Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THE CREATIVE GAMER - To Trash or Not to Trash Inserts PLUS My New Obsession with Foam Core Inserts

Lately, my family has been re-visting Carcassonne quite a bit - my parents picked up a copy last year and have been playing it off and on along with Carcassonne: The Castle a little.

When playing at our house, when we pull it out I'm surprised how much stuff we have crammed in there. In addition to the base game we have the River, the River II, Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, The Catapult, The Princess & the Dragon, The King & the Scout and, I think, one other mini expansion. ALSO, very early on I also added more sets of meeples from - I think we have 10 different color options including Pink, Macaroni (i.e. cheese colored orange), naked (natural wood), brown, purple, and white. Each has the giant meeple, builder, pig and a few extras of the regular meeples.

Its a challenge getting all that in the box, but somehow it fits. However, its a big mass of baggies, mini cardboard boxes (that come with a couple of the small expansions) and various other bits.

In the past I've posted a lot about my storage solutions using a variety of plastic boxes, plano boxes, baggies, etc. But I don't think a plano will solve this problem and plastic boxes for everything start taking up too much space. The baggies let me smoosh them in.

Take a look at this mess:

This gives me angst. A LOT of angst. (And NO I'm not buying the whole thing again as the Big Box version)
After all my previous work on how to more efficiently use the inside space of my game boxes, for some reason I never thought about creating an actual WHOLE NEW INSERT for a game.

Recently I've taken to reading the geek lists that show home-grown insert solutions using foam core (aka foam board). I'm somewhat familiar with foam core as we used it extensively when I studied Architecture in college to build models, but it never occurred to me to use it in my game boxes.

My initial interest was with Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar as I was obsessed with it and even painted my gears in a lot of detail.

Someone came up with a neat storage solution supporting the gear/board pieces to minimize warping/damage when stored:

Homemade insert to keep the boards secure

That got me looking around and since then I've been following a couple of lists of certain gamers that have created multiple foam inserts for their games.

In my poking around I discovered there sure are a lot of geeklists about game inserts in general...

Game inserts that are awesome:
Games that got the inserts and storage trays right.
Best Inserts
Putting it all together: the best box inserts EVER!
Don't throw that insert out!
Games with good inserts
Naked & Exposed - The Great List of Box Inserts (well, this one is somewhere in-between)

Game inserts that suck:
Inserts, huh, yeah! What are they good for?! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!
Games with Problematic and/or Useless Inserts [Please Add]
Worst box inserts
Horrible Box Inserts
A few games that I threw out the insert to and why
Games with bad inserts
The Awful Generic Plastic Insert

Interestingly, some games are on both the Good AND the Bad inserts lists. Go figure.

Game inserts custom made using foam core:
My DIY Foam Core Box Insert Projects
28green's Collection of Foam Board Inserts
Walsfeo's Box Inserts & Storage Solutions.
O Foam Core, how do I love thee
Photojenic's Collection of Amateur Foam Board Inserts.
Modding Game Storage
My Foamcore Inserts
Foam core insert modifications

When I first got into gaming I kept everything religiously. The inserts. The extra papers/advertising. EVERYTHING. Well, I usually tossed recycled (I'm from Oregon you know) the cardboard sprues after punching the pieces out, but other than that, nothing left the box.

After a time, I started to realize that was ridiculous for many games. There are a few games I keep the inserts for because they look nice, are reasonably functional, or are part of an expensive/valuable game. It literally used to made me feel sick/sad for tossing the inserts, but after I got over my initial fears, it became easier and easier.

When I first started gaming, baggies were my primary method of storing bits and cards. I bought them by the hundreds (thousands?) from Then, adding plastic boxes, planos, etc, became the norm.

But now, I'm fascinated with foam core. I'm on the verge of being obsessed. In fact, I recently bought a pack of foam core boards off of Amazon for a decent price. I also found a great mat cutter for a reasonable price as well - not for foam core initially, but I came to realize later it will cut the foam core very nicely.

NOW, I just need to get working on it. Along with all my other gazillion projects.........

What will be first? Probably Tzolkin. Maybe Carcassonne. Looking through the lists I mentioned previously it made me realize how many games I have that are in desperate need of help. DESPERATE. NEED. OF. HELP.

Oh, here's another...
Keyflower (and, the expansion is on the way - shipped today! - so need to figure out how to cram it all into one box if I can!):

So here's my initial list of possible projects:
  • Tzolkin (required for protecting the gears)
  • Kingdom Builder (required because finding the right tiles each time is annoying)
  • Keyflower (I struggle getting this in the box and sorting/setting up each time is a bit of a pain with baggies)
  • Lords of Waterdeep (original insert is neat...but annoying)
  • Big City (mine didn't come with the plastic inserts and is a pain to set up every time)
  • Wasabi (There are currently a LOT of baggies I'd like to get rid of)
  • Micro Mutants (It's a pain to get out the right pieces every time)
  • Taluva (This is a tough one as I 'like' the insert and the game has value, but I store it vertically and the tiles always scatter when on the shelf)
  • Oregon (The tiles need some help, but not a huge issue yet...)
  • Carcassonne (TOO MANY BITS!!)
  • Dungeon Petz (ALSO TOO MANY BITS!!)
  • Civilization (Just because...)

Ok, so I'm off to go obsess about my first project...

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