The Path of Exile Unofficial Divination (Collectable) Card Game - Last Update: January 7, 2020

Yes, you read that right. It's borderline insanity, especially to post this at 4:30 AM local time, but it's a thing I've been casually playing around with since the launch of Divination Cards back in 2015 and decided to try and convert Path of Exile into a CCG/TCG format.

EDIT: The banner's new, but the rest of the post is still from July 2019. The game has evolved from this. A lot of cards that used to exist no longer exist, or at least not in the form posted here. See latest posts for updates.


There's a reason why I can't find anyone else doing this sort of thing, and that's because Path of Exile is a very complex game, and implementing everything from things as simple as Skill Gems to Double Corruption to Maps would require hundreds of cards, each with mostly unique effects and enough playtesters to delay the next major update. Well, I'm not one for not wanting a challenge, and I've adapted a fair bit of the game to a rough prototype CCG format. The game theoretically should adapt to a very interesting physical game format due to its modular design that's meant to be played forever, even if you try to theorize a deck around a single build like Fire/Chaos Damage, or just abusing the drawing mechanics until you hit The Doctor. As players are going to explore their choices, they're going to bond with something, and they'll build a deck around that, and I want to make it possible for every deck to be viable, like Path of Exile. Some cards are going to be better than others (House of Mirrors is a card), but dumping a bunch of "rare" cards isn't going to make your game viable.

I don't know how I'm going to release this, if I'm going to at all. I know that the game still needs to go through testing, then, if GGG can give me permission to print the game in a noncommercial format, assuming I properly give copyright credit to GGG and make it obvious that this game is unofficial on the card back, then I might have some physical cards professionally made as well. And probably ship a deck of unique cards to Chris. I'd love to actually do this properly, and I have the time to right now.

The game, as it is planned to stand right now, consists of 63 unique cards, although some names are reused due to a lack of Divination Cards. (There's actually no cards that give an exclusive pair of boots!) On a scale of complexity from Uno to whatever Star Wars Customizable Card Game was meant to be, it's firmly in between Pokemon's complexity and early Yu-Gi-Oh's.

Digital card prototypes

Comparison Between Game and PoE DCG

Mind you, this is a game that I designed to introduce players to Path of Exile. It's meant to be able to introduce players bit by bit, by first being a game with Life and Mana (except Mana's been simplified very greatly), the three basic defences (Armour, Evasion, and Energy Shield), along with the 5 types of damage (Physical and Elemental). After that, it goes into requirements to play cards, then attaching cards together, abusing attached cards, casts when damage taken, whatever ideas I have for themed expansions, then setting up everything to make a character that is themed well with itself, and I've already found absolutely exploitable situations due to wording.

Huge thanks to Shaun, the Divination Card Artist, for making such quality artwork, and to everyone who spent $1000 USD to make their own card.

also there's an easter egg in one of the card's designs only if you know the source material and the mental gymnastics you need to take, plus Hunter's Reward is my favourite card in terms of aesthetic design

~~please don't ban me for disclosing fishing secrets i tried my hardest not to

EDIT- For July 9, 2019. Reception to my idea has been very... dead outside of a guy I know in real life on Discord that plays Path of Exile who's seen more than what I've posted. Oh, well, I made the game for myself first and foremost.

My biggest complaint with my own game was poor design of the physical cards themselves. Essentially, I was working with the render of the divination card on the Gamepedia. I felt that it didn't look right with the game, and I confirmed it on the 7th, when I made that comparison image. But could I have done better if I dug into the game's assets to get a card render?

Sadly, the answer is no. I've dabbled in the game files before when I tried to convert all of the music in the game to a listenable format. (not a fan of encrypted FMOD codecs, GGG) The game's graphical assets, however, are relatively easy to get and very high resolution, except for the Divination Cards. And honestly, why should they be high fidelity? You barely see them anyway, and they're downscaled in the game itself. Besides, there's some weird transparency issues with the DDS assets in the game when exporting to PNG with an alpha layer. You're never going to unsee it, but on every single card, there's an errant black outline between the border overlapping the card and the card art itself. Usually, the palettes combine very well, but I can't unsee it now, and I hate it. Look at Beauty Through Death to see what I mean. But I was referring to the fidelity of the Div Card asset. If I were to print it at 300 DPI, I'd have a card that's 39 x 57 mm in size. (1 1/2 x 2 17/64 inches for the Americans) That's not good. Upscaling it is a little better, but now it looks blurry.

