Choosing game components to make your game affordable

Game components

A game board, separate character cards, playing cards, money, tokens, maybe 3D miniatures or even ingenious structures. Of course you come up with all kinds of great ideas to shape your game. If you have enough money in the bank account, or don't mind selling a game that exceeds $100, this is no problem. However, if you want people to be able to pay for your game, then it is smart to consider whether there are no more efficient options for having your game produced. But what choices in game components do you have?

In an article by James Mathe extensive attention is paid to all these options. We want to make a clear summary of this, enriched with our own experiences. This way, when you are going to develop your own game, you can think in advance how you can efficiently design or use your game components.

Playing cards
Punchboards (tokens)
The box
Dice, pawns, etc.
Instruction manual
To keep the costs low


As with the production of almost everything, it is also true with games, that if you have more made, the costs per piece go down. If you want to develop a game, you must therefore take into account a minimum print run of an average of 1,500 pieces. In the quotations that we have put out, the production price decreases by about 20% to 30% with print runs of 3,000 pieces.

Playing cards

Most games do have an element of playing cards in them. This is probably because they are so versatile. You can put information on it, create a random or luck factor and you can easily have a lot of them. However, cards are not cheap, so it is good to take the following aspects into account.

Format: You can completely decide the format of your cards yourself. However, it is useful to discuss with your manufacturer how many cards of your size can be printed per sheet of paper. It is also important whether or not you are in need of any bleed , or if you want a single or double cut. The 'bleed' is a margin of space in the design of the card that prevents cutting errors from being visible. However, a bleed ensures that you can print fewer cards on 1 sheet. You can prevent a bleed and double cut by working with a default colored border.

The most commonly used size for playing cards is 63 x 88 mm, which corresponds to standard poker cards. Keep in mind that you actually always want rounded corners. This ensures that the cards are damaged less quickly, but are also easier to shuffle. The rounding is normally between 1 and 4 mm.

Thickness: The thickness of the card is indicated by weight. The thicker the card, the better the quality, but also the more expensive. The most commonly used standard is around 300 grams, but anything between 250 and 350 grams is used regularly.

If you tear a card you will see the core. The top card is blue core, the bottom card is black core.

Core: The core of the map ensures that you cannot see through the map. We talk about white core if there is no core in it, gray core is a low quality core, blue core is medium quality and black core is the highest quality standard. This is used, for example, in casinos where it must be absolutely impossible to see through the card.

If you are not using a core (or white core), then it is recommended to give the cards a dark back so that it is still difficult to see through the card.

Punchboards (tokens)

Cardboard tokens are used in many games. They are very dynamic because the shape and therefore the purpose can differ. For example, you can also make playing tiles from punchboards. The thickness of a punchboard is very decisive for the feeling of quality and luxury. The standard is 2mm, but from 1.4mm is already suitable for most games unless the tokens will be used a lot, as is the case with Carcassonne for example. Some games that really try to find the luxurious atmosphere have a thickness of up to 4mm, but this also costs a little extra.


Most games have 1 primary board. A game board is usually made of 2mm thick cardboard. You can fold a game board to make it smaller and fit in the box. With your design, keep in mind that there is no important text on the fold.

A game board can be printed on both sides for not much extra money. So it can be interesting to make a second game board. For example, some games have an alternate board when playing with more than x players.

The box

The box may seem the least important for the enjoyment of the game, but it has 2 very important purposes.

  1. It is your selling point. The box ensures that your game has a certain look. It also says something about the retail price. A small box will look cheaper than a large box. So it doesn't always have to be necessary to make your box as small as possible. It should match the price you want to charge for the game.
  2. Protection. Your game is shipped all over the world, and consumers stack their games or take them on vacation, so the box must be able to properly protect your game components.
Telescope box

There are different box types, but the most used is the Telescope box. This is a box that opens by lifting the lid of the 'bottom box'.

If you ship the games in a large edition, they must first be put in a shipping box. Depending on the size of your game, you can transport 4 (large game) to 50 (card game) in one box. Make sure you are not too frugal with the shipping box. If something goes wrong here, it will affect a lot of your games.

tray: In the box you want a tray to organize your game components, but also to protect them while shipping the games. The tray can be made of cardboard or plastic, with cardboard being the cheaper version. Keep in mind that there are costs associated with the design of the tray as there are no standards for this. This will cost between 100 and 1000 euros, depending on the complexity.

If you don't want to spend too much money on the game, you can choose not to print the tray. This is not a problem for most consumers. However, if you want everything to radiate the same quality and atmosphere, you can still print the tray.

Dice, pawns, etc.

The accessories of a game can consist of different materials, sizes and colors. For this, it is best to coordinate with the factory where costs can be saved. It is also important to consider whether you want to consciously deal with your ecological footprint. If you can avoid using plastic and opt for wood, do so. With very specific wishes it can sometimes be difficult to avoid plastic, but with standard dice, cubes, pawns or meeples the wooden option is often hardly more expensive.

Try to take into account people who are color blind in your colors. The following colors are most suitable as standard: Red, green, blue, black, white, orange / yellow.

Most accessories are relatively cheap, but anything that deviates from the standard quickly becomes more expensive.


Miniatures look great and are a lot of fun to play with, but they are also very expensive. To save costs you can consider using cardboard stand-ups. These do not detract from the gameplay and in some cases can even better match your theme or artwork. If you do go for miniatures, count on having to dig deep into your pouch. Depending on the number of games and the number of miniatures, you have to count on thousands of euros extra for the production of all your games. A simple game with 8 miniatures of which you want to make 1,500 of them will easily cost you 5 euros in extra production costs per game.

Instruction manual

Do not forget that you will also need a manual with your application. Black and white is an option, but it also feels cheap. In color it is not much more expensive and therefore quickly worth it. Keep in mind that you want to use a font of at least 10 to keep the text readable. The manual is often slightly smaller (10mm) than the size of the box.

To keep the costs low

Mice & Mystics dice contain both the attack and defense icons

Ultimately, your goal is to keep costs as low as possible, but to deliver the game as qualitatively as possible. Which choices in materials and sizes suit your game? In addition, it is also good to think about how you can use your materials efficiently. Do you really need individual player boards, or is it enough to use cards for that? Or, for example, you can use your dice for both attack and defense by placing multiple images on it. This will be for example at Mice & Mystics done.

Ultimately, this is primarily a coordination with your production company. Make sure you have good contact and that you feel heard so that you can come to a nice game together.

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