Chips with Everything
In the past few weeks the world of Lard has been abuzz with discussion of whether it’s better to use cards or chips for the random draw elements that are a feature of most Lardy games. The catalyst for all this was Richard Clarke’s surprise announcement that TooFatLardies will be producing both cards and chips for use with their latest release, Sharp Practice 2. I’ve been on the chips side of this debate for years and have blogged about it here before.
I think the case for chips is overwhelming, they’re quicker to use, much easier to shuffle and hence more random. They are also more durable and don’t get marked as easily. Most wargamers just can’t shuffle cards properly and take ages to do an inadequate job which results in combinations of cards sticking together for significant periods of play. Cards get damaged rather easily and soon become marked in ways that allow identification. And I’ve seen what can happen when someone’s nice cards get shuffled by their cack handed friend.
I can see some advantages for cards – they can be made to look prettier than chips, though it takes a degree of skill, and they do have more room for printed information than a sensibly sized chip. But that’s not enough to make me want to use the things, especially for a game like Sharp Practice 2 where there’s not a ot of information needed on a card or chip.
A full deck of chips I made to use in the play-testing of Sharp Practice 2.
Some proponents of cards on the TooFatLardies Yahoo Group were saying that cards were “easier to customise”, but I disagree completely. I’ve got the technique I use for making them up to to a point where I can have a customised chip available in under five minutes.
Here’s some customised chips for use in our games. In my opinion it’s much, much better if you know you’re playing the role of a named character. Sous-Lieutenant LePeau is so much more characterful than than the generic Leader 2 and Captain Campbell Baxter, “Two Soups” to his men, is much better than Leader 1.
Here’s how I make the chips
The chips I use are laser cut 2mm mdf, 50mm x 30m with rounded corners and I’ve been known to buy them from both Warbases and Supreme Littleness Designs. Both these companies have given me really good service, though Supreme Littleness gets most of my orders nowadays since he set up about a mile from my house. Saves on postage. I paint the chips with acrylic paint, though this is not strictly necessary, you can indicate the side a chip belongs to in other ways such as printing colour on the labels, but I think it looks good. I have a decent number of these chips lying about waiting for people to come up with Leader names, which get printed on labels.
The information needed on a chip is printed on a self-adhesive sticky label. I use these ones – 38.1mm x 21.2mm compatible with Avery L7651-25. They come in sheets of 65 and if you shop around on Ebay or Amazon you can get 100 sheets delivered in the UK for under £5 including postage. That’s cheap, the Avery ones are over £25 for the same number.
The only difficult bit of the whole operation was setting up a template in Word that allows me to print accurately onto the labels. I had to set up a 5 x 13 table with cells set at fixed sizes. Doing this took a wee while and I must have used up at least twelve sheets of labels as I tweaked the cell sizes and page margins to get things right. Now that I’ve got that done it’s all dead easy.
I’ve put my Word Labels.dotx template up on Dropbox and anyone who wants is welcome to download it for their own use. I can’t guarantee that they’ll work for you and you’ll almost certainly have to tweak the document margins if you’re using a printer other than a Brother HL5040. It’s also possible, though less likely, that you might have to resize the cells.