The images above? They're in their original native resolution. But let's say I redrew it. Made it the nice kind of crisp that I'd only get if I worked at GGG. Well, I tried. I failed. So, off to messing about with various upscale algorithms like Lanczos and ESRGAN on the raw image and cleaning that up after. And honestly? It was worth it.

Granted, the card art is still just lazily rescaled to whatever I need, but here's the difference in the text fidelity. I'd say this is a clear upgrade over 2 days ago.

I want to do this once, and I want to do it right. Now time to figure out how to clean up the actual card art too. Look at that blur!

my only issue now is if I want to really do it right I have to spend over $100 to produce a very limited amount of these cards

EDIT 2- For July 9, 2019. Found a nice way to upscale cards. They're coming out like I stole them from GGG except it's just upscaling and I already see mistakes in the upscaler compared to the original art, but I'm not going to fix all 266 Divination Card upscales by hand. It's 2:30 AM. I have to sleep.

~~game dev is only worth it if you're doing all nighters every day
Last edited by AUKL on Jan 8, 2020, 12:25:04 AM
Last bumped on Jan 8, 2020, 12:24:49 AM
Is three-ish days enough time to let me bump my thread? I want to break up my posts a little, even though nobody reads these.

Anyway, card redesign. Two questions: One- Why? and Two- Was it worth it?

"Why?" - Copyright notice lol. I want to make it obviously clear that GGG owns the rights to Path of Exile while at the same time, leaving my name on it so that in case someone finds this thread ten years from now, they can look me up and see all the nothing I'll do. The additional difference is that the text and art have become clearer after this. Granted, zooming out to the exact dimensions of a typical children's trading card doesn't show a lot on my screen, at least not with a 1080p screen over an arm length away, but I hope that the effort pays off when the cards get their extremely limited print run. Like, 5 sets of each card limited. And I guess I'll release each card as a lower-res PNG/TIFF so you can print them out at home. I also might send a shrinkwrapped deck to Chris Wilson, too, if GGG accepts fan creations.

Wait, but I can barely tell the difference! It makes a huge difference when printed. I'm working at an absurd resolution for what's going to be a card no larger than 9cm tall.

Also, I've added in little set icons in the bottom right, to symbolize what set these are supposed to be in. I've had the ideas of adding in Corruption, mana reservation, sockets (with effects similar to The Doctor card above except they can be played directly on the cards instead of requiring an attachment), Forsaken Masters, Ascensions, Talismans, Maps, Perandus, and side enemies like Rogue Exiles to aid you in battle and Tormented Spirits to aid you in finding loot. Path of Exile has 6 years of quarterly updates and most of them can be adapted to my card game wonderfully. At least fairly faithfully.

Which brings me to question 2- Was redesigning the cards worth it?

Yes. The back originally was just a flat black, but when redesigning the cards from the front, I used the same techniques to upscale some parts of the game that are either completely overlooked nowadays or are no longer applicable. Sadly, a lot of the temporary pre-2.0 assets are either buried or deleted, and outside of finding an early torrent of the game, I'm out of luck for those. (Also, there's no modern Path of Exile logo in the files, but there is an early version of the current one and the one before Ascendancy?) Either way, thanks to the Russian Delve logo being the cleanest version, I've made an early back graphic.

Well, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right and once. The logo on the back still doesn't fit my demand for quality, and the back graphic isn't quite there either, but it's still a step up compared to having nothing.

As for the game, most of the cards are locked into their alpha state, although I've had to remove a handful of cards because they were either nonsensical the way I made them or just really broken. I'm going to post a list in a spoiler and list a few more cards there.

These four cards were removed for mostly good reasons

The Putrid Cloister - Putrid Cloister Unique Map
"Search your deck for a Divination Card. Show it to your opponent and put it into your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward."
Okay, for starters, this gives a card advantage. Mind you, a Divination Card in this instance means any card where the result is a Divination Card. Every other card in the game tends to not have this, or at least gives you a downside or requirements to using it. Even though the game is likely as exploitable as launch-day Yu-Gi-Oh. Additionally, how many div cards are there that give a Divination Card as the output? The Immortal, The Nurse, The Gambler. At the time I wrote that card, only The Nurse was in the game and in hindsight, it was way too strong. So, this card lets you draw one of the strongest cards in the game for no cost. Yeah, I'll find a good place for a Putrid Cloister later.

