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I'm interested in building up a decent collection of generic components that I can grab when I want to throw together a quick prototype of a game. I'm not aware of any "component collections" that you can actually buy (I guess there may not be much of a market for them) but if I'm wrong, feel free to link me to one.

I expect then, that what I'm looking for is a game that has good value-for-money for the components since that's all I'm interested in. For that reason, the actual gameplay or rules are irrelevant to me.

As for the components themselves, I expect I'd be looking at a Euro for plentiful generic pieces (more Ameritrash games tend to have components that aren't particularly generic; I'd rather they not be moulded spaceships, or treasure chests or animals or whatever). For instance, I'm looking for lots of cubes in various colours, maybe a few meeples in different colours too. Cards aren't so important to me since they can be easily prototyped from index cards etc. Agricola came to mind when I first thought about it, but that's quite pricey. (But who knows? Maybe the price-per-component value is actually quite good).

I'm aware that prices etc differ in different places, so I'm not looking for a game guaranteed to be available cheaply near me, but I'd be interested to hear how people have solved this problem in the past.

Update: Thanks for the tips guys! The online resources look really good, but are all based in the US and I'm based in the UK! If anyone knows of any online solutions that can cheaply ship to the UK that would be great. The cost of shipping from the US kind of counteracts the cheapness in the first place!

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If you're looking at components for the price, your best bet is to keep an eye out for clearance sales. If you don't have a local board game store to check, a lot of the online game stores have them a few times a year, as does Barnes & Noble (I've gotten several games at 75% off MSRP from the latter). –  VolcanoLotus Jun 7 '12 at 13:22
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@Johno, Amazon has a uk site. amazon.co.uk/EDX-Education-Active-Colour-Tiles/dp/B003Y6N0VI/… –  user1873 Jun 8 '12 at 13:34

7 Answers 7

up vote 15 down vote accepted

You have several options if you want to collect a large set of generic components so that you can throw your own prototype together.

Thrift Store games you buy just for the components

If you frequent thrift stores regularly, you can pick up cheap games ($2-$4 usually) specifially just to harvest the components from them. Some good examples from the list above are (with linked pictures of the components):

  • Scrabble : 100 Wooden Tiles. The backs are blank, or you could have the letters have some meaning within your game, or cover up the letters with stickers.

  • Risk : Colored Wooden Cubes/Plastic Stars. Old and Classic Editions come with wooden cubes.

  • Yahtzee Jr. : 1" indented Cubes. Useful if you want to make custom dice.

  • Advance to Boardwalk : 4 Colors of 20 stackable squares. Upwwords comes with stackable letters.

  • Trumpet : Cards numbered 1-11 in 6 different suits, when you want to design 5-6 player games and a standard deck won't do.

  • Bottletops : Hundreds of Wooden disks, most white, some red.

  • Bingo/Sequence : The $1 Store version of these usually come with red plastic "tiddlywinks", or numbered cardboard chits (useful for wargaming).

  • Pente : Colored glass beads in two colors.

  • Monopoly/Global Pursuit - Paper money.

  • Dicecapades : More dice than you will know what do do with.

  • Sorry/Pachisi : 4 Colored pawns in 4 colors.

Buy a Piecepack or similar game system

Piecepack is a game system that comes with some predefined generic playing pieces. It is an open board game development platform. Anyone can design and release their own games using Piecepack components, and there will already be an installed player base with the components to play it. The components are offered by different vendors, this one is $30, the components in a standard Piecepack are listed here.

There are other game systems like IceHouse (I am not certain of the openness of this game system. Looney Labs owns a patent on it, but it may have expired), and Orion. For more information, see this page.

Buy generic components from websites.

Print-N-Play productions offers a wide selection of colored wooden bits, meeples, dice, and other game accessories.

Educational Supply stores offer colored wooden/plastic cubes, colored tiles, and other tools that could be used to prototype a board game. I have purchased a tub of 1000 plastic 1 cm. cubes from a local educational supply store for about $22, although prices will vary by the size of the supplier.

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Thanks for the suggestions (the BGG list was useful)! The online resources didn't help so much (I'm based in the UK, so shipping would cost too much), but I found a good online resource for board game pieces for UK gamers: boardgameextras.co.uk –  Johno Jun 11 '12 at 11:36
    
Thought I should mention MeepleSource.com from Florida. Also sells lots of different and cool game bits. –  Ramiro Mar 22 at 16:25

You're in luck. Fantasy Flight Games sells sets like this in a variety of colors.

Another possible source is your local craft store. Not sure if they have these in your area, but Michael's and Hobby Lobby(slightly better selection) are worth checking out. There's usually an aisle devoted to wood crafts. You can usually find lots of nice inexpensive fiddly bits. They usually come unpainted, so you'll need to buy a few cans of spray paint.

Thirdly, 3D printing on demand is getting to be reasonably priced.

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If you're looking for very specific pieces and components, the answers on this question provide some good advice.

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. –  Pieter Geerkens May 31 at 20:47

Another UK source, especially for any quantity, that I've used in the past is Plastics For Games Ltd. (Not used them for years so I've no idea if their service is as good as it was, but their site is still active). Note they do have a minimum order of £100.

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Spielmaterial.de has lots and lots of generic components. The web shop is outdated and clunky, so you´ll spend some time finding what you need, but there is a lot to be found. They're based in Germany but ship to the Netherlands, so probably to the UK as well.

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I realize this is an older post but I found it to be a good resource and had a resource I thought was useful so I thought I'd add a little to it. Similar to the Thrift store answer, in the states we have Dollar Tree stores, where everything is one dollar. I've seen chess/checkers/dominoes/etc. all of which have a number of pawns or tokens for use. I realize Chess has some specific pieces but the pawns may be generic enough for your purposes.

Alternatively, I've made my own. If you have access to a miter/chop saw one dowel rod (circular or square) can become 50 disks/cubes. Add a little paint, or stickers and you've got a bunch of new options to play with. Your local art/craft store will have many more options as well.

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Anyone willing to spend more money to get large numbers of pieces such as cubes may want to read my blog post: Generic plastic/wood game pieces you can buy for prototypes (or for full production?)

http://pulsiphergamedesign.blogspot.com/2014/03/generic-plasticwood-game-pieces-you-can.html

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Answers here are expected to directly answer the question. Please check our tour. –  Jonathan Hobbs May 31 at 9:20
    
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