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Subject: Carcassonne game organizer by Tower Rex: A review rss

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Pabs Fernandez
Australia
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First things first, I have no affiliation with Tower Rex. I am merely reviewing their product following a batch order of game organizers from different designers. I have found other people's reviews of game organizers really helpful, especially since I hail from Australia and postage is incredibly expensive out this way, and wanted to contribute in case it helps anyone else.

The order: Intent, costs, delivery, and package arrival

I originally purchased the Tower Rex game organizer for Carcassonne following struggles with sorting the game and it's various micro-expansions neatly into the original box. My partner and I usually play with the base game and one or two other expansions, and were spending a lot of time sorting tiles at the start of each game and trying to fit what was clearly too many tiles into the box at its end.

After purchasing two other organizers from Tower Rex, and realizing how reasonable costs were for both the product and shipping, it was a no-brainier to throw this one into the mix for $13AUD and $20AUD (combined with another organizer) shipping to Australia. Just to put things into perspective for non-Aussies, $10AUD is often considered 'flat rate' shipping within Australia, and this thing was coming all the way from the Ukraine! More perspective: In my research, organizers from the US or UK for similar organizers were about double the cost for the product and shipping. Bottom line: the product was not only cheap but postage very reasonable from farther than I'm used to purchasing from.

The package arrived two weeks later just after New Years day. Two weeks. Just after New Years day. I've had deliveries from within Australia arrive later than that. Hell, I've had text message replies later than that. Needless to say, shipping was super fast. The organizer arrived in a padded envelope plastered with Ukrainian stamps, which unfortunately I didn't get to snap a photo of before tearing it apart to get to the good stuff inside. But I did note some signs of wear on the corners of the envelope (nothing poking through though), suggesting wear from handling and the possible weight of the item. Keep in mind that I purchased two organizers, so I think the envelope did fairly well considering the weight. The use of a box would have made more sense, but I suspect that shipping wouldn't have been so affordable, so since none of the (actual) contents were damaged I'm not going to critique this too much.

Assembly: Quality, instructions, and ease of build



The game organizer arrived as a shrink-wrapped set of three (possibly pine) wood panels with laser-cut pieces that are designed to be popped out and assembled using dovetail-like joining methods. There were only a few dings in the wood from postage and all were isolated to the panel frame holding the pieces, so I was either lucky or the product is cleverly designed. On the flip side of the package, there were some pictorial Ikea-like instructions that seemed fairly straightforward to follow for the small number of parts comprising the organizer.



Popping out the pieces was easy, and to be honest, most of them fell out as I lifted the panels to arrange them on the floor. I was going to critique how loose they were in the panel, until I tried assembling some of their other organizers (not in this review) and found that some required much more force to remove pieces, which at times, resulted in (superficial) damage. So, let them be loose, I say. In terms of tactility, I was skeptical about the quality of the wood as it is thinly cut, feels soft, and splinters at times when removing pieces from the panel. That said, none of the pieces in this organizer were damaged in the process of removal or assembly, so the quality of the wood surpassed my expectations.

I found the instructions easy enough to follow for an organizer of this size, though I did have some slight difficulties locating the exact pieces I needed at times. That is, despite their being clearly marked along the panel frame, pieces were not sequentially ordered or necessarily on the same panel for the component I happened to be working on at the time. Again, I imagine that this is a product of efficiency rather than disorganization, as having all the pieces you need for a given organizer on the same panel would result in more panels being required and subsequently higher product and shipping costs. So having them clustered so that they fit on the fewest number of panels possible is a more efficient design. So, again, I downgrade my major gripe to a mild frustration. Much like a mosquito bite.

Physically assembling the organizer was easy to do using the no-glue-required dovetail-style joints. Initially, I had concerns about forcing the pieces together but they fit together snugly, they held together tightly once the whole organizer was completed and reinforcing the fixtures. That said, there were some times that I had to force the joints together with a little more force than I was hoping to use, which resulted in some very superficial splintering within the joint. But that said, each main joint 'tooth' was bordered by two hairline pieces on either side that seemed to provide some flexibility when pressing pieces together. So maybe the superficial splintering was by design? But what do I know, I'm not a carpenter.


