design document (DD)



the content of this document is subject to change


About this document9

What it is9

Submissions to10

Design Document10

Project Gaia10



We don't11

We do11

Social & Global issues12







As a result17

Why it works18

Justifications & alternatives19

Model's effect on gameplay20

Copyrights & restrictions21


Gratis: Free as in beer22

Libre: Free as in speech23

Tabletop & Online24


No playerbase24

No free games25


Digital & Online25


Casual & competitive26





Continuous support28


Slow or no response28

All fades away28



Lysistrate's funding29


Response time30

No loss situation30

Being alive31




Being a CCG32

Non-steep learning33

Streamlined admin33


Card compatibility34






Player types37

Feelers, Tellers & Hardcores37


Power Gamers37

Social Gamers38

Diversity Gamers38

Adrenaline Junkies38


Combo masters39

Inverse designers39



About the Expos40






Core concepts42


Pure genred42






Costs & Quality44


Other's pricing44

Prices 1 November 202045

Pre-constructed decks: Core set 2021 Planewalker Deck – Liliana45

Prices 30 January 201946

Pre-constructed decks: Core set 2019 Planeswalker Deck – Liliana46

Legacy prices 8 July 201046

Booster Packs46

Intro Packs46


Print files47

Photo quality47

Home printing48









AI & Rules Enforcing50

Tabletop simulation51

Tabletop Engines51

Open source51

Closed source51





Art direction54




Resolution & DPI55




Unit portraits56

Other cards57



Palettes & Appearance59

The Empire59


Empire template61







Red Banner66






Lore & Abilities68









Reserved common mechanics72

Reserved uncommon mechanics73

Red Banner73

House of Nobles75





Bloodborne x78

Battle Scream x78

Blood Vengeance78

Bodyguard x78

Connected x78



Defensive Stance ★79

Detection ★79

Dodge x79

Discount for x ★79

Enter – x79


Fetch x80

First Strike  ★★80

Guardian x  ★80

Meddle ★★80



Pillage x80

Rage  ★★★80


Reanimate x81














Card Design83


Over & Underpower83

Balancing Units84


Pricing examples85


Captain of Defense86

WIP: Balancing regions – tables are useless currently87

Teardrop Fall88


Natures garden89


About this document

What it is

This design document (DD) outlines the overall design parameters for as a project from a couple of perspectives. Reading the DD is not required at all to learn how to play the game. The DD should mainly be read if you’re interested in what powers the project and want to understand what direction we want to take it. The actual rules of Gaia are to be found over here.

Imagine a picture with a complex motif surrounded by a nice homemade frame. This document can be compared to the frame of that picture: It acts as a boundary for the picture, making it clear where it starts and where it ends. It also helps to define the picture's shape, size, and even things like the material and depth of the canvas. It dictates how we can hang it on the wall and where we can hang it. The design document sets the scope, possibilities, limits and direction for what Gaia is and should become.

In it we lay out the decisions and goals in regards to the:

  • Project

  • Gameplay

  • Cards

  • Players

  • Universe

  • Art

Submissions to

Design Document

  • Small revisions, such as correction of bad English, spelling errors, grammar and other minor issues can be corrected by everyone by commenting in this document.

  • Adding new paragraphs to complete or further discuss already existing ones or related subjects, are also very welcome addition that are possible after consulting with the lead developer on

Project Gaia

By submitting data to the project, such as for example input, suggestions, revisions, artworks etc. you:

  1. Verify that you are it’s original author and own the copyright.

  2. Give us the permission to release that data in its original or modified form using one or more of the open source licenses that are relevant for Gaia.

  3. Using the same licenses as above: Consent to Gaia sharing your contribution with it’s mother community – – and/or other relevant parties that project Gaia believes are advocates of free culture or open source.

  4. Agree that we might reject, not use, partially use or modify the data without contacting you or explain why.

  5. Understand that submission of data to the project is a privilege we give you that shouldn’t be confused with a right.



We believe that the world can be a better place, and that there are many ways to make it so. We also recognise that people have different ideas about how society should be, about priorities and what is good and bad, a goal or not, and so on. 


Certain topics covered within the scope of the project may seem controversial or provocative if you happen to disagree or have another agenda than what is outlined by us. If you ever feel that way then keep in mind that is not our intention. In such a case we urge you to turn your frustration into a positive force by contributing to our or some other project – there is plenty of space in the world for us all and in the end we all want to enjoy good games with great communities.

This honesty from our side also entails that we won’t succumb to being “politically correct” or expressing ourselves in ways that are tailored to be as vague or neutral as possible with the intention to appeal to as many players as possible.

We prefer quality instead of quantity, and rather have a smaller and dedicated playerbase that share our idea of how a game and it’s community should be, than being just another mainstream game that tries to appeal to everyone in order to sell more copies and make profits. As non-commercially driven indies, we choose to go our own way, and invite you to become a part of that journey.

We don't

What we as the developers, players & supporters of Gaia say and do should not be seen as a sign of a belief in our own superiority or mistaken for hubris. We don't believe we have the best solution to every given problem and we don't claim that all of our theories, beliefs or normative conclusions are correct. We don't even necessarily all agree on any given point, and we certainly don't want to give the impression that we are some kind of single entity or that we all think alike. 

We also don't state that all companies or commercial forces are evil. We don't believe that they have gotten everything wrong or that they are part of a tin hat conspiracy. We don't see ourself as moral übermensch, nor do we imagine that games can't be created in other ways, with other means, in other shapes or for other reasons than Gaia.

We do

We do welcome everyone, whatever your ideological, political, ethical or religious views happen to be. We welcome you no matter what field or profession or academic background you come from. We do believe in dialectics, discussions, arguments, proving one's case, patience, understanding and taking everything for what it is. We also strongly believe in having fun – developing a game should be something we enjoy, not a full time job that is killing us softly.

We do believe that all humans can be mistaken and that we ourselves are capable of making plenty of mistakes. We also believe that we can work together to learn from our mistakes and experiences, as well as those of others, and that we can use them to self-improve – both on an individual level through co-operating on this project, and also as game developers, roles in which we strive to be as professional as possible.

We do believe that it's fully realistic and possible to pull this off. We know from our own experience that the creation of an open source customizable card game (CCG) is very challenging and takes hideous amounts of time and resources. It is at times a sweaty, messy and bloody trial. We are also confident that we will accomplish our goals. 


While we oppose some of the business models that have been used and are still being used to various degrees by the industry we are not against the notion of game developers earning money to make a living, cover our costs or as a means of insuring the future financing of the project or coming games. 

The world is, in all practical matters of relevance, currently encapsuled in a capitalist system and mindset. Money is needed to get by in most societies, and sadly we as developers can’t pay our bills with love, pay our artists with hugs or pride of being part of our project, nor for our food by being idealist. Within these parameters we try to do our best and share with the world.

First thing is first: We will always give away everything necessary to play and enjoy the full essential experience of the game totally for free. “A full essential experience” is defined by us as the whole game, all the cards, as they were designed to function and look, with rules and artwork, available to all. Any new cards, expansions, rules and so on that are made official are also becoming part of “the full experience”.

There will never ever be any pay to win, pay to advance, grinding, randomness, shady signups or other schemes. Every player will always have free and instant direct access to every single card. Contributing with money to the game will never give the person doing it any in-game advantages of any kind.

With that written, we also have no issues with anyone selling Gaia for whatever price they can get on their particular market. We don’t care if the person selling it makes a profit and keeps it. We use a license that allows that on purpose. It enables crafty individuals to empower others to play the game at places that we would normally never reach ourselves. We give all of our community the same benefits, the same power, to spread the game in any fashion suitable while our license is kept intact.

Social & Global issues

We live in a highly polarized world where it is often seemingly easier to lash out to get cheap points or to please the ones that already agree with one's view, than to meet in an humble and constructive dialogue where all parties are open minded and interested in actual cooperation, to achieve or discover something.

Those talking about social justice warriors, or rednecks for that matter, are perhaps a good example of the divide: That terminology is most often used for a derogatory purpose to some extent to describe what they believe are misguided individuals that deal with problems in ways or to ends which they themselves don’t approve of. 

Sometimes the terminology is also used as an ideological marker to signal a different view on some “controversial” topics. The expression may mark the distance between conservatives and liberals, between the left and the right, and so on. Other possible markers are strong notions about the existence of phenomenons like fake news, femi-nazis and a global warming hoax. The actual subjectmatter changes slowly with time while the over arching ideological interpretational rift of society seems to linger.

What each developer think and how they act politically in non-project related matters isn’t within the scope of our community: We believe in the democratic freedom of the individual. As such, we will sometimes have different oppinions. That’s fine and a sign of a healthy democracy when we can process it.

Project Gaia has a clear stance about free culture and open source. Gaia is at its core an activist grass roots project, in the sense that we act and are creating something from the ground up, of the people. 

We want to show the world that we as gamers can create and own our own games and communities independent of huge or greedy corporations. Hence we’re in part a reaction to the industry and some of its practices. We are not pro-consumer as turning people into buyers isn’t our priority. We are pro-user and pro-creator: By existing we may potentially also undermine or offer an alternative to many of the bad practices found within the industry surrounding CCG:s. Practices which are anti-consumer, anti-owner, anti-user, but pro-profit.

We don’t undermine the industry by the misguided acts of demolishing a store, throwing rocks at police, smacktalking or trying to create a shallow “rebelious” image of ourselves. We do it by creating something and letting that creation stand on it’s own feet and speak on it’s own merits. Simply put we offer an alternative that is at least as good or better than the commercial competition.

As a project we are very well aware of several global and social problems, and don’t shy away from addressing or commenting on some of them within the scope of the game if that makes sense within the game universe. We won’t censor ourselves to avoid angering a potential player and getting bad press. That said, the game’s primary objective is not to educate or inform about social or globa issues, or act as some kind of propaganda machine for any camp.

We wouldn’t describe ourselves as “social justice warriors” and leave such associations to be made by those that feel they add something to a discussion. People are free to label us however they want. We would on the other hand point out that being a warrior in the struggle for social justice is, historically, most often something that should be an honor and a positive thing regardless if the internet and its many “keyboard/social media warriors” happen to disapprove of social changes or some specific methods to implement such changes. Those individuals are entitled to have whatever views that suit them, regardless of if we as developers at times do or don’t agree with some of them.

We prefer to be a part of a world where game developers and the players are free to take a stance on their own if they want to comment on social, global or other types of issues within the scope of their project. We refuse to be censored by those that want to control what we as developers should be creating or not – if something doesn’t suit then we don’t ask them to fuck off, even if it is tempting to do so, instead, we live as we learn: We empower them with all our resources and let them create and contribute to the world. For free.

In line with that belief we have no problems with developers that are not interested in doing so, or players that don’t care about such issues and just want to play a game that is supposedly totally disconnected from reality. A player can indeed pick up our game and play it without being interested in politics, social or global issues. Gaia requires no real world political knowledge for it to be enjoyed.

In the same manner we are also okey with developers that do choose to get involved in social and global issues in some way if that involvement is announced and there is a transparency about it. We see no reason for why some developers within a democracy should be attacked, mocked or questioned because they choose to use their creation to comment on the state of the world or society.

This does however not entail that we agree with every given cause, method, conclusion or action taken by individuals that are deemed to be involved in the so-called social justice movement by their opposition. Sometimes we’d agree with a method, a goal or a conclusions, other times we really would not. In either case, that is not our problem and outside of the scope of this project. We are mainly creating a game, and we won’t let that become hostage to various other agendas.

Instead of being associated with the actions and opinions of random people that are not related to our project in any way we would prefer to be judged by our own actions. We take responsibility for what we do, welcome criticism, and try to improve when we don’t reach our goals.


White sausage playerbase

Of the 50 top earning Magic: The Gathering players ever up until 2019 all of them where a) male and b) white. 38% where nationals of USA, 40% Europe and 14% from Japan. Not a single person was colored or female.

The top 50 list for Magic: Arena of 2020 show many of the very same players, but also one female and one non-binary that made it onto the list.

Of the 10 best Hearthstone players 2021 two of them were female. All ten were non-colored.

