Paper is Heavy

I have been talking to several fulfillment companies about getting freight and shipping quotes ahead of the Worldbreakers March 1 Kickstarter campaign. I decided to add a 10-chapter solo campaign to the game and was completely blindsided by the weight implications. The campaign adds around 40 cards, which I did not expect to matter in the grand scheme of things. That was a naïve assumption that ignored an important fact: paper is heavy.

Let's Weigh Some Paper!

Paper is a significant component of most board games. There are four major contributors: card, tokens, the rulebook, and the game box itself. Let’s dig into their contribution using the Worldbreakers prototype box.

The complete Worldbreakers prototype box weighs 403 grams (or 14 ounces, slightly shy of a pound). It contains the following items:

  • Game box
  • 45 medium circle chits (three sets)
  • 28 small circle chits (one set)
  • 142 cards

Let’s break down the weight on each of these components. First, the empty game box:

So we barely started and we are already at 64 grams (2.3 ounces). Next, one set of counters:

That’s 13 grams (0.45 ounces) for one set. The prototype has four of them, for a total of 52 grams (1.8 ounces).

And now the cincher! I break the 142 cards into four preconstructed decks and some extras. Each preconstructed deck is 30 play cards, a Worldbreaker, a standing tracker, and a reminder card, for a total of 34 cards. Here is the Khutulun preconstructed deck:

65 grams! (2.3 ounces!) Remember that the campaign solo deck is around 40 cards, that’s another 77 grams! Here is another preconstructed deck, the Marco Polo Stars deck:

The prototype is missing several components that will appear in the complete box that will be sent to backers: the rulebook, box insert, four oversized Worldbreaker cards, the turn tracking board, a large Khutulun strength bonus marker, and the aforementioned campaign solo mode. I can calculate the weight of most of them using prototype components. The one exception is the rulebook. I decided to use the Innovation rulebook to guesstimate:

18 grams (0.6 ounces), not that bad. Except that the Worldbreakers rulebook is about three times the length of the Innovation rulebook, so that’s another 54 grams (around two ounces).

Weight Connects to Design

In my opinion, this weight has design implications. The more components, the heavier the box, the more expensive it is to freight and ship to your players. As a designer, I am balancing two requirements: I want the game to be fairly priced and financially accessible to as many players as possible, while also providing as much replayability as I can squeeze into the box (which translates into more components).

During the development of Worldbreakers I added about 70 cards that are not part of the core two-player gameplay. These include the campaign solo mode and additional copies of 36 cards that allow two players to play with one copy (instead of each player having to buy a copy). I was pretty surprised by the effect on shipping costs, and will be more mindful of this aspect with any future board games I design.

2 thoughts on “Paper is Heavy”

  1. Regarding weight please please think of us poor Europeans with an EU friendly freight option to avoid the insane tax 😢

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