Gaming on the Cheap
Regular readers know that not only have I interested in miniatures games like Star Wars X-Wing and (recently) Sails of Glory, but I have been doing my own projects for storage and the like. Sure, it could be easier to buy card pages and binders, but that can get expensive. And since miniatures games can get pricey on their own, a player needs to find ways of saving some money here and there.
The first way is in gaming mats. A nice game mat for a game like Star Wars or Sails of Glory can run you a lot. I’ve seen prices for these mats starting at $27, and usually more. This is for a 3 foot by 3 foot mat (depending on the game). If you want to play an epic match in X-Wing, you need an area that’s 6 feet by 3 feet (or, two mats).
The less expensive way to go is fabric. In the picture of the Sails of Glory game, I used a 6 foot by 3 foot piece of felt that I got at Jo-Ann Fabrics for roughly $6 (it was on sale). Since I only needed a 3 foot square area, I folded it in half. I also have a 3 foot square piece in a deeper blue as well as black pieces for X-Wing. And, keep in mind that playing on a black piece of felt is probably closer to tournament legal than on any of the printed mats (because apparently people have actually measured the distances of the stars on these mats).
Likewise, for a lot of these games, there are a whole number of unofficial accessories that you can get for these games. Some are pretty decent, like the Litko plastic range rulers and maneuver templates. Others look cool, but can be duplicated on a cheaper scale.
Just recently, I created my own broadside markers. These markers are used to show which side has fired in Sails of Glory. They are just simple card stock with a cloud pattern printed on them and cut out. Nothing terribly fancy, but they do what they were intended to do: show which side of the ship has fired.
These particular templates were created in Paint Shop Pro with a cloud shape pulled from clip art. I printed eight on a page since the standard starter set features four ships. They were designed to sit at the edge of the ship base, but they can also be placed on the base itself if that is what you wish to do.
But, the advantage of building them like this is the cost. Card stock like I used (65 lb., 8.5×11 sheets) cost around $16 for a 250 sheet pack at Staples. This card stock will work with most printers, which people already have for their computers. And there are free art programs if the rather inexpensive Paint Shop Pro is a bit out of your price range. And, if you need more than what you originally printed, you just print more.