Sunday, November 24, 2013

What do you get for the gamer who has everything?

With the holiday season rolling around, everyone is trying to come up with gift ideas.  But gamers can be hard to shop for.  We tend to get so excited about games we preorder them, or buy them ourselves the moment they come out.  Plus our tastes can be so specific, it's extremely difficult to confidently buy a game you know we'll like.

So I would strongly encourage people to look into gaming accessories.  Well chosen accessories can greatly enhance a gaming experience.  They can make a game easier to set up, improve it's aesthetics, or just satisfy the needs of an especially OCD collector.  So with that in mind, here's a list of accessories for games I've greatly appreciated over the year.

Plano Boxes

Plano makes a wide array of tackle boxes.  But it seems that they are increasingly being used for board games.  So much so that for certain models on Amazon, the majority of the pictures feature board games being stored in Plano boxes.  A good Plano box makes a game infinitely easier to set up and put away.  I consider owning a Plano standard for anyone who has Agricola.

Possibly the most versatile Plano box is the Plano Thin Stowaway.  It's the right dimensions to fit inside most board game boxes.  It also has the advantage of being about an inch thick.  This is fantastic for me, as I'm easily frustrated when boxes look over stuffed.

Counter Clippers

Look how much better that is!
If you know a wargamer, they may clip their counters.  Previous methods of clipping counters involved using nail clippers or an exacto knife.  Other industrious wargamers would fashion custom build counter clipping rigs.  But recently someone discovered that Oregon Laminations makes corner rounders that could not possible be better designed for clipping counters.  My chosen model is the 2mm Radius Heavy Duty Cutter but the 2.5mm Deluxe Model is also extremely popular.

And if the wargamer in your life doesn't clip counters, get this for them anyways.  I didn't realize how much clipped counters improve the aesthetic of the game until I saw someone else's counters.  Replacing the ratty edges of counters with machine smoothed edges drastically improves the experience of the game.

Hugo's Amazing Tape

Over time I've slowly grown to hate using plastic bags to store my games.  Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to cards.  You also don't want to use rubber bands since they dry out, shrink, and eventually mangle the cards.  Some people have luck using hair ties.  Other people use deck boxes, or print out their own tuck boxes.  But personally, I've been using Hugo's Amazing Tape .

The reason you'd use Hugo's Amazing Tape is that it only sticks to itself.  Which can be incredibly disorienting when you first get it.  You start to peel some off, and are shocked it's not getting stuck on your fingers.  So you cut off a piece, and go to wrap it around your cards, and you still don't believe this is going to work.  Then sure enough, one side of the tape sticks to the other side seemingly by magic.  You can also peel the tape apart and restick it seemingly any number of times?  Although I don't plan on peeling the tape over and over all day to thoroughly test that claim.

So Hugo's Amazing Tape has successfully removed dozens of plastic bags from my game collection.  And I'm much happier for it.

Dice Tower or Dice Tray

One of the best gifts I've ever gotten was a dice tower .  I now use it religiously for almost any game that involves dice.  It does so much to ensure fairness, and reduce the table profile of games with a lot of dice.  No longer will a stray cube scatter your game pieces across the map!  It's wonderful.

This is seriously among the most consistently used birthday gifts ever

But sometimes you are tossing a fistful of dice that might get stuck in a tower.  Or maybe you just want to enjoy the experience of chucking dice.  In a pinch a box top will work well enough to catch these dice.  But using a nice felt lined dice tray does a lot to improve the experience.  It cuts down on the noise, the walls are lower which makes it easier for everyone to see what was rolled, and it just looks better.

Happy Holidays

Those are about the only gift ideas I can come up with that aren't just games.  If anyone else has any ideas, or hidden gems you've discovered, or unorthodox uses for other hobby items, leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear them.


  1. I had no idea what a 'dice tower' was until I read this. Interesting! Also, how about posting a holiday gift guide to 1-player games?

    1. If I thought I had a large enough body of knowledge about single player games I would. But I've only recently begun playing them, and almost entirely in the historical wargame category. But I can definitely strongly recommend pretty much anything in Victory Point Games' States of Siege series. Especially Soviet Dawn, which I reviewed. I also really enjoyed Ottoman Sunset, and thought it was a more mature design. I've played Empires in America a few times, and definitely enjoyed it's bucket of dice approach to evening out the flow of the game. Looking forward to trying as many more as I can get my hands on!

  2. The Dice Tower I purchased for Kyle was from this Etsy seller: I highly recommend them! It shipped within three days and was rather affordable considering it was handmade and is good quality craftsmanship. Besides, it's worth saving the temper tantrums that happen from bad die rolling.