As a follow-up to my Designer Diaries post about playing card specifications, I’m going to dig a little deeper on one of the details: Linenizing.
No, that’s not a Scandanavian electronica band. “Linenizing” refers to the process of adding a clothlike finish to paper products; in board games specifically, it refers to adding a clothlike finish to cards and boxes. Even if you’re a not a game designer, you’ve probably seen it before. To give you an idea of what it is, take a look at the pictures below. These are a shot of one of the Cannibal Morality cards from the blind beta testing version of Osprey Adrift. One isn’t linenized; the other one is.
For you product nerds out there, this is 305gsm ivorycore paper with matte printing and an aqueous finish:
This is the exact same paper weight and printing quality as the above card, but this one’s linenized:
Linenizing gives the paper a nice textured look and feel, but then again, “nice” is completely subjective. Some people might prefer the look of a flat surface and the feel of a smooth card between their fingers. I’m not even sure which I prefer. What’s more, there are some other things that make linenizing a difficult choice for game designers. Below, I put together a list of some of the major pros and cons of linenized cards.
- The look and feel of the cloth texture
- Some see it as more “professional”
- Adds a little extra weight to the card
- Can help prevent cards from sticking together when shuffling
- Can help with picking up the card off the table
- The look and feel of the cloth texture (some people prefer a smoother texture)
- Increases the cost of the card (perhaps less than $.01 per card, but it adds up.)
- Can reduce the “snap” of the card
- Some people have reported linenized products getting moldy over time – can be a problem if you store your games somewhere humid
Another option for cards—albeit an expensive one–is plastic. I won’t get into the specific details of plastic cards in this post, but I get goosebumps at the very thought of a high-quality poker card *snapping* when you lay it down on the table.
What about you? Do you prefer your cards linenized? Not linenized? The clean *snap* of plastic? What’s your perfect card look and feel like? I’m curious to hear, because the final product details for Osprey Adrift are taking form, and there’s a lot of these nitty gritty decisions to be made – I want to hear what you guys think!
Until next time. Keep it plucky,