Small Card Game Print Runs


The guys at Neo Productions contributed lots of information to me when I prepared this article. They are experts on Indie card game production at low prices.

Well, you wake up and decide not to try Printing Overseas. Printing domestically you find everyone charges too much, and want you to print thousands of decks, and you know that simply will not sell. Alot of your local printers are likely incapable of finding true playing card stock or want to charge you a fortune. What is a designer to do?

First, you need to decide whether you are wanting to vanity publish a handful of decks for a high price, or whether you want to be able to actually make some money on your sales. If you want to vanity publish, a number of the custom %%Card Game Manufacturers%% have special setups to run under 50 decks (sometimes just one or two). They'll charge you $12.00 to $25.00 per deck, but you'll get your game printed and in your hands.

Let's say you want to be able to make some money on your game. You've now got two options:

  1. Invest in a lot of equipment to do some Print On Demand (POD) stuff yourself. This will cost you thousands of dollars, but you'll be able to make cards whenever you want. I may address this in a separate article, 'cause I'm expecting most of you aren't in this boat.

  2. So option two is to find yourself a postcard printer willing to print on 14 point (paper) C2S stock. 12 point might do, but 14 point is better. Get them to throw in a free coating if you can. Some are willing to do just 100 copies of each postcard. This is the option that that the rest of this article assumes that you are pursuing.

If the postcards are 4" x 6" you'll be able to fit two 2.5" x 3.5" cards on that stock. I'd advise you to give each of your cards a black border and to surround the cards with a substantially larger black border than you need (fill up the whole white area with black). Put two different cards on each postcard. If you can buy 5" x 7" cards, even better, as you can split those evenly into exactly 4 cards with two cuts. You'll need to order multiple sets of cards. How many sets?

Calculate your printing needs like this (for 4" x 6" cards):

(# of separate sets of postcards to order) = (# of unique card faces in deck) / 2

(# of decks you'll get) = (# of copies of each unique postcard ordered) / (# of copies of each card in deck)


Let's say you want a deck of 60 cards. In that deck you want 30 unique cards with 2 duplicates each.

You'll need to order 15 sets of postcards (30 unique faces / 2). If you order 250 copies of each postcard, you'll end up with 125 decks (250 sets of postcards / 2 copies of each card per deck). If you find a special online, you can get that for about $600.00 total.

Yeah. Cards. Ummm. Postcards.

Hmm. Now you need game cards. If your game doesn't have people holding the cards in hand a lot and doesn't require a lot of shuffling, you just have to cut out rectangular cards. You need to find a finishing service or someone with an electric card slitter or a hydraulic paper cutting machine. Have them cut each postcard into two 2.5" x 3.5" cards.

Yeah. Cards. Ummm. Cards with square corners.

OK, if you are trying to make playing cards you'll really want round corners. They cards will shuffle easier and the corners will take less damage when shuffled. You could pay the finishing service to round your corners. Check their costs to get an 1/8th inch radius rounded corner.

If you aren't comfortable with their cost, then for about $140.00 or so you can get a Lassco corner rounder and round the corners yourself.

Once the corners are rounded, you have your playing cards. But to sell them, you should read the article on Game Packaging.