Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Tag: storage

Storage Wars

I picked up some pluck foam the other day so that I could finally properly store my Dropzone Commander minis and it got me thinking of game storage solutions and where we are in the industry.

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Pluck foam is a pretty common way to store miniatures and protect them during travel.  It is pretty inexpensive for foam and is infinitely customizable because the entire middle section is scored into tiny squares.  These squares can then be cut and pulled out in the rough shape of your model. As you can see from the image above, I’ve already started cutting the foam out to fit my Dropzone models and I have some more models and accessories laid out to help plan the layout for the rest of the box.

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After a bit more cutting and pulling, I was able to finish out the main models. During this process, I like to maximize the space so I create some thin walls separating the models.  This makes the walls somewhat fragile so I take some white glue and tack down the walls to keep things more stable.

I used pluck foam to also store my pimped out copy of Thunder Road, showing that foam storage solutions aren’t just for table top minis games

storage-thunder

Pluck foam isn’t the only option to store minis. Staying with the advantages that foam provides (soft protection, light weight, and great customization), you can spend a bit more and work with custom foam cutting companies like Battle Foam to pick up really nice foam trays that are specifically cut for your models.

storage-descent

I like to keep my game boxes and companies like Battle Foam tend to want to sell you their bags as well but recently, these companies are catering to the board game market and offering custom foam trays that fit the game contents and the box they come in.  Above, I have an example of a foam tray set for the Fantasy Flight game, Descent: Journeys in the Dark.  Even though I don’t have these minis painted (maybe someday…), the storage trays work well to keep the minis and the cards/components separated. This helps in set up and tear down time and protects the minis from getting bent up or possibly broken.

Specific storage trays for a game are great but Battle Foam also offers the ability to customize the tray and even your specific model shape through their custom tray app on their site.  I’ve used this several times with great results for my X-wing Miniatures Game collection.  Most notably, I’ve used it for my custom Millennium Falcon carrying case.

falcon ex4

This option is likely the most expensive foam option available but the results are great if you have a highly customized project you want to protect.

Foam isn’t the only option out there, of course.  Recently, new ground has been made in laser cutting and these manufacturers are getting into the game.  Companies like Broken Token are now making full storage solutions for board games by producing custom cut boxes and organizers made of 1/8″ or 1/4″ birch wood.

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image from Broken Token website

While I don’t have any of these products specifically, I have some friends who swear by them. The advantage these laser cut organizers have is their rigidity and size configurations, which allow the designers to set up organized trays that can be simply pulled out of the box and set up next to the board for instant game set up.

Like the custom foam options, these laser cut organizers can be some of the most expensive options out in the market today, sometimes costing as much as the game itself.

Another alternative is to create tray organizers similar to the laser cut options by cutting all the material out using foamcore.

storage-tann-foamcore

image from BGG user Maxime Verrette

Boardgamegeek user Maxime Verrette created the intricate example above with foam core for his Tannhauser game.  It is likely the cheapest option out there and has all the benefits of the pricey laser cut options with the exception that it takes a lot of careful work.

In my last example, I cheap out completely and pick up one of the favorite options for boardgamers: Plano organizers (typically for fishing tackle boxes).  This option has been around for years and is one of the favorites because it is cheap, easily accessible, and very durable.

storage-tann

my time/cost effective Tannhauser storage solution

Since the Plano boxes come in a variety of sizes and configurations, you can usually find a box that will work for the game you are trying to organize.  These storage boxes can also be customized but you’ll likely need something more powerful, like a dremel, to carve out the plastic or cut out the walls you need to fit the larger pieces you intend to store.  Combine this option with plastic baggies and you have an extremely budget-conscious storage and organizing solution.

As you can see, when storing your prized gaming components, there are a variety of options.  Each of these options have pros and cons and it’ll be up to you to decide what works best for the game you are hoping to protect and store.

Showcase: Star Wars: Armada Tournament Case

That’s no Moon, it’s Space St- err, custom carrying case!

While I was going to tournaments for Star Wars: Armada I realized that I needed a dedicated storage system.  I’d been looking into various options and I was hoping to create another unique carrying case for my fleet on the go similar to what I’d done with X-wing: Millenium Falcon Case

I stumbled across the Death Star case from Hotwheels and picked one up to try it out.

deathstar case stock

I found that, stock, it can likely work as is with a bit of work and limited fleet build selection but I wanted to make it work for any 300 point fleet build so I went to work (this was before the tournament changed to 400 points as a standard).

First, I cut out the back to drop the “deck” and allow for smaller bits to lay flat. Next I pulled the back off and spray painted the non-station part black so that the main case stood out. The entire case is too small to fit the main range ruler so I cut slots in that back piece so the ruler could slide through and just have a little bit sticking out.

The case itself has these handy shelves that actually detach and allow for quite a bit of customization. Taking out one of the middle shelves allows for 3 VSDs or 3 AFIIs pretty easily. I didn’t want to go with custom foam since I wanted this case to be pretty flexible and custom foam for this would be pretty complicated and kill a lot of the space inside.

As you can see, I can cram quite a bit of content in there. It’s actually everything I need for a full 300 pt tourney list. I also like the VSD + GSD + Fighter/Bomber list out there and this case would accommodate that pretty easily. The triple VSD fits as well but I’d be concerned about the VSD antenna.

To ensure everything doesn’t just spill out when I open the case, I cut up some of those clear packaging pieces and placed them in using the natural contours of the plastic shelves to hold them in place. It doesn’t mess with the aesthetics and holds everything while the case is opening.

