Chits and Upgrades: The Game Crafter and Meeple Source review

This post pertains to both upgrading your favorite game components, replacing lost components, and creating your own games.  If you or someone you care about loves the games Agricola, Orléans, Stone Age, Tzolk’in, Colt Express or others, you’re about to find out how to make those games even better!

Upgrading your games

This might be old news to you, but I was so excited to discover meeplesource that I simply had to share!  I mean, I’ll probably be pointing my family to this website as ideas of gifts they can get me for Christmas or my birthday.

Meeplesource makes your favorite games look and feel a lot better and for me, I mean my absolute favorite games:

Puerto Rico

This might be my favorite game of all time, which is something because I like games where you do something and I don’t give this game high marks in that regard.  Ironically, I don’t own it.  I just play it on  I’m just now finding out, I can make it even better?  It makes me want to own it.




This might be my favorite game of the past 5 years not called Terraforming Mars and ironically, another game where I don’t give it high marks for doing something.  But I love reaching into a bag for my workers each round, even when the workers looked like this (in the foreground):

But now they can look like this:

Stone Age

Sort of the pioneer of worker placement games, Stone Age just hit its 10-year anniversary.  The game doesn’t look bad:

But now it can be a lot more fun:

Colt Express

I’m no longer that into Catan or Ticket to Ride, but they have upgrades for those games as well, plus many more!

Creating new games

Although I have an entire post on my process for making new games, the most important part is this:  If you want to make games, then get busy making games.  Get something down on the table that you can start working with.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — in fact, don’t waste time making it so, because it’s all going to change anyways.  I do most of my early work with Excel, Word, PowerPoint, a bit of GIMP, a home printer, and 110-lb. card stock.  It’s how I created prototypes for Santa Fe, Convoy, Knights of the Zodiac, Cage Match and Watering Hole.

However, once you get far enough along, you will often find that you need a bit more than 110-lb. card stock, especially for chits.  Card stock chits on top of card stock cards on top of a card stock board, well, at some point, doesn’t work so well.  I’ll find myself wetting my fingers in order to move things around.  I can take it, but when it comes to asking friends to spend their precious gaming time on my prototypes, I need something a little more tactile and fun.  This is the point we reached on Watering Hole, so I ordered up some chits and check it out:

Perhaps the best source of chits is old games you no longer play and don’t care about raiding.  I don’t have too many games that I’m willing to raid, though.  Maybe you can pick some up at a garage sale or something, but see, now you’re spending money, and I don’t know about you, but I want to spend as little as possible.

Enter The Game Crafter.  Their bread-and-butter is print-on-demand, and you can build a complete prototype through them, once you’re ready.  In the early stages, though, I’m not ready that.  What I am ready for is some chits to add to my card stock prototype.  They’ve got a great selection, and probably for way cheaper than a game at a garage sale.

Take Cage Match, for example.  It’s intended to be a simple game, so there aren’t many chits, but I do need some chits for focus, some markers for the action pad, something to indicate fighting position, and some holders for the character portraits.  At The Game Crafter, I can get all this for under $2 per game.  Not going to break your bank, right?

They’re not fancy but they’re functional and they’re pretty enough.  Heck, some of these exact same chits are used in games like Ascension.  You can also get these cubes, used in games like Terraforming Mars and Adrenaline:


They also have wooden chits, plastic figures and cardboard hexes.  I ordered some hexes and plastic figures to develop my Space Pirates game.

The Game Crafter took me pretty far, but when it came to Watering Hole, they reached their limits.  I needed some fancy-ish wooden tokens to track the level of Food, Drinks, Entertainment, Comfort, Trendiness and Service, and I’m using these tokens in the same way that tokens are used to track in the game Caverna: Cave vs. Cave.  Well, I combed the entire catalog of the Game Crafter and couldn’t find what I was looking for.  That’s when I stumbled upon Meeple Source.  The great selection of wooden meeple hit the mark for me, and I’ve ordered all of the following as markers for Watering Hole:

All this for under $30.  No, it ain’t free, but for me, it’s a business expense anyways.

So between 110-lb card stock, The Game Crafter and Meeple Source, there’s nothing stopping you from creating a fun prototype for your own game.  Now get to it!

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