We all know that we’d trade in our kick-ass hi-tech jobs in an instant if it meant we could spend our lives designing and playing games, right?

I mean, the new features of Flash Player 10 are amazing, but how can they compete with the latest ultra-rare MTG or WoW trading card? Am I the only male on the planet who thinks Bella Sara looks pretty cool? (Ok, don’t answer that.)

With those heavy philosophical ponderings in mind, we present the WebDU Trading Card Game. It sprang from a conversation I had with Geoff Bowers from Daemon at the lovely Web On The Pisteconference in 2007. I’d recently been playing a lot more board and card games, and Nectarine NZ had been involved in design and rule revisions for three board games: The Amazing Moa HuntThe Great Goanna Hunt and The Amazing Mammoth Hunt.

When I mentioned all that to various developers, the reaction was eerily uniform. Their eyes would mist over and they’d be caught in a reverie about a long-distant time when there seemed to be endless hours devoted to deciding whether it was better to choose the +5 Sword Of Cleaving or the +4 Axe of Fiery Vengeance; a time when things like Play By Mail games existed; when phrases like “Car Wars”, “Traveller” and “Squad Leader” had a mystical currency. (For those of you with somewhat less geeky mis-spent childhoods, just think of playing Monopoly or Squatter or Risk with your siblings- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”)

It was then that Geoff and I realised that there had to be some sort of game at WebDU 2008. It had to be fun and simple and open to anyone, regardless of whether they were keen on games or not. It had to promote social interaction: for me, that’s where board and card games shine above PS3/XBox/PC games. And it had to involve PRIZES!

So Geoff and Kai Koenig and I batted around some ideas and I came up with a rule-set. All you need to do is collect a hand of cards and submit them. Here’s a sample card, designed by the fabulous Tracy at Nectarine:

MintyHunter WebDu TCG Blurred1

There’ll be a couple of card in each conference bag, and more handed out throughout the conference. The highest scoring hand will win cool stuff. Easy, right?

Except… each card also has a rule on it (expertly blurred in this one, but if you really squint… it looks even more blurred.) And those rules provide various ways to increase (and perhaps decrease!) the value of your cards. Furthermore, even rules you don’t know about may still apply to your cards!

The best way to discover rules is to get more cards, or else *shock* *horror* talk to your fellow attendees. (For those of you who are programmers, refer to ‘social engineering’.)

Trade cards! Haggle! Offer inducements! Swap rule information! Remember, rule knowledge is scoring power! But it also helps to have a good set of cards.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes. Kai’s writing an app to score all the submitted hands, and we’re planning to have live updates of the highest scores at the final session of the conference. There’s already been a bit of buzz about it on Tim Buntel’s and Mark Mandel’s blog, and I’m keen to hear what other people think about it and watch how it all plays out. So all you WebDU attendees, grab your cards, bring your enthusiasm and I’ll chat to you at the conference!

Ps. No stealing cards. No fake cards. No bodily harm should be involved. Pushing your fellow attendees into the trash compactor to gain their cards is frowned upon.

UPDATE: Wondering how it all went? Read about the post-mortem here!