Fate of the Spectre Trading Card Game: A Work In Progress

by | Jan 19, 2024 | A Work In Progress

I am a huge nerd, and I love DC Comics. I jumped at the chance to write for them a few years ago, and I continue to produce content focused on their rich history of superheroes and fantasy storytelling.

As a child, I collected superhero trading cards. Both Marvel and DC Comics cards filled my giant binder notebooks to the brim. My weekly allowance was spent on trading card packs and plastic sheets to protect them. Over the years, the appeal of superhero trading cards has seemingly disappeared. I long for the days of collecting cards again.

Fate of the Spectre Trading Card Game

That love translated into a mock project called DC Fate. It is a trading card game with no clear rules or way of printing them. It gave me a reason to design my DC Comics trading cards.

I kicked it off with some rough layouts for what my ideal trading cards would look like. My goal was to highlight DC Comics heroes and villains people may not be familiar with. Characters like Etrigan or Ms. Terrific were on my list of heroes I had to represent. I tried to avoid the big three (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) since they are the most well-known and represented. They are also the strongest supers DC offers in terms of star power. That makes them more valuable as a rare card. This rarity decision led to the lore backstory of this whole project.


The multiverse’s strongest beings have been captured. The Spectre has passed judgment upon them, plotting to use their power to free him from his human prison. His ascension to true godhood is assured.

Dr. Fate springs to action and recruits heroes and villains across the multiverse to help locate and release the captured superpowers. The magical halls of the Tower of Fate offer passage to the various magical realms in which they are held prisoner.

With his team in tow, Dr. Fate assaults his home, traversing the now-deadly caverns of the Tower to rescue the captors and stave off oblivion!

Recruit new heroes and villains, help Dr. Fate combat The Spectre’s Bizarro minions, and rescue the multiverse’s most powerful beings.

Our Fate rests with you.

Secret Identity

The process

So far, I have gone through three or four interactions of the cards. I’ve never designed a card game before, so I took some inspiration from the biggest ones out there, including Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon. What started as a design exercise became a love letter to DC Comics and its pantheon of amazing characters. DC Fate is our “What If” collectible card game featuring iconic DC characters. 

Each card features a different hero or villain categorized by their abilities in-game. There are Technicians (blue icons), Powerhouses (red icons), and Mystics (yellow icons). While the game mechanics are still in flux, I wanted to ensure each card had a base classification to demonstrate the raw potential of a DC Comics trading card game.

Taking a step back

Way too far into the design process, I realized I was in over my head and did everything wrong. It was a passion project I was crafting in 10 minute intervals while my kids slept. This meant I didn’t follow all the proper design steps to ensure consistency and brand cohesiveness. My cards were all over the damn place to put it bluntly (just scroll up, radom as hell). While having fun, I wasn’t producing anything I could call a finished piece. Even fantasy projects need rules.


I stopped and returned to the drawing board, where this post finds me. I am developing a TCG design system to help govern the cards’ visual consistency and define this fictional game’s mechanics. Unless I get a call from DC, I don’t plan to develop a card game you can play. It needs to be a completely thought-out project that could exist. I need to get the design and mechanics to a place where I can show it to someone and they understand how to play theoretically. Once they get into the weeds, it’ll fall apart, haha.

The work in progress

Fate of the Spectre Logo Design
Fate of the Spectre Logo Design

It’s a work in progress for now. I changed teh name to Fate of the Spectre to reference both Doctor Fate and The Spectre, the main characters of the game. The visual language is in place and extended throughout the deck. I branched out and created a mobile version, which I am very excited about.

Fate of the Spectre Mobile Battle Card Game

Fate of the Spectre Mobile Game Design Reel

Do you remember Nintendo Street Pass? It was a feature in the Nintendo DS systems that essentially allowed the handhelds to talk to one another and pass data back and forth. That’s the interaction this game would need to succeed.

When you pass someone with who has the game, your selected active cards do instant battle. Then you get a push notification if you won or lost. At the end of the day you can check how many random people you battled and what your record is. The location-based system would allow you to see leaderboards of your neighborhood and how you tack up to Mrs. Coleman down the block.

Fate of the Spectre Mobile Game Design Screens
Fate of the Spectre Mobile Game Design Screens

The specifics aren’t completely hammered out, but the idea is there. I assume I would have to remove the values on the cards and make it more rock/paper/scissors like for this to work. I will keep chipping away. Let me know what you think of the idea!

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