While a sample of about 100 of the best players is maybe not statistically sound to draw conclusions from it is hard to get hold of good data that has been compied where




The overall purpose of the Gaia project is to create a full featured customizable card game (CCG) that meets the following goals:

  • Free to play, modify & share.

  • Playable online as well as with real cards.

  • Target both casual and competitive players.

  • Continuous support through revisions & expansions.

  • Developed by the community for the community.

  • Be a viable alternative to the most popular full featured CCGs.


A game can be free to play and acquire, and it can also be free in ways which empower its user to do things with it beyond playing it, i.e develop it further or build new games based on it. 

These two different meanings “free” are usually described as "free as in beer & free as in speech" by the open source movements. One is a matter of price of the product and it being gratis, while the other one is about the rights you'd have when and in which ways you could use it. Gaia strives to maximize both types of "frees” and takes great pride in having this as one of the project's primary objectives.



Conventionally the CCG:s on the market have kept an average economical entry point for the tabletop player. Acquiring a pack of cards that allows you to start playing the game against somebody else that also has her own cards has usually costed as much as a cheap or medium priced tabletop game.

One of the most common problems among CCG players, and one of the main reasons for why people leave the genre or a game, is what happens after one jumps aboard. Due to the distribution model most companies in the industry chose it was very expensive to keep on playing a game if the player wanted to add to her cardpool or to be competitive. The main reason was the distribution model itself:

The most common way was to sell cards was in so-called boosterpacks. A boosterpack is a small package of cards for a low enough price to make staying in the game appear cheap and to stimulate a larger amount of spontaneous or recurring purchases of additional packs. Boosterpacks in the world of CCGs and collectible sport cards were also the forerunners to the controversial lootboxes within the computer game industry which eventually lead to a 3 billion USD loss for Electronic Arts.

This all sounds reasonable and as a good system for the consumer, until we look closer to what is inside of the boosterpack: Random or semi-random cards. To give even stronger incentives to purchase the packs the cards in most CCG:s also have a rarity factor

Usually there are about three degrees of rarity: Common, uncommon and rare. A common card is created in larger quantities and thus more likely to show up in a boosterpack than an uncommon or rare card. Even if some companies guarantee a certain distribution/ratio between common, uncommon and rare cards in each boosterpack the fact remains that you would have to purchase very many boosterpacks to get your hands on a specific uncommon or rare card, not to mention getting enough copies of that card.

As a result
  1. You do not know beforehand which cards you are actually purchasing. This practice of giving your money and not knowing what you will get is something you have to accept if you choose to obtain the product in it's new state from official sources.

  1. With each pack you are likely to get a bunch of cards you have no usage of since each game has it's direct and indirect deck building restrictions and you will also get excessive duplicates.

  1. This, coupled with the rarity concept, forces you to continue to pay for new booster packs.

  1. Which in turn creates a second hand market since the system  gives strong incentive to trade or sell. Some companies make use of this forced trading aspect of the game in their marketings and even say it is a positive social aspect, making it sound as if it is something that would somehow make the game better and it's community friendlier.

In reality both trading & buying/selling are just transactions. When practiced in the CCG context these activities do no not become more social or lead to a more social life than when you buy a loaf of bread. Furthermore, there are no reasons to assume that we as players need a second hand market in order to be able to establish social connections should we want them.

  1. The companies also exploit the well known fact that huge demographic groups, quite often related to gender & age, are interested in collecting: These groups consider the acquisition of "collectible items" to be something meaningful. For that purpose a CCG is the perfect object with its distribution model, rarity and second hand market. You not only get to struggle to get a complete collection, but you can stay assured that it has a second market worth with relatively stable prices due to other players as well as collectors willing to purchase your cards.

Why it works

One of the main reasons it succeeds with some card games is that players median age is low and with it their mental faculties. They don't think in long-term economical perspectives. They also don't have to, as they do away with their guardian's money. As a target group they are also somewhat easier to manipulate. Their lifestyle, advertisements, trends, group pressure and so on are all phenomenons that factor in to the success of the CCG business model. 

Even if those assumptions would be wrong it's safe to say that the median CCG player doesn't realise how this system is constructed until she has already invested plenty in the game. That also leads to the interesting effect that a player is more likely to stay with that game due to the heavy investment and existing collection of cards.

Up until recently there has also been a single important reason for why this has all worked out surprisingly well for the companies: There were no viable alternatives. That explains it even in the cases where the target group is 18 – 40 year olds and when it can finance its own consumption. 

Playing a CCG is a lot of fun. It's an amazing game genre that has a lot speaking for it. If you wanted to play a CCG up between 1990’s to 2015 you were forced to participate in the phenomenons associated with the conventional CCG business model. It was like that because all the companies that mattered and could easily reach us as consumers on the market were in on it together, even if they operated independently.

All major companies in the industry imagined they had incentive to stick to that particular business model. They watched the most successful company in this context, Wizards of the Coast, how good it was going for them and tried to imitate their success by using the same models of distribution.

Justifications & alternatives

Once one starts to understand the big picture and the forces at large behind the market strategies that the companies have utilized it becomes apparent this is a quite unique and bizarre business model for the consumer. The model has more in common with for example lottery than any other normal commodity you'd expect to find on a normal market, be it bread, music or console. The only real winner in this model is the company. That’s why it was heavily used and is still in strong use when going into the 2020’s.

One might argue that there is no conspiracy, no scheme and nothing illegal or morally wrong with these kind of models and practices. That in the spirit of Laissez faire-capitalism et.c. it is all legit. After all, nobody is forcing the players to purchase the game. They do so because, apparently, they want to of their own free will. That alone  makes every transaction within the model a legit one.

We don’t refute such claims that these business models could be ethically justifiable in some cases and that the model is or has been legal, while it vis-a-vis the shape of lootboxes has been outlawed in some countries as attention to these practices were globally in focus during 2018 and moving forward.

We want to create an alternative to all of those models, no matter if they sell random content to the players or not. In the scenarios where a player dislikes the models it's apparent why an alternative would be interesting. 

In the cases where a player has no problems with the models we would still offer that person yet another option to choose from, and we might even contribute to apply pressure on the industry to devise more consumer friendly models. 

We are confident that the old CCG model, with boosterpacks, rarity, randomization and everything that goes along with it, will survive and keep on prospering into the foreseeable future and that it's existence as the most common business model for CCG:s is not threatened in the short term. Modern card games such as Hearthstone and all the hundreds of variants of it on the internet are a good example of how the model is still in full effect even if they often also give the player grinding mechanics and quasi-currency that gives the illusion of something that mitigates the real issues.

Simultaneously we also believe the market has finally started to slowly adapt to the requirements of its customers and listen to the will of the players as a consequence of very hard competition between different CCG companies.

A process where other distribution and marketing models are used is already in progress. Ironically Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering, was a part of the Cardhunter team, creating a card game that they described as "…free to play and you win cards by playing the game, not by buying expensive booster packs" acknowledging the awareness about the problems for the players with the standard CCG distribution model. 

Two well known companies that seem to be aware of player frustrations and disliking of the old way of doing CCG business is Decipher, and to a much larger extent, Fantasy Flight Games with their living card game-system (LCG). Ironically the LCG-system is actually nothing new or ground breaking at all on any other normal market except the CCG one as the so-called revolution of the LCG-system simply translates to that you as a player now have the right to know what you get when you pay for the product.

Fantasy Flight Games have also released a CCG called Keyforge in cooperation with Richard Garfield. Keyforge is an interesting concept telling us something about FFG:s awareness about the issues at hand and a way to try to reach untapped players and lure them into the CCG market: In Keyforge there are no boosterpacks as no deckbuilding is possible. Instead of a boosterpack, you as the consumer buy a full “boosterdeck” (which boosts nothing) which is a semi-randomized pre-constructed deck that is ready to play, marketed as unique, and which is unmodifiable.

We believe that a normal business model where you know what you purchase is preferable for the consumers over the standard CCG randomization model. Most players are better off with diversity and alternatives instead of being locked down to a single model. An argument for that, besides the obvious about freedom to choose and healthy competition leading to further development, takes its stance from how the distribution model and market strategies may even affect the game's overall quality.

Model's effect on gameplay

  1. Hinders execution of skills: Possible skills are in relation to what cards you (don’t) own.

  1. Hinders creativity: Building new decks and meta-game adjustments are harder if you lack parts of the cardpool.

  1. Pay to win: Due to artificially created scarcity (card rarity) the player with the most money is the one that's better of in the model, granted skills are of comparable level between the players. Implications are two-folded:

    • It may turn into a socio-economic question about class belonging and economic means: Do we want to enable as many as possible to obtain the game, or do we reward the ones that throw most money at us as developers/retailers? Rich vs. poor countries and availability?

    • Skills alone are not enough to master the game. Investment is also as needed. This in turn makes the game less competitive.

  1. Unjustifiable imbalances: In some CCG:s the developers suggest that overpowered are somehow not a problem in the game as long as their rarity compensates for it by them being scarce. That notion lacks merit. Even if the broken cards happen to be rare they still exist and give unbalanced advantages to their exploiter. Furthermore the existence of any such cards inherently leads that they will be overrepresented in relation to their share of the total cardpool in all highly competitive contexts.

  1. Encourages deck diversity – since players don't have absolute control over what cards they possess, their decks are likely to be diverse up to a degree. Playstyles will be more diverse as they have to adapt strategy to suit the available cards rather than vice versa. 

Copyrights & restrictions

We can, without taking a stance for or against certain forms of copyright licenses, still claim what seems to be objective facts:

  • CCG:s are with almost no exceptions published using restrictive and traditional copyrights.

  • These copyrights do in some cases make life better for the people behind the games, and they could arguably and in some scenarios actually help stimulate the creation of new games.

  • Simultaneously the same copyrights and additional restrictions hinder the player from doing a number of things with the game. She is not allowed to:

  • Duplicate the game components they lack or want to gift.

  • In some cases proxying cards is a problem, even though proxying has been around since the creation of the CCG genre much thanks to the genres shortcomings created by the industry itself.

  • Create additional fan-made content or derivatives of the game or it's resources. This effectively hinders the creation of games as it only makes such endeavors possible for entities that has the finances and human resources.

  • Usually, and in order to protect the company's economical interests, the players have very little influence over the game and not so much freedom to make it their own. This is understandable whilst protecting the game and trying to keep it intact and functional, but may seem less so when it comes to companies threatening with legal actions against its player base because it has a fan page, custom made sets, card creators, fan fiction etc.


Gratis: Free as in beer

Gaia is in part a response to some of the issues that have plagued the CCG industry since the 1990’s. By giving away the game for free we contribute to tear down barriers and offer solutions to the monetary and distribution.

When we offer a game that is truly free, get rid of artificial scarcity via made up rarity systems, anti-consumer distribution models while allowing everyone to get any card they like we:

  • Give the CCG genre a more honest and reliable face by making the gameplay solely be about skills instead of the cash-issues surrounding the acquisition of the game components. We let the game focus more on playing the game and less on wasting time on hunting down cards through trades and consumption.

  • Increase the availability of the CCG genre by lowering entry level costs and the costs for continuous play.

    • Make trying out a CCG less adventurous for the newcomer, as she will have to spend much less money to try out a new game genre.

    • Remove class barriers, making CCG:s viable entertainment for people with smaller economical means.

    • Turn the CCG into something which has a greater chance of becoming a family, community or hobby entertainment. 

  • Stimulate the competitive aspects. When more players can afford to be competitive it sports better competition.

  • Promote greater quality: As developers we force our self to deliver a game where each card is meaningful. Since all cards are available without restrictions it makes no sense to have “crap cards" around that are seldom played. Such cards are just a testimony of bad game design and a waste of our resources. 

An effect of this is that development actually becomes harder. In that respect it is pushing us to our limits, demanding that we deliver card quality instead of card quantity.

  • In a similar manner, broken & imbalanced cards won't ever be around for long with the explanation that "only few people have them in their possession".

  • We will also never rotate, ban or phase out cards somehow because of balance issues or to lower the entry level for newcomers. It won't be done since we want to use every resource we have properly and rather fix the problem instead of circumventing it by a such short-cuts.

Libre: Free as in speech

By licensing Gaia using the GPL2 and later, the GPL3 and CC-BY-SA 4 we insure that we give the players maximum liberty to virtually do whatever they want with the game. 

