Congratulations to all of our artists, and to those who purchase this deck!

Go ahead and pick it up here ✨Artist Affirmations✨

Here’s to being the best version of ourselves possible!  

If you are interested in participating in a future contest,

please keep an eye on our Instagram

BASKETBALL BRACKETS
The Board Game

Brand New Board Game – Basketball Brackets!

Where March Madness Meets Monopoly!

Brilliantly Conceived by a 12-Year-Old Grandson!

Made a Reality by his Grandma’s Undying Gifts of Love!

Challenge Your Bracket Opponents to Make it to the Final Dance!

Strategically & Luckily Dribble Your Way Around the Board!

You’ll Have to Take the Shots and Make the Hoops to Win the Championship!

” Everyone who plays this game absolutely loves it,

and wants to play it again. I purchased one for a

basketball coach who thought it was so unique

with qoutes on the assist and turnover cards

and fun baskets that he wanted more games.”

Kellie Ehlers

ORDER NOW – FREE 2-Day Shipping

When Mason was 11, his mother tragically died and he endured great sorrow. I was blessed to be able to help take care of this kind, good-hearted, smart young man. One day he came home from school and I asked him the usual question, “how was school today?” However, on this day, he didn’t give me the usual 12-year-old “boring” response. Instead, he said that he made up a new game and drew it in his notebook.

After a lot of hard work, continual revisions, creative improvements, and his “never-give-up” attitude Mason’s March Madness “Basketball Brackets,” was ready to become a reality.  The game is amazingly strategic, with a little bit of luck mixed in and is a load of fun with every move and every basket!  

I soon took him to a craft store to help him buy supplies to make a prototype. We had so much fun cutting out the hand-written game cards and player pieces and and even more fun and laughter playing it. It was music to my ears to hear him laugh again! The game plays on the level of many top shelf games and is the only one of its kind that is devoted to “March Madness.”  Even better, you can play it any time of the year and still have a great time.

 

When we completed the 1st prototype Mason had just turned 13. I then encouraged him to go online and see if any game manufacturing companies would be interested in bringing his game idea to life.  Mason spent weeks and then months searching but was only met with constant rejection. Two companies wouldn’t even accept a game description without an agent. Next, tried out an “invention” company and sent in an application. Almost a year later, this company called and said that they just found the application and were interested. I asked Mason if he was interested. Mason, now being older, said that he needed to make some improvements, which he did, and sent the game to the company. This turned out to be a HUGE MISTAKE!  They took a lot of my teacher’s retirement money up front and every few months kept asking for more.  After draining us for more and more while they threatened not to continue if we didn’t keep sending more, we stopped with them. Neither produced a thing for us while my retirement savings was taking a big hit.

After dropping this company one of the managers called me to say that he liked Mason’s game so much that he’d share what the next step should be: to try to find a manufacturing company on our own and eliminate the middleman. We tried places in our home state of Ohio. No luck!  Mason’s “never-give-up” mindset forged ahead  despite his disappointments and demand to search and work harder. All the while he continued to make enhancements to the game. I was so proud of him!

It was Covid times by now, and his school shut down. However, Mason used this difficult time to keep on keeping on! During this time I would meet with him at an outdoor park near his house. There he designed a better game board, moving around cut-out paper squares and re-taping them onto a big piece of cardboard until they were just where he wanted them. He wrote 70 game cards: 30 “Assist” cards, 30 “Turnover” cards, and 10 “Heal” cards all with basketball-themed wording. He designed a spinner for concessions and he designed an actual basketball shooter among other items for his “Basketball Brackets” game.

” The game is a lot of fun; it’s like

March Madness Meets Monopoly Basketball!”

Dave Grendzinski

What happened next was Heaven sent!

We found a game manufacturing company called, Shuffled Ink whose owner, Charles Levin, is an out-of-this-world kind, helpful, caring, honest, and interested man, who agreed to manufacture Mason’s game! Can you even imagine my joy at realizing that my grandson’s creativity and hard work would become a reality?! Mr. Levin connected us with his lead graphic designer, Steve Sherrin, who is a talented and also very caring man! He and Mason emailed countless times for months to get the designs, box, game pieces, cards, spinner, directions, basketball and lever, and etc. just right and works of art. Steve often complimented Mason on his creative ideas and even on his proofreading skills. (Meanwhile, to save attorney fees, Grandma Margie wrote 21-pages to receive a gov’t patent pending for Mason’s game.)

Throughout this time, another heart-touching thing happened. I was worried that my lapses in communication (due to cancer surgery and radiation treatments) would halt some of this game manufacturing process. So I informed them about my physical condition. Unbelievably, Charles didn’t charge me for months and told me not to worry about money until we get everything done. Charles & Steve kept checking on me, just for my health and not for business or fees. Charles even sent me uplifting emails with happy emojis showing such encouragement and kindness. Honestly, this level of genuine care and kindness from a stranger throughout his dealings led to a trust and gratitude that I believe truly helped me through my cancer fight. Charles was more interested in helping me live to see my Grandson bring these games to market than getting paid. I was so blessed! What business people care more about a person, a client they never even met, than the money payment they were entitled to receive? Charles and Steve cared! Even now, I’m crying as I’m writing this remembering how much their caring helped me during my bad days even during Covid when none of my 4 children were allowed to visit me in the hospital or afterward. I fought my cancer with extra determination especially because after all the sorrow that Mason had already gone through with his mother. I just had to be here for many more years for my creative, loving grandson. So every MRI, every CAT scan, every radiation treatment, every needle in my chest, or every staple shot into my breast was okay as long as that would help me recover for my grandson, and, of course, for my whole family.

Finally, 6 years after Mason first invented his game, it was completed and on its way to the USA.

