There comes a time in every creators first project where they have to put together a specification document for manufacturers to quote on. For seasoned veterans this is a fairly easy task as you quickly become familiar with the available options, but if you’re getting your first quotes it can be challenging to know what to ask for.
When I first started, I asked manufacturers if they had sample kits, but I also asked them to tell me a few games they had recently worked on. This allowed me to buy copies of those games (or see them in a board game café) and then request my game used similar materials.
It is really important you know what you are asking for as many manufacturers will want to give you the cheapest quote possible in order to win your business. This means if you ask for a quote on a box, they may use cheaper/thinner materials than you would like in order to keep the price down.
If you use a recommended manufacturer this will be less of an issue, but you do still need to be aware of it. There’s nothing worse than finally getting your game and being unhappy with the quality of components.
My standard components
For playing cards I tend to use 310gsm Black Core Paper with a playing card varnish and linen finish. These are really good cards to include in any game, although you can bring the cost down by skipping the linen finish if you need to.
The size of the cards can vary depending on the purpose but for standard cards I use 63x88mm cards.
For punchboards the thickness is very important in terms of the feel of the game, but it can also greatly impact the cost and weight of the game so you should really think about what works for you.
I find 1.5mm greyboard is great for most things and it’s my go to thickness. I’ll sometimes use 2mm greyboard for pieces that really need extra thickness for gameplay reasons.
When asking for quotes I’ll start with 250gsm CCNB on 1.5mm greyboard.
The dimensions of the punchboards are completely dependant on the number of tokens and box size.
The materials used for a box will vary a little depending on the size of the game box, if you’re making a 4x4x2 inch small box game you may want to use thinner materials than you would for a 16x12x8 inch game.
157gsm paper on 1.5mm greyboard with a Matt finish works well for boxes up to 12x12x3 inches.
I’ve typically opted for thicker boxes as I feel more thickness offers an extra level of quality to the game that many people notice when picking up the box, but this can be expensive and I would say it is a luxury.
For my own games I have used both 2mm and 3mm greyboard.
I am a big fan of keeping as close to standard size paper as possible for rulebooks, meaning A4 in the UK or I believe the US refer to it as letter size.
While some games will use square rulebooks to take advantage of the space in their box, I’ve noticed they are less practical to hold and take up more space on the table. This is relevant as a lot of people will have the rulebook out on the table during their first game, so the more space the rulebook requires the less practical it is.
I tend to aim for 220x280mm paper in multiples of 4, meaning 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 pages as it helps optimise the process.
Material wise I recommend 128gsm C2S paper with an aqueous varnish.
Hopefully this should help you with putting together your first quote, but if you have any other components you’re not sure about then feel free to ask in the comments.
Do you have any go to materials you use in your games that differ from those I’ve mentioned above?