Ten PLUS Ten! (things you might like with ISS Vanguard)

UPDATE: Suggestions are coming in from others … so I am adding their suggestions to this list! My original TEN are at the top followed by the update with TEN MORE! PLUS be sure to watch for alternatives added to the TOP TEN as well!

Here are ten things that you might like as you play ISS Vanguard (and yes, I use all of them):

  1. X-Trayz by Game Trayz – these are my favorite small bins for tokens and cubes. The cover snaps tightly on so they won’t spill out when moving your games around. When in use the cover can fit nicely under the bin as well. Our Friendly Local Game Store has them (yours might as well) or get them from Game Trayz or Board Game Geek Store.

    => Game Trayz site // Board Game Geek Store
    UPDATE from SideGame: Another alternative is a storage organizer for small components available from the Dollar Tree:

    => From Dollar Tree (should be in the store as well)

  1. An extra long smart phone charging cable – if you use the App, you might find that it uses up your battery quickly so you might want to keep it plugged in. I got a long cable so I could run it from under the table. Many brands are good, but I like JSAUX.

    => On Amazon
  2. Bright white LED flashlight – some of the icons on the cards are hard to make out in normal light, but with a bright white LED flashlight you can see them well.
  3. Magnifying glass – the icons on the cards are tiny, but the letters inside the Danger Die icon are VERY TINY plus they are printed in black and so is the icon inside line art. You may need to use your flashlight along with the magnifying glass to see what letter is inside the Danger Die icon or get a magnifier with a built in LED light. I usually used the extra zoom small insert lens so you might want to get one that has that (most don’t)!

    => On Amazon (with LED light – I ordered this one myself)

    => On Amazon (with bright white LED lighting)
  4. Silver Uni-Ball pen – many of you won’t want to actually write on your cards, but I did. I got tired of getting out both the flashlight and magnifying glass in order to read the TINY letter in the Danger Die icon, so I went through all the cards and wrote the letter on the card with a silver uni-ball pen. I also wrote a G next to a Green Die icon and a B next to a Blue Die icon because the nice shading on the die icons made it hard to tell those two colors apart.
    UPDATE (from Ian Sutton): if you sleeve your cards, write on the sleeve instead of the card.

    => At Staples
    UPDATE from Len: Oh … and don’t forget your pencil if you are using the Logbook because you will need it to mark the checkboxes in many of the log entries!

    => On Amazon
  5. KMC Perfect thin snug sleeves – I dislike sleeving my cards, so it must be something if I am recommending a certain sleeve. One issue with most sleeves (including those from Awaken Realms) is that they significantly add to the “thickness” of the card so that the cards no longer fit in the trays. The Perfect Fit sleeves are VERY thin and VERY snug. I used them successfully with another Awaken Realms game (This War of Mine) and will use them for the Section cards in this game. The photo below has one of these sleeves across the top of the package and normal sleeve across the bottom (the best way I could think of to show it in comparison):

    => On Amazon
  6. Capsules – the cardboard tokens are acceptable and usable, but not really FUN. Put them inside hard plastic capsules and add some fun to your game. Get 21mm for the Lead tokens (success tokens are also this size) and 27mm for Energy and Command tokens.

    => See Full Article
  7. Dice Tray System – this is something that in my mind is an absolute MUST HAVE for ISS Vanguard, especially if you play solo. There are small side trays for each Section to use when assisting the current player.

    => See Full Article
  8. Small Spiral Notebook – you may want to jot down notes as you play as to what you encountered on the planet as well reminders as to what icons are needed to boost production or what type of discovery you need now. 4 1/2 by 7 inch is a nice size for this.

    => On Amazon
  9. Compact Storage – Fitting MORE into your game box – if you like fitting everything into one box, keep your eyes out because there should be a bunch of them arriving on the market soon. Here is one that has gotten good feedback on BGG that fits all the cards sleeved along with Personnel Files cards:

    => Direct Site // Etsy


  1. Ring Reinforcements – Protect your Ship Book divider pages – add reinforcement rings on the front and back of all the 3 ring holes on the divider pages!

    => See Full Article
  2. Custom paper playmats – Richard CJ has designed and made his own player mats on A3 paper. He gave permission to include the image here in case you’d like to print it for yourself:
  3. Tablet (or smartphone) – Robert Ross uses his table (smart phone would work too) to zoom in on the letter inside the Danger Die icons (yes, use it as a magnifying glass with light)
  4. Bottom illuminated dice rolling surface – This will help you see the specific colors in the upgraded Section Dice. Yprum mentioned this and it was mentioned on BGG before as well. This may need to be a Do It Yourself project!
  5. Clip on bright light – Christopher Steckly has a bright light clipped onto his dice tray. This is a good idea that would work with any dice tray with edges that allow it to clip on. His setup looks like this:
  6. Zippered Awaiting Envelope – use a zippered 3 hole punched clear envelope to keep it safe in your Ship Book plus since you can zip it closed nothing will fall out. Suggested by Sylvain Roy.

    => On Amazon (package of 5 so you can also use one for gathered discoveries)
  7. Tables – I actually purchased two new tables just for playing ISS Vanguard. Both work well even with the large playmats. First is an XL 38 inch square card table (note that normal card tables typically are smaller at about 33 inches):

    => On Amazon
    You can fit it on a standard 33.5 inch square card table if you don’t use playmats AND if you have some way of juggling all the Section cards for each section – here is an example:

    I also got a “real” game table with a lowered game play area and removable 4 piece wood topper called the Jasper (Tony also  has one of these:) Right now I am using with the wood topper on along with a full game table playmat (really big playmat:)

    => Direct from Board Game Tables
  8. Music – MeloDice is a very nice background music SYSTEM for gamers! You simply type in the name of your game and it presents a song list. You can play the songs from there or click a link to have the whole playlist play from YouTube:

    => MeloDice for ISS Vanguard
  9. Jewelers magnifier with light – Instead of using both a flashlight AND a magnifying glass, try using a backlit jeweler’s (suggested by Ian Sutton)… here are two examples – the first actually is two different magnifiers):

    => On Amazon
    An this is the brand name Ian referenced:

    => On Amazon
  10. Post-It notes or arrows – Thin ones are great to mark things in the rulebook, ship book and logbook and also can act like a bookmark at the top or side of pages.

    => On Amazon => Thin Strips // Arrows

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