Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In Search Of...

One of the hardest thing when prototyping games (or I guess anything for that matter) is looking for shortcuts. Shortcuts for things that don't really matter in the context of what you are trying to prototype. In the world of board games, these things include such usual suspects as dice, pawns, generic counters, etc. All you want is a somewhat nice looking pawn, because, typically, what you are REALLY experimenting with is the way the rules work, not if the pawn really looks like William Jefferson or if the money you are using best imitates 1875 German currency.

And so, I like to use colored glass beads a lot. They have a nice heft to them, don't roll away (very far), are small enough to be piled next to each other while being large enough to be pleasantly held. And come in lots of pretty colors.

And for some reason, are distinctly tough to find now.

I don't have a game store near me, and I don't think I'd WANT to buy these little life counters at a game store at their prices. I'm looking for someplace where I can get quantity for cheap. Not 20 stones for $5. I stopped by a Michael's craft store, which only had red or green, in bags of 25 a peice, for $3. Better than the game store price. I tried looking around for substitutes. In their wood section, they have every single goofy shape in sizes known to man, EXCEPT FOR SIMPLE DISCS or CUBES in reasonable amounts or sizes. Sure, you can get a bulk bag of 100 wood hearts for 99 cents, or 6 1/2 inch wood cubes for $2. The insanity of it all.

Ace Hardware has bags of 25 1/2 inch wood plugs for $3, so I bought a couple bags of those; now I need to color them. I'm still up in the air between simply taking a marker to them, or spending the time and effort and staining four sets with different wood stains.

After worthless trips to PetSmart (which carries a nice selection of colored gravel for fish tanks, but no glass beads) and World Cost Market (a long shot) I spied a Crate and Barrel. AH HA!

C&B offers some real nice bulk beads; the bags look like they hold about 200 per bag, and at $6 a bag, that's deep discount pricing! Alas, you run afoul of whatever colors they are hyping for the current season; currently, there color selections are orange (purchased), light blue (purchased), pink, and clear. Now, a stop back at Michael's to purchase a bag or two of red and green, and I'll have some nice four player color collections to add to my "almost submittable prototypes."


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