The Singularity Deck
Universal Playing Cards
The Singularity Deck is a universal playing card system that allows for an immense number of games to be played including modern and traditional card games. Check out this geeklist for a variety of games compatible with the Singularity Deck.
Pick up a copy of the deck on Drive Thru Cards.
Become a Singularity Games Patron to get access to print and play versions of the deck, along with the the deck's layout files and art assets as part of the Multideck Maker project. Patrons also help me make decisions about the future of the deck.
The Singularity Deck: Third Edition consists of the following sets of cards:
A stand-alone deck with ranks
0, A, 2-120, J, Q, K, T, Omega
Third edition is a work in progress
Print and play files available to Singularity Games patrons
A special suit that sits between the Earth and Cosmos sets
Third edition is a work in progress
Print and play files available to Singularity Games patrons
The Design of the Singularity Deck
The singularity deck was designed to:
maximize versatility, usability, and compactness. Ultimately, throughout all of its iterations, my goal is to design a deck that people would carry with them and enjoy playing with. There are many multiuse card decks, however balancing the number of systems on the cards and usability is challenging. Getting this part of the design wrong can lead to a deck that ends up being a chore to use. The Singularity Deck was designed to ensure that necessary information is readily clear, and unnecessary information is easily ignored. The number of suits and ranks available were chosen to allow as many games as possible to map on to the deck one-to-one. Players should never have to remember conversion rules during gameplay.
be added to by the community. The Multideck Maker project allows anyone to modify, edit, and create their own versions of the Singularity Deck. This means that others can easily build on top of the deck and design their own cards. There are many amazing game systems, however they are always limited by what the creator themselves define as part of the system. Opening it up allows it to evolve.
have its own identity. By their very nature game systems have little theme. They exist as an abstract set of icons that meaning and mechanisms can be applied to. Despite this openness being one of the key factors of a game system, a little thematic flair can be an asset. When designing the Singularity Deck, I wanted to create suits that were distinct and hinted at a greater meaning, while being generic enough that the system could remain flexible. The hope was to give each suit a bit of its own character that could be used to help anchor gameplay. The way I attempted to achieve this was by giving the suits a conceptual role and meaning within the system and letting that drive the design of the cards.
be color-blind friendly and able to fan in either direction. Good graphic design should use color as a way to highlight information, but it should never be the primary designation. Every game group I've been in has had at least one color blind player. During the design of the first edition, several people reached out asking if I could also make sure the design was ambidextrous. For this reason the icons exist in both the right and left hand corners of the cards, making the cards able to fan in either direction. I'm glad those individuals reached out to me, because this is something I had never considered (one of the challenges of design is being able to escape your own limited perspective).
The Anatomy of The Singularity Deck
Before I get into each suit, I want to go over the anatomy of the cards, and some of the special ranks included as part of the deck. This information refers to the Earth and Cosmos cards. The Spacetime cards are a bit different and as such are detailed later.
Each card consists of three main features:
Each suit has a unique icon and color. I go into the design of the specific suits below. Throughout the design I never wanted color to be an essential designation of information. This color limitation meant that the suit pairings in a standard deck of cards would be lost as they are based on color.
The most basic part of a playing card is its rank. Layout wise I wanted the player to be able to fan the cards in either direction and as such all information is repeated on the right and left of the cards. This is in distinction from most standard playing cards in which the information is only on the left of the card. The ranks of the singularity deck include those found in a standard deck of cards (A, 2-10 , J , Q, K) as well as some extra ranks detailed later.
Represented by dice pips.The number ranks each also include a secondary rank represented by dice pips. The dice pips allow for games in which some numbers are represented multiple times. A good example of this is Hanabi. To play with these ranks the cards are simply flipped over. I spent a long time debating between different systems for representing the secondary ranks, including roman numerals and uniquely designed iconography, before settling on what I felt was the most obvious solution all along, dice.
Each Rank of The Singularity Deck
The Singularity Card
the Singularity Card which is the namesake card of the deck. The singularity card is ranked both 0 and infinity and sits outside the other cards representing the cycle of the universe to which we are all beholden despite our best intentions and machinations.
The first rank is the Alpha Card. Functionally it is just an ace, but thematically paired with the omega card (shown a little bit later) it represents the beginning of each suit. The image on the Alpha card is the earth, with each suit showing a different rotation of the earth. You could put all of the alpha cards in a stack and make a flipbook showing the earth's rotation.
The standard Number Ranks go from 2 to 12. I made available separate expansion cards that brings the number of ranks up to 24 for each suit, but I chose 12 for the main deck for a couple reasons. The main reason is that I wanted the secondary dice pip ranks (discussed later) to repeat twice within a suit and since they go from 1 pip to 6 pips it was necessary that the main ranks had 12 total cards. The other, less important reason is that I'm a fan of the base twelve number system. I've thought about putting out a little set of cards that could swap out the 10, 11, and 12 cards for ones with base 12 iconography so that this would be a proper base twelve deck of cards.The card art for the 12 rank depicts the subject that each suit represents.