The Nurse - The Doctor Divination Card. CWDT.
"If a The Doctor card on your side of the field is discarded by a card's effect, this card can be discarded in its place."
My notes for removing this card: "Stupid idea, only affects one card." First off, I don't think that cards shouldn't have an effect that only work with one other card, but in this case? The Doctor is a VERY strong card, even with the highest requirement in the game. On top of that, this card lets you protect it from any card's discard effect once. Drop 3 of these and 3 Doctors in a deck, and you have a new Power Nine.

The Cataclysm - Wild Strike Gem. CORRUPTED. Requires 6.
"When attacking, play Rock Paper Scissors with your opponent. If you win, convert your Physical Damage to Cold Damage. If you lose, convert your Physical Damage to Lightning Damage. If you tie, convert your Physical Damage to Fire Damage."
Okay, I won't lie, I'm upset I had to remove this, but even though I just recently increased the deck size to 71, it's too gimmicky. Seems fun as hell, though.

The Penitent - Malachai's Artifice Unique Ring.
"You may discard a card from your hand. You can then discard a card on your opponent's field of the same Item type."
Okay, is it just me or does this seem really unfun to play against? It's either going to be too weak if I force the text to match, such as "One-Handed Mace", but then again, items like "Body Armour" are commonplace. Just... there's a fine line here and I don't want to cross it accidentally.

~~please don't send a cease and desist

EDIT for July 12, 2019: I have to stop making posts at 1 AM.

A thing you may have noticed on each card is rarity. As part of a CCG, every card has rarity. The rarities are depicted with stars on the bottom right of the cards, with 1 star being common, 2 stars uncommon, 3 stars as rare, 4 stars as super rare (none made), and 5 stars as limited promotional. Every card should be legal. Granted, this goes directly against Path of Exile's strategy of having no 'pay to win' in its items. How do I deal with this? Two, hopefully decent, implementations.

One- Give a handful of rare cards to every player by default as well as enough cards to require strategy before playing a game. While those that eventually download the finalized version of the game will have access to every single card, I'm going to write a booster pack generator that will make 12 cards: 8 common, 3 uncommon, 1 rare. (In the case of an actual funded print run, the plan is to make it 13 cards and it'll make a lot of sense as to why 13) I really hope people will use this to generate a random deck and try to make the most with it instead of just printing off an ideal deck.

Two, the important one- Rare cards should never be the most powerful cards you can use. Rare cards should be the most deck-changing cards you can use. Some rare cards should be good for your deck, some rare cards should be bad for your deck. Granted, I myself am really bad at treading this line due to my inexperience, as looking at my internal sheets, a few cards that are rare, I'd consider as extraordinarily powerful. However, dumping only rare cards into your deck is a bad choice and won't do you any good. A rare card isn't a +1 to an uncommon card, whereas uncommon cards can be sometimes described as a +1 to a common, and even then, I have a few instances where this isn't true. However, rare cards are designed to bend the rules more so than other cards. For example, the following card is a rare, and I think it may make sense as to why it is.

Alluring Bounty - 10x Exalted Orbs. Currency. Cast.
"You can only activate this card immediately after your Draw Phase. Draw 2 cards from your deck and end your turn."

In exchange for giving up your turn, you get a two card advantage. This can be either really powerful or really stupid, depending on what point of the game you're in. Here's another one.

The Realm - Superior Portal. Gem.
"Draw one card from your discard pile and put it into your hand. Sacrifice stack equal or greater than the stack of the card you withdrew."

This card is really powerful as well, and it works great with some of the other card drawing cards in the game. However, the downside is that you have to give up card value EQUAL OR GREATER THAN to the card you withdrew, and sacrificing means that you have to remove the stack from the field as opposed to your hand. So, you give up power that you already have to get power that you may need to pay further costs on. What kind of deck will this card work in? Well, honestly, I think most decks. I'm not sure yet if this card is overpowered.

Sadly, Path of Exile's Divination Cards were designed as a collectable element first, and a gameplay element... well, I don't think anyone at GGG thought of using the stack size as the value of the card. And trying to use it as such is extremely risky as a design choice. This is why I added requirements to some cards; if you want to use a really powerful card, you're going to have to butcher your character to get it. And The Realm makes you have to double dip in butchering your character by making you sacrifice even more to get the card you want, and that's why I love it. The Realm works great depending on what you withdrew. Some cards with a low stack do have a strong requirement, because without it, the game could definitely be broken. And then vice versa; but that's a flaw of my own creation, as stack is used for requirement. It would be too easy otherwise, especially on cards with miniscule stack sizes like Chaotic Disposition, which has a stack size of 1. Trying to get CD back lets you literally remove any card from the field to pull that from the discard pile.

