Modern board games are awesome, but they aren’t inexpensive. It’s important that you protect them. A damaged card or a missing bit might be replaceable, or it might completely foul the entire game. We’ve talked before about organization a bit, but it’s not just about order. It’s about protection.
Cards are an integral part of most games. Sometimes it’s all cards, sometimes they’re just one part of a greater whole. Social deduction games, among others, can often be wholly ruined if one card has any identifying marks on it. “Oh, I see the torn card. Jane’s the werewolf.”
Card sleeves are a good choice here. They protect the card from wear and tear and are easily replaced if catastrophic damage occurs. It’s probably not necessary to sleeve everything, but they are worth it where one mark could ruin the game.
“But what about storage?” you ask. Please, for all that is good in the world, do not use rubber bands. Don’t do it. Ever. It may seem ok for the first few weeks, but it is only a matter of time before they get old, lose their elasticity, harden, and stick to the cards. Once they stick, getting them off might damage the cards or leave stains on them. Instead, Hugo’s Amazing Tape is a great self-adhering plastic that works really well. Heck, even plastic baggies are superior to rubber bands.
Bits and Tokens
The standard way to keep these safe and ready for setup is the plastic baggie method. A baggie can easily separate stuff out so that it’s ready to go. Maybe you put each player’s pieces in a separate bag. The bank of coins goes in its own bag, etc. Easy as pie.
One thing to bear in mind, though, is not to use sandwich bags from the grocery market. It’s better to grab baggies from a hobby store, like Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Not only are they more stylish, they also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you want to get a little fancier, you could grab a couple of cheap bead cases. They are meant for holding tiny nuts and screws or beads and other craft supplies, but they are just as good at holding board game bits. These work best with things like coins or resources that form a common supply. Rather than dumping them out on the table, you simply open the bin.
For most games, it’s sufficient to bag everything up and toss it in. It may not be the most beautiful arrangement, but it’s functional. If you do want to go extra fancy, you can organize not just the pieces, but their arrangement within the box.
There are some professional insert makers like Broken Token and Insert Here. They’re a little pricey, but can be worth it for your favorite games. Broken Token’s Mage Knight organizer is an example of one that works well, because it fits everything (including expansions) into the base game box and makes it easy to quickly get through the cumbersome setup. Even though it isn’t the cheapest game accessory, it helps get that beastly title to the table–and that definitely makes it worth it.
Another option is to build an insert yourself out of foamcore. You save on money, but you’ll have to invest a lot of patience. As with all DIY projects, your first few are bound to be less than perfect. But with practice, you can impress your friends and be crowned king of games. That’s a thing, right?
How do you organize and protect your games? Tell us about it in the comments.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Alex Buell, Wikimedia Commons / viZZZual.com, Broken Token