#WargameWednesday – The tools of #wargaming

For me, wargaming is often classic hex & counter gaming. Often with lots of counters. For many years I resisted a sirens call. More recently though, I succumbed…to the counter clipping madness.

Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear (Academy Games) Courtesy BGG.com

In this renaissance gaming era, the production quality of many wargames has gone up. Some games come with rounded corners. Like any Academy Games Conflict of Heroes wargame. I mean, just look at those nicely rounded corners! Maybe its’ the Eurogamer influence on Uwe? Those rounded corners are on counters straight out of the sprue! It looks really nice.

Chantilly: Jackson’s Lost Opportunity (Decision Games) – Photo by self

As many wargamers know, the corners on most wargames taken straight from the sprue are, well, less sightly. The little tufts at the corners of the counters don’t let the counters sit nicely against each other. They also interfere when stacking the counters.

What’s the solution? Clip your counters!

I remember reading long ago about folks sitting around with nail clippers and carefully trimming their counters. I tried it.


Never again.

I apparently don’t have steady enough hands (or good enough eyesight – more on that in a bit) to clip the corners in any sort of consistent manner. My clips were awkward; each counter was irregular. It didn’t look good at all. I needed help.

See the nice rounded corner? (Photo by self)

I got it in the form of an Oregon Laminations 2.5mm radius Corner Counter Punch.

Battle of Issy, 1815 (C3iMagazine) – Photo by self

Now my games are much nicer. It’s amazing how nicely rounded counters can help a game look like art. It adds another element of enjoyment to playing the game.

Corner clipping counters is also therapeutic. I can sit down with a game of unrounded counters, put on several video channels of gaming, and work my way through a pile of chits. It’s mindless. It’s relaxing.

The problem, if any, is that I have a large collection of games that are unrounded. I have had to limit myself to only rounding new games as I get them. Tonight’s target is The Dark Sands (GMT Games).

On one of the channels I watch is Blastpop. This guy is so dedicated to the wargame hobby that not only did he review the Oregon Laminations counter corner clipper, he added a bit on maintaining your corner clipper:

With age also comes clumsy fingers. Clumsy fingers and wargaming is NOT a good mix. Nothing ruins a wargame like knocking over a large stack of counters. So bring on wargame toolset #2:

Photo by self

I bought this set of precision tweezers at Harbor Freight for less than $6. Keep an eye out for that 30% discount coupon in your mail every weekend; you know, the one you ignore. In this set one gets 6-1/2 in. fine point tweezers with slide lock for gripping objects, 4-7/8 in. fine point tips, 6-5/8 in. cross action straight tips, 6-3/4 in. 35° angled tips, 6 in. serrated tips, 6-3/4 in. tapered point tips. The longer ones work pretty good with 1/2″ counters once you widen the opening a bit.

Like any hobby, one needs the right tools to do the job. Counter clippers and tweezers should be in every wargamers kit bag.

It’s worth the time. It’s worth the money. It’s worth the extra enjoyment playing.

Feature photo by self


7 thoughts on “#WargameWednesday – The tools of #wargaming

  1. Robert Kovalchick February 7, 2019 — 8:18 am

    I didn’t know there was such a tool, what a god send! I remember as a kid spending a sunny summer weekend clipping GDWs Third World War series and Fifth Frontier War counters with my dad’s toenail clippers. How will I get back the time?

    1. Well, any time spent with Fifth Frontier War is well worth it!

  2. Oregon Laminations is a godsend. As a kid in the ’70s/ early ’80s, I would never even have considered clipping counters, the thought never entered my mind. But now I won’t even play a new game until it’s done. The aesthetic difference is hard to explain, but I agree with your ‘looks like art’ line. I also agree that there is something zen about clipping with the Oregon Laminations tool…you don’t need to pay much attention because the tool is so excellent.

  3. I never was a wargamer, and always wondered what the story was about corner clipping. Really obsessive wargamers? Glad to know there are practical considerations involved. Also had no idea there were tools for this.

    1. It’s definitely a first-world gamer problem. Like miniatures players obsessing over painting the mini correctly, hex & counter folks can obsess over corners!

  4. When I first clipped my Combat Commander Europe chits it made such a difference that I definitely understand why it is so popular!

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