Although the GPL is legally a copyright license as it regulates copyrights, it's more often described as a copyleft license to telltale about it's special features.  A copyleft license doesn't reserve all the interesting rights to the privileged few that somehow acquired the legal copyright over the work. Instead of primarily just protecting the rights of the work's copyright holder, it also guarantees your very liberal rights as a player. It states, among many things, that it is perfectly fine for you to:

  • Share & spread the game by duplicating it: We want you to share the fun if you feel like it.

  • Use it's resources to create derivatives: If you are interested in creating something by building upon what we have we'd love it if you did so. By letting you do this we empower people to explore their creativity, and we also provide the people with the material that could be used to support innovation.

  • Even sell it and keep all the money for yourself, without anyone forcing you to give us a single cent. (But let's not be shy here – we would love it if you donated something in order for us to finance new expansions)

The only things the license require from you is that whatever you do with the game:

  1. The end product still stays under the same license(s).

  2. A copy of the used licenses accompanies the end product when you share it with others somehow.

  3. Your source material (original files etc) are available to the public, using the same license.

For the full understanding of which rights & obligations you have please read the license(s) that are used by us. Sufficient to say we give each and every one of you more power and rights over the game than any CCG company has ever done. 

Tabletop & Online


No playerbase

While the CCG genre has many players it has usually been fragmented with very few continuous communities within the same local area. Players choose which CCG they'll play based on everything from theme, what their friends happen to play, what's in stock at the local game store to the language of the game, graphical style and price etc.

The CCG market is usually also very saturated and competition on it is very tough. According to Fantasy Flight Games surviving even 2 years on the CCG market is a long time. Most CCG:s also never survive beyond the releasing of their core set. Games come and go, and so do the players. Because of all these reasons it is common that players in smaller cities have a very hard time finding others that have invested both time & money into the very same game as they have done.

Converters, players jumping from one game onto another and then onto another and so on, are uncommon in the world of CCG due to the related cost issues to get into each of the games. This further discourages versatility and mobility within the playerbase.

No free games


There are very few free and good CCG:s that are designed for the table top play. 

The free CCG:s have found their way onto the internet instead due to cost-effectiveness and bridging distance between players. Most free CCG:s are designed to be computer games. As such they may be great, but their rule systems and them relying on automated administration make them almost unplayable as table top games, as they were never intended to be played that way in the first place. 

Digital & Online

The internet is filled with so-called “free" CCG:s that, after a closer inspection usually turn out to be nothing more than ingenious scams and false marketing in order to lure the players to sign up and start purchasing "premium" content from online shops. While the companies behind these games don't directly charge people for playing on their server they are far from truthful when they state that their game is free.

Those games are not more free than any other computer game where you, for example, are only allowed to play on certain levels, or with some features/abilities/functions disabled. If the companies would want to stop using false marketing they should rightfully start labeling their products as demo versions – the proper and since long accepted terminology for any game that you are allowed to test for free but will never get in its entirety unless you pay for it.

That is exactly how we within the Gaia project would define a free game in the gratis sense. It is a game that you obtain in its entirety without paying anything for it in itself. It's either free, or it's not. Releasing some parts of it doesn't make the product as a whole free, no matter how it's marketers choose to conceal the true nature of the product.


  • To remedy the lack of high quality & free table top CCG:s were creating a game that is primarily being designed to work on the tabletop. By releasing a high quality open source game we also hope to prove to the world that this is doable, and that it would stimulate others to do the same. It's said that MtG is the mother of all CCG:s. If so, we'll aim at becoming the father of a new chapter in the genre.

  • A free game makes it somewhat easier to build a tabletop playerbase. Mainly because it is free of monetary cost, which is still one of the main factors to why people don't play CCG:s or don't switch between them.

  • Even if we design a game for the tabletop we will support it fully in a digital form, with software patches that makes it perfectly usable online, for free. That virtually solves the playerbase issues for anyone that has the means and would consider playing a CCG in a digital form.

  • By doing so we also contribute to the online CCG scene by giving it a legit game (compared with common but most often illegal fan created content) that is truly free:  No "premium" content or hidden fees to stay competitive or enjoy the full game, no spam, no risk that the game you've invested hundreds of dollars in or the company behind it will disappear overnight.

Casual & competitive


We want our game to appeal to anyone that is interested in trying out a card game to have some fun, and also the casual player that is already acquainted with the CCG genre. To stay casual we believe it should be simple to:

  • get hold of the game

  • learn it

  • get hold of an opponent

  • transport it

  • setup it up

  • and play it

We also believe that the casual person does not want to waste countless of hours on a single game session or has the ability to find a required third or fourth player. For the average person playing a game isn't something that should take a lot of time. She doesn't have that time or she isn't willing to dedicate it since she isn't a competitive or hardcore player. She would typically only play games that last up to around 90 – 110 minutes tops.



As an open source project we're dependent of our community. Each games community has the competitive or hardcore players as an essential driving force. They are most often the biggest fans and the ones that are prepared to invest time, effort and contribute to both the game's and community's development. To make such players stay and engage we need to have a high quality game and offer competitive play.

Furthermore, being open source and lacking a million dollar company backing makes it necessary that we try to construct self-sustaining community structures in place. We see clear and mutual connections between a vital and active community and the lifespan of a project. The lesser the community of a game, the smaller are the chances the game will survive in the long run.

For us to survive, build a strong community and be taken as a serious alternative to other games we deem it necessary to make Gaia playable in a competitive manner by those who'd choose to do so.


  • Create a community council, democratically elected players with some kind of special access to development processes.

  • Release revisions of cards and rules whenever it's needed.

  • Provide a comprehensive version of the rules that targets competitive play.

  • Support community driven online ladder play.

  • Support a couple of popular and custom formats.

  • Release expansions.

  • Online tournaments and smaller real-world ones.

Continuous support


Slow or no response

Many games are only supported while they are commercially viable. This is particularly true on the tough market of CCG:s.

Some companies have chosen to not maintain their games by releasing erratas, corrections and revisions necessary to fix broken mechanics, rules and other issues. Others have responded to the problems, but done it too late when the players have already moved on from the game to a better developed one.

All fades away

The second a CCG is discontinued it's dead in the eyes of the cardplaying public. The players know that no new cards will be released, that the game won't be easily available in stores, and that it will have a very hard time to get new blood into its playerbase.

For fully digital CCG:s this problem isn't as acute as for tabletop games and the companies can disguise a digital failure for a very long time compared to publishers delivering real world products to the local game stores.

Discontinued CCG:s have a special and sad place in game heaven. They tend to fade away way quicker than a discontinued board game. There are very few exceptions to this rule. Some noteworthy ones are the communities behind Star Wars CCG, Doomtrooper & Rage, that managed to continue their struggles to revitalize their beloved games with fan made content etc, keeping some of the most dedicated players around.

Even so and with such competent followers, in the end, no matter how great the community once was and no matter how many dedicated veterans that create their own material for the game, time passes and with it the game gets closer to oblivion for several reasons. Licensing issues, copyrights and legalities, being some of the major final nails in the coffin, are common walls players hit all to often even if they mean well and keep things non-commercial.

With the discontinuation the game's second hand market also crashes down to zero rather quick. The product will also become more and more scarce on it, making it hard for people to get hold of specific cards even if they want them. Cards that once were worth plenty have virtually become worthless over night and are almost certain to lack value if enough time passes. This creates a ripple effect through the collectors community – more people will try to sell than before, and prices will fall even quicker.

Players that spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on playing and collecting the cards of their favorite CCG have will by then in most cases have the cards declared monetary worthless. That tells the world to think thrice before investing in a CCG except for the ones that are likely to be around for a very long time. 

At this point in time there are very few such examples and only two come to mind that have been around since the start of the CCG era: Magic the Gathering and Legend of the Five Rings, two excellent games with very dedicated followers, yet of vastly different proportions and funding.



Gaia strives to break away from the conventional ways of releasing CCG expansions. New set will most likely not be released in the chunks of 100 or so cards. Instead we'll take a micro-approach. We will try to release smaller but more often, making incremental progress, instead of more rarely and huge. Something along the lines of 3 to 10 cards per alliance per micro-set seems reasonable.

Reasonsoning is:

  • To testify that we're alive and well. Important to get new players and trust.

  • It allows us to incorporate and release good ideas faster.

  • Gives us and the community an easier way to handle balancing.

  • Shows the community that we're listening.

  • Funding will come from the community. Easier to collect donations for a lower amount of cards. Since the cards will be delivered much faster, the community sees and understands where it's money goes.

  • Continuous activity leads to re-visiting and PR exposure.

Lysistrate's funding

There are several ways to handle the acquisition of the funding needed to get new card artwork, servers, et.c.

One model of several models we will be trying is the Lysistrate method:

  • Developers outline the new cards in theory & in text form and get the community's feedback on them.

  • Once all parties are happy and if funds are lacking because the community has failed to donate enough for us to acquire new artwork we, the developers, pay for new artwork.

  • We then showcase the finished/new cards in low resolution or with watermarks and ask for donations if the players want the cards to become a part of the game in order to cover our own deficit.

  • Once we reach the goal for the card(s) by getting back the money we spent on them to begin with we release them as usual using the same license(s) as the rest of the game, giving it to the world, forever, and for free to everyone.

Steps here can vary, i.e. developers need not and should not ever spend a dollar of their own if they don't want to. However it is executed the principle is the same: Show the community, in a very concrete way, what something costs to get done and what it actually gets.  Show a clear relationship between funds and end product.

It’s a crowdfunding model where we as developers take a responsibility and show what we deliver and are capable of.


Let's play with the idea that total cost for creating a single new card is around 200$ for us. If 20 persons would donate 10$ each then the game would have yet another great looking card that the rest of the world could access for free. Now, break it down into 100 persons donating 2$ each, and this seems viable. 

Response time

We believe that we should strive to respond quickly and decisive to all problems within the game. One could, without making premature or rushed decisions, see to it that there are well established and formalized procedures to both report and mend problems. The community should be empowered to not only report them but to also suggest and try out it's own solutions to the problems it perceives.

No loss situation

Due to our cards lacking scarcity and all of them being available for free without cost nobody needs to fear losing hundreds of dollars if the game would somehow lack a playerbase in the future. Monetary value can only fade if it was there to begin with.

Being alive

More importantly, our game can not die as long as there are players interested in playing it. There need not exist any copyrights or license issues as long as people comply with the liberal licenses we use. Our distribution model – using the internet coupled with the DIY-touch – also assures us that everything the community needs to revise cards or even create new ones is available and ready for them to use, fully legal and encouraged by us.


We answer to no one. There are no shareholders that can take a crap on us. Be being free in spirit and pocket we're less sensitive to market fads and frenzies. Not even the disbanding of every developer associated with the game could kill it of if there was an interest for it. The game and it's content lives it's own life, awaiting the next batch of skilled players and developers that can continue it's evolution.



  • Staying true to the fully featured CCG genre

  • Allow deck building

  • Easy to learn, hard to master.

  • Low on luck, high on skill

  • High modularity

  • High replayability

  • Low on administration

  • Portable

  • 30 to 60 min average game time

  • No special board/mat needed

Being a CCG

Project Gaia does not strive to re-invent the CCG genre or create a new game genre. Thus being as original or  innovative as possible isn't our goal with this game. 

The primary objective of the project is to create an open source CCG. We want to take the CCG genre's better sides, mold them into a shape of our own, doing away with what we consider is broken, and output a libre product that is still true to the basic concepts of the genre.

Some of these concepts are:

  • The game is played with cards.

  • It has a huge cardpool.

  • The rules are very modular.

  • Deck building is an important part of the game.

  • Future expansions are possible.

Non-steep learning

CCG:s are already a niched type of games. While most people have seen or know of board games the same can not be said about CCG:s. We want a low learning curve and try to create a game that can appeal both casual and hardcore players alike, without dumbing down what makes up the core essence of the genre. We differ between rules complexity and depth of the game.

Chess is a good example: It has few and mostly very straight forward rules, yet it has an amazing strategic depth as well as replay value, all without any randomization or rules complexity involved.

