A downloadable game

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Made for Global Game Jam 2019 – What Home Means to You

Graphic design and layout by Vee Hendro (https://veerpgdesigns.com/)

You are fellow travelers on a perilous journey trying to make your way home. The goal of the game is to make it back safely. On your journey, you will encounter various challenges using a blackjack-driven card system, and reflect on what drives you on your journey home.

This is a GM-less/GM-lite collaborative story game for 2-5 players. A game should take about 1-2 hours, and you will need a standard deck of playing cards, writing implements and paper or index cards to play.

CategoryPhysical game
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(24 total ratings)
Tagscards, GM-Less, Tabletop, Tabletop role-playing game


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Ithaca in the Cards V1.1.pdf 1 MB

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Ithaca in the Cards v1.1 - Reference Tables.pdf 497 kB

Development log


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I have no idea how to play blackjack. Will this prevent me from playing the game?

It shouldn't! It helps to quickly understand some of the concepts since it's only loosely based on blackjack, and the rules should be enough to explain how it works without prior knowledge.


Played a round of this with 3 other friends today and we had so much fun! We were off to a really rough start, drawing a 10 as our first challenge with things only going further downhill from there, but we had a blast telling the story of our doomed voyage, and even ended up arriving back home with a lone survivor.

Great portable game since you only need a deck of cards and the rules, or you could even use a card generator on your phone if you don't have cards handy. Greatly recommended!

Ahh thanks for letting me know how it went! I'm glad someone managed to make it home even with the rough start :)


This looks fun! Playable! Gonna try it!

Points I think I've figured out by going over the rules a few times, but the wording is a little ambiguous or confusing at first glance, so I ran through a few theories that didn't work before arriving at these:

1) When it's your turn to be Fate, you add the card you drew to 'any previous Challenge cards' and the Challenge cards, having been drawn 'to the centre' are their own totaled stack of cards, not owned by anyone, with a summed value that's being drawn against.

2) The 'personal stack' on the other hand is the one formed by drawing to face Challenges, summed individually; this stack is compared to the Challenge stack to measure personal mortality, and never incremented by more than 8 per turn unless a Risk allows the drawing of two cards, which could run you as high as 16.

3) The instruction that you may only Risk once per challenge indicates that you can choose to do it before your first *or* your second draw, should you get a second go by drawing 9 or 10.

4) It is possible to 'win' in the Resolution phase by being above the Challenge value, but then die in the next part of the Resolution phase by also being above 21, thus netting one presumes a particularly heroic death. Go bust or go home.

5) Being the last man standing (odysseus) is a victory condition. So is making Blackjack.

This bit is perfectly unambiguous in the rules so I'm sure about this one, I just missed that a mechanical victory condition was even listed until my second more careful readthrough, because of a formatting issue where you've got a bullet point 'if this do this' followed by a *non*-bulleted outcome entry 'if you're all dead you lose.'

Followed by a bullet point 'if this then you win,' which I didn't parse as providing a game-resolution scenario at first, because it didn't match the emphasized-by-not-being-indented game-resolution loss condition directly above it. I kept trying to read that sentence as a set of prerequisites for something following it, which ofc didn't work.

6) This isn't strictly speaking unclear either, just frustrating: it would drive my one friend so crazy that the mechanical definition/impact of Risking an Asset isn't provided in or before the part of the instructions that tell you when and how to do it that she'd loop back a few times looking for the information she'd missed and then ragequit if I just gave her the PDF rip lmao.

Layout here definitely prioritizing minimum page count a bit over maximum intelligibility. Aesthetically I do like the flow of the prose and it's very economical, but a few more paragraph breaks and clearer definition of terms the first time they appear would've helped on my end with getting the thing onto the table.

Anyway please let me know if any of my surmises is incorrect!

Yep, you've got them right! Thanks for the notes! This is really helpful feedback as I work on updating the game. I've got a whole batch of new prompts and tweaks that I'm hoping to update the game with when I get the time. Thanks!


Ithaca in the Cards is a story game for 2-5 players with a blackjack-driven system. You are doomed travellers who left home for a quest. The quest is over, but your way home is even more treacherous. Will you be able to make it back alive?


Hi. This part is unclear, imho:


Ahh thanks for catching that. That should read "If you had Risked an Asset, you also mark an additional Asset as Exhausted".