$402 pledged of $7,000 goal
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$402 pledged of $7,000 goal
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About

Contents

1. What is 'Star Cluster Playing Cards'?

2. What is its first game 'Westerlund 2'?

3. Origin Story

4. Future Games

5. Differences new genre 'Display by Matching' games can make!

6. Stretch Goals

7. More Images of 'Star Cluster Playing Cards'

Risks and Challenges

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1. What is 'Star Cluster Playing Cards'?

There are two editions of Star Cluster Playing Card Deck : Day Sky Deck and Night Sky Deck. A star cluster is in fact a group of stars which is bound by gravity in space. The poker-sized superior smooth(330 gsm) 64-card deck(16 numbers x 4 star colors) differs from 13 ranks x 4 suits of the standard one. The 4 star colors are blue, blue-white, yellow and orange based on star facts. Each of 64 cards symbolizes a small or large star cluster depending on the objective of each game including 'Westerlund 2' and other future games.  

With no joker or wild card or action card, my game's luck factor falls and players' predictability rises slightly. And my new game logic raises the predictability and lowers game luck factor a bit further up to the carefully chosen level. I don't create playing card games with either too much luck or too little one but I still enjoy those card games occasionally.

The front of card is minimalistically and mathematically designed based on methodically arranged and vertically/horizontally mirror-imaged patterns of four-pointed star symbols. Those patterns are perfect symmetries in the both of each direction.

Please draw two imaginary diagonal lines on each card linking two corners respectively. Those lines produce four triangles, two same triangles of left and right sides and another two same triangles of upper and lower sides. Now please look into star pattern of number 1 through 16 one by one, imagining those two diagonal lines and four triangles. Can you find something? Please try to decode where all stars of 16 cards are placed exactly. The answer is in the next paragraph. 

 All of stars are exactly placed only on two diagonal lines or inside of two same triangles of upper and lower sides. Inside both same triangles of left and right sides is no star. It symbolizes there are two areas in space, one area where ordinary matter like stars exists and the other area where dark matter exists.

The back of card is 'Westerlund 2', a giant star cluster close-up image by Hubble Space Telescope. I appreciate NASA, ESA and its affiliates for their awesome public service for all people.

Westerlund 2 close-up, Credit : NASA, ESA
(The back image of Star Cluster playing cards)

2. What is its first game 'Westerlund 2'?

Westerlund 2, Credit : NASA, ESA

 'Westerlund 2' is in fact a dazzling giant star cluster of about 3,000 stars in the Milky Way discovered by a Swedish astronomer Bengt Westerlund a half century ago.

The 10 to 30 minute game for age 6 years and up, is for everyone and every goal; children, youth, family, friends, young and old for fun, education, gifts etc. Its rule is simple and the game mechanism is just 'Matching' by color or number. Each player can choose easy strategy or hard strategy as they want. But whatever strategy taken, the game will be fun and exciting most of time. The reason is that the balance between the game luck factor and brain power factor, is maintained within some proper range constantly.

A game scene of 4-person Westerlund 2 game with Day Sky Deck

It can be classified into a new genre 'Display by Matching'. The rule is  simpler than matching games like Uno or Crazy Eights but there is a display area instead of a discard pile. The area represents 'Westerlund 2', a giant star cluster that all players build together while competing each other. The display area makes a big difference from other games in terms of game structure and strategy.

The dealer deals cards clockwise to each player.
2-person game : 15 cards to each one
3-person game : 15 cards to each one
4-person game :
12 cards to each one
5-person game : 10 cards to each one
6-person game :
  7 cards to each one 

The remaining stockpile is placed face down at the dealer's side, and the top card of the stock is turned face up and placed at the upper left side from dealer to start building the display area, 'Westerlund 2', a giant star cluster.

For very young kids or people who don't like numbers much, you may use only 40 cards from number 1 to 10 with 4 colors.
2-person game : 12 cards to each one
3-person game : 10 cards to each one
4-person game : 7 cards to each one
5-person game : 6 cards to each one
6-person game : 4 cards to each one

 Starting with the player left of the dealer, players display a card next to the last card of display area(or overlapping it at the side depending on the size of table or game mat) by matching star color or number with the last card. 

