Monday, February 28, 2011

THE CREATIVE GAMER - Game Bit Storage Obsession (aka Are You OCD Like Me?) - Part 3/3

(This is the final installment in my 3-part posting of my Game Bit Storage Obsession)

Still sticking it out with me?! There are some really interesting boxes and ideas here, so don't leave now!

Acquired from: Michael's craft box section
Not only have I found a variety of interesting plastic boxes at Michael's, I also found some nice cardboard boxes as well.
First, when I was looking to pimp out Twilight Struggle, I ran across some cardboard jewelry boxes. I bought them hoping they would fit in the box and they did! Well, they ALMOST fit. Length-wise they fit fine, but they were a little too tall. The lid itself was actually small enough but not the bottom. So, I set about cutting the box base down.

Then, I needed a way to separate the components so I cut some extra pieces of thin cardboard I had (actually, I think it was the backing from a pad of paper) and glued them into the boxes as dividers.

Here is the final result:
Plain white jewelry boxes used to hold Twilight Struggle counters.

A look inside.
Eventually I will decorate the outside of the boxes with a printout of some sort. I'm thinking a player's aid inside the box lid might also be a neat idea. Yet another project to complete!

Acquired from: Michael's craft section (photo boxes), Goodwill (Trivial Pursuit boxes)
Back in November 2010 I decided I was tired of having to all haul all of the Dominion boxes around. I had read that Dominion cards fit perfectly into Trivial Pursuit trivia card boxes. So, I went to the local Goodwill (GW) and picked up a nice looking copy of Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition + Expansion cards box (which gave me a total of 4 trivia card boxes).

I then took all of the cards out of the card boxes and moved all the cards into the boxes and they fit very nicely! I then started looking at how to possibly arrange the boxes within the Dominon box by itself. They sorta fit in there ok, but obviously they were too tall for the box. I thought about maybe putting some foam rubber in the top of the lid to protect the tops of the cards but it just looked silly hovering above the bottom box section and it was difficult to haul around as it wasn't very stable.

So, I was a bit bummed. I loved that they fit into the TP card boxes and saw that this would save a ton of space, but I just couldn't figure out how to put it all together.

In the mean time I put together a set of files for dividers for all the cards borrowing bits and pieces from different graphics and files on Board Game Geek. Then, I printed them out, laminated and started cutting them out. Believe me there is a LOT of dividers that you need to make.

Then one day I was looking at our book shelves and realized the photo boxes we we stored our 'old' photo prints in were pretty tall. So, I grabbed one, and tried out the TP boxes with Dominion cards and dividers inside - and it fit perfectly! I immediately went to Michael's and bought a beige photo box and a black one.

Here's the one I ended up using:
Photo box from Michael's

All of the cards and components in the photo box.
 Yes, I have the following crammed in to this box: Dominion, Intrigue, Seaside, Alchemy, Prosperity, all the promo cards, all the extra treasure and VP cards (in the back), all the tokens and all the player boards (on the right and in the back)

Close-up of the tabbed dividers.
You can also see the TP card boxes in this shot.


Example divider (with rules details)

5 boxes....or 1? You decide which you prefer.....
I am much happier as now I don't need a whole tote to haul all of my Dominion cards around! Now I just need to print out some some stickers to cover the box in nice artwork. *sigh* yet ANOTHER project on the list.....

Speaking of ANOTHER project I finally cleaned up the files for the dividers and made them into PDFs - one per set of cards. I have uploaded to BGG - here is a link to my file list to each of the divider sets if you're interested.

Acquired from: SKS Science Products
I had been searching around for petri dishes to include in Pandemic (and possibly other games) and thought these would be a great solution, especially since they had just the right colors needed. Once I received them, it turned out that the lids did not fit tightly. I managed to come up with a magnet system (using thin magnet strips cut to fit) and it works fairly well for holding the lids on (although doesn't look quite as nice)

Pandemic bits in colored petri dishes.
I had initially planned to put some in Math Trades and such to see if I could get games for them (which I did and got a couple of very small games) but it took a lot of time and effort to put the magnets in and they only worked ok. So, now I had a lot of petri dishes that I didn't know what to do with (they come in sleeves of 20 - yeah, 20!)

