Gamers are always finding ways to pimp out their board games. Getting con or event promo cards and bits is awesome for fans of the hobby looking to set their collection apart. There is also a huge secondary market for board game accessories. Everything from custom inserts of the Broken Token variety to game specific meeple designs from Meeple Source can be found out there. Enhancing the components in a game can make for a much more immersive experience. Cubes can be replaced with warriors, or fruit or hearts or whatever the game calls for. It becomes much easier to place yourself into the theme of the game when you’re using the appropriate components.
One Canadian designer has be working in the game accessories market for several years now. Daryl Chow is a member of the Game Artisans of Canada (GAC) and takes his love of games to the next level with his company, Custom Game Bits (CGB). CGB has a wide array of different games that they provide pieces for with precision cut laser wood components. They can also provide bits or inserts for any game out there that fans want made.
“We have been working with our laser cutter for over 5 years now and we have learned many of its quirks. We recently procured a CNC machine and we’re learning about its new capabilities as compared to a laser cutter,” said Chow who receives orders from all over the world. Often people are looking for inserts that will make games and their expansions easier to organize.
“In terms of inserts, Terra Mystica, Lords of Waterdeep, Dead of Winter and Small World are the most popular. The two criteria for a good selling insert are: games that sell well and games that have lots of bits especially after expansions. Usually after adding an expansion, an insert doesn’t work anymore and that’s where we come in.”
Chow doesn’t limit their production to just inserts though. He has been creating other useful gaming tools as part of his product line as well as dabbling in designing and producing their own games.
“In terms of other products, dice towers are our bread and butter, as I believe we make the best dice towers around. We felt them by hand and glue them as well and make them from solid Canadian wood, so you won’t get a better dice tower anywhere. Recently we’ve been branching into producing our own games and our Tower of Chairs is a really solid and fun product that people love. It takes seconds to learn but is fun for all types of players and is much more interesting than almost any other stacking or dexterity game around.”
Being able to customize the product for whatever his clients are looking for, Chow has become a hugely important resource for designers when developing games.
“Making prototypes are always fun as they are a challenge. Lots of ‘one-off’ projects turn out to be products that we end up selling, as gamers are often looking for similar solutions. For example, many of our inserts were custom requested by gamers, and things such as deck boxes, card holders and deck holders start off as custom projects but turn out into things that other gamers want to have.”
Since transitioning from a gamer and designer into a producer of a custom made product, Chow is always thinking of how his work can improve the experience of play.
“I think this is a natural inclination of every gamer. When you play a game, you want to convince yourself that you’re in the setting of the game, you want to be immersed in the theme, and one of the things that get you there is the way the components look. Even if its something that seems really minor like turning cubes into hearts, or cubes into human shapes, these small improvements build off our imagination and help us feel more involved with the game. We always encourage gamers to tell us what we can do to aid in this process.”
We here at the DWP can attest to the quality of CGB’s work. We’ve commissioned custom start player tokens that double as a business card for us to give out at events. The work is excellent and it’s much more memorable that a simple card. Chow is continuing to grow his business while at the same time keeping his mind on designing.
“We’re expanding into simple games so that non-gamers can get into gaming with little or no effort. At conventions we’ve noticed that non-gamers are drawn to our booth but there’s nothing that would appeal to them which is why we came up with these products. We’re hoping to increase our selection of games very shortly so that we can cater to a wider audience.”
You should definitely check out CBG’s lineup of products and if you have a custom idea or a prototype in the works let them know.