I could have just thrown Fighters in a little bag but some spare core set cardboard and these little plastic containers at Container Store just begged for a nice little Hangar.

This case is definitely not for everyone and who knows if it will be able to hold Wave 2 ISDs and beyond but it was a fun little project and it holds up pretty well as a straight up tourney case. Also it stands up pretty well as a great Death Star prop (almost worth it for that reason alone).

Tuck boxes

One of the first things I ever did to pimp out a game was make tuck boxes for various game card decks.  Sometimes tuck boxes are necessary for a game due to poor insert design or because you’ve expanded a game too much and had to ditch the insert all together. Other times, tuck boxes are a natural pimping addition to help explore more of the theme of the game while keeping things organized.

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The first tuck box I ever made was for Fantasy Flight’s Fury of Dracula (2nd edition).  This was due to a combination of convenient storage as well as an awkward game design choice where the event card deck made you draw cards from the bottom of the deck because secret information was placed on both the front and back of the cards.  Boardgamegeek user Jupklass had an innovative tuck box solution that featured a flap that folded down within the tuck box to hide the extra information on the back of the cards.

After making that tuck box, I started finding all sorts of games that I wanted to use tuck boxes for.  Boardgamegeek is a great resource to find fan-created ones but I soon wanted to make my own. There are quite a few different tuck box generators on the web but the one I’ve been using for years is an old one set up by Craig Forbes: Tuck box generator.

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This generator gives you a pdf of your tuck box based on the settings you put in.  I recommend getting your deck put together and measuring it, making sure to give a mm or two for clearance.  If you’re going to sleeve your cards, you’ll want to measure for that instead.

After getting the pdf, I like to run a quick test print on stock copy paper to cut out and mock up to make sure my measurements were correct and that I’m happy with the size.  If the printout passes the mock up test, then it’s time to design your image and print a final copy for actual game use.  Even if you aren’t making a custom tuck box and instead are printing a design from the someone else, I still recommend a quick low-resolution test to make sure you don’t need to manipulate any of the measurements to fit your situation.

For most of my image manipulation and design, I use Illustrator and Photoshop but less complicated designs can get away with other program options.  My versions of Illustrator and Photoshop are old as I got them in college but it makes importing pdf files easy and maintains some options for manipulation.

Damage Deck box

So the above example is a custom tuck box I made for FFG’s Star Wars: X-wing Miniatures game.  Since I’m only making one, I didn’t care about having full black coloring and the amount of ink that might use up but that can be a consideration when designing your own.  Since I’ve played in quite a few tournaments, having a simple storage solution for the game’s damage deck is pretty handy.  As these were going in my custom Millennium Falcon carrying case, I wanted to dress up the box so that it wasn’t just some generic looking after thought.

To create the actual tuck box, I print my boxes on cardstock paper and then, depending on how much I’ll use the game, laminate the printing using self-adhesive laminate sheets that you can find in office supply stores or Amazon.  These sheets provide long-lasting protection to a box that will see serious use, like my tournament damage deck box.

After printing and laminating, I cut the box out with sharp scissors or an X-acto knife (if the box is small enough).  Fold the box together and then glue it to finalize.  I’ve used a variety of glue options from straight white glue (like Elmer’s) to super glue.  If I’m not laminating, a lot of glues may be too “wet” and cause colors to bleed/fade as the glue dries so I’ll switch to a contact cement.  Remember to have plenty of ventilation when using the more exotic glue options.

After the glue dries, you should be ready go and can start using your box to help carry and organize your cards.

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Showcase: X-wing Miniatures case

I was trying to figure out how best to carry my X-wing miniatures models as I started traveling to tournaments both locally and farther away like Indianapolis’ GenCon and Fantasy Flight’s Worlds competition held Minnesota.  I randomly stopped at a garage sale (something I do maybe once every few years) and happened to find an old Star Wars action figure case for $3 (Power of the Force Millennium Falcon edition from Kenner produced around 1996).  Once I saw it, I knew it would work perfect as a case for my X-wing minis.

Falcon Case blog

Inside, the case had these perfect dividers and I was showed it off to a friend as I tried to figure out how to make the models work (knowing I would have to cut some of the dividers out to fit the larger ones).  After seeing it, he had the brilliant idea to cut it all out and get some custom foam to fit and hold the models.

falcon case

Gutting it out with a dremel tool was a ton of work but eventually I had everything cut out and smoothed down enough to use the entire inside to support model storage.

falcon ex1

For the top, I didn’t cut the dividers out as deep as I’d use them to store all the tokens and bits required for the game.

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The dremel basically melted the plastic out which left everything pretty rough.  I ended up using steel wool and sandpaper to smooth things out to finish the main areas.  I didn’t like the idea of the open cockpit so I hotglued in a piece of black plastic to cover it up.  The clips that held the case closed were shot so I went low tech and grabbed some of my girls’ white hair bands and they worked great.  The case itself was complete, now I needed to figure out the foam.

Battlefoam has a custom foam creation tool and I started messing around with it.  It was actually pretty easy to use but I couldn’t make it cut a circle like I needed.  I contacted them and they figured out what I needed.  I drew up some specs and it turned out perfect.

falcon ex4

When complete, it fit all the models I needed and I could make different foam inserts later as more models came out. The case holds everything securely and is now pretty recognizable as my personal carrying case when I go to tournaments.

Falcon Case 2 blog

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