Gaia should be a CCG that is on par with or below the average learning curve of other conventional fully featured CCG:s. Grasping the core rules in the rule book should be easy. The complexity is then added on a modular level by each card.

Streamlined admin

Administration in a CCG is done when you do stuff like shuffling, marking cards, scribble with a pen to keep score, throw dice etc. Simply put everything you must do to play the game except for actually playing it is a part of the game admin. Gaia should be designed in such a way that the players don't perform lengthy or repetitive actions that are of the administrative type.


There are different ways of creating a high replayability value within a game. Well known elements are the use of randomization, letting players choose which characters they'll use, offering different boards, etc.

The way we will accomplish it in Gaia is the the cardpool and the ability to build decks or to try different pre-constructed decks.

By having a huge initial pool of over 200 cards we let the players make choices about which cards they'll include in their deck. In theory, a player can construct a deck of any cards in the pool. In reality however, a player will try to construct a deck where as many of the cards in it as possible interact well together. Usually, the more synergy there is between cards in the deck, the better the deck.

Most CCG:s have rules that create both incentives and discouragement that usually guide the players when they try to build a deck. It's done to allow interesting combinations to take place, and also to maintain balance in the game.

Card compatibility

We will be able to release new cards, but, since we'll be doing it in a slow pace and won't ever be able to mass-produce cards like many of the companies we are put into a situation where we as a general rule of thumb must try to create cards that have a high card compatibility.

A cards’ compatibility is it's "ability to interact with other cards in the cardpool in ways that are advantageous for the player". 

Imagine we have a cardpool of 100 cards, and 1 card in that pool called Master Thief that only works with/on 1 other specific card in the whole card pool. The card compatibility of Master Thief would be 1/98 = about 1%, meaning we have created a card that can hardly ever be meaningful to use or include in a deck, which in turn means that we have tied up valuable resources such as artwork, playtesting and creation time etc. in a card that is of almost no significance in most scenarios when the game would be played. That is bad design.

If we create a game with around 200 to 250 cards in its core set, and where most of the cards have very low compatibility, then we have effectively lowered the replayability value of the game. 

The number of cards that are rational to combine in a deck would drastically fall, and in effect, we will create a game that has very few viable successful decks. That would be a disaster as it misses out on plenty of the purposes with creating a CCG in the first place as it lowers the customization of the game, in result lowering the individualization and personal touch of decks, as well as predefining the game by telling the players, indirectly, which decks to build and which ones can never be built.

To conclude Gaia has to maintain a decent card compatibility. By maintaining high compatibility:

  • We offer many possible decks and a richer meta-game.

  • Make up for us not having ten thousand cards with many of those that are only around due to them having a very limited compatibility in the first place.

  • Use art resources efficient.




  • An average 12+ year old would be able to easily grasp the basics of a CCG. 

  • Being a strategic customizable card game and due to our form as DIY and/or online play we expect a majority of the players to be 18+ 

  • There is no upper age limit. 

  • In practice there is also nothing in the core game experience that will be tailored, censored or modified to make Gaia kid or family friendly, as kids are not our target group.

  • To cater to the lack of a developed and trained attention span among the younger adult generations we offer quick-start rules and short video tutorials.


Project Gaia strives to create a global community. That’s achieved by:

  • Game translations: We intend to translate the game into the major languages with the help of project leader found from the community.

  • Free online play.

  • Guidelines to help build local communities.


Steps must be taken to make sure that the following groups feel welcome and become interested in at the very least trying out the game:

  • Newcomers to the genre → Easy tutorials, friendly and relaxed inclusive welcome.

  • Veterans from other communities → A free different alternative and chance to participate to the development.

  • The cost exiled → Low entry barriers, DIY-kits prepared files, self-cost sales of card pre-cons.

Player types 

Most of the text found in this paragraph is heavily grounded in an article that Wizards of the Coast published in 2002. Marc Rosewater, it’s author, has since written an extended version of it in 2006. Here it’s rephrased to some extent, summarised and commented upon.

Feelers, Tellers & Hardcores

These three persons are fictional and represent three different primary player types that can be broken down into subtypes. These player profiles give answers to questions like:

  • What do a players want when they play?

  • What are their reasons for playing?

  • What makes them happy?

By answering such questions we're creating a profile. The goal with it is to isolate different personality traits and behaviors in order to understand what motivates a particular type of person.


  • Is in it for the emotions.

  • Wants to experience something.

  • Plays bad//non-optimal cards if they deliver a certain feeling.

  • Is easily mistaken for an inexperienced player.

  • Plays to have fun.

Power Gamers

Power equals fun. Having the largest creatures, doing most damage and huge effects etc characterizes the power gamers. It's all about hitting hard and with huge punches.

To appeal to power players we need to insure that there is a way for them to: 

  • Survive long enough into and past mid game with at least two factions.

  • Accelerate resource growth.

  • Boost units so that they become heavy.

Social Gamers

For these the point is to have fun by playing with friends. Chances are high they'll go for multiplayer formats or develop own house rules, card lists etc to insure they are happy playing the game.

The following speaks for and against Gaia being able to deliver something to this type of players:

  • We're about as complex as the average CCG or slightly more so.

  • We welcome the community input and would support the innovations of different community formats. This support could find its expression in:

    • Giving popular community created formats official status.

    • Support tagging uploaded decks as relevant/designed for formats x y z etc, making it easy to find already composed decks for a certain format.

  • We're a free game. As such it's easy to obtain and has a very low entry level of cost. A single player could in most cases easily afford 1-3 playable decks and also knows that it's easier to get friends 

Diversity Gamers

Want to experience different ways to play the game, try various formats, build new types of decks. Keyword here is exploration. Diversity gamers will also try out cards and styles that aren't played.

What goes for the social player is even more true for the diversity subtype of gamers: Gaia should be a very appealing deal to the exploring player due to the low self-costs. The total access to every card within the game makes it possible to explore every aspect of it without having to struggle to acquire rare or expensive cards.

From a gaming perspective Gaia will carry much to try out both when deck building but also playing a deck as well. The very modular nature of being a CCG also insures that a game never repeats itself. What we also give to the exploring player is a chance to share the explorations as well by uploading the deck creations, discussing them and perhaps even inspire to become a part in the development process.

Adrenaline Junkies

Loves the unpredictable variation of the game. Coin-flips, dice rolls and so on all enchant their gameplay by forcing adaption to the unpredictable.

The adrenaline players, as described here, is a group we've chosen not to pay too much attention to. When designing the game we have prioritized strategy in contrast to surprise elements or vital core mechanics through randomness. 

What we do insist upon is keeping the game free from core rule elements that utilize randomization to a degree where it will most often decide who wins or not. While we may end up utilizing some cards that make use of randomization, we primarily strive to create a game where randomization isn't overall decisive for how the game plays out in general.

A way to maybe reach the adrenaline players is to create some cards and mechanics that involve risk taking which is not really a random element per se. An example of that would be a unit that has very good attack values for a low price but that would degrade if the opponent puts x creatures into play the next y turns. These types of challenges will maybe attract the adrenaline player and give an experience of high risk and high reward playstyle.


  • Plays because he wants to express something about himself.

  • Examples are that one’s clever, creative or different somehow.

  • Lives for the customization of the game.

  • Sees the meta aspects of the deck building process as the main part of the game.

Combo masters

  • Seeks out new, nifty or complex combos.

  • Fascinated by the interaction of cards.

  • Easily identifies cards that one can build a deck around.

Inverse designers

  • Gets an idea first and then finds the cards to build a deck. 

(Difference between the combo player and the offbeat designer is that the offbeats respond to a challenge and improvise more, while combo players optimize)


  • Decide to express something with their deck, like the re-creation of a real historical battle or a certain theme that stands out.

  • Comparable with a writer or artist, that uses the cards to tell us something.


  • Stubborn and want to show that the impossible can be done.

  • No card is too bad, no deck build is too flawed – any concept can be made to work.

  • Supers want to show to the world that they can do the undoable.

About the Expos

A community driven game as Gaia can offer the Expos more than any closed source CCG. Playing an open source game could even by itself be an expression. Furthermore the customization potential of our game is endless compared to closed source commercial games. 

The only foreseeable problem that lies ahead for the Expos is the lack of cards in a newly born CCG. It is natural that an older game offers a greater card pool to construct decks from. Our initial core set may seem bleak compared to games that are old timers by now and let the players choose from thousands of cards.

  • Child sickness: The problem will solve itself with time, cards shouldn't be mass produced just to satisfy a demand for quantity. Quantity must not be prioritized before quality.

  • Semi-false problem: The fact that many games have so many cards depend on their commercial distribution system with many bad cards that are virtually unplayable. Many of the games don’t truly have an enriched game play because of them.

  • Invite expos: Insure future expansions by early planning and make use of Expos in the community as a driving force. 


  • Plays to prove how good she is.

  • Only thing that counts is a win.

  • She is her own hardest judge.


  • Invents new deckbuilds only to win.

  • Seek out what is broken in the game in order to use it.

  • Fast to read newly released cards and mechanics.

  • Massive knowledge about how the game works behind the scenes.

We should be grateful and thank the crackers for being around as without them it would take several extra hard working months to spot balancing problems in the game. 

It's primarily thanks to this group we can revise the game and count on that people, via their game play, reveal what needs fixing and what works. Surely the crackers will have a blast playing Gaia as they would with any game: We'll never be perfection, and we'll always offer something to break. We will on top of that offer fixes as well, and with time, as new cards some around, this group of players can once again test their wits.


  • Don't invent. Take what’s around and optimizes it to work better.

  • Go for efficiency and win through it.


  • Are most interested in the meta game.

  • Try to understand what is currently being played the most and builds a deck to win over the current trendy decks.

  • Very adaptable.


Core concepts

Everything set in the world of Gaia has to adhere to some core concepts within it’s universe in order to achieve a thematic and stylistic coherency.


Gaia is set in a fantasy world and era that has many ties to the real world as we know it. It is in part inspired by Europe during 1500 – 1700, the medieval and renaissance era. The fantasy is semi-realistic: People can’t fly and usually don’t have super powers, yet there are rumors about dragons and Elves, Goblins and other species roam the earth.

Pure genred

In Gaia we don’t mix genres: There won’t be a wizard with a pointy hat riding around with a modern bazooka, nor will a UFO ever land to save the day. 


While magic exists it isn’t something that is commonly possessed by an everyday creature. It’s a rare, well guarded secret and evidently a source of power.


There exist no electricity created by man as far as the masses are aware of. Gunpowder and rudimentary use of it is around but something new that is still being refined and experimented with. Explosives exist and are rare. Primitive steam-tech is state of the art, limited to a selected few, unstable, very rare and expensive to manufacture.


There are many different cultures, species, beliefs and political systems within the same world. Most of which we will recognise from present day, others from well established tropes, and yet some that are brand new. Some of these work well together within the universe, others do not. Diversity is also found within the different factions as no faction is species based in an exclusive way, while most of them are made up natural alliances and have one or a few recurring species.


Our world, as the world of Gaia, has both the good and the bad in it. We don’t think we contribute to it in a positive way by pretending that some issues don’t exist. We prefer to also show the ugly to let the public reflect or take action. 

We won’t ever censor or omit to include themes or topics in our fantasy world that may or may not happen to be disturbing to some individuals. For example, we might have slavery, prostitution or drug abuse as themes in within the world, depicted by art or told about in writing or by mechanics when we believe it contributes to the game as a whole.


Gaia is designed to be easily playable with real cards as well as online ones. We will offer guidance and easy ways to create the cards in paper form.

Costs & Quality


The larger quantities a work is printed in, the lower the cost per card becomes if using professional printing services. Successful commercial companies often order great quantities of cards, have them printed first and then shipped to retailers.

That model won't work for this project as we lack that kind of financial backing. Even if we somehow had the backing that would be a mistake due to card balancing, costs of keeping a stock, human resources required to handle it et.c.

In addition we also want to cut away as many middle hands as possible in the spirit of the openness and availability of this game. That may also help to keep costs down for the players overall in the community and opens up for players co-working to find the best ways to create the paper cards in their region.

For Gaia to be embrace by the communities that play with real cards it has to either be cheaper or around the equal cost to the commercial full featured CCG:s on the market.

