Art Deck is a fast, fun, and occasionally chaotic drawing game for 2-6 players. You play cards to build up sentences that tell you what to draw and how to draw it - and then you follow those instructions, working together to create a collaborative artwork. Or, y'know, sometimes you cross out another player's contributions and draw your own over the top in the biggest marker you can find, if that's what the cards tell you to do...
Art Deck gets everyone drawing together on a shared sheet of paper, scrawling circles or drawing eyes, say, with your eyes closed or faster than the player before you. A game generally takes half an hour to an hour to play - although if you want to get the paints out and really go for it, there's no end to how long you can draw for.
"Art Deck is delightfully silly, and fun to play with both friends and strangers while critiquing any and all art that comes your way!" -- Casey Middaugh, player / game designer (Casework Productions)
Setup and play are really straightforward! In the middle of the table there's a sheet of paper for each round, and some drawing materials - pens, pencils, whatever you've got around.
In each player's hand: five cards.
There are three types of cards, all fragments of a sentence:
- Type 1: What to do. Draw circles, or scribble, or draw another player, or copy something on the page.
- Type 2: How to do it. In red, or as big as you can, half on the page and half off, with a colour nobody's used yet.
- Type 3: ...And something that makes it difficult. Draw while staring into another player's eyes, or with your wrong hand, or while checking your phone, behind your back, quicker than the player before you.
On your turn, you choose a card from your hand and add it to the sentence - and then follow the three-part instruction you've contributed to by drawing on the big piece of paper. Then the next player goes, then the next. The instruction changes card-by-card, and the drawing that you're making together builds up gradually.
There's just one twist: everyone starts with a single Sign Your Name card, and there are more that you can draw in the deck. On your turn you can play your card, sign the picture, and then take that picture away. It's yours now. You own it. It doesn't matter if you didn't even draw anything on the page - it's your art.
And at the end of the game, the person with the best art wins.
When people sit down to draw they can feel intimidated, under pressure to do something great. Art Deck takes the pressure off - how could you possibly make a great picture by tracing around something with a marker held in your fist, swapping hands every time someone else claps? The constraints free players up to feel the pleasure of drawing, without having to worry if they're good enough. We've tried the game with adults and families and kids, with friends and strangers, with artists and amateurs and people who haven't picked up a pencil in years, and the same basic game structure works for everyone.
And without that looming pressure, sometimes the pictures do end up good! The instructions change slowly, so each individual picture has its own personality - all in red, covered in circles, super-messy and crumpled, whatever it might be. We've chosen those instructions carefully and tested them over and over, so they encourage people to draw in interesting ways - using the whole page, experimenting with different textures, drawing strong lines.
Of course, the main reason it works is because it's fun.
"This isn't any old 'draw some pictures' party game. What I loved about Art Deck is the particular humor of the individual card prompts." -- Doug Wilson, player / game designer (Johann Sebastian Joust, Die Gute Fabric)
We have a couple of stretch goals which we're really excited about!
We've reached £12,500, so every backer will receive two new rulesets:
- a head-to-head mode for two players who want a bit of vicious competition; and
- a Consequences-style pass-the-paper quick-play version of the game that one moderator can run in 15-20 minutes for any number of players
You can read a bit more about these stretch goals in our update here.
Art Deck works great without expansions, but there are a couple of different directions you can push the game in, and that's what the expansions do.
The PARTY expansion. One way to play Art Deck is to focus on the fun of it - the weird instructions, the unlikely challenges, the cards that get you involved even when it's not your turn. Draw something while staring into another player's eyes, for example, or using your finger, dipped in something nearby, or but with all of you drawing at once. If what you're after is a fun night with friends, then our PARTY expansion is for you. You'll get 54 new cards, including more SIGN YOUR NAME cards and a new version of the rules so you can play with up to ten players. (Please note that some of the PARTY cards might not be appropriate for kids.)
The ARTY expansion. Another way to play is to focus on making something that stands alone as a drawing - something where the cards and the gameplay help to get everyone making and drawing together, experimenting with different techniques and building off each others' sketches. If that's what you're interested in, you want the ARTY expansion. It's full of 54 new cards that encourage you to experiment with your drawing, and provide gentle nudges towards trying out different compositions and techniques. We're also including rules for a single-player version of the game in this expansion, so you can use the game and cards as prompts for drawing alone.
Both expansions have the same card back as the core game but a different colour on the front, so that you can easily shuffle them into or out of your core deck depending on how you want to play.
