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Counters, frames, and loud cursing…

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

A situation familiar to everyone who ever bought a new wargame: with pleasure you look at your counter sheets and the appealingly designed counters and markers of your new acquirement, but before playing the wargaming gods have set the punching of the counters.

The ideal case is that the slicer was properly adjusted during the manufacturing process, so that in fact the counters are already separated, but only so far that they can be easily punched out by the customers. However, when this adjustment is not carried out correctly (which is very often the case…), it could happen that the counters are already punched out of the frames and mixed up in the game box or that they can be punched out of their frames only by violence.

The customer doesn’t like either version because on the one hand the counter chaos is a nightmare for a wargamer (counters could be absent, may be damaged, must be assorted with great difficulty, etc.) and on the other hand the counters could be damaged if someone tries to punch them out of their frame “against their will”.

Counters which are fixed tight to their frames tend to rip off their surface or cover paper when being punched. Another problem is that after the counters are separated, some relict pieces of paper may remain. This is not only unattractive – it is even disturbing during play.

So, what to do in this case?

Preparing the wooden board and tools

There are different ways to punch new counters out of their frame and every wargamer has his own method.

For example, you can cut them out with a sharp carpet knife along their punched line – but always keep in mind that this method is dangerous because you might slip off and cut a counter in two – which could ruin the entire game. You should never forget that in a consim often each counter is in use, and, if only one is lost, you have to use a replacement – painted by yourself on a piece of paper, a blank counter or whatever. That is anything but pretty, especially if you spent $150 for such a game.

Roller knifes are very popular too, because they are more easily to handle and don’t tend to leave the punching line, but even here it largely depends on whether you press too much (and slip off from the punched line, too) or to soft (which makes repeatedly rolling necessary – bad-looking counter edges are the result then).

Very careful...!

We have developed a very easy, but effective method and are willing to share our deep secret with you 🙂

You need a wooden kitchen board, not too hard (and of course one you don’t need any longer in your kitchen, better ask your wife before using it 😉 ) and a sharp knife – best if it is triangular formed (a bit wider on the back) and a small hammer.

You put the counter-sheet on the board, put the knife with its blade in one of the punching lines and bash the hammer with a hefty stroke on the backside of the knife’s blade. This separates the cardboard in a very precise way, the counters are still in their frames, while the knife can’t slip off because it finally hits (and sticks in) the wooden board.

The results are nice looking, almost perfectly cut counters

Afterwards, you lift the knife out of the board and continue all along the first punching line. Once all counters are detached out of their frame, you can now separate the single counters bit by bit in this cute fashion.

With this method, you’ll get very nice counters, which will have none to little (depending by the quality of the cardboard and the sharpness of the knife) small pointed corners of paper relics. In most cases the counters don’t even need treatment with a nail clipper or something – so this system is much faster than every other system once you get the hang of using the knife with the hammer in quick routinely strokes.

If you are in need of a treatment for your counters (maybe you have bought a used game with poorly loosened counters or didn’t read our clever advise 😉 than you have to become familiar with the “High Art of Counter Clipping“.

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