Flying Card Games (are exactly what they sound like)



If some of the games I describe below don’t already exist, I’ll eat a meeple. I don’t know because I haven’t looked. These games popped into my head independently and I’m too lazy to doodoo diligence to see if I’m reinventing the wheel. There’s always a teensy chance I’m the first, in which case please hail me as a conquering genius. Anyway the inspiration is Daniel Solis’ Ten Pen – it’s not a flying card game but it got me interested in learning how to throw cards. Here we go:

Most of us have amused ourselves by throwing playing cards into a hat. Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day did it 4 hours a day for 6 months. It’s addictive. Why don’t I know many games built around throwing playing cards? The likely answer is I’m an ignorant shut-in, but let’s pretend not.

Below are games I invented without playtesting – think of them as thought doodles rather than finished games. I’ll update this post as I refine them and invent others.

Flying Card Golf

1. Get a bunch of board game box tops (perfect for a convention), tape, and a marker.

2. Make a “golf course”. Use the tape to mark the floor-spot from which the players must throw their cards (i.e. the “tee”), and use the box tops as the “holes” (the players will try to throw their cards into the box tops). Place each box within a single throw’s distance from its tee. Place boxes at different angles and heights, and place them past obstacles and near “hazards” (anything can be a hazard – it can be stuff like: if your card hits this chair, a point gets added to your score, etc). Label the hazards as such with the tape/marker.

3. Each player gets say, 5 playing cards. Make sure the cards for each player are uniquely distinguishable.

4. Play: At each “hole”, players take turns trying to throw a card into the hole. Each player gets a number of points equal to the number of attempts required to get all his cards into the hole from the tee. Lowest total points at the end of the course wins.

5. Alternative: if you have a giant space to play in you can make this game more like real golf by making long holes, giving each player one card, and counting the number of throws needed to get that card into each hole. But who has that much space?

Frantic Flying Card Golf

Setup is same as above except there are no hazards. Play: at each hole, all players try to throw their cards into the hole at once. After you’ve thrown all your cards, run to pick up those that missed the hole, bring them back to the tee, and keep going. You can only move onto the next hole after you’ve gotten all your cards in the present hole. First player to finish the course wins. Probably best for 2 players, for space considerations. If playing with more than 2, you might need to start different players at different holes if you want to avoid traffic jams (but maybe you don’t). Here again, if you have a giant space, you can play the “more like real golf” version described above. Either way, I can’t see how this won’t be insane fun.

Flying Card Matrix Duel

Safety Glasses. 10 Paces. Midnight. Each player gets a deck of cards. You must keep your feet planted but you can do Neo-style Bullet Time dodges. Take turns throwing at each other. You get a point each time you hit your opponent. Most points after decks are exhausted wins (with sudden death overtime for ties?)

neo dodging bullets
like so

Flying Card Dodge Ball

Dodgeball with cards. Wear (safety) glasses.

Flying Card Balloon Battle

Yes, that kind of balloon battle
Yes, this kind of balloon battle

This may not work as I describe it – I can’t quite envision the dynamics – I include it for future tweaking.

1. Prep: must be played in a big space, like a basketball half-court. All players start at the court’s edge, facing the center. Tie three balloons on strings to the back of each player, just like in the original game. Place 2 “flags” (e.g. t-shirts) at the midline of the playing space at spots 1/3 and 2/3 down its length, respectively.

2. Play: the game takes place in rounds. In each round, all players simultaneously throw a card. Alternatively each player can choose to change her orientation instead of throwing a card. You can never change your orientation otherwise and must keep your feet planted.

3. If the card you throw lands behind you, you’re disqualified (i.e. your throw must be in the general direction of your orientation).

4. If you throw a card and hit an opponent’s balloon, she loses it (you’ll have to tell a player when you hit her balloon, as she’ll be paying attention to her own throw when this happens – the game depends on honesty).

5. A player is disqualified if she loses all three of her balloons.

6. After the card you throw comes to rest, you must walk to that spot and pick up the card, facing in the direction of the walk.

7. After all players have moved to a new spot, a new round starts.

8. Any player who manages to pick up a flag and carry it back to her starting spot wins the game instantly. Otherwise, the last player with a balloon wins.

Flying Card Darts

Find or make a mail sorter (preferably with fairly big holes) and label the different holes with different point values. Play dart games by throwing cards into the holes.

Mail Sorter for Flying Card Darts
p.s. this is a mail sorter

Flying Card Bocce

Just like Bocce, but with cards. You’ll need one uniquely identifiable card to serve as the Pallino, in addition to sets of uniquely identifiable cards for each player. I LOVE BOCCE.

Flying Card Special Powers

Here’s an actual novel suggestion. This isn’t a game, but a design framework from which lots of games could be designed.

The best thing about cards is they can have special instructions printed right on them. No matter what flying card game you’re designing, consider how to include special powers.

Example: maybe players throw cards into some big playing area and the proximity of the cards determine which cards do battle with which. Maybe on each turn you throw your card from the last space where you did battle. The battle resolution mechanism can be cribbed from any number of battle card games, but generally speaking, the text on the cards resolve each battle and each player can choose which among a hand of cards to throw. One card resolution mechanism comes immediately to mind: the one from Lord of the Rings: Confrontation.

Another example: it might be cool to replicate the feel of games with actual flying themes, like X-Wing, for example.

Or what about a card game in the style of a CCG or Living Card Game? One interesting aspect of the possibility is the cards will take physical damage as they’re used, and maybe get harder to throw accurately. While the idea will make card-sleeving CCG players recoil in abject terror, I like the idea of incorporating the effects of real physical damage into a game.

Flying Card Werewolf/Mafia Style Game

I’ve no idea what this actually is but I want to play it. Maybe wolves can only kill villagers in physical proximity and must throw cards to get to them (and must be able to somehow “scramble” their locations after killing but before villagers wake up).

If you see me at a game convention, and I’ll drop everything to develop or play a flying card game with you, even if I’m in the middle of closing a deal with Hasbro to replace Monopoly with one of my own games. I’m sure there are a lot of games to be designed in this space.

P.S. To learn how to throw cards with alarming force and violence, watch the embarrassing video below. After watching it I was immediately able to throw a standard Bicycle playing card 30 yards. Apparently, skilled practitioners can fire off cards more than 100 yards. GAMBIT IS REAL.

Finally, here’s some kind of wizard doing impossible things with business cards:

Nick Bentley

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