Dead Man's Draw is a simple and strategic card game of risk and reward for 2 to 4 players. Players take turns drawing cards and combining their special abilities to plunder the most loot without busting their entire hands.
How do you play?
The core of your turn in Dead Man’s Draw is all in the flip: pulling the top card off the deck and using its special ability. Your turn isn’t over until you say it is, though. You can keep pulling cards as long as you like – until you play a card of a suit already seen, at which point you lose everything. Knowing when to stop and "bank" your cards is the biggest decision you make in Dead Man’s Draw, but being too timid lets braver opponents pass you up with bigger, more profitable turns.
A – Player 1's Hand
B – Draw Pile
C – Discard Pile
D – The River
E – Player 2's Hand
The cards’ special abilities are key to success in Dead Man’s Draw, and they build off of each other. Each suit in DMD has an effect that the player can target when they flip a card of that suit.
Anchor – Keep everything you drew before the Anchor even if you bust.
Cannon – Destroy one card an opponent has previously banked.
Chest – Double your haul by banking as many cards directly from the discard pile as are in the river when you bank the Chest – but only if you also bank a Key.
Hook – Play one of your previously banked cards.
Key – Enables the Chest special.
Kraken – Oh no! You’re forced to draw at least two more cards.
Map – Draw three cards from the discard pile and play one.
Mermaid – No ability, but worth more points (Mermaids are numbered 4-9 instead of 2-7).
Oracle – Look at the next card before deciding if you want to play it.
Sword – Steal an opponent’s previously banked card and play it.
Many of these work well together, like using a Hook to re-play a Sword from your hand to steal an opponent’s Chest to go with your Key – racking up huge points by playing abilities well and not solely through the luck of the draw.
As soon as the deck is depleted, players total up the value of the highest card they’ve banked from each suit. High score wins.
Once you’ve wrapped your head around the basic game, you can start adding in the optional and variant rules included. Each player can pick from one or more special trait cards with game-wide effects, like forcing opponents to draw even more cards off the Kraken or choosing from the entire discard pile with a Map instead of picking from three. Additionally, special rules can change up the way a game plays. Scoring depending only on the number of cards banked instead of the value of cards, for instance, can change up the strategy quite a bit..
What people are saying
"Fun and easy to play" -- 4/5 from 148apps.com
"A great mixture of dumb luck and strategic gameplay" -- 4/5 from appsmile.com
"Dead Man’s Draw is a fantastic mobile game experience and a wonderful inaugural iOS showing for Stardock" -- 8.5/10 from capsulecomputers.com
"Who translated these goofy pirate themed icons into such clever gameplay rules? And would they hurry up and make more games?" -- 4/5 from quartertothree.com
"I’ve now played through almost all of the single-player content and have killed my brand-new 5S’s battery twice." -- 4/5 from pockettactics.com
Where did Dead Man's Draw come from?
Back in the beginning of time (2007), a mod for Civilization IV called Fall from Heaven expanded to include a card-based minigame called Somnium. This simple game was an attempt to distill strategy games down to a single decision of risk versus reward, asking players to keep drawing cards and risk losing everything or to play it safe and bank the cards already flipped. Somnium achieved that goal, but never grew beyond being an embedded minigame in a fan-made mod.
A few years later, Fall from Heaven creator Derek Paxton is the head of Stardock Entertainment instead of a modder in his spare time, and Somnium’s basic ruleset forms the core of our first iOS game: Dead Man’s Draw. The team at Stardock Mobile has expanded quite a bit on the concept, though. Special abilities didn’t exist in Somnium, for example, and so DMD has a lot more interaction and strategic depth than the old minigame ever did.
During development of the mobile game (which released last week on the App Store), the team printed off a few physical prototype decks to quickly test new rules and abilities with. These proved popular enough around the office that we decided to explore the options available for a wider physical release of Dead Man’s Draw.
Stardock Entertainment is a video game company, not a tabletop game manufacturer. We don’t have the history, the expertise, or the connections to get into that industry – nor do we really want to. At the same time, we have been having a blast playing the physical version of Dead Man’s Draw and want to share that opportunity with anyone who might be interested.
We’re not out to make money on this Kickstarter; it’s priced out so that we just about break even if we’re funded at our base goal (which doesn’t even count the time we’ve spent putting together the Kickstarter itself). Any additional funding will be plowed right back into the product, so backers will get better card stock, higher-quality finish, and even foil-edged cards if we blow away our funding goal.
Risks and challenges
Stardock is a digital software and game developer. While some of our previous games have included physical items as bonuses, we've never tried to create or print a card game of this scale on our own. Since this is our first foray into card printing, problems may arise during the printing process or finalizing of the artwork.
We're confident we can complete the project and get it to you on time. Despite our lack of experience in printing and card game-making, we have a great team focused on the project and looking at every little detail.
If we make our funding goal, there is basically no risk to backers that they won’t receive the product. Design is done, and we’ve priced out printing and manufacturing costs. The only real risk to backers is the chance that the game might not be as fun as you’d like, and that’s unavoidable by the very nature of Kickstarter.
We of course recommend that you try out the iOS version if you’re curious; at $1.99 it’s less than half the cost of the print-it-yourself Digital Pack on this page. We’re confident that Dead Man’s Draw is a top-shelf game unlike anything out there, and we hope this physical edition will help get it in front of as many people as possible who enjoy the same kinds of games that we do.
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