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[SOL] BattleForge: Shadows Over Lyr - a print & play card game

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:deck: Shadows Over Lyr (SOL) is a pet project of mine, spanning over 30 hours to create and finalise. The intention was to retain the art of Battleforge and turn it into a thematic, printable (i.e. physical) card game that’s perfectly balanced and playable.
Skip the dark grey text and jump to the Story and gameplay paragraph half-way below if you don't want to read about the history of how this project came to fruition.

Behind the scenes
My first choice was to create duel decks by copying Magic the Gathering cards, which I had to relinquish mainly because Wizards of the Coast don’t take kindly to copies of their card game. Creating mechanics mimicking MtG would’ve been fine, but not balanced enough to truly enjoy as an end product. After going through iterations of some of my beloved card games, I’ve finally decided to base SOL on the highly acclaimed Lost Cities. Which – due to its abstract nature – can be played using an expanded standard deck of cards, lending itself beautifully to iterations.
The rules of SOL are easy to learn but the gameplay is ripe with tension and tough decisions, which has made Lost Cities so well received and sought after by gamers and non-gamers alike.

I used card frames without the artwork, and stripped these of their power and orb counters, the rarity indicator then rebuilt missing parts to create a clean template for each card.
Card artwork was used from the original Battleforge files (thanks to @bobfrog for collating these, and to @MrXLink for offering his help in locating a missing one), then flavour text was added at the bottom of each. The developers of Battleforge have come up with lore for 19 creatures per faction. I’ve read each of these, and based on the creature and how interesting the lore was decided to pick 12 per faction.
The other reason why the cards were stripped clean is to replace the original barebones font with a display font that’s – in my opinion – gives cards more personality. The black bleed area around each card has been doubled, then replaced with a white trim to protect the edges of physical cards from damage caused by wear and tear.

For the fifth faction/colour, I’ve combined a gold frame with the textures of the original black frame and used mostly legendary creatures to create another 12 cards. All card values were allocated based on the original power cost. Card backs were created from the map of Lyr, a flourish design used in the Battleforge lore book and layer styles.
There were also five ‘location’ cards made without text and two rule cards included on a black solid card template to re-iterate each game phase and scoring to both players.



:deck: Story and gameplay (thematic flavour text in italic)
Like a dark, ominous storm cloud creeping through the darkest crevices and gleaming mountain tops, an unknown force is gathering over the land of Lyr. You and another Skylord have been alerted to this presence and decided to deal with the incursion. After several key locations have been identified as the main target of this mysterious enemy, negotiations between you and the other Skylord have ceased. Now it’s a frantic race between the two armies, seeing who will be able to repel the impending shadow and secure the knowledge held within these sites of power.

Shadows of Lyr is a two-player hand management and set collection game. The objective is to achieve the highest overall score after three rounds by sending out the largest army possible for each faction, while hindering your opponent who’s trying to do the same.

Game components:
2 identical game rule cards
5 location cards with horizontal layout
45 creature cards (9 for each faction) ranging from numbers 2 to 10
15 scout cards (3 for each faction) with no numerical value

Give each player a game rule card to provide them with a quick reminder of game rules and scoring system.
Place the 5 location cards – also known as ‘sites of power’ – face up between the two players, in any order you’d like. These will act as dividers between the two Skylords’ armies, and as discard piles for roaming creatures of corresponding colours.

Shuffle the remaining creature and scout cards into a single deck of 60 cards, then deal 8 cards face down to each player. Place the remaining pile of cards face down within both players’ reach.

Then the game begins. Players alternate turns and must take two actions each before ending their turn.

:deck: Play a card from your hand. You have three options here:

1. Start a new column of cards.
Place a card below one of the sites of power of matching colour on your side of the play area. As an example, units of the Nature faction may only be sent to reinforce and protect the green site of power. You’ve now committed to that location and have to do your utmost best to send enough forces to repel the enemy when it strikes against your army.

