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Dry Erase vs Wet Erase markers for plastic cards

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 05/20/2013

I'm making a game which uses plastic player cards. Some cards will have boxes the players may write in, which will be erased at the end of the game. I have zero experience with marker pens, so I'm looking for opinions from people who do: how do dry erase and wet erase markers compare? Will either leave permanent marks if not used carefully? Will either wipe onto other cards (the back of the card below for instance, if they are stacked), or be easily smeared?

Basically: should I get dry erase markers or wet erase markers?

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I have tried BOTH

... and while the results of my tests are mixed, here's what I can offer:

1. Dry Erase

Pros: Easy to wipe off with a kleenex or even your fingers.

Cons: Pen Tips tend to be bigger in size. Have not found fine tip Dry Markers. Can sometimes get wiped during gameplay. Not recommended if you plan to shuffle your cards. If you use sleeves, these markers will create permanent marks on them.

Best: Use for cards that serve as mini game board or that are played into play where there is not too much interaction of those cards. Excellent with stats that get modified and re-writing is required.

2. Wet Erase

Pros: Will stay marked until you use water or spit to remove the markings. This means you can shuffle all you like. Can get medium tip markers which is pretty good for most applications.

Cons: You require water to remove the markings and it may be difficult to remove only partial amounts of markings. Like when resetting parts of cards (for example). Sometimes hard to find - not all supply stores sell them.

Best: When your markings are to be used during the entire game and require only to be reset at the end - when you can wash off the markings with a damp cloth.

Those are the conclusions of my pen tests... Best of luck with your game. As you can see there is a question of APPLICATION: What are your game's needs?! Hopefully this should give you some point of reference to help in your decision of which is better for your game.


richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Pros / Cons list is solid

The above is a good pro/con list.
Some other considerations:

Do you want water around your game?
How big are the boxes players are writing in - relatedly, how much are they writing?

You *can* get small tipped dry erase markers.

From personal experience using both these types of markers with groups interacting with "stuff," I'd almost never use wet-erase markers in a game. Unless that game required a lot of minis to move around on a map that I'm writing on. (so the lines don't get rubbed off)

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
More about your game...

sideshow wrote:
I'm making a game which uses plastic player cards. Some cards will have boxes the players may write in, which will be erased at the end of the game...

Do tell us more about your game?

I have also delved into plastic cards. I believe the best price I had found was $0.25 a card. But that included shipping to my door. The MOQ was a box of 200 cards. Not Credit Card thickness - thinner, pliable. And not Poker sized, a little bit smaller in dimensions (2.1" x 3.4"). Your standard Poker card is (2.5" x 3.5")...

And I even had a game in mind - but can't afford the artwork for it... So it's just an idea for the time being. The game is comprised of nine (9) cards per player - each player chooses which cards he wishes to play with and then they get mixed up and dealt. Again no moolah for the artwork - so it will have to wait...

Again share with us more about your game!

Update: The real world application of Wet Erase Markers is if you need to shuffle cards with markings. And then have to reset the cards only after a game is done. But this limits you to probably playing at home or at school (for games aimed at younger gamers). Not every location has a source of water... and spit is gross (but could appeal to kids... lemme spit on this card! :P)

You can of course pack a cloth/rag and a water bottle... for those days where you plan to play multiple games during the day. So it still is a viable option. It all depends on the nature of your game.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Tazz HATES water.

And he is right if it comes to board games. The 2 never went good with each other.

I can picture you having to get an extra edge on your cards, just to prevent water slipping in when a clumsy player cleans them.

Thus I am a huge fan of dry erase marks. I use them a lot.
However, make sure you use them on the right polymers. Some polymers actually get damaged quick over time. Others don't really allow the marking to be removed with easy (force would be needed).

Three times a charm.
Please do tell us about your game :)

Joined: 05/20/2013
Thanks guys, really

Thanks guys, really informative answers. The game is actually an RPG, and the cards are write-once during play, then erase at the end of the session, so wet erase sounds great.

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