Spell Deck for Fantasy Rules – Done!

I have been working on a rewrite of my fantasy miniature wargaming rules for sometime.  I have been working this in between golf and sinus attacks since June, and am in the home stretch (of both ironically)!
In the last few months, I have been significantly influenced by the Bear Yourselves Valiantly rules from Buck Surdu, Dave Wood, Chris Palmer, and James “Tank” Nickle.  It’s a great set of rules, but for my purposes, I wanted something a bit different.  The rules I am redoing started with Buck back at West Point, and I did a rewrite back in the 1990’s.  I am aiming to make things simple, with unit and individual cards, as well as shortcut cards.  My goal is to have a game that anyone can play right away and have fun.  Magic is an important component of the game.  It’s important to me that Wizards be more interesting and less predictable in the game.  I also wanted to add a card element to the use of Wizards to eliminate use of charts.
Creating the cards has been a challenge – and one that has proved to be an interesting project.  Buck shared with me some ways he created cards, and it was a tremendous help.
As a side note, Buck has just completed publishing his Combat Patrol rules(awesome WWII rules please check them out here and buy them if  you can – THEY ARE REALLY COOL!
Buck also helped me understand how he used Microsoft PowerPoint to make his cards.  This was a game changer for me as I really was able to make good cards.  I also had some questions about using fixative and spray adhesive, about which he also was a great sounding board.
I wanted to see what I could do without hitting a publisher.  After all, this game is for playing with family and friends and my troops!
I initially thought about using templates and the like, but I came to the belief that poker-sized cards were too small for my needs, and too difficult to attempt printing on my home HP printer.  I needed simple production with good results.  I liked the idea of 3″ x 5″ cards, but the corners seemed too much like what you would use for recipes.  Add on to that that they were not thick enough for use as cards in a game, and finding ones without one side ruled at Staples was a non-starter.
A search of eBay found the solution.  A vendor known as colonialcards had 3″ x 5″ unruled cards with rounded edges!  They came in a pack of 100, and were 65/67 lb. cardstock.  I decided to use two cards to make each spell card – and thereby make each card effectively 130/134 lb. stock.  I purchased white ones for the project.
I then created the concept of the deck in Excel, and inputted the data into my master Excel game attributes deck.  Wizards are levels 1-4, and get 1 action chip (AC) per level per activation cycle.  To allocate spells, I wanted to use the Spell Deck I was creating.  In it, I planned to have three types of spells: Attack, General, and Mundane.  The Mundane Spell Cards are issued to each Wizard “free” at the beginning of the game.  Then, each player with a Wizard rolls a D4, and gets that number rolled plus the Wizard’s level of spell cards from the Spell Deck.  This way, what spells Wizards had would be variable and more fun.  I planned the Spell Deck to consist of 50 cards.  Here are the spells and how they were allocated:
Spell Class Spell Name AC Cost Range Effect Duration of Effect Nullified or Partially Nullified  by? No Effect on? Number of Cards in Spell Deck?
ATTACK Fire Ball 2 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 6
ATTACK Cold Spell 2 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 6
ATTACK Lightning Bolt 2 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 6
ATTACK Mega-Blast 3 AC 0 – 15″ Damages Target Instantaneous N/A N/A 5
GENERAL Nullify 1-4 AC 0-8″ Nullifies or Reduces the effects of Certain Spells Variable N/A N/A 5
GENERAL William Tell 3 AC 0-8″ Enhances Friendly Missile Fire Instantaneous Nullify or The Yips N/A 2
GENERAL Wild Pitch 3 AC 0-8″ Wards Off/Diverts a Large Missile Attack Instantaneous N/A N/A 1
GENERAL The Yips 3 AC 0-8″ Reduces Enemy Missile Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Nullify or William Tell N/A 2
GENERAL Charles Atlas 3 AC 0-8″ Enhances Friendly Melee Attack Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Nullify or 98-lb Weakling N/A 2
GENERAL 98-lb Weakling 3 AC 0-8″ Reduces Enemy Melee Attack Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Nullify or Charles Atlas N/A 2
GENERAL Thorny Devil 1-2 AC 0-8″ Creates an Entanglement 1D4 Activations Nullify  N/A 1
GENERAL Alacrity 3 AC 0-8″ Doubles Movement Rate 1D4 Activations Nullify or LSD The Undead 1
GENERAL LSD 3 AC 0-8″ Halves Movement Rate 1D4 Activations Nullify or Alacrity The Undead 1
GENERAL Walk on Water 4 AC 0-8″ Allows Movement on Water 1D4 Activations Nullify The Undead 1
GENERAL Wall of Smoke 2 AC 0-8″ Creates a Wall of Smoke 1D4 Activations Nullify N/A 2
GENERAL Wall of Flame 2 AC 0-8″ Creates a Wall of Flame 1D4 Activations Nullify N/A 2
GENERAL Suck It Up Sunshine 3 AC 0-4″ Removes All Current Fatigue, unpins or stops retreat Instantaneous N/A The Undead 1
GENERAL I ain’t a-skeered o’Ya 4 AC 0-4″ Removes Any Possibility of Fear from Undead, Monster, or Magic Attacks Game unless nullified 4 AC Nullify Elves, The Undead 1
GENERAL Marshal Ney 3 AC 0-4″ Nullifies a Unit Morale Break and No Morale Checks for 1D4 Activations 1D4 Activations Nullify or Overlook Hotel The Undead 1
GENERAL Overlook Hotel 3 AC 0-4″ Degrades Morale – Must Roll 2x for Morale for 1D4 Activations 1D4 Activations Nullify or Marshall Ney The Undead 1
GENERAL Don’t Worry, Be Happy 4 AC 0-4″ Removes All Current Fatigue, and Resets Casualty Rate to Zero Losses for Morale Purposes Instantaneous N/A The Undead 1
MUNDANE Fly 1 AC per 10″ Flight N/A Wizard Flight Instantaneous N/A N/A  6 cards – Reference only
MUNDANE His Master’s Voice 2 AC per activation controlled 0-6″ Control Beasts, Large Creatures, Large Animals, or Individual Creatures 2 AC per activation controlled Death of Wizard or Cessation of Spell Trained or Semi-Sentient Animals  6 cards – Reference only
MUNDANE Buzz 3 AC 0-6″ Control a Swarm, Reduce Enemy Effectiveness 1D4 Activations Death of Wizard or Cessation of Spell The Undead, Ents, Lizard men  6 cards – Reference only
 The red cards are Attack Spells and the green cards are General Spells.  These would have a yellow backing (see pictures at bottom of this blog), and would be consumed when used. The three Mundane Spell cards would have a white backing.  Again, the plan was for the Mundane Spells to be issued free and capable of multiple use, but the Buzz spell (which summons a Swarm) is the only Mundane spell consumed by use.  The way I made the deck was as follows:
  1. I created the spell attributes in Excel.  I have a large spreadsheet that I use for all the game data – and this lends itself to cutting and pasting tables into the PowerPoint.
  2. I cut and pasted the parts of the tables I need from Excel into PowerPoint.  (Once again, thank you Buck for your help!)  I then inserted colors, pictures, graphics and adjusted the font sizes.  This was a nice way to make cards legible. I just used clip art that I thought appropriate.
  3. I then saved each PowerPoint slide as a separate slide and separate jpeg.
  4. I set up a Word file with documents set to print to 3″ x 5″ cards for the Spell Deck. I then inserted each PowerPoint jpeg into the Word document, and adjusted these jpeg’s to fit the card.  This made printing a breeze.
  5. I printed the cards on my printer (well, my old printer – this project was its swansong).  With 68 cards in the deck (50 total for Attack and General and 18 Mundane), I had 136 cards to assemble front & back.  This supports 6 players as each Wizard gets three Mundane cards.
  6. Then I coated the printed side of each card with Krylon fixative with each card on pieces of cardboard with “blue” painting masking tape.  The fixative gave the cards a nice protective coating.  The blue masking tape assisted in easy removal from the cardboard.

