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THE CREATIVE GAMER - Game Bit Storage Obsession - Planos, Gift card tins, and Boxes within Boxes (Roads & Boats, Factory Fun vs Factory Fun)

-matt s.
United States
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Well, since I'm on a game bit storage kick after writing about my new Dominion storage setup recently, I decided to pull out the pics I took a few weeks ago and show what I've done for Roads & Boats and for Factory Fun.

I'm always looking for interesting storage boxes for bits, especially if I can get them inexpensively.

Last year I was able to purchase a copy (finally!) of Roads & Boats along with the & cetera expansion from a friend who was looking to sell it and an auction buyer balked after winning. I offered to buy it and it soon became mine.

He had a really nice largish Plano for storing the bits from the base game, but some of the bits were doubled up where I wanted them separated, plus the expansion was unpunched and it seemed I was going to need more efficient storage that was going to fit in the box and be handy for game play at the same time (and meet my OCD game bit storage needs)

I decided to break out the expansion to take a look at it (the chits and tiles all came unpunched in a largish baggie along with the new rules) and took some pics before I started punching. As I was looking through everything, I noticed that one of the boards was mis-printed (i.e. mis-aligned).

From gallery of tasajara

Misaligned copy

Gah! I fired off a note to Splotter Spellen and, much to my surprise, received new bits sheets a couple of weeks later! Wow!

From gallery of tasajara

Replacement copy

Anyhow, before I started actually punching I made a visit to a couple of hardware stores - Jerry's which is local to Eugene/Springfield area where I live here in Oregon, and Home Depot. At each store I found a somewhat limited variety of Plano type boxes (not actually Plano brand) but they were pretty darn cheap - only $2 to $3 each depending on size (maybe one larger slightly more expensive). I wasn't sure what was going to fit most efficiently into the R&B box so I chose a few of the really cheap smaller ones and a couple of the slightly larger ones figuring whatever I didn't use would still be useful for other games.

----Ok, before I go on I just have to make a bit of an aside - I REALLY enjoy going shopping at hardware stores, craft stores, office supply stores, art supply stores, etc. I love looking at all the interesting tools, gadgets, storage items, rulers, different papers, pens & markers, etc.....I'm in heaven when I go to these stores. I love the smells. I love the shiny things. I love the possibilities that everything suggests. I can spend hours just looking at everything. Of course, I have to limit myself going or else I'll come home with way more stuff than I really need, but those types of stores are very exciting to me----

My goal in getting boxes was to maximize the space usage in the game box, have as many separate compartments as possible for all the different types of chits and pieces, and ultimately make it easy to set up and tear down when actually playing the game. 100 baggies was NOT going to cut it here, and mixing of different bit types wasn't going to work either.

Here are the different sized boxes I picked up:
From gallery of tasajara

It's funny, as big as the R&B box is, it really takes some work to get everything crammed in there, especially with the expansion. At least its more or less an appropriate size for the game! And no funky insert or anything....

Anyhow, here's a comparison of the box size in relation to a more standard sized box:
From gallery of tasajara

Walnut Grove shown here is approx 12.5in x 8.75in x 2.8in (roughly same size as Thurn & Taxis, Taluva, or Finca) and R&B is over twice as big at 20in x 12.5in x 2.6in. It doesn't fit very well on my game shelves with everything else so I'm always struggling to find a proper location to store it. Someday I'm going to build new storage shelves and I think I'll have to build a special shelf just to store this game....

So, I tried out several of the different compartment boxes that I'd picked up and ultimately decided on 4 of the thinner, smaller boxes (they were actual Plano brand, too) each having 9 compartments (more were possible in them, but I didn't want the spaces to be too small to get chits out of). This gave me 36 compartments to work with, plus if I organized it right I figured it would be easier to get the different boxes spread around the table to where they would work most effectively during a game.

I decided that three of those boxes would contain the components for the base game and 1 would contain the additional components for the expansion - this would allow the expansion stuff to just be left in the box out of the way if we weren't using it and there would be no confusion. Ideally, a few more compartment spaces would be nice for the expansion because there are several different types of luxury goods, but the compromise seemed reasonable since they are all very similar.

Here's the detailed breakdown...

From gallery of tasajara

This box contains all of the player Wonder bricks, the neutral Wonder bricks, the geese and the paper.

From gallery of tasajara

This box contains all of the resources/goods like clay, bricks, coal, fuel, trunks, ore, gold, etc.

From gallery of tasajara

This box contains all of the base producers combined by type.

From gallery of tasajara

This box contains all of the &Cetera components, both resources/goods as well as the producers.

So, that took care of all the chits. But there were still the player pieces, the mines and the tiles.

Well, the tiles were easy as all of the base tiles and some of the expansion tiles fit into a neat row along the short end of the box without requiring a special insert, baggie or band. However, a few tiles still didn't quite fit in the one row, so I kept the special expansion tiles separate and bagged them in varying stack heights to stick where I could fit them in.

