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Games played with other types of cards or tiles

This page covers various cards and tiles that are not of any of the standard types dealt with on other pages of the index of games by type of equipment. There are separate pages on games played with cards with French, German, Latin and Swiss suits, games with French and Italian suited Tarot cards, and games with domino tiles and cards, money cards, chess cards, flower cards, Indian circular cards, numeral / colour cards and single suited cards.

The cards discussed on this page include a few traditional types not covered elsewhere and a vast array of cards specially produced for various proprietary commercial games. The traditional types will be covered first.

Traditional games

Quartet, Happy Families, Authors, Jeu des Sept Familles
These cards are for playing games of the quartet group, similar to Go Fish. Typically the pack consists of sets of four or more related cards, which the players try to collect. Special cards for this type of game have been made since the late nineteenth century. Card designs are based on a wide variety of subjects. The sets on earliest British cards were families (husband, wife, son, daughter) in various trades or professions. Early American cards depicted famous authors.
Old Maid, Schwarzer Peter
These cards are for playing Old Maid and related games. The pack consists of a number of pairs of cards (or sets of four cards) and one or two odd cards - the old maid or black peter - whose holder at the end of the game is the loser. These also date originally from the late nineteenth century, and the designs are based on a wide variety of themes.
Combined Quartet / Schwarzer Peter
Some packs combine the above types by having sets of four cards plus one or two odd cards. They can be used for Quartet (omitting the odd card) or for Old Maid (the sets of four are collected in pairs, as in Old Maid played with the standard pack).

Commercial Games

It is difficult to give a comprehensive survey all the different types of cards used for commercial games. New types of cards for new games are continually being published. A selection of specific commercial card games is listed on the commercial games page of this web site. Certain types of pack do recur:

Suited cards and number / colour cards
Many commercial games - perhaps the majority - are inspired by games played with a standard pack of cards. For these games a suited pack is often produced. The suit symbols, the number of suits and the number of cards in a suit will vary - usually they are different from those in a standard pack. Often these packs use different colours instead of symbols for the suits and numbers to indicate the ranks, in which case they can be thought of as a type of number / colour cards.
Alphabet cards
Each card shows a letter of the alphabet (sometimes more than one letter), and often also a number used for scoring purposes. These are generally used for games in which the objective is to form words. Lexicon, which was published by Waddingtons in the UK in 1933, is a well-known example.
Themed cards
The design of the cards may be related to the theme of the game, which could be almost anything - sport, cooking, transport, fantasy, gardening, space travel or whatever suits the game designer's purpose.
Tabletop games: Rules and Strategy