Gwen Ruelle
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Hi all,

Right now we are working with manufacturers to decide the components of our game. The game definitely requires a board of some sort, but we were considering an alternative to typical game boards (a cloth board, for example, like in Dragoon). Has anyone seen a game board alternative that they really liked/didn't like? Ideas or suggestions?

Thanks in advance!
 
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Vaughn Egge
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It's a special case (unique game/theme) but I love the mousepad style "board" as used by football field in Fliip Football. Quick setup, easy storage, and no concerns of warping or being otherwise damaged.
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B C Z
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I would only enjoy an 'alternate material board' if it was really important that it be that way.

Otherwise, cardboard is preferred for a variety of reasons.
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jay
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byronczimmer wrote:
I would only enjoy an 'alternate material board' if it was really important that it be that way.

Otherwise, cardboard is preferred for a variety of reasons.


This.

I'll accept some alternatives if it adds to the game. Plastic works if you need tight fitting pieces to set nicely(scythe did it with cardboard). Vinyl is nice if you want to use dry erase markers(Captain sonar did it with cardboard). Foam rubber/fabric is good for card game especially if they will be sleeved. Clothe is very portable and malleable if you need your game it fit in a pouch. Wood is great for dexerity games and looks nice for classic games. Paper can be used for a modifiable board for a single use.

Otherwise, I'd say cardboard.
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I have one or two things in cloth and I don't get why they are used:
- the cloth ends up moving around and wadded up on the table all the time
- it's hard to get it completely flat either due to movement or wrinkling
- if we are outside, it blows away worse than cards do sometimes, especially if it is thin
I suppose if a really heavy, thick fabric is used, that might alleviate some of those issues.

I really like neoprene mats because:
- they are always flat
- they 'stick' to the table so they do not slide or shift around on me
- they conform the the surface we are playing on, avoiding the spinning we experience with cardboard boards on uneven surfaces or if the boards warp from humidity
- they do not warp from humidity
- they quiet dice
- they make picking up cards on them SOOO much easier
The only downsides to neoprene mats that I have seen is that:
- some sizes do not fit well in game boxes
- if made too cheaply could result in low-detail/blurred graphics and frayed edges
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Vaughn Egge
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In general, I do agree with these statements. Assuming the board is not to be constructed throughout gameplay, cardboard has got to be the default.

That said, a gold-plated board with marble smaller boards is a nice surprise from time to time.

Out of curiosity, what is it about cardboard that has you looking for alternatives? In other words, what about cardboard is proving to be a flawed material?
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Gwen Ruelle
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I generally like cardboard as well but it does make for a bigger and heavier game. I was interested in what the general consensus is on cloth for better portability but I agree that the material is not nearly as sturdy.

Unfortunately our board is too big for a neoprene mat to fit inside a box, but those are great.

Thanks all for the feedback. Cardboard it is!
 
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Laura Creighton
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I've been playing around with some boardgame ideas, and so, in an effort to protect the board from the playtesters -- and keep the ink from smearing around -- I ran my poster board prototype through my very excellent laminating machine, which can handle such a thickness.

And now I think that this thinner but laminated board is very nice. I doubt it will warp, unlike some boards I have, and careless handing of the edges where the board folds out won't produce rips. It's lighter. Why don't we all have games commercially produced like this? Is laminating so very much more expensive?
 
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Gwen Ruelle
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lacreighton wrote:
I've been playing around with some boardgame ideas, and so, in an effort to protect the board from the playtesters -- and keep the ink from smearing around -- I ran my poster board prototype through my very excellent laminating machine, which can handle such a thickness.

And now I think that this thinner but laminated board is very nice. I doubt it will warp, unlike some boards I have, and careless handing of the edges where the board folds out won't produce rips. It's lighter. Why don't we all have games commercially produced like this? Is laminating so very much more expensive?


Interesting. I think some people prefer the heavier, sturdier feel of cardboard that thin laminated. I don't think it is because laminating is too expensive. Does it shine and reflect the light?
 
