News:

Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Printing your own CCG Cards Howto, Where, & Prices

Started by DavidBeoulve, December 25, 2005, 07:18:58 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Veritas Games

BTW, hands down, Nate is the guy on the Forge with the greatest knowledge of small scale, Indy-friendly techniques for producing cards to support a niche market game.  His game is available in hard copy, with boosters, and is available for online play and available as a PDF.  He's even in mainstream distribution.

Me -- I've been working for a couple of years to license a large quantity of art (your first big license can take FOREVER to get) to bring my game to the mainstream.  I may know a bit more about mainstream production techniques as well as the printing and finishing requirements for print on demand (I've been researching buying that technology myself instead of outsourcing).

What one of us doesn't know, the other is very likely to know.  We are interested in someone different methods and different scales.

And if both of us are telling you that you'll likely go bankrupt trying to include hundreds of professionally produced cards printed on real card stock in a boxed game, trust us.  Both of us have done considerable homework.  Maybe you can teach us something new, and if you can, bless you, sir.  However, realize that even Nate's clever methods for cost reduction are likely to still drive up the costs of a RPG if you need many dozens of cards in each boxed set.

I say this, because you are coming across as a bit skeptical (perhaps I'm misinterpreting your statements).  So, I'm just trying to convince you of one thing -- printing cards is an expensive venture

Printing cards using just black ink, on 12 point coated stock, and getting them cut (without round corners)... well, that's not so expensive.  You should strongly consider whether this can meet your criteria instead of full color front, full color back, cards on playing card stock with rounded corners.
Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

daMoose_Neo

For what I do, at 500 units, the costs are fairly negligible. Can hit that for about $1k, so its less than $2-ish per deck, which I can live with and still make money off even. Getting it lower and still cost effective is the difficult part.
My expansion decks (25 card, playable mini decks) will run me ballpark of about $500 to produce 250 decks. Course, thats with: Shipping of cards and packages, local press cutting down larger sheets, hand rounding the square edges to 1/8th inch playing card round, sample rules insert, and hand packing said decks.

Regarding else wise: Yup, for the most part it doesn't matter unless you get into situations involving randomization and specific collating (IE 1 rare, 2 uncommon, rest common). Playing cards or collectors cards are a small fortune.

As for "flash cards", thats exactly right, more or less Lee. A basic card stock, good printing ala a high end laser printer (local print shops can typically do the work, and don't require anywhere near the investment the hardware or paying a printer would). Hell, for Supers DJ and I printed it on regular card stock off a high-quality inkjet printer, front and back, and it came out very nice. Hand trim and round the edges with my lovely Lasco rounder and its all good and costs us pennies per pack.
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!

joepub

QuoteI'm still confused as to how you expect players to build a deck of 200+ cards (per your last post) if you are only putting 50+ in a boxed set

To clarify - there could be roughly 200 cards.
I'd read posted on a site that it was most cost effective to publish cards at average deck size (54), and was therefore thinking: four different customs "decks" being produced, that gives me 216 cards in total.

Logic doesn't always make sense.


Anyways, the boxed sest might come with a total of 200 cards.
But, I'll be talking to Nate more. Thanks for the help.

Veritas Games

Quote from: daMoose_Neo on December 28, 2005, 02:07:15 PM
For what I do, at 500 units, the costs are fairly negligible. Can hit that for about $1k, so its less than $2-ish per deck, which I can live with and still make money off even. Getting it lower and still cost effective is the difficult part.
My expansion decks (25 card, playable mini decks) will run me ballpark of about $500 to produce 250 decks.

Nate, that is amazing.  Most places I've seen do things in units of 1000.  So, I'm shocked that you found a place to do 250 copies.  Is your back just black on white or 4 color process?  Even if your back is just black and white with a full color face, the cheapest I've seen for that is $64.  $64 x 13 = $832.  That gives you (after finishing) 1000 copies of 25 cards plus an advertising card for the front of the pack to say what it is (presuming you are going to sell them in small clear envelopes or something).