From gallery of tasajara

The plastic overlay sheet for the tiles fits along the long side of the box (and obviously dictated the overall length of the box). Unfortunately, the plastic is kind of a pain to use (due to it being curled up and having to tape it down to the table, and still you have issues keeping it flat, PLUS it's actually a little too small for the bigger maps) so I store it in the box permanently and ended up buying an inexpensive poster frame from Michael's when they were 50% off and use the plexiglass from that instead.

For the player pieces, I used some round metal tins I purchased at Albertson's after Christmas for $0.25 each! These tins were actually gift card tins with the inserts removed. I discovered a couple of years ago that if you look closely you can find these tins cheap when they go on sale and they make great game bit boxes. It's easy to overlook them but usually they are found near the checkout counters of a variety of stores and often come in rectangular shapes and all sorts of different designs. For instance, I found some nice rectangular ones with leaf patterns on them that I used in American Megafauna.

From gallery of tasajara

Here are some examples of different tin styles:
From gallery of tasajara

The ones I found for R&B are round and have a snowflake design on them. Ok, doesn't QUITE fit the theme, but it's nice looking so I'm happy with them. Of course, you can buy tins with weird designs then just print out nice stickers and apply. This will be more or less successful depending on if the design is flat (good for stickering) or is 'embossed' to follow the picture (like they are with these snowflakes). I like the snowflakes and stickers would look kind of crummy on the raised design anyhow.

From gallery of tasajara

Anyhow, the wooden player pieces (including the extra expansion pieces), wooden disks, wooden wall sticks, the cardboard home tile, plus the glass beads all fit fairly comfortably in the boxes. Then, when you you are playing, you can take the lid and put the most used/active pieces in the lid and use that to hold them ready for action. AND, the tins are nice and thin - thick enough for the pieces to fit in, but thin enough to be able to stack them up on top of the compartment boxes inside the box and still fit within the height of the box.

From gallery of tasajara

With the expansion there are a total of 6 sets of player pieces. Unfortunately, I only bought 4 tins (at $0.25 I should have known to buy more when they were so cheap - lesson learned) because I didn't actually know what I was going to use them for at the time. For the other 2 sets, I pulled out two of my plastic hinged boxes which also hold the full set of pieces nicely, AND, they fit properly into the box along with the other components with the space I had left around the chit boxes.

Finally, the wooden Mines all fit comfortably into a long jewelry box (also purchased on the cheap from Michael's) which fit nicely into the narrow gap between the Plano type boxes and the rolled up plastic sheet and it left just the right size gap for the mine baggies rolled up and tucked in beside it. Also, the gap was just right to squeeze in the technology boards and pen as well.

From gallery of tasajara

Well here's how everything fits neatly into the box. There's even room for all of my player aids and rules summary cards along with the original rules. It's a bit of a puzzle to get it all back in, but it fits nice and snug. I'm thinking of taking a picture and including it in the box so I don't have to figure it all out again each time I play.

From gallery of tasajara

From gallery of tasajara


Ok, this one will be quicker. Hopefully....

Factory Fun. I decided that the insert for the new Z-Man version wasn't going to cut it for me. Too much work getting the pieces in and out, plus it doesn't stack on it's side well as everything goes all over.

Well, I found this nifty box set at Michael's:
From gallery of tasajara

It has really nice little boxes of different size inside a larger box.

With my 40% off coupon it was around $6. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could get all the FF pieces into this box set.

Wow, look, it all fits!
From gallery of tasajara

From gallery of tasajara

Well, almost.....
From gallery of tasajara

Well, almost, almost....doesn't QUITE fit back into the box despite it being rather tall...the player boards are just a BIT too thick, and I can't fit them side-by-side with the box set

From gallery of tasajara

From gallery of tasajara

You can see the lid just doesn't quite fit:
From gallery of tasajara

Ah well, the boxes themselves fit in nicely - just wish the set would have fit in directly.

From gallery of tasajara

Speaking of FF, here's my original version, showing how everything is crammed in there. Putting it all back in is like playing FF all over again! This is a really nice, small sized game box and, honestly, the original version is still my favorite version - I just like the cut-out pipes because they feel like REAL pipes, plus I love the hand-drawn artwork - which seems odd for such an industrial/precision suggesting game. Ah, nostalgia

From gallery of tasajara

From gallery of tasajara

Ok, one VERY VERY last thing to show you: the clear discs are sometimes hard to see on your machines when you're playing, so I found these nice industrial looking 3/8" (2mm) antique brass rings to use instead...

Original clear disc:
From gallery of tasajara

New brass ring:
From gallery of tasajara

In case you're wondering, I bought them off of ebay from a company in China. Later, I spotted some similarly sized aluminum chain-mail links at Michael's that come in a variety of colors. I've thought about buying some, but I'm not yet sure if the brightly colored rings will be worth the extra expense, plus the metal rings I have present a nice industrial look....

Well, those are my latest game storage ideas. Of course, I wouldn't normally put this amount of storage work in for just any game, but these are games I love and don't mind spending the extra time and expense to make the games that much more enjoyable for me when I bring them to the table.

So long and have fun hunting for your OWN storage ideas. If you find anything particularly interesting or useful, feel free to post them here!

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