Copperdale: Print-and-Play Series

Copperdale game

Copperdale game overview

I’ve been playing a lot of single-page print-and-play games recently, such as Sunshine City and Aquamarine. One thing all of these games have in common is that they use the roll-and-write mechanism to progress the game. So, when I heard about a new single-page print-and-play game called Copperdale that uses the flip-and-write mechanism with a standard deck of playing cards, I was intrigued and wanted to try it out. Copperdale is a city management-themed solo game designed by John Clowdus and published by his company Small Box Games.

If you already know how to play Copperdale and want to skip to my thoughts, scroll down to the “Copperdale first impressions” section.

Setting up the game

To set up a game of Copperdale, you will need the game sheet, a writing utensil, and a standard deck of playing cards. First, remove the jokers from your playing cards and shuffle the deck. Then, remove the top 12 cards from the deck and place them face-up to the right of the Growth section on the game sheet. Lastly, place the remaining cards face-down to the left of the Economy section. You are now ready to begin!

Copperdale game setup
This is the setup for a game of Copperdale.

Playing Copperdale

Copperdale is played over 12 rounds, which are called months in the game. During a round, you will draw three cards one at a time from the face-down deck and place one above each of the three city sections. These three cards determine what you can do in your city during the round. You will either be using the value, card suit, or a combination of both from the card you placed in each city section. 

Each city section has different goals you need to accomplish that award you with medals, and you are trying to get as many medals as possible. You must resolve each city section from left to right, starting with Economy and ending with Growth.


In the Economy section of your city, you will be unlocking special powers from Occupations. Each Occupation has two boxes beside it, and you will choose one box to write the value of the card you assigned here (the left box must always be written in before the right). To unlock the special power of an Occupation, the value in the left box must be lower than the value in the right box. The special powers of the Occupations make it easier to gain medals from your city in unique ways.

In addition, at the end of the game, you will add up all the numbers in the Occupation boxes to determine your Prosperity level. You get medals by reaching specific prosperity levels. 

I wasn’t able to get the Farmers Occupation special power since the left value was not lower than the right value.


There are three different areas in the Infrastructure section of your city: Districts, Estates, and Monuments (see picture below). You will choose two different areas to fill in with the value or suit of the card you assigned to this section.

In the District area, there are four pairs of boxes that each award a medal. To get the medal, you must fill in the corresponding pair of boxes with the same two values. In addition, for each District you complete, you fill in a Population space in the Growth section of your city (more on that later).

The Estate area has six boxes, each with a pair of card suits. If you choose this area to fill in a space, you cross off one of the boxes with the suit matching the card you assigned here. When you fill in an Estate space, you also get to fill in a Border space in the Growth section.

Lastly, the Monuments area of the Infrastructure section has four Monuments you can build that each give you a unique cumulative medal bonus. Beside each Monument is a set of four boxes with matching card suits. You must fill in all four boxes beside a Monument with the appropriate card suit to build that Monument and get its bonus.

I was awarded two District medals since I had matching values. I also filled in every Estate space. Lastly, I was able to build the bottom Monument by filling in the row of hearts.


The last section of your city is the Growth section, which contains the Population and Border areas. The Population area is comprised of a row of nine boxes for each card suit, and each row awards you with a medal if you fill in all of the boxes. You will always fill in a box of the corresponding suit of the card you assign here.

The Population area is on the top, and the Border area is on the bottom. I was almost awarded a Population medal by completing the row of clubs. In the Border area, I completed two Border suits, which awarded me with two medals.

In addition, if the card you assign to the Growth section matches the value or suit of the face-up Border deck, you fill in a Border space for your assigned card’s suit. There are five Border spaces for each card suit, totaling 20. Filling in all five spaces for a particular suit awards you with a medal. 

Example of assigned card matching Border deck
Since the suit of the jack matches the suit of the Border card, I was able to fill in one of the club spaces in the Border area.

Copperdale round and game end

After resolving each of the three sections of your city, the round ends. Discard the top card from the face-up Border deck and the three cards you assigned to each section of your city. If this is the 12th round, the game ends; otherwise, you continue with a new round.

Once the game ends, you tally up the number of medals you were awarded. Different score ranges tell you how well you did, and being awarded 20 medals or more is the top score range you can get.

Copperdale finished game
In this game, I was awarded 11 medals. During another game, I almost reached the top score range by getting 18 medals!

Additional information

Player count: 1 player

Playing time: 10 to 20 minutes

Complexity: Light

MSRP: $4.00

Link to Copperdale BoardGameGeek page

Copperdale first impressions

The excitement of drawing the next card

My favorite aspect of Copperdale is the excitement of drawing the next card! More so than many other card drawing games I’ve played recently, I feel a great deal of wonder about the next card I get. For instance, will the card value be a high enough value to fill in my next Occupation space to unlock its special power? Or will the card suit match the Monument I am working on so I can get a big bonus at the end of the game? I think the excitement I feel is from the luckiness of the card draw, but since there are some ways to mitigate luck, I also feel especially clever when I’ve drawn the card I need.

Choosing where to assign cards

Since you are drawing and assigning cards one at a time to your city sections, there’s often the joy of pushing your luck when choosing where to place your cards. For example, maybe I just drew a five of diamonds, which will work for the next Occupation box I want to fill. However, the five of diamonds also matches the Border card suit I need this round. I can probably get another card to use for the Occupation box, but do I really want to push my luck? It’s interesting decisions like this one that makes each round of Copperdale fun and engaging.

It has a classic feeling

I’m not quite sure why, but I get a classic game feeling that I enjoy from Copperdale. Maybe it’s because it uses a standard deck of playing cards, and the traditional card suits and colors are on the game sheet. I haven’t used playing cards for years, and it was fun to interact with them again. Also, the vibe I get from Copperdale is similar to the one I experienced when playing the computer version of Solitaire as a kid. They are significantly different games, but it was a joy to have that nostalgic experience.

Final thoughts

Overall, Copperdale is a fun and engaging puzzle game that puts a different spin on the single-page print-and-play format by using a standard deck of playing cards. It was a nice change of pace from using dice, as all of the other single-page games I’ve played have used. Even though it’s a solo game, I wonder if two players could compete against each other if they both have their own deck of cards.

Have you played any single-page print-and-play games that use a standard deck of playing cards? Let me know in the comments below!

This post is part of my Print-and-Play Series, where I discuss my thoughts on print-and-play games and related topics. Click here to read my previous entry in this series: Making Laminated Print-and-Play Cards.


2 responses to “Copperdale: Print-and-Play Series”

  1. I hadn’t heard a lot about this game previously, but I am also intrigued by the use of a deck of cards (rather than dice) in this type of game! I am always interested to see what John Clowdus comes up with in his designs!

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