Online virtual playing card deck?

edited September 2011 in Story Games
I did a round of playtesting for Horde of Corpses last night, which went really well - afterwards we discussed doing a Skype game, but there's a hitch: the game uses playing cards as the central mechanic. Is there a site on the intarwebs which provides a virtual deck of playing cards? It has to operate like an actual deck: everyone draws from a common deck, they can each see their hands and the cards on the table, but not everyone else's hand, and the deck should not be tied to a ruleset (i.e. an online poker simulator or something similar).


  • I've been looking for something similar for a play-by-post game of Primetime Adventures. In the absence of such a tool, I've just been using this:

    It doesn't provide a common deck, obviously, but it's effective and lets you copy and paste your draw as plain text. For PTA it's not crucial that there are no duplicate cards, since it's a matter of successes and failures.
  • edited September 2011
    Yeah - I need something that represents an actual deck, since the used cards influence what you'll get with redraws.

    Edit: Here's one for iOS...supports BlueTooth and WiFi - not sure if that'd be useful for a Skype game.

  • yeah, ideally we would need the card equivalent of this shared synchronized dice roller:
  • THIS x10.

    Something that would allow you to drag, flip, and shuffle cards/images. Extra gravy would be rotating and to allow for the creation of custom cards and decks. All rules agnostic, of course. That would solve my tarot for Fortune's Fool and dominoes for The Trouble with Rose problem as well. And, it could also be used for war games where cards are units. :-)
  • Maybe someone could mess with that program Apprentice, that people use to play M: tG...?
  • edited September 2011
    Vassal has a playing cards module that could be a useful starting point. playing cards vmod
  • edited September 2011
    Just was playing with the Piecepack module for Vassel. It has EVERYTHING I want.* Heck, there are even blank cards if you want to play Microscope with it. I just need to convince everyone I want to play with to download Java/Vassal, install, and learn to use Vassal. :-(

    * Well, everything 'thing', but there are some actions not present. It won't rotate tarot cards when it shuffles them. That can be fudged with a die roll on the turn-over of the card.
  • Yes, this x 10 as well. Needed for online Savage Worlds games.
  • What would be the minimal useful implementation for this?

    + one shared deck of 52 playing cards
    + can shuffle the deck
    + no one can see the cards in the deck
    + can pick a card
    + can turn the card and make it public
    + can move extracted cards around the table
    + can put all extracted cards back on the bottom of the deck
    + you get a unique url for every deck
    + all browsers pointing to the unique URL get synched every few seconds, effectively sharing the same table

  • + Each user connected to the same game/url has one or more "hands" that are visible to him and not to the other users.
    + Can put one card back in the deck, bottom
    + Can put one card back in the deck, shuffling
    + More than one deck (minimum 2) with different colored backs (red/blue)

    Nice to have but not vital:

    + Can rotate a card (in 90 degree increments, I guess)
    + Decks for each of the users connected to the same game/url, independent of each other
    + Arbitrary decks (this is bigger): potentially, supplying images for backs and fronts, and card lists in some standard format (csv?) could allow custom decks (Tarots, but also Freemarket, Ganakagok and so on).
  • edited September 2011
    Aye. The trick is to find a happy medium that doesn't suck down all of Graham's time and bandwidth. :-)

    FYI, Vassal + the Piecepack module has most of those features, including; hidden hands/public cards, 45 degree rotation increments, two decks, custom decks and backgrounds (if you know how to make a module or can get someone to do it for you.) The bottom of the deck thing is the only feature I think that's missing. Oh, in case it was not known, Vassal is free.
  • edited September 2011
    Not that it's helpful to you guys at the moment, but cards are on the planned feature list of EpicTable. I'm not sure if they'll be implemented for the 1.0 release, but they are definitely planned.

    A couple of things:

    1) This thread is super useful to us. The more requirements you guys post here, the more we can steal from this post to incorporate into EpicTable.

    2) If you'd like, post over on the EpicTable forums. John gets a lot of requests for things like movement tracking, hex map support, fog of war, etc., so those things get priority, even though they aren't really that useful to us personally as gamers (whereas cards are). If cards get more love over at the EpicTable forums...who knows what wonderful things that could produce.
  • Cool.

    Add to the basic list:

    + You should be to place cards in locations/piles. Like if you have a "discard pile" which doesn't belong to any particular player.

    Or, say, for a game where you make two piles of 10 cards in the middle of the table, and you have to, say, draw from the left pile when X happens, or from the right pile when Y happens, with something important happening when a pile runs out.

    These should be doable face up or face down.

    For instance, in some games you need to "place X cards face down", then only look at them later, or pass them to another player, and so forth.
  • It feels like 3 to 6 days of work for a good developer, depending on the fine touches.
    catchyourhare could also be somehow adapted to do this.
  • Just wondering, would people pay to get such a tool developed with some kind of ransom model?

    My gutstimate is that the market price of a good first draft for something like that would go from 1000$ to 3000$ depending on the refinement and I guess there are many many devs in this community.
  • I'd kick in $10 (my standard Kickstarter donation) if it would meet the feature set that I need (It's a pretty big list.)*

    In my head, the solution to executing a custom deck is that you would provide a URL for the custom deck (something simple like a XML file with a link to the images.) The deck XML layout would, of course, be freely available to anyone to create their own and host their own images.

