I thought I’d post a quick update about a small design decision I’ve just made, while you all wait for your cards.

One of the main reasons I did the Kickstarter for Constraints Cards was to let me create a deck of cards that would last.

Cards that could take the kind of damage that comes from rumbling around in a Crumpler bag, being blu-tac’d to the wall occasionally, being shuffled absent mindedly for hour on end, and being thrown at colleagues from time to time.

Cards that would still look and feel great after a lot of use. They could age, everything ages, but they shouldn’t look broken. They shouldn’t just collapse or look bad suddenly.

I’ve had various samples going through just that kind of use and abuse for the past few months, with mixed results. Some have been actual printed test decks, some have just been samples of existing cards using different processes / stocks / finishes. They’ve all been rumbling around in my bag together.

On day one my favoured finish was a smooth paper with a matt lamination. I love the look of a matt lamination finish, it feels great to shuffle, it seems to make the cards feel stiffer, it looks amazingly rich, and generally makes the cards awesome.

That is the finish you see in the sample shots on the kickstarter page.

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The usage I put my cards through was a little too much for the laminate though – it started to give up – to rise – and to peel away. The cards look pretty old within a few months. They looked like they were dealing with the aftermath of some serious sunburn.

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This was mainly down to mistreatment I think, but we all know things get mistreated. They get thrown in your bag at the end of a hack (‘I’ll put them in the front compartment with my keys – they’ll be ok – I’ll box them tonight’), shuffled around on your desk endlessly, used to prop up your mac when it sounds like it’s away to overheat.

So that kind of lamination is out, lovely though it looks.

Uncoated paper is out too. You have to be able to shuffle cards, and after a decent amount of use, any uncoated paper is going to fray enough to make shuffling an absolute frustration. And people suffering from absolute frustration don’t learn very quickly.

The hardest wearing finish has been a straightforward playing card style plastic coating. Still on a flat smooth paper stock. This gives the cards more of a ‘poker’ feel when using them, which I actually like, but doesn’t go as far as the linen texture and super thin paper.

They’ll feel a bit slicker / smoother, and look a little more glossy than the matt finish prototype in the kickstarter photos. Overall though, I think they’ll look and feel great, and I’m confident that they’ll stay that way for a long time.

I’ll post some pics as soon as I get a hold of the latest test deck using this new finish, which I suspect will be the finish I go with. Fingers crossed!

Shameless plug time – point your chums at the Constraints store to pick up a pre-order if they missed the kickstarter.