If you’re part of the tabletop gaming hobby, at some point you’ll run into the same problem as everyone else. Storage. It doesn’t matter how many trips to Ikea you make, you always seem to run out of essential storage for those… ahem… essential purchases.
Thus it’s frustrating when publishers compound the problem by insisting that you find storage space for huge cardboard boxes containing fresh air. It’s even more frustrating when they’re actually good games that you want to regularly take places without the encumbrance of all that needless cardboard.
Still, I don’t suppose those forests are going to cut themselves down, are they?
10. Age of War
Fantasy Flight games has made a name for itself over the years as a purveyor of top quality games with components to match. However, it’s also garnered a reputation for producing some of the most useless packaging.
Okay, so the Age of War box isn’t exactly huge at around 5″x5″ (12cmx12cm), but when you take into account the fact that all it contains is 7 dice and 14 small format cards, it’s excessive.
9. Odin’s Ravens
Whilst I appreciate the way that the box opens like a book and there’s funky little recessed areas in the insert for the raven meeple (reeple?), unless it’s stored horizontally (unlike the average book) the cards end up awash in the interior.
The publishers might have either made a lid that holds the cards in place, or better still just packaged everything in a box about half the size.
8. A Game of Thrones: Hand Of The King
Fantasy Flight Games are up to their old tricks again. There’s no card in here bigger than about half standard playing card size, and even with everything sleeved (for which they supply a purchasing guide of course) less than half the box gets used.
Fortunately, as with many Fantasy Flight games, a handy cardboard insert is provided to ensure that the small amount of contents don’t rattle around too much. Still, with the box consuming about 60% more cardboard than is needed anyway, I don’t suppose wasting some more on padding the box out really matters, does it?
7. Exploding Kittens
My bemusement about why this card game was such a runaway success is matched only by why it needs such a big box. (Incidentally, don’t get me wrong — the game is a giggle, it’s just not an almost $9M giggle.)
At 56 cards it’s essentially a standard pack of playing cards, and we all know what they look like boxed up, and yet we’re treated to a container presumably designed in some way to justify the game’s excessive price tag.
A lot of game boxes can explain away their dimensions by the fact they have to contain a game board that, folded up, is usually getting on for a foot long down one side at the very least.
However, Raptor has a modular board made up of small square sections, which together with less than two dozen cards, a small handful of tiny plastic miniatures and a scattering of counters, doesn’t even begin to fill out the prodigious space available in the box.
5. Tides of Madness
These beautifully rendered playing cards are about the largest you’re likely to find in a game, but come on, there’s only thirteen of them. Even the dozen madness tokens also included hardly take up more room than a roll of quarters.
In fact most of the box volume is taken up by a staggeringly thick score pad that looks capable of recording games involving half the population of a small town. On the plus side there is a little pencil from a betting shop enclosed for your scoring convenience.
4. Bang! The Dice Game: The Walking Dead
I would include the original Bang! The Dice Game on this list, for featuring some fairly excessive packaging for a small deck of cards and 5 dice, but the Walking Dead version takes this lunacy to a new level.
The box is even larger than the original, which to its credit at least had room for the game’s one expansion (Old Saloon — itself contained in a suitably unsuitable box), although in fairness the new version does have one extra card over the original.
I’ve been a fan of Steve Jackson’s games ever since my long lost youth, and I remember that many of his games were intelligently packaged to make them as easily portable as possible (the old Car Wars plastic boxes being a case in point.)
Therefore it’s a complete mystery to me how the small decks of cards needed for Munchkin ended up in a box able to hold about ten times their number. I know that the term “munchkin” refers to a player that likes to max out their stats, but do cardboard boxes really have to follow the same pattern?
When I first received my copy of Kingsburg, I obviously eyed the Fantasy Flight Games logo with a mixture of reassurance (for the expected component quality) and trepidation (regarding whatever useless cardboard insert I was about to find).
Imagine my surprise then when I uncovered inside a vacuum-formed “custom” insert. From Fantasy Flight? Inconceivable! Sadly I soon discovered that the insert appeared to have been custom-made for a completely different game.
There aren’t enough compartments in it for the quantity of different components, and the ones that are provided are around 900% bigger than they need to be.
Sure, they need to fit a board in there (although feasibly you could recreate much of it with a deck of eighteen cards), but this has less to do with length and breadth and more to do with depth.
And the winner is…
Dixit contains the most luxuriously packaged scoreboard in the history of board gaming. Seriously, it’s the only reason for all that cardboard — to “facilitate” something that could just as easily be accomplished with pen and paper.
The publisher even taunts you by providing you with the bottom part of a box that would actually be the correct size for the game. Want the top for that funky travel box? Hard luck.
There again I guess there’s enough excess cardboard provided to make one for yourself.
The box lid proudly proclaims that 1.5 million copies have been sold worldwide, so by my estimate that’s around 160,000 cubic feet of fresh air that are taking up shelf space around the world, not to mention about 320 cubic feet of wood for rabbit meeple* you don’t actually need. Bravo!
Maybe they’re reeple?
And an honourable mention for…
Splendor is an excellent game with relatively few components. Quite why the publishers decided to house them in such a large box is quite beyond me, but the game avoided making this top ten simply because the insert provided is actually useful, serving not only to hold the components securely in whatever orientation you choose to store the box on your shelf, but also including a three compartment card caddy for your convenience during play.
That said, the same helpful insert could have been made half the size and still comfortably housed everything.
Consider yourself lucky this time around Splendor…
These are the top ten worst offenders from my own collection. What are yours?
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