Other's pricing

Below we have listed approximative prices for products from the world of Magic: The Gathering only. We will refrain from using other games as an index, as it will complicate matters needlessly and we believe that MtG is a reliable index as well as a fully featured product and the de-facto standard on the market for real paper games.

The prices are taken from cardkingdom when they're given in US Dollars ($, USD). Notice that some kind of export restrictions seem to be in place, so people outside of the US can't order from cardkingdom.

Prices given in Euro (?, EUR) are taken from manaleak, using their built-in currency changer.

All cards are, for the purpose of this comparison treated as if they were of equal monetary value. The presence or amount of rare cards in the product is not accounted for in the below figures. Production costs for the rare cards (non-foil) are however identical to the ones of common cards. 

In MtG a player needs between at least 40 cards to play, although 60 is more common to be able to play the game at any casual capacity. 

Prices 1 November 2020

Core Set 2021 Draft Booster pack 

Draft Boosters are the classic Magic booster – 15 cards from the set designed for a balanced Draft experience plus an ad card or token. These boosters are the backbone of Magic and are key to building a balanced deck /../ Each pack contains 15 cards. Premium foil cards are randomly inserted.”

  • A booster pack costs $2.99$

  • Price per card: $0.20

The identical price and info also applies to other contemporary sets such as for example Zendikar Rising, Ikora: Lair of Behemoths, Theros Beyond Death, 

Pre-constructed decks: Core set 2021 Planewalker Deck – Liliana


1 ready-to-play 60-card deck featuring a foil planeswalker card that also comes with 1 Core Set 2021 Draft Booster

  • Price for the product as described above: $11.99

  • Price per card: $0.16

The identical price and info also applies to other contemporary pre-constructed decks such as for example Chandra

The decks Chandra and Ajani cost 8,9? each. 

Prices 30 January 2019

Booster packs: Core Set 2019

  • A booster pack contains 15 randomized cards that are unknown to the player at the time of the purchase. A semi-random distribution is used (1 Rare or Mythic Rare, 3 Uncommons, 10 Commons, 1 Basic Land)

  • Booster packs can become cheaper when bought in whole unopened booster box that contains 36 booster packs. Prices below are not based on purchasing booster boxes due to to a vast majority of players in any CCG not getting their booster packs that way.

  • A booster pack costs 3,44? /$2,49

  • Price per card: 0,23? / $0,17

Pre-constructed decks: Core set 2019 Planeswalker Deck – Liliana 
  • 60 cards 

  • + 15 semi-random cards via 1 included “Core set 2019 Booster Pack”

  • = 75 cards in total

  • Price of deck: $10.99 

  • Price per card: $0.15


Legacy prices 8 July 2010

Booster Packs
  • A booster pack contains 15 randomized cards that are unknown to the player at the time of the purchase. A predetermined distribution is used: A majority of them are common cards, and a share is uncommon while yet a smaller one is rare.

  • It costs 3,83? / $2.95

  • Price per card: 0,26? / $0.20

Intro Packs

Example 1

  • An intropack is a pre-constructed deck. It currently consists of 41 cards + a booster pack of 15 cards, giving a total of 56 cards.

  • It costs 11.63? /$7.95

Example 2

  • Price per card: 0,21? /$0.14

  • When MtG 2011 is released the intropacks will have 60 cards in them instead, and also include a booster pack with 15 cards, giving a total of 75 cards.

  • MSRP is $12.99 according to WotC.

  • Price per card: $0.17


The main two options we we will offer to let you get hold of cards are:

  1. Do-it-yourself – we let you decide what suits your wallet and the means of your own production.

  2. Order official pre-printed cards – we deliver the cards to you, ready to play, created by a professional print service. 

  3. (In addition, alternative resellers not associated with project Gaia in any official capacity may choose to sell the cards as it is legal to produce, sell and keep the profits from doing so with Gaia. This is good for the players and community as a whole.)

Print files

We'll supply you with high resolution original quality card images in standard file formats (i.e. PNG, PDF), easily available for download and further processing by you.

Photo quality

Developing the cards as digital photographies is easy, cheap and results in a great looking cards of at least as visually high quality as any of the commercial competitors.

The market is filled with photo development services and competition is steep, suggesting there are many options to choose from.

An important bonus is that photo paper from the labs is often thick and sturdy and of a much higher quality than casual copier paper that people use to have in stock at home. This, together with proper sleeves, is enough to create excellent looking decks that also feel right in the hand.

Home printing

With the introduction of very cheap and competent colour printers designed to output digital photos many of you already have everything that is needed to create superb looking cards. You can choose what type of paper is used and affect the cost per card by choosing that wisely, balanced with weight and quality. 

We don't however recommend home printing hundreds of high quality cards as it will usually cost the average person more than the other solutions per card. That said, this is still an option available to you when grabbing the first couple of decks. We encourage you to do your own math on the subject and pick the best solution.




DIY games have a common problem with durability issues: Games assembled by the players with whatever materials they happen to find have often short life-spans and become torn, crooked and worn out fast if used often. Gaia is a paper product. Card are repeatedly used in various ways, moved around and shuffled. To make the game durable and for it to last for recurring play the cards must be protected.



Lamination is a possible solution but has several issues associated with it: 

  1. While not very expensive, you need a laminator or access to an office which has one.

  2. The edges of the cards will usually feel sharp and may need further treatment. Such treatment does however risks breaking the lamination.

  3. The cards could become hard to shuffle depending on the thickness of the lamination pouches used. 125 microns is too thick and stiff for example.

  4. Durability of lamination sticking together is lowered by glossy photo paper surface. Some cards may open up after a while, but the mileage will vary greatly depending on your photo paper, lamination pouches and heat level.


Card sleeves is a much cheaper and more reliable solution compared with lamination. Make sure the cards fit the sleeves before buying them.

  • Sleeves are available in all local game stores that deal with card games or similar products and also from easily accessible from many retailers online.

  • They all have a transparent front.

    • We recommend getting sleeves with a non-transparent back.

  • Sleeves exist in two or three sturdiness and price levels.

    • The most common and cheapest fully back and forth-transparent sleeves are the softest: They are only appropriate when the cards are already printed on thick paper and when playing non-competitive.

    • Fancier card sleeves are harder and have painted backs with hundreds of motifs to choose from. They solve the missing card back issue (if you print yourself) and also allow you to customize your deck's appearance.



There are few open source customizable card games in digital form while most non-free or non-open card games that come out are digital. The market share taken up of the fully digital vs paper-only is growing due to very strong competition and consumer saturation on the paper CCG market, combined with much higher profit margins for the digital form and a lower capital investment to get started.

To prevail as a project we need to allow the players to play Gaia online:

  • Building a playerbase is much easier online than in a local physical community.

  • Getting started is cheaper and more effortless than having to order or create paper cards.

  • An online version is expected by younger generations and a new way for those to socialize or approach card- and board games in general.


AI & Rules Enforcing

Creating software that enforces rules makes sense if one believes that:

  • Players can’t or don’t want to enforce rules themselves.

  • An AI or a scripted single-player experience is crucial for a CCGs existence.

Developing rules implementation is a task that requires input for every new card and mechanic that is released. Developing an AI or scripts that mimic an AI and play well enough also requires a lot of work and also maintenance when a card is added. These kind of implementations also require that the rules are stable and the game mature in the development process for the programmers to avoid massive backtracking and redoing.

As it currently stands we lack the personnel with the skill sets and interest to pursuit rule enforcement and/or single-player vs the computer. Due to the high costs involved when hiring a team of programmers to create the foundation and then later on when continuing to hire in order to develop new mechanics, keep revising the engine etc. we simply lack the funding to proceed in that direction. What little funds we do have all go into getting original artwork created and upkeep of servers etc.

To create open source software that enforces the rules or offers a single player experience vs the computer we would need volunteer programmers willing to work for free as the rest of us. Alternatively we need to get a steady stream of funds despite us not focusing on being commercial.

Tabletop simulation

There are several solutions that offer you to play vs another human player. These solutions all share a core functionality that allows us to play card and/or board games via the internet, as if we were sitting around a kitchen table in real life. They are general sandbox engines designed to mimic all the possible actions we are expected to be able to do around a real table, with real physical game components. Hence they don’t enforce rules, don’t have an AI component: All rules, states of cards, score, dice etc. are managed by the players, just like it would in the real world.

If programmers within the community wish to create or improve already existing open source engines to we do support and encourage that. 

Tabletop Engines

Open source
  • Cockatrice

  • gCCG

  • OCTGN2


Closed source 
  • Lackey CCG

  • Tabletop Simulator


We release official patches on Steam for Tabletop Simulator. With the help of the community we may also market and maintain official patches and support for other engines that allow you to play the game digitally. We would love to support the platforms where the players are and encourage you to get in touch if you have ideas  that you are willing to act upon.


This style guide is primarily a brief introduction and aid for you as an artist. It tries to give you a clear picture of what is expected. We give short textual introductions and examples of what we believe are good references of how our universe looks. 


A set goal for Gaia is to aesthetically look and feel professional when compared to the high production value games that are typically found on the commercial market. 

If an experienced player or local game store personnel can’t tell the difference between our game and the commercially established ones by just looking at the aesthetics then we have reached a base level. From there we can continue to develop our aesthetics further, also surpassing several commercial games out there.

A guiding star is that our aesthetics should focus on quality instead of quantity. We rather have fewer cards and consistently good looking art than the opposite. We want the game not only to play well but also look high end instead of having a look that is stereotypically associated with what we really are – a grass roots project – driven by the love and spare time of passionate gamers.


One of the important main goals for every artist working on this project is to make the art feel consistent in style. All artists that can deliver that, a feeling for detail, good dynamic poses and scenarios, are more than welcome to apply for a position and become a part of the staff or freelance for us.

These guidelines that govern the aesthetical aspects of the game remain the same and are used to evaluate all artworks that are considered for inclusion into the game, regardless if somebody has given them to us for free or contributed to the game by sponsoring the creation of art. 

Art direction

What is considered to be aesthetically appealing or technically skilled et.c. within the scope of this project is decided by the art director(s) or other appointed persons by the project lead, or by the project lead itself if there are no art directors.

Except for some of our design goals and what can be deducted from our overall tone in the game and the world we're populating, it is purely a subjective matter. That said, the verdict that falls is what we will adhere to. We have chosen to use this model since somebody has to make the decisions for us in order to reach our goals.


You must always consult with a developer or the art director that's responsible for whatever work you're doing before you actually start doing anything at all. We usually grant great artistic freedoms, love to listen to your ideas and expect there to be plenty of playroom outside the scope of what is written in this document. As such, these guidelines aren’t around to limit creativity. They are here to make sure we have a unified style and share the same understanding of the world that’s being depicted.

A sample of how it could work:

  1. The artist gets a very loose description of what is needed and will then have great freedom to interpret it. Example: “An elf woman in peril, with injured arm and a bag”

  2. A simplistic and crude sketch is created by the artist, showing composition etc. → Art director approves or comes with feedback.

  3. Artist then creates the lineart. → Art director approves or gives feedback.

  4. Colored versions is done by the artist → At this late stage the art director usually approves and huge changes are seldom made.



The source is the file created in the software used by the artist. While we encourage all artists to use open source software and open source formats, we don’t require it as long as the source file is a file format that is a well established and widely used standard. For example, it could be a Photoshop or GIMP-file.

We always need to get the source file intact when receiving the artwork: We need the artwork properly made on separate layers, the same way the artist had it while working on it. The source file should also always keep it’s original and high resolution. 

In addition, we also need a PNG-export of the original source file. The PNG must be non-compressed.

Resolution & DPI

Most of the artwork will be used as illustrations on our cards, coupled with a specific card template with text elements. Card art may in rare cases also be used in other ways, for example to make posters or for use on our site. 

It’s imperative that the artwork is created in such a way that it can be used both printed on paper cards, as well as in cards within our digital version of the game, where the cards are much larger.

Hence all artwork must be high resolution in its original state and have an absolute minimal original DPI of 300 up to 600 DPI when printed. 


Gaia uses the global metric system.

A printed paper card is  65 mm in width and 92 mm in height. While this is not 63 x 88 mm  which is more of an industry standard for card games, sleeves, boxes etc, it is still perfectly compatible with a majority of all products.

