There is something that twists inside any board gamer at the sight of a twisted, bent board. Warping is annoying — we never get quite used to it, no matter how frequent it is, how long since we’ve been a gamer, or how willingly we embrace cardboard’s main weakness.
That said, warping can affect plastic pieces as well and, in more extreme cases, even wooden game components. But our main playground, that large board that should lay flat on the table in all its glory, is warping’s favorite and most visible victim. It is an ugly sight, but it can get so bad as to cause functional problems too: game pieces that won’t even remain standing, modular boards that won’t fit together, and so on. And it gets even worse when the board has one or several deep creases.
Horizontal storage can cause dishing and, well, warping is sometimes linked to vertical storage (I know, it seems like there’s no way out, right?). What happens when a larger game is stored vertically is that, depending on the way game components settle inside the box, their (sometimes considerable) weight could lean against a part of the board, causing it, over time, to bend under the pressure. The same goes for cardboard insert or cards. Even plastic minis won’t be spared under such conditions.
Likewise, a fairly humid storage room, or that’s subjected to significant changes in temperature, can mercilessly “reshape” your game components, regardless of their position on the shelf.
In all cases prevention is always the best cure. Think carefully about the location of your game collection, as well as the way each box is stored.
That’s why they put those strange little pouches in game boxes, that keep telling us, in many languages, that they’re not to be eaten. They contain silica gel and their role is to absorb humidity—another good line of defense against warping. It might be a good idea to leave them in the box. They’re quite efficient, but for a limited time only. Therefore if you live in a humid area, you might want to stock up on a fair supply of them.
Manufacturing defects, however, cannot be prevented. The best solution when the component of a game you just bought is warped is to contact the publisher. The diligent ones will happily send a replacement your way, no questions asked.
The good news is that this deformed cardboard syndrome is often curable. There are quite a few techniques and recipes to help address the issue.
As board gamers we often take pride in the fact that we’re building, at the dawn of a highly technical, automated, dematerialized 21st century, an entire industry out of good old humble cardboard. Well, it comes with its own flaws. And it turns out that social interactions, patterns and mechanics, shared moments of joy, and everything that’s keeping our hobby appealing and precious is pretty well represented by the fragility and the capriciousness of its basic material. So why not embrace it.
References and Further Browsing
- Warp Out
- Terminology: Warping, on Boardgamegeek
- How do you deal with components warping?, on Reddit
- How do I fix warped boards?, on Reddit
- How to best avoid warping of cards and boards?, on Reddit
- Warped boards, on Reddit
- Vertical Storage and Warped Boards, on Reddit
- Warping board solutions?, on Reddit
- My board game is warped, on Reddit
- Warped card fixes?, on Reddit