Lots of games have bits. Lots of bits. Teeny-tiny bits. Some games even need bits to be passed around the table. A well-designed foam core box insert can help with this, but this is the 21st century. While I can’t order, “Tea, Earl Gray, Hot” from a box in the wall I can create things with my MakerBot Replicator 2 printer.
My favorite place to go for 3D printer designs is thingiverse.com. I have no idea how many designs are currently hosted there (tens of thousands perhaps?) but you can find everything from practical kitchen gadgets to replacement parts to tools to — you guessed it — game components. I’ve printed meeples! 🙂
The topic for today however is a design by thingiverse created by swholmstead called “Stackable Game Bits Funnel Tray.” The tray is well designed and serves several purposes. First, it contains your bits on the gaming table so they don’t go all over the place. Second, it provides an easy container for passing the bits from one player to another. And finally, the handy funnel makes it super easy to pour the bits back into their storage baggies when you’re putting the game away.
In the images above you can see a variety of game bits proudly displayed in the game trays that I’ve printed. My favorite game to use these with so far is Terraforming Mars. I use the white trays for the translucent cubes used by each player, and the black trays for the metallic resource cubes. The colors look great! I have also used them as meeple holders for Carcassonne. For this blog post I took pictures with a few other games such as Dead Of Winter and Love Letter (Premium) but we haven’t actually used them for those games yet.
I printed six black trays for Terraforming Mars so that I can split the copper / silver / gold resource cubes on two different sides of the play-mat. Each player gets their own white tray to hold their cubes. The acrylic player board covers that I bought actually come with a slot to hold extra cubes, but I far prefer the trays, keeping the extra cubes out of the way until they are needed.
I don’t print and store these with every game. I have a stack of trays on my game shelf and we pull them out when we need them. Printing them for each game would not cost a lot. Ten of these weigh in at about 60 grams, so roughly 12 grams of filament is used per tray. At typical prices that means each tray costs me about $0.25. 🙂 But instead of printing trays in custom colors / sizes for every game, I’ve decided to just stick with standard black and white trays. I pull out what I need for each game when I play it, and don’t have to worry about finding room in an already crowded game box for more stuff!