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Any kind of "standard" reference for describing componentry?

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Evil Hat
Evil Hat's picture
Joined: 10/27/2011

Is there a reference guide somewhere for the terminology used to describe board game components? Or how to look at an existing board game and work out how to describe -- usefully, to a printer -- what the components are made of, and thus guide them to providing a similar result? Not being clear about that stuff is probably the number one barrier to entry from my perspective, aside from the actual production costs.


Joined: 04/14/2009
Interesting question

I wonder if it might be better to pretend we're printers and you describe what you want here. Then maybe someone will be able to tune your description to "printer language" so everyone is on the same page?


I've got a space board game. The dimensions of the board are 24" x 24" square. I'd like to use that thick cardboard stuff for the board. I've also got some poker sized cards (52 of 'em) and some people figurines.

Someone might translate that to.....? (sorry...since I don't know how to translate that I was hoping someone might jump in here) :) Chipboard is a typical component for tokens. Meeples is a typical name for little wooden people-type silouettes. Poker sized cards are generally 2½" x 3½".

Is this the type of thing you're looking for? I know this is an oversimplification, but I thought it might help as an illustration of what you're looking for.


Dralius's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
Dear Mr. HatCard production

Dear Mr. Hat

Card production alone is a big subject with multitudes of sizes dependant on the printer, punched or slit, sheet size, 1 ups, 2 ups, different options on card materials and coatings etc… I’m sure a full sized article could be written on the subject but I know of none. Nor any that will cover even a fraction of what you might need or want to know about dice, wood components, plastic molding, baords etc...

Not to despair. Reputable printers like Ludofact or Delano Services will work with you to determine the best mix of components to meet that middle point where quality must bow to your budget. Make sure you work with game producing specialist. Non-specialists may be able to print cards or boards but often the quality is not the best and problems like warping may occur.

Anyhow the point is if you have a game well tested and you know what needs to be included you can discuss the game with them and they will be happy to get you what you need. But don’t stop at one or even two quotes. Three quotes is the minimum as I see it since each has things they specialize in and one may be able to do better than the other in meeting your needs.

Evil Hat
Evil Hat's picture
Joined: 10/27/2011
Thanks guys. Good answers so

Thanks guys. Good answers so far. I think my question comes more than anything out of this sense that there's no certain way to feel like I know what the range of vocabulary is, even at the basic level. Card stock, chip board, 9-up, etc -- terms I've learned somewhat osmotically, when I think I'd've done best with a flippin' *glossary* somewhere. :)

And it only seems to get worse once the basics are covered! What's the "good quality" card stock someone should be angling for? What makes it feel "flimsy"?

It's like with a recent pursuit of pricing on a linen finish: at first I thought I was talking about a single, discrete, reliable concept. Then it comes out that there's "embedded" linen finish, where the print stock itself has the finish inherent in it (didn't have the right feel of heft or sturdiness to me when I got a sample), and "applied" linen finish, laid onto the stock after the printing's gone down. (The latter produces more of what I'm after, and what I thought I was talking about all along.)

It comes to pass that the whole thing feels like digging into a fractal: no matter how deep I go, I don't get the sense that I'm reducing the extent of un-observed material that much. Hidden complexities live at every layer. That adds up to it all being pretty daunting to plan a product and feel like what's being asked for is even close to what you'll get.

Hence the desire for reference of clear, clearly understood, precise language for describing the pieces-parts of a project.

But it sounds like the big upshot here is that no-one's tried to build such a thing and, maybe due to the "fractal problem", it's unbuildable, or at least only buildable in the sense of building a track record of experiences that inform each future project. Which itself would suggest that any first project is an exercise in fumbling around in the dark. Pretty expensive way to fumble, though. :)

But I'm oriented, thanks to these posts, on making sure I go as many rounds as necessary with the manufacturer to get the idea clearly expressed, understood, agreed on, etc -- something which I'd be doing anyway even with a good vocabulary reference at hand, granted, but maybe I'd be sparing myself several extra rounds in that case.

NativeTexan's picture
Joined: 03/04/2009
I feel your pain

Evil Hat,

I feel your pain. I have run into the same challenges. Recently I have approached several manufacturers to bid on producing a game and became quite frustrated at the fact that the terminology, component descriptions, and even measurements varied from manufacturer to manufacturer. Each has a template for you to fill out and while they ask similar questions, there is clearly a fair bit of variation across the industry.

I wish you all the best in creating a rosetta stone or even a simple glossary. I for one will be quite grateful for such a resource and will gladly contribute based upon my humble set of experiences.

Robert K Gabhart
Driftwood Games

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