Finally, Basketball Brackets arrived in Orlando, FL with Shuffled Ink to store for us.

Then, another Charles Levin kind gesture! He paid to transport games to my house in Columbus, Ohio, and stored the rest in his shop, free of charge. His generous gestures during my medically and monetarily tough time, helped me not only with bills but also made me realize the goodness given to me through a stranger, a businessman, Charles. I was uplifted to recover! Most importantly, my grandson, Mason, (who is now a freshman majoring in business) has a business role model worthy of emulation. He sees, through Charles, an unselfish example that business is more than just making money, but can be about really helping people along the way!

I stored under beds, in the basement, on top of cabinets, under tables, and in every room. My house is tastefully decorated in matching brown-box décor.) Shuffled Ink stored the remaining games. I asked Charles if he would attend the Game Show Convention in Columbus, Ohio, near my home. I even offered (tried to bribe him) to make him my homemade meatballs and lasagna if he would come to the convention to help sell Mason’s games. Unfortunately, Covid postponed the convention, and Charles could not attend. (Not attending was probably a good thing for Charles because after tasting my authentic Italian cooking, he would have owed me, instead of my owing him for the work done. Ha ha ha)

UPDATE: A year later, Charles did in fact travel top Columbus and came to my home for my meatball, lasagna, shrimp cocktail, salad, 3 side dishes and 2 very large home-made pies!!!  After dinner Charles and Mason went down in my basement and played Basket Ball Brackets for hours. All I could hear was laughing and carrying on so, of course I went down to serve them a lot more pie!  It was a wonderful night!

Mason and I have tried to sell some games in Ohio to family, friends, former coworkers, coaches, and others and we have made just a few sales. I’ve set up tables at bazaars and have been given wonderful feedback from buyers, several returning for multiple copies saying that the game is so much fun to play. “March Madness Meets Basketball Monopoly” is the phrase that one return buyer coined for Mason’s game. Players compete to win their teams’ brackets and also travel around the outer game squares earning and losing money which will be needed later for the Championship Game where players use their skills to shoot mini baskets.

Marketing & Sales has proven to be our final nemesis as it has been extremely difficult for us to break through and sell more games.  Without the needed knowhow and a large enough marketing budget it has been very tough going.  Charles from Shuffled Ink has tried to help us but he’s a manufacturing guy and this is not his forte.  While sales have not worked out for us, the experience and meeting Charles and working with his company has been wonderfully uplifting in a world of so much divisiveness and selfishness.

Mason’s dream and my dream for him continues and we hope that you will support us and buy a game!  Not only will it help us but we promise you will have many great times playing Basketball Brackets!

Mason hopes to sell out and support his college efforts as well as share proceeds with charities such as World Central Kitchen, St. Jude’s Children’s Cancer Hospital, and Special Olympics.

There’s a true joy in seeing my Gift-From-God-Grandson feel proud of his work and use it to help others.

On an even happier note, God is great, and today, I am doing very well.

ORDER NOW – FREE 2-DAY Shipping

 

ORDER NOW – FREE 2-DAY Shipping

SHUFFLED INK RECEIVES AWARDS FROM FLORIDA PRINT AWARDS.

 

 

New Achievements Unlocked!

Shuffled Ink is proud to announce that it has been awarded several accolades from the Florida Print Awards. This year also marks our 24th anniversary in the printing business. Over the years, we have had the pleasure of working with numerous creative clients, bringing their ideas to life! 

We are grateful to the Florida Print Awards for recognizing our efforts, which include: 

– 5 Judges Awards 

– 5 Best of Category Awards 

– 5 Awards of Excellence 

We are thankful for the 24 years of support and look forward to more collaborative opportunities for the 2024 year!

 

HOW TO BREAK IN A NEW DECK

Breaking in a new deck: how do you do it?by EndersGameExperienced card handlers will often talk about the benefits of “breaking in” a brand new deck of playing cards, to make it perform and handle optimally. So suppose we do want to break in our deck, how should we go ahead doing that? Let’s imagine that our deck is still staring at us from the kitchen table, grinning at us from within its cellophane. Starting with the very beginning, we’ll run through a whole process of things we can do to get our new deck working as smoothly as possible.

Step 1: Preparation

 

So what do we need to get started? Be clean. You didn’t see that coming did you? There you were, with your grimy hands, all ready to rip into your brand new deck, and you almost forgot this important step! The oil on your hands, and any unwanted grime that might be invisibly clinging to it, will quickly transfer to your brand new cards, and before you know it they will start looking grimy as well. So it’s important to get rid of any sweat, dust and dirt that your hands might be carrying, and give your new deck the very best start it can, rather than throwing mud at it on its first test drive! So before going any further, go ahead and wash your hands. Oh, and also be sure to dry them. Thoroughly – because we don’t want to add any moisture to our paper cards either.Get your tools. Don’t worry, you won’t need a hammer or any heavy equipment! But a sharp knife will come in handy shortly, in order to do a neat and tidy job of opening the seal.