In November I got to try out Troyes and loved it! Getting the game was impossible in December so I decided to make my own version of the game after I realized I had a bunch of miniature dice on hand that I could use to make a tiny version. When I started assembling the player pieces I realized I could use the petri dishes to hold all the components.

Here are the player components in the dishes:
Troyes mini-version components in colored petri dishes.

The fact that the lids don't fit tightly isn't really a problem as they fit just perfectly along with the board into the box I'm using. Details of my Troyes project will be posted later when I have a chance to write it up.

Acquired from: Goodwill
Yes, I admit to sometimes hitting the local Goodwill to look for hidden gems in the games section and occasionally I find something.

After checking the games section I also often scan the other shelves for interesting storage containers, plastic dishes (for holding bits at the game table) and anything else that might be of interest.

On two different trips I found these storage boxes that met a couple of needs:
This plastic box keeps all of my Car Wars game boxes together.

Last year I made my own copy of Monad via Artscow. I didn't have a good storage solution (it has both regular shaped cards as well as round cards) until I found this box:

Just couldn't pass up this interesting magnet closure box.

The game cards inside. The round cards are on the bottom.
I have seen (and passed) on many interesting items while thrifting. Mostly I try to make a mental note and, if I'm dealing with a game at home and think I might want something interesting to hold it, I might remember a box I saw at Goodwill and go back to get it later. It's best to wait to buy something unless it's particularly interesting OR you know exactly what you need. Otherwise, you might find me on that Hoarders show....

Here's a quick run-down of more boxes I've found in various places that I've used for a variety of games...
Haven't found too many uses yet for this 4-pack set (Michael's)

These are nifty little boxes that I found recently and have used
in a couple of different games so far (plus for general storage)
I call these boxes 'treasure' boxes as they look like little treasure chests. These are my current favorite boxes.

Here's a closeup of the original the package of 5 that I found:
Darice branded - lock|tight stackable compartments.

Bought two sets of these from Rite-Aid.

Craft Mates boxes with locking lids (in small and large sizes).
From Michael's

Finally, here are some examples of using a variety of the boxes mentioned previously to outfit a game.

Combo solution for Fresco which has fairly small sets of cubes and other bits:
Small boxes + treasure boxes + baggies + Hugo's tape

Closeup of the Fresco money in the Treasure boxes :)

Closeup of the cubes in the small bead boxes.

A box for manuals I'm currently reading.
Not sure where I got this....

Inside the manuals box.
Key Market with a small divider box for chits and the larger
Craft Mates box for the wooden bits.

Closeup of the Key Market chits

Closeup of the Craft Mates box. Notice the locking
mechanism to keep the lids closed during transport.

Age of Steam storage solution.

Gerber food container, cardboard jewelry box, and
round plastic containers (from old kids toy of some kind)
If you have a baby (or know of someone who does) and get the Gerber plastic food boxes, they are really nice for storing bits. SAVE THEM. Wash them out thoroughly and you will eventually have a nice collection of storage boxes.

Not sure what it means to put Age of Steam trains into Gerber baby food boxes.....

Thrifted chess / backgammon box doubles as game carrying case.

10 games are crammed in this box!
Close, flip and open to get to the manuals!
Wow, 10 games! Plus whatever you can play with regular cards.
I made good use of the Treasure boxes here...

The 10 games:
1. Chess - pieces in two Treasure boxes
2. Checkers - pieces in two small bead boxes
3. Backgammon - pieces in two small bead boxes
4. Cribbage (board + cards)
5. Dominos - small blue plastic box from Michael's
6. For Sale - Hugo's tape
7. San Juan - Hugo's tape
8. Pickonimo - Mini version
9. Micropul - in a Treasure box, manual underneath
10. The Very Clever Pipe Game - in a Treasure box (including the manual) - much better than the original baggie it came in.