For example if the last card of display area was the fourteen of blue star color, the next player could play any blue star colors or any fourteens. Each row of the display area makes up roughly 7 to 10 cards.

A game scene of 4-person Westerlund 2 game with Night Sky Deck

To be precise, if a player has a matchable card in her/his turn, the player can display it or hold it deliberately and must draw a card from the stock. If the new card is matchable, the player can display it or hold it again deliberately and the next player plays. If the new card is not matchable, the player must hold it and the next player plays. The sort of  incident is quite rare but may happen under cut-throat game circumstances.

 If a player doesn't have a matchable card in her/his turn, the player must draw a card from the stock. If the new card is matchable, the player can display it or hold it deliberately and the next player plays. If the new card is not matchable, the player must hold it and the next player plays.

In short, for each turn a player can't draw more than one card form the stockpile. And a player can't display more than one card for each turn.

When a player asks how many cards are left in stockpile during a game, the dealer tells all players it if it is 10 or less.

When the stockpile runs out of cards and the next matchable plays will be done, the game ends and 'Westerlund 2' of display area is completed regardless of how many cards are placed in display area. If all of 64 cards are displayed at the end of game, it is called "Perfect Westerlund 2". It's a very rare occurrence.

The player who display all their cards most quickly or holds least number of cards when the game ends, takes first place. Other players take next places one by one based on the same rule. Sometimes two or more players take the same place if the number of cards they hold at the end of game, is same.

 A player who displays her/his second-to-last card must call "Stellar!" as a warning to others. If she/he displays the card without calling "Stellar!" and is caught by the very next player before the next player displays a card from hand or draws a card from the stock, she/he must disclose her/his last card to all other players as a penalty or sing a 30-second song titled "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" as a penalty. Its lyrics is below and the music is found at Youtube easily.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are!

* 2nd warning : Please don't sing it too good because some players may fall asleep during the game.

Flight to Star Cluster Westerlund 2, Credit : NASA, ESA, Affiliates
* To capture this image, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 pierced through the dusty veil shrouding the stellar nursery in near-infrared light, giving astronomers a clear view of the nebula and the dense concentration of stars in the central cluster. The cluster measures between 6 to 13 light-years across.

3. Origin Story

It starts with my card game story because my project is all about card game. During 4 years in college of science and math I played various playing card games and knew all about them. But I've been always a child advocate but I as a male person, never ever dreamed child-related career in such a hyper competitive and overly conservative society.

Laid off in 1998 by economic depression, my business went bankrupt in 2002. Unemployed I went to a tiny library with my 5-year-old daughter frequently. We read picture-story books sitting side by side and I fell in love with children books right away.

Next year we eventually moved to US and I found tons of excellent children books to read and also tons of freedom to pursue my dream in America. From then on I began to watch, think and love birds, cloud and stars in a not-so-crazy-busy Seattle suburb. My 4-year-long classroom volunteering at the Enterprise Elementary School of Federal Way, Washington State inspired me to work harder for children. My American Dream was to become a picture-story book author someday.

After 3 years of writing attempts I finally submitted my manuscript "Hyun's Promise : A journey of a little girl" to Lee & Low Books, a New York publisher in 2006 but was rejected. I desperately thought English was too big barrier to reach the book-writing expertise and I decided to do something else for children.

Rejection Letter, 2006

Since young I didn't like math but always studied hard under strict parent's pressure. After rejection of my story I studied math again in an uncommon way to understand the nature of math because I wanted to help children to grasp the fundamentals of math, not a bunch of formulas. My new dream was to discover the most effective way they can learn math.

But so surprisingly I began to love math I had disliked. It was a miracle I felt. Probably it's because my purpose of math changed completely. Soon math became my passionate hobby and I enjoyed math almost everyday. However, despite of 8 years of math work I didn't reach the best way children and youth can study math.

 Yet, instead of finding a new math method, I finally understood it was worthwhile both kids and adults become familiar with numbers. Numbers are the most important base of math and universal logic I thought. When people choose interests, hobbies, jobs or whatever, knowing numbers well can be useful. And I started to focus on only numbers and nature of numbers.

