Published on June 27th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich2
Beyond the Cube
Options to Customize and Upgrade Your Board Game Pieces
If you’ve been playing games for a while, there is a chance that you have played using colorful cubes. They are the staple of most Euro games and continue to be one of the most widely used tokens to symbolize a variety of resources in games from wood to grain, solar energy to mages. Some of our favorite games are packed to the brim with cubes like Agricola, Lords of Waterdeep and Alien Frontiers. Cubes are a cost effective way for game designers to publish their game but they are pretty boring to look at.
A rising trend in board games is substituting cubes and other plain plastic or wooden shapes for custom game pieces and more realistic tokens which represent their respective resource. I would like to call attention to a couple places where gamers can order or buy custom pieces and list creative ways to put character into your game.
Stonemaier Games’ Treasure Chest: Realistic Resource Tokens for Board Games
This is the latest Kickstarter from Stonemaier Games, the wonderful guys who brought you Viticulture, Euphoria and Tuscany, and it isn’t a game. Seeing the popularity of Euphoria’s realistic tokens, Stonemaier Games set out to create a set of realistic resource tokens players can use for their game collection. They spent a couple months collecting polls, making sculpts and reviewing samples and now it is available on Kickstarter!
This Treasure Chest features six different realistic resources all compiled into a box for gamers to substitute wooden cubes and other resources in your favorite game. The realistic tokens are stone, wood, gold, clay, ore and gems.The ore and gold are made of metal and the other resources are made of resin but all of them were made from custom molds for this project. The ore can replace gray cubes in Alien Frontiers; the gems can be used as shinier victory point counters and yes, pretty much all of these tokens can be used for Keyflower.
I highly recommend ordering a copy because at the time of this post, their Kickstarter is over 200% funded and as their funding grows the backers will benefit in the form of more resources added with no extra charge to their treasure chest. For example, the base set is 20 of each resource (120 pieces in total) but currently on Day 3 of their campaign, backers now received 23 gold and 22 of each resource. That number will continue to grow so make sure to share this with your friends!
You have until July 9th to get in your pledges! $33 will get you the treasure chest and $39 will get you the treasure chest air mailed over meaning you get your chest sooner.
This isn’t a common household name, but I’ve had friends order through Epicycle’s Etsy Page and they have been pleased with their results. These figurines and custom meeples are colored polymer clay designs crafted by hand and then baked. Most are smaller than a quarter and will easily integrate in your game’s storage. I saw the Powergrid tokens (pictured above) in person and it definitely adds a bit of character to the game. She has tokens for games like Agricola, Caverna, Catan, Tzolk’in and more. Epicycle also does small character sculpts though you must have a certain sense of humor as all the characters come with googly eyes.
Speaking of create custom character pieces for board games, I recently ran into Hobold’s Grotto when I was research our recent review of Targi. While meeples and cubes aren’t really used in Targi I found a set of custom sculpts for player characters that were amazing! Each figure was in a different pose and were created in a colored clay that matches the meeple colors. The creator also went so far as to create 3D sculpts of the pepper, salt and dates tokens based on the art work. The detail and unique character features are amazing! The characters featured above are part of his set of figurines from Lords of Waterdeep and are the Harpers guild complete with a banner and each character mounted on a flat base. There are over 100 pieces in that set each with gorgeous detail making each guild looking different. Visit his blog to view more sculpts and to inquire about commissions.
The gaming community is a creative bunch and there is a market or at least a ton of gamers out there interested and passionate about customizing their games to make it their own. Each month BoardGameGeek hosts a Pimp My Game where users share how they’re customized their games. The entries are varied and range from simplistic, custom sticker tokens to a repurpoused perfume bottle for a Sauron player marker and custom box inserts to Mayan-calendar painted Tzolk’in wheels. I’m excited to see the new ways people