So, you’ve just opened your newest game… inside, you found the rulebook, maybe a small pamphlet advertising new and upcoming games. And then there’s the cardboard—so many cardboard sheets of things to punch out. Perhaps there are bundles of cards to sort out, dice and other components to keep track of, and the game board. Ok, now that’s probably all stuff that you’re excited to go through and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got a supply of little baggies to organize everything that, if they only knew, might cause others to raise an eyebrow in your direction.
Under all of that other stuff, you’ll most likely find a molded bit of plastic or cardboard spacers intended to hold everything in place during shipping. However, this ‘insert’ may or may not have been designed in a practical manner to help keep things organized and separated after you’ve brought it home and the initial unboxing that ensued. When the planning and logistics work out, a molded insert can be a thing of beauty—when budgets, lack of vision, or an unwieldy number of components get in the way, a generic or lacking insert can be a clear exercise in frustration.
So, what are your options? You could always make the best of whatever your box came with. Many gamers simply ditch the insert, instead bagging all of the cards, chits and tokens. Some people ditch the box completely and use a combination of craft or office storage solutions to keep things organized. And then there’s my favorite option and the reason we’re here today… custom inserts.
If you spend any amount of time looking at your favorite games on BoardGameGeek, you may very well run across the many posts asking for and offering homemade inserts commonly made from Foamcore board and hot glue (any glue really.) With a bit of time and some practice, you can create some really fantastic storage solutions for your favorite games which, in some cases, can drastically change how quickly you can dive into the action on your next game night.
Not long ago, I picked up the expansion for Betrayal at House on the Hill. While the game doesn’t necessarily sport the longest setup times (not by a longshot), I remembered how long it took us to get to the game because we had to sort out all of the tokens and separate the room cards. So, before adding the new tokens and such to the game box, I decided to see what there was out there to help keep them more organized. I came across a few pictures showing what others had done and thought, “I can do that.” While it may not the prettiest thing I’ve ever created, I’m really happy with the end result. Now I can get straight to the action on game night and I’m planning out my next project.
A friend of mine had a similar experience with Merchant of Venus. Now, this game has quite a few tiles and tokens to keep track of, but as you can see in the pictures… his well-made series of trays have taken all of the sorting (…so much sorting…) and let the players jump right in. And isn’t that really what you want to do on a game night?
Ok, ok… so where do you find the plans? Well, Board Game Geek’s website is a fantastic resource for ideas and plans, Reddit can also have a bunch of resources, and then there’s Google. Working from plans is absolutely the way to go, but if all you have are photos of the solution you like best, don’t let that stop you from trying. It’ll take a bit longer, but it is certainly worth it.
Of course, just in case you’re not the crafty kind (or just don’t have the time to make something yourself), a few of these publishers have partnered with other companies to make official or ‘licensed’ products to replace either the insert or perhaps the entire game box. These options often look fantastic and can add some really amazing solutions, but these can come at a price rivaling that of the game itself.
That’s all for today… Hopefully, these resources help you find the storage solution that’s best for you. If you’ve tried your hand at custom inserts or have a favorite company to get them from, I’d love to hear about your solutions and experience in the comments.
Until Next time, Happy Gaming!
Thankfully, more and more companies are listening to their customers and making sure to put some long-term thought into the inserts they use. Of course, like l mentioned above, layers of cardboard sheets or other pieces can make it nearly impossible to make a functional insert with some longevity. I have found a few games recently that have really impressed me with regard to their Inserts or simply the organization and readiness of the game:
One of the recent additions to Ankama’s insanely cute and brutal universe is Krosmaster Quest. While there are many things I could highlight about this game, the one I’ll focus on today is, of course, the insert(s). My favorite things about unboxing this one is that, while there were many sheets of cardboard to go through, everything has a place and there are even 3 trays total, one for the cards, figures, and scenery… and 2 additional trays (with covers, no less) for the tokens and other components. This game stands out in my mind as one of the most useful sets of inserts I’ve seen ship with a game.
Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle
For all you Potter fans out there, if you haven’t checked this game out yet, I highly recommend you do! Not only because this is a great cooperative game, but the production quality of the game is immediately discernable. Once you open the box, you’ll find that everything inside was well-planned out and executed in the best way possible. Everything you need can be found inside Box 1, where each set of cards is already sorted and separated into their own piles (with a large sleeve for each deck/selection.) The tokens are also sorted and bagged–ready to play immediately, just shuffle the cards and start the game. While some part of me actually enjoys looking at everything while I punch them out and bag everything, I can’t tell you what a pleasant surprise it was to just open and play this game.
And once you’re done with your play session, simply section them back out and put them away. What? you don’t want to put everything back in the boxes? That’s ok, they have a tray on the side with dividers that will be covered by the player boards, nothing gets mixed up, nothing gets lost. Brilliant!