Components are the physical support that defines board games. Their concrete and tactile property. Their identity — which is referred to as their table presence.
Components are not limited to the equipment needed to play a game, such as dice, tiles or cards, but include everything that comes with the game: the box, the insert, the rulebook, etc.
Today’s means of production of modern board games create high expectations regarding components. Players and reviewers alike consider their aesthetics, size, number and durability to be a determining factor in the overall experience and quality of a game. Components have become such a driving force on the market that it seems easier to sell a bad game with premium components than a good game with mediocre components. Which might explain why more and more games are overproduced and end up being what game designer Bruno Faidutti calls “big heavy boxes with baroque graphics and ridiculously overproduced components”.
Living card games (LCG), collectible card games (GCC), and some miniature games are based on components that can be bought separately and incrementally. Collecting these components becomes a game in itself.
Monster games, generally wargames, are games with a huge number of components. Games with very few components are micro-games.
Nowadays gamers expect any game to include a complete list of its components, called the manifest. It is often found at the beginning of the rulebook.
Pimping is the practice of upgrading or replacing original board game components. Most board game projects on Kickstarter offer deluxe versions of their components as stretch goals.
Components are the stars of many video vignettes that have become famous in the small world of board game reviews. For instance, the Components Breakdown series created by Jeremy Salinas (from Man vs. Meeple), or the improbable Component Drop that begins each of Tom Vasel’s reviews.
References and Further Browsing
- Top-8 Best Components, on Boardgamegeek
- Wargames with the best components, on Boardgamegeek
- Excellent Component Photography by Andrew Brooks on Instagram
- Excellent Component Photography by Andrew Brooks on Boardgamegeek