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Creating semi-professional cards for sale (NOT PROTOTYPE)

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NativeTexan
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I have been reading and reading and reading. Calling, researching, number-crunching, etc. and I'm coming up blank.

Here's my dilemma:

- I am creating a small-run (about 100) for a game that includes player mats and cards
- Professional printing is not possible due to small quantity
- POD is not an option because my cards are not standard size (they are about half-size like ticket-to-ride cards)
- Producing everything myself is unrealistic because each game has around 200 cards and I want to produce 100 of these sets
- Printing on card stock, laminating, and cutting is way more expensive than I realized

The closest option I can possibly come up with is as follows: have local print shop print everything on good card stock, use a spray-on laminate, bundle everything up into baggies, self-print rule books from my personal printer, throw the whole thing into a box mailer and put a nice looking label/sticker on the front that has some decent art. Total cost ends up around $12/unit and I could sell for $15-16. This would be workable for me, but I'm unsure if people will be frustrated with the fact that they paid $15 and got cardstock cards with a spray-on laminate rather than paying $25 and getting a "professional" quality game.

Am I missing something? Is there a better way? Are people more forgiving of the material quality as long as the game is fun and well-designed?

Any thoughts or advice is very much welcome.

Thanks.

- Kyle

fecundity
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NativeTexan wrote: - POD is

NativeTexan wrote:

- POD is not an option because my cards are not standard size (they are about half-size like ticket-to-ride cards)

I heartily recommend the Guild of Blades POD service, so I have two thoughts:

First, consider whether your cards need to be half-sized. The fact that your prototype uses half-sized cards isn't really an answer. Is it functionally essential?

Second, have you asked the guys at Guild of Blades whether they can do smaller cards? I know they print books covers and box wraps in different sizes, so their equipment must be somewhat adjustable.

NativeTexan
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Smaller cards

Cards definitely CANNOT be standard-size. In the game play, each person has a 5x5 grid of card playing (5 cards across and 5 cards down). Multiple this by 4 players, then add in the surface area required for laying out the various card piles (of which there are 24) and you run into some real space constraints.

NativeTexan
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Smaller POD run

fecundity wrote:

Second, have you asked the guys at Guild of Blades whether they can do smaller cards? I know they print books covers and box wraps in different sizes, so their equipment must be somewhat adjustable.

That's a thought. They were SO particular about spelling out proper sizing on their site, that I made the assumption that there was no option for custom sizing. I'll look into it.

adagio_burner
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NativeTexan wrote: The

NativeTexan wrote:

The closest option I can possibly come up with is as follows: have local print shop print everything on good card stock, use a spray-on laminate...

You may want tocheck out rippedsheets.com . They can make punchable card sheets for you according to your spec.

ReelHotGames
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POD Option

Kyle

Depending on your schedule our company is going to start POD card printing (we have a print shop set up n house for our own games we're producing) and non-standard sizing isn't an issue at all.

We utilize a laser die cutter, so it's a fairly easy setup to make non standard sizes.

Depending on your timing requirements we might be able to help out - otherwise as suggested above Guild of Blades does some really nice work.

We haven;t gotten all the info together yet on where we are at, so I can;t give much specifics - but would be willing to chat about it and your needs - LMK. Feel free to PM or email me.

Cheers.

-Jason

coco
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fecundity wrote: I heartily

fecundity wrote:

I heartily recommend the Guild of Blades POD service

I agree. Do you know if they are still working? I've sent Ryan several e-mails during the last 2 month without response.

larienna
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Business cards

you might want to print them on business cards if it works well for the size. Some print stores can do this size or I think there are preperforated business card sheet that you can print yourself.

It's an option I have been considering myself if "Bureau en gros/staples" cannot cut the cards the size I want.

NativeTexan
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Quality is key, not just size

I really appreciate everyone's feedback. It has been very helpful. Hopefully I can find a POD solution that will work. If not, I would really appreciate some insight regarding the second half of my question. What is the level of expectation out there for material quality amongst the board game community? If the game is fun and well-designed but isn't on professional quality materials, will people reject it at $15-16?

