I Want My 1000 Blank White Cards
A few weeks ago an old gaming buddy of mine was in town. He introduced me to a game that literally blew my mind. The game is called 1000 Blank White Cards (or 1KBWC). It was invented in Boston by Nathan McQuillen and has since spread its undergroundish way around the world.
A few weeks ago an old gaming buddy of mine was in town. He introduced me to a game that literally blew my mind. The game is called 1000 Blank White Cards (or 1KBWC). It was invented in Boston by Nathan McQuillen and has since spread its undergroundish way around the world. Here's the story of how 1KBWC was invented, taken from Nathan's Site:
"THE STORY, if anybody is remotely interested, is extremely simple. I was sitting at the Cafe one day, musing, staring off into space, across the room, past the booth, where a woman sat making flash cards. As my no doubt fatigued, caffeinated brain tried to find some good or wholesome thing to cling to, it lit instead on the wording on her box of cards. It read, 1000 BLANK WHITE CARDS. I read it as the GAME of 1000 Blank White Cards, and therein was born..."
The rules of 1KBWC are simple: each player draws five cards to start. On each player's turn, they may draw a card and play a card (often on top of another card). That's it. The game has no defined rules for limiting how cards are played, how points are scored or how someone wins. Play is guided entirely by the players' imaginations. The only theoretical end to the game is the 1000 card limit posited in the name. Here's why I love 1KBWC:
- It's incredibly simple. You can explain it to anyone in two sentences (they may not get it, but hey, you can only supply the rules, not the imagination).
- By its very nature it's free and open. The idea of trying to sell 1KBWC as a product is ridiculous. To my mind this takes us back to the very root of what gaming is all about.
- It plays with the imagination. Let's face it: if you don't got it, you shouldn't be gaming.
I suggested a game of 1KBWC to a group of friends, confirmed non-gamers all, and it was a smashing success. By the end of the evening everyone was making up rules, drawing their own cards and having a generally fun time (maybe the multiple Long Island Ice Teas had something to do with it).
One of the cool things about 1KBWC is that cards are created out of the players' twisted imaginations. For example, "Pissed on by a holy man (+1000)" is one of the cards in the original set. Decks grow and evolve over time and each group has its own unique deck. There's also a random card server.
But I couldn't just play a few games and let it lie, no, I had to try and create a 1KBWC-like game of my own.
At the time, I was moving out of my old apartment and my computer was in a number of boxes, so a 1KBWC computer game was out of the question. What I did have, was about a dozen long boxes of Magic: The Gathering, Dune CCG and way too many other card games that none of my friends play anymore. I decided these would be the raw materials for my game. In my game each player brings a constructed deck of 40-400 cards taken from any mix of games they please. This is also where my game gets its name. Being the creative sort I am, I called my game "Mix" (for the record, my wife wanted to call it "Pastiche". She brings the vocabulary to the relationship).
I wanted a 1KBWC-like feel, so I decided to retain all the rules of 1KBWC. Players draw five to start. On each player's turn they may draw a card and play a card. Like 1KBWC, Mix is best played in a group of 3-6 people. Now in my opinion, that's a game, but some of my gaming friends wanted more structure. They wanted some guidelines to settle the inevitable disputes. With this requirement in mind, I added some house rules. These rules are considered completely optional and mutable depending on the taste and needs of the players.
We wanted a game where cards kept the feel they had in their game of origon, but one where they could interact with cards from other games in interesting ways (after all, who can resist a Lanowar Elf armed with a lightsaber?). House rule 1 is that all cards retain the abilities they have in their native game.
This still leaves us needing a way to resolve interactions between cards from different games. House rule 2 is a suggestion to solve this. All interactions between cards will be solved by the text on the cards. If the text offers no solution, then the pictures may be used. This is important if you're using art cards or Everway story cards, which don't have text on them. If the pictures don't offer an obvious solution, then the card with the most support takes precedence over the card with less support. Here's what I mean by support: a card gets one support for each card played on it. This means our Lanowar Elf card with a lightsaber card played on it has one support and would beat any card with no cards played on it (zero support). Simple, eh?
Finally we need a way for someone to win the game. A lot of ideas were suggested by my friends, but none of them seemed to be quite right, so we decided to leave this open. You can win a game of ""Mix" using the victory conditions of any game whose cards you are using. This means you can win by applying a good old fashioned Magic-style beatdown, building an unbeatable Illuminati power structure or, possibly, getting a royal straight flush. Figure something out.
One of the biggest opportunities offered by Mix is in the deck building. Because you can play a card (any card) from you hand each turn "for free", decks from games like Magic play even better in Mix than in Magic. Some crazy combos are also possible using cards whose text has generic terms like "location" or "hero". A Babylon 5 CCG card that allows you to fetch a "location" from your deck is a great way to get powerful Illuminati cards like "Texas" and "New York" into play. And I don't even want to think what happens when you put Trivial Pursuit cards or properties from a Monopoly game into your deck.
Mix is definitely a beer and pretzels game as opposed to a serious tournament game. You've got to be ready to play fast and loose. If you're getting into lots of disputes, I suggest you let all the players vote on the interpretation of any card in dispute. If you take the additional step of letting player create rules by vote or otherwise while the game is being played, Mix could even evolve into a self-modifying game in the style of Nomic. There are lots of ways to expand on the basic rules. Have fun!