13 July 2018
A simple card game you can make your own
How you feel about Blank as a game will likely depend on your feelings about the Monopoly of card games, Uno. If Uno for you is a simple, light card game that’s enjoyable with the right tweaks, Blank makes for an interesting next rung on the ladder – at the very least, fewer people are likely to have heard of it, so it might be easier to convince folks to play. As perfectly servicable as it might be as just a game, though, where it shines brightest is as a launching pad for wannabe games designers.
The concept is a fascinating one: Blank is both a game and an exercise in game design. The basic gameplay is just that: discard a card that matches either the colour or number of the last card on the pile (multiple matching cards can be played at once). There are also a few Fluxx-style rule cards in play, which introduce very simple ‘if/then’ reactions: if you play a 3, the next player skips a turn. And so on.
The game begins to come into its own after a few rounds. You see, the winner of a match gets to create a new rule card or customise one of the number cards with an ability. There are some suggestions, but it’s essentially carte blanche. (A more structured version of 1000 Blank White Cards, for you fans of ‘90s public domain curiosities.) As such, the game gradually evolves depending on whom you’re playing with – you could go full-on with effects, or simply layer in some slightly more complex mechanics. And nothing stops you using the cards to just make your own unique game from the off, of course.
While there’s certainly the room to get wild and weird, nothing will change the very straightforward heart of the game, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. But for makey-doey kids or anyone who’s ever had an interest in fiddling with their own design, reckoned they know how to improve an unbalanced mechanic or just likes to get creative for a few minutes, Blank can make for an easy first step into understanding how games tick. Don’t be surprised when a future game designer says this is where it all started.
Designer: Henri Kermarrec
Artist: Rob Dalton, Winnie Shek
Time: 10 minutes
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