21 Sep 2015

Organising my boardgames

Over a year ago I posted about how I had made my own big box solution for Catan. Since then (in fact in the past week or so) I've gotten into somewhat of an organising craze. I've been going through most of the games in my collection and figured out ways to not only keep the components separate and tidy, but also significantly reducing set-up and clean-up time needed for the games in question.

With some games, the insert the game comes in is so functional that you don't really want to do much further with the game. Pillars of the Earth is one such example, the insert is made with everything in mind and at the most, you'll want to introduce a couple of plastic bags to sort through things. Similarly, Jamaica's insert is highly functional for the game, with the exception of the three compartments for the resources. If the game sits horizontally, then everything will be fine and dandy, but if turned vertical, like it is in my game shelf, then the three different components starts to travel between the different compartments. I saw no reason change the insert, but in order to stop this problem I instead crafted three make-shift lids out of an old Carcassonne insert I wasn't using, to put on top of the three different compartments. This worked like a dream.

If, on the other hand, the game comes with a more generic insert or you want to merge the game and several expansion into the fewest possible boxes, then you need to think about what way would best serve this purpose. In my gaming group and I think with the majority of gamers out there, the go-to item for sorting out and keeping their games organised is plastic bags of various sizes. And I'm not saying they are wrong as I've used plenty of plastic bags when sorting my games, especially when separating the different coloured player pieces (including starting resources, reference cards, etc.), but there's especially one big drawback here, and that's how much time you end up spending setting up, and cleaning up a specific game, especially one that has a lot of different resources. Either you have to spend time sorting the resources out in the beginning of the game, or you have to do it during clean-up time, this means a lot of time is spent sorting through game components when you could have instead gotten started on another game.

I've heard about companies that make custom inserts for different games, and honestly they look amazing and probably does a great job keeping the components separate, even when the game is turned sideways or up-side-down. However, these things means a significant investment financially, and you might even find yourself in a country they won't ship these inserts to.

My solutions might not look as elegant as custom made inserts, but it's both affordable, practical and probably easier to get. I buy utility boxes (some might call them utility trays) from my local utility store. They have five different sizes, three of which that I've found useful so far, but I keep the other two sizes in the house in case I ever get a game that needs bigger individual compartments.

What I love about these utility boxes are how you (at least with everyone except the smallest size) can open up compartment dividers in case you have component types that needs more space, making them highly customizable when sorting through components. Also the lid is shut tightly on top so you can turn and shake it any way you can and the components will still stay in place. And used the right way, this can significantly reduce time spent on setting up or clearing away a game, because you will only need to return the components used to the correct compartment, while had you stored the same game in bags, you would need to sort out and place the different components in separate bags.

Since the store I use in question doesn't ship internationally as far as I know, I will instead display pictures and a detailed description of the boxes that I've found useful, and if you are interested in the way I have sorted individual games, I will be posting about each game separately, complete with pictures - so stay tuned.

The smallest box I use is 14 cm long, 7 cm wide and 3 cm thick. It has five compartments, four in each corner that are roughly 5 x 3,5 cm in size and one going through the middle that's roughly 6 x 2 cm. This box is perfect for games with only a few resources, especially if they are of the cardboard variety rather than wood or plastic. It can also be useful to complement another box if you have too many resources (either because of size or amount) to fit into a single box, and/or you have resources of significantly different size.

The two bigger boxes I use are of similar build, just different sizes. They both have 12 compartments (3 x 4 grid) where you can take out separators if you need to, though the separators between the three rows are solid. The medium size compartments are 2 x 4 cm, while the larger size compartments are 3,5 x 5 cm.

There are probably plenty of other great box solutions out there, and you just need to make the best use of whatever you have available, these just happen to be what I've been basing my own solutions on.

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