    1 Fixative on cards
    Fixative Being Applied to Printed Side of Cards in the garage
  7. I then separated the cards so I could assemble them.  I made a two jigs, one for applying spray glue and one for card assembly.


5Gluing application jig, front
Adhesive Spraying Jig, Front Side

8.  For glue application, I affixed the card backs to popsicle sticks with blue painting masking tape on the printed side for applying spray glue (also Krylon).  These I mounted on a display piece of wood from AC Moore that had three routed slots on it.  I was able to spray 4 cards mounted on the wood at a time with the glue.  I also made an assembly jig out of 1/4″ and 1/8″ plywood for card assembly. It had a small press with the weight being old casting plugs left over from our Academy days.

Card Assembly Jig
Card Assembly Jig

9.  I then used the assembly  jig to put the cards together with no misalignment.

Assembly Jig with Spell Card Front (printed side down)
Assembly Jig with Spell Card Front (printed side down)
Inserting the Card with Adhesive into the Assembly Jig
Inserting the Card with Adhesive into the Assembly Jig

10.  The jig had a short term press, followed by using some large medical textbooks as presses.

Short Term Press
Short Term Press


The Spell Deck
The Spell Deck is Done!


Here is what the Spell Deck looks like – although they are on 3″ x 5″ cards this is the PowerPoint I used to make the deck:

WMB Cards (all) ppt

I am pretty happy with the Spell Deck.  It is legible and sturdy – and I can even shuffle it!

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