Mythomagic

mythomagicFancy a game half-blood?

In 2011, the Cotsen Library hosted a large-scale event called Princyclopedia. The whole event was based on The Lightning Thief series by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion 2006). We had tables featuring art, architecture, science, engineering, nature, dyslexia, ADHD, myths, the Greek language, and the Socratic Method. We had a professional harpist, Greek hoplites in full battle armor, and blue chocolate chip cookies. We had giant live snakes (Medusa’s lair), Minotaur rides (an inflatable mechanical bull woo hoo!), and a 1,400 lb. ice sculpture carved to look like a temple in honor of Poseidon.

In addition to these activities (and a few more – check out the 2-page event map!) we wanted to bring the game Mythomagic to life.

From the start, we knew there was no way we could develop something as detailed as Nico’s version in the books. Because the event was going to be crowded (5,000 people attended) we didn’t want a game that would run too long. Finally, since a wide range of children would be attending the event (ages 4 -14) so we needed something that could be understood quickly and easily.

After some research, we decided to base our version on War, a card game that moves quickly, is based on winning via hierarchy, and can be played with multiple kids at once. In addition to the traditional labeling of the face cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack…) and suits (Hearts, Clubs, Spades, Diamonds) we added our own Greek labels and suits.

three cardsThe artwork for the cards was created by  April Lee, a talented Princeton University student. Using art direction from Greek myths and the book series, she also added her own funky manga twist!

three more cardsHere’s a quick breakdown of the 32 cards in the deck. We made it smaller than a standard deck to keep the production costs down, and we kept the same characters on all the number cards to avoid asking April to make 12 more drawings on top of the original 20 drawings, plus the 4 suit borders, plus the design on the back of the card,  PLUS keeping up with her rigorous academic schedule!

Fire Suit:

  • Ace: Kronos
  • King: Apollo
  • Queen: Artemis
  • Jack: Achilles

Air Suit:

  • Ace: Ouranus
  • King: Zeus
  • Queen: Hera
  • Jack: Hercules

Water Suit:

  • Ace: Oceanus
  • King: Poseidon
  • Queen: Amphitrite
  • Jack: Theseus

Earth Suit:

  • Ace: Gaea
  • King: Hades
  • Queen: Persephone
  • Jack: Jason

Number cards (4 in each suit):

  • 5: Ladon
  • 4: Aegis
  • 3: Cerberus
  • 2: Ophiotaurus

Here is a printable set of our Rules for Mythomagic.

We had the cards professionally printed, and – this really made the deck awesome – had the edges rounded like real playing cards. The results were fantastic. Best of all, the game lives on. I’ve brought Mythomagic out at a number of events and programs since. It’s always a hit.

A final shout out goes to the Princeton Public Library, who hosted the Mythomagic table at the event, playing it for 5 straight hours with the crowds. My hat (or helmet rather) is off to you!

princeton public library