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The Milk Crate Challenge

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North Carolina
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Shelf space is a common discussion among people in the board game scene. Giant boxes, bad inserts, wonky sizes, etc. We've all heard it ad nauseam. How about we talk about the opposite instead?

This concept wasn't actually my own. The credit goes to my wife, Cindy. She was thinking about how efficiently she could pack games into a single uniform container for folks with limited space, or people who travel a lot. Eventually she settled on this:

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The humble milk crate. Cheap, durable, readily available. Ours were 16.5" long, 13.5" wide, and 10.5" tall. You'll likely see them offered in various sizes and that's fine. The fun is in trying to make it work. The rules of the challenge are as follows if you'd like to try it for yourself:

- The boxes must fit in the crate.
Otherwise what's the point? Sliiiight peeking above the plastic is permissible, but piling additional boxes on top that would fall out easily is not.

- Games must be packed in their ORIGINAL boxes.
We both love our Quivers, but that's a topic for another day. This also means you may not shove boxes within other, less efficient boxes.

- Include a broad range of genres.
Imagine you were bringing this box to a retreat or gathering of some kind. People there may enjoy all sorts of experiences. Provide variety.

- Pick games you actually like.
To some this may contradict the above, but don't pick games you wouldn't actually play.

Let's look at Cindy's first!

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Talking about every single game and why it's there would be a bit...much, so lets just do an overview and touch on the notables.

Cindy enjoys board games quite a bit, but her first gaming love has always been RPGs. Starfinder is her current obsession and it was the first thing she added to the box, as well as a bunch of dice in color coded bags. I tried to tell her that RPGs are a different beast. She did not care, and would have just put all of her books in the box if I did not implore her otherwise.

Most of the games here are fairly social, be they actual social deduction games (Deception w/ expansion, Don't Mess With Cthulhu) or just games with constant interaction (Cursed Court, Now Boarding, the Aza Chen Cat games). Cursed Court in particular stood out to me because it's rather large, but it was one of her absolute favorite games of last year and has become a fixture of our local group. I highly recommend trying it out if you haven't. It deserves to be more well known than it is.

Beyond that she opted for games that pack a lot of interesting decisions into relatively small packages, or just straight up goofy stuff like Push It. Cheapass Games (and by extension James Ernest) may be the most represented publisher in both of our boxes, as their catalog largely consists of evergreens that rarely fall flat. I would have stuffed Fish Cook into my crate if she hadn't.


And now for my attempt!

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We'll start with the large items. Chinatown was always going to be in my box, but Exodus Fleet is there to prove a point. This could be any standard euro-sized game. I happen to be really into EF at the moment but there are myriad options. Elder Sign has two expansions shoved into it and is borderline completely airtight. Ditto with Burgle Bros. I still have no idea how Fowers managed to make that game fit.

Beyond that the box is filled with many of the absolute best card games out there. The vast majority of the games included use cards in uniquely interesting ways. I could talk about any one of them for ages, but I'll spare you all. I originally included a standard pack of playing cards in my crate but I opted to remove it because it almost felt like cheating. In case it was not made transparently clear, I really like cards and numbers.

A quick note for the particularly weird choices: If you haven't played Wordsy and you like word games EVEN A LITTLE, get it. Rare is the word game that provides palpable tension and laughter, but Gil Hova did it. It's almost a crime that it wasn't made into a game show first. Stellar Conflict's box is a bit oversized but I will never pass up introducing it to people for the first time. It is genuinely one of the funniest games I've ever played.


Those are our selections! Let us know what you think, criticize our taste in games, and maybe even post crates (or the like) of your own! We'd love to see 'em.
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