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  • Writer's pictureJared Neal

How to Make High Quality Print and Play

Updated: Oct 8, 2021


There are multiple different methods for making print and play games, and over time I will try to add as many of the different methods to this article as possible. That way you can decide for yourself, which method gives you the finished product which will provide you with the gaming experience you are looking for.


Supplies/Tools


  • Printer

    • I don’t use any kind of fancy special printer to do my print and play (“PNP”) projects, so really any color inkjet or laser jet will work.

  • Paper

    • I have seen people use a wide variety of papers, depending on the experience they are trying to get. My personal preference is 110 lb card stock, because it is thick enough to provide a sturdy feeling card, but not so thick that the cards become hard to shuffle or handle.

  • Laminator

    • Just like with the printer, this is an area where you don’t need anything fancy. I personally use the AmazonBasics laminator, but Scotch also makes a really nice 12" model you can get for about $20 on Amazon.

  • Laminating Pouches

    • I have only ever used 2 different types of laminating pouches, so I don’t know if there is much variation depending on what you buy. I have had great luck with the ones I use, which are Bostitch self-adhesive 8.5" by 11". These aren't cheap, but AmazonBasics has some that are pretty inexpensive, and I usually get mine at a big box store in a package of 200 for $20.

  • Cutter

    • There are two main kind of cutters that work, and each has their own advantage.

    • Guillotine Cutter - which is going to give you straighter cleaner cuts, but is harder to make sure your page is lined up perfectly. In my experience, a less expensive guillotine cutter will work just fine, as long as you keep your blade sharp, and they tend to be a little lighter. I use a 12" Swingline model, that I got on Amazon for just over $25.

    • Craft Cutter - which is going to be less reliable to give you a straight cut, because it is sliding along a wire, but that wire makes it a lot easier to make sure your cut is lined up ahead of time. Again, while there are more expensive models out there, you don't need to break the bank to get good results. I use a 12" Fiskars model, that I got on Amazon for just over $30.

  • Corner Trimmer

    • Corner trimmers are something you really do need to find the perfect fit for, especially if you are laminating your components, because the cheaper/poorer quality ones just won't cut through it. The one I use is a Kadomaru Pro corner cutter, which can be found on Amazon for about $12.

Process


  1. Printing

    1. This might seem like a straight forward step, but the first thing you want to do is determine if you are printing on two sides of one sheet, or on two separate sheets and then somehow adhere them together.

      1. I personally prefer printing on two sides of the same sheet, as adhering sheets together can be tricky, and I personally think it almost always results in a card that feels too thick.

    2. If you are printing on two sides of the same sheet, then you will want to print a test page, to determine if the two sides are in alignment. Often times, even professionally prepared PNP files, will not necessarily be calibrated to print perfectly aligned on your printer.

      1. If your printer isn’t aligned properly, you can adjust your print margins to push one of the pages in the direction you need to get everything to align.

    3. If the cost of ink is a concern for you, a lot of publishers will include a low-ink version (usually just less saturated colors) of their game in their files.

  2. Laminating

    1. I use 3mm laminating pouches, but when I run them through the laminator I turn it on the 5mm option, and I run them through twice. The reason I do this, is when I cut my items out I am not going to leave any laminate along the edges to seal against itself, so I need it to be securely attached to the card stock itself.

  3. Cutting

    1. Cards - there are multiple different ways I have seen people cut out cards, and there is no wrong way to do it as long as you are happy with the final result. My personal way for cutting out cards depends on if there are 6 or 9 cards on a page (these are the two most common options anyway).

      1. 6 Cards - I generally will cut the long way down the middle of the page first, splitting it into 2 long rectangles. Then I start on the side without hash marks now, and I cut a line just past the remaining vertical hash marks, but not all the way through the page. Once I have done this with all the horizontal hash marks, I then turn the page in my cutter, and cut the single long vertical cut. The reason I do it this way, is to prevent cutting off the final vertical hash marks when you make the horizontal cuts.

      2. 9 Cards - I still generally start by making the two center long cuts, which leaves you with 3 long rectangles this time. I follow the same method listed in the 6 card layout for the two outside columns, but then for the center column you are left without any horizontal hash marks. I take one of the cards I have already cut from the middle, and use it as a guide to cut the three remaining cards out of the middle row. Make sure you use the same card as a guide each time, to ensure you are getting as consistent of sizes as possible.

    2. Tokens - I still don’t have what I would consider a perfect method for this, but I will share a couple different techniques I have tried.

      1. You can purchase printable adhesive sheets, where the entire page is one big sticker. You then print each side of your token, on two separate adhesive sheets. You take some thin piece of cardboard (a cereal box works great for this), and you cut it to the size of your adhesive sheet. Then attach the sheets to either side, and cut out your tokens.

      2. My current method is to print the tokens on both sides of a piece of 110 lb cardstock, then laminate it in a pouch, and then cut it out. You aren’t going to get as thick of a token, but it works pretty well.

      3. Another method very similar to the one I use, which would result in thicker tokens (and you can use this on cards or player boards as well if you want them thicker), is using two sheets of card stock. You print your tokens on two separate sheets, then you place a sheet of laminate in between them with a little spray adhesive (making sure to cut the excess laminate away from any edges), and then run it through your laminator on 5mm two times. Once it has cooled, you place the resulting thicker stock in another laminate pouch, and run it through the laminator two more times.


Costs


I am an accountant for a living, and so when I started making print and play cards, I really was curious how the cost compared to just buying the retail product. See below a breakdown I created, that sort of walks you through my estimated cost per card, page, and game (with certain assumptions listed). If you have the time to put it together, and a print and play version is available, creating your own games is almost always going to be a more cost effective way to enjoy games.

Some Other Online Resources


All the DIY Links You Never Knew You Needed


Dining Table Print and Play


Print and Play Paradise


Print and Play Arcade


Print and Play Hideaway


Martin Gonzalvez


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