Things of No Interest: Game Blinging - 3D Style

Things of No Interest: Game Blinging - 3D Style

Just like Psy (that wacky Korean master of dance), you too can make your games cooler by adding some flair. Lots of people print out player aids and play mats for games that didn't have them. Some folks keep it simple and replace paper money with poker chips (highly recommended by the way). Some just change out the cubes or cardboard chits in their game for shaped wooden bits. Some people are crafty and like building card racks and box organizers from foam core sheets (for the record I have done all of these things at one time or another). But for the hardcore, there is another thing you can do - create your own accessories using plastic and 3D printer. Now, 3D printing isn't cheap. A cheap printer will run you in the $300US range plus the cost of printing materials. A cheap printer typically doesn't have all the bells and whistles and is smaller, thus limiting some of the things you can print out. If you use a service online, it can also be a little pricy, but if you have access to a printer or a FabLab of some kind, here are some ideas for you.

[And yeah, it has been a while since I visited this topic, so I thought I'd throw out how versatile a 3D printer can be showing some examples of things you can print out if you have a 3D printer. The majority of the items I'm going to show can be found on the fantastic community site - Thingiverse.com if you want the files to print on your own printer (or if you want to have them printed from a site like Shapeways.)]

If, like me, you have a large game collection and hate having to lug a huge pile of boxes to game night, a 3D printer can offer you some help in the form of printing a compact game box that is both box and insert in one. While Codenames isn't a large box game, we can reduce the game's footprint a fair bit into a cool little box. Heck, there is even a round slot in the base of the box for the timer - this is a great design and is a fun project to start with if you are new to your 3D printer.

Maybe you have a game and expansions like Machi Koro. This printed box not only neatly holds all the game and expansions, but the dice and cardboard bits as well. This one is also a good project for a new printers, though it might be too tall for some printers (hey, there are a lot of cards in the game and expansions).

Boxes are among the simplest of designs to print, though depending on the design, they can use a fair bit of material and take a bit longer to print than some of the other things I'm going to show. Don't let that stop you from printing them, because they are slick.

Ok, how about something that makes the games easier to play? Here we have a tray for the two-player game 7 Wonders Duel. This game has a tableau of cards that overlap (which is important since you can't access/reveal cards that are covered). If you've played this game, you know that it can be a pain and is a mess. With a 3D printer, you can make life much simpler. This tableau/rack holds each card in place and is especially nice, since I can move the whole thing back and forth between the players to make it easier to see the cards that are available. It is also cool because this particular bling is printed in pieces and put together like a puzzle, which means that when you take it apart, everything fits inside the original box (yeah, you'll have to toss the insert from the game if you didn't already).

Looks like they needed to print more trays than they did ;)
This next one isn't going to fix in the box, but is one of those things that once you have, you'll never be able to play without. If you've ever played Carcassonne, you know what a pain in the butt it can be when you are reaching across the table to place a piece and your arm (or sleeve or belly or necklace - I've people do all of that at one time or another) screw up the board. Well, don't put up with that anymore. In what might be one of the fastest and simplest prints you can do, you can make trays for the tiles that will keep your board together. These 3D printed trays each hold nine Carc tiles and interlock. They are also fairly thin (i.e., they don't use a ton of material) which means that printing out a tray doesn't take much time (of course, printing out a boatload of them does...). And yeah, you need way more of these than you think you do. Unexpected added bonus to Carc tile trays: if the tiles are all sitting in interlocking trays, then guess what? The whole game board is slidable! Yep, the person on the far side of the table can not only pull the whole map to them on their turn, they can rotate the whole thing if they desire (table space of course being a limiter here). Unexpected bonus #2: The Isle of Skye tiles are the exact same size as Carc tiles, so these work equally as well for each player's individual tableau - the ability to slide your tiles out of the way to handle the start of round auction stuff is awesome.

I talked about my adventures in printing these - card holders for Viticulture. One thing to note about 3D printed items. PLA (the plastic material that is a popular option for printing) is hydrophilic - that means it likes water and moisture, which makes it a great medium for acrylic paint and spray paints. I printed out a set of these in one color and then a quick spray of spray paint later and I have a rainbow set of card trays (not that having a set of black trays would have been horrible).  These certainly aren't as important a game accessory as Carc tile trays to playing the game, unless you are as OCD as every other game player I know about the neatness of card piles.

Remember when I mentioned that some people print play mats for games without them? What about games that need them? This tray is an accessory that you can print to help organize your play mat for Terraforming Mars. The little slots keep the cubes in place (which makes screwing up where a cube was a lot harder). The divisions between sections is nice as well. The designer of this tray also made it in multiple parts (for smaller printers) that fit together puzzle-like. If you like, print/paint them in different colors for the players.

For the record, I designed exactly NONE of these. All of these were shared to the community on Thingiverse and were free for me to use. Take a look, you never know what you might find out there.

**Update - Links to Thingiverse Models

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