Protecting your prized board games.

They say prevention is better than cure. In most respects that will depend on the costs involved in each. If prevention means constant work every day while the cure is a quick shot in the arm if something does happen then some might argue that the cure is better than prevention. With the current state of the economy in South Africa protecting our board games is often far better than replacing them should they be damaged.


Perhaps the quickest and easiest thing to do is to sleeve cards. There is some debate about the cost effectiveness of sleeving cards. Sleeves can be extremely expensive. I’ve calculated that if I used certain brands of sleeves then the sleeves would actually cost more than the game that I was trying to sleeve. Bugger that. I use cheaper sleeves. It does the job and at a fraction of the cost.

Protecting board games
They have premium sleeves too, pricier but they offer better protection.

I primarily use Mayday sleeves, they have various sizes which fit almost any game. These have only become available in South Africa late last year. I get mine from Battle Wizards in Centurion. They always have a fairly large variety available at any time and are willing to order other sizes that they don’t carry.

We went out for a family dinner a few weeks ago. While playing Sushi Go! my daughter knocked her glass of water all over the table. I would have cried if my cards were not sleeved. I love that game and we play it often enough that I would have had to replace the set.


Tokens, chits, player sheets and board also take their fair share of scrapes and scratches and sometimes spilt drinks. While you won’t be able to sleeve or laminate a lot of these components you can varnish them.

I’ve not started doing this, but I plan to. I was a bit wary of doing it, but here is a vid from a local gamer showing how quick and easy it actually is to do.

NB: Morné has a mask and adequate ventilation. Two very important things when working with varnish. I’d recommend doing it outside when it’s not windy or too humid. If you are going to do it inside like he is then make sure you also have a tarp to catch the overspray.
He has experimented with different brands and noted the different finishes and Plascon is the brand that he has settled on. I think I’m going to stick with his choice too, however there is a country wide shortage of those particular bottles, so I’m going to just pop by the hardware stores every now and again until I find some stock.

I also have this.

Protecting board games
Model Varnish comes in spray and brush on types. This is a matt varnish, I prefer the matt to gloss.

Models don’t usually need much in the form of protection, but if you do get around to painting them then you will need varnish so that the paint does not rub off. Painting takes time and effort. It really does make a game look awesome, so it will be a shame if the paint comes off.

Well that’s what I’m going to do. Games are damn expensive and I know some damage is inevitable, but some of it can be prevented, so if not why not. The last thing that I want to do is replace my games. I’d rather buy new ones 😉

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