I'm thinking of converting the Dominos to be Code 777 mini version but will have to figure out how to make some portable stands that also fit in the case.

When I started writing this blog I knew I could cover a variety of storage types, but once I started taking the pictures and pulling out boxes it would make me remember some OTHER game that I had done something interesting with. It kind of snowballed way beyond what I figured it would. AND, I don't think I even covered everything - I'm sure I missed some other interesting options. I also didn't cover some of the custom boxes I've put together for certain games.

I'd be interested to hear your favorite game bit storage solutions - either ones you've come up with yourself or if you have a favorite from this list.

Now that you've read this series of posts, go play a game or two! (Well, after you've done some shopping for game bit storage.....)


  1. While I draw the line at "build your own" storage solutions, I do look for good solutions on a regular basis. I'm a big fan of Plano, wargame counter trays (being a wargamer), card boxes (that I get with my Dragon premium sleeves), and zips, with the 3"x3" probably being the ones I use the most. I use large zips or the boxes for cards as even the tape will disfigure the cards over time, and be very careful to be sure they don't discolor them as well.

    My main concerns when figuring out how to store games are how much easier it is to set up the game and tear it down, as well as how easy it is to access materials during the game. For that reason, I have stayed away from the small sealable plastic boxes, as they only make putting the game away easy and then not by a lot. If there are enough bits to require that kind of storage, better to find a plano box or similar. I also try to find Plano that has rounded interior corners rather than "hard" corners, as it's harder to get components out of them. Like everything else, context is everything.

    Finally, if I require more than one tray system (Combat Commander, World of Warcraft: the Boardgame), I try to put the components that I'll need only during setup in one container and the components I'll need during play in the other. In this case, the context is when the pieces get used.

    If you *really* want to be OCD, then you're going to want to clip the corners of your wargame counters (and trim the sides if they're "fuzzy" with scissors) and organize Case Blue counters by entry date. *That's* nuts. I should know.

    Nice blog, and as a fellow Oregonian (who has met you on at least one occasion at EGG) I'll put it on my list of blogs I follow.

  2. I think the Planos and some of the boxes definitely make setup/tear down easier which is also a reason for me to do it - I get tired of a ton of baggies when I can just pull out the Plano, open it and I'm ready to go! This is how Agricola is now (well, ok, you have to pull out the player pieces which is a little troublesome, but still...)

    I'm not big on wargames so I'm not likely to clip any corners - that IS really OCD. But I understand it as well - if you're trying to stack a bunch of them and those little corner bits are hanging out, they aren't going to stack very well. THEN, I would probably start trying to do something about it, too.

    Thanks for following my blog, Dug!

  3. What do you mean by "TP boxes" in regards to the Dominion organization you have going on?

  4. How can one have OCD and not insist on sleeving their cards?

  5. Good question. I am OCD about NOT using sleeves. Storing the bits to make it easier to set up and take down is different than worrying about the condition. For some reason, sleeves bother me and I don't mind wear on my cards and bits. I received a used copy of Trajan recently and I actually took the sleeves OFF the cards because they bothered me - they slip and slide and get out of alignment when stacked and I prefer to shuffle, even with smaller cards. I also prefer the texture of cards to the smoothness of sleeves. I guess I'm more OCD about texture and neatness during gameplay than wear on the cards. Weird, huh? Nah....

    And, honestly (sadly?), I don't play any of my games each enough to worry about the cards wearing out anyhow. Except maybe Dominion (which are showing some wear on the base cards) but I do NOT want to buy and sleeve that many cards. It will also mess up my storage solution (i.e. require MORE space) :)

  6. Thanks for writing this all down. These blog entries are a superb list of ideas for bits storage.

    Durable small shallow multi-compartment boxes with adjustable dividers are my holy grail. Still looking for the ideal box...


Comments are open to anyone. Criticism is fine if it's clean and reasonable. Anything deemed inappropriate by me will be removed.