Kjev
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Ask the players

NativeTexan wrote:
I really appreciate everyone's feedback. It has been very helpful. Hopefully I can find a POD solution that will work. If not, I would really appreciate some insight regarding the second half of my question. What is the level of expectation out there for material quality amongst the board game community? If the game is fun and well-designed but isn't on professional quality materials, will people reject it at $15-16?

I suggest asking the 'board game community' / the 'people', by which I assume you mean the players of the game.

NativeTexan wrote:
(...) I'm unsure if people will be frustrated with the fact that they paid $15 and got cardstock cards with a spray-on laminate rather than paying $25 and getting a "professional" quality game.
NativeTexan wrote:
Am I missing something? Is there a better way? Are people more forgiving of the material quality as long as the game is fun and well-designed?

Assuming you've been (or will be) playtesting, you could give the playtesters an open question (what do you believe is a reasonable price for the game in the current state) or use multiple-choice (In what price range would you place the game? A: $5-10, B: $10-15, C: $15-20, D: $20-25). Afterwards find out the motivation for their answers. You can make a lot of guesses and ask peoples opinion on the pricing, but in the end it's the players that will buy the game.

NativeTexan
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Just ask the people!

Kjev wrote:

Assuming you've been (or will be) playtesting, you could give the playtesters an open question (what do you believe is a reasonable price for the game in the current state) or use multiple-choice (In what price range would you place the game? A: $5-10, B: $10-15, C: $15-20, D: $20-25). Afterwards find out the motivation for their answers. You can make a lot of guesses and ask peoples opinion on the pricing, but in the end it's the players that will buy the game.

I've been doing a lot of playtesting and I've asked people tons of questions regarding game design. But it never occurred to me to ask about price point and material quality. That's a simple and elegant solution.

Thanks!

MatthewF
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People do expect a different,

People do expect a different, lower quality from boutique games (see, doesn't that sound better than "homemade"? :D). One of my favorite games is Tahuantinsuyu, which has components of the quality that you're talking about, and it (along with other similar quality games from Hangman games) sold just fine. Sure, people complained a bit about the component quality, but since the game was really solid, the complaints were well tempered and didn't stop people from buying it.

If you've got a very fun, solid game, you're probably just fine.

mikedrys
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POD Cards

BluePantherLLC just started doing POD cards (http://www.bluepantherllc.com/; look at 2/27/09 on the news). Anyway, I've emailed Steve at Blue Panther and he said they can do pretty much any size as they use a laser cutting process. I'm currently asking him about 2" x 3" cards. He hasn't sent me a quote back or anything yet, but I'll keep you posted if you'd like.

NativeTexan
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MatthewF wrote:People do

MatthewF wrote:
People do expect a different, lower quality from boutique games (see, doesn't that sound better than "homemade"? :D). One of my favorite games is Tahuantinsuyu, which has components of the quality that you're talking about, and it (along with other similar quality games from Hangman games) sold just fine. Sure, people complained a bit about the component quality, but since the game was really solid, the complaints were well tempered and didn't stop people from buying it.

If you've got a very fun, solid game, you're probably just fine.

Excellent feedback. Tahuantinsuyu looks interesting. Thanks for the tip!

NativeTexan
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mikedrys wrote:BluePantherLLC

mikedrys wrote:
BluePantherLLC just started doing POD cards (http://www.bluepantherllc.com/; look at 2/27/09 on the news). Anyway, I've emailed Steve at Blue Panther and he said they can do pretty much any size as they use a laser cutting process. I'm currently asking him about 2" x 3" cards. He hasn't sent me a quote back or anything yet, but I'll keep you posted if you'd like.

That's great Mike. I would definitely like to hear back on that quote.

-KG

bluepantherllc
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POD Services

Hello

We are offering POD services for cards - cards of essentially any size since they're laser cut. We can also offer player mats in several materials, and we have a lamination process that works on matboard, cardboard, thin MDF and plywood that can be used for player mats, info boards, playing boards, etc. We can also do traditional die cut cards for standard sizes.