    As for the dev part, sadly, I could build the thing in VB. But, that violates the web based part of the requirements. If I have to force everyone to use a client, then I might as well use Vassal for free.

    * Free, web based, shared table with multiple card owners under host control, player only peeking, card flipping, card dragging, shuffling (with rotation), card rotation, custom faces/backs, custom background, variable deck size to support tarot/dominoes, highlight a box on screen and only shuffle the highlighted cards (such as a discard pile), host export box: Dumps the state of the game as an XML file to a text box so the host can copy and save that locally or to a web site (would also allow a host to pre-build a layout), right/control click to either send a card to the fore ground/background.
  • I, too, would kick in a few bucks to make this happen - there are a lot of games I'd like to play over Skype that use card-deck mechanics (Freemarket being a prime suspect).
  • I wish I had the time to commit to this right now, but it is unlikely I will have any time for this before -at least- late november.

    The functionality is very doable, but the usability of card manipulation is not obvious (to me). Does any of you guys have some experience using a *good* user interface for manipulating cards and decks and can answer a few questions?
  • The only one that comes to mind that has some 'computer user' intuitiveness to it is: left click to select (and if the card owner, peek at the value), left click and drag to move, right click to open a menu of additional actions.

    If more custom controls are available, perhaps clicking and dragging from a corner activates rotation. And, clicking the edges will flip a card on its long or short axis. Changing the mouse cursor on hover/click might help.
  • When i was using Maptools, someone had made a module for card play. You could deal cards to each player from a deck, each player could view their own cards, choose to reveal them, discard them, play them etc.
    It required the GM to understand how to use maptools, and set something up, so it would be clounky and workable.

    The players could just connect to maptools, and do their chatting via skype as usual.
    If you're interested, looking or asking around here would find it:
  • has anyone tried Google+ Hangouts to see if it is possible to get this done on the cheap?
  • Hangouts have just rolled in an experimental version that includes extensions. I think you can share an arbitrary web page (in an iframe?) to all the hangouts participants.
  • I believe Battlegrounds: RPG Edition ( ) has a fully functional card deck.
  • Browsed the user manual, not a bad feature set. Not tarot friendly (all cards reset to zero degrees when shuffled), but you could easily make a custom 'domino' deck as well.
  • @renato is the page synchronized across all users?

    the explanation for the card deck is at page 127 in User Manual.pdf
    it feels a bit clunky though, I would rather go for a more drag and drop approach.

    I believe that the cards should have no crunch embedded in them. the cards should just work as real cards and all the rules should be in the players' head. that gives you maximum flexibility without need for programming.
  • I think it's just an iframe, it is the included page that has to do the sync... but you can also include a whiteboard and/or a google document, so that might work out.
  • Hi,

    I'm the developer of Battlegrounds: RPG Edition (aka BRPG), which Murgh Bpurn mentioned above (thanks MB!). I just wanted to chime in to say that I recently released a new virtual tabletop program called Battlegrounds Gaming Engine (aka BGE) that was created from the same codebase as BRPG, but is specifically tailored for boardgames and card games, and it is also much more modestly priced.

    Both BGE and BRPG offer two different methods of dealing with playing cards. As Ivan pointed out, page 127 of the User Manual explains one method; the other is explained on pg. 132, and on pg. 83-85. Both programs let you do nearly everything that has been requested on this forum thread, and do it without any programming, scripting, or XML editing. Things like putting a card at the bottom of a deck, pulling a specific card out of a deck, having multiple decks, creating custom decks, shuffling, drawing x cards at once, tapping a card, etc. are all in there.

    Best of all, it's available now. No need to fund a Kickstarter project or wait months or years for the program to be created.

    I have implemented many card games already, such as For Sale, Battle Line, Schotten-Totten, Aliens: This Time It's War, Thunderstone, Zombinion (a zombie re-theme of Dominion), Dungeon of D, Island of D2, and even Up Front. Most of these are available as free downloads (Thunderstone being the exception, but you can see images of the implementation here).

    Anyway, I hope you'll take a look at one or both of my programs. Both apps are cross-platform, rules-agnostic, and have a free Demo version that you can download to try out.

    If anyone has a specific feature request, I'd love to hear from you on the Battlegrounds Games forums.
  • By the way, I just released a new version of BGE today, so that is the version that I recommend you try out.
  • One of the guys I Skype-game with is blind, so any card program we use would have be be readable by his e-reader or convertible to text.

  • Can he read things like post-it notes on They appear to be text, but that's not written in stone.

    Here's a page from an Ocean game we ran a while back.
  • edited September 2011
    I'm not sure of the specifics of the programs he uses,but from what little I know I think that, yes, he could read that. It looks like the text there is actual text, not images.
  • edited January 2012
    Hey all - after a little searching today I stumbled across this:

    Virtual Deck

    It's a Java-based virtual card deck which does exactly what I needed it to. I haven't tested it with multiple people yet, but it seems really well done. You can specify # of players, customize the deck, each player has their own private 'hand' space, click and drag to manipulate cards on the table, online play via server connection, password protection for private games, etc. Looks really good. Oh, and it's free.
  • edited January 2012

    OK, if anyone's into Jabber bots, I've put a somewhat clumsy first implementation up on Github. It's tacked on to the meme-and-dice bot I use, and it doesn't handle load at all gracefully—it assumes that there is one game going on, and that everyone is part of it. But I suspect there are smart people here who will use this as a starting point. Fork it, push me patches, all that good stuff.

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