Another 3-in-1 Special: The Taxali Stack

Upon complete and utter mind-boggling Game Design Preparation & Development, I finally have a finished product I am very happy with!

It really came down to a matter of finding an idea, finding some inspiration for the idea, unpacking it – and then running with it!


I have always been drawn to games with a mystifying historical origin; something you can not define a timeline to, and most certainly cannot know who the inventor of the game truly is. It is an interesting thought, that the first ever form of “game” or “play” entertainment could have possibly dated all the way back to the 1st Century! (let’s forget about the never-ending fights, races, or Olympic Games origins in the 9th Century) However, more commonly and most interesting, the first ‘rough’ origins of the humble standard pack of 52 playing cards dates back to roughly the 9th century, where the cards spread throughout India, China, Egypt and then to Europe, where the cards were re-produced under a French guise, and have been the same ever since. (House of Playing Cards, 2004)

The most engaging thing about a Standard Pack of 52 Playing Cards is the vast uses they can achieve; playing games, teaching people about numbers, teaching people about hierarchy, defying the physics of the deck through magic etc. All these facets that lie beneath the humble 52 Playing Cards are so broad and so amazingly rich with it’s origins, making it unbelievably difficult to rectify, where the exactly came from, what was their purpose, what games were played with them, how many of those games are lost and can never be uncovered, and how many of the “card games” we know today, date back to those times. Imagine yourself, sitting down playing a card game, only to know that the game itself was invented over 800 years ago. (House of Playing Cards, 2004)


Card Magic plays a massive role in my engagement of the 52 pack of playing cards; being inspired by the likes of John Scarne, Dai Vernon, Harry Houdini & Erdnase – all these ‘card mechanics’ knew how to fool another person, and defy all physics within standard deck. Making cards appear from unreasonable places, shuffling an entire deck, only to then have it all in order the next second, placing your selected card in the middle of the deck and making it appear on top every time. All these card magic mechanics are roughly from the same era within the early 1900s, and truly inspired our current known magicians today and further to come. I then decided to take the style, and visual aesthetic of the early 1900s and apply it to the design of my deck. Common traits of base colour screen printing and drawing became apparent, but I was more drawn to the cartoon style of Monopoly – The police in the corner, Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Free Parking car, Steam Train, Top Hat, Thimble & Iron. All these pieces screamed out to the visual aesthetic of my playing cards. I started to draw various cards on my own, but never seemed to proceed anywhere remarkable; until I found a designer by the name of Gary Taxali.

Gary Taxali born in India, and later moved to Canada where he was inspired by the vintage era – “retro-ising” and making vintage art as Pop Art. His work itself is reminiscent of these graphic styles, and caters to a wide range of Highbrow/Lowbrow appeal, becoming collectible pieces of eclectic art. Taxali’s most important critique by Steven Heller, claimed Taxali’s work “is repurposed with the goal of communicating the ironies and comical essence of popular culture. His work is at once alluring and endearing. Despite the vintage look, he is neither maudlin nor nostalgic.” (Heller, 2012) His work is considered and often referred to as an aesthetic or style ‘seen before’, but something we cannot ‘put our finger on’. It is as if the style itself has been copied from somewhere, but just modified under the genre of Taxali’s work which is of the Bytopian way of life – highlighting the misfortunes in life, financial evil’s and the common greed amongst many people.

At first, my design aesthetic was based around films, “The Wolf Of Wall Street”, “Wall Street” and took on the design style of business savvy, investor centres of the late 1900s. I then decided this would be rather literal and cliche to the design aesthetic, and found Taxali’s work quite enlightening to the idea.

For the entire deck design I have taken Taxali’s work and appropriated the design style to make it more finance, greed and money oriented. (See Below)

Card Progress Examples:


The Game: The Taxali Stack (Sh*thead Inspired)

A game of building, change, strategy and always being ahead of the other players.

A simple card game mechanic and loop – Exhaust your entire hand, when there are no cards left to play.

The rules of the game for 2-4 people (Any person additional after 4 people, add another deck):


Deal 3 ‘Face Down’ (Chance Cards) Cards at Random in front of each player. (these cannot be looked at)

Deal 3 ‘Face Up’ Cards at Random on top of ‘Face Down’ cards in front of each player.

Deal 5 ‘In-Hand’ Cards at Random to each player. (these are only for the player to see)

*CHANCE: Based on Card Hierarchy each player has a choice to place ‘more’ valuable cards from their hand to replace the Face Up Cards on the table.

NOTE: A player must always have 5 or more cards in their hand, unless ’The Market’ (pick-up deck) is exhausted. 5 is minimum number of cards you can have, and the maximum is variable

Tool Cards: Valuable Cards which have special powers, and should be played strategically.

These include:

  • +2 = Restarts the Pit (Stack) to lowest number (Only play this card, when you have no other cards higher than the Stack)
  • +10 Card |OR| a Four of a Kind = Clears Or Evenly Distributes the Pit (Stack) and allows the player a 2nd Turn. (Individual who plays this card, can eliminate all cards in the Pit (Stack) or Evenly Distribute the Pit amongst the other players, then continue on with their 2nd turn)
  • BLUE CHIP Card = Highest Card within the Market (Can only be trumped by +2 or +10)


Begin the game by playing +3 card from any of the players, then play in a clockwise order.

If no +3 cards exist within any of the players hands, then work your way up to other numbers (+4, +5, +6 etc.)

From here, during each players turn, they must either play the same value cards on the Stack or higher.

If the player cannot beat the Stack, they have an opportunity to play their Tool Cards.

If the player cannot beat the Stack, and have no Tool Cards to play, they must pick up the entire Stack and play as per normal.

Face Up cards can only be played once the Market (pick-up deck) is exhausted, and when the individual players hand is exhausted.

Face Down (Chance Cards) cards can only be played, once Face Up Cards are exhausted.

Once an individuals cards have been totally exhausted they have escaped the game.

Each player must continue to play until they have exhausted their cards.

The last person still left with cards loses the game.


This week I will go through my 10th round of Play-testing.

I know the game works really well, even with the additional modifications I have made over-time.

Originally, once you had used +10 tool card or have a Four Of A Kind Laid down the Stack would be cleared and therefore no longer being able to be played with. I then added an additional layer to the game by giving the player a choice to clear the Stack – or distribute the Stack amongst the rest of the players. This rule adds another amazing dimension to game and is a beneficial tool to use… However, in the finance game ‘Karma is a b**ch’ and it could happen to you.



1 Comment

  1. Hello Daniel,

    I really like the art you have chosen for your game, it reminds me of monopoly in a way and it’s good to see that the artwork has been inspired by the sources you listed above. I also find it quite useful that you have explained what each card does an how it’s used in play.


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