I declared to myself, "Forget about math and those words, 'learning' or 'studying' from now! Just help people familiarize with numbers!" And I asked myself, "What activities or pastimes can help them feel comfortable with numbers? Playing popular card games or zero-luck math card games over and over? Or trying foreign country's math method?"

Finally I envisioned the most efficient path to 'Numbers' is to 'Play Fun Card Games' driven by numbers and purposely-designed game logic, which can provoke buried curiosity of people about nature of numbers.

  After 2 more years of game work since focusing on only numbers, my final outcome is 'Star Cluster Playing Cards', its first game 'Westerlund 2' and another game invention in progress.

Looking back to the distant past, a journey to my project originated from my love of all children long ago and passed through lots of trial and error. And it eventually led to 'Star Cluster Playing Cards' and new genre of games for kids and adults together. Whether pursuing only fun or both fun and numbers, all people may enjoy my card deck and games with new game experience.

4. Future Games

My three principles of card game design are (1) the carefully selected balance between game luck factor and brain power factor, (2) the innovative game logic based on the essence of human mind and nature of numbers, (3) the simple game rule with almost no rule components players have to memorize. 

With those principles I am creating a next card game using 'Star Cluster Playing Cards' deck and may try another KS project for it. My future games' titles can be the names of celestial bodies such as galaxies, other star clusters and etc. People who already supported 'Star Cluster Playing Cards' and 'Westerlund 2', might enjoy the new game without paying a dime. 

5. Differences new genre 'Display by Matching' games can make!

Let me show you two examples of game situations 'Display by Matching' games can trigger during game. Please remember most of playing card games unlikely provoke those sorts of interesting game circumstances. These games really happened during my hundreds of game tests.

In a situation below during the game 'Westerlund 2', Player B has two options, to display yellow '11' or blue  '1'. Only 12 cards are left in the stock. Without display area, Player B would display yellow '11' because she/he has yellow '11', yellow '1' and blue '1' and the game is played clockwise by matching color or number with the last card, blue '11' of display area.

But with ample game data of display area, Player B may display blue '1' because eight yellow cards and thirteen blue cards appeared so far in display area. It means more yellow cards may be held by other players. Besides there are more strategic points to be considered owing to display area like the respective number of card '1's and '11's placed in the display area. In fact I tested both options and the result is that when she/he displayed yellow '11', the player took 3rd place but when she/he displayed blue '1', the player took 1st place.

* Players' hands are disclosed only for convenience purpose to explain the game situation better. In a real game, players' hands must be concealed.

The next example is below. Player B would display the blue card of '9' without display area and take 3rd place. But with game data of display area, she/he might try to avoid the last place by displaying blue-white of '1' or '13' because only 11 cards are left in stock and no '9' card appeared so far in display area which means other players may hold any of three '9' cards. In fact I tested it and the result is when she/he displayed blue-white of '1', she/he took 2nd place instead of 3rd place.

Let's compare two display areas of two different games above. There are 17 times star color changes in the first game and only 10 times star color changes in the latter game. We may imagine the first game indicates more dynamic and turbulent building of Westerlund 2, namely, more violent formation of a giant star cluster. It can be a fun to count the number of color changes at the end of game to review the game.

6. Stretch Goals

$ 19,500 :  Star Cluster logo tuck box to all decks ( white color tuck box for Day Sky Deck, black color tuck box for Night Sky Deck)

only Night Sky Deck tuck boxes shown above

7. More Images of 'Star Cluster Playing Cards'

Risks and challenges

All the decks will be printed at MPC which is a familiar company because it's a successful Kickstarter creator as well as a partner of some Kickstarter creators. These are the features of the reward:

*330 gsm superior smooth
*64 traditional poker-sized cards
*Shrink-wrapped
(If it reaches the stretch goal, $19,500, a custom tuck box will go with every deck.)

The fulfillment service body will be a local company or MPC or Amazon depending on the size of total rewards. Whether things go awry for some reason or not, I promise to keep you updated as often as I can. The corporate ethics is my first priority in running a business.

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