Step 2: Opening the Tuck Box

 

You didn’t really think that the cards magically pop out of that wrapped box, do you? This process involves several steps: Cellophane. We begin by opening the cellophane, or shrink-wrap as it’s sometimes also called. Rather than ripping this from the top or bottom, I usually like to pull the tab provided for this around the deck. What this does is divide the wrapper into two halves. I typically remove the smaller top half, but leave the larger lower half on the deck. This provides additional protection to the tuck box, helping it stay in shape, and preventing the corners from becoming dinged up or tearing. Fortunately not too much can go wrong when removing the cellophane – unless you’re using a knife, in which case be careful that the sharp blade doesn’t slip and leave an unplanned but permanent tattoo on your skin or on the tuck box! Seal. Now for the seal itself, which is the adhesive sticker on most decks that keeps the deck closed, and which needs to be cut or removed in order to open the top flap. Again, there are wrong ways to do this. Rather than just tear this in any fashion, I like to preserve the seal as best as possible. With a custom deck, the seal has often been thoughtfully and deliberately designed with unique artwork to suit with the rest of the deck, so it’s nice to preserve as much of that as possible. Cutting it parallel with the top of the deck along the upper flap is less than ideal, because it means you’ll invariably have part of the sticky side of the seal facing inwards, where it will occasionally attach itself to a playing card, and over time accumulate dust and dirt. Instead, it’s often best to get a sharp knife, and cut the seal right along the semi-circle shape. In a pinch, you can use a thumb nail to do this. The result of breaking the seal along the semi-circle shape will be very neat and tidy, because when the tuck box flap is closed, you’ll see the two parts of the seal come together in entirety. And there’s the added advantage that you won’t be leaving any sticky surfaces around to attract grime.Top flap. Ideally you want to bend the top flap backwards. There is usually a line about 1cm below the top flap, which has been pressed into the deck during production, and that’s where you want to bend the top flap backwards – not at the very top of the deck itself. What this does is reveal the top centimeter of the cards, making them easy to grab. If you don’t do this, and the cards are somewhat of a tight fit in the tuck box, you may find yourself butchering the top of the case trying to get the deck out.

Step 3: Removing the Cards

 

Wait, do we really need a whole step that explains how to remove the cards from the tuck box, and do I really think you have an IQ lower than an Ace of Spades? I’m sure you’re bright enough – after all you’re reading this! – but the truth is that you can butcher this part of the process as well.Take out the cards. If you have pushed back the top flap at the line described in the previous step, you should be able to get your fingers on both sides of the top of the deck. The most natural way to do this is to have your thumb on one side of the deck in the semi-circular thumb tab (another reason for not cutting the seal directly across the top!), while your forefinger grabs the other side of the deck along the top centimeter of the cards that has been revealed when you bent the top flap of the tuck box backwards. Now you can just pull the cards out, but even that can be a little tight at times. Get gravity to help, and tip the box over, so that the cards fall naturally into your hand. Don’t forget to inhale that new deck smell – that’s not something you want to miss is it? Breathe in deeply, and smell those new cards – you know you want to! This is also a good time to remove the ad cards, so that what you’re handling is a 54 card deck without unnecessary extras. Smooth the edges. In the case of a USPCC produced decks, the edges of the playing cards of a brand new deck will feel noticeably rough. While this can improve over time, you might want to take your deck and rub all four sides a number of times against some fabric – denim jeans are perfect. This will remove any loose bits and can help reduce some of the roughness.external image

 

Step 4: Conditioning the Cards for Optimal Friction

 

Some swear that there’s a particular order of steps that must be followed when breaking in a deck in terms of how you handle the cards for the first time once they’re outside the box. Personally I fail to see how the order of what follows matters too much – although I wouldn’t begin with a riffle shuffle or spring for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. So here are the moves you should consider doing to make your cards perform better than when you have them in your hands for the first time.First of all, you want to give your cards a workout to help ensure optimal friction. These first moves are geared to ensure that the cards slide smoothly over each other. Cards have a coating that is designed to optimize how they glide over each other. But in the factory the cards have just been produced, and have never actually rubbed over each other yet, so there may be some small imperfections. We want to make sure that with the help of some warmth, wear, and pressure, everything is in good order and sliding smoothly and evenly. A helpful way to think of this is that you are polishing the cards by rubbing them against each other.Overhand shuffle. Shuffle off all the cards one at a time, to ensure that all the cards move freely, and there are no clumps of cards sticking together. It’s important to make sure that all the cards are properly separated.Wash. At this point some people recommend “washing” your cards. No, don’t get out the soapy water! A wash refers to spreading all the cards on the table, crudely overlapping each other, and shuffling them around over each other. The term “granny shuffle” is also used for this method. Personally I think that a systematic series of overhand shuffles accomplishes the same thing, is neater, and does a better job of looking after your cards, but you might find it more satisfying and effective to give your cards a “wash” as just described.Fan. A few fans are now the order of the day, in both directions. The idea of this and the previous step is that you get the cards sliding over each other every which way.If you did the above steps face up, now repeat them face down. This ensures that each card has gone through its paces in each and every direction, from both sides.Step 5: Conditioning the Cards for Optimal FlexibilityBut cards don’t only need to slide over each other smoothly, they also need to be able to flex in different directions. If they were stiff and rigid like wooden boards, there’s no way you could handle them at all, so we want to make sure that they are malleable and soft. That’s something that the printing process won’t do for us by bending them in different directions to soften them up, but fortunately it’s something we can easily do, by giving the cards a workout to help ensure optimal flexibility.These next moves are geared to ensuring that the cards flex properly, and return back to their natural shape easily and quickly. I strongly suggest doing these steps after the ones just described to get optimal friction, because when sliding the cards across each other, you don’t want them to be previously bent as a result of riffle shuffles or springs. Although if you find that your deck is warped out of the box, these flexibility routines will help straighten it out, so you may need to adjust the order of things.Aeration. This is a simple and interesting “flex-ercise” in which you hold the deck similar to the beginning of a spring, squeezing both ends towards each other. This causes the deck to bend into a C shape, and you’ll notice the cards all separating from each other with a layer of air between them. This helps separate the cards, and helps prevent the oil or coating causing them to stick together. Do this in both directions.Riffle shuffle. Now it’s time for a good riffle shuffle, since not only do you want the cards sliding smoothly over each other, but you also want them flexing nicely. Do this both face up and face down, completing each shuffle with a bridge, so you don’t end up with bent or warped cards, and so that the cards are flexed in both directions. Faro shuffle. Another good move to do at this point is a faro shuffle. Given the new deck order, the central place that splits the deck exactly should be even easier than usual to find – for most standard decks it will be right between the King of Clubs and King of Diamonds. You can complete the shuffle by bridging the cards, or by cascading the cards together if you know how to perform that flourish. A faro shuffle will also tell you immediately whether or not a deck has a traditional cut or a modern cut, depending on which way you need to weave the cards together for the faro shuffle.Spring. Just like a riffle shuffle, a couple of good springs will help, and be sure to do these in both directions (face up and face down).To round things off, you might want to conclude with another series of overhand shuffles, just to make sure that the factory coating has had another pleasant polish and final warm up, so that it can behave optimally.external image