2. Place a card at the end of a column you already started.
If you already have a card played below one of the sites of power, you may choose another unit from your hand to strengthen the defense. This unit must be of corresponding colour to the previous card played, and to the site of power it will be guarding from the enemy.
This card must also have a higher value than the previous number in that column.
Be careful, as scouts must be sent to a site of power before your main army arrives. This will give them enough time to entrench themselves, gather information and explore the area to give tactical advantages to your main forces.
As an example, you may play up to three scouts per site of power of a colour – however once you place a unit that has a power value, you can no longer send scouts to that location.

3. Discard a card.
When discarding from your hand, you must place that card face up on the matching colour of a site of power.
Units discarded this way become roaming creatures, not part of either Skylords’ forces until enrolled in an army.

:deck: Draw a card into your hand. You have two options here:

1. Choose one of the top cards from the five discard stacks (if any).
You may take any face up card irrespective of their colour, as long as it’s not the same card you’ve just discarded.
Units you take control of this way become part of your roster to reinforce your armies on the field when necessary.

2. Take the top card of the draw pile.
The unit you’ve summoned this way becomes part of your roster to reinforce your armies on the field when necessary.

:deck: Now it’s your opponent’s turn.
Once a player draws the last card from the draw pile, the round ends immediately (the last card from the draw pile can't be played).
The above indicates that both Skylords have ran out of time and are unable to summon any more creatures. The mysterious shadow descends upon the land of Lyr and its forces lay siege to each of the five sites of power.

:deck: Scoring:
Cards in your hand, and scouts placed on the battlefield are worth zero points.

1. For each faction (colour), add the card values together for each column on your side of the playing field.
This is the sheer strength of your army. If you haven’t placed any cards below a site of power, skip that location.
As a Skylord, you’ve decided not to commit any of your units to come to the aid of that site of power, endured neither losses nor victories, and have no knowledge of enemy activity in that area.

2. Subtract 20 points from each column where you’ve placed cards.
This is the power of the enemy forces at that location, determining whether the Skylord was able to repel the enemy force, seizing the site of power to themselves.

3. Multiply subtotals by the number of scouts +1.
Your scouts give your main armies tactical advice and strategic knowledge about the battlefield:

In case you failed to dispatch enough forces and the enemy prevailed, your forces have perished and your scouts scattered. Not only have your lost your creatures, your scouts have been taken hostage, exposing your weaknesses causing a major blow to your overall strategy.

In case your army has prevailed and destroyed the forces of shadow, your scouts have exploited the enemy’s tactics allowing you to turn their weakness against them. You’ve achieved a glorious victory.

4. Add 20 points for each column with at least 8 cards.
Your superior army has ruthlessly decimated the enemy forces and eradicated the surviving stragglers, wavering the morale of your foe.
Finally, add each column’s points together to form your victory points. The Skylord with the highest score begins the next round, preparing for another impeding attack. Whoever has the most victory points after three rounds is the winner of SOL.

:deck: 3-player game variant:

Plays exactly the same as the original base game of SOL for two players, but with the following differences:
- location cards are only used as scrap piles, as everyone will play cards (i.e. start columns) in front of them
- only 7 cards are given to each player at the beginning of the game, as opposed to the standard 8 (unless you're playing with 72 cards)
- enemy forces have 15 power per location, as opposed to the standard 20
- you receive 15 bonus points for each column with at least 7 cards, as opposed to the standard 20 & 8 split
Basically, 8 becomes 7 and 20 becomes 15 :) Please note this game mode has not been tested with 72 cards (6 factions) therefore slight tweaking may be required if you're adding the Forgotten to the mix.

This is what a typical game of SOL would look like from one of the Skylords’ point of view. The other player would be placing cards on the opposite side of the discard piles, where the explanation texts are:
And finally, here are some interesting tips and strategies to take into consideration:
-    be careful what you discard, as your opponent may want to use that card
-    you could discard cards with the intent of picking them up later, but in doing so you’re also giving your opponent the same option 
-    cards you keep waiting for could be at the bottom of the draw pile or in your opponents hand
-    would you risk playing high value cards with the intention of denying them from your opponent, even if that means losing points for that colour? 
-    make sure valuable cards in your hand get played, as once the last card from the draw pile is gone the round is over
-    be cautious about starting a new column, as once you place the first card in any given colour your opponent will try and deny those faction cards from you
-    you can keep discarding cards at the beginning of the game to guess what your opponent is after, but this might set you behind
-    if your opponent discards a card you want, do you take it right away and alert them to the fact that you want that colour?

