The Ultimate Geeky Card Game: Dvorak

If you like trading card games or even regular card games and you have a creative flair or a lot of weird ideas, you’ll love this card game. In fact, I’m going as far as to say it’s the “ultimate” geeky card game!

Dvorak is a “blank card game” that you create yourself. Sure, Magic: the Gathering has plenty of built-in rules and tournaments, it’s undeniably fun, and you can spend thousands of dollars on booster packs… but these TCGs aren’t the only option for card gamers. (There are similar “create your own” card games under different names, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m calling it by this one for the article.)

Less money invested doesn’t necessarily make it less fun, and it’s a great game for those who are totally broke, but happen to have blank trading cards, index cards, or even scraps of thick paper lying around.

The Premise

Dvorak’s main strength is easy to explain; it’s a very simple card game, but this doesn’t mean it’s a kiddy game. No, the simplicity of Dvorak (not to be confused with the keyboard layout, of course) lies in how versatile the structure of the game is. There are just enough rules that you aren’t lost as to where or how to begin playing, but not so many rules that it becomes a headache or you can’t teach your mother to play.

You can take an existing Dvorak deck and introduce people to it, or you can start from scratch and, before the game, hold a deck-building party with chips, pop, and a stack of index cards. You can print out pre-made decks that others have built or create one to torture your friends with humiliating drawn and written reminders of their past drunken adventures (and be prepared to be tortured in return, since you can add cards to the deck in the middle of the game).

The Rules

Because Dvorak is so very simple, there aren’t many rules to memorize. This is probably a welcome relief for anyone who has searched through rules booklets printed in 5-point, italic font to find the definition of a certain word or clarification on the meaning of a card.

There are two types of cards: things and actions. Things are played and stay, actions are played once and put in the discard pile. So a Thing could be played on yourself or someone else, an Action could interrupt the playing of a Thing or negate another Action being played, etc. Pretty straightforward, huh?

The game ends when you decide it ends. This means you can create a card that says, “You win the game if you have a Thing in play that starts with D.” Or you can create an elaborate system of points and make a card that says, “Name ten internet memes in the next thirty seconds to win 9001 points.” (Just be prepared for others to make cards that award them a million points. Choose your fellow players carefully; immature players and sore losers ruin the game.)

Most people have a deck, discard pile, and some kind of standard hand size and number of cards drawn per turn. You also typically have an area where Things “stick” until they’re discarded or stolen, some kind of a playing area in front of each person.

The Deck

If you lack creativity or you’re feeling lazy, you can look up Dvorak decks online and print them out. Google is your friend, but make sure you pick up printer paper or you’re prepared to battle people trying to see through regular printer paper.

For the more creative-minded, you can make your own through Photoshop, Paint, Microsoft Word, or Publisher. Again, print them out on card stock, cut, and play.

Perhaps the most fun way of making your own Dvorak deck is to hand-make it. That’s right, you get a stack of blank index cards and pens and go to town. Draw pictures (bad cartoons and stick figures are okay and increase the hilarity of the game), design title boxes and write funny quotes underneath the card text, parody existing card games, and do pretty much whatever you want. You just have to be able to read the card text.

…If there is card text, because you don’t have to have any. You can have a Thing simply exist in play, then add another Thing that gives it life, then stack another Thing on it that gives it the ability to attack other players. See what I mean by the unlimited possibilities here?

You can add to cards throughout the game. Some people mix in blank cards with filled-out ones and give every player a pen so they can fill out a card before playing it from their hand. This can get hilarious and hectic, and it’s best done when there aren’t any poor sports around the table – you’ll see why if you ever play Dvorak with one. Others keep blank cards nearby and let people fill them out whenever they have an idea, then shuffle them into the deck.

Try it Out!

If you love the premise, there are lots of optional rules, game variants, and directions to explore. You’re only limited by your creativity and what your fellow players want to experiment with. Dvorak cards and decks can still be traded, bought, and sold, and you have the pleasure of owning and playing a totally unique card game.

Have you ever played Dvorak? If so, I’d love to hear your hilarious stories of Dvorak silliness, and if not, give it a shot and let me know in the comments how it went!

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