Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Timely Topics - Box Inserts: To Toss, or Not To Toss?

Last week before I had my friends over for a gaming weekend, I realized I needed to clean up my Board Game Back Room (along with the family room where the kids games and more family friendly games are stored) as it has become cluttered with a variety of new games that I got for Christmas and a mish-mash of games I already own that hadn't been put back properly.

In putting everything away I realized I needed to make some decisions about consolidation and such if I wanted to fit everything in.

Now, here's the rub: my philosophy ever since I started buying games was to NEVER get rid of the inserts and never to combine boxes. This was true for pretty much everything although I did combine two Carcassonne expansions into the base box. And, I later went on recently to re-purpose the Inns & Cathedrals expansion box for my home-made copy of Troyes (but that's a topic for another blog entry)

But otherwise, my reasoning for keeping inserts was (and still is) simple: I wanted to keep the game as it was originally designed together without tossing anything from the box. This included the advertisements, catalogs, and booklets that weren't even relevant to the game.

Later, I realized that the catalogs and ads were just a waste and started recycling those. But, the inserts still stayed put.

Then, I picked up a very used copy of the German version of Agricola. The box had no insert and it was crammed full of stuff (and it was falling apart). Most of the cards were sleeved and there were a ton of baggies in it. I eventually got a plano (plastic box with compartments) to put all the bits in but then the box wasn't big enough to hold everything. I eventually got a scrapbooking 12" x 12" box to put everything neatly into and am much happier for it.

I DID repurpose the old Agricola box to hold Age of Steam maps that I had been acquiring and that didn't fit in to the AoS base box.

But, I was beginning to see that the wisdom of religiously keeping box inserts is really kind of silly. YES, I think it's still important to keep them for some of the out of print games that are worth some money that I might resell someday, or for those games that just have beautiful artwork in them or well designed inserts (even if I don't use them properly).

I recently finished working on my Dominion storage solution because I got tired of having to open each different box up to get a randomized mix of cards. I now have 5 Dominion boxes worth of cards (4 of them are Ticket to Ride sized, plus the smaller Alchemy box) and all the promo cards crammed into ONE standard photo box that I got from Michael's for a couple of bucks.

In general I've been starting to see, there really isn't a need to keep the inserts if they are just getting in the way. I still keep them if I think I might resell the game or if they aren't getting in the way in the box, but now I'm starting to consider tossing them in some cases.

The floodgate has been opened and now I'm starting to really get into it. I combined Kingsburg base game AND the expansion into the very thin To Forge a Realm expansion box. This idea I got from my friend Robert who did the same thing last year with his after the expansion came out. I'm still a little torn on this as I really like the artwork on the original box. But, I was trying to save some space and this was a HUGE savings in space. (Thanks for the idea Robert!)

In cases where I'm combining boxes together, I'm realizing I now have some really nice boxes I can re-purpose for other needs. For instance, the Alchemy box is now holding my round paper punches. And two of my other Dominion boxes now hold a variety of my smaller games. This also helps save shelf space AND will make them easily portable for game nights or conventions!

I used to scoff at my friend Chris for tossing out his box inserts. Now I'm joining him! (although, I have to admit, I still haven't actually TOSSED any of them yet - they're starting to pile up in my garage)

I'm trying hard not to have to put in more shelving, but even after all the cleanup and consolidation, I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get another one (or two, or three......)

Do you keep or throw out box inserts from your games? Let me know your thoughts online at


  1. Hey Matt! Great post. I also have some evolving thoughts on this subject. I can date some of my game purchases to particular periods based upon how I have repacked the game materials after the shrink was opened.

    I have never felt compelled to keep inserts. Most inserts are designed primarily to keep components safe in the shipping process (this is basically my current job, so I can understand the concern). I usually gleefully chuck the insert along with the sprues, excess cardboard, shrink wrap, etc. I'd say this is my standard practice for 75% plus of the games I have acquired.

    There are a few games that still have their inserts intact. I think Taluva is one of them-it's a practical storage device, if unnecessarily large. I would love to keep the beautiful GMT inserts from recent games that display the cover art, but just not any room for components then.

    I also decided early on to combine games into boxes to save space. This has been both a good and a bad idea. I too have a single box for my Dominion cards-all of them fit (sleeved) easily into one of the full-sized Dominion boxes. This has been great. This then gave me three full-sized and one half-sized Dominion boxes to store other things in. One holds Magic Realm, another about 10 small card games, the other two have materials for making print and plays.

    On the flip side, I've downsized/repacked some games I now am unlikely to play again/often. It makes it harder to trade games, when you chucked the original box and threw out all the rules in languages other than English (Queen games!).

    And don't get me started on plano. They're great, but I use them sparingly and only with the games with tons of bits. I'm afraid to become addicted to sorting things this way, when plastic baggies usually work just fine.

  2. Yes, after seeing your combined Dominion box (and others on the geek) plus just from the practical needs, it only makes sense if you want to have it all available wherever you go. I don't want to have to take a whole tote just to play randomized Dominion!

    You problem with getting rid of games is definitely something to consider. For someone like you that has a lot of game churn it is more problematic. At least for me, I haven't really gotten rid of anything yet and don't really intend to, so it's less of an issue for me. However, getting rid of all translated rules is a big no-no for me...I definitely wouldn't get rid of them. Worst case, I might file them all away somewhere.

    I agree on Plano boxes - it's not worth it for most games, but there are some that completely benefit from it - Agricola comes immediately to mind.

  3. I agree with Robert on most everything. When I first started buying games I had no sentimentality towards the boxes or inserts (I have every Carcassonne expansion in the base game box). I also started using plano boxes for sorting, but I am not using them sparingly, my decision stems from playing a friend's copy of small world and being overwhelmed by baggies, they overly cluttered the game and made it unruly to play. I am forever converted to plastic sorting boxes.

  4. In relation to sentimentality toward boxes, I have heard of some people actually using a filing system for their games and just put them into envelopes (large inter-office types). There are many, many games that this is a really intriguing option for. You could fit a good portion of your game collection in a large filing cabinet in the extreme sense.

    That would work for most games with simpler component needs and then if you combined that with a shelf with plastic boxes for the rest (perhaps even having multiple games in a box depending on the size) you could really compact your collection a lot as long as you labelled everything well.

    I haven't reached that point yet, but I think it's a very exciting idea.

  5. All of my games in a filing cabinet? Are you MAD? I toss half the inserts, sometimes immediately upon opening the box. There are a number I've kept (Taluva being one of them as well). I actually traded for Robert's combined Kingsburg! (woot). I invariable stick the expansions in the base box. For me, it's all about the convenience of playing the game, and I have little patience for keeping them in their pristine, original condition. Hauling 200+ games to and from the library for my monthly game night has cleansed me of my need to be anal. :-)

  6. I'd love to see all your games in a filing cabinet....


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