You should know several important factors when choosing the paper for your game cards. Core color will provide a particular snap and resilience, while a quality finish can add a premium feel.
The finish helps with the handling of cards and shuffling. Most big-name publishers use a performance coating that creates a smooth, consistent feel for cards.
Card games like the board game Sleeves require some wear and tear, so it is essential that the cards you use can handle the regular handling and shuffling. Typically, playing cards are printed on cardstock, which is thicker and more durable than standard printer paper. The cardstock can also be treated with various finishes to add aesthetics and functionality.
The most common cardstock is a blue core with a smooth finish. This is the standard professional standard USPCC uses, and many other reputable publishers, such as Panda GM, also offer this stock. The blue core helps the cards look more polished and has a good snap when snapped back into place.
Another popular treatment is foiling. This involves adding a 5th color into the CYMK printing process and adhering a thin layer of hindering to the card. This creates a premium holographic look to the cards. The foiling is often paired with other treatments like lamination for a finished product that is both durable and looks great.
The texture of a card can make or break its playability. Cards with a smooth or embossed surface can feel different and create a unique player experience. The texture can also affect how cards hold their shape and snap back into a deck of cards after being played.
There are a few different textures for cardstock: Smooth, Linen, and Air Black. These are the common types of finishes used to produce playing cards. A smooth finish is often described as a soft suede or flower petal, while a linen finish has a cross-hatching pattern that creates an “air cushion” for an optimal shuffling feel.
LPCC and EPCC cards have a smooth finish that gives them a crisp snap when they spring into place. They also have clean edges that help prevent clumping during a shuffle. Other card finishing processes, such as metallic inks or foil film, can add a premium feel to the cards.
Card colors are important because they give your cards a unique look and feel. A deck of cards with a simple design or bold colors will be instantly recognizable and appealing, while a card with more detailed features will have a more challenging time catching the eye of those looking at it from afar. The color of a card can also make it more noticeable when shuffled or laid out on a table, as well as add to the satisfaction a player gets from “springing” their cards. The reason that red and black colored cards are so prevalent today is due to their ability to stand out on white paper.
Aside from core color, embossing is a great way to bring extra excitement and character to your cards. Embossing creates a raised, tactile surface you can feel with your fingertips. It works exceptionally well on heavier card stocks and detailed dies, adding depth to your design and taking it to the next level.
Embossing can also help to differentiate your cards in a crowded marketplace. A subtle, elegant embossed logo or wordmark can make your cards stand out and leave a lasting impression.
Lastly, the thickness of the paper stock (also called gsm) plays an essential role in the durability and feel of your cards. A high gsm will result in a stiffer deck, while a low gsm will give your cards a more flexible and natural feeling. For euro and poker-size cards, a gsm of 350 is recommended. This will give your cards a nice snap when you fan them, and they will hold their shape well without becoming unnaturally stiff.