Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Exploring lamination with Micropul

Ever since we got a laminator, I have been testing out what I can do with it as far is print and play projects are concerned. In actuality, it has actually exceeded my expectations.

The first 'real' project I tried with the laminator was making a set of laminated Micropul tiles. Everything else that I've done up until this point was just to see how it would do, without actually worrying about ending up with a game that I would want to play.

(Well, the first thing I tried was making laminated cards for Button Men, which is a game I like. However, that just makes nice cards. I don't need them to play the game. A friend of mine and I used to play Button Men with just dice and printed out spreadsheet of various buttons)

Micropul is a relatively old print and play game. It first came out over 10 years ago. Part of what has to have given legs is that it is a very simple project make. All you need is to make one page of tiles and some tokens of some kind. However, it's also pretty decent game which has to be the biggest part of why it is still part of the print and play scene.

It's a tile-laying game where you try to claim and close groups of symbols, not unlike farming scoring in Carcassonne. And if that's all there was to it, it wouldn't be that much.

However, unlike most tile-laying games, you don't draw tiles as part of your turn. You have to activate special symbols on the tiles to get tiles. Unused tiles at the end of the game are worth points. That's a pretty good twist.

What I decided to try doing was laminating the sheet of tiles and then cutting them out. I did this, even though I didn't think it would work.

Now, I haven't dealt with lamination in probably over 20 years. My memories of old laminators were that they would basically create a plastic sandwich around the paper with the edges being sealed. If you broke the seal that the edges made, everything would fall apart.

I have some sort of crazy memory of lamination paper that was actually clear plastic with the sticky side and you would make a sandwich out of two of them. But I never used anything like that and I don't know if it actually exists in any place other than my imagination.

I had some hoped that the heated plastic of modern lamination pouches would actually adhere to the paper but I didn't really expect that to be the case. The quality of the plastic has definitely improved and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the actual laminators are hotter.

Lo and behold, the plastic actually did adhere to the paper. Instead of having to cut out the tiles and individually laminate them, I was able to just run the laminator once and get laminated tiles.

The fact that I used regular copy paper as opposed to card stock or cardboard might've actually helped the process.

Now, the real question is how well will they hold up in the long run. I am sure that over time and play, the plastic will start peel off of the tiles.

In the case of Micropul, that's not such a big deal. Between printing and laminating and cutting, I can probably make a set in about fifteen, twenty minutes and material cost probably comes out around fifteen cents at most. Even if they fall apart after a month of play, that's not too bad.

For more complicated projects, I might want to actually individually laminate every piece.

Despite that, this does make making functional pieces a whole lot easier.

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