Examples of products with POD cards and color boards laminated onto matboard would be in Rocks for Sale.

So now we're not all wood (parts) all the time, but all game parts all the time.

coco
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You are??

bluepantherllc wrote:

We are offering POD services for cards

You are?? That's great!

fecundity
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Quote:Do you know if they are

Quote:
Do you know if they are still working? I've sent Ryan several e-mails during the last 2 month without response.

Guild of Blades is still active. I recently made a new order with them, and I got an e-mail today telling me the cards are in the mail.

Given other responses in this thread, it looks as if there are several print shops that are now able to do POD or small run cards.

guildofblades
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Yes, Guild of Blades Retail

Yes, Guild of Blades Retail is still active and busier than ever with our POD operations. The POD card market has been growing significantly and we've been pretty busy, so communication hasn't quite always been as prompt as it has been in the past.

That said, coco, I don't have a record of any e-mail from you as far as I can tell. Please e-mail rjohnson@guildofblades.com or give us a shout at 248-430-4980.

The POD Card business began somewhat slowly last year when we first introduced it, as I feel it has been taking time for designers and small publishers to get used to the idea that it is now an option. And, of course, many had taken a wait and see approach, waiting for market feedback, before investing time in prepping files for print through our service. But the market is adjusting and our orders have been booming. With the process we use currently, we're fairly stretched to keep up with demand. That said, we are taking action this spring/summer to upgrade our capabilities in order to keep up with demand. We are buying a newer printer (only costing about 5 times of the printer we currently use. Youch) with better registration and much faster output capacity and tray throughput capacity. This will speed us up on the print side. On the die cutting side, we currently face a challenge in that we use the cream of the crop of table top die cutters with the capacity to handle POD cards. In wanting to move towards a cutter with more overall process automation, we've found the smallest automated cutter/stacker that will do what we want is a 30 ton machine costing over $315,000 and simply not very practical for smaller POD runs. So we have embarked on an effort to design our own machine and have begun sourcing materials and looking for a machinist to aid in its construction. If we are successful in the making of our new cutter, our single unit output capacity will increase by about 5 times and it will become much more feasible to hire help operating multiple die cutters if necessary.

I've had a couple reports of folks sending us e-mails now and us not responding. Not sure what is going on there, but I encourage anyone trying to contact us to give us a call if you've sent an e-mail and not recieved a timely response.

As to the topic of smaller or odd sized cards. Yes, we have the potential to do them, but it will require some hand holding with the client through the process. It will necessitate the design and purchase of a new cutting die, the cost of which we must pass through (average cost of a new cutting die being around $300 to $315), then designing a layout template for use with that cutting die. Lead time on any job using a new die will be a bit longer as we'll require some time to tweak templates and such so as to line up as best possible with the new die and make sure registrations for both print and die cutting are linning up sufficiently.

Thanks,
Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

coco
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e-mail

guildofblades wrote:

That said, coco, I don't have a record of any e-mail from you as far as I can tell. Please e-mail rjohnson@guildofblades.com or give us a shout at 248-430-4980.

Sure, Ryan. That was not the e-mail I was using.

Thank you and congrats for such a success in your business!

coco
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squared cards

guildofblades wrote:
As to the topic of smaller or odd sized cards. Yes, we have the potential to do them

When you have a die to make squared cards please let us know.

Thank you!

guildofblades
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Regarding square or odd

Regarding square or odd shaped die cut cards. We can do them, but it necessitates a client buying a cutting die for them. Dies run from $300 to $350. We could, potentially, buy tha die ourselves for the right sized order, and then make it available for us to other clients, but quite frankly, the right sized order for such is likely around $2K. Otherwise, whena client buys a die, that die is theirs to use exclusively since they would be paying for it.

That is how the box industry handles requests for specialized shaped boxes which require newly built dies. We're taking a page from their playbook since it simply doesn't make economic sense for us to front the cost for custom dies for POD orders since the business volume would rarely recover the cost of the die.

Thanks,
Ryan
GOB Retail

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