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Gamer Gift Guide – For the Aspiring Tabletop Game Designer

Gifts for board game lover that aren't games. A list of items for the aspiring game designer. #GiftGuide #GameDesigner #Prototyping #RPG #Boardgame #TabletopBellhop #roleplaying #tabletop

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.

Disclosure: Links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support this blog and our podcast.


Thermal Laminators


Swingline GBC Thermal Laminator Machine, Fusion 3000L, 12 Inch, 1 Min Warm-up, 3 or 5 Mil, with 30 EZUse Laminating Pouches Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches
A laminator is the gaming tool you didn’t know you needed until you have one or you show up to game night and game with someone who owns one.

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!


Blank Dice


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.

Take a look at this pack of 48 16mm six sided dice or this great set of D6s in three colours with stickers.  

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

Blank board game board with box

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


Make Your Own Board Game Set

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

If you don’t want circles, you can also get blank hexagons or blank squares. If you prefer coloured chips to blanks, check out this 900 pack of Bingo chips!


Meeples, Pawns, and Standees

The one component every modern Euro game must have is meeple. You can get a set of 100 meeple for cheap from Brybelly!

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.

You also can’t forget about the traditional pawn. Etsy is a great place to find vintage pawns at a great price. For example here is a set of 50 Vintage pawns for under $18.


Miniatures

      
There was a time, not so long ago when the thought of buying minis for prototyping and playtesting would have been unheard of. That’s no longer true with the advent of 3d printing and the amount of cheap miniature bundles out there. 

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.


Wooden Bits

A while back I found an interesting set of 250 wooden bits in a variety of shapes, each of which is in a different colour.  I couldn’t help but think that these would be great for representing a variety of different resources or to track different currencies in a game. Check them out: hand2mind Wood Pattern Blocks.

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.


Blank Cards

For when you want something a bit nicer than index cards, you can grab a set of 500 Blank Playing Cards for under $10.

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.


Printed 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.


Acrylic Tokens

Savage worlds tokens.

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. 


Grab Bags

75 game pieces, vintage tiles mix, letters, pawns, scrabble, dice, game pieces lot, bulk game pieces

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:

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