a series of interesting choices thoughts on game design from paul sottosanti

sprite wars: collectible business cards

Sprite Wars is a collectible card game played using my business cards. I wanted a game that can be learned quickly and played in only a few minutes, requiring a small number of cards per player, so I chose to modify Tic-Tac-Toe to add more strategy and make draws less likely.


  1. Each player shuffles their stack of cards with the game sides face down. Stacks should have at least four cards and ideally six cards. (Scroll further down this page if you want to learn how to get more cards.)
  2. Each player draws and reveals a card from their stack. The player who revealed the card with higher power* places it on the playing surface. Cards should always be played with the bottom of the image facing its owner.
  3. The player with the lower card now places their card within two spaces of the higher card (so that both cards fit within an imaginary 3x3 grid).
  4. The player with the higher card takes the next turn and the players alternate after that. On your turn, draw a card and place it in an unoccupied spot in the grid**.
  5. Each arrow on the new card that points at an adjacent opposing card represents an attack. Count up the total power of all of your cards that are adjacent with an arrow pointing at the defending card. Then count up the the power of the defending card plus any of your opponent's cards that are adjacent and have an arrow pointing at it. If your total is higher, remove the defending card from the grid and put it on the bottom of its owner's stack. If the attack was initiated by a double arrow, also draw a card and place it where the defending card used to be. This new card does not trigger any new attacks.
  6. The player whose turn it is decides which order to carry out the attacks. Cascading attacks where the first arrow takes out a key supporter and allows another attack to win are possible.
  7. The winner is the first player to get three of their cards in a row horizontally, diagonally or vertically. If the grid completely fills, the game is a draw.

* If the cards have the same power, the card with more arrows (double arrows count as two) is considered to be higher. If they are still the same, both players put their cards on the bottom of their stacks and draw a new card.
** If the full grid isn't currently defined, then you can place your card on either side of the existing cards. You just can't make a move that would cause the grid to be larger than 3x3.


  • Tell me about your favorite obscure game: +1 card
  • Tell me about a book that will make me a better game designer: +1 card
  • Talk to me about a specific post from this site: +1 card
  • Challenge me to Sprite Wars and win: +2 cards
  • Follow me on Twitter or mention that you already do: +2 cards


  1. If both players agree and have at least a seven card stack, each player flips a card from their stack at the beginning of the game and sets it aside. The winner takes both cards at the end of the game.
  2. If your cards are "marked" due to printing inconsistencies and you can tell which cards they are from the front, you can instead draw from the bottom of your stack and place dead cards back on the top.

Thanks to Oryx for the use of his lo-fi sprite set!

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  1. This is way better than a brick & mortar estbialshment.

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