Cards for Humanity: Unorthodox Game Sends Players on Real-Life Outdoor Adventures


Nine Arches is a card-based game that challenges players to choose their own adventure. The catch? The adventure they choose will take place IRL.

No more screens, no more tableside lollygagging, no more waiting your turn under the hum of fluorescent bulbs. And you’ll probably have to leave the house. That’s the gambit posed in Nine Arches, a post-pandemic adventure game that creators hope will encourage players to engage in and embark upon real-world experiences.

“After the pandemic, getting out and doing real things again is not as easy as it sounds,” said Geoffrey Gray, founder of Nine Arches. “We created Nine Arches as a way for players of all ages to power down their screens and power up in the real world.”

And that’s where co-creator Gronk Shonkwiler, a longtime producer and game designer at Epic Games, came in.

“We all love to use our creativity and solve problems,” Shonkwiler said. “Nine Arches challenges you to find a way to take actions on your desires in the real world. It’s more than a game. It’s a push to make even the most mundane day a memorable one.”

Nine Arches: Adventure Game Play

“The world is your board … leaps of faith are points scored.”

Nine Arches adventure card game play detail

Nine Arches 54-card deck comprises challenges divided into four suits:

  • Chaos: “Trigger spontaneity and a touch of wildness.”
  • Delight: “Inspire acts of joy and wonder.”
  • Escape: “Connect with nature and stretch your legs.”
  • Flow: “Restore your self and your soul.”

The game begins with the players’ selection of three challenge cards. From there, players combine and pair the cards to summon up an original quest and obtain their time limit with a roll of the dice.

The Archer’s Guide provides descriptions of each card, player etiquette, traditions, and instructions for various “modes” of gameplay. Archers are to document each quest in the Archlog.

“To date, nearly 1,000 game testers from around the world have completed the cards, from spending the night alone in a national park for the card ‘Cave of Fears,’ to designing, building and swimming in a lap pool of hay for the card ‘Open Swim,’ or biking through Bombay at dawn for ‘Wheels of Joy’.”

Nine Arches Availability

Nine Arches adventure card game

The first edition of Nine Arches shot through its funding goal in 6 hours and is now on presale through Kickstarter. The game’s general retail debut is set for mid-2022.

The Advanced First Edition Box Set ($99) features:

  • 54 challenge cards
  • Weatherproof card tin
  • Hardbound Archer’s Guide
  • Archlog journal
  • Destiny dice
  • Archer Pin

In addition to the traditional First Edition Box Set, several Kickstarter pledges are on offer:

  • Beginner ($55): Challenge cards, tin, and digital guidebook included
  • Pro Box Set ($138): Includes First Edition Box Set plus card mat and ball cap
  • VIP Gold Pro Box Set ($188): Limited-run gold foil box; includes First Edition Box Set

Learn more at the Nine Arches Kickstarter page, or, as the Nine Arches narrator says, “Burn down your old routines, rekindle your fire!”

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