There's an old card game I want, but it's been out of print for 15 years and currently going for >$1000 used. There are just 80 cards in the game, and I've got a friend who does own it.

My plan is just to scan the cards, print them two-sided, laminate them and cut them out with a knife. I could also get plastic pockets and print the front and back separately.

What are some common pitfalls in printing a card game, and what am I likely to have missed?

(Don't worry, of course I'll mail a fit donation to the manufacturers.)

  • 2
    I am not sure asking advice about potential copyright infringement is allowed on this website.
    – Colin D
    Aug 13, 2012 at 19:14
  • If you do not copy the actual cards (not using their images), it might not be illegal. (like magic workstation for MTG. and isotropic for dominion)
    – Colin D
    Aug 13, 2012 at 19:17
  • 2
    @ColinD It's honestly not clear that Isotropic and Magic Workstation are legal as much as they are tolerated - though I wholeheartedly agree with your first point. Aug 13, 2012 at 19:39
  • 1
    I am very curious, what is the game?
    – Andrey
    Aug 17, 2012 at 13:29
  • 1
    @Andrey: Yeah. And I want to own it, but not that badly.
    – Anna
    Aug 27, 2012 at 8:29

4 Answers 4


As commenters have pointed out, the copying that you are describing is illegal in most countries.

This isn't legal advice (and it depends on where you're located), but a quick Google search about copying and protecting card games seems to suggest that you probably can make a copy if you don't directly copy the artwork or wording used in the original game. It sounds like you can write out the rules in your own words, and make your own cards. Of course, some would say this is ethically questionable. And who knows what the issues are if the game mechanics are patented in some way.

(Don't worry, of course I'll mail a fit donation to the manufacturers.)

There's a better way. If the game is out of print, but the manufacturers are still contactable, why not just write to them? You can avoid the issue of illegal copyright infringement if you have permission.

Something like "I am really interested in a copy of this game. Is it possible to buy it from you still? Are you likely to reprint it anytime soon? If not, would you mind if I photocopied my friends copy and mailed you $70?"

  • 5
    Does this answer the question? It sounds like the OP is asking for practical advice with printing and laminating cards, rather than copyright concerns. Aug 14, 2012 at 5:54
  • 4
    I think it answers "what am I likely to have missed" :) Aug 14, 2012 at 6:35
  • If you have any legal concerns about what you're doing, I would actually recommend not sending the manufacturers money - it could easily be interpreted as an acknowledgement that you know what you're doing is in the legal wrong. Jan 30, 2013 at 18:26
  • 1
    @StevenStadnicki I'm not advocating sending them money in response to illegal infringement, I'm advocating asking them for legal permission to make a copy (and offering money). Feb 15, 2013 at 12:36

Copyright concerns aside, I can help with the printing. I recently made a 100-card game (actually a Fluxx variant) like so:

I printed out the cards in sheets of nine cards (onto standard A4 paper), then chopped them out with scissors. This might take a while if you've got too many, but 80 should be OK.

To make them more sturdy, I bought 100 penny-sleeves and got a bunch of old, unwanted Magic cards (try your FLGS or CCG-playing friends if you have none). I simply placed the printed cards (on paper) into a sleeve with a Magic card to make it firm and less vulnerable to breaking while shuffling/dealing/etc.

If the card-backs are significant (they weren't for me), you could print them out too and place them in the other side of the sleeve, but honestly that sounds like a lot of work. For instance, if there are two types of card, you could put some Magic cards in backwards, or use different CCGs, or different colours of Magic card.

Not particularly high-quality, but considering the cost is the cost of printing a dozen sheets of paper and about a quid for the sleeves, it's prototype-gaming on a budget!

  • Thanks a lot! Unfortunately I can't accept your answer, as I seem to have lost my login credentials.
    – Anna
    Aug 26, 2012 at 13:30
  • @Anna that's very strange as your comment is correctly attributed. Jan 30, 2013 at 17:58
  • @shujaa Actually it looks like there are two different users with the same name (the user IDs are different)
    – Johno
    Jan 30, 2013 at 23:14
  • @Anna I realize this is very old, but if you're still around and want your accounts merged, please e-mail team@stackexchange.com and we'll get things sorted.
    – Pops
    Feb 4, 2014 at 16:56
  • @Pops No worries!
    – Anna
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:45

I have just built a prototype for a card game. Since I was not using any art, I ordered the printing of the cards on those small business cards. They are thick and sturdy enough to last a long while and easy to shuffle too. The most of the card rules are common, so, not a lot of text needed to be on the cards them selves.


I'm also working on a custom Fluxx deck, have done a little research, www.makeplayingcards.com has a lot of customization options. Not sure they are the cheapest (but you can order a single deck if you want, $12 for 54 cards), but was referred by a friend who says quality is good.

Johno, would be interested in comparing notes on custom Fluxx decks...

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