Stacofax: An Educational Card Game You Can Make Yourself

Book learning is only one way to acquire useful knowledge. Here's a make-it-yourself card game that can teach and provide hours of entertainment for youngsters and adults alike.


| May/June 1983



stacofax card game - playcards

Typical design for Stacofax playcards.


MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff

Borrow a few basic rules from rummy and old maid, add the conviction that learning can be fun, and shuffle in a goodly dose of do-it-yourself imagination. What do you get? Well, I got Stacofax: an educational card game and self-help system I developed for people who, like me, hate to memorize facts and figures!

One of the best features of Stacofax (Get it? The deck is a stack of facts!) is its versatility. You can create variations of the game to suit children, adults, or players of all ages. Furthermore, it's possible to make cards that are meant to sharpen general knowledge, or that focus on one or more specific problem subjects.

If you have trouble with spelling, for example, you can make a Stacofax deck that will teach you, in just a couple of hours of fun, how to orthographize such words as dysrhythmia, jactitation, and ... well, orthographize. Or if you've never quite been able to learn, say, the Presidents, the 50 states, or metric conversions, it's my bet that playing Stacofax can help. And believe it or not, you'll hardly know you're being educated because you'll be too busy enjoying yourself.

Before you sit down to make a set of Stacofax playing cards, though, you'll need to know a little more about how the game works.

The Stacofax Deck

All Stacofax decks are made up of two kinds of cards: keycards and playcards.

Keycards contain all the information to be learned in a given game. Each one in the deck is like a list of answers at the bottom of a quiz. For instance, if you were to play a game designed to help you learn the days of the week in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German, the keycard for the word "Sunday" would look list all five words, with a bracketed letter ([E], [F], [S], [I], and [G]) to match each word with its language.

Then, for each "answer" on any given keycard, the deck contains a playcard, with the individual item printed in the upper left and lower right comers of the card. Therefore, if a keycard lists, say, five words, you'll find five companion playcards somewhere in the deck, each showing a different one of those words.

The total number of keycards and playcards in your deck will be determined when you make the component cards for each game. I've found that ten keycards is just about optimum, but you can vary the number up or down to suit the subject matter (in our days-of-the-week example, there would necessarily be only seven keycards, one for each day). Although you needn't list the same number of items on every keycard in the deck, I've found that the game plays best when keycards contain between four and seven entries apiece, and that five items per keycard is ideal. The "model" Stacofax deck, therefore, contains 60 cards in all: ten different keycards, each with five corresponding playcards. Keep in mind that in many cases you'll have to deviate from the "norm" to accommodate the material you hope to learn or teach.

To make a Stacofax deck, write or type the information you want to learn — using the keycard/playcard arrangement I've just described — on blank cards. Index cards, however, simply won't work for this purpose (take my word for it). In fact, the only kind I've found to be suitable in terms of size, opacity, and "shuffleability" is a special type referred to by printing company salespeople as "candidate" or "campaign" cards. The box I have is labeled: Round Corner, Die-Cut Cards-Size 63-011. Most major printing concerns should know what you need if you call and ask for such an item. In any event, when you buy yours, be sure to get all one color rather than a box of assorted hues. [EDITOR'S NOTE: None of the suppliers we contacted in our area, western North Carolina, carried such cards. However, a few did say they could order them for us, and quoted prices for a box of 500 (the minimum quantity they would sell) ranging from around $8.00 to just over$10.00.]

How Stacofax Is Played

Stacofax is an easy but nonetheless challenging game for between two and six people. (Actually, you can accommodate even more players simply by making the deck bigger. For example, by adding two new — and, of course, different — keycards, with five corresponding playcards each, you'd expand your deck by 12 cards; that’s more than enough to allow for an extra player.)





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