Gardener of Thoughts Card Game

Taking you where dreams are made of stars



Gameplay synopsis







What is a game?

The novel



The Gardener of Thoughts Card Game (GOT CG) is a competitive card game for 2 players, with a science fiction theme and atmospheric lore.

The game is designed for the players who like the randomness of card shuffling combined with the short-term logic required to find the best on-the-spot combination of card abilities.

The game can be played by casual players right out of the box with excellent balance. There is a single deck of cards, no other play components. Advanced players may add custom cards.

The main mechanics are: shuffled cards, card drawing, turns, card playing, abilities (whose rules are applied when cards are played), and combo actions (= combining the abilities of multiple cards played in a single turn).

The rules are few and create a fast paced and balanced gameplay, but also create the potential for decisions which can easily switch the balance. There is just enough pressure for the players to feel that they might lose at any moment, but without making the casual players feel like it's unlikely for them to win against veteran players. At the end of a game, when you draw the line, you realize that you're not playing to win, but for fun, for twists in what you thought was your win.

The math part of the game is as basic as it gets: the players only have to compare the total sway of the cards played during a turn. There are no bonuses to add or penalties to subtract, no tokens or counters to move around and account for, no management of resources or costs.

The system's logic is based on the diversity of the (rules of the) abilities present on the cards, and has an emphasis on combo actions. Combo actions emerge fluidly from the abilities, and have to be created on the spot by the players. To master the game, a player has to master combo actions.

Playing consists of turns during which the players may execute various actions.

The purpose of a game is to engage more sway then the rival during each turn, but a game is won by the player who wins the last turn.

The typical game duration for veteran players, without advanced gameplay, is (consistently) 30 minutes. Beginner players (who already know the rules) need about 60 minutes.

Factions: Earthlings / UPA (v), Spacelings («).

Legend: DSS - Deep Space Station, UPA - United Planets Alliance.

There are 132 cards, each with a themed name and lore. There are 3 images, one for each faction.

The game is published in a print-it-yourself format.

Gameplay synopsis

Most of the time, a player has to engage (= play from hand) during his / her turns cards whose total sway (= numeric card value) is at least equal with the total sway of the cards engaged by the rival, thusly obstructing the rival.

Normally, during a turn, a player may engage only 1 card, but the abilities of the engaged cards allow for more cards to be engaged or drawn. This multiple engagement of cards is called combo action and forms the game's logic. Combo actions with 10 cards are not rare, and even with more than 20 have been seen.

From time to time, a player will not be able to obstruct the rival because he / she will not be able to create combos that are strong enough. In such a case, the player must discard 1 card from his / her reserve. Reserve is a play zone of each player, zone which contains a number of cards which is fixed at the beginning of the game; the number is normally 3, but advanced players can increase it by recruiting (= choosing) cards at the beginning of the game.

By discarding a reserve card each time when a player can't obstruct the rival, the player will have fewer cards to engage during the last turn of the game, the turn which will determine the winner of the game. However, simply having more or fewer cards in the reserve at the end of the game doesn't guarantee winning or losing the game, it just increases or decreases the chances. This is because each player also has some random cards in his / her hand, and this randomness affects the ending.


See the rules below for the license.


Here are the rules in PDF format.

Here are the rules in OpenOffice format.

Here are the summary rules.

An alternate, extremely complex design is available here. This is only for game designers who want to explore possibilities.


If you want to print the cards yourself, download the archive with cards (saved as image files).

The simplest way to print the cards is at a photo shop, on 125 * 89 millimeters / 4.9 * 3.5 inches (B7, ISO 216 format) photo paper. Printed on normally sized playing cards, it feels claustrophobic to read the lore, but it is cheaper.

The texts of the cards can be seen here.

Sample cards: no faction, Earthlings, Spacelings.

If you want to use your own images for the cards and then print the cards yourself, download (right-click, save as) the mosaic file which can be opened with Mosaic. The cards were created with Mosaic.

Professionally printed copy

You can purchase a professionally printed copy from GameCrafter.

The printing cost (also include the transportation) is significantly higher than if you were to print the cards at your local photo shop, but the quality and handling of the GameCrafter cards is much better.

The cards are slightly longer, specifically 140 * 89 millimeters / 5.5 * 3.5 inches.

You have to split the deck in two in order to shuffle the cards, but they are easier to shuffle than the cards printed at a photo shop.


You can download all the wallpapers from here.

The images are taken from Hubblesite. Their license allows free commercial use; see their license for details.

The wallpaper images have a credit line in the bottom-right corner, but that will not bother you when your desktop will resize them because the text will either be cut off the screen or it will be under the taskbar; use the "Fill" resize mode.

Here are the previews:


You can read here a technical / mathematical explanation of what fluons are.


Version 1.0.15

Replaced the "Secondary ability" with the "Recruitable" custom rule.

Version 1.0.13

Corrected the "Omen" ability rules: "The player may take and look at 4 cards from the top of the destiny, may move 1 of the cards to the ops, and must put the others at the bottom of the destiny, with their faces down, in any order. The card to move to the ops must have either no faction or the player's faction. This ability may be executed only if the player has less than 7 ops cards."

Version 1.0.8

Added the "Endurance" custom ability.

Version 1.0.7

Corrected a rule in the "Winning turn" section to balance the gameplay: "If the turn loser has no reserve cards, or there are no destiny cards and no ops cards (for both players), the game ends and is won by the turn winner." This correction is useful for when a player has a covert card during the finale, because engaging this card may have (until now) ended the game too abruptly.

Added a rule in the "Obstruct" section to balance the advanced gameplay: "If there are no destiny cards, each player must move the experience cards to the ops."

Version 1.0.6

Corrected the rules of the "Sabotage" custom ability.


Public release of GOT CG version 1.

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