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Counter Clipping: In Search of a Better Solution

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

by Dave King

For some reason the issue of clipping die-cut counters periodically generates energetic debate between those who do and those who don’t clip. But when seen as akin to trimming the flashing off a plastic model before beginning assembly or off lead miniatures prior to painting, one wonders why wargame publishers don’t include instructions on clipping with their games. Clipping should more properly be viewed as a necessary step in preparing a game for play.

When die-cut counters are punched from their frames, the corners inevitably fray to some degree. Clipping largely eliminates the problem of these corners snagging each other in counter-dense games, which can jostle whole battle lines or cause stacks to tumble.

Proponents of counter clipping will tell you their counters are also easier to handle, neater looking, and allow more counters per compartment in sorting trays. Many non-clippers will still use a hobby knife to cut counters free from the frames that hold them, thus minimizing ragged corners. Others simply use the counters as they break free from the frame, no trimming of any sort, considering themselves purists of the hobby.

According to several informal, unscientific surveys, slightly more than half of all wargame players trim their counters as part of prepping a game for play. Of course, that means about half the players do not clip. So where did this counter-clipping thing begin and where is it going?

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