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There are two clear contenders for the best board game of 2022

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Many board game publishers make a tidy profit on upgraded components — things like metal coins and card sleeves that make their products more appealing at the table.

But some companies are building entire games around these kinds of bits. Just look at the poker-style chips and custom dice that Chip Theory Games uses, or the neoprene game board at the center of Leder Games’ Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile.

This year, yet another rare and expensive component has had its breakout moment: clear plastic playing cards. These unusual transparent sheets feel just like regular playing cards.

You can shuffle them and you can sleeve them, so they seamlessly integrate into decks with traditional cards. But they can also be printed on, allowing designers to layer art or to conceal certain game elements from view.

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