Thursday, 17 January 2013

More DIY Counter production

Once upon a time (it was 1987), a brand-spanking-new game from some Young Turks over in Nottingham appeared on the scene and I bought it with some birthday money from a shop in Wolverhampton which was confusingly called Game, but wasn't the GAME of recent administration balls-up infamy but some other entirely unrelated national chain (I recall a branch in Birmingham as well). Game (the first one, not the second one) had a small gaming section in it which rather begs the question of what on Earth they sold in the rest of the shop when they were called Game but only had a few square feet of games amidst a fairly large retail space footprint. Sadly I can't remember and it appears that the rest of the World seems to have forgotten all about this chain as well so perhaps it's totally lost to posterity.

Anyway, the game was a science-fiction wargame which was a bit of a dead end as it was 1987 and nobody liked sci-fi as it wasn't real fantasy with Elves and Dwarfs and Goblins and wizards.

Said game gave you a counter sheet with which to play it's included scenario which looked just like this

Now, we played this scenario which was called something like The Atrocity at Grimdark Soylent Green Farm #666 three times last year. Twice with proper models and everything and then once with a set of 1987 counters, just for nostalgia lulz.

However this isn't about 1987 vintage Warty-Thou but in a roundabout way another post about homebrew counters and sorting your own out.

Using Scrabble tiles for counters works well but isn't exactly cheap and wouldn't work for the above because they are 25mm square and Scrabble tiles are too small. So I fell back upon my favourite basing material which is watercolour board. This is cheap, very easy to get your hands on (it's stocked in WHSmiths and every stationary shop I've ever visited that has an arts and crafts section), cuts easily with a knife and steel rule and is non-porous on it's primed side so wet paint induced warping isn't an issue. Ironically though, you do need to ensure you get a non-warped piece in the first place...

Anyway, full instructions in order.

1 - Get your scan ready to print and test print to check that the scaling is OK.

2 - Print. I used some coloured card in appropriate green (Orcs) and blue (Space Marines). This could have been paper rather than thin card as it doesn't affect the finished article in any way - it's not worth the expense of using thin card but I had some spare.

3 - This raises an issue in that the scan is black on blue and I wanted it black on white for printing on green and blue surfaces. The simple answer is this is GIMP, the free art package and it's Auto White Balance option. This gave me a mono image with a white background. Perfect.

4 - Laminate using a cheap household laminator from Wilkinsons. This gives us two sheets, nice and shiny and resistant to grease and tea spillages, and extremely tricky to photograph.

5 - Cut them out. Cutting mat, steel rule and Stanley knife not scissors.

6 - Prepare bases. I cut 30mm square bases from the watercolour board. That is oversize for 40K (which really wants circular 25mm bases) but allows the counter to sit entirely with in the footprint and eliminates any overhang that will fray. It's virtually impossible to accurately cut and glue two 25mm square cut-outs together without some misalignment or slight sizing inaccuracy. I painted the bases with matt black paint in order to avoid the white leaping out at you when on the battlefield.

7 - Superglue down. The laminating plastic stops the superglue from staining the paper/card.

You end up with something that looks like this

Something I am considering for the future is a project inspired by Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame concept, that is a solo game played on the 64 squares of a standard chessboard i.e. on a 8x8 grid. It strikes me that this approach is ideally suited for that sort of mucking about and that the watercolour board could be painted in appropriate national colours - so that a counter representing a division of Great War Germans could have a grey background, Napoleonic French in blue, Austrians in white etc.


  1. Nope The Game store you remember was the precursor to the current GAME chain. There was a branch in Birmingham I remember going to in the late 80s and one on Oxford Street in london. They all had small to large RPG and wargaming sections.

  2. I didn't know that. I know GAME was bought by Electronics Boutique who thought that the former name had more worth hence rebranding all the latter to the former. I did go to the Birmingham store occasionally, it was in The Pavilions IIRC.

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