Review: The Game Crafter

I’ve plugged their site a few times on this blog. Print-on-demand is a great way to get anything published nowadays and board games have gotten this treatment thanks to The Game Crafter. Here are some photos from my first major print run.

Verdict – Overall, I recommend The Game Crafter wholeheartedly for a great prototype. The main areas where they fall short is the box folding and gluing. I also hold back from recommending it for commercial sales and actually making a profit as the price per component is a little on the high side (they gotta make a buck too). But hey! You don’t care about money do you?

Pros:

  • Cards look great,
  • Colour matching is great
  • Quad fold game board is good
  • Card drift was better than expected

Cons:

  • Box folding can use some more attention
  • Some cutting could be improved to reduce fraying
  • Prices are a little high if you want to make a profit (so only use for prototypes).

I never intended to mass publish my board game, I just wanted to make a few copies for me and friends. To this end The Game Crafter seemed perfect.

As my concepts came together, I based all of my designs off what they would be able to print for me.

I don’t want this post to be about the online experience (which is pretty slick) but more towards the finished product.

The big day came about 3 weeks ago when I received my package. Boy was I excited! Did it live up to my expectations? Mostly yes. Read further for a break down of each product.

Bridge Cards

I did a lot of self-printing in the lead up to this order, but nothing I did could emulate the uniformly cut feeling that real cards offer. So for just that reason, GC excels. The print quality was good – I’m pretty picky with my colour matching and they did a good job on this front. My only complaint is the slight fraying around the edges, most likely due to the cutting process. This is only noticeable on the back which is very dark.

Print drift is something that the GC warns about themselves. That’s when the back of the cards don’t align with the front due to the normal printing process. I happy to report minimal drift!

As for the texture, it’s just basic card stock here. Nothing fancy, don’t expect that lightly rippled effect you get with high quality cards, but they still feel good in your hands.

18″ x 18″ Game Board

This was another one of those items I couldn’t get right myself. A 18″ x 18″ quad folding game board. I love it, it’s exactly what I wanted. It folds beautifully and feels tough and sturdy.

Chits, Mats and Tuck Box

The heft of the chits (I love saying ‘chits’) is spot on. However, the print quality of the chits unfortunately falls short in regards to the contrast.  You could argue that the graphic on those pieces are too subtle to be printed but the same image is used on the cards and they turned out fine.

I love the card mats; they had perfect printing, cutting and the colour was great.

The tuck box is also cool. I grabbed one of these on a whim. Overall it’s great except I wouldn’t recommend dark colours as the white card shows up too easily along the edges.

Large Retail Box

I feel the GC has a kinda lame selection of boxes. This was the best of the bunch. This is the largest box that they stock at the time of writing and it’s still on the small side. Mothership is a big game though. Final size measures in at  11.75″ x 9.125″ x 2’’.

Printing and colour quality once again are great. Aligning and folding not so much. I’m sure I could share some of the blame for this, but I won’t, as I followed their templates to the letter. I’m referring to the second photo where the black faded line is off the fold by about 3mm. You can’t really see it from the front of the box, but on the sides it is visible.

Last complaint is the fold tearing (third photo) and also that the side flap is not fully tucked-in (fourth photo). All taken into consideration, I am happy with the box, it looks good for an amateur game designer like myself. However, I would say that the quality is certainly not to the same standard as that of commercial games.

Verdict – Overall, I recommend The Game Crafter wholeheartedly for a great prototype. The main areas where they fall short is the box folding and gluing. I also hold back from recommending it for commercial sales and actually making a profit as the price per component is a little on the high side (they gotta make a buck too). But hey! You don’t care about money do you?

Pros:

  • Cards look great,
  • Colour matching is great
  • Quad fold game board is good
  • Card drift was better than expected

Cons:

  • Box folding can use some more attention
  • Some cutting could be improved to reduce fraying
  • Prices are a little high if you want to make a profit (so only use for prototypes).

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