Bess A.
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I wanted to share a walkthrough and a few tips from my recent experience in making up the dice for Agricola Express.


1) Where to get the dice?
- If you want to make some sweet, professional-looking dice for a game like this, allow me to suggest a trip to your local thrift store (or several). Un-indented or lightly-indented dice are best, and wood ones have a nice feel. We picked up ScrabbleSentence with nice flat wood dice for a couple of bucks (and you get a rolling cup!). Another good thrift-find game for blank dice would be Boggle (or Big Boggle), but check the dice to make sure the version you pick up doesn't have indented letters.



2) Label stock or other options?
- Every game-customizer should invest in some full-sheet labelstock. It's just darn handy and most office-supply stores carry it. But if you think that this game might be a keeper in your household, why not go with the more professional-looking waterslide decal? They're a bit pricier per sheet, but they look and feel so professional (I try to print a few game aids per sheet to make the most of them). I'll explain more about how to use water-slide decals below.

3) Printing
- If you have a color printer, use it! Some of the dice-symbols are a little confusing and new at first, even if you're familiar with Agricola. The different colored backgrounds really help you remember if you're looking at an occupation or an improvement. It doesn't matter if you use toner or ink-jet, because you should seal them all with some kind of clear coat in a later step. Label or decal stock will print up the same way, but if you're going to use decals, make sure to include a little extra test image on your sheet.

4) Spray-seal [decal-only step]
- If you decided to go with water-slide decals, your next step is to spray your printed sheet with clear acrylic spray paint (in a well-ventilated area, following manufacturer's instructions). Two light even coats is ideal, but don't rush it or go too light, make several slow passes over the sheet for each coat, and change direction too (left-to-right, then top-to-bottom). I always print a test image or text in one corner of the sheet so I can make sure that my spraying worked after everything is dry.

Allow to dry according to spray-manufacturer's directions, probably a couple of hours. Then try out your "test swatch", you should be able to dunk it in the water for 40-60 sec and then be able to slide the thin image-film off of the paper backing without your ink blurring or the film disintegrating. If your test-piece starts to disintegrate or the ink runs, take your sheet outside again and give it another coat.

5) Trim neatly!
- Whether you chose water-slide decals or label stock, you really need to trim neatly and make sure that your label or decal is smaller than the surface you are sticking it to. Overhanging edges can be a real disaster for dice-rolling and durability! If you chose label-stock, you may also want to round your corners a tiny bit, because papery label-stock sticks off the surface more and will be more likely to come up at the corners.

6) Stick it to ya!
- Well, everyone probably knows how to stick the labels, so I won't belabor that. If you decided to try the water-slide decals, this is the time to get wet and wild! By now you should have dunked a test-swatch to make sure your pieces wouldn't fall apart, so you should stick your trimmed decal pieces in the water for 40-60 sec. Making sure the backing gets good and wet, no floaters allowed.

The backing should be able to slip off easily (if not, let it soak a little longer). The decals adhere as they dry, so while wet they should be flexible and slide-able. Position your decals, scooting them around as needed (tweezers or paintbrush might help), then use a paintbrush or just your finger and gently smooth it into place. As you finish the last die face, the first one is probably dry enough that you can set it on that face while it finishes drying.
(Kitten help not required)

7) A final coat
- Now that all your faces are finished, it's time for a protective coat whether you used label stock or decals. If you used decals, make sure they are really dry (a couple of hours maybe) before you do this step. Clear acrylic spray paint is a great fast-drying option. Another option (especially if you don't have a good place to spray paint) is clear acrylic varnish, sold in little bottles at your local craft store in the acrylic craft paints section (under brands such as Delta Ceramcoat or FolkArt).

Clear spray paint is great for minimal interference with the wood feel or because this-process-took-too-long-and-I-want-to-play-NOW-already! Clear varnish might be appropriate if, despite your best efforts, a corner is sticking up somewhere, or something partially peeled up when it got stuck to something; then you can use the varnish as though it were decoupage medium and glue it down and protect it in one step.

Whatever you choose be very careful that your dice aren't jostled after spraying. It can feel like a minor disaster if an unsprayed die face lands in a sticky sprayed area and you find your final die face ruinously stuck to a cardboard sheet and peeling off.

So finally, your dice should be dry and completed, your efforts should pay off and you can try out your new game! Happy die-rolls to you!
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Chef D
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Thanks for the information. I have used a great product at my local art supply store. It is a dry adhesive sheet that you can put a cut out of any shaped piece of paper to apply the adhesive. I used about 2-inches of one sheet to make all my dice. The pack of 10 sheet was 10 bucks but I also use it to adhere all sorts of printed out material to matting material to make game pieces or printed expansions. It is great stuff.

http://www.dickblick.com/products/letratac-dry-mount-adhesiv...
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Bess A.
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Thanks David, that dry mount adhesive looks like fun stuff! I can think of a lot of applications that would be handy for. The description says it's repositionable, does that mean you could remove it weeks later, or can you just move it around when you first place it?

Also, how does it hold up?
 
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Chef D
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You can really on move it if you aren't able to position it right away. Once that happens, you can not move it. I have used it to adhere all sorts of colored paper to make different tiles. They do not have a linen finish, but they can almost pass as the real thing. The most important part is getting the right mounting board. These are the ones that I have used

http://www.dickblick.com/products/crescent-black-mounting-bo...


I hope that helps.
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