:deck: DOWNLOAD LINK: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/2v2lkal7pliop/Shadows_Over_Lyr
There are now three files in this folder:

BF_SOL.zip - first edition of SOL (standalone, not compatible with any of the below)
This is the deck of cards you need to print to play the game. All of the above videos, photos and pictures were made with these images and cards.

BF_SOL_revised.zip - revised edition of SOL with small cosmetic tweaks
Font size for card values increased by 25% ; gave more emphasis to Shadows Over Lyr text on cardbacks ; canvas proportions constrained to 63:88 ; white bleed extended by 2mm per edge
Please note that there is no difference in image quality or gameplay between the first and revised editions.

BF_SOL_expansion.zip - expansion set containing 12 new cards as a new colour (the Forgotten faction) ; requires revised edition
This is an expansion to boost the number of cards to Printerstudio's standard of 72 (6 factions x 12 cards each) i.e. as long as you don't use/print location and reference cards from the base game.
The expansion is only compatible with the revised edition due to cosmetic tweaks, and is not required to play the base game of SOL. Two main reasons why this was created: 1) Lost Cities has just received an expansion adding a sixth colour 2) to provide meaningful choice to people who want to use up their 72-card slot at Printerstudio and don't care about rule reference or location cards

Click here to look at a comparison photo between the two editions.

Many thanks to @Avire for pointing us to http://www.printerstudio.de/machen/blanko-spielkarten-63x88mm-personalisieren.html in his thread. Printerstudio also has an American website at http://www.printerstudio.com/personalized/custom_playing_cards_blank_cards.html which is a tad more expensive unless you actually live in the States. The UK website is defunct according to their customer services, so please use the German site if you live in Europe (i.e. the first link).

Have fun playing SOL with your partner, friends or gaming group!

Edited by Ilsyde
slight tweaks to text
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6 hours ago, bobfrog said:

wow, you really did invest time in this

3-4 hours each day after work. Enjoyed it, and I'm glad to have gone through with it all... Really looking forward to playing this card game with my partner.
SOL or something similar would've been my entry to the BFR Contest anyway.

It was a long time coming, as I always wanted to create a BF themed card game but didn't have the necessary skills in Photoshop to do a semi-professional job.

1 hour ago, Sykole said:

Down to create a simple .NET multiplayer card game with the cards? I already have the base code for abilities, tricks etc. Code will need some tweaking since I was lazy to finish the server connections

Sounds like you already got it under control! PM me if you require something I might be able to provide.

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Received the deck of cards from Germany today. They've turned my order around in two weeks, which is pretty good in my opinion.

Quality-wise the digital print is crisp and clean - the colours are rich though slightly on the darker side. Text is easily readable. Only noticed one minor print defect so far on the back of a card. I ordered the linen textured paper, as these are more sturdy and feel pleasant to the touch.

Unfortunately the cards were front-slit which is a bit unprofessional. This means the faces are fairly uniform however the backs are unevenly trimmed. The movement isn't terrible, we're talking about a millimetre or so. I guess they've done this because even the extended bleed was barely enough on the cards - if you look at the pictures, the white frames are very thin compared to the originals. Noticed the kiss-fit dye cut on @MrXLink's cards as well, which is why I doubled the bleed area. Even so, I barely got away with it...

Overall pleased with the purchase. I've paid 15+6 Euros (15 for the service, 6 for postage) which is the price of the original card game! Thanks again to @Avire for recommending Printerstudio.

Youtube video of the cards with an easter egg at the end in the first post. But here are a couple of photos:



Will share my impressions and final verdict after playing the game.

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On 02/09/2016 at 11:28 PM, SilenceKiller99 said:

Look awesome! You make me jealous with those fancy cards

No need to be jealous, you can now print your own! It's well worth it in my honest opinion.
They do look fancy, thanks to the lively BF artwork. I'll be taking mine on holiday to play, and whip it out in front of everyone. The deck I mean :D

On 03/09/2016 at 4:38 AM, Drifter said:

Looks great, I might have to get the frost sorceress card :kappa:

Got skimpy-clothing Moon as well! Check the youtube vid in the first post for your viewing pleasure.



