Many Print & Play (P&P/PNP) board games come from a designer's desire to get people to play their game. If the intent of designing a P&P board game is getting the most people to play it, should the components be designed to look the most beautiful (full color images, art, etc.), or should the components be designed to be functional and less ink intensive (grayscale/b&w images)?

Does the need for a large amount of printed components scare too many people away? If functionality isn't affected too greatly, can substitution components be used?

Example: a randomizer without replacement (a deck of cards), with just a chart/look-up table showing what each card represents vs. creating card art and rules text for a brand new deck of cards?

Basically, do people who PNP prefer a good looking game, or a cheap and easy to create game?

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    Is "both" an option? One set of high-quality images, one set of ink-saving line art?
    – Alex P
    Jan 29, 2012 at 1:32
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    I'd like to hear more about this print-and-play concept... Jan 29, 2012 at 13:43
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    Don't conflate beauty and functionality too much. They can go hand in hand, but whether to use rules text or a look-up table is more of a usability question than a beauty question. Jan 29, 2012 at 19:38
  • @AlexP, both is always an option. I was just wondering what is most important to people who actually P&P. I realize that the question is subjective (and probably needs some cleaning up), but the only people who can answer this question are people that P&P, and their opinion about what gets them to print one game over another is what I am looking for. Do they care if the game requires a lot of printing of components if the components look good, or do they want the minimal amount of work to determine if a game is worth investing their time/ink for.
    – user1873
    Jan 30, 2012 at 6:21
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    I haven't printed a game in a good long time, but I just downloaded one, and my first thought was "wow, this looks like crap" and I was far less inclined to print and play it. Take that for what it's worth. Jan 30, 2012 at 9:38

1 Answer 1


Generally, the best solution is to have a very functional design first, with a "pretty version" using the exact same underlying design, but with full color pretty images, including both in the package. The simple functional version will often be the trial - it needs to be low ink, and preferably grayscale.

If the underlying design isn't functional, the game won't get played, no matter how pretty...

As an aside: for a P&P, if people wouldn't play the cheapass games edition of it, they're unlikely to play the fancy versions, either. Note that several of Cheapass Games' could-have-been-laser-printed games later had much pricier full color versions sold. Some examples include Cartagena, Give Me The Brain, and Lord of the Fries.

Hell, people will play some DAMNED F'UGLY games... so long as the play is good.

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