Game bits were the obvious candidates to put a new 3D printer through it’s paces and for me to get my own mind around the functionality and limitations of that technology.

As the pandemic steamrolled the planet, I asked my bother (who sells printers) to put a basic kit together for me. I figured it would have some entertainment value and maybe even spark a bit of imaginative fun for the Kid as we were stuck in the house.

Adventure ensued, at least if you consider adventure digging through websites looking for clever models to download then sitting beside a mechanic contraption as it farts out molten plastic into a real-life rendering of that model.

There are a lot of useless things one can print. All sorts of toys and doo-dahs and figurines and stands for things that don’t really need stands. We had some fun creating some random objects at first, but the novelty wore off in favour of trying to make something useful.

Enter: game bits stage left.

Most quality board games ship with quality bits. It’s the hallmark of the modern board game industry that avid gamers are fine with shelling out sixty, seventy, a hundred bucks, for some cardboard and rules if (and only if) the hundreds of bits that come with it are of substantial quality. Collectible, basically.

“These tiles are made of real etched glass.”

“Just look at the fine detail on these tokens.”

I’m just as guilty of game collecting as the next gamer. Then again, I also own some games that are purely meant to be played.

We bought into the Catan craze around the time it was getting popular. I’d claim to have beaten it to the viral punch, but in reality we were part of it. That also means we have an early edition, with modest quality bits. Functional. Well-used. Long loved. Classic. Probably not collectible.

In fact, I’ve gone through stages of trying to rebuild a board and new bits from scratch for well over a decade. I bought a paint-able ceramic tile set about a dozen years back. I tried making tiles from FIMO five or six years ago. And at one point I had tracked down about 75% of the parts to put together a fan-art-style LEGO board.

3D printing some bits was a no-brainer. The designs already existed online… which, to be clear, I take no credit for.. and a week of setup and printing ensued resulting in –finally– a couple nights ago we played a round with the new roads and castles.

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