Right, so me and my partner have tried SOL for the first time. At the end of the first round she understood scoring as well, and wanted to go again. She liked it even more after the second round, and since we've played the final - third - round she's been nagging me to play again. I'd say that's a success ^_^ We've played board games together (Pandemic, Port Royal, Carcassonne, Pathfinder etc.) but this was the game she liked the best next to Magic the Gathering. It looks simplistic but it's the exact opposite when you're playing and have to make hard choices.
The cards look very nice when layed out and her opinion of the flavour (lore) texts was also positive. I'm thinking of making the numbers a tiny bit larger and extending the white trim. Not sure, as I kinda like these cards the way they are.

I should think it's well worth a copy, even if your gaming group is oblivious to Battleforge. They probably won't be after playing this, especially if they take fancy to the lore when reading the cards.

Here is how our second round has ended:


I also updated the first post to make it more user friendly and put the youtube video there.

If you get SOL printed and have played it, please post your feedback. I'd like to think it was time well spent on my end!

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Brought my deck to work with me today to show my colleagues the vibrant print and paper quality of the cards. While I was going through the deck, one of the managers walked past and said "that game looks really cool, how much do you want for it?". So now that my original deck is gone... :lol:

...I started working on a revision with some small cosmetic changes (larger numbers on the cards etc.) to have another deck printed, but this time on plastic because SOL turned out to be into something I want to keep in my gaming collection. All thanks to Lost Cities of course, as I'm not the one who came up with the gameplay.

The revised files should be up by the end of the day. I've got the original project saved, so it's just a question of making some small tweaks then re-assembling each card one by one.

On 05/09/2016 at 0:26 PM, MephistoRoss said:

Nice work, the game seems nice and the cards look awesome. When I return from my holiday I will also order the cards. I am already looking forward to play the game. Thanks for your hard work with making these.

Now lets see which 5 Battleforge cards I will add to reach exactly 72 cards for the order.

Glad you like it. I'm adding a sixth 'colour' to make the mandatory card count 72, however that also means no room for location or rules of reference cards. Unless one is willing to go up to 90 (that person won't be me).

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3 hours ago, Ilsyde said:

Brought my deck to work with me today to show my colleagues the vibrant print and paper quality of the cards. While I was going through the deck, one of the managers walked past and said "that game looks really cool, how much do you want for it?". So now that my original deck is gone... :lol:

Look at you, even making money from it :P Next time you want to tweak something you should totally go there with the cards again, if you know what I mean :ph34r: :money:

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30 minutes ago, Ladadoos said:

Look at you, even making money from it :P Next time you want to tweak something you should totally go there with the cards again, if you know what I mean :ph34r: :money:

Haha, no I can't sell or monetise it. That wasn't the idea behind this project. But... maybe I should run it past EA and strike a partnership :blight:
It turned quite a few heads at work because of the paper quality and its appeal, which is great. Guess it's hard to resist Battleforge artwork.


I've updated the original post with additional links (SOL revised edition and expansion set). Also added a 3-player variant I recently read about and had the opportunity to try.

Would also like to point out that currently - if you're thinking about ordering a copy of SOL or anything else from Printerstudio - there is an option to request a €5 voucher just by entering the e-mail address you've registered with. That should (almost) negate the delivery cost, bringing down the price considerably. Fortunately I noticed this before placing my new order.

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8 hours ago, Ilsyde said:

I've updated the original post with additional links (SOL revised edition and expansion set). Also added a 3-player variant I recently read about and had the opportunity to try.

Would also like to point out that currently - if you're thinking about ordering a copy of SOL or anything else from Printerstudio - there is an option to request a €5 voucher just by entering the e-mail address you've registered with. That should (almost) negate the delivery cost, bringing down the price considerably. Fortunately I noticed this before placing my new order.

