Welcome to my #GamerGiftGuide for game designers or those thinking of designing games.
Buying gifts for gamers can be hard. You never know which games they have and which they don’t. However, I don’t know many game players who aren’t also interested in designing games as well. So how about thinking inside the box?
Here is a list of gift items that any aspiring game designer is sure to love. These are great gifts for RPG writers, card creators, layout artists, board game developers and more! Some of these items would also make great gifts for gamers looking to improve their existing games as well.
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You can look forward to laminated character sheets that can be filled out with dry erase markers, plastic coated player aids listing all the actions available to players each turn, and coasters that remind you of the table rules (no Cheetos!). Plus paper miniatures that stand up on their own, hex and counter unmounted boards that won’t warp, chits and components you don’t have to worry about spilling your beverage on and more. There are so many awesome things you can do with a laminator!
You can get a high-end or a low-end laminator (or something that falls somewhere in between). For most people, something like the Amazon Basics 9-Inch Thermal Laminator will do.
If you want the ability to do thicker laminate sheets or sheets larger than a standard 8.5×11 sheet of paper you may want something fancier like the Swingline GBC Thermal Laminator Machine, Fusion 3000L.
Don’t forget to pick up some Thermal Laminating Pouches as well!
Whether you put stickers on them (some blank dice come with them), paint them, engrave them, or figure out some other way to mark them up, blank dice are great for trying out various custom dice configurations.
For something a bit more colourful check out this set of 60 16mm D6s in ten different colours.
For RPG fans check out this set of blank, black and white polyhedrals!
Blank Game Boards
For the longest time, I didn’t even know these existed. Blank boards come in a variety of sizes. You can get your standard two-fold Monopoly-style board (the Apostrophe Games Blank Game Board), or you can get a three-fold style board like the type that we usually see in hobby games (this Folding Blank Game Board with Blue Pebble Cover).
Some of these blank game boards, like this blank game board from Apostrophe, come complete with blank board game boxes.
My favourite personally is this Four Piece Dry Erase Blank Game Board since you can re-use it over and over again.
Board Game Construction Kits
To take it a step further than just picking up a blank game board, you can get a whole board game construction kit.
There are a number of these available and what you get varies by brand. For example, there is the Make Your Own Board Game Set with pawns, cards, dice, a spinner, a sand timer, a blank box and a blank board. Then there’s The White Box Board Game Design Workshop which was originally funded on Kickstarter.
For a very different set of components, including cubes, meeple like pawns and lots of counters, there’s this DIY Board Game Kit
Resource Cubes and Chits
They may not be quite as nice as wooden cubes, but the price on this set of plastic cubes from Learning Resources can’t be beaten. If you really must have wood you can pick up this set of 196 Colored Wood Cubes.
Maybe you don’t like cubes and prefer chits, the great thing about chits is you can put something different on each side. Here’s a set of 200 blank 1″ chits.
Meeples, Pawns, and Standees
Some people prefer cardboard standees over meeples and you can get them for a very reasonable price. Like this Hedral Value Pack of 12 – Blank Board Game Stand-up Player Pieces with Multi-Color Card Stands.
Wildspire Fantasy Miniatures has a fantasy set available that includes a huge dragon plus a ton of smaller figures and comes in a mix of colours. While the quality isn’t the best, check out this Galaxy Laser Team Space Figures set with 50 pieces! They may not look amazing but are perfect for testing out a new game idea.
You can even get preprinted miniatures at a reasonable price, like this set of 56 Painted Fantasy Mini Figures.
If you own a 3D printer and have the option of printing out your own minis, be sure to check out Fat Dragon Games line of Dragonlock Miniatures.
I’ve also seen a variety of wooden discs out there like these 1.5″ Round Unfinished Wood Chips which look like they could be great for resources or currency.
You can also get sets of dry erase index and flash cards, which I think are brilliant for use in RPGs but others have told me they are awesome for prototyping. For an example take a look at these Dry Erase Index Cards.
You aren’t stuck with traditional card sizes either, check out these Blank Square Playing Cards.
It’s surprisingly cheap to get your own set of cards printed. I personally have had great luck with Artscow for this. They let you create your own deck of playing cards using your own images which can be great for prototyping any type of card mechanic.
Gamers and game creators have been using Artscow for some time. Here’s an example of Trait Cards for the Gamma World RPG created on Artscow. Artscow also has frequent sales where you can get three decks printed for the price of one.
DriveThruCards also has a ton of different card sets for a variety of games (mostly RPGs) that include many cardsets with generic art and images that could be useful for prototyping.
Back when I ran 4th Edition D&D regularly, I found LITKO. This is a company that laser cuts acrylic and produces a ton of tokens and counters. I’ve bought a number of their components and board game upgrades over the years.
There are now many different companies on the market offering acrylic bits, like these Food Resource Tokens for Wingspan that could easily be used for other games.
This particular set of Monster/Character tokens for RPGs seems great for playtesting any game using miniatures on a map. Being acrylic means you can easily write on them with a wet or dry erase marker.
Looking for a bunch of bits cheap or not sure exactly what you need? How about a grab bag of board game pieces? For example, check out this set of 75 game pieces for under $20.
Looking for other gamer gift ideas? Check out these other gift guides: