One of the first things I do when unboxing a game is to get it organized... so off to the cutter to make a storage tray for the counters and tokens in Renegade from Victory Point Games
A two-module unit was all this one needed, but to jazz it up a little bit, I went with three colors. Blue and Grey for the box (with alternated dividers) and a black lid with the label being the box cover of the game.
Similar to my storage for Combat Commander: Europe, I created "Force Boxes" for Great War Commander to hold each nations counters as well as a table tray for holding the game markers. I went ahead and did tuck boxes as well using the same template from CCE years ago...
As noted before, these are based on the GMT tray "well" (or compartment) size, but since they are from folded cardstock vs. molded plastic they take up much less room (in all dimensions) and they are modular (in this case only the game marker one is), so you can use 1-4 together to make a single tray. The nation boxes are a custom 2x3 (6 "well") unit I made for just this sort of thing. I use a plastiband on each to insure the lid stays closed, but in all a pretty decent solution that fits well in the box too!
But these modular trays aren't just for wargaming of course... So to solve the storage concerns with Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats, I created a full modular tray (4 sections) to hold the game counters and tokens without having to bag and rebag to fit inside the buildings.
First off let me be clear, the packaging of Too Many Bones is pretty darn good. Chip Theory Games has produced a perfect blend of function and storage that should be the role model to all game publishers (well, maybe not Academy Games, Inc., they do a great job too).
Each Gearloc (the characters in the game), comes with a tray to hold their 21 dice. The clear plastic trays not only store the dice in the box, but they go straight to the table to keep the dice organized before players add them to the character mat for in-game use. The lids for the trays double as additional table trays as well. It's a very ingenious design.
There are currently seven characters available with three more coming in the Too Many Bones: Undertow "standalone" expansion. Even with doubling up characters two to a tray (and removing the initiative dice to a separate container), five of those trays will be hard to combine into the main game box (along with all the other chips, mats, and player cards).
So to reduce the amount of storage required in the box (and make room for expansion content), I created these "Gearloc Dice Boxes" to hold each character separate. Each box is designed to easily hold a character's 21 dice in three rows of seven and includes a snug lid. They take up less than half the space of current trays and are suitable to go straight from the box to the table. I still plan to keep the provided dice storage trays for on-table use, but with more content on the way, making more room in the box can never hurt.
I chose to cut mine on color coordinated cardstock (with black divider inserts), but also made labels with each character's name, image, and a matching color ring in case you want to use basic white. The files are available here:
Each box template prints on a single sheet of cardstock. Cut the solid lines, score the dotted lines. You get three divider sections from a single sheet, so a little paper savings there. I use the same techniques I've used for creating other boxes, so this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dfy3gl1GGzk) will help if you cannot figure out the basic assembly.
Make no bones about it, these boxes are superior to the TMB ones in only one way -- they take less space. The included ones are excellent and if you have no issues with storing the game, then by all means, you should keep on as is. However, if you're looking for a way to fit more in less space, I hope you like this solution.
Since I finished (finally) my design for the modular counter/component storage boxes, I decided to put them to the test and refit my Combat Commander: Europe collection. CC:E complete has seven different factions: American, British, French, Germans, Italian, Russian, and Partisans. Before this I had them all stored in three GMT trays (with a fourth for markers, etc. to be on the table during games).
Counters all neatly stored in GMT Trays
Rather than simply make cardboard full tray replacements, I took advantage of the modular nature and built custom "Force Boxes" for each faction specifically. This ended up being two-module boxes, essentially a 1/2 GMT tray each for the Americans, Russians, Germans, and British.
Two-Module trays for the larger force factions
The smaller forces, Italians, French, and Partisans, would not require a full two modules of 10 wells, but a single module of 5 wells was not enough to hold the units and their weapons. I considered just keeping those forces in their own box and the weapons for all three factions combined in a separate box. However, because my goal was to be able to pull out a single box for each side in a battle, that just nagged at me to have the additional box just for their weapons.
After some overnight deliberations, I came up with a better solution. A smaller, 2x3 six-well tray to accommodate these smaller forces. The tray and dividers all cut from a single piece of cardstock and the lid can be printed two to a page. So you can make two of these complete from three pieces.
The 2x3 (6 well) Tray
I opted to go with a black, 60# cardstock for the trays and then color coordinated 110# stock for the lids. I designed labels to mark each of the boxes (file pending moderator approval on BGG) as well. So just like that I reduced my four GMT Trays of CC:E to one game-ready tray and individual and smaller force boxes for each faction. They take up less table space and are more convenient for players (or player) to select their units.
The whole kit and kaboodle
And of course these trays aren't just for wargames, but for anywhere you'd use a GMT tray or even bags to sort and store components. With the suggested addition of customized well size, I added single-wall dividers so you can subdivide as you see fit. Make each module 1/2, 1/3, or 1/4 in size. Or any combination therein. These would be great for sorting and storing each player's starting components for games like Russian Railroads for example, or other games where you want to save time on setup.
UPDATE: On request to make these a little more versatile, you can now create single walls (sheet of 10 included in the PDF below) to subdivide each section as you see fit (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, varied sizes, etc.). The instructions for folding each wall is very similar to making the other 5-well divider, so no additional instructions added. If you have questions, let me know.
For those of you still awaiting the plans for the cardstock GMT Trays (Building the Perfect Beast (and by beast I mean storage tray)), thanks for your patience. They ARE coming. I got the plans themselves done two weeks ago and just need to cut some more and prepare instructions. Due to personal delays, I've not made the time to do that right. But will very soon.
For some reason dice towers and dice trays have become a design passion of mine. I've made them from plastic, wood, paper and more. Yet I still keep wanting to come up with other means to make them cheap and easy.
There are many others that you can find on etsy and other vendors that behave similarly (and kudos to whoever originated that simple design!).
But why buy one when you can make one?
And pretty affordably too!
Went to Hobby Lobby and was looking at various materials that might suit when I came across the fun foam section. This stuff is sold in varying thicknesses and normally in 12x18" panels. I've used foam to pad dice trays of harder materials to lessen the noise. So figured this was a perfect medium to make an entire tray from.
I selected a sheet of 3mm black ($0.99) to be the outer layer and a sheet of 5mm (.5cm on the label) brown ($1.29) to be the inner pad where the dice will roll. Wanting the tray to still be collapsible, I looked in the fabric section for snaps and while those are cheap enough, the tool to install them was not ($20-$30). I don't see myself mass producing these so I wanted to keep my investment low.
What could I possibly use to bind these together?
Something I could maybe clip on to bind them together.
If only there was such a thing as a "clipper bind".
I checked at Wal-mart to no avail, but did find these things called "binder clips" so I grabbed a box of small ones for $0.88.
Apart from a bottle of "foam glue" which was 3.99 (less 40% with online coupon) also from Hobby Lobby, that's the extent of the materials purchased.
The CTG tray is about 7" square when flat and a 4" rolling area. So this means the "walls" of the tray are then about 1.5" high. I wanted to go a little bigger for both the rolling area and the walls. So from the 5mm brown, I cut a 5" square and from the thinner 3mm black I cut a 9" square. (Using my wife's quilting rulers really made this part easier!). I uses a roller cutter to make the lines straight as well.
I scored the base layer (black) at the corners a few inches at 45 degrees to help weaken the foam in those spots for later folding. I also marked two inches from each edge to give me the location when the thicker pad would sit. Applying foam glue to the back of the pad, I pressed it into place on the outer layer and weighted it while I waited.
It actually took a couple of hours for the glue to setup, so don't bother checking early or you might shift your pieces. Once set though, it's set, so be patient.
Once ready, it was simply a matter of joining together each corner to make the walls and attaching a binder clip to each to hold in place. You can remove the clips and store the tray flat (attach the clips just to an edge). When clipping, if you move the clip toward the "point" you'll get slanted walls and toward the "center" you'll get more vertical walls. I found I prefer more to the center so the edges of the "pad" don't create a ridge for smaller dice to get cocked on.
Final costs? $0.29 - 4 binder clips @ (12 for $0.88) $0.50 - 1/2 sheet of 3mm foam ($0.99) $0.22 - 1/6 sheet of 5mm foam ($1.29) $0.10 - estimate of glue required ======================================= $1.11 TOTAL COST OF SUPPLIES USED
The reality is that you can make these of any size you want (within folding tolerances of the foam of course). This would get you more or less from your supplies.
