Thursday 10 November 2011

Pick a card ... any card

All of the games produced by TooFatLardies have a turn sequence which is influenced by the turn of cards (to a greater or lesser degree depending on the particular game).

The Great War rule set I enjoy using, "Through the Mud and the Blood" is no exception, and one of the things you need to prepare is a set of cards for the various leaders ("Big Men" in the parlance of the TooFatLardies), support weapons, vehicles, HQs and events.

When I started playing "Through the Mud and the Blood", I simply used old 5" x 3" record cards. However, in October I noticed that these started looking very dog-eared. The result was that I decided to make up my own cards using Microsoft PowerPoint and laminating them using an inexpensive laminator.

Before I go onto the cards themselves, you may like to know why I bothered. After all, the excellent Blog "Gaming with TooFatLardies" by Anibal Invictus (Benito) contains all the cards you'd ever need in a very generously made-available PDF. Another complete set of cards for "Through the Mud and the Blood" are available on the Yahoo Group for TooFatLardies. Both these great resources are free. So ….. why bother making my own?

Partly it was the wish to put my stamp on the games I run. I did the figures, and the terrain, so why not the cards and quick-play sheets also?

But also I was really taken with the idea of "Big Men" being represented named characters in my games, instead of just "German Big Man 1" or "British Big Man 3". I've become really interested in the personal accounts of soldiers in the Great War, particularly those from the area where I live, which is the South East of England.

Although it's a personal thing, I wanted the players to try and think of their Big Men as characters in our wargames, rather than just metal wargames figures. I know that some of the readers of this Blog feel the same way. My friend Ashley, from the excellent Blog Paint It Pink, said to me at Salute in April she thought that the TooFatLardies games were pretty close to roleplaying at times, and I have to say I thought that was a perceptive comment and a good thing in my book. I think that very many wargamers do empathise with the forces their leading on the tabletop, at least in part, but I was hoping that advancing Corporal Charlie Bow or Feldwebel Willi Fischer along a trench traverse would add something extra to our games.

Anyway, whatever the reasoning, here's the results:

I'm no graphic designer. In fact, this was pretty much one of my first attempts at doing any design on a PC. I was really surprised how easy it was to select a free texture from the internet, and add some text or a design.

The fronts of the cards were an image of Lord Kitchener, which I did a very minor change to using the GIMP photo manipulation programme.

A selection of the event cards, some of which are new and which we have been play-testing over the course of the summer for the forthcoming "Passchendaele: Bitter Victory" campaign in the TooFatLardies Christmas Special out next month.

Finally, here's some British and German Blinds, also made using PowerPoint.

I did about 100 cards, printing them in colour, cutting out front and back, gluing together and laminating. It took me about a couple of evenings while watching the (splendid) DVD of The Killing.

It goes without saying that I'd not be able to make the blinds without the very generous textures made available on-line by a very skilful artist, Borealnz. Check out his flickr and wonderful images here. And to Borealnz, again, thank you!


  1. They look absolutely excellent! We've been enjoying your scene building as well... :)

  2. Wow, these are cool. Why do you need cards for a wargame. Is this like snap?


  3. Sidney, they are magnificent. Any chance that they'll be made available to hardcore TFL gamers like myself (and Minimike of course, goes without saying) :-)?

  4. Thanks guys. I appreciate the comments very much.

    @Zornhau - thanks, the cards were pretty easy. Much easier than building terrain!

    @Rampant Scribbler - a warm welcome to the Blog. The cards are used in the games produced by TooFatLardies to simulate the friction and uncertainty of a battlefield. They govern the order of movement of units and "Big Men", the latter being the key leaders in any single action. The random drawing of cards to govern movement add to the challenges of the wargamer in the game. Success in the games is a question of over-coming the friction and uncertainty produced by the card system, just as victory in warfare can be a question of carrying through with your battle-plan in the face of chaos.

    Snap it ain't!

    And no, it's not Flames of War either! Flames of War is a great game, but approaches the simulation of warfare from another direction.

    @Suchet - great to hear from you, and wonderful to catch up with you at the weekend. If you're interested, I'd be delighted to post the PDF of the cards on the Blog. You'll still have to make up the cards yourself, though!

