Why round corners on your board game or card game cards? There are a few reasons. Empirical evidence suggests that cards are easier to shuffle with rounded corners. By far, the main reason to round corners is the longevity of the cards. Look at your old collection of sports cards… see anything that stands out? Unless they were sleeved from day 1 (and NO one did that back then) they have boxing, peeling, bends, creases, separation, and color loss at the corners. I know I want people to play my games for years; and like everyone else I strive to create the “evergreen” game. That just can’t happen if players get the wrong idea about quality due to the breakdown of your components, namely your cards.
So when quoting your game be sure to specify rounded corners. Some companies give you choices, most notably 3mm (about 1/8 inch) and 5mm (a little less than ¼ inch). The difference in those radii are shown below with a peak at the ship cards from Ventures in the Void. Standard poker size cars are 2.5 × 3.5 inches / 64 × 89 mm, and bridge size playing cards are 2.25 × 3.5 inches / 57 × 89 mm. Both “standard” types of cards have a corner radius of about .25 inch / 6mm.
It’s up to you which you prefer. Remember to account for radius corners when designing your cards! This does affect your “live” area which I talked about the last entry.
Some printing companies don’t ask what radius you prefer as they already have a die cutter that cuts standard sized cards with their standard radius. Ask up front how your company handles radius corners. It will be MUCH cheaper to use a die the printing company already has rather than have a custom die created.
When creating prototypes it is not necessary to hand round the corners on your cards, but you CAN. By far the cheapest method is to use scissors or a precision blade/rotary cutter. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS! Cards that are not identical in size cannot be shuffled properly – so keep that in mind. What I DO recommend, if you are set on rounding corners anyway, is to purchase a punch online that says it does 1/8 inch or 3mm corners or ¼” or 5mm/6mm corners. Be sure to line up the card with the guides each time and you should get uniform and nicely rounded cards. Sorry, for precision you cannot punch more than one card at the time. Remember before taking this on that 100 cards have 400 corners… and if you get tired by the end mistakes can happen. Not so bad if you are printing yourself, but having to go back to a quick print place for two cards is really going to ding the wallet.
I do not support or advertise for any specific retailers – but the easiest way to find a corner punch is either in the scrapbooking section or your local hobby and crafts store or search “1/8 inch corner punch rounder” in your favorite search engine and switch to the “shopping” tab.
Have any prototyping secrets for board game cards? I’d love to hear them!