6 and 9 issues

I am designing some cards for a card game. It has both 6's and 9's in the top left hand side of a few cards.

I've come up against the common issue of players getting confused as to which number is which.

One suggestion is to put an underline on the numbers, but that will create some space issues for me as well as being visually less than ideal. My current solution uses a full stop (period) next to eh numbers.

Is there a character-design solution?

Attached are the current card designs that use those numbers (they are a work in progress).

I'm using Ironstrike by @James Puckett‌ and love it for the project overall, so am loathe to use a different typeface.


  • Jack JenningsJack Jennings Posts: 152
    edited November 2014
    (removed as off topic)
  • Ofir ShavitOfir Shavit Posts: 371
    edited November 2014
    As for a character-design solution I can think about leaving the 6 as it is and removing the 9's lower part, leaving just the vertical stem, I think it would work as a 9 but won't look "correct" as a 6.

    At first I thought that your 'dot' solution is pretty good, but in second thought I think the problem remains the same (one might not understand whether the dot stands for the top or the bottom?) but hey... you got text over there! and even the name of the number is written six/nine, and it's clear when it is upside down and everything.

    What's that (removed as off topic) comment on Jack's post??
  • Thanks Ofir :-) I thought about doing that to the 9 but felt it might still be confusing. It's possible there is not really good solution, I was just hoping someone might have a bright idea.

    I saw the way @Neil Summerour‌ created 6 & 9 in Rough Love, and I wondered if switching just the numeral font to a script might help mitigate some of the issue?

    I never saw Jack's post, so can't comment on it.
  • I removed the post above because it didn't contain suggestion about the design of the character, only general design suggestions that felt off topic after I posted.

    Long story short I'm skeptical that a high enough percentage of people would see the difference between and altered 9 and 6, and I imagine that you'd have a hard time making a large enough difference between the two (within the square structure) without making a real beast.

    I agree with Ofir that you have the name of the number on the card, and could imagine that to be more emphasized.
  • I think there's enough clues on the card to distinguish 6 from 9--including the decimal dot which is a fine idea, and the pretty well understood convention of how numbers are oriented on playing cards.
    Actually I think you need to worry less about people misunderstanding 6s as 9s, and more about them misreading 6s and 9s as 8s!
  • Differentiating the 6 and 9 can still be arbitrary when you're rotating the text. It can help, but it's not the final solution. I think your full stop is a nice, simple alternative to the typical underline. The real question is if the cards need to be radially symmetrical at all.

    And I think Craig's comment about avoiding confusion with the 8 is worth looking at. Typical gaming nights with my friends tend to involve a combination of dim light, too much beer, and bad eyesight. Nothing ruins a new game more than getting confused about your cards.
  • Thanks Craig and Jackon. Good points. I didn't want to get into the graphic design too much here, as this is a type design forum, but in short, yes the symmetrical card has a gameplay reason, so ideally will be kept. The confusion with 8's is not something I have encountered so far in testing but will keep it in mind, but I should point out that the game has no cards with an 8 value at all, which might explain why no one has confused it yet.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,679
    Part of the issue is that this doesn’t look like a stereotypical figure, the /9 could well be a /g.
    Have you considered roman numerals?
  • Roman numerals rotate even more poorly than arabic when you get to 9, 10, 11: IX X XI
  • Also the audience of the game would stumble with roman numerals. Part of me wants to abandon the figures all together and just use the dots, but in testing players were slower as they had to count the dots each time.
  • Also, the advantage of roman minerals would be 6 = VI and 9 = IX, so that is a good suggestion Nick if I was confident that players would cope with it. The numerals in the game are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, & 12. Which would be I, II, III, IV, VI, IX, XII. But 1-4 are on different cards to 3,6,9,12 - so maybe it's something to explore.
  • You can do dots in patterns that people rapidly get used to. I have a couple of d8 that have pips, and I don't need to count them... same as d6, really. But there does have to be a distinctive pattern.
  • Yeah i was thinking groups of 3 dots? like ••• ••• ••• ••• for 12
  • I can't for the life of me find the article, but I think it's demonstrable that it's hard for most people to quickly identify a number of items in groups larger than 4 or 5 items.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,108
    edited November 2014
    Yeah, I think 9 vs. 12 would slow people down. (I've played with 12-spot dominoes and once you get above 6 spots you have to think twice about what you're seeing.)image
  • I think what Thomas meant was to "draw a picture" with the dots. Similar as on a dice. The bigger numbers might be a challenge.

    But I think the positions of the number in the corners make it quite clear.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,074
    edited November 2014
  • At this stage, I can't see why Jack had to remove his post as off-topic. It was (and still is) the best suggestion. Can it be reinstated, please?
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,679
    IIRC Tobias Frere-Jones’ talk at TypeCon, he showed some currency figures that were large and black, with the name of the number knocked out in small caps.
  • To be clear, I removed the post myself and was my own decision. The other design decisions that I had suggested have come up in the rest of the thread, anyway.
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