Closing Thoughts

In most cases, for the average person anyway, there’s no real need to artificially “break in” a deck. Just go ahead and use it! How it will handle and feel will change naturally over time, and as long as it’s a good quality deck, often this may make the handling smoother and better.But if you’re a performing professional, it may be important to make sure that a deck is in optimal handling condition ahead of a performance. In that case you will want to put a new deck through its paces before using it for the first time on the stage. Usually the best way to do this is by a systematic series of shuffles, fans, spreads, and springs, as described above, to break the cards in faster, and to ensure that they have optimal friction and flexibility ahead of your performance. It’s not a complex process, and simply spending five or ten minutes with your deck in this way should do the trick.For most of us, none of this really matters enough, and wearing in a deck is what happens automatically as we use it. Even so, it is good to be aware of how to treat a deck well, and to be familiar with some of the things you can do to help give your playing cards that familiar feel, and ensure that they won’t let you down. Treat your cards right, and they’ll treat you right!About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.

HOW LINDA CREATED THE NORTHERN ANIMAL TAROT CARD DECK

Taking Art Skills to the Next Level

 

Many spiritualists love using tarot cards as a great tool to gain insight into the past, present, and future. With each card having a specific meaning for interpretation, this has inspired artists to create their own custom tarot card decks to become more significant and sentimental to them while also helping provide others with guidance and clarity. Today we are sharing the story behind one of many artists we have worked with who went above and beyond creating her own custom tarot card deck called “Northern Animal Tarot” by Linda.

“Look, Listen to the Nature Around You. Nature Is a Free Show. It Takes a Bit of Time to Enjoy It.” 

 

When we asked Linda about her creative process behind the “Northern Animal Tarot” deck, she shared with us that it was her first deck. She mentioned that she faced a nice challenge in making the entire deck feel cohesive. Linda also talked about how she drew inspiration from the forest creatures she observes in nature every day while creating these beautiful cards!

Advice for Artist

Great advice from Linda for those who are interested in creating custom tarot cards is to sketch them out on paper as mini cards to see the overall theme of the deck. This is a great tip for artists who are looking for new ways to take cohesive themes to the next level!

Why Shuffled Ink? 

Finally, we asked Linda why she chose to bring her wonderful project to life with us. Here is what she had to say, “Some deck creators get their decks made by you, and I had tried a few other places closer to home with mixed results. So, I thought I would give you a try since other deck creators were happy with your work. And now I see why – you listen, care, and have great communication throughout the whole process.”

We are grateful to Linda for giving us the opportunity to collaborate with her on this project. We hope her journey in creating custom tarot cards will inspire future artists! 

The Artist

 

If you are interested in purchasing your very one Norther Animal Tarot card deck, visit her online shop here and be sure to check out her Instagram for daily updates! 

 

Visit her Kickstarter for the next upcoming project!

 

DEBUNKING COMMON MYTHS ABOUT PLAYING CARDS

By EndersGame

At some point you are almost certain to come across the often-repeated claim that the first playing cards were in China. It is a particularly common assertion that you will find online in basic and simplified articles about the origin of playing cards. And we all know that everything on the internet is true, right?

Certainly there is some historical evidence that points in the direction of supporting this claim. China is where paper and printing was first invented, and it’s also where we find games like dominoes and mahjong, which bear some resemblance to playing cards. So it’s not surprising to discover that an early ancestor of playing cards did exist in China. But were playing cards actually invented there?

Fact: Uncertain

The reality is that we can’t be sure. Certainly it appears to be a real possibility that playing cards were invented in China during the Tang dynasty around the 9th century AD, as some believe. There is some evidence that games involving cards in some way were used in this time, although we can’t be sure whether these cards functioned as currency for other games, as stakes for gambling, or whether they served as the game itself. But if playing cards did originate during this time, possibly from or alongside tile games like dominoes and mahjong, it would mean that they have their first beginnings prior to 1000AD. From China, playing cards would have proceeded west via India and Egypt, and eventually made their way to Europe.

But it is also possible that playing cards were invented in Persia, and from there spread east to places like China and Korea, and only then west to Europe. Historians really can’t be sure, because paper is a very fragile product, so there’s very little evidence that has survived the centuries and which we can reliably go by.

Playing cards unique to the native Americans of the 18th and 19th century also exist, with colours, suits, and icons that are derived from their own culture, and manufactured on rawhide and horse skins. Does that mean that they also invented playing cards? Not at all, because it is obvious that they just adapted an existing concept that was brought over to America from Europe by the early settlers. In most cases these native American decks were simply adaptations of existing Spanish decks they had already been introduced to. It is not impossible that the same happened with Chinese decks, which may actually have originated elsewhere.

What does appear to be certain is the striking resemblance between the first playing cards that emerged in Europe in the late 14th century and those used in Egypt prior to this. Playing cards first appeared in Italy in the late 1300s, and the four suits used there (cups, coins, swords, and clubs) are a close match to the goblets (cups), gold coins, swords, and polo-sticks found on playing cards used in Egypt during the Mamluk period.

