Ship Shape – An Educational Card Game Prototype

Ship Shape is a supply chain building game for 2-4 players. Taking inspiration from 80 Days and SpaceChemShip Shape focuses on resource management and a balance between competitive and cooperative gameplay. Included below are the rules, a brief gameplay video, and the prototype card and token designs. The cards are arranged for use with Tabletop Simulator and at a resolution for high quality printing.

As briefly addressed in the video, the gameplay balance needs tuning, particularly with two players. During testing, I reduced the number of orders per week and increased the number of supply and transport cards available, but still had trouble building up a meaningful variety of resources within the allotted seven turns. The next step here is to model gameplay in a spreadsheet to see how the resource economy reacts to adjustments. At its core, Ship Shape is a mathematical system, so it is well suited to a mathematical approach.

One option which I believe would have a significant impact on balance is to remove the per turn resource consumption from some supply cards. Initially, I intended to only attach resource consumption to some of them, but I lost sight of that when determining stats for cards. Most of the current supply cards are zero sum—they produce exactly as many resources as they consume, just in different forms. Some produce fewer than they consume, but the resources produced are generally the specialty resources used only for certain orders.

In any case, the game as it stands is long and not particularly fun. There are good concepts here, but the balance is not where it needs to be for an enjoyable experience.


A set of icons representing four resources and three transport methods.
I had a lot of fun making these. I’m particularly proud of the organic resource icons.

Player Cards

Six player cards, along with a blank space and a card back

In keeping with the Victorian Futurism setting of 80 Days, I prioritized a wide distribution of player locations. The goal was to avoid Euro/Americentrism and encourage the American target audience to step out of their comfort zones and take on a new role. The resources each player card offers are based on primary exports from the country of origin! Admittedly, I spent more time on that detail than I probably should have.

Supply Cards

A deck of 30 supply cards.

Initially, the supply cards were going to include specific producers and locations, but I ultimately decided to take a more general approach. By the way, you can click the image to pull it up in a new tab in full resolution!

Transport Cards

A deck of 21 transport cards.

I had the most fun with the transport cards. 80 Days includes a number of conventional and unconventional modes of transit, and I couldn’t resist pulling in the wilder options. In a future iteration, I want to include images on all of the supply and transport cards so they’re more than just their names.

Order Cards

A deck of 30 order cards.

The order cards are the most minimal in the current iteration. I planned on adding locations to each of them, then possibly incorporating different transportation requirements based on the player’s location. It was substantially out of scope for this already complex prototype, however.

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