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Millennium Blades» Forums » General

Subject: Cardboard Deathmatch: Trays vs Troughs rss

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Hai Kulture
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Trays vs Troughs

This has been a debate that repeats in my head every time I break shrink on a new game: Why are there so many plastic trays in the Cardboard Kingdom?

Aesthetically they are pleasing, but they seem to lose functionality come Expansion One - at least for someone who finds it easier to throw one big heavy box into her game duffel for Game Night travel rather than a series of boxes of collectively equal weight just in case Expansion A or Module B becomes a necessity.

I'm all about consolidation.

The Sorting Ceremony for a new game is always a glorious thing for me - the punching of boards, the unwrapping of cards, the bagging of components and the sorting of decks. Then comes the visual-spatial IQ test of trying to get everything BACK in the box. Even if I best the sly plastic grin of ridged card holders and the mocking stares of empty component slots - I know come Expansion One and the Consolidation Ceremony things are going to get tricky - and quite a few bits of plastic have been sacrificed to the volcano of the recycle bin.

I'm all about consolidation and future proofing. I don't think I'm alone or Broken Token wouldn't have clientele. (I'm looking at an ad as I write this.)

I've met some good plastic trays in my day: Pathfinder ACG gets the job done and I always give a little clap when game boards and player boards fit into a clever indentation over a sea of baggie and cardstock. I've also read countless card heavy Kickstarter updates about the trials and tribulations of molded plastic trays being too shallow or one ridge off and various drawing boards getting the going back to.

And I frown every time I have to toss both Lords of Waterdeep and Scoundrels of Skullport into the game duffel because those coastal wizards really didn't think it through. Although I freely admit - both those trays fit only their respective components rather amazingly.

I'll come clean - I'm a card carrying member of The Cult of the Big Box and embrace the Cardboard Trough.

AEG and Thunderstone pretty much invented the concept of in-box dividers and yet they schizo between fussy plastic trays for their core sets and cardboard troughs with foam cube back support for the expansions. Smash Up went from a base tray where cards hopped around like coffins in the Chase Vault to massively overstuffed by the time the Obligatory Cthulhu got done rearing his head. The Big Geeky Box may have been a Tabletop Day in-joke but it certainly is useful and has future proofed storage until Smash Up: The End Times.(Pssst...just between you and me, I kind of wish they would reskin one for both Thunderstone and Doomtown)

Recent fulfilment acquisition for our game den Xenoshyft: Onslaught had quite a lovely tray for retail purposes that fell to the horde as soon as I started unwrapping Kickstarter bonuses and immediate gratification add-on mini expansions.

And in the Land of Level 99 - thanks to the popularity, generous funding, and cornucopia of lovely, lovely bonus material that follows in the campaign wake - the tray always seems destined for the chop. Devastation got some major plastic surgery to leave a petite holding pen for base cards/odds and ends and a huge hollow to welcome easy to grab snak bags filled with individual fighters and their cards, tokens, and standees from that incarnation and First War. The merger of Argent and Mancers into the core went fairly smoothly with just a quarter tray appendectomy to accommodate minis, mana, tokens, and coinage.

More Game Taste wins over Less Tray Filling with me hands down.

So what does this have to with The Blades?

Well Millennium Blades is a card heavy game in a state of literal 'unboxing' and I was just curious.

The Blades is going to be big and destined to get bigger.

A massive tower of cardage to be sorted into many tinier decks varying in size and game usage and built back into a massive tower of cardage for play and sorted into many tinier decks again for storage.

So...

Tray vs Trough?

Are trays more aesthetically pleasing to the table top and in the open box? Who is more budget friendly from a design standpoint: in-box walls and divider cards or generic open box space and a custom tray?

How important is the consolidation of expansions with the core on your end of the table and should storage future-proofing be considered right 'out of the box' in design?













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Matt Pace
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Wow, impressively well-written.

Personal preference - I enjoy the tray, but only if it can accommodate at least 2 expansions. After 2 expansions, the box would be too heavy to reasonably consolidate anyways so by expansion 3 we could add a second box to the game without rage... As long as that second box will house the next 3-4 expansions, (hmm... Planning for 6 expansions before the game is even released, am I too anxious for Millennium Blades success?... Absolutely not!!!).
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Corporal Joe Bauers
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I thought of Broken Token the moment I read the thread title!

I much prefer the organization and lower size of a strong box like Sentinels of the Multiverse.

It's not so clear cut, however. The more non-card components a game has, the trickier the decision.

If you have to think about a lot of game boards and components, they need their space without crushing the cards, and plastic gives that support.

That can explain your Thunderstone example of using both.

I use a lot of plano, but I'm sure many other people do not.
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David Tehero
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Symmetrical Docking wrote:
I thought of Broken Token the moment I read the thread title!
It's not so clear cut, however. The more non-card components a game has, the trickier the decision.


Troughs are king in my book. If a game comes with tokens, it's nothing a foam divider and a bag/deck box can't fix. Smash Up and Sentinels being examples.
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Brad Hoffman
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My mantra is almost always: Simpler is better.
Things that are made to "perfectly" fit components rarely have any utility to me.

The best card inserts for me are the AEG ones for the smaller (old) Thunderstone boxes, not sure what they do with their "Advance" games, that ends up being a divider that creates two columns/rows . This makes it easy to store all the cards and just need dividers to separate the different sets of cards, which is what will need to happen for this game.

If we don't end up getting something like the Thunderstone inserts I'll just throw the insert away and make my own simple one that will probably fit 3-4 expansions depending on the box size.

I made a 3 column one for BattleCON Devastation that fit everything (Devastation + War + Extras) perfectly.
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Hai Kulture
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tehero22 wrote:


Troughs are king in my book. If a game comes with tokens, it's nothing a foam divider and a bag/deck box can't fix. Smash Up and Sentinels being examples.


I have to admit a love affair with the Sentinels Box T-Trough design. Over-sized villains, tokens, hit point trackers in the back bin and decks and dividers in marching order up front. I'm hoping the new set is a T-Trough as the Sig-O printed me a Cauldron Set and I want to give it a good home.

Honestly, if Greater Than just sold the box I would happily grab a dozen or so to re-skin for various game storage it works that well.

What truly mystifies me is the Thunderstone dance between trough and tray when their core sets could just be 3 trough boxes and even divide the middle section in two for an XP shard space in back and a smaller starter deck/curse/treasure holder column in front. Cardboard Walls that just eclipse a divider would support the board.

I actually find trough boxes to be sturdier than hollows with a plastic tray in the long run.
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David Hoffman
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Troughs every time -- toss in some dividers and some foam to break it all up and call it a day.

The best plastic insert in the world is still a plastic insert. I hate when a company tries to get clever with little sections for tokens or oversized cards or whatever and winds up making me toss the fancy thing because, hey, maybe it fits the base game, but not the KS extras or expansions or even the game-board.

Plastic inserts are for protecting a game during shipping. Troughs are for organizing a game after you crack open the box so you can play.
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David Tehero
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Xia so far is the only one where I haven't ditched the tray because the designer made it in mind that people would sleeve the game.Dungeon Fighter is on it's way out with the three expansion en route. But there are games where I have thrown the game box out entirely. On one occasion I cut up a DC deck builder box lid and taped it onto a Star Trek deck builder top. Used one of the cardboard spacers for the over sized cards. It was like it was meant to be.
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The worst is when there's a plastic tray, and the game has cards, and the game's box is tall enough for the cards to be places on their side, but the plastic tray has them placed flat.

Because no matter how well you pack your game, those flat cards are going to get up out of their well and travel.

(to say nothing of trays that don't fit sleeved cards)
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