The card artwork zone itself will typically cover a maximum of 65 mm x 45 mm, but may vary and exceed that in height so that it is up to 69 mm in height.

Sizes in mm are only relevant when working with print media. For electronic versions all measurements regarding card size should be specified in pixels for the card as a finished product, while other units may be used in the source file, for example to set font sizes etc.


The artist must have the overall size and shape of the actual cards in mind when creating a new artwork. Due to our cards being vertical in their orientation (sometimes called portrait mode) the artwork must be created in such a way that it makes sense and occupies a rectangular vertical shape.

The final framing where the finished art is placed and sized on the card is done by an art director or other appointed persons within the development team, and not by the artist. 


We only accept art that is of an adequate or high quality, according to our own standards as set out in the art direction. If we believe something looks “bad” in the context of our game, it will not become a part of it regardless of the cost. 

In general the art should be:

  • Realistic

  • Illustrative

  • Usually without a background

    • In the rare case a backrgound is used it will only be partial and fade or tear into transparency.


  • Anatomical correctness and realistic illustrative approach is important.

  • Composition needs to be adapted so the art can be used for our purposes and look good on real life printed cards as well as on high resolution screens.

  • Overall palette and style of the artwork must aesthetically work with the faction card template that the artwork will be part of.

  • Overall color scheme and design used for example clothing must be stylistically compatible with what is already around for the given faction.

    • Deviations and new styles are possible if artist asks and gets approval.

Unit portraits

Units are usually humans or humanoid like creatures like elves, merfolk, orcs et.c. In some cases they could also be other animals or monsters.

The artwork for our unit cards should have a portrait setup:

  • Waist up: Cut below, no legs.

  • Never cut at top or sides.

  • Transparent background.

  • Classic or preferably dynamic pose, with something is happening.

Other cards

For all non-unit cards the sky's the limit when it comes to the composition and what is depicted. These could for example be buildings, nature or magic or elemental effects or props, or pretty much anything 

For props any kind of medieval objects could work if: 

  1. Done in proper size to suit the card art area

  2. If cut, then cut at bottom.

  3. Themed so that it’s design matches the aesthetic of one or several factions. (A goblin spear would for example look different from an elf spear)

  4. Uses a color palette that is in line with it’s factions.

  5. Lack background or have it on a layer of it’s own so it can be hidden if needed.

Some random examples of props: Book, scroll, potion, key, jewelry, weapon, armor, clothes, statue, masks, chalice, wonders, animal, torch, map, treasure, food, tools, instruments, idols, staffs, scepters. 


We usually don’t use any backgrounds due to costs regardless of what card type the art is for. In some works partial backgrounds are required though, in which case they are created. 

Most of the time these backgrounds are fairly rudimentary or abstract or partial, again, due to costs but also because great details of panorama backgrounds won’t make any sense when printed on such a small area as the real paper card allows. 

If cut anywhere the artwork should be cut at the bottom.


We don’t apply censorship as a ground rule within the project when it comes to what is and isn’t depicted. Albeit we are not censoring, we are also not using the game as an excuse to provoke intentionally.

We don’t try to appeal to the masses and young children are not part of our target demographic. The well-being of children and what games they do or do not play is at the discretion of their guardians. Ethically and logically we owe guardians and their specific belief of what constitutes a proper upbringing nothing as developers and we don’t believe random people are entitled to enforce their beliefs on us, regardless if they happen to have any offspring or not. 

We believe in the freedom of speech and art as a means of expression, so we see no need to self-censor our own game. In cases where a group of people take offense, logic offers them the option to not play and choose another leisure instead.

As for censoring depictions of violence and its consequences (injury, suffering, blood, body parts) or creating artwork where nudity or sex is shown isn’t automatically disqualified by us. Nor are people in certain situations, of certain sex, sexuality, religion or color somehow considered to be sensitive subjects to the extent where we opt to never include them or somehow “protect” them from certain contexts.

Whatever is created as original art for our game should have or be given a context that makes obvious sense within our game universe, the lore and world where it all takes place according to the lead developers. Our universe is a semi-realistic and gritty one. It’s harsh. For example, naked breasted women/men exist in some contexts, as do slaves, regardless of their species or color. There are murderers, victims, war criminals and heroes around. We show it all and don’t hide certain aspects of life in that world.

This gives the artist and us as developers a somewhat greater space and freedom with what we will end up putting on our cards. 

Decisions like these are settled primarily by the art director, but may be reverted by the lead developer that has the final say on what may and may not be used as art within the game, for any reasons he/she sees fit.

Palettes & Appearance

The Empire

The aesthetics of the faction called the Empire is easiest to sum up as close to the ones we have about the Roman Empire in our real world popular culture. One can use works such as Rome (2005), Spartacus (2010),  Centurion (2010), The Eagle (2011) and 300 (2006) to get a good reference point for how the Empire army will look, feel and even act.

While we see no value in mirroring the Roman Empire’s actual historical aesthetics and trying to live up to historical accuracy the Empire in our game is influenced stylistically by what we today believe that Romans were according to our own pop-culture, which of course has done it’s own very “vivid interpretations”. It is known that aspects of this modern perspective are over the top, and sometimes totally incorrect, but historical accuracy is not the goal when creating art for the Empire faction in the game.

The full story of the Empire can be read here. It’s characterised by the following traits: Military, discipline, clean, weapons, organised, mighty and far reaching, mercyless, heavy machinery, horses, armor, no expenses saved, the dictator emperor is almost seen as a living god.

The Empire sees itself as the cradle of civilization, and by occupying new lands they imagine that they do the overtaken a favor.

The image above shows three different Empire units, using our unit card template. While not all Empire units must have red in their uniform, most of them will typically have something red. 

Leather, armor,weapons and steel are usually present among the military units, swords being the most common weapons. All weapons and equipment need to be realistic in the sense that it feels like something that the Roman army might have used according to the average person and pop-culture.


The Empire army is made up primarily, of white, human males. Most of them are of average build and have short hair. 

There are legions of other species or with mixed species, but these are rarer. There are also rare cases of women within the Empire that sought a military career, and also people of color. The majority of the Empire has the heritage and traits of southern Europe. Given that the shadow of the Empire reaches far, the people that serve within it’s legions can look very different at times. In such a case there is a theme surrounding those deviations, for example five cards would be created in similar style, presenting a separate legion operating in the outskirts of the Empire.

Empire template

The template that we use for all Empire cards is deep-gray blue with classical semi-saturated deep crimson roman red. 

The sides and containers are in clean cold steel blue and white shades. The huge contrasts between warm and cold colors are characteristics and unique for the template when compared with the other factions. 

When creating a card for the Empire faction, please use a palette that works well with  the template colors. Feel free to copy the empty template image and apply your artwork inside it to get an idea of how it looks when used with the template.


Gaia is most intimately connected to the force of nature, what is natural, pure and untouched. They love each other, use life, growth and peace to defeat the enemies of what is good and caring. Within Gaia there are two world views that up to this point manage to coexist and color every aspect of society: The elder way, where religion, traditions and nature’s magic are central, and the way of the intellect, where a systematic approach to science and academia has begun to influence the younger generations.

If armed confrontation can be avoided, Gaia will do so. If not and their hand is forced, then there are plenty of principles and will guiding it forward to rid mother nature of it’s foes.


Gaia is mainly made up of three species: Elves, Merfolk and Humans, with the elves being the majority. To be be able to call oneself Gaian one first needs to understand the concepts of living in harmony with the world, and to share one’s efforts to improve it with others. The elves and humans are the ones who drive  academia forward, while the merfolk are more reserved, tending to nature and honoring the old ways. 


The elves are the generic ones in the world of fantasy: Tall, slender, pale skin and often blonde or dark haired. They have the classic pointy ears and a body that is seldom very muscular. They're agile, often portrayed as youthul, and they're relatively fragile compared to most other species.

The elves' primary palette utilizes olive, deep and browny green as the main colours of their cloth. Wine red, purple and white are also seen. They usually prefer to stick with colours that can be found in nature and the forests they dwell in. This may however differ if an elven person of notice is depicted, or when it comes to small ornamental details such as a flower in the hair. They are elegant, even when dressed in modest clothes, and keep their weapons and equipment in perfect condition.


Shydes are elves born with rare physical anomalies, most often but not exclusively in the shape of wings. In the tales it’s said the goddess took pity and wanted to save them from the wickedness of life on earth, offering them a place in the skies far above. In reality most shydes can’t fly very high, and those that manage to take off can only sustain it for a very short period of time before becoming exhausted. 

Shydes are still seen as touched by the gods by many cults. As such they are often trained during their childhood in what is to come, to one day be able to fulfill a prominent position.


The Merfolk are water creatures with fishlike skin tones in various shades of blue. Natural sources of pink and purple are also present, along with a green of seaweed or algae. Merfolk created materials are often hints of brown or copper. 

Merfolk are for the waters what the elves are for the forests. They have similar values as the elves and also share their close relationship with the earth, albeit in the vast oceans and rivers. 

They are depicted as very close to nature, almost au natural, lacking gear or only using sparse equipment or clothing that is apparently made of natural materials. The exceptions to this are most of their military units that use armour/scale of exotic rust proof metals or skin, shaped into natural forms like shells. The Merfolk are more visibly muscular than elves, but stilla are quite skinny.

They are more prone to violence than their more forgiving elvish counterpart. They also have a military discipline and culture that remind very much of what could be described as Atlantean inspired.


The humans found in the Gaia faction are from all kinds of ethnic origins. What they perhaps have in common most often is that they share the Gaian way of thinking and view of mother nature. They would most often not wear expensive military armor or fancy weapons. Instead they are shown in more civilian settings, with non-extravagant clothes.

They are of all body types and ages, and they may manifest their regions local cultures and symbiosis of it with an overall holistic belief in nature, akin to how native americans, eskimos or other indigenous people have different ways of expressing similar concepts about nature and existence in ways unique to the given culture.

Humans are the ones that vary the most in appearance within the faction, both in costume and anatomy, compared to the elves and merfolk that have a more unified look within their species and culture.

Red Banner

The masses are about to revolt, and the Banner is the people's army, composed of all stratas from the poor, oppressed and unjustly treated. The faction is loosely organized and is about to become more structured.


You can find members from any species in the Red Banner, but orcs, goblins and humans are dominant. There are no rites of passage to join the Banner: Being alive and struggling to make ends meet is your entry ticket. Most join when they realize that it’s an unforgiving and hard world that will either exploit you until you dissolve into nothing or swallow you whole as just another expendable body.

The members of the Banner are often uneducated or poor individuals that have known hardship since birth. They are united by the dream that they will one day be able to have better lives, free from poverty and unjust treatment by the more fortunate classes. 


Orcs are simian-like, with naturally muscular anatomy, strong, in dark brown tones. They are more hairy than the average human, but less so compared to apes. Among them are big and brutal leaders and warriors with a significant conflict experience. The orcs have a prideful heritage that is threatened by the modern ways of life that have emerged with the growing cities. They have a clan and honor centric history. 

Orcs are often mistakenly seen as less intelligent compared to humans. That impression is given by their way of life, dictated by their culture, and isn’t necessarily a truth about their natural ability to think and reason: For the orcs training such skills were usually never a priority. Preparing for hunt and war, training one's body to endure in the barren lands was. Orcs are short tempered, can become very aggressive and are known for their explosive mood, something that likely the result of a mix between nature and nurture.

Goblins, often considered to be their smaller, skinnier version, are fast and alert survivors. 

The Red Banner usually uses scavenged or otherwise improvised gear, neglected, unrepaired and often more blunt and rusty than shining and sharp. They use colours of earth for camouflage, mostly brown. You can find almost anything in their possessions – from simple war machines to bizarre artifacts. The Banner will use all means it has to insure victory. Typically and with few exceptions only the Orcs wear the red uniform.


The shadowguild lives up to its name: It’s creatures dwell in darkness. The colors are cold, black, bone, purple and old pink, infected green, deep blood red. Stylistically one can find both the flesh, rags and the occasional spectacular exclusive within the guild.


Humans that worship the forbidden, undead, skeletons, creatures of the night, random beasts, spectres, spirits. The plagues, the nightmares, the one that only knew agony.

The Shadowguild is more a force than a faction, a way to explain the good and evil. 


Lore & Abilities


The story about the universe where the game takes place creates the setting and gives us a feeling of the reality in which we find our characters and where the battles and all the intrigues happen. The lore helps us shape a psychological profile of the factions. It themes and gives some meaning and backstory. It explains the premises behind the actions, and what is to come.

Each faction has a number of game mechanics – abilities – available to its disposal. Together they define the factions playstyle, tactics and strategy. An ability is either common, uncommon or rare in relations to a given faction. While the ability to sneak (I can only be blocked by others with sneak or detection) may be common among the mercenaries hired by the House of Nobles, the same ability may be rare in the ranks of the Empire legions. Factions where an ability is common are the ones that master it the best.


In a quiet corner of the known universe a distant planet orbits its star. Far from above diverse vast continent emerge, surrounded by an ocean. Islands are scattered along the coastlines and some even further out to sea. 

Life flourished through time. Civilizations came and went. There's nothing particularly special about the world even if it does have its own distinct cultures and unique species, as many other worlds have theirs.

In the beginning the vast size of far stretching lands allowed many different species to coexist with their different needs and different ways of life. While nature seldom showed mercy for the weakest of kinds the world had an inherent harmony where the creatures balanced each other.

The world had its times of peace and conflict. Through the ages the smaller wars have long been forgotten and the greater ones are still sung about and etched in memory of distant relatives.

Today, mathematics, mythical rituals, primitive machinery, the wielding of steel and the casting of ancient magic all coexist in a world that is in ever evolving motion. Even though some species may see the world as black and white most have come to understand that cultural diversity blends right and wrong into the purest shade of grey. 

Confrontations arise between the factions. Alliances have come and gone and new ones are still made. Loyalty is earned through blood and iron or bought with coin. Every warrior is ready to die for something, every lady prepared to feign love for a cause, every heart has its destiny, and even the meekest of creatures can sway the course of history.

Time has served us with the gifts of some scientific advancements in the fields of medicine, agriculture and basic mechanical knowledge. The once desolate world has entered a new era where every tract of usable land is contested. It’s becoming overpopulated and resources are scarce, plummeting societies in unsecure states where the survival of the fittest has become the guiding star. 

Some say the ancient prophecies are about to come true as new conflicts color the skies red with fire and paint the earth with crimson blood. Omens like those about the dead men walking the lands again are said to be true and fuel the already widespread chaos. Conflicts between, as well as within, city states and kingdoms have become commonplace.

For some the conflicts are about survival, their right to exist, for others it's better living conditions and freedom, and for some it's about expansion, greed or pitty vengeance. Battles are fought between religious faiths, for ideological and ethical conviction, for land, for pride, in some cases love or lust. Reasons put aside, one thing remains certain – the victors reap the rewards while the fallen are sent into oblivion.

It's said that she who controls the land controls the universe. In this epic what has already happened can never be undone. The future; however, is in your hands. 



After playing a key role in the rebellion many of the elves moved to seek out a peaceful life in the depths of the forests. There they co-existed quietly with the beings of the earth while keeping to themselves.

Once their society was relocated a long period of stagnation stepped in. The elves became a more and more unusual sight in the cities of mankind. It was not until there came to be new generations that the rebel descendants began to journey further astray and slowly regaining their interest in the world outside of the forest realms. Where the woodlands stretched thin and mighty rivers divided the lands, flowing into the oceans, they came in sparse contact with the Merfolk.

The two people's relations evolved, and an implicit alliance was forged from their friendship, built on mutual respect for their inner will to live in harmony. Although the cultures had many differences, they both cherished mother nature as the prime – Gaia – the beginning and the end of the soul and all matter. While the elves were the shepherds of the green wilderness and ancient trees, the Merfolk were the guardians of the very essence of life – the waters. Through the meeting of the merfolk and elvish culture, new thoughts arose. Their philosophies began to converge. The academia became revitalized: Each term the seats for higher learning were filled, discussions were all around and all subjects of life were debated and part of polemics.

The two civilizations had always been socially and culturally instilled with a genuine respect for life. Initially that respect had religious origins, written in scripture and socially inherited. The old ways were still around, but now began a new process of rationalization. Ethics came to dominate the discussions, as it was recognized as the sole science which told what to value, why, and how to act.

A notion in particular rapidly gained recognition: The idea that the only thing worth something in itself was happiness, and that everything else was of instrumental value. Thus, it was understood that in practice, all actions center around and are derived from the avoidance of suffering and creation of happiness, placing the first as priority over the latter.

The Gaians believed that all actions taken by a creature related to one of these cardinal axioms, and that everything we do helps to fulfill one or both of them. Everything can be deemed a proper choice and action as long as the consequences itself leads to a result that in the long run generates the most universal happiness. In these teachings, developed in Practical Ethics by the Singer, all beings that are able to suffer were worth equal consideration. The question we should ask ourselves is: If we should care about a certain type of life or not wasn't if it could talk or reason – such attributes were not relevant. The question we should ask ourselves was ”Can it suffer?”

From the inherent logic of the ethical truths that the cultures recognized, a stricter ethical approach followed, placing them in a turbulent period of introspection: Knowing all of this was not enough. They had to go one step further. Their moral conviction required them not only to be passive bystanders, but to actively seek out and oppose suffering wherever it could be found. Wisdom and the focus on ethics was embraced as the solution to the perils of mankind. Education & enlightening, not the arrow or trident, would bring peace and happiness to the people.

Pluralism, nature, the freedom from any ruler other than reason itself and a closer relationship to earth are the goals of the Gaian. They always act in the interest of the planet's liberty, and seldom raise arms if it can be avoided. Instead they resort to logic as well as mother nature as a method of fulfilling their duties towards the all. Whatever one might think of their ideals it's hard to live up to them in a world that's in the process of becoming grimmer by the day. How the Gaia will react to the newly brought circumstances remains to be seen.


Anti-aggression, defensive, healing, strength through unity, boosting, spells

  1. Bodyguard  

  2. Cooperate 

  3. Guardian 

  4. Veteran 

  5. First strike  

  6. Sneak

  7. Veteran

  8. Triblock

  9. Connected

  1. Sanctuary

  2. Peaceful

  3. Dodge

  4. Meddle

  5. Scry

  6. Exile

  7. Indestructible

  8. Tribal


  1. Touched – I can't be affected by any Spells.

Reserved common mechanics

  • Restore – Bring back creatures/permanents that went to the graveyard this turn

  • Treaty – Target region can’t be dealt damage this turn.

  • You can't lose the game and the opponents can't win.

  • Destroy

    • Target attacking or blocking unit.

    • Target unit that damaged your region or unit you control during this turn.

    • Target marked unit.

    • All units.

  • Damage prevention

  • Deal x damage to target attacker or blocker.

  • Spell

    • destruction

    • synergies and effects

    • spawning from hand

    • tutors

  • Exiling cards from graveyard

  • Life gain

  • Pacifistic effects

  • Preventing actions

  • Return target spells from graveyard 

  • Marking units

  • Taxing

  • Token generation

Reserved uncommon mechanics 

  • Equipment destruction

  • Bouncing units, equipment, resources to hand or deck

  • Boosting attacks

  • Direct damage, multiple targets

  • Friendly to equipment, creatures and resources

  • Increasing counters and/or tokens

  • Putting artifacts from hand onto the battlefield

  • "Reanimation" (Return a creature card from a graveyard to the battlefield.)

  • Return target artifact from graveyard to hand

  • Return target creature from graveyard to hand

  • Tutor units or equipment

  • Unmarking units or self

Red Banner

Constant territorial wars and tribal rivalry made the cities in the horizon look like a good and easy option to many of the orcs and goblins. The temptations were many and migration ensued. The promised lands became a myth and seemed like an option to what was a worn down alternative – to remain and uphold the old ways of life. The younger generations abandoned the villages and even the nomadic tribes began to dissolve. In the cities the resourceful humans had created enormous industrial barracks where wondrous wheels were turning day and night.

Adjusting from tribal life to the cities in times of mass migration and unemployment was a devastating blow to the orcish ways. Old rites and customs were lost in the transition, making the orcs forget about their heritage. While they got to play a role in the new world, they soon came to discover that they had a predetermined place in them. Frowned upon by men, exploited as almost free labour by the dwarves and perceived as barbaric horde by others, their destiny was attached to the iron, as labour for whatever tasks that couldn't be performed by neither wheels nor beast. Yet they always had the lowliest of work that no other people would touch and wages that kept them on the verge of starvation.

The seed for the Red Banner was planted with a handful of orcish workers refusal to work under miserable conditions. They declared that nothing would be done unless they got proper payment and called out other orcs to join their refusal. As a response mercenaries came to the site and killed their leader, unknowing that he was bloodkin to the chieftain of a tribe in a nearby region. Enraged by the news the production barracks were targeted and burnt to the ground. 

From that event onward the conflict between the orcs and mankind escalated and became an infected issue about rights and citizenship, where the urban orcs were backed up in guerilla warfare by the remaining tribes all around the continent. The orcs were eventually forced to either flee many of the main cities or were unwillingly deported. Many of them returned to their roots while others regrouped and organized in sizable encampments that were always on go.

The struggle became universal as not only orcs and goblins joined it, but also humans and others identifying with the cause, also broadening the objective to encapsulate the demand for equality. They were many. A body with members from almost all species, a cross-cultural gathering of the least fortunate ones in society. They were found at the very bottom of the burdening hierarchy which they carried on their worn down shoulders. From the free but hard working commoners, the slaves, the landless to the lawless and the sick to the outcasts. The masses were all connected in subtle and yet explicit ways. To join their ranks one had only to be a nobody, a task easily achieved wherever the shadow of the core city states fell.

Their understanding of the world originates in a socio-economical analysis that, in short, serves them the conclusion that the common people are slaves and are exploited by the wealthy classes in the world and that the people don't have any real power over their everyday life. Instead of the people ruling themselves, the ones with the gold rule all to their own advantage.

The members of the Red Banner have begun to fight for a heightening in the collective consciousness in order to unite the people in a revolution. They are convinced that once they grow strong enough in numbers they'll be able to take back what should rightfully belong to them, the people. Not until then will the commoners be free.

The notion of the requirement of a revolution is central, as the members don't believe that the ruling classes will ever give up their power unless it's ripped from the grip of their dead hands. The exact nature of the revolution doesn't matter as long as the job gets done – whenever they're met with violence they respond with the same. A dead oppressor is always better than a living one. The Banner puts focus on acting instead of complaining. The time of words is over.

Those that don't believe in the freedom of the people, comradeship, solidarity and collective thinking need to be woken up. In cases where they also enslave the people, they are enemies of the people and should be eradicated as such.

House of Nobles

The House of Nobles is a high end society that's said to have sprung from a small and informal network of kings around the continent. Originally the society was small. It was of a social and political nature, and to become a member one had to have royal blood in the veins and wield significant power. Due to wars, inventions like mechanical contraptions the merchants and aristocracy combined forces and soon became on equal foot with the royal forces. Forcing their way into the society it was reformed into the House of Nobles.

Their armies are mostly made up of paid mercenaries. The soldiers of the Nobles struggle to secure their employers authority, economic interest and to revert gaia into status quo. Their assembly has only that goal and is a response to any factions threatening those interests, like for instance the Red Banner.

Once the value of the gold and it's authority began to be questioned and once new ideas, faiths and causes were born, the power of the merchants & noblemen began to diminish. People that didn't value the gold couldn't be bought, and what can't be bought can't be controlled.

There was a time when there was law and order, and where the law protected the wealthy and secured their reign. The founders of the House were fast to recognize that the glorious days were over, that the world had gone into a chaotic period and that the outcome of things to come could be in favour of a different ways of thinking. Those ways shouldn't ever be allowed to spring root.

It's commonly told that greed for power and their own well being at the expense of anyone else's are the only motifs the merchants & noblemen have. That is however a very erroneous portrayal:

The House of Nobles is convinced that the old order of things is the one that pushes the world in the best possible direction. It is gold and the understanding of economical forces behind commerce that will save the species and make the world into a better place. True freedom and development can only be obtained through free commerce. By owning, or be owned. This is apparent to all the noblemen and their allies and such an obvious claim can't ever be questioned. 

