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 those who design games or who dream of being board game designers.

Buying gifts for gamers can be hard. You never know what games they have and which they don’t. I don’t know many game players who aren’t 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. Whether they are an old school OSR GM or trying to create the next hit board game, like Ticket to Ride.

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. As an associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thermal Laminators

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. 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. Actual coasters that remind you of the table rules (no Cheetos!). 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.  So many possibilities.

You can get both high end and low-end laminators. For most people, something like the AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator will do. If you want to do thicker laminate sheets or sheets larger than 8.5×11 you may want something fancier like the Scotch Advanced Thermal Laminator, Extra Wide 13-Inch Input, 1-Minute Warm-up (TL1302VP).

Blank Dice

Whether you put stickers on them (some blank dice come with them), paint them, engrave them, or whatever, 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 6 D12 that come with stickers: White D12 Blank 25mm Dice Set with Stickers. For something a bit more colourful check out this set of 60 16mm D6s in ten different colours. For you RPG fans you can get sets of black and white polyhedrals as well: Bescon Blank Polyhedral RPG Dice Set 42pcs

Blank Game Boards

Blank board game board with box

For the longest time, I didn’t even know these existed. But, it’s true — you can get blank mounted game boards. They come in a variety of sizes, like your standard two-fold monopoly board: Apostrophe Games Blank Game Board or you can also get the four-fold style board that we usually see in hobby games: Folding Blank Game Board with Blue Pebble Cover. They are both surprisingly cheap. Some of these blank game boards, like this blank game board from Apostrophe, also come with blank board game boxes.

Board Game Construction Kits

To take it a step farther 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 this deluxe board game kit that features a dry erase board, spinner, timers, tokens, standees, dice and more. Then there’s The White Box Board Game Design Workshop which was originally funded on Kickstarter. If you are looking for something cheaper there’s this Madanar Create Your won Board Game 143 Piece Set.

Resource Cubes and Chits

They may not be quite as nice as wooden cubes, but the price on this set of plastic cubes can’t be beaten: Learning Resources Centimeter Cubes, Set of 1000.  If you really must have wood there’s this set: Colored Wood Cubes (Pack of 196). 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: Value Pack of 200 – Blank 1″ Circle Board Game Chits. You can also get blank hexagons or blank squares if you don’t want circles.

Meeples, Pawns, and Standees

1950s board game pawns
The one component every modern Euro game must have is meeple. You can get a set of 100 meeple for cheap from Brybelly: 100 Assorted Wooden Meeples, Full 16mm Size. You prefer minis? That’s cool. While finding cheap minis could be a whole other post, you can get sets of blank cardboard standees with coloured stands for a very reasonable price: Value Pack of 12 – Blank board game stand-up player pieces with multi-color card stands. You can’t forget about the traditional pawn. Etsy is a great place to find vintage pawns at a great price. Like this set of forty 1950s wooden pawns in four different colours for under $15.

Wooden Bits

A while back I found this interesting set of 250 wooden bits. They come in six or so different colours and are unique shapes. Diamonds, hexes, triangles, trapezoids etc. I couldn’t help but think that these would be great for representing a variety of different resources or track different currencies in a game: hand2mind Wood Pattern Blocks (Set of 250). I’ve also seen a variety of wooden discs out there like these: Creative Hobbies Round Unfinished 1.5″ Wood Cutout Circles Chips. For something a bit more thematic look at this set of tokens from Mayday Games: Mayday Games Deluxe Euro Token Set.

Blank Cards

For when you want something a bit nicer than index cards, you can grab this set of 500 cards for under $10: Blank Playing Cards. You can also get sets of Dry Erase Index cards that I think are brilliant for use in RPGs but that others have told me are awesome for prototyping: Apostrophe Games Dry Erase Index Cards. You can also get blank cards in different shapes like these square cards: 200 Blank Square Playing Cards.

Printed Cards

It’s surprisingly cheap to actually get your own set of cards printed. I personally have had great luck with Artscow. They are designed for printing a standard deck of 54 playing cards but you can put whatever you want on them, front and back. People have been using them for some time. Here’s an example of Trait Cards for the Gamma World RPG.  Artscow also has frequent sales where you can get three decks for the price of one. DriveThruCards also has a ton of different card sets for a variety of games (mostly RPGs) that include a lot of cards with generic arts and images that could be useful for prototyping.

Acrylic Tokens

Savage worlds tokens.Flame Tokens board board games and RPGSTorchbearer Tokens

Back when I ran 4th Edition D&D regularly, I found LIKO Aerosystems. This is a company that laser cuts acrylic and produces a ton of tokens and counters. I contacted them about making some custom components for playing 4e and they actually now sell those designs on their site. They’ve done so well selling stuff for tabletop games they changed their name. You can get a huge variety of counters in different shapes and sizes. They even do some interesting 3d stuff. They aren’t cheap but are perhaps something to consider when you are actually showing off your new game.  LITKO Game Accessories.

Grab Bags

Looking for a bunch of bits cheap or not sure exactly what you need? How about a grab bag of board game pieces. I came across this on Etsy and thought it was pretty cool. This is a set of 100 random vintage game pieces for under $20

Looking for other gamer gift ideas? Check out these other gift guides:

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