Created by Chris Scaffidi

Easy trick-taker (unless you have too many strong cards)

2-4 players / Ages 10+ / 20-30 minutes

Competitive, played with a traditional card deck

The folk of the Middle Forest tire of humans’ incursions. Recruit a team to patrol the woods. But take care not to recruit redundant leaders!

If you enjoy Spades and Hearts, then you’ll probably enjoy the traditional trick-taking gameplay of Recruit.


Play Recruit using a standard 54-card deck. The Kickstarter will offer 3 decks: 2 versions of fantasy fairies, and enchanted animals. Oh, yes. The animals are also ticked off at the humans’ incursions. You can recruit them at the Middle Forest Inn to form your team.

The fantasy fairies will come in 2 versions, 1 of which is based on public domain art, and 1 of which I created by overpainting AI-generated content. The animals are overpainted AI images. This way, people who want to vote with their dollars on human artists can do so, and those who are open to AI in the pipeline can have what they prefer instead.

Alternate fairy deck created by overpainting public domain art by the great Arthur Rackham

Kickstart backers will receive their glorious new cards in faux leather card-carry bags.

About the art

This game is an experiment evaluating “ethically-trained generative AI.” I’ll measure how many Kickstart backers vote with their dollars by opting for each of the 2 sets of fairy cards.

Here are some details about the AI side…

Adobe has declared that they trained Firefly only on stock art licensed from paid creators, as well as public domain and openly licensed art. I like this. Most of Adobe’s competitors just scrape the web, paying nothing at all to creators. I wanted to do my part to push the AI ecosystem toward training on ethically-sourced data.

Unfortunately, Adobe Firefly generates lower-quality output (IMO) than competing systems. In particular, it struggles with hands, and it sometimes generates garbage in the midground and background. I ended up overpainting almost all of the fairy cards, as well as many enchanted animal cards.

In the end, the result satisfies me for three reasons.

  1. I enjoyed actually doing some painting, rather than just typing words and accepting whatever the AI belched out in return. I value AI as a tool, not a replacement for my own participation in the creative process.
  2. The AI industry won’t say, “Oh, ok, you don’t want any AI in the pipeline. I guess we’ll shut down.” But they do have the option of prioritizing ethics. I’ve voted with my dollars on what I’d like the AI industry to choose: ethics. If many people do likewise, the AI industry might move toward Adobe’s approach — and actually pay artists!
  3. Play testers love the resulting cards. Not one of them expressed any ethical concerns about the manner in which I made the art through manual overpainting of AI-generated drafts. On such a contentious issue, and with the tiny amount of resources that I have, this is about the best possible outcome that I could hope to achieve.

We all recognize that others will have more or less openness to the use of AI than we, personally, do. But I hope that we can agree that the resulting cards look awesome, and that we’d like to see humans continue to play a role in creating awesomeness.

Thanks for reading this little essay and for your thoughtful consideration of my perspective.


The Kickstarter is running through the end of July.