am the designer of what is, to my knowledge, the
only collectible card game on flags in the world,
VEX. If you are not familiar with it, please contact
me directly or review the product on the website,
If you are interested in flags, this is a great
place to get started.
design started out with a simple premise: I wanted
to collect flags, in an affordable way. Obviously,
collecting flag books or posters is one inexpensive
way to get started, but unfortunately, although
I have collected many flag books, I found this
method lacking. Often, the images were too small
to get any details, or the relationships between
flags were restricted to the whims of the author.
other extreme is to collect actual flags, with
the standard size being two feet by three feet,
or three by five. While I have done this, too,
I found it to be horrible expensive. Depending
on the material, a single 3 by 5 flag can cost
$30 or more! Smaller sizes are available, (down
to 4" by 6") but even these can get
expensive with large purchases. So I settled on
cards, in my opinion, the perfect size! What I
learned while designing VEX was the many different
shapes and constructions to flags. I developed
a methodology by which almost every flag in the
world can be catalogued using a combination decimal
and binary system. The highlights of the system
are shown below, but I'll only focus on the key
starting, I discovered to my delight that the
standard playing card in America is 2.5"
by 3.5", and if I take a quarter of an inch
around the card for flag information, I am left
with 2" by 3" which happens to be the
ratio (of width to length) for almost half of
the 1000 flags in all editions of VEX. That brought
me to my first decision: ratios. I wanted to show
each flag in its true proportions, as specified
by whatever authority so designates those things!
Thus, the official flag ratio is in the upper
left hand corner, and to easily review flags by
ratio, I decided to color code each ratio.
I noted that every flag in the world is a combination
of two factors, colors and attributes. For the
record, all flags in my game have one or more
of the following colors. The colors are binary,
in other words, a given color is either present
or not. There are no shades, or lighter and darker
colors. This was one possibly regret, but there
were so many interpretations. I have intentionally
restricted the color count in VEX to a maximum
of six identified colors per card. The ten colors
are: Blue (B); White (W); Red (R); Green (V);
Yellow (Y); Black (N); Orange (O); Purple (P);
Brown (M); Gray (G).
colors, the other most important feature of the
flag is its primary attribute. I have set up in
my design ten primary attributes, which generally
may be seen when viewed from the flag's fly, or
the right edge of a flag. The numbers to the left
of each primary attribute refer to how many times
that attribute appears in 200 flags of the world,
(from VEX DEX I, Nations of the World). This is
a decimal based selection, and for primary attributes,
only one number can (and must!) be chosen.
Primarily Solid ; 4 Vertical Bicolor ; 18 Horizontal
Bicolor ; 3 TriBar Tricolor ; 23 Vertical Tricolor
; 59 Horizontal Tricolor ; 16 Striped Lines
; 2 Checked/Quartered ; 4 Saltire Cross ; 11
Diagonally ; 200 Primary Attributes in 200 Nations
of the World, from VEX I
primary attributes, the next most important feature
of a flag is it's secondary attribute. These usually
occur in the canton (upper left corner) area,
but not always. Not all flags have secondary attributes,
but if a flag does have one, it is only allowed
one. This leads to some problems, such as flags
with crosses and cantons, but these were few.
Again, the numbers to the left of each secondary
attribute refer to how many times that attribute
appears in 200 flags of the world. (from VEX DEX
I, Nations of the World). Like primary attributes,
secondary attributes are also a decimal based
selection, and only one number can be chosen.
Bordered ; 7 Vertical Bar ; 20 Triangle ; 13
Canton ; 2 Serrated ; 5 Union Jack ; 2 Gyronny
; 10 Cross ; 3 Diagonal Cross ; 9 Diagonal Bend
; 75 Secondary Attributes in 200 Nations of
my design incorporates tertiary attributes, that
is to say, everything else. Flags can have 0,
1 or more tertiary attributes, and although several
flags have none, many have more than 1. As in
the case of colors, this is a binary based selection,
in that either a flag has the chosen tertiary
attribute or not, and like colors, more than one
tertiary attribute can be chosen.
Fimbriated Lines ; 12 Sun Shaped Objects ; 16
Crescent or Moon ; 64 Star Shaped Objects ;
20 Disk or Circle ; 15 Text or Symbol ; 11 Plant
Objects ; 16 Animal Objects ; 24 Man Made Objects
; 23 Shield/Coat of Arms ; 225 Tertiary Attributes
in 200 Nations of the World, from VEX I.
information flowed naturally once I had the basics
completed. I included the name of each political
entity in the lower right hand corner (You can
put your finger over it to memorize your flags!).
Then I added information about where the flag
is from along the bottom row, information that
expanded with sub national flags (showing mother
country and continent.) I wanted to show the dates
in use of the flag (official dates, like the ratio,
not just the first time proposed or seen), so
that went along the right hand side. For national
flags, I wanted to show the flag use, elaborated
in the rules, and placed that matrix in the lower
left hand corner. I added number for collecting,
and then an elaborate points scheme to make for
some interesting games. The point scheme formula
is relatively easy: I'll leave that to the reader
to figure out the exact calculation.
to summarize, every card in VEX follows the same
basic rules. Like colors, I have intentionally
restricted the total attribute count in VEX to
a maximum of six identified attributes (1,2 &
3) per card.
flag has one and only one primary attribute,
taken from the selections above. This is the
"most important" feature of the flag.
Examples include solid, stripes, and tribars.
flag may or may not have exactly one secondary
attribute, taken from the list above. This is
a secondary design feature. Examples include
diagonal lines and crosses.
flag may have zero, one or more tertiary attributes,
taken from the list above. Tertiary attributes
include stars, crescents, coat-of-arms, and
flag is to be shown in its true ratio as specified
by the government. Note that in certain places
(like the UN) all flags are show equally proportioned).
flag has dates shown, both the starting date
and, if the flag is no longer in use, the ending
date. Some dates are not available, so I had
to approximate dates some times.
flags show the entity name, the entity location
and, possibly, a usage matrix showing when the
flag should be flown, otherwise, information
about what sub entity a flag is.
have found that this system is an excellent way
of cataloging every flag in the world. There are
thousands of flags in the world, and VEX has only
printed off 1000. Using this system, the United
States flag has colors RWB, Primary Attribute
Striped, Secondary Attribute Canton, Tertiary
Attribute Stars. So does Liberia. Malaysia adds
color yellow, and the Tertiary Attribute Crescent.
And so on.
Be sure to look at all the games included in VEX:
There are five games in VEX I, five new games
in VEX II & III, and five more in VEX IV and
V. Although you only need a single deck to play
any of the games, once you start collecting, you'll
be hooked, and you'll want the complete set. For
additional questions about the design of VEX,
drop me a note at VEX@SixSided.com.
Enjoy your cards!