  5. Sidney -- I'd be interested in the cards, too. They look great!


  6. Very creative and they look just brill!!


  7. Sidney, thanks for the refrence to my blog, my friend!. I enjoyed very much doing the cards, but you have invested much more art in yours, specially the backs of the cards. In my case, instead of laminating, I bought some really inexpensive packs of plastic covers (1€ x 100 units), those used for card-based games like Magic et alt. As I printed them in paper, I also bought some rigid blank card packs (from Spirit Games) and put both (the printed and therigid blank) inside the plastic covers. I have been using the same card deck for over 2 years now and it's still in a perfect and crispy state.

  8. What goes as "poor gas discipline" ?
    They look very nice mate...

  9. Lovely work Sidney. I have not played these rules yet, but I want to. Off to join the Yahoo group.

  10. Thanks again, Gentlemen.

    @Anibal - that's a great solution. I think the laminator cost me £30, and it was another £10 for the laminating paper. There's enough laminating paper to allow me to laminate cards for all my games. But it's still more expensive than your elegant solution. In the end, I wanted to make some cards simply because I thought it would be fun (and it was). But, as you've mentioned, there's a lot of alternatives.

    @Paul - Thank! "Poor Gas Discipline" is a new event. We used it in the play-test of "The Devil's Breath" earlier this year, and players at the club seem to think it worked realistically. I've been putting the card in all the games where we've used gas. It simulates troops being unable to "mask up" quickly enough when being subject to a barrage of gas shells or when wandering into a gas "pocket" on the battlefield. The card works like this (see PDF on the Blog for more details):

    On the FIRST turn of a gas barrage, add the “Poor Gas Discipline” card into the card deck. If the “Poor Gas Discipline” card is drawn, the next group or weapons team whose card is drawn will, if deployed in the gas barrage area, suffer 1D3 additional wounds (counting no cover). The “Poor Gas Discipline” is removed once all the gas has dissipated. (We have tried 1D6 additional wounds for mustard gas owing to its deeply unpleasant nature).

  11. Thanks Rodger. Welcome to the group!

  12. I was accused of poor gas discipline during basic training. Our field rations caused me to expel noxious vapours constantly.

    Sid, the cards look lovely. You keep giving me reasons to get into Great War gaming, and I keep resisting, but with less and less enthusiasm. Thanks also to the link to the textures website.

  13. Superb, a wonderfully original solution. They look great.

  14. Excellent cards Sidney. So you have graphic designer skills as well now. I noticed I will be using them with Suchet as our main cardmaker. If he does, I will finally throw some WWI figs on the painting table. My last attempt failed and I gave away my German figs since I was not impressed with their quality.

  15. Thanks guys….really appreciate the feedback.

    @ Mike (Mad Padre) – Errr, that’s the other kind of “Poor Gas Discipline”, of which there is a worrying amount at the St Albans wargames club on any Tuesday night if Richard and Nick are around! As for tempting you into Great War gaming – I’m sure you’ll break eventually!

    @Michael – thanks very much, Sir!

    @MiniMike – You’re far too kind, Mike!! Definitely not graphic designer skills, although that is something I’d like to do a lot more of and practice with. I’ll post up the PDF of the cards tomorrow or the weekend as soon as I can. As for your WW1 figures, I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  16. Very nicely done Sidney - I like that they are clear and concise but still attractive. I did a set for Sharpe Practice and found it quite fun and easy as well.
    As a side note if you don't own a laminator you can use CCG plastic slips that are quite cheap, durable and even reusable if you have a lot of different decks.


  17. Plastic cardgames are very interesting,from children to old man every body loves to play them...

  18. Superb looking cards mate. Thanks for uploading these. I'm thinking 2014 will be my year to finally get my WWI project going again, thanks for the inspiration.

  19. Hi i've been looking for the link for the card download, cant for the life of me find it.


    1. Hi Paul

      Sorry, I've only just spotted your comment. I have revised the cards into more easily downloadable PDFs. If you look at the right hand sidebar of your screen, there's a section entitled "Playtesting Scenarios, Campaign Diaries, Play-Aids and Painting Guides". All of the cards are saved as PDFs in my Google Drive for you to download. If you still have trouble, please do drop me an email (see the link on my "Profile" and I can send them to you directly.


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