But while playing cards appear to have made their way into Europe via Mamluk Egypt, this still doesn’t establish their origin. In fact, in his book about the history of playing cards, Roger Tilley argues that it is even possible that playing cards in Europe had an altogether independent development. Perhaps we will never know where they first emerged on the pages of history, although once we get to the 14th century onwards in Europe, there is ample evidence about their function in society and culture.

With the absence of solid historical evidence, we may never be entirely certain about the precise origin of playing cards, although it does seem likely to have been in somewhere in the East, with China being at best a strong candidate. Unfortunately inaccurate information can easily acquire a life of its own in our internet age, and the oft-repeated claim that playing cards originated in China reflects a rather simplistic interpretation of the facts, that while undoubtedly well-intentioned and having some basis, remains to be proven. While we can’t thank the unidentified ancestors that bequeathed us with playing cards today, we certainly can thank the many modern designers, publishers, retailers that are building on the foundation inherited from the past, and are giving us wonderful playing cards to enjoy today!

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About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.

DANA WHITBY | THE INNER COMPASS BLOG

Oracle Cards

Oracle cards have become a popular tool for people seeking guidance and clarity while navigating difficult situations in their lives. Unlike tarot cards, which allow for more interpretation, Oracle cards offer a specific message on each card. In this article, we’ll share the story of Dana Whitby, one of our clients who created the Inner Compass Oracle Deck. We’ll dive into the details of her mission and the meaning behind her oracle deck.

 

How It All Started

We have all been stuck on a project where we overthought every detail, practically becoming paralyzed by overwhelming thoughts of “what, when, where, and how.” Dana shares a similar instance, which she learned how to overcome, “This is my first card project! I originally thought that I was meant to write a book, and so I began putting pen to paper about the idea of how to use your inner compass (aka intuition) in a tangible way. Once I had written several thousands of words, I experienced writer’s block and truly didn’t know what else to say. I had to step away from the project for a while to clear my head and understand what it was that I was supposed to do with this idea. One day I had the divine download that this project was an oracle deck. Once I had this realization and committed to the new idea, the writing began to flow easily again as I dismantled the book and turned it into an oracle card guidebook.”

 

A Divine Mission

The Inner Compass Oracle deck was created to “teach readers in a tangible way how to open and follow their intuition”. Which is intriguing to new Oracle card users who are looking for guidance within spiritual work. Dana goes on to explain, ” The concept of listening to an “inner compass” is widely known, yet the process of how to do so is made difficult in our modern society. The Inner Compass Oracle is a tool which can be used to initiate or deepen one’s relationship with their higher self in order to receive clarity and guidance on their life journey.”

 

How It Was Created

Dana mentions that she collaborated with artist Jennifer Birge who owns Coral Antler. “I originally asked her to create 4 pieces of art for 4 of my cards as a trial, and I was blown away by her ability to take the mundane and make it absolutely magical. She took the visions I had for my card artwork and elevated it!”

 

“You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glinda The Good Witch

As all projects come with a bump in the road, Dana describes her toughest battle/ lesson. “For me, the largest hurdle I had to overcome was patience! I began writing the guidebook several years ago, and never would have dreamed it would take this long to come to fruition. But I have learned through this process that oftentimes, the best things in life are worth waiting for, and taking your time to complete in a way that honors the depth and breadth of the project.”

 

Why Shuffled Ink

Here is what Dana has to say about her experience printing her cards here at Shuffled Ink, ” I chose Shuffled Ink because I love that it is a family-owned business located here in the United States. So many Oracle deck printers are found overseas, and I preferred to support an American business, and especially one with such an amazing reputation. While I haven’t received a final copy of my deck yet, the samples I received were gorgeous, and I am so impressed with other decks I own that have been printed by Shuffled Ink”. We thank Dana for the opportunity to be a part of this insightful project! It’s always interesting to hear how these creative card decks come about and we hope this story helps inspire those who are looking to create their own custom cards!

 

 

 

POPULAR NON-BUILDER SOLITAIRE CARD GAMES BY ENDERSGAME

 

Despite the fact that the world of solitaire card games features a rich diversity of different types of games, most people are only familiar with the classic Klondike, and similar games of its kind like Spider, and FreeCell. Consider yourself more experienced with solitaire than most if you’ve ever played games like Baker’s Dozen, Beleaguered Castle, Canfield, Fan Games, Yukon, or Forty Thieves. But all of these games – and the many related ones that belong to their families – have one thing in common: they share the same basic formula for game-play, since they are all examples of builder games.

Builder games represent the largest slice of the solitaire pie, and are typically what the average person imagines a game of solitaire to be. With builder games, the aim typically is to arrange all the cards by suit in ascending order from Ace through to King. The way this usually works is by allowing players to manipulate cards within a tableau consisting of columns of cards. While rules can vary, the usual pattern sees players permitted to arrange cards within this tableau in descending order, often in alternating colours. Anyone who has ever played the classic Klondike will immediately recognize the style of game-play, and the above mentioned games are all excellent representatives of this genre.

But while builder games are the most popular archetype within the larger world of solitaire card games, there are many terrific solitaire games that don’t operate at all according to this formula. The good news for those who like variety is that there are several non-builder solitaire card games that work entirely differently from the typical builder games you’ve probably played. In this article I’ll cover some of the best and more well-known ones. I’ve used and recommend the excellent software from BVS Solitaire to play most of these.

== Classics ==

Accordion

Overview: Accordion is a classic solitaire game that you will find mentioned in most books that contain one-player card games. The name is very appropriate, since the gameplay has the sense of ironing out accordion pleats, and you’ll be moving cards together much like an accordion is played, with the goal of compressing the entire deck into a single pile.

