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Subject: Components: How small is too small? rss

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JPotter
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So I'm pondering bits for a project and my thoughts turned to cubes. How to make cool looking cubes inexpensively. They aren't expensive to buy but what if you wanted particular colors and/or wanted a tons of'em for some crazy game, or to upgrade several games, or to make several prototypes, etc?

I can cut them from wood and dye them for just about free, in various sizes, but what if I wanted plastic?

Well, I could just get sheets of 1/4" acrylic and cut'em up into 1/4" cubes.

But the standard cubes are 8mm or 10mm ... 1/4" = 6.3mm. Hmmm.

A 1/4" x 1/4" x 1/4" cube is the same volume as an old-school wargame counter (1/2" x 1/2" x 1/16").

Too small? Too fiddly?

Then my thoughts went general ... just how small is too small?

Obviously no one wants to be counting bb's or grains of sand at the gaming table ... nothing so small that it would get lost in cracks

Anyone have any examples of components from games they thought were too small?
 
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It depends in part what you have to do with the cubes.

For example if they're being drawn one at a time from a bag and then placed permanently in bowls, very small cubes are hardly an issue. If on the other hand you need to carefully arrange those cubes in a grid pattern and move them around during the game... very tiny cubes will be a problem. Smaller components are also lighter and more prone to being knocked about by a hearty exhale.

Size of components also has to do with the size of, well, us. Specifically the tips of our fingers. Pinch your thumb and index finger together and you'll note there's a triangular gap between them. This makes grabbing really small things hard with the standard pincer grip - you end up having to flatten out both fingers on the table to make the tips touch.

While I haven't run into any cubes I found too tiny to handle, I do prefer 10mm ones over 8mm. I have encountered tokens that were just too small and light to do their jobs effectively. The 'too small' problem is worse in tokens since they're much thinner and thus harder to grip.
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Mouldy Banana
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The cubes from Stronghold! Plus some of mine are half sized!
 
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Bill Cook
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If you have to ask, it's too small.
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Philip Kitching
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Too small?
The small discs in the original version of Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
The small cardboard tokens in Age of Renaissance

I'm not sure of the sizes but probably 6mm by 2-4mm high
 
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Michael Dillenbeck
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I bought some 6mm dice to act as cohesion hit markers, and I think most would find them a bit too small. 10mm now feel chunky to me as I have gotten used to 8mm cubes (which are becoming more prevalent in games).

Personally, I dislike plastic cubes compared to wood, but that is preference. Also, physical capabilities matter. A person with severe arthritis will probably not play a game with 6mm, 8mm, or even 10mm cubes - I can't play games with print that was designed for microfiche and with text that is muddled by poorly designed background images. Also, very little kids who explore the world by putting objects in their mouth and up their nose probably wouldn't do well with little parts. An average young adult probably won't have those problems... unless they are also pet owners.
 
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JPotter
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Fire_Forever wrote:
It depends in part what you have to do with the cubes....


All good points! 14mm dice are pretty big and chunky. Can't imagine cubes for resources / tracking being that big.

But component size drives size of other components (like the ships in Black Fleet), the size of various tracks and boxes on player boards, etc, which ultimately drives the size of the game itself.

10mm is a good sweet spot.

mouldybanana wrote:
The cubes from Stronghold! Plus some of mine are half sized!


Good call! I'll have to dig up Stronghold. I bet those were 6mm ... surely they weren't smaller than that ...

EMBison wrote:
If you have to ask, it's too small.


Man, I knew she would say that.

 
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JPotter
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Postmark wrote:
Too small?
The small discs in the original version of Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
The small cardboard tokens in Age of Renaissance

I'm not sure of the sizes but probably 6mm by 2-4mm high


Oh yeah, those tiny shield markers! LOL

The design of every component in that game is a horror. May be called Age of Renaissance but it's from the Dark Ages of mid-90s graphic design ... blecch!

Played with 1/2" counters on 5/8" hex grids all the time as a kid, and still do, but when I think up a design to play with, that's never where my visions go.