So, how stack sizes work, if I explained it poorly above, here's an attempt at explaining it again.
Every card has a stack and about a third-fourth of all cards have a requirement to play. When you play a card with no requirement, you just play it normally, and can then sacrifice it next turn for the value of the stack. You can sacrifice multiple cards at once to sum their stack. When this sum is greater than the requirement of the card you want to play, you discard the cards that make up the value and play the stronger card that has its own stack value. I hope this makes sense. All of the stack values are directly lifted from the game. All requirements are based on how the strong the card is, and what costs you should need to pay to play it.


Now, back to talking about rarity in decks.

Okay, here's a rule I'm planning to use: You can have anywhere from 40 to 60 cards in your deck. You cannot have more than 3 divination cards with the same name. If you have multiple different cards with the same name, they are not restricted to just one of the effects, however the total amount of the cards cannot be more than 3. With this, I also want players to have 5 booster packs' worth of cards. Maybe 6? Either way, you'll definitely get 40 common, 15 uncommon, and 5 rares. You may get more than 3 duplicates, unfortunately, that tends to happen due to the random nature of the game. My Excel sheet lists 44 unique common cards, 19 uncommon, 7 rare for a total of 70 unique cards that you may get for your 60-card random deck, so I hope it's not unlikely. (There is a 71st card, but it's a fishing secret) Once again, I hope people won't try to strategize by building the ultimate deck, but by building the best with what they're given. Throwing in rares should never be able to save you, and if the game requires boosters, then you should be excited for the commons and create an interesting left turn in your deck's design with the rare.

The point is, assuming someone decides to try and make an ultimate deck using the most powerful cards; throwing in 3 of Alluring Bounty would be a poor decision because using them would require you to give up 3 turns. This could be a game ender for you. You could use 3 other ultra-rare cards like The Doctor, which I've been showing off, but here's the question. Why? You can only wear one belt at a time, you'd be wasting the other two card slots. Getting a bunch of the rarest cards isn't the smartest choice, but it would help a lot to have other belts in case you draw badly and want to replace them. You could get three Doctors, but then they're just cards that have no value after you get your first one down.

It's really hard to show off cards considering I haven't even finalized the rules or even properly playtested it outside of an evergrowingly complex tree, but it's getting closer to being made. My only issue is that even though the cards have decent offense, how would you implement a growing need for defense? How would you implement yourself not becoming an ultimate tank that can't take damage?

It shocks me that games like Yu Gi Oh have 8000 LP and attacks that can wipe out a third of it in one turn. This game doesn't have cheap deaths like that (unlike the real thing), but on the other hand, it's very easy to become too tanky. How does GGG find this balance?

The other question is, how much of what I'm writing is understandable? Am I just rambling on about nothing until I actually release something or does this start to make sense, at least a little bit? Either way, the deck seems to be finalized, I'm going to make all the div cards for them, print them and just... try my best, I guess.

~~Kitava's hunger is insatiable

EDIT for July 15, 2019: I'm just doing grunt work, really, and trying my best not to play POE. Mostly cleaning up text and hoping that cards make sense. One day the rules and a full set of cards will come out, but still have to playtest. It's really quiet and boring right now. Here's a card.

EDIT 2: Actually, here's two cards. Each of them are in their own little spoiler, because they take up a lot of room.

Blessing of God

Hunter's Reward
Last edited by AUKL on Jul 15, 2019, 1:45:45 AM
Would play :D

Keep on, nice idea, nice work!
~ Allways down to help and answer questions ~
Wow, I completely dropped the ball on this, and I only remembered that I have to finish this after binging on Path of Exile for 41 hours of gameplay in a 72 hour period. Half of the cards are already typed up in Photoshop, the other half I've yet to do. Doesn't help that as soon as I wanted to finish this, my computer broke and I can't get into Windows any more. So, delayed by another week. It's the 23rd right now, and I really want to get the pre-alpha done by the new year. Definite deadline for before the new semester starts, I want to test it quickly if I can and then get a quick print run made.

Apparently there also was a card game from ExileCon, but I haven't seen it. From what my friend says, it's not even close to being like this game, especially in depth, but I'm still a tad concerned that I might have screwed myself by being super late.

Either way, this is back on my schedule. Sorry that this is taking half a year longer than I wanted, but it was all in my spare time. I'm not even sure if the game is balanced as it is right now, I haven't had a chance to playtest it.
Bumping for the new year.

