Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I based this game on my love of letters and typography. I chose the name based on the meaning of the word abecedarium (“an inscription consisting of the letters of the alphabet, almost always listed in order”) and because the letters a, b, c, and d appear in alphabetical order (highlighted by their bright blue color). To contrast the white and bright blue letters, Payne’s gray became the solid background. This became the back of each card. The card face is simply the letters (see examples below).

Regarding construction, I printed out the faces and backs of the cards, cut them out with an x-acto knife, and used rubber cement to adhere them to cardstock and give each card some body. I left the edges sharp and crisp (the cards feel more precise) and used the standard card size of 88 x 63 millimeters for comfort.

Designing the cards is largely an aesthetic process, but behind design lies the idea of use, and practically speaking, card games are a tactile activity.

There are four categories, each with three choices:
  1. letter (a, b, c)
  2. size (72, 108, or 144 pt)
  3. number (one, two, or three letters)
  4. color (roman, bold, or italic)
The object of the game is to create as many sets as possible. A set is composed of three cards that, within each category, have all alike or all different. As with most games, it’s easiest to illustrate through examples:

These cards are a set. They all have the same letter (a), size (72 pt), and color (italic), and they all have different numbers (one, two, and three a’s). Note that by looking at any pair of cards, one can immediately and invariably deduce what the third card must be to complete the set.

These cards are also a set. They all have different letters, sizes, colors, and numbers.

Although the requirement of “all alike or all different” is fulfilled for the letter (b), size (72 pt), and number (one, two, and three b’s) categories, these cards are not a set due to color. It would be, however, if the third card were roman, if the first card were roman, or if the second card were italic.

The game begins by placing twelve cards (ideally 4x3) on a surface. Once a set is made, those three cards are moved into the discard pile, and three new cards from the deck are put in their place. The game is over when the deck runs out and there are no more sets. This game can be played alone simply as a mental exercise, but if playing with others, the winner is the person with the most sets.

Typefaces used: Georgia, Palatino

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