The court cards include the standard Jack, Queen and King.
Beyond the standard court cards is the tower card. This is ranked above the King. Since thematically I placed the Ace/Alpha card as the lowest rank I wanted there to be a card that existed above the king, just to help prevent any players from getting any monarchical inclinations. The cards depict a monument themed for each suit.
The omega card represents some catastrophe associated with each suit. Since hearts represent animals, the omega card for hearts is overpopulation. The idea is that each suit begins with alpha and ends with omega (with the exception of the singularity card, shown next).
The Earth Set
These cards represents the constituent components and forces that make up the earth itself. This set contains the "standard" French suits of most common playing cards.
Clubs / Plants
In the singularity deck the clubs specifically represent Bikonta which is an early division of life that became plants. Unsurprisingly, the color of the suit is green. As with the other french suits, my interpretation of the suit for the singularity deck is posthoc and the design of the suit is largely unchanged from the conventional design. The weapon of choice for the forest royalty is the wooden club/staff. The civilization card shows a society that is nomadic and lives in the woods. The omega card depicts global pollution and famine.
Diamonds / Information
The diamonds represent information/the synthetic. To some degree this is a catchall for the things that exist on earth as the result of intelligent manipulation. The royal cards are scientists who use pens and scrolls. The civilization card is a university/ research campus. The omega card represents the overthrow of the earth by artificial intelligence.
Hearts / Animals
The Hearts represent unikonta, which is the early division of life that became animals and fungus. The royal hearts use swords and includes the suicide king. The civilization card is a city that has a large concentrated number of people. The omega card represents overpopulation.
Triangles / Mountains
The triangles are the first suit in the singularity deck that is non-standard. It represents mountains/stone and any non-organic material on earth. The royal cards hold large hammers. My favorite royal card in the earth set is the queen of triangles. The civilization card is a society of miners living among the mountains.
Ovals / Soil
The ovals suit represents prokaryotes (single cellular organisms). The royal cards carry shovels as soil is the result of prokaryotes mixed in dirt breaking down other organic material to make nutrients usable by plants. The civilization card represents a society among the dirt. Design-wise this was inspired by hobbit holes. The omega card is global disease.
Spades / Order
The spades represent the most abstract thing conceptually in the earth set. It represents the concept of syntropy. This is paired up with the asteroids suit in the cosmos set which represents entropy. Entropy is the property of matter that in a closed system disorder and chaos will increase. In essence syntropy is the inverse of entropy, it represents the collection or consumption of energy in order to maintain organization in a system. A possible example of this could be a lion eating a gazelle. Or a plant absorbing energy from the sun to maintain its existence. In a sense war could be considered a form of syntropy in that one group increases disorder in another group (through violence) to take their resources in an effort to maintain function and stability in their own group. This is why the royal cards hold spears and wear armor. The civilization card represents a society that lives in a large bunker.
The Cosmos Set
These suits represents the components that make up the universe itself
Hexes / Planets
The circles suit represents baryonic matter, which is the matter the stuff around you is made out of, including the planets themselves. This is in contrast to the other forms of matter represented by other suits. The royal cards are holding shields. The omega card depicts the earth being sucked into a black hole.
Saltires / Antimatter
As soon as antimatter comes into contact with ordinary matter they both obliterate. The icon for the antimatter suit is based on the shape of the containment units designed to study antimatter. The royal cards are each holding a mighty axe. The tower card actually shows two towers that are opposites of each other. The omega card shows the earth being obliterated by its antimatter counterpart.
Stars / Light
The stars suit represents electromagnetic radiation, such as light or radio waves. The royal cards are holding maces and of course…morning stars. Naturally, the tower card is a light house. The omega card shows the earth being destroyed by a super nova.
Shields / Dark Matter
Dark matter is just the name for much of the matter that exists in the universe that is distinct from baryonic matter. It is called dark matter because it has proved incredibly difficult to detect. The royal cards are each holding keys.
Crosses / Dark Energy
Dark energy is the most abundant component of the universe and yet we barely understand it, despite it explaining the expansion of the universe. The royal cards are all holding bows and arrows. The tower card depicts the possible relationship between Dark Energy and Time. The Omega Card depicts a theoretical end of the universe called the big rip.
Darts / Asteroids
The Asteroids suit represent entropy, the force of the universe that always draws matter towards chaos and disorder. This pairs up with the spades suit which represents the inverse of this force. The royal cards are all holding lances. The tower card depicts a building modeled after an asteroid collision. The omega card depicts an asteroid colliding with the earth.