Figure another $100 for cutting and clear ziplock envelopes, plus a tired arm from using the Lassco corner rounder, and that's not a bad price for 1000 mini decks (just under $1000).

That said, I think prices in China for 2000 one hundred card decks, cellowrapped, on true playing card stock, was just $1500.  So, your process (compared to overseas printing) is not super cheap, but it's a whole lot cheaper than domestic printing on true playing card stock.

If I may ask, where did you find the printer willing to do just 250 sets?  I think you said it was in California, right?  Got a link?

Just as an FYI to others following this thread -- most postcard printers handle thicknesses up to 12 point stock.  That's somewhat thinner than most true playing card stock, which is closer to 14 point thickness.  Some postcard places use 10 point stock, which is thinner yet.
Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

Veritas Games

Quote from: joepub on December 28, 2005, 02:42:59 PM
I'd read posted on a site that it was most cost effective to publish cards at average deck size (54)

This depends on the vendor.  What's actually true is that it's most cost effective to produce a deck that is an even multiple (or half) of your printer's press sheet size.  So, if he can fit 108 cards on a sheet, you want to print decks that are 54, 108, or 216 cards each if possible.  Either half a sheet or multiple whole sheets.

Most people who dabble in playing card production or who do a lot of it, but who produce standard decks instead of hobby game decks will have a press sheet that holds between 52 and 56 cards.  For instance, U.S. Playing Card Company decks have 52 cards + 2 jokers + 2 ad cards.  So, unless they insert the ad cards separately, they might have a 56 card press sheet.

This varies from printer to printer.

It also varies some depending on whether you print poker or bridge-sized cards on a press sheet.

Many printers only have one standard size of card die, so you should call and make sure that they have the size of die you want to use (poker, bridge, or custom).
Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

joepub

So, I live in British Columbia right now - living in a small rural town with no printing (or even office supply places) near me.

Assuming I go with a black-on-white back, and white/black images on the front...
And assuming I do 500 sets of the 200 cards.
And assuming that I put the cards into tuckboxes - 100 cards to a tuckbox, so a total of 1,000 tuckboxes.

What is the cheapest route for me? Nate - how do I go about setting up the process you outline?
Veritas, how do I reach such a printer in China?

Veritas Games

Quote from: joepub on December 28, 2005, 04:10:54 PM
And assuming I do 500 sets of the 200 cards.

Nate can figure out how much he think his method would cost, but I think you can get off for one or two thousand overseas on true playing card stock.

QuoteAnd assuming that I put the cards into tuckboxes - 100 cards to a tuckbox, so a total of 1,000 tuckboxes.

If you print at a playing card company overseas, this won't be expensive.  Normally this could be a bit expensive, but since it's inside the game, you can go with an unprinted white cardstock box.  It doesn't even have to be super durable.

QuoteWhat is the cheapest route for me?

Nate may prove me wrong, but I think, honestly, you can print in China pretty inexpensively, if your requirements are black and white.  Domestically it'll still be expensive, but less expensive.


QuoteVeritas, how do I reach such a printer in China?

Google the following terms: custom "playing card" and China

Look for pages in English only.  Look for people who have samples of their work online.  Ideally a company that does only cards or that has an entire page devoted to custom playing cards.

Here's another link of use:
http://www.guntheranderson.com/cards/manuf.htm

Alternately, you can consider Indian playing card company's, although I think Nate recommends AGAINST Print Masters of India (if memory serves).

There are print buyers domestically.  If you can find a print buyer, all the better, because you then have a contract with a domestic, instead of overseas, company.  It'll be more expensive, but it may be worth it.

TM Cards (Indian), I think has a domestic agent.  I've seen some of their work, and it's not bad.

