Let's say you want to play a longish board game over the course of several days. For many games this is a fairly unwise idea that entails a bunch of problems. Among them: People are going to bump into the table. Cats are going to sit on the board. The pieces are going to get shifted around. How can you prevent this? How can you make those pieces stay put?
The issue arose for me because I'm designing a game intended to be played in this long-term fashion. But I think the issue has applications for lots of gamers, especially those who play with their families, partners, or housemates. So I'd like to explore options that can be applied to existing games, either by modifying the original game elements or by building a custom set with readily available materials.
This question is concerned with fixing pieces or tokens in place on a single flat board, to the exclusion of the many other complications that this style of play will create depending on the game. However, most any game played in this manner is going to involve some recordkeeping between sessions, so when you get back to the game you'll know whose turn it is or what phase you're in the middle of. You could preserve a board's state by folding it into this recordkeeping task, either by writing down all the necessary information or by taking a picture of the board so you can reconstruct it later. Besides being no fun at all, this method could be prohibitively complex for games with enough objects on the board. So this is a last resort (or, not really a solution).
There are travel editions of many games that fix pieces in place either with magnets or with friction (popping little plastic pieces into a plastic frame). I don't know how I'd create or modify a game board to use either of these methods, short of painting a Pandemic map onto a baking sheet. There might be a more practical method I haven't thought of.
The other idea that occurred to me was adhesive. For certain types of game piece, an attractive option is replacing them with tabbie-sized Post-it notes. For certain other types of game piece (like player tokens that have to be visibly unique and moved around often) sticky tabs don't work as well.
What's the best method for preserving the physical state of pieces on a game board?