Over the years I’ve collected many decks of custom Planning Poker cards from conferences and events. They have come in handy a number of times for teaching new teams how to play Planning Poker. Having special purpose cards seems to add a sense that this seemingly trivial exercise for estimating stories is actually real and not something that we’ve made up. The only problem is that teams often want to keep the cards afterwards for their own use later when I’m not around; a request that’s hard to say no to.
It seems over the last few years that handing out Planning Poker cards at events has become less popular. This, in combination with me giving away decks, has resulted in my supply getting low. So we decided to produce our own custom, Intelliware-branded Planning Poker cards. However, our new and improved cards are a little different than what you may be used to. Most Planning Poker decks follow the standard 52-card deck structure: 4 suits, with 13 cards per suit. Our decks have 6 suits, with 8 cards per suit. We did this intentionally to address two problems that I see with standard Planning Poker decks:
- Useless cards are in the deck. I believe the need to stick to the 4 suit, 13 cards per suit playing card paradigm has resulted in the inclusion of cards that are useless, such as 0, ?, 100, etc. Nothing is ever actually 0 effort. Likewise, anything 100 in size is way too big to be a Story. Similarly, a ? card is not relevant because if you don’t understand something you should probably either not play a card at all or you should play the largest one in your hand. With our deck, we’ve weeded the cards in each suit down to 8: ½, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21. We believe this format excludes useless cards that are found in many Planning Poker decks.
- Four suits is rarely enough, as most Planning Poker games have more than four estimators involved. The deck that I had been using before we made our own deck was actually a combination of two decks, with the useless cards removed. This gives me an 8 suit deck that can almost fit into the original box. Our new Intelliware-branded cards can facilitate up to 6 estimators with one deck.
We also included 2 coffee cup cards. These cards are intended to be used when an estimator needs a break from estimating. We were divided on the importance of this card. Some see it as a useful card for estimators to communicate that they’d like a break. Others see it as an unnecessary card because if an estimator wants a break, he or she can simply say so. We decided to include two coffee cup cards in our deck. This provides estimators with access to the break card yet removes it from their set so that they can focus on the task of estimating the Story at hand.
Note: We have a small number of decks available. If you are in the Toronto area and are interested in how you can obtain decks of these Planning Poker cards, please contact us.
If you want to learn more about Planning Poker, please see our overview of Agile Estimating: http://www.intelliware.com/agile-estimating/