Cutting the 12x18 sheet for example into a 12x9 base layer with a 8x5 pad would eliminate some waste from the base (the extra 3x9 strip).
The basic math is to determine the rolling area you want (5x5" in my example), then determine the wall size you want (2") and add double that to each dimension to get the layer size (9x9").
Lessons Learned I think that I might reduce the wall size to 1.5" in my next attempt. I might try using the 3mm foam for the pad area as well as the 5mm might be overkill? Will just play with it all and see. But I'm very happy with how it turned out and how quiet it is.
For the past year or so I've been trying to think of a way to make storing counters, especially but not limited to wargames. The now standard GMT tray and philosophically deeper DVG tray are pretty good overall and in most cases work quite well. They fit (usually) into the box the game comes in and sometimes the publisher even left room for it to fit.
However, sometimes you don't need an entire tray for a game. Sometimes we resort to bulky Plano boxes to store counters and again, those CAN work in some situations. You could, I suppose, reduce the structural integrity of the plastic tray/lid and trim then down.
I've gone through various attempts to make boxes with different counter sections for the assorted sizes, but came away from each try with a "this isn't going to work" feeling.
So anyway, after several starts and stops, hits and misses, I think I finally came up with something that will work well. At least for me.
Going back to the tried and true flat tray storage idea, I created a modular cut and fold template that can be used to make trays of one to four modules. For each combination I created a lid template as well. Each module comes from a single piece of 8.5x11" cardstock (110# I use). So a full size, 20 "well" tray would be five pieces of cardstock including the list. This would come under $1.00 to make it most cases. The lid template for the single module tray has two per sheet, so you could get two single module trays with lids for three sheets of cardstock.
Full 20 well GMT compatible cut and fold tray made from four modules. Smaller footprint than the GMT version. Perhaps the "OUAG Tray"?
The "box" section of each module is designed to interlock with its neighbors to form the tray and give it structure. The "insert" section forms the five wells and will accommodate already existing GMT tray dividers to further help organize.
This is a sneak peek of the design and idea. On Facebook much interest has already been expressed, so with enough here as well, I'll get to work on producing the final templates and instructions.
Full size tray with lid.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to add them here.
I'll post again when the files are ready and available.
Single module tray with lid. You can combine 1-4 of these to make a custom sized tray. Each with proper lid.
Each module has 5 wells and can use existing GMT tray dividers.
Ever since I learned that dice towers were actually a thing (and not just the name of the premier boardgaming podcast), I've developed a fascination with them. Sure they sell them in some really cool designs and styles, but I wanted, nay needed, to create my own.
But in my head I had another idea. The standard opposing angles seemed so common, I wanted something different. As I mentioned in my Micro 3D printer review (Boardgaming, 3D Printing, and the Micro 3D - a Ones Upon a Game Review) I had come up with a design for printing. The first version came out really well, but I had some tweaks I was working on for a v2.0... when the printer died.
The initial 3D design was a 5-piece cylindrical model. The base layer held the exit ramp. The top layer was a funnelled chute to direct the dice to the center drop hole. Inspired by the old Plinko game (from carnivals and The Price is Right), the middle three layers were criss-crossed rods stacked in a +x+ pattern so the dice would hit one each layer and truly tumble before exiting the ramp. The improvements slated for the second version were wedge shaped rods and a wider exit ramp. But then the printer, as I mentioned, died on me (hopefully going to get this fixed under warranty and be back in business soon!).
Components for my first 3D printed dice tower attempt: base, baffle layers, drop chute. Then painted, dry fitted, and final assembly.
Not to let the lack of technology outdo me, I went back to the handcrafted route. My first plan was to do a cylindrical tube with criss-crossed dowels and started down that path... but then spied this case at Hobby Lobby and it inspired me to go a different route. Using craft wood and the same Plinko style rods (arrayed differently), I sought to construct a portable dice tower complete with fold out dice tray.
The woodworking design, various stages of sadness.
Unfortunately my skills and tools were not up to the challenge and while I ended up with a working dice tower, it will remain far from the vision I originally targeted. The frustration I was feeling at the time I realized the prototype was "good but not good enough" led me to make the video below. In it I go in much more detail on my process and demonstrate all three models as well. Hopefully the creative among you might find some value in the ideas and be able to take something from it and make something really cool (would love to see the results!)