Verbosity wrote:
I bought some 6mm dice to act as cohesion hit markers, and I think most would find them a bit too small. 10mm now feel chunky to me as I have gotten used to 8mm cubes (which are becoming more prevalent in games).

Personally, I dislike plastic cubes compared to wood, but that is preference. Also, physical capabilities matter. A person with severe arthritis will probably not play a game with 6mm, 8mm, or even 10mm cubes - I can't play games with print that was designed for microfiche and with text that is muddled by poorly designed background images. Also, very little kids who explore the world by putting objects in their mouth and up their nose probably wouldn't do well with little parts. An average young adult probably won't have those problems... unless they are also pet owners.


I think I had some of those dice from some 80s AH titles. But maybe those were 8mm. Seemed tiny, didn't bother me ... then. I like dice as stat trackers too but prefer them with numbers not pips.

Yeah, plastic v. wood is a theme decision (to me at least). Wouldn't use plastic anything for a game set in the past, given a choice. Plastic coins in Conquest of the Empire ... hmmm. It was the '80s.

Oh and tiny illegible text, agreed. For instance, I want to love Legendary, but the design and typography are a pain. Has kept me from really diving in, despite being a lifelong Marvel fan. And after 5yrs, expansion after expansion it persists, the same fugly, unreadable cards!
 
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aesthetocyst wrote:
I could just get sheets of 1/4" acrylic and cut'em up into 1/4" cubes.

How do you intend to cut acrylic? Acrylic is very tough and brittle and is notoriously hard to machine. It is also famously hard on the equipment--you better be ready with the sharpeners! If you use a bandsaw, that's gonna be an expensive sharpening job.

Wood is better because it feels nice, can be easily colored (try fruit juice), and most species work easily.

Even brass or aluminum is nicer to machine with regular power saws (jig, band, table) than acrylic. And those materials can make for some fancy pieces.
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JPotter
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professorguy wrote:
aesthetocyst wrote:
I could just get sheets of 1/4" acrylic and cut'em up into 1/4" cubes.

How do you intend to cut acrylic?


Laser cutter.


professorguy wrote:
Wood is better because it feels nice, can be easily colored (try fruit juice), and most species work easily.


I dye wood bits with Rit. It's cheap, goes a long way, and is (mostly) reversible! Fruit juice? Hadn't thought of that, but the Rit is even cheaper. No problems from the acids and sugars in juices? Don't think they could compete with Rit or tie-dye in range or saturation...?

professorguy wrote:
Even brass or aluminum is nicer to machine with regular power saws (jig, band, table) than acrylic. And those materials can make for some fancy pieces.


Yes, metals are wonderful. And aluminum anodizing is fantastic! But not as cheap, not as fast, and require more tooling. The coolant is a mess and the shavings are worse than sand in terms of pervasiveness and longevity. I loved working in a machine shop, but don't miss it following me home!
 
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Jordan Booth
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Check out these tokens from Luna Llena: Full Moon.

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"What do you mean, I can't pay in Meeples?"
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shake And here I thought the 1HP counters from Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game were bad! They look no bigger than the end of the pencil, oh goodness.
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JPotter
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Born-of-Ashes wrote:
Check out these tokens from Luna Llena: Full Moon.


surprise Looks like leftovers from punching something else out!
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Who Am I?
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Clippers went too small, and it hurt the game's reputation.

Here is an image showing the port markers:


Game itself is supposed to be decent, but many people (rightfully) couldn't get past component issues.
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Alexandre Santos
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I wouldn't like to handle cubes below 8 mm...
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Ravage Board Gaming
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I tried to save costs on a prototype by using cube shaped acrylic beads at 4mm.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
They were too small to enjoyably play with.
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Pascal L
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Tokaido early editions had tiny score markers

Bottom on the picture:
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Second in a one horse race
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Cardboard rocks. It's just not the same on iOS.
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Puerto Rico colonists are too small. They're a pain to pick up.
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