Great, and thanks for the tip. Do you think that this will be the final version or am I better off waiting a little longer before ordering (in case you make some more changes)? 

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9 hours ago, MephistoRoss said:

Great, and thanks for the tip. Do you think that this will be the final version or am I better off waiting a little longer before ordering (in case you make some more changes)? 

It's a very valid question. At the end of the day this is a physical item and would be really unfair to have it changed and updated.

Also, there shouldn't be a reason to do so. The revision was created because I wasn't too happy about the thin white trim around the cards and wanted to increase it (I'm anal like that). Then shared it with you guys. However, some of you might not want the wider white frame. It also depends on which company is printing the cards and how much they trim them by. That white bleed is massive, if you look at the originals. The rest of the changes are superficial. 

I'd still say choose one of the two versions depending on your preference. But no, there won't be another version. I've taken this opportunity to add the expansion that Lost Cities has just got, though no one is sure at the moment as to how the additional colour will affect gameplay. Some people seem to think it just elongates the game and doesn't add any value. It's too early to tell, the copies were only just distributed at GenCon. 

You can wait till I get the new deck for a comparison, but - again - you might not like the experimental changes that were made anyway.

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The new deck has arrived. This is the revised edition including the expansion with the larger card face values and wider trim.

Below is a comparison between the original (top, on linen paper), and the revised (bottom, 100% plastic) cards. The photos were taken at separate times of the day, hence the colours are off.
As I said in my previous post, choose one of the two versions that suits your taste better.


And here are the cards for the optional 6th colour (The Forgotten expansion)

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On Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 11:43 AM, MephistoRoss said:

I just placed my order (with the expansion) :)


I'm sure you've received your copy by now, but have you had time to try the game itself? 

Also, have you ordered standard paper, linen paper or plastic? Are you overall happy with the end product?

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Just a quick heads-up, guys. If you want to celebrate the imminent release of BattleForge open beta with a deck of Shadows Over Lyr, now is the time to do so.

Printerstudio - the company we use(d) to have decks of cards printed - have a 20% money off deal going until 6th of Feb using the voucher code LIEBE. It's supposed to be for Valentine's day... Not sure what that might be... Some form of a pagan holiday perhaps? :kappa: Anyway, link is still in the first post.

If you need help with the German website, simply click on the link at the end of the first post that'll take you to their "Blanko Spielkarten 63 x 88mm Personalisieren" page.
Now select the paper quality you want (300gsm is standard cardstock, 310gsm is premium linen i.e. textured, 330gsm is upgauge gloss and Kunststoff is quality plastic that'll probably outlive you like your children are going to).
Anzahl is the quantity, go for 72. Packaging is fine on Folienverschweisst (i.e. shrink wrapped) unless you want to pay stupid amount of money for a flimsy box.
Next, click "Gestalte es"... I actually like to shout GESSSTALTE ES!!!1! when I click that button because it's German so you're supposed to shout when speaking to scare others around you who don't speak or understand the language.
In the small pop-up window click the blue Anderes Motiv link. Now click on the green Bilder Hochladen button, select all card faces/backs from the SOL archive you downloaded and extracted to upload them. Once that's finished, drag&drop them one by one onto the left to fill up the 72 slots.
Then you click the orange Weiter link twice, until that small pop-up window reappears. This time we need to click the blue Das Selbe Motiv. Drag&drop the single cardback from the SOL archive to this one template. Click the orange Weiter twice to get to the preview page. Make sure everything looks good before scrolling to the bottom of the page to click Zum Einkaufswagen.
On the checkout page you have your details on the left, and the delivery address to the right. Don't forget to scroll down and enter the Valentine's day code LIEBE otherwise they're going to rip you off big style.

Alternatively you can get 5 Euros off if you scroll to the bottom of the main page and enter your e-mail address (the same address you're going to use to checkout). This is only valid on orders exceeding 15 Euros and only for new customers.

Happy gaming.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 1 year later...

hi there!


Amazing game you made! Im just wondering do you still have the blank cards in digital form? I mean without the lore. I would like to make my own little game but im bad at photoshop so i cant really make nice clean cards with only the pictures in the middle... If you dont have them np. just asking 🙂

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