£5: Print-And-Play. A pdf of the full deck and both expansions, available in low-ink and full-colour versions to print at home. Included in all subsequent reward levels.
£20: Just The Cards. The classic Art Deck set - 108 gorgeous poker-sized cards in a sturdy double box.
£30: Art Deck: Party Edition. Extra fun with the core game, plus another 54 cards focused on making the game as much fun as possible, with a few more Sign Your Name cards plus a variant ruleset so you can play with bigger groups.
£30: Art Deck: Arty Edition. Concentrate on the drawing side of the game. This reward will give you the core deck, plus the Arty expansion: a deck of 54 cards that get you building off each other's contributions and making something lovely, and a variant ruleset for solo play.
£35: Art Deck: All The Expansions. Play the game any way you want with the core deck, plus both the Party and Arty expansions.
£100: Art Deck: Ultimate Edition If you want to have a huge Art Deck night, or make really beautiful drawings with your friends, this is the reward for you. You'll get the game and its expansion decks plus our very favourite art supplies for playing with: some lovely paper, plus a selection of paint, paintbrushes, pencils, markers, and crayons, in a gorgeous array of colours that look good together, to help your drawings shine. We'll also include three unique cards that only you will receive in each Ultimate Edition.
£500: A Big Arty Party. Art Deck is a great game for an end-of-year party, an event, an arts festival, anywhere you want people to create together. For £500 we'll come to your home, office or venue and run an evening of Art Deck with you and your friends or co-workers. We'll bring all the materials you need and leave behind copies of the game, the expansion packs and of course all the amazing art you make over the course of the night. (Doesn't include travel/accommodation outside London - if you want to bring us to a distant island paradise to run Art Deck we are 100% up for that but you'll need to cover travel costs separately!)
Art Deck is being made by Matheson Marcault. We're a tiny London-based games company, made up of Holly Gramazio and Sophie Sampson. We originally made Art Deck as one of a series of drawing games commissioned for No Quarter by New York University in 2016. We made five different drawing games - but this was the one we loved and kept coming back to.
We developed it further as part of the London Creative Network programme, and we've been running it at events ever since - it ran at Night Games at Indiecade 2017, at BarSK in Melbourne, at Games Are For Everyone in Edinburgh, at Amateurs Club and at Beta Public in London, and at anywhere else where people have asked us to come and play.
"Art Deck makes art accessible in a fresh (and mischievous?) way. It was a strong crowd-favorite at the exhibition, I'm proud to have curated it." --Robert Yang, game designer and curator of No Quarter
If you're interested in the thinking behind the game, there's a blog post here about its relationship to instructional artworks of the 60s and 70s, and another blog post about how we've chosen the cards. We'll also be writing over the next few weeks about different aspects of the design process.
For this public release of the game, we've been working with designer Alex Parrott to make the cards beautiful and to make sure they're good to hold and easy to play with. We've worked with Alex on a lot of projects before and we really love his work; we're so excited to have him involved in Art Deck.
Our ideal timeline is as follows:
- End of June: Kickstarter finishes - final playtesting and card selection following demos of the game during June
- July: final design refinements, cards sent to print
- End of July / Auguest: Cards produced and packed.
- August: Card-only rewards sent out.
- September: Rewards including art supplies sent out
If we're unexpectedly super-successful and end up printing abroad, or there are other unexpected delays, timelines get longer, but we make delivery by the holiday season either way:
- August: Cards printed and shipped
- October: Ship arrives in the US, shipment goes into customs
- By November: cards clear customs, arrive in warehouse and get sent out to you.
Risks and challenges
So, this isn’t the first card game we’ve produced, though it’s the first card game we’ve Kickstarted together as a studio. Holly has been involved with a couple of previous successful Kickstarter campaigns - see Tiny Games and Karaokards.
We’ve already designed the game, and playtested it and refined it over the last year and a half. The Kickstarter is going to fund the printing and distribution of the finished product. We’re planning to use UK-based card printers we’ve used before, and have worked with them to fully cost the production process. There are risks around postage and distribution being more expensive than we have planned for, but we’ve done what we can to mitigate that.
There’s always a minor risk on Kickstarter that you might have catastrophic success and end up fulfilling thousands more orders than you're prepared for. So we’ve talked to a fulfilment house who can step in to handle distribution, logistics and customer service if it gets bigger than a small studio can handle, and have made backup plans so that we could move production to China if we got to quantities where that's necessary.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)