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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Battle Cards Spotlight 1: History

I found my old Battle Card deck, so I finally get to make some project spotlights and explain what they're all about! Let's start at the beginning...

Part I: The History of Battle Cards

In 5th Grade, I was interested in Pokémon Cards. Not interested enough to collect them (except for a limited-edition holographic Mewtwo one that came free with Pokémon: The First Movie), but I always liked looking at the ones my brother and friends would have. I honestly don't think I ever actually played a game though.

Anyway, as much as I liked Pokémon, I thought it would be cool if there was a more normal, classic genre of card game to play, such as my favorite genre, medieval fantasy. This was before I had ever even heard of Magic: The Gathering.

I decided that I should make my own. I cut some random, irregular-shaped pieces of paper and drew characters, giving them stats and attacks. Before long, I had about eight or nine "Character Cards," very heavily based on the heroes from the first Final Fantasy game and random creatures. The ones I can remember off-hand are Fighter, Dark Mage, Light Mage, Black Belt, Thief, Tamer, Centaur, and Orc. The attacks were pretty vague, and the flip-side of each card was the character card's description. It was almost like they were less of a card game and more of a collectible card deck from some comic book or something, with the attacks as an added bonus.

(mouse over them to see their laughable descriptions written on the back)

 At any rate, I mostly just showed off my cards to my friends. An actual game involving them was never played, and I don't even know if I had any rules for such a game in mind.

The next year (perhaps in the summer) I decided that I was going to get serious about making my own card games. I came up with the creative name of Battle Cards, and planned a layout design on my dining room table. The cards would be 7.5cm x 9cm big, and have places for the card's name, element, hit points, portrait, attacks, and description. I also came up with a back logo for each Battle Card.

Rather than go by natural elements (fire-water-air-earth, etc.) as Pokémon cards do, or as the almost-invariable alternative (life-death-order-chaos), I decided to make my own "element" or "alignment" system based on motivations. I came up with the system of good, evil, wild, and tame. Good was the alignment of creatures such as angels, knights, phoenixes and fairies. Evil was, obviously, creatures like the undead, demons, and creatures of the night. Wild was the most common element of creatures, covering everything from barbarians and wild animals to elementals. Tame was rather interesting: it seemed to lean towards literally tame creatures, such as bottled genies and caged beasts, but it also included an attitude of nobility or organization, so wizards and soldiers were common as well.

This is the very first official Battle Card I made. I remember sitting down at my dining room table in Idaho drawing it.

At some point, my friends Nathan and Dustin decided that they wanted to catch on to my idea. They started drawing their own decks, and we played them against each other. Over time, the rules evolved, but it was mostly just fun how we would come up with ideas for attacks, and the other guys would come up with ways to defend against them. Some cards were way too "power-happy" and we would vote to dumb them down. Over the course of 6th Grade, I made over 200 Battle Cards. My friends weren't nearly so diligent, making only about 2030 each, and to my knowledge they lost those decks.

I remember once we were playing with our homemade cards in the hallway during recess and my middle school principal came over to see what we were doing. I think he was impressed at what we had invented while the other kids just played basketball. I remember I would sometimes leave my envelope of Battle Cards next to the pop machines near the lunchroom while I went out to play on the  swings, but such thoughts make me cringe now at my carelessness. I'm glad to have all the cards intact today.

I made Battle Cards all throughout 6th Grade, and some time during the following summer I gave up. There was no more paper with the specific size and thickness left, but more importantly, there was no more drive. I was out of ideas, and Battle Cards entered the Hall of Fame as one of my favorite projects of all time.

1 comment:

  1. Ah! I remember these! I even imitated them. It was a great idea.


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