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  • Keith

50 Reasons Card Driven Games Are Still Awesome

Card Driven Games (CDGs) have been a part of our gaming lives for over 20 years. I sincerely hope we see them for another 20. Designers continue to evolve and innovate on the concepts first laid out in the form we most commonly call the grandfather of these games We The People.  I’m sure there are far more than 50 reasons, but it sounded like a good challenge and this list was a lot of fun to compile. I hope you enjoy reading it and will share your reasons why CDGs are still awesome.

50 Reasons

  1. The history has a direct role in the game.

  2. Designers can more easily shape the experience.

  3. Games with long historical timelines can include different decks.

  4. Multiplayer games can feature different national abilities as their decks rather than additional rules to memorize.

  5. The card-driven game mechanic made Cold War historians out of millions of folks who otherwise couldn’t be bothered to pound their shoe on a table.

  6. Designers can break their rulebook when its necessary.

  7. The ridiculous round where you must be silent because the Luther Martin card got dropped…

  8. Cards add randomization and tension.

  9. Hand management becomes a skillset players need to master.

  10. Historical knowledge is built quickly and rewarded more directly as players “expect” certain things to happen.

  11. The legendary Winter Activation Meeting

  12. Point to Point movement facilitates historical army movement restrictions.

  13. Going to a museum of recognizing the artwork…from your card driven game and knowing the text that goes along with it. (Sorry Spouses…)

  14. Hex based movement requires logistical (hand management) planning to pull off complex operations.

  15. Graphic design that reflects the era or topic shines through increasing player immersion.

  16. Increased replay value!

  17. When you get to push your finger into someone’s chest because of the Kitchen Debates card.

  18. The introduction of spying through the player’s ability to peek into their opponents hand of cards.

  19. Jump right to “the good part” by using those year/epoch/era marked cards.

  20. Card driven games still provide plentiful options for tournament length multiplayer goodness!

  21. That moment when you realize the US Constitution starts with the same phrase as the game title that started the CDG revolution.

  22. Mark Herman, Ted Racier, Ed Beach, Volko Ruhnke and the many other masters of CDG design.

  23. The introduction of economy or competition for resources as imposed by card events or card scarcity.

  24. The approximation of command and control with events that occur outside of a player’s preferred order.

  25. Cards are evidence of the strong designer and developer research.

  26. Cards are a great way to link events and combatant initiative.

  27. Card Op vs. Event choices often forces players to make tough decisions at inopportune times.

  28. You gotta know when to hold ’em…know when to fold ’em…know when to walk away…know when to rout… (Prioritizing actions provided by cards forces players to pick the lesser of many evils.)

  29. That feeling players get the first time they see a particularly powerful event fire well.

  30. The first “Tet” players go through in Fire in the Lake.

  31. Card driven games aren’t a series, but they have similarities that speed up the learning process.

  32. Using cards as bargaining chips to negotiate in multiplayer CDGs.

  33. Card driven games have continued to evolve and bring new topics and designers into the hobby.

  34. The sudden realization that attrition season is the worst season in England and always has been.

  35. Card driven games are ideal for covering political or low-intensity conflicts.

  36. The first time you let Washington DC fall in the 2nd turn of For The People.

  37. Card driven games have exceptional competitive longevity.

  38. The top 100 ranking for the Twilight Struggle iOS app on the App Store

  39. Those times when you wish a mistake could simply be contributed to the Space Race…rather than owning up to them.

  40. When you realize you can’t go back and make all your usernames Titus Manlius from Sword of Rome

  41. The card-driven game mechanic made World War I cool before World War I was cool again.

  42. How many wargamers can we attribute to the cross-over from Memoir ’44 and other Commands & Colors games?

  43. When you realize, you have thought more about Kentucky than most states (if you don’t live or have business there) from a game.

  44. Popular enough that every major wargame publisher has published at least one since their introduction.

  45. After griping about Pakistan and Afghanistan’s importance in Labyrinth…you watch the news and realize…they actually are that important in the global war on terror.

  46. Empire of the Sun!  A modern masterpiece.

  47. Creating What-If scenarios is just a matter of doctoring the deck of cards allowing for a broader investigation of historical circumstances.

  48. James Pei (If you don’t know…you should…)

  49. That feeling when an opponent lays down their national/faction specific card interrupting your “perfect” plan.

  50. Reading a history book and recognizing the quote from a card…or USING the quote from a card in conversation.

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