Cards are dealt one at a time in a row, as many as space allows. If you wish, you can even deal the entire deck at the outset of the game. If a card has the same suit or value as the card immediately to its left, or the same suit or value as the card three to its left, it can be placed on that card. The aim of Accordion is to end up with the entire deck of cards in a single pile.

Thoughts: Accordion has a very different feel from the traditional building type of solitaire game, so it’s a good game if you are looking to try something different from builder games. While at first you’ll make good progress, you’ll quickly discover that it’s extremely difficult to win, with success estimated to be around 1 in 50 at best. But if you can get the entire deck down to just five cards or less, you can consider yourself to have accomplished a minor victory. The trick to winning is to find four cards of the same value that are grouped together near the end of the layout, and slowly move these four “sweepers” towards the start, eventually placing them on each other to get to a single pile.

If you enjoy this kind of game, also try Royal Marriage, which is also an eliminator solitaire game in the style of Accordion. There are slightly different rules for moving piles in this game, but a key element of game-play is that a King and Queen of the same suit are placed at the start and the end of the layout at the beginning of the game. Your goal is to get them to meet up and be the only two cards left. Push-Pin is similar to Royal Marriage, but comes with the additional challenge of using two decks. Other variants inspired by Accordion include Decade (Ten-Twenty-Thirty), where you remove adjacent cards that total 10, 20, or 30; similarly in Seven Up cards totalling multiples of seven (7, 14, 21 etc) are removed.

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Montana (Gaps)

Overview: Gaps is the name this game is listed as in older books, but it’s also commonly described as Montana. Sometimes the name Montana instead refers to a variant way of playing Gaps, as do alternate names like Spaces and Addiction.

The basic concept involves a set-up where a single deck is dealt into four rows of thirteen cards, after which the Aces are removed to create four gaps (hence the alternate name). You can move into the gap a card that is one rank higher and the same suit as the card on its immediate left. Twos can be placed in spaces at the start of each row, while cards cannot be placed to the right of a King. The goal is to arrange each row with cards in the same suit from Two through King. Whenever you get stuck, you can collect the cards that are not in a suited sequence and deal these out again; usually only two such redeals are allowed.

Thoughts: There’s more skill to this wonderful solitaire game than first meets the eye, because the order in which cards are moved can make all the difference. Rather than just move any possible card, it is better to identify a card that you want to become a space, and then figure out backwards the sequence of cards that need to be played in order to achieve that.

Variant options are numerous, and include adjustments to the rules such as: allowing more redeals; shuffling or leaving unshuffled the cards before redealing; leaving a space immediately following the remaining sequences when redealing or determining such spaces randomly using Aces; allowing a space to be filled in sequence with the card on its immediate right and not just on its immediate left (Free Parking); or using a stripped deck of just 36 cards (Four Ways). Double Montana and Paganini are two-deck versions, while Maze Solitaire is a closely related single-deck game also well worth playing.

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== Inspired By Other Games ==

Bowling

Overview: Bowling was created by Warren Schwader, and has been popularized by its inclusion in the Hoyle Solitaire Collection software package from Sierra Online in 1988. It has subsequently been implemented digitally on several websites and other software programs. Cards are dealt one at a time onto a layout with ten pin spaces (numbered 1 to 10). They can be placed onto any empty space, as long as the cards are in order of increasing value within these spaces. Any card that can’t be placed according to these rules is set aside onto a ball pile.

Successfully playing cards onto all ten pin spaces before needing to discard three cards onto the first ball pile counts as a strike. Achieving this before discarding another three cards onto a second ball pile counts as a spare. Otherwise at the moment when a third card is discarded to the second ball pile you score points for however many pins you’ve knocked over (i.e. cards placed). Scoring works the same as regular bowling, and a score of more than 150 points over ten such frames is considered a win.

Thoughts: This is an enormously fun game, and is really all about judging the probabilities as cards are turned up and placed one at a time. Your placement options become more limited as cards are placed, but you also have an increasing sense of which cards are more likely to turn up. It is addictive and enjoyable due to the strong push-your-luck element, and the opportunity to use a basic sense of probability to play the odds. The use of standard bowling scoring helps add a real sense of thematic flavour. Getting strikes or spares is very achievable, which leads to realistic scores.

This isn’t the only solitaire game with an excellent bowling theme. If you’re a fan of real life bowling, you’ll also enjoy Sid Sackson’s Bowling Solitaire, which is described next.

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Bowling Solitaire

Overview: Despite the similar name, Bowling Solitaire is a very different game from the previous one. It was created by famous American game designer Sid Sackson, and published in his 1969 book A Gamut of Games. Only 20 cards are used, with the Ace through 10 in two suits. Ten cards are randomly placed face-up in the configuration familiar from ten pin bowling. The goal is to remove as many pins as possible in each of ten frames, with scoring working the same as actual bowling. Three piles of face-down cards (five, three, and two cards each) represent your bowling balls. There are a few special restrictions involved in the game-play that I won’t explain in detail, but what follows describes the general gist of the flow of play.

You roll a ball by turning over the top cards in these three piles, which you then use one at a time to “bowl” at the pins. Each card played can remove one, two, or three pin cards adding up to its value. Only the last digit of their total is used, and suits are irrelevant in this game. You keep using cards from the ball piles in this way until you get stuck, at which point you move onto your second ball by discarding the top card in each of the three piles and continuing to play. Getting rid of all ten pins with your first ball counts as a strike, while using a second ball to do so counts as a spare; otherwise you score however many pins you have knocked over.

Thoughts: Sid Sackson developed Bowling Solitaire in part as a result of his distaste for traditional builder solitaire games. He certainly succeeded in coming up with a very interesting and original that feels worlds apart from Klondike, and the result is a very clever solitaire game with a lot of thematic flavour. Each frame will play out differently due to the random draw, and the fact that some ball cards are unknown ensures good replayability and adds an element of suspense.