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SHAWN WHITE
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I really do enjoy the game mat or neoprene for a few games. The mat for Firefly is super nice.

 
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Laura Creighton
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My board is shiny, because I used shiny laminated plastic. I happen to have a ton of the stuff left over from a different project (where shininess was a requirement). There are other sorts of plastic though, that are advertised as non-shiny including coloured plastic. For my game, a non-glare brown would be good.

But this 'people prefer the heavy' needs to get tested somehow. Maybe by posting to a larger BBG group? It would be heartbreaking if you moved to something other than cardboard to save weight, and then discover that people refuse to buy your game because the components aren't heavy.
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Bill Eldard
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Runawayparade wrote:
Hi all,

Right now we are working with manufacturers to decide the components of our game. The game definitely requires a board of some sort, but we were considering an alternative to typical game boards (a cloth board, for example, like in Dragoon). Has anyone seen a game board alternative that they really liked/didn't like? Ideas or suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

Can you do away with the board entirely? Here are games that replaced boards with cards.

Sail to India

Lightning: North Africa
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J R
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Ryalyn wrote:
I have one or two things in cloth and I don't get why they are used:
- the cloth ends up moving around and wadded up on the table all the time
- it's hard to get it completely flat either due to movement or wrinkling
- if we are outside, it blows away worse than cards do sometimes, especially if it is thin
I suppose if a really heavy, thick fabric is used, that might alleviate some of those issues.


I think Dragoon's board and bits are really beautiful, although I only played it at Gencon. But cloth boards have always struck as best for very portable games. So when I Kickstarted the Tak Tavern set, I got the cloth board, so I can fit the game in a little cloth bag—very portable, and the sort of thing I would take to play in a restaurant or bar.

I've been experimenting a bit with cloth boards in my homemade portable sets, with boards from Spoonflower. The only one I've tested extensively is my Altoids-tin Twelve Men's Morris set, which uses a small canvas board and glass stones. The heavy fabric makes the wrinkling issue very bad, bad enough that the pieces sometimes slide out of place. I'd do a lighter fabric if I was doing it over.
 
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Gwen Ruelle
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Portability is definitely a huge plus with cloth boards, especially if the rest of the pieces are minimal. With Dragoon I think it works because the other components are metal and heavy and keep the board from moving too much. Maybe it depends on the other components/whether the game is small enough to carry around.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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I like the idea of cloth boards; but I've only seen a couple of games that have it. I forget what one of them is, but the one that I own is a pirate game with these metal mini ships that are moving around a cloth map as a game board.

There are definitely right ways and wrong ways to execute the cloth board idea; and I imagine that there are right ways and wrong ways to do wood or cardboard too. Cardboard boards have probably been used and studied over such a long time that they've "proven" which methods work. So I can only hope that if more people use cloth, the method will get refined as well.

So, here's what I'd look for:

-- Weight. It has to be heavy enough to stay on the table. It has to be heavy enough to resist getting moved when tokens/counters on the cloth are moved around.

-- Thread count. obviously, you don't really want it to be see-through. If the design is printed onto the cloth, the cloth needs a certain density for that to be effective.

-- Wrinkle free. I don't want to iron the cloth out before every session. But it is likely that the cloth will need to be folded or rolled up for storage.

-- Washable. This is more of a "bonus" rather than a requirement; but a big part to the idea is that cardboard is not washable if someone spills their fruit punch on it.

-- Stretch proof. The analogue to cardboard maps/tiles that get warped. Cloth can stretch. I don't know the details in printing a design onto cloth, but it could involve having the fabric stretched tight so that the print media is applied evenly. Some fabrics handle the stretching better than others.
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Popular Culture
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Too Many Bones was, I think, an inspired way to develop a board on a mat. Also I think the combo system created for Sythe with a top and bottom powers section to be really great to get depth of variation into the game.
 
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Jake Rasmussen
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Virginia
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The game you're thinking of is dread pirate. I've been trying to find fabric similar to it's board for a Tak set I'm making.
 
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