Upon completing assembly you can really appreciate the thought that has gone into its design. There are familiar symbols for all the expansions and they are cut to fit the exactly number of tiles near-exactly. There are also trays for meeples and other tokens used during expansions (e.g. Traders and Builder's goods tokens). The trays are also designed to stack on top of each other without too much wobble, and all fit neatly into the box, with the lid coming down neatly and without any undue pressure to its sides or lid. My fetish for organization was thoroughly stoked by the time I had completed assembling the organizer. The only downside that I can imagine for owners of substantially more expansions that I own for Carcassonne is that this one has a per-determined set of expansions it is designed for. Although there is one unmarked section, and the sections for certain expansions could be used interchangeably for those who don't own a given expansion, avid Carcassonners with a large collection might need to look for a larger organizer. But for me, I was very happy with the size.





Verdict

In all, I really liked this game organizer. It was an unexpectedly useful impulse buy that ticked a lot of boxes for me. It was really affordable, arrived quickly, was easy to punch out and assemble, and has been a great way to organize my base game and the number of expansions I own. On the flip side, Tower Rex have baffled me with a number of decisions that leave me questioning whether they were made intentionally or accidentally; like using padded envelopes instead of boxes for postage, having pieces randomly scattered across panels thus making them less efficient to locate, and having dovetail joints that seem to splinter superficially at times when being fit together. That said, these were relatively minor complaints given the overall affordability, quality, utility of the organizer. Thus, I'd definitely recommend this one for people looking for a cost-effective storage option that is of good quality for a reasonably-sized collection of expansions.

4 out of 5 meeples meeple

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Leigh Micevski
Australia
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Nice write up.

I was just looking at this product and the keyflower one for delivery to Australia

Question. The Carcassonne organiser doesn't come with a lid does it? So you would you have lay the Carcassonne box horizontal rather vertical, yes?

 
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Pabs Fernandez
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SER BARRISTAN SELMY wrote:
Nice write up.

I was just looking at this product and the keyflower one for delivery to Australia

Question. The Carcassonne organiser doesn't come with a lid does it? So you would you have lay the Carcassonne box horizontal rather vertical, yes?



Thank you!

You're quite right, the organiser doesn't come with a lid. That said, I store mine vertically and have not noticed any issues with pieces falling out of their trays and mixing with others.

The reasons for this, I suspect, are that: the game has mostly tiles that can be stored in either direction without too much movement; the scoring board, rules, and tile bag act as a 'lid' of sorts when placed on top of the components, and; the meeple/token trays are designed to fit exactly over each other such that it is only the top tray that has the potential to spill (but doesn't because of the scoring board 'lid').
 
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Joseph Bottoms
United Kingdom
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Nice review, descriptive and too the point with helpful photos. Infact very helpful overall in me deciding to press the button and make my purchse, it looks like what I need for a decent price.

You mention that you have ordered Game Organizers from other companies. Is there a chance you would will do reviews of theese other organisers?

As you say, organiser reviews are very useful, but few and far between at the moment. It would make for a good series.

Joe
 
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Pabs Fernandez
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morningview66 wrote:
Nice review, descriptive and too the point with helpful photos. Infact very helpful overall in me deciding to press the button and make my purchse, it looks like what I need for a decent price.

You mention that you have ordered Game Organizers from other companies. Is there a chance you would will do reviews of theese other organisers?

As you say, organiser reviews are very useful, but few and far between at the moment. It would make for a good series.

Joe


Thanks Joe!

You're absolutely right that organiser reviews are so helpful but hard to find. I've been taking some photos of the other organisers I've put together (mostly from TR at this stage) and will be uploading them when I've got some time. Stay tuned.
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