Yet you can make informed decisions, and the luck-of-the-draw is more than mitigated by strategic choices. There’s a lot of decisions within the 20 minutes or so that Bowling Solitaire takes to play, and there’s scope for real skill and calculated play, to the point that this is very much a game you can actually become good at. To play well it is especially important to keep track of what cards have been used, and to combine this with some basic probability and risk management. A score of anything over 150 can be considered a very good effort, while the rare achievement of reaching 200 is a real success.

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Cribbage Squares

Overview: I’m a huge fan of the card game Cribbage, which originates in the 19th century but remains a popular two-player game today. So it won’t come as a surprise that Cribbage Squares had an instant appeal for me. I’m not about to explain the intricacies of regular Cribbage here, aside from saying that this is a classic game well worth learning in its own right. But you’ll have to be familiar with Cribbage scoring to play this solitaire game, which does mean that Cribbage Squares won’t be accessible to everyone.

Scoring in this game is borrowed directly from standard Cribbage, but the actual mechanics and flow of play are quite different and much simpler. Basically it just involves you dealing cards one at a time and placing them into a 4×4 grid. The seventeenth card functions as the “starter” card, and you score points according to the standard conventions of Cribbage (e.g. for combinations that make up fifteens, pairs, runs, and flushes) for each of the four rows and for each of the four columns in the grid. A score of 61 or higher is usually considered a win.

Thoughts: Fans of Cribbage will find much to like about this clever solitaire game. The fact that the “starter” card is turned up last means that your final score depends a lot on what card is revealed at the end. This can make your final score feel somewhat dependent on a lucky draw, although to be fair the same can be said about the starter card in a regular game of Cribbage.

There are variations that give some options for more skill and choice. To increase the level of strategy, one variation allows you to discard up to ten cards into two reserve piles, giving you more choice of which cards to use. An “open” variant lets you see all the cards before playing any of them.

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Cribbage Solitaire

Overview: Closely related to Cribbage Squares is the game Cribbage Solitaire. This plays much more like standard Cribbage, although neither Cribbage Squares or Cribbage Solitaire incorporates any of the pegging from the original two-player game.

In Cribbage Solitaire you are given a hand of six cards, and discard two to the crib, after which you are given a second hand of six cards, again discarding two to the crib. The next card becomes the starter and usual Cribbage scoring is applied to both hands and to the crib. Players keep a running total of four such deals, and a cumulative score of 101 or higher is considered a win.

Thoughts: There are a number of different ways of playing Cribbage Solitaire that vary things slightly. The most common variation is that besides the two cards that you discard to the crib from your hand of six cards, the crib also receives two random cards. Scoring happens for the hand and the crib after dealing a starter, which is then placed at the bottom of the deck. Six such hands are played, plus a final hand without a crib and starter. When playing this way, an average cumulative total tends to be around 85.

Regardless of which of the above variants you are playing with, there’s no doubt that Cribbage Solitaire has a very different feel from Cribbage Squares. Cribbage Squares has more of a positional and spatial aspect to the game-play, where arrangement of the cards is all-important – something not present in traditional Cribbage. Cribbage Solitaire is more about creating the best scoring combinations, and the fact that the crib is given two random cards adds an element of luck and suspense that matches some of the excitement of actual Cribbage scoring.

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Poker Squares

Overview: If you enjoy playing the odds to try to produce good scoring Poker hands, you’ll love Poker Solitaire. Since the game-play is quite similar to Cribbage Squares, it is also commonly called Poker Squares. You play 25 cards from a shuffled deck one at a time into a 5×5 grid. Points are then scored for each of the five hands in the rows, and the five hands in the columns. There are two different scoring systems in common use: American and English. The American system awards points as follows: Royal flush 100, Straight flush 75, Four-of-a-kind 50, Full house 25, Flush 20, Straight 15, Three-of-a-kind 10, Two pairs 5, One pair 2.

Unlike the American scoring system, the ranking of the hands in the English system is different, and reflects the relative difficulty of achieving the hands in this solitaire game rather than in a regular game of Poker. The English system awards points as follows: Royal flush 30, Straight flush 30, Four-of-a-kind 16, Straight 12, Full house 10, Flush 5, Three-of-a-kind 6, Two pairs 3, One pair 1.

Thoughts: Flushes are quite easy to make in this game, which immediately gives it a somewhat different feel than regular Poker. A typical strategy involves using the columns to get flushes, and using the rows to get multiples of the same valued card (e.g. pairs, full house, four-of-a-kind). Achieving a specific minimum score of 200 with American scoring and 70 with English scoring is considered a win.

A common variant is to deal all 25 cards face-up and allowing players to move the cards as desired after placing them, in an effort to find the ten best scoring poker hands. Due to the need to calculate scores for every game, Poker Squares lends itself especially well to digital versions, which automate the scoring.

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Tower of Pisa

Overview: Tower of Pisa often goes by the name Tower of Hanoi, since it is inspired by the classic solo puzzle of that name. The original Tower of Hanoi puzzle consists of three pegs, and a number of different sized round discs that fit onto the pegs. The goal is to transfer discs of increasing size one at a time from one peg to another, and end up with all the discs on a different peg, once again in order of increasing size. A key restriction on movement is that you can never place a larger disc on top of a smaller disc. With just three discs, it’s possible to solve the puzzle in just seven moves. More moves are required when there are more discs, but through pure logic a solution is always possible.

