Board Game Glow Up

I love sitting down with a brand-new board game, punching out all the cardboard chits and tokens, organizing the cards into their respective decks, and sticking everything in those little plastic bags that hopefully come with them. Nothing helps immerse me in a board game like well-designed, thematically-appropriate components.

However, sometimes, it’s worthwhile to go out and buy extra, third-party components to spruce up a game. Sometimes, you don’t even need to go that far; you can look around your place for stuff you already have. You can even borrow the components from one game to use in another. I know! Wild, right?

Here at the Overlords Pandemic Bunker, the one game that hits the table more than any other is Arkham Horror: The Card Game. With its dozens of playable characters, hundreds of player cards, six campaigns (so far), and numerous stand-alone scenarios, it basically has infinite replicability. The graphic design and the art are also spot on, evoking the hopelessness of the Cthulhu Mythos while still presenting mechanical information clearly. The game is great as-is. However…

We’ve added components to the game to make the experience even more immersive! And while what I’m going to show you here is specific to Arkham Horror, you could obviously use this as inspiration for giving your own games a glow up!

Here’s what we’ve added:

Miniatures from other games

Mrs. White (Zoey) and an Imperial Officer (Tommy) look for clues.

In Arkham Horror, your character on the “board” is represented by a small card with a character portrait. It’s a good system because when you have taken your turn, you can flip the card over to its black and white side. The only problem with this is that the flat cards on the flat board just looks, well…flat. That’s why we added miniatures.

For some of the characters, like Father Mateo and Wendy Adams, we just use the minis from Mansions of Madness. For other characters, we’ve taken minis from Clue (yes, there is a version with minis!), and even, oddly enough, Star Wars: Imperial Assault (the Imperial Officer makes a great Tommy Muldoon!).

You’d be surprised how much better the experience is when you can move a plastic mini around the streets of Arkham, and knocking down your mini when you are defeated makes that defeat just a bit more bearable. I should note that we don’t use minis for the enemies in the game because we feel that would make the game too fiddly.

Coin Capsules

Capsules keep your Chaos in order.

In Arkham Horror, whenever you test a skill, you have to pull a Chaos Token from a bag, which works kind of like a die roll. The problem with these tokens is that, because you are constantly touching them, they collect oils and become worn. This doesn’t just make them look ugly; it also makes some of them cling to others just enough to screw up the randomness of the bag.

Enter: The coin capsule. These are hard plastic cases that go over each token, protecting them from scuffs, and making them easy to wipe off. They also have the bonus upside of making the tokens heavier, making each token draw feel more substantial. They also make the whole process louder and slightly more ominous.

The capsules can break, but that’s fine…just use a new capsule. Seriously, I highly recommend “sleeving” your Chaos Tokens, and we don’t even sleeve our cards! (Yet.) You can find these capsules anywhere that sells coin collecting supplies, or just check Amazon. We recommend the 26mm capsules, which will leave a little room for the tokens to rattle inside them.

Third-party components

Again, there’s nothing wrong with the components-as-included in the game. These cards are gorgeous. However, ever since Em bought me the Acrylic Mythos Scenario Set from Buy the Same Token on Etsy. It’s a little pricey, but we love it and use it every time we play. Having the act and agenda cards sitting upright makes them easier to read, and the doom tokens sitting along the bottom of it really makes us aware that the game’s clock is ticking closer and closer towards our demise.

Also, just look at how beautify they are! They really add to the table-presence.

Em’s present presents table presence.

You can find third-party components all over Etsy, as well as in the Board Game Geek Store.

Parts from other games

Besides minis, you can borrow other components from one game to play in another. This is something we don’t do as much, but in one scenario, it seems appropriate.

In The Essex County Express, players have to make their way from the caboose of a moving train to the engine before the whole thing gets sucked into a sucking void in the sky. The cards do a great job of representing the train, but we like to take the train from Colt Express and put it alongside each card. Honestly, this does make the game a little more fiddly than it has to be, but we have a train, so we might as well use it, right?


While it’s not a perfect addition to the game, it does make me wonder what other games have components we can use in Arkham Horror, and what other games could be enhanced with parts form other games. It’s definitely worth exploring.

Have you given any of your games a glow up? Let us know in the comments, or find us all over the internet!

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