Reviews of Products & Services for DIY & PnP (image heavy)
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A collection of ideas, products, and services for the DIY-er.

If anyone has high-quality components shots and close-ups of custom products from other companies, or other products by companies listed, link me to 'em!

Here is another great geeklist with a bunch of DIY ideas for various game components: DIY Tips and Tricks
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1. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:606] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
Jacqueline Boss
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Custom fabric printing at Spoonflower

Spoonflower is a custom fabric printing service. Their "fat quarter" sized fabrics are perfect for printing game boards. There is a range of fabric types to choose from.

This is the "silky faille" fabric, which is extremely wrinkle resistant and feels very silky. The detail you can get is excellent and the color is true to the image that I uploaded. The fabric would need to be washed carefully by hand and ironed on a low synthetic setting if it needed ironing at all.

The fabric, as all fabrics do, comes a bit frayed on one side, but it is beyond the bounds of my images as they showed up on the site. So basically, they sent me a fabric that was as big as I asked for plus a little extra white border so none of the image got cut off. The silky faille hasn't frayed at all since I got it, which is impressive. I think this would be great mounted onto a board or onto felt with the right adhesive.

Below are my Pokemon re-theme boards for Zooloretto. You are able to scale your image on the Spoonflower site so that it prints one large board on the fabric, or in my case, many smaller boards, since Zooloretto requires each player to have her own board. The quarter and passport are shown for size... notice the excellent detail of even the smallest elements.

This cost me $12.70 including shipping.





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2. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:178]
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Custom printed cards at Printer Studio

This deck was printed at Printer Studio and I was very impressed with the results. Printer Studio has many paper options- these are linen, which are a very slight premium, but totally worth it. The quality is professional and they feel great, like a real deck of cards. No complaints.

The color was true to the images I uploaded, and despite the higher price, I much prefer Printer Studio to Gamecrafter cards.

This poker-sized deck of 72 cards was $16.08 with shipping.



 
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3. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:213]
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Custom printed cards at Gamecrafter

This was my first deck printed at Gamecrafter, and despite the low price I was pretty disappointed with the results. I felt that I might as well have printed the cards on glossy paper from my home printer- at least then I could have cut the cards by hand and they wouldn't be so frayed around the edges. In some cases it could even be a tell- you could potentially know which cards are which when they are face down because their edges have various degrees of fraying.

The cards are a smooth texture (nothing as exciting as real linen cards), but are really nothing special. I expected a glossy texture to lend my designs an extra "pop" of color, but alas, no pop.

This is certainly not to slam Gamecrafter as a whole-- I think it is an excellent service, especially if you'd like to sell single copies of your games and not have to worry about shipping and inventory. Hopefully the quality of the cards will improve with time.

This deck of 20 poker sized cards cost $6.87 with shipping.



 
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4. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:203]
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DIY salt dough tiles

This is an option for the crafty and thrifty DIY-er. I didn't know where to buy hex tiles (this is before I learned about all the great resources at BGG) so I decided to make my own. Salt dough tiles feel really nice and can look very high-qaulity. So they are super cheap to make, but can look very expensive!

The recipe is simple: 2 parts flour, 1 part salt, 1 part water. This creates a dough that you can mold into game tiles, pawns, counters, or any odd-shaped or personalized game bit that you need.

The dough holds is shape well, doesn't rise or bubble.

The tiles can then either be baked at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for a few few hours until hard (depending on the thickness of your pieces), or set to air dry for a few days. You can find lots of tips online, but a good one is to flip the tiles and bits over halfway through (or a few times a day if you let them air dry), otherwise you might get a very slight concaving in shape. The Hive tiles I made (shown below) I did not flip, so they are slightly concave, but they still play very well and the warp in shape doesn't affect how they fit together.

The hardened dough is pretty durable, and I don't mind tossing around my Hive tiles, though I wouldn't go out of my way to try to break them and I keep them in a padded box. The larger the pieces you make, the easier they will be to break.

I painted the tiles with acrylic paint, though I'm sure many types would work. I also coated them in a gloss medium, which in retrospect I wish I hadn't because they looked cooler when they were matte. But now they are waterproof, so it's all good.





That little gingerbread man is a Christmas ornament I made. I put some cinnamon and nutmeg into his dough before I baked him, which is why he is that nice, dark, speckled color. Not paint. You could also use food coloring in the recipe to get bright colors without painting.
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5. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:659]
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3/4 inch unglazed porcelain tiles

I purchased these tiles from Etsy in a package of 400 for only $12. I've since used them for Qwirkle and Micropul, and there are still plenty left over for whatever tile games I'd like to make in the future.

Nice wooden tiles, unfortunately, can be very expensive, so I thought these were a good alternative. They can be painted easily (I used acrylic, watered down and applied with a stamp for the Qwirkle tiles), and they have a nice texture.

On the downside, they are heavier than wooden tiles and their edges are kind of pointy, but not sharp. I have the Qwirkle tiles in a drawstring bag for players to reach into and blindly choose tiles during the game, and it isn't painful, but you wouldn't want to mix the tiles around with your hand like you would Scrabble tiles.

Conveniently for Micropul, you can fit exactly 48 of these tiles into an Altoids tin. Yay, pocket-sized!

Also, Etsy has tons of glass tiles of this size, and larger and smaller, which are SUPER cheap. Unfortunately it is harder to paint on glass, but if you are willing to buy glass paint as well, those are a good and good looking option.



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6. Board Game: Weilong [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:9981]
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Custom printed cards at Artscow

Artscow cards (though I have yet to buy my own, will update when I do), seem to be of a pretty good quality, but not great. The upside is that they are fairly cheap and Artscow is always running deals. Artscow uploads can be saved and shared with others, so there is a whole slew of PnP decks that have already been uploaded by the BGG community and are ready to be purchased.

There is a great geeklist about using Artscow here: Gone wild at artscow (and what I learned from it). Apparently you can expect "consistent inconsistency", especially with regards to borders and alignment.





There is also this geeklist for those who just want to browse/purchase what others have already uploaded to Artscow: Arts Cow Card Sets - Direct Links, and this thread about Printer Studio vs. Artscow: Artscow vs. PrinterStudio -- Head to Head results!
 
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7. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:3758] [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:71]
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3D Printing at Shapeways

I made the blueprint for this with Adobe Illustrator and uploaded it to Shapeways, the 3D printing company that sends your creations to your door. This particular one was really easy to make, since it is essentially a two dimensional image raised upwards in the free online software Tinkercad, then uploaded to the Shapeways site. So it would be easy to create any custom meeple if you know a bit of the basics of graphics software.




The detail on the product I received was impressive. I thought the eyes might not turn out well at that small size, but they are pretty sharp and the tentacles stand out perfectly as well. They are plastic (there are a few more color choices- there was no green so I picked blue) and very durable. I was very happy with the product.

The downside, of course, is the price. The product itself (a set of 4 meeples) was about $6, and the shipping was around the same. The final cost to ship to NY was $12.83. So I don't think I'll be using the service again until this becomes more mainstream and the price drops, but it was definitely fun to try once. It also takes a while to ship... I can't quite remember how long but I'd say no less than two weeks.

If you're not much of a designer yourself, it's also fun to browse the game section of the site and see what other board game components people have created and listed for sale. My meeples are here: https://www.shapeways.com/model/1880358/cthulhu-mini-meeple....

And if you're a dice fan, definitely look through the dice section, because there are tons of super cool and intricate dice creations for sale.
 
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