Burgle Bros. by Tim Fowers is a cool little solo-friendly heist game in the vein of "Ocean's 11-12-13-14-15-16-17..." or to my preference "Leverage". The game takes place over (normally) three levels of tiles each laid out in a 4x4 grid. For such a small game, it spreads out to cover a large space on your table. And with so many moving parts (48 tiles, plus cards, etc...) if you set it up wrong and need more room, it takes a little effort to move it around.
Now many people have upgraded their experience to some very cool towers that keep the actual levels one on top of the other. Some are quite customized and sweet. In fact, I almost pulled the plug on sharing this as it seems pretty lame now by comparison. But clearly I didn't stick with that. So if you hate this idea, be sure to thumb this post so I'll know. ()
I knew I wanted to have the tiles all sit on their own floor board, so to speak. But I wanted the tiles to have their own space and be spaced well from the other tiles. But what could I use to space the tiles? What would insure the tiles were properly and evenly spaced? If only there were a product designed expressly for the spacing of tiles.
They do make tile spacers for the even installation of ceramic wall and floor tile. I picked up a bag of 200 of these 3/16" spacers for about $3.00 at Home Depot (LINK) and the inspiration was born. My plan was to layout a grid of these on foam core board and the tiles would drop right in place. Make three of these and then I'd have one for each level.
But this created two problems.
Problem #1 The tiles are 2.5" square. The stick "walls" included with the game are also 2.5" long. With the tile spacer at each corner, the gutter between tiles would be reduced and there would be no room to put the walls. I thought of buying a stick of craft wood and cutting some more, slightly shorter wall sticks... hmmm...
Problem #2 A place piece of black foam core would be ugly. Sure the tiles would cover most of it, but how thematic would that be?
To solve both problems required a bit of paper crafting and Photoshop.
First the second. I designed what I thought might be a nice office-style floor with marble tiles. Unfortunately the layout for the 4x4 grid and space to place walls would be larger than could fit on a single 8.5x11" piece of cardstock. I needed 12.5" square to accommodate it all. This didn't lend itself to a one or two sheet solution, so in the end settled on 1/4 of the floor on a single sheet of cardstock. Each quadrant could then be cut and glued to a larger base of cardboard or foam core to create the floor panel.
Crosses denote the areas where the tile spacers were to be glued. I used a drop of Loctite Gel super glue on each and they stuck very well.
Secondly, the first. I still needed a new solution to the walls between some of the room tiles. I decided to go with a self-standing paper wall that I could make a little taller than the sticks and add a little office flavor (through the use of hanging artwork). I have since seen people make foam core walls with tabs to go into notches cut in the floor. This could easily be done here as well.
In the end, I had three floor panels on which to setup and play Burgle Bros. And move them around if necessary while keeping the tiles in their correct locations.
Some notes No plan is perfect, so a few things to note.
I am blessed to have a large format printer to do 13x19" prints. So I was able to print each of the floors on a single sheet of paper. I rough cut them, glued them to the foam core and then cut along the lines. However, I did test fit the quadrant method to insure it would work. The full size version is included in the file link below.
I think I was a little too generous in the spaces I left for each tile. They are 2.6 inches to accommodate a 2.5" tile. This might have left too much wiggle room. If you print (only the floors) at 96% scaling, that should make the openings 2.55 inches, a little more snug without being tight.
The 3/16" spacers are a perfect fit I think. You might try a 1/4" if you have them already, but I recommend the 3/16".
Originally the wall sections were to fold differently, but after trying two of them, they were more prone to fall over. I removed the red "score" line, but left the black line on the base. Simply fold these to an inverted "T" shape and the flaps will tuck under the tile on either side.
I'm not (conceptually) a fan of the tower stacking of the boards. However, it would be easy to build from foam or wood the vertical posts to accommodate these boards as well.
You'll need to print 12 of the floor quadrants and two sheets of wall panels. You'll also need some backing material (foam core or chip board), 3/16" tile spacers, some spray adhesive, regular stick glue, and super glue. And a copy of Burgle Bros. of course.
As always, thanks for reading. Be sure to leave comments below. Would love to see photos of your implementation in use!