Nate will tell you, and I'd probably agree, that even if his method turns out a bit more expensive, that there are HUGE benefits from dealing with a domestic company instead of an overseas company.
Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

daMoose_Neo

Dear freaking lord don't get me started on the hassles of dealing overseas.
Twilight's first run cost me $3600 for 2016 decks, of one kind. I did a lot of hand assembly just to accomplish that and man is it a chore. I found it easier and more economical for me to do it locally via Overnight Prints (http://www.overnightprints.com) and hand pack from there. No tearing apart, sorting, or anything else, plus fewer hassles and a lot less of an investment, which is the key for me. I am, technically speaking, a college kid trying to make ends meet on top of managing the game production. Don't quite have the dependencies a lot of the folks here have with family and what not, but I also have a lot less realworld experiance, business sense, and I kind of think disposable income (Insurance companies really bend you over a barrel when you're my age :P)
From talking, if you're going overseas and doing 200 cards to a unit, we're looking at probably packs of 100 cards, 50 of each of your factions. Means to make a set, you throw two cello wrapped packs in a box with your rules and call it good. Ordering 1000 of these packs gives you 500 units, easy.
You're in Canada, so even my brief brush with Customs means nothing. I had to pay for the shipping, which I don't know is factored in Lee's estimate of $1500, plus customs fees: hiring a broker, paying for warehousing while it was being kept for the next shipment bound inland, it took bloody forever, and longer while it was being handled (Patriot Act really messed with me here), and you have to be careful about the taxes of the state. State of Michigan sent me a letter attempting to assess a Use Tax for importing the cards, would have come to a couple hundred dollars as well except as a publisher I was able to list myself as a wholesaler for the purposes of the tax. Always, ALWAYS do your research.

One cavet: even with representation, I'm placing initial orders of about 150 units for my books, and about the same for my cards, and sitting comfortably with those numbers. Doing so, I can keep my inventory low and my cash as free as I can. Overseas will always be cheaper than stateside, but you have to consider the hassle and you have to consider the sheer investment, not just cost per unit. If you don't have the $1500 to $2500 to invest, there are other ways to come close for a lot less.

Lee: Overnight Prints ^_^ My best little secret. Lowered their minimums to even 100, which means I'm going to be doing a number of single releases as well just to keep some activity going release wise. They also sell in 500 and 1000 sets and more. Cards are 4 over 4, 12 pt. stock, THICK and nice, free UV coating so they don't wear as easily and look almost as good as the aquious coating or playing card coating.
Order 500 prints of each card, 2 of my cards to a postcard, means I'm getting 1000 cards out of each postcard, two different kinds of decks. End up with 250 total (125 of each kind).
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!

Veritas Games

Quote from: daMoose_Neo on December 28, 2005, 08:04:28 PM
Cards are 4 over 4, 12 pt. stock, THICK and nice, free UV coating so they don't wear as easily and look almost as good as the aquious coating or playing card coating.

First -- they are having a sale right now and MAN are they cheap.  SOOO much cheaper than anywhere else I saw.  There non-sale prices aren't great, honestly.  But their sale prices are outrageous.  Get it while it lasts.

Second, their website says their postcards are 14 pt. stock.  Did you request 12 pt. stock, or is their website wrong?

Quote
Order 500 prints of each card, 2 of my cards to a postcard, means I'm getting 1000 cards out of each postcard

Gotcha

Quotetwo different kinds of decks. End up with 250 total (125 of each kind).

This math baffles me.  I understand the 1000 cards per set of 500 postcards.  Totally get that.  But I don't get the above stuff (how you get 250 decks, with 125 of each kind).

Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

Veritas Games

Nate, who do you use for card cutting.  Our local finishing service in Boston have over a $100.00 fee just to set up for cutting.  I haven't checked at too many places, so I can't say whether all places are like this or not.
Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

Veritas Games

Nate, Overnight prints, while cheaper than other places on the net still seems to be expensive.  Let's say you want to have 250 decks with 50 cards each.  OK, they charge $40.00 per 250 postcards.  You get 2 cards per postcard.  So, you need 25 sets of postcards to make a 250 decks of 50 cards.  25 x $40 = $1000.  That's $4.00 per deck before finishing services or any kind of packaging.  That doesn't look workable with any kind of profit (except direct sales).  Nobody's gonna want to pay more than about $12.00 for an indy starter deck with 50 cards in it.  Wholesale on a $12.00 deck is $4.80.  So, you have 80 cents per deck to pay for art, finishing services, packaging, shipping, etc.

How are you making a profit?

Now, what I can see is this being a great way to make some limited supply convention give aways.  But this seems too expensive to sell through distribution (which is, in part, what you do).
Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

daMoose_Neo

I've been searching, hunting, and number crunching for months/years, and they are by far the best and the cheapest. And I usually only hit them when they have a sale or I have a sale code that has similar slashing. This is actually very common for them.
Part of it depends on how many individual cards you want. Start talking 50 different cards to a deck, yes you're talking quite a few. Start talking preconstructed decks with multiple copies, its still very VERY cheap. Even at 1000 postcards, thats 2000 playing cards for $65+ shipping. Thats $1.63 per deck before shipping, which only raises it pennies per deck. Nearest competator is GotPrint, who produces 4/4, 14 pt (My mistake, ONP *is* 14 pt) Collectors Cards, $70 per thousand. 

For my expansion decks: I have 5 new cards per deck, 2 new decks, plus Major Characters & Locations. I order 5 sets of 500 postcards. 4 copies of each card, as has become my standard for decks and boosters, you get 125 sets of cards. I'm also using full color paper inserts for the cover and back cover (another $.06 per deck), and trying to come up with a walkthrough ruleset/example for the mini-deck with the direction to go online for the full rules (about another $.05 per deck). I'm using BCW plastic cases ($.18 per via a resellers account I established with them) with large clear stickers to seal them (think like on software boxes, again only pennies per). Gives me a cost of around $1.60 per deck, before shipping. SRP is $6.00. Plenty of room for other costs and a little bit of profit in there.

As for cutting, my local copy shop has a hydrolic press, big producer of printed advertising material in the area. Provide the guidelines and they cut, about $8.00 per thousand. Before that, a friend works at the local college as an instructor to a printing and advertising course which also has a hydrolic press. Not the most accurate person, so I had to weed some cuts out, but otherwise spot on and he did it free. Getting them die punched or something similar will cost a lot more. Hunt, be flexable on what you need, these are key parts to assembling something like this indie. Mainstream, this wouldn't cut it; way too much leg work, too easy to have one plant print, cut, and pack. But for my operation, its perfect. Spend a weekend packing, save thousands. It works.
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!

Veritas Games

Nate, you and I should put together a website.  I can host it.  I'm most of the way done collecting the links, glossary of print terms, etc.  I'm trying to put together a web resource for people who want to either prototype a CCG or to sell an indy CCG.  I've seen 4 people ask questions on this in the last 2-3 weeks that either you or I have had to answer.  That's a sign that a small website would be useful.  We've researched different things (I've researched mass market production and purchasing print on demand technology).  You have the indy stuff down cold.  I'm certain some of our research will be useful to others.  If you want, as I have some time, I'll kitbash together the skeleton of a website and then let you see if you want to contribute.  Even if you don't have time to contribute, can I post links to the two postcard printers you have recommended?




Regards,
Lee Valentine
President
Veritas Games

Troy_Costisick

Heya,

Lee, I'd be very interested in that.  Make sure you let folks know if you ever make such a website happen.

Peace,

-Troy

Lance D. Allen

Hey,

Also want to drop my vote in the hat for this idea. I've stayed away from cards in my game ideas, but if it's even vaguely possible to do it affordably, it would definitely be something I'd be interested in looking in to. Either way, there's a mine of information in this thread alone.

Thanks, guys.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls