David's Top 5 Favorite Gaming Accessories

David's Top 5 Favorite Gaming Accessories

First let’s differentiate between components and accessories. Simply put, components are essential to a game, and accessories are not. Components can be customized or enhanced but they still fulfill the same in-game purpose as the originals. Accessories are options that may enhance a game but are not necessary.

Some games utilize consumables—score pads, pencils, dry-erase markers, etc. These are components that can be improved upon, but are necessary to the game and not accessories.

3-D printers are ubiquitous, cranking out custom playing pieces, mini-figures, and elaborate topological components. Sculpted hexagonal landscapes for Catan and custom racecars for Formula De are just two examples of a burgeoning cottage industry. But these, too, are alternate components - not accessories.

Baggies contain game pieces and card decks and are used as protective coverings for player boards. They used to be user-supplied but are now becoming an expected accessory included in newly published games.

Baggies are one of my favorites, for sure.

Sleeves for individual cards are very popular after-market accessories. Many people sleeve every card even before the first play to preserve them in mint condition. Some sleeve cards to avoid “wear and tear” from frequent use. Others (including me) only sleeve valuable collectibles, antiques, or rarities. (Personally, I don’t like ‘em for playing because they’re slippery and hard to shuffle.)

Some accessories are specific to a given game. With the advent of laser cutters and the aforementioned 3D printers, there are many custom-made after-market accessories offering more efficient storage than the original packaging. Custom inserts will usually fit the original box, but there are also custom-made after-market boxes. Some folks consider these necessities, but only an “honorable mention” on my list.

Other custom containers and organizers range from pill boxes to tackle boxes, plus specialized card racks and component trays to be used on the table during a game. I have some containers that I use to provide better on-the-table organization.

Pill-sorting trays and bead cups are among my favorites, too.

Dice trays are helpful, especially when there are lots of dice or when rolling dice is a major activity in a game. It keeps them on the table, reduces inference with other game pieces, reduces ‘leaners’ and disputes about who rolled what when. Also, a padded dice tray keeps the noise down.

I like dice trays.

Speaking of noisy dice — dice towers are cool (I own several of them) but they’re really unnecessary and just one more thing to clutter up the table. (In my humble opinion.)

Game pads are available for quite a few games, not usually essential but they help keep things organized on the table. They provide a great surface where playing cards won’t slip and are easy to lift off the padded surface.

From single-player to table-sized pads, they are definitely a favorite.

Apps on digital devices can be useful, indeed. I agree that calculators, digital timers, and a “first player” app can enhance game play. Playing Gloomhaven made me really appreciate an iOS assistant for a stats-heavy game. I also like iOS-based opponents for solo play (when they’re good). So, the smartphone or tablet perform the role of accessories, too. But even though I’ll use one occasionally… not a favorite.

We sell a set of pegboards for scorekeeping and stat-tracking. Our Score Boards have proven to be a very handy low-tech solution to table-top recordkeeping.

Of course, I use them myself.

So, that’s a long-winded way to convey my Top-5 favorite tabletop game accessories:

  • Baggies • Pill Trays & Bead Cups
  • Dice Trays • Game Pads             • Score Boards

Agree or disagree? What are your faves?

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