I'm churning out the prototype bit by bit right now. I've stepped away from Photoshop and stepped into Excel because some card balance was really uneven. More specifically, not that some cards were overly strong (heck, the Doctor in its most recent edition was completely useless!), but that there's an uneven distribution. I realize that I'm one guy and I'm scaling the game way too far, but I want people to be able to play the game how they want. You want to do Lightning to Cold? Sure! Fire to Chaos? Why not? ELEMENTAL OVERLOAD? That's a thing now!

Announcing Keystones!

Path of Exile prides itself by letting users create a wide variety of builds to suit a wide variety of playstyles, and a major part of that is the complex passive tree that the game is famous for. While recreating the entire tree is beyond ridiculous, the idea of sacrificing a few items to allow for more interesting combinations was a no brainer. A dozen keystones from the game have been added, where your entire deck's direction can change at a moment's glance, adding a level of complexity seen rarely in other games.

Welcome to the greatest of arenas, exile. God is watching.


Pulling the veil back a little here, keystones actually changed the structure of the game a lot. With keystones, I realized the game was slow, which isn't exactly too far away from Path of Exile's history if you remember Merciless and Ruthless. Except it was a bit too slow. Resistances were weak, evasion and armour were luck-based, and the overall damage was just too low, plus stack was extremely unbalanced because the game balanced it around people finding cards, not using it as a resource. This is all being fixed.

You can thank my ex-girlfriend for getting me interested into Magic for this, even though my game concept predates my limited experience of MTG. I see where Path of Exile got a lot of their ideas from Magic, but that's not changing the scope of the game. I'm not making a MTG clone, I'm making Path of Exile. All this does is make me more tempted to send Chris Wilson a couple of complete sets of my game so people around GGG's office could play; enough for about 6-7 decks. Seriously, GGG, I will literally mail you several hundred cards. Hit me up. I want you guys to enjoy this.

The thing that's bothering me the most right now isn't even the balance of the game. It's that I'm doing a Computer Science degree, I'm running low on money, and I presume the cost to print cards is going to be $200-300. This is weeks away in a best case scenario. So, uh, for obvious reasons, I'm starting the prototyping phase sensibly. By buying a bunch of index cards and cutting them in half so I can write text on them instead. I know some PoE fans that are interested in trying this out. And I'm thinking about the game all night at times. There's something here, I just have to make it the best it can be.

Prototyping cards!

Oh, speaking of making things the best they could be, here's an earlier draft of two keystones that I quickly made in Photoshop. Yep, double preview! Now, Pain Attunement here was changed, for uh... good reasons. Really good reasons. You can see the reasons. Low Life is a hard concept to make work in a card game well, and while I'm planning on discerning spells from attacks, there's not enough of either to really make Pain Attunement viable if it's exclusively linked to staves, wands, and sceptres. It might be OP. It might not. I'll see when I prototype it.

~~when did this become an essay


I don't have anyone up at 2:30 AM to ask this. I've added sockets to most cards, although the purpose is going to be clear if you keep reading. On Body Armours this takes up more art space than I'd like. Is it okay that this is the way that it's shown? I really don't want to cover up the art, but other places look off. And, just for fun, I've also added a breakdown of how I hope the card is going to be read, because every little bit here was an intentional decision.

So 3 sockets on the left, and 3 on the right? What does that mean? They're a visual indicator to help you figure out where an item belongs without having to go through each card and read out the effect! Granted, the fact that GGG was kind with the stack size box helps a lot, but that's not enough. This is exactly why the sockets exist. Just move your card that you want up and you know which card you might have to remove from your field.

This is also what we call as "the lead designer doesn't want to actually keep writing the paper prototypes out so he's figuring out a way to make the game easier to read instead, create a good-looking yellow socket (Physical Damage indicator!), and clean up the low-quality JPEG that GGG used as a red socket texture".
Last edited by AUKL on Jan 3, 2020, 4:12:45 AM

Current progress update: I've printed and cut out prototype cards.

I gave up writing it out by hand after 40 cards. It was way faster to mock up a very tentative design in Photoshop, print out cards on common paper, and slice them with a paper cutter; now I have about 300 cards in my hands. I'm still not convinced that the sockets are a good idea, they just feel noisy to me now that I have cards without them.

There's a few divination cards that are missing in the set (as in literally I haven't made them), and the rules need to be finalized in a proper and clean format, but right now, it's just a matter of making a bunch of decks and seeing what's broken and what isn't.

~~Being a Canadian is expensive


extremely minor update

Save your PSDs folks, I just lost my only copy of the banner text generation. Gotta have to make a new one again. That's not fun.
Last edited by AUKL on Jan 13, 2020, 1:12:45 AM

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