The House only tries to fulfil its role in the cycle of nature where you must eat or be eaten.

It's duty is to control the masses with every means possible to insure that they start heading on the right path, one that's free from factions, one where the people are at peace, united under the same principles and minding their own business – leaving the world to be governed by those appointed to do so: The noble elite.


Ages ago, before the enlightenment, most lands were struck by the Variola Vera. Thousands upon thousands of people died in the cities. Whole villages were abandoned due to their population dying and people scattered out everywhere in panic and a desperate attempt to protect themselves from the sickness. In the shadow of the pandemic many territories lacked functioning governments. The aftermath equaled either war or civil unrest and chaos. The political struggles spread into neighboring regions and criminal guilds were on the rise. The world lapsed into a troublesome phase where nobody was safe and the strong survived of the weak.

With time some states perished while others got occupied or joined forces together. Eventually they all became controlled under the flag of a single army. And with that The Empire was born. Outward it was justified with a grand vision of a united world in peace. The Emperor declared that an end of all wars had come, that there was only one nation, one people and one law. Many followed, but there were regions where the people never gave up on their own customs, religion or way of thinking. To them the Empire as an uninvited oppression, a false freedom, a rule that wasn't better than the famine, chaos or civil war. The taxes sent to the Emperor were high, the work camps were full with prisoners and voices started questioning the situation.

At first the people formed a loose resistance. Noticing that there were others across the continent that were opposing the Empire the resistance fighters soon began to get more organized. Although the resistance had some initial success it began to diminish as soon as the Emperor turned his attention to the matter. Outmanned and out armored the resistance began to turn to disgruntled members of the aristocracy, former kings and ex-members of the imperial court to acquire more resources and funding. The resistance grew as a result of it's new financiers and the forces of the Empire began to deteriorate in the far away territories.


The story of the shadowguild is yet to be revealed. Some say that the Shadowguild doesn’t even exist as a unified force, that the dark magic, monstrums and threat from the undead are not connected. That half of what’s said are tales, just rumors designed to scare unruly children.

While some of the factions have begun understanding that something may be out of order most don’t connect it to the Shadowguild, which is still just a fable.




Bloodborne x

I spawn with x +1/+1 counters on me if a region was dealt damage this turn.


Battle Scream x

When I attack, all other attackers get +x/+0.

Blood Vengeance

I spawn with x +1/+0 counters where x is the amount of damage dealt to your region the previous turn by the target unit.

Bodyguard x

I may divert up to x damage dealt to target ally and put that damage on myself instead.

Connected with x

I can not be targeted by sources of faction x.


I may attack together with others with cooperate. Our ATK/DEF are summed up as if we were one unit during the attack. Other abilities/enchantments/equipment can't be used by us while we cooperate.

  1. All the cooperating attacking creatures die if the blocking creature deals damage that is equal to or greater than cooperating attackers total DEF.


Units that are dealt damage by me during combat are destroyed.


Death – x

When I am placed in graveyard from the front x happens.

Defensive Stance

I deal damage first while defending in combat. The attacking unit only strikes back if it survives.



I may block units with sneak.


Dodge x

I may prevent up to x damage that is dealt to me during this turn.

Discount for x

I cost 1 less gold to spawn for each x under your control.


Elusive★ | None

The defending opponent must mark a unit before choosing a unit that blocks me.

Enter – x

When I spawn the following happens.

Exile target x

When I spawn the target unit, equipment or spell may not have any effect on the game in any way while I’m in front. 

Exit – x

When I am taken from the front or domain and put into a hand, deck, grave or oblivion x happens.


Fetch x

When I spawn you may pay x to search your deck for a copy of me, put it in hand and shuffle the deck.

First Strike★★ 

I deal damage first in combat. The opposing unit only strikes back if it survives.



Guardian x★ 

I get +0/+x while blocking.



Name a unit. It can’t spawn as long as I’m unused.



Any unblocked damage dealt by me is dealt to the attacked region.



I can't attack. 


Pillage x

When I deal damage to an enemy region the following happens.


I must attack during your every attack phase if possible.


I may attack, move, mark and assign same turn as I spawn.

Reanimate x

You may pay x when I unspawn to put me on top of your deck instead of the grave.


I can't be the target of abilities or events played by the opponent.


I can only be blocked by units with sneak or detection.


I may spawn as if I were an instant.


When I attack you may have target unit that the attacked opponent controls unmark and block me.


If you discard a card from hand target spell that targeted me does not affect me.


I don't mark when moving.


My attack and defense are equal to the number of units you control that belong to my faction.


I may block up to three attackers.


I can't equip a weapon.


I can't equip armor.


You may not spawn more copies of me while I'm spawned. 


I can't use equipment.


I don't mark when attacking.

Card Design


A card may only belong to one single faction. A cards faction determines it’s thematic and mechanical playstyle. Each faction is associated primarly with some mechanics and abilities, and to a lesser extent with secondary and territary ones.

Over & Underpower

An overpowered card is a card that gives you obvious enough advantages in relations to other cards and/or it’s own power-to-cost-ratio. 

An underpowerd card is one that gives disadvanatges or not enough advantages compared with other cards, often recognized by the fact that most experienced players will seldom or never use it. 

Both over- and underpowered cards are a huge problem in a card game that should be swiftly solved once acknowledged by the developers.

OP cards are problematic since many players will either exploit them or lose unfarily against them if they don’t use them. Such cards and practices gives the correct impression that something is unfair in the game, which is a feeling best avoided when trying to create a fair and balanced experience, not to mention a game that could be played competetive. As such OP cards have an ethical and social impact on the players beyond the mechanical effects of the exploits.

Underpowered cards are a problem since unexperienced players will be even easier to beat, but mainly because they use up art resources and a slot in the total card pool that is just wasted. By making them balanced all players are given yet more viable card to play with. 

Cards that have a gold cost of less than zero according to the design gold power table are underpowered and may not be released officially.

Balancing Units

  • Units that are cards and designed to be played from hand should usually have at least one ability.

  • Abilities are one of the following types:

    • Always active. 

    • Activated by paying cost or marking/assigning.

    • Triggered by a condition.

      • Conditions are easy, average or hard to create.

      • Conditions should never be easier or harder than that. If so, then they should not be used.

  • Abilities also have a reach:

    • Limited reach: Only the unit itself or very few other units is directly affected by it’s ability.

    • Average reach: Some units are affected.

    • Far reach: All or almost all units are affected.


A units preliminary price point in gold is calculated the design gold power table below.

Notice that whatever the end result is according to the table the card designer needs to make sure that the cards is balanced by tweaking variables and by referencing other cards that have been in the game for long already and that are considered to be correctly balanced. Thus, every new cards cost is in part determined by the it’s estimated power in relations to old cards power and cost level. 


Conditions (If the unit has)

Design power for first instance on unit

Design power per each other instance

(ATK + DEF) / 2    

Rounded up or down for balancing reasons after applying all other factors in this table.


+1 or -1 ATK or DEF when rounding up or down gold cost to integer

Lack of 1 minor free ability


A minor negative ability



A moderate negative ability 



A major negative ability



A minor positive ability

+ 0


A moderate positive ability 



A major positive ability



Drions baseline

Snows baseline

1/1 no ability, 0 gold

2/1 no abil, 0 gold

1/1 minor ability, 1 gold

1/1 minor abil, 1 gold

2/1 minor ability, 1.5 gold

2/1 moderate abil, 2 gold

3/1 no ability, 1 gold

3/1 no abil,  1 gold

2/2 no abil 1 gold

4/1 minor ability, 2.5 gold

4/1 → 4 / 2 minor abil, 3 gold

2/3 minor,

Pricing examples





The Conscript has a single subtype and very low attack and defense values (1/1). It lacks abilities. The only time a player would choose to include such a card in her deck is if there were mechanics that inteacted with the goblin unit subtype. With other words the card isn’t an attractive choice unless we as developers create additional other cards that work in combo with it.

The ATK & DEF values summed up are 1+1 = 2.

Since it lacks an ability it gets a -1 in the table. 

The gold cost would then be (2/2) – 1 = 0

Is it reasonable that a 1/1 unit with no abilities cost 0 gold? Yes, in Gaia it is due to the fact that as a rule of thumb every unit should have an ability to give it an identity, make it interesting and differentiate it enough from other units with similar ATK/DEF-values so that it makes sense for the unit to exist in the cardpool.

Captain of Defense

Captain of Defense



Ally elf units get Veteran – I don’t mark when attacking”

The Captains ability is not limited in reach as it affects other units. 

Nor is it far reaching since it doesn’t affect all or even most units. It is a good example of an average reaching ability: It affects some units – those who are elf and also allies. The intermediate avarage reach in this case has 2 subsets of conditions (elf / ally). The more of those the ability has, the closer it is to becoming a limited reach ability instead.

The Captains ability is clearly not a minor one, and it doesn’t seem to be a major one either given what it does and it’s average reach. Lets assume that the ability is a moderate ability, giving a gold cost of +1 for the card. 

The Captains combiend value of his ATK and DEF is 2 + 3 = 5. Divided by 2 it is 5/2 = 2,5. 

Hence the gold cost for the Captain is 2,5 + 1 = 3,5 gold. Since all gold costs in the game are paid in integers we need to round up or down to decide if the Captain should cost 3 or 4 gold. 

One way to resolve this is to give the Captain +1 more ATK or +1 more DEF. That way he would cost exactly 3 + 1 = 4 gold. 

Another way to solve it would instead be to lower his ATK or DEF with -1, making him cost 2 + 1 = 3 gold. 

Let’s assume we really do want him to have 2 ATK and 3 DEF and that rasing or lowering the ATK/DEF isn’t an option. We could then either give him a minor ability, either positive or negative, to end up with a cost of 3 or 4 gold. 

Since he is a captain and has a leader subtype we will opt to give him a minor positive ability, which adds 0,5 to his gold cost. His new cost would then be:

2,5 (ATK/DEF) + 1 (moderate ability) + 0,5 (minor positive ability)  = 4 gold cost. He would end up looking like this for example:

Captain of Defense



Ally elf units get Veteran – I don’t mark when attacking”

Enter – Unmark target card.

WIP: Balancing regions – tables are useless currently

Regions is the only card type that lacks a gold cost value and thus harder to balance in relation to the other card types. For balancing reasons we will treat the number of region slots it occupies as the card’s cost that we derive from the cards power.

The max region slots available to a player is 10. In general this means that a player could have 1 to 2 regions in play with abilities of major significance,  3 to 4 moderate ones or 5 to 8 minor regions in play.



Region Slots (RS) used by the card

Each HP above 2 HP


Negative ability

– 0 to 3

A minor positive ability

+ 0 to 3

A moderate positive ability 

Pricing could be affected by how fast it could enter play, for example: 

  • 7 RS if turn 1

  • 6 RS if turn 2

  • 5 RS if turn 3

  • 4 RS if turn => 4

+4 to 7

A major positive ability

  • 10 RS if turn 4 – 5

  • 9 RS if turn 6 – 7

  • 8 RS turn 8 – 9

+8 to 10

Teardrop Fall

Teardrop Fall


2 T / 1 RS / 1 HP

Ally non-token units get +1/+1.

+ 6 for moderate positive ability (play turn 2)  = 6




2 T / 1 RS / 1 HP

Put 1 banish counter on me for each of your sources that dealt damage. Discard me when I get my third counter.

When a unit is about to be placed in the graveyard you may sacrifice me to prevent that.

-2 for the minor negative + 4 for moderate positive ability (play turn 4)  = 2

Having this for 2 RS in your deck and being able to play it at turn 4, a one time use card with a negative effect, seems likea very bad idea. 

Natures garden

Natures Garden


2 T / 1 RS / 1 HP

Sacrifice me: Target unit or region that would be placed into graveyard this turn remains in play instead. If it is a region its HP is set to 1.

0 turn + 1 moderate ability 

Bond of Blood

Turn 4, 3 HP

Target an opponent when I come into play. Whenever you gain life the target loses that much life.

6 major + 1 HP -1 turn = 6 RS

1 major 1 minor

2 moderate 1 minor

5 minor

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