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:

non linenized card.JPG

This is the exact same paper weight and printing quality as the above card, but this one’s linenized:

linenized card.JPG
Those cross-hatches tho.

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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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,

Nick

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