The solitaire card game based on this traditional puzzle uses the same principles, but starts out differently. You use nine cards (Ace through 9) from one suit, and begin with a starting arrangement of three columns of three cards each, in random order. The goal is to get all nine cards into a single column, arranged upwards in order 9 through Ace. When moving cards from one column to another, you may only move the top card of a column, and you can never place a higher valued card on top of a lower valued one.

Thoughts: The gameplay is effectively the same as a nine disc version of the traditional Towers of Hanoi puzzle. Since the starting set-up of that puzzle is fixed, solving it is a matter of pure recursive logic, and using optimal moves a nine disc puzzle can be solved in exactly 511 moves. In theory the Tower of Pisa solitaire puzzle takes less moves to solve than the classic logical puzzle, since you don’t begin with a starting arrangement that takes the largest number of moves to solve. But because you begin with a random arrangement, the path forward is rarely obvious. I find that this actually makes it more interesting and challenging than the classic puzzle, because no game begins the same, and you can’t simply use the same pre-set sequence of moves to solve it.

Somewhat surprisingly, this solitaire game seems to be most often found with the unusual spelling Tower of Hanoy (with a Y at the end, rather than with an I at the end like the classic puzzle). The origin of this unexpected spelling seems to be somewhat of a mystery. But you will sometimes find it spelled with an I at the end as well, or with alternate names like Tower of Pisa.

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== Adding and Pairing Games ==

Adding and pairing games are a common archetype for solitaire games in the non-builder genre, and I have covered more than a dozen of these in a separate article about popular adding and pairing games. They rightly form a subclass of their own, and are easily the most common type of non-builder solitaire card game that you will come across. Many of them are quite luck dependent, making them well-suited for casual play. The simpler ones in this genre are especially good for children.

Pairing Games

Overview: Pairing games require you to remove pairs of cards that have a matching value. I’ll use Nestor as the representative for this genre, but there are many games of this sort. The majority of them are very simple to learn and play, and pairing games like Simple Pairs and The Wish rely entirely or almost entirely on luck. Others like Concentration (Memory) require you to use your memory skills, while Nestor at least offers some decision making.

With Nestor you deal all the cards into a tableau consisting of eight columns of five cards each, along with a reserve of four cards. The aim of the game is simple: clear the entire tableau, by removing available pairs of cards that have a matching value. Nestor is an open information game, and while luck of the draw can sometimes thwart you, the layout does give room for some planning. There are also several good variations of Nestor worth trying, like Vertical and Doublets.

Related: For a fun pairing game with an interesting spatial element, I recommend Monte Carlo, which involves a moving layout consisting of 25 cards. Beehive and Pile Up (Fifteen Puzzle) are also pairing games that deserve a look, and can be very satisfying to play.

Although it is not a pairing game in the strict sense, Golf is a very popular non-builder game. The basic mechanic is similar to pairing games, but rather than removing matching cards of the same value, you remove pairs that are one higher or lower in value. Golf is an excellent and straight-forward game that I highly recommend for casual gamers wanting to try a simple solitaire game that is very different from the usual builder genre. There are many variants, with the Tri-Peaks variation being especially well-known because it’s part of the Microsoft Windows Solitaire Collection. Other excellent solitaire games that use the Golf mechanic of removing cards one higher or lower in value are Black Hole and Eliminator.

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Adding Games

Overview: Adding games require you to remove cards with a combined value of a particular total such as 13. Pyramid is the most common game of this sort, and is widely known as a result of its inclusion in the Microsoft Solitaire Collection. It’s a good representative of the adding genre, and is easy to learn.

To play Pyramid, you deal 28 cards in the shape of a pyramid. The idea is to remove cards that make up a pair adding to 13, with Jacks, Queens, and Kings counting as 11, 12, and 13. Kings don’t need to be paired with another card. Any card that is uncovered can be used, and you also deal through the deck one at a time, and can pair the face-up card to remove an available card from the pyramid if those two cards add to 13. You win the game if you clear the entire pyramid. Pyramid has a lot of common variations to increase the chances of winning.

Related: While Pyramid is the natural poster-child for the genre of adding games, there are many other excellent games of this sort. Thirteens (also called Simple Addition) uses the same concept of removing cards that add up to 13 but has an entirely different layout. Other basic adding games involve pairs of cards that add to different totals, such as ten, eleven, fourteen, fifteen, and even as much as eighteen. Some of these are open information games, which allow you more planning.

Adding games with some more interesting aspects to the game-play include Ninety One, which as the name suggests requires you to make an arrangement of cards adding to 91. Arguably the best in the genre is David Parlett’s terrific Exit (alternative name Gay Gordons), which gives a lot of room for planning ahead and decision making.

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Conclusion

There is a good reason why builder games are so popular, one being that a deck of cards naturally lends itself to collecting sets according to suit in order from Ace through King. But one disadvantage of the genre of builder games is that they can feel somewhat alike, and despite all the many variations in game play, ultimately you are trying to achieve the same kind of thing.

In contrast, non-builder solitaire card games offer something completely fresh and different. With games like the ones featured in this article, you are guaranteed to find yourself with a solitaire challenge that will require you to think quite differently than with the traditional Klondike. These are great games that will have you thinking outside of the box, and exploring completely new and interesting ways of game-play.

Since these non-builder solitaire games typically take you somewhat outside of the realm of the familiar, I recommend finding a good digital implementation of them, because it will make it much easier to learn the rules correctly. The excellent solitaire software and apps created by BVS Solitaire make an excellent choice. In the case of the non-builder games based on existing games like Cribbage or Poker, you’ll likely already be familiar with the basic mechanics, and many of these lend themselves well to be played with an actual deck in hand.

If ever you’ve wondered if there’s more to solitaire than the version found on most desktop computers, then you really owe it to yourself to try some of these fantastic non-builder games, to see how different and rewarding solitaire really can be!

About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.