RE-Wood: A New Material for Board Game Components

Published by


You may have already caught some of the under-the-radar buzz about CGE’s use of RE-Wood components in our upcoming Essen Spiel release, Kutná Hora: The City of Silver. It’s the first modern board game of its kind to make use of these unique eco-friendly materials. Gen Con was also the first time we were able to bring over and show the public sample pieces of RE-Wood components in the US. The positive response has been super encouraging!

With Kutná Hora’s Essen Spiel launch coming up very soon, we wanted to share some updated final production photos of the components with you. Also, why not take a moment to talk a little bit about what RE-Wood is and why we’re using it?

So what exactly is RE-Wood?

RE-Wood is an eco-friendly alternative for creating highly detailed board game components. It combines shredded wood residue (80%) with recycled binding materials to create extremely sturdy yet fully biodegradable products. One of the cool things about RE-Wood is that it can be recycled repeatedly. This opens up interesting possibilities to further eliminate production waste.

There’s the added benefit of using 100% recycled materials that are sourced locally in Europe, which we love. Also, it can be produced in the same timeframe as regular wood or plastic pieces.

Much like plastic, RE-Wood components are made using a special injection mold. This allows them to have a similar level of detail that you’d find in plastic pieces and far greater detail than what can be achieved with wood. It’s the best of both worlds. Each piece is also extremely sturdy, and it can hold up to a lot of wear and tear. RE-Wood also has a unique tactile feel. Its surface is almost resin-like, with a matt velvety feel to it that’s pleasant to the touch.

You may have noticed from the photos that the color options with RE-Wood are a bit unique. It’s a great material, but it does have some limitations. It’s nice to have color options outside of traditional primary colors for a change. Color limitations, however, are definitely one disadvantage of using this material. Wood has its own natural variations in color, which can cause slight color variations between components of the same color. With RE-Wood, we are also unable to make transparent pieces (like the red jewels in Lost Ruins of Arnak) or pieces that have metallic or pearl effects (like the imps in Dungeon Lords). This limits which games we can use RE-Wood in, but we’ve found it was a great fit for Kutná Hora.

RE-Wood and Kutná Hora

When we were thinking about what type of component materials to use for Kutná Hora, plastic just didn’t seem a great fit given the game’s historical medieval theme. We preferred to use wood instead of plastic components. Wood, however, has a lot of limitations in terms of what can be done in mass production. You can’t quite achieve the same level of detail, and there are more limitations in terms of the shape of components to consider.

Around this time, we were introduced to RE-Wood by our German colleague and friend Heiko over at Heidelbaer Games. It seemed a perfect fit for Kutná Hora! We were drawn to the eco-friendly aspect of the materials. And the fact that RE-Wood allows us to have most of the benefits of plastic, while keeping some of the benefits of wood.

Designing the various shapes and details for Kutná Hora’s components was a very iterative process for our team. Working with RE-Wood was so new to us, that we weren’t initially sure just how detailed we could go with the 3D models. It was really surprising how deep we could go. We started with less detailed shapes, sent the designs to the Re-wood folks for approval, and they told us we could do more. So we added details and sent it again. This back and forth iteration happened several times before we arrived at the final designs. 

We were amazed by how detailed they can make the components, considering they’re still mostly wood. In the future, we hope to incorporate RE-Wood in more of our games when it feels a good fit for the design.

Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes articles and don’t forget to subscribe to the Kutná Hora BGG page so you don’t miss any important updates!

Leave a Reply