by Robin Vincent | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes
Patch: The Card Game

Patch: The Card Game  ·  Source: James Cigler


Discover Oblique Strategies for modular in this beautifully realised pack of cards full of modular patching ideas and playful progression.


Oblique Strategies

In 1975 Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created Oblique Strategies, a pack of cards that contained suggestions for courses of action or thinking to assist a creative situation such as music-making, mixing or producing. The fifth edition was printed in 2001 and you can still buy it from Eno’s online shop. The idea is that you can often fall into repetitive ways of doing things and these strategies help you snap out of your habits and encourage you to try something else, think differently or even leave the room.

Oblique Strategies

Oblique Strategies · Source: Brian Eno

Now, Patch: The Card Game creator James Cigler may be having a completely original idea but Oblique Strategies is what popped into my head as soon as I saw his game and it’s so legendary that I felt it was a good thing to mention for context.

Patch: The Card Game

Anyway, let’s divert our attention back to this beautifully rendered pack of cards and see what it’s all about.

The idea is that the cards would be a tool and a pathway into more creative patching by forcing you to make choices that you weren’t thinking about. James hoped it would be a helpful way to expand his own skills and creativity when patching modular synths, but it became something better.

There are three types of card in the pack:

Patch: The Card Game card types

Patch: The Card Game card types · Source: James Cigler

  • Abstraction: A framework or set of rules the patch must follow.
  • Progressions: Aim to evolve or morph the state of the patch.
  • Disruptions: Challenging changes that will alter the patch significantly.

James has developed the cards into a kind of game where you shuffle the Abstraction cards, take one and use it for the basis of your patch. Shuffle the Disruption and Progression cards together and draw one after you’ve been patching for about 5 minutes and follow the actions. Discard and repeat as often and as much as you like. The game isn’t trying to tie you down to a specific way of playing; you can use it however you want and it’s over whenever you decide it’s over.


For more detail into what’s on the cards and how best to play with them check out the video below.

I adore the look of these cards. They are brilliantly designed and little works of art all by themselves. The concept although similar to Oblique Strategies is much more focused and immediately practical. You could give them to anyone and place them in front of your rack and they could find their way to patching interesting things. I’m certainly guilty of patching in a similar, familiar way every time and this would push me into doing something different with what I have rather than what I usually do to disrupt my rack; buy another module.

Sadly they are currently only available through Modular 8 in the USA and are sold out. More stock is expected just before Christmas but those of us in other countries are going to have to wait until the New Year.

Patch: The Card Game costs $25 and consists of 25 cards in an embossed tuck box.

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Patch: The Card Game

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