One bit of advice I gave people at TAGIE was to limit their risk with new games, especially when starting out. Rather than blow five figures on a short run of games through a traditional printer, try a POD (print on demand) service first. You’ll learn more about what you’re doing, and you won’t be out nearly so much money.
Even if you’re just coming up with a prototype for your games—for playtesting or for pitching to a publisher—POD makes a lot of sense. You can create a fairly professional-looking product for a small total cost. Large runs are better for when you go into full production and can be confident you’ll sell thousands of copies. Otherwise, print only as many as you need and keep the numbers as low as you can.
I’ve mentioned TheGamecrafter.com before. They had some space in a booth at ChiTAG, and the materials looked good. This isn’t top-quality material, but it’s just fine for limited runs. TheGamecrafter.com people have been courteous and speedy about answering any of my questions every time too, which is always a good sign.
If you’re looking for better quality, although without the slick, web-based interface, check out Superior POD instead. They can produce standard wargaming chits and chipboard game boards, for instance, and their boxes come in full-color, unlike the white corrugated materials that TheGamecrafter.com uses. They don’t offer game components like pawns, but I’m told they’re hoping to do so soon. My old pal Jeff Valent runs Superior POD. He’s been involved with games forever and understands the hobby as well as anyone.
I’ve not tried either of these services personally, but I will the next time I get the chance.