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"card-based systems?" Topic

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Shadowdragon30 Oct 2020 4:42 p.m. PST

Other than Malifaux, are there any miniature games that use a deck of playing cards instead of dice? I'm interested in seeing different ways in which cards can be used in miniature games, but there definitely aren't many that use them.

Heisler30 Oct 2020 5:05 p.m. PST

A lot of western rules use cards

epturner Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2020 5:21 p.m. PST

The late Otto Schmidt had a couple of sets of rules he produced himself, the 18th Century Set was called "Oh God, Anything But A Six!", in which the vast majority of results were managed by cards.

This included how many casualties were inflicted on a unit, morale results, melee results etc.

In fact, I can't even remember what the heck we used the dice for… except maybe that those of us who were used to dice based systems bemoaned his lack of them.


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2020 5:37 p.m. PST

The Tribal rules from Mana Press uses cards for everything.

Col Durnford30 Oct 2020 5:43 p.m. PST

One hour skirmish uses cards for everything. How many figures can act (more movement cost more cards), fire combat (opposing cards for to hit/save), and initiative. One of my COVID projects was to run a series of Rhodesia fireforce actions. I added on Force on Force troop quality by limiting the number of cards in the deck for each side. The Rhodesia Light Infantry deck ran from ace thru 10. The Zanla deck was only ace thru 6. I must have run 30 games and results were fairly historic.

One nice feature, that I am now sold on is including the joker and when it comes up the turn ends. It can really mess up your plans.

Also, TSATF has provided lots of great games over the years.

Personal logo brass1 Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2020 5:44 p.m. PST

One-Hour Skirmish Wargames by John Lambhead


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2020 5:57 p.m. PST

Only cards? Wings of Glory. Both movement and damage are defined strictly by cards. No dice at all. I believe this is true of Sails of Glory as well?

Mixed: The Command and Colors system uses specialized cards to define orders and maneuver options; the OOP Battle Masters game uses specialized cards for unit activation. Both use dice for combat.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2020 6:29 p.m. PST

"To the Strongest!" (Medieval) and "For King and Parliament" (ECW) rules use cards to both activate units and adjudicate missle fire and close combat. Both are available from BigRedBat's Shop link

"The Sword and the Flame" only uses cards to activate units for movement and weapons fire, not for adjudication of weapons fire, close combat, or morale. It uses dice for those.


saltflats192930 Oct 2020 6:43 p.m. PST

Buck Surdu's Combat Patrol series uses cards to do almost all of the action. Very interesting and unique system.

Flint and Feather and Battle Troll use special cards to choose combat actions that will determine how many dice are used in combat resolution.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2020 8:43 p.m. PST

Pig Wars (a Dark Ages skirmish game) uses decks of playing cards for combat resolution and to determine who goes first.


Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2020 9:31 p.m. PST

My latest rendition of my Plastic Wars game for Army Men figures, uses playing cards for unit activation, and d6's to resolve combat. The Unit Activation by cards really makes it fun. I use the two, colored Jokers. There are only two sides, so I only need two suits, and two different Jokers. The Jokers allow each side to re-activate any Unit of their choice. As the cards are drawn down, they are able to predict what Units go when, but they can't alter it, except with the Jokers. That knowledge raises the players' blood pressure.

By employing both cards, and dice, there is some predictability as the cards are flipped, but the dice maintain the variability and randomness of the combat results. The players may get the cards in the order they want (Unit activation in the order they want), but they still need to roll well, to make it work for them.

I enjoy the mix, and so do my players. Just some food for thought. Cheers!

RittervonBek31 Oct 2020 4:35 a.m. PST

Mortem et gloriam uses cards and dice as does the whole command and colors (sic) stable of games.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Oct 2020 5:16 a.m. PST

INLGames QILS scenarios on WGV often use cards for their scenarios.

The core mechanism is dice-driven, but most of the scenarios use a regular deck of playing cards to implement specific needs for those engagements. Lots of different methods in the different scenarios.

The cyber effects supplement, Tactical Hack, uses a set of custom cards you get POD with the rules.


and Gladiator Wrecks:

Path of Bones uses dominoes for the core combat mechanism:


I did a quick meta search for use of cards in the scenarios:

Campaign Management:

Operational Level:

Core Mechanisms:

Solo Play Engine:

Dexter Ward31 Oct 2020 5:45 a.m. PST

Longstreet and Maurice use cards for actions and bonuses (but dice for combat).
To The Strongest and For King and parliament use cards for everything.
Dux Britanniarum uses cards for combat bonuses.
Many games use cards to decide when units can activate – Piquet, Field of Battle, Infamy, Sharp Practice, Muskets & Tomahawks.

Bede1900231 Oct 2020 8:11 a.m. PST

Field of Battle uses a bespoke set of cards to regulate play.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2020 8:28 a.m. PST

A pox on all these Houses of Cards!

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2020 6:33 p.m. PST

The Commands & Colors series (hex based war games) use a specialized deck of cards for movement and to some extent combat.

DyeHard02 Nov 2020 12:41 p.m. PST

Lot examples above:

Here is a TMP link of a similar topic with some 41 entries:
TMP link

Things to think about is, what can cards do that dice can not.
1) Excluded results.
If you have some number units per side and you want each to activate just once per turn. Cards are ideal.
2) Multiple results per card.
Cards can have many categories of information, not just a number value. Standard playing cards have number, color, suit, face, and so on, Tarot cards even more so, and custom cards are virtually unlimited. Depending on why you need to draw, the different aspects can change the result. Example in TSATF when resolving hits, face and Ace mean very different thing from numbers, and suit it wound vs kill.
3) Conditional result or counters.
Cards are good at providing "This if that" type results, or allowing counter actions. The first example that jumps to mind is the old Avalon Hill game Richthofen's War.
Where the player hold maneuver cards for the pilots. If player A tries to pull a maneuver the trailing player can counter it with the same type card.
4) Inserting color.
Consider the miniature type board-games by Days of Wonder:
Memoir 44
And Battle Lore
The cards not only drive the mechanics, but also add narrative and color of the period.

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