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Commands & Colors: Ancients» Forums » General

Subject: Spend time to save time: A lesson on diminishing returns rss

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Phillip Aquino
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Circleville
Ohio
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I've developed a habit of tweaking my games storage to make them easier to setup and get going. I'm sure a lot of others do the same as well, but unlike a lot of others, I usually don't share my work. Not because I'm not selfish or anything, but I just don't think my efforts are worthy enough for others to attempt to replicate.

That said, don't expect this to be the exception .. I still think this storage solution isn't that great considering the input effort. I simply decided to post this due to how freakin' long this little project of mine ended up taking. Anything sucking up a sizable portion of my life deserves to remembered; whether good or bad. (Just how long do you ask? I'd say we are on the order of 15-20 hours of work now over the course of several weeks.. and by 'we', I mean 'me'... on my own. Alone... So, so alone.)



So anyway, here is a look at the final product:


These are the Roman forces.


And these are the Carthaginian forces. I had to use an extra sheet for the Carthaginian Light units. I really wanted symmetry between the two armies, but size of the boards and available dimensions just made it too difficult to produce. So, extra board it was.



So what these boards are is essentially three pieces of foam board with adhesive backing (which you can buy at a Walmart, Target, or any craft store) stacked on top of each other, mounted on cardstock, and then hand razored to allow each unit to rest in a perfectly sized hole. The end result is pretty good. Every piece fits nice and snug. You can even hold the boards upside down and shake them and none of the pieces will pop out.

Obviously, this takes an enormous amount of planning to get it just right. There is a fine balance between keeping unit groups together and using up available board real estate without getting too close to the edges of the board or even to the edges of other holes (Which really sucks when you do, btw) Part of why it took so long was that I completed the whole set with only two layers of foam board only to find that it wasn't think enough to really hold the blocks down. So stuck with the options of tossing out all my hard work and going 'conventional' or sucking it up and dumping more time into adding another layer of foam and cutting every single hole again.. well, I just had to go with the latter. The 'prototypes', as I liked to call them at the time, showed potential and I wasn't about to let all my effort go wasted when I was but a few hours from victory.



Advantages

Now that I have them, they are great. Here's a few of my other reasons for attempting such a silly project.

1. They look good. This was my main reason for trying this. I thought about using planos like everyone else.. but I didn't like how you couldn't see all the units in the box. Seeing every piece side by side 'in formation' once you've unpacked your army just seems right to me.

2. Setup A close second. We have never timed setup times, but having all your units together on color coded boards is amazingly convenient. Also, unlike the planos, it is a cinch to pop to units out of their holding position on the boards. It may not be half the time to setup as before, but it certainly feels like it.

3. Everything fits in the box Part of the planning was making sure everything could get completely back in the box.


And it does! The lid closes completely.. hurray!


Disadvantages

I've already made it abundantly clear that the construction time was ludicrous.. but here are some others as well.

1. Build time. Almost a full day of my life is gone now. Was it worth it? No

2. Tear down While taking the pieces out of their proper place is nice.. putting them back takes that much longer than just throwing them back in the box/bag. You can put them back as units die off, but the few that remain still take a little longer to put away than were there no specific place for them to be. The net effect is still in my favor (set up is so quick, that a little bit of slow down in tear down still ends with a time savings)

3. Expansions Were I ever to get any of the expansions, I would feel somewhat obligated to make more of these mats for them as well.



Conclusion

I should have just did what everyone else has done. I'm really glad to have them now, but the investment made to get them was pretty steep. So I honestly can't suggest anyone try to make any yourself. Maybe if there was a faster way to cut through the boards than using a ruler and straight edge razors (11 of them) with any kind of accuracy. But it certainly is easier just to pick up the 6 plano boxes and print out the labels to stick on them. So, do I think my end result is better? Yes. Would I ever do it again? NO

But hey, at least I'll start seeing returns on my time investment by my 2000th game!




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A man after my own heart. I love projects like these for enhancing a game experience. Thanks for sharing and well done!
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Kevin Duke
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You might enjoy this thread:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/140104


He did a somewhat similar system, but different in some ways also.

(One of the things about being here since the game started is seeing cycles of similar ideas...

Just for the record, if you're new to the game and really like it, take the time to flip back through all the postings. I'm not saying try to read everything-- I guessed that this idea was posted in "general" (was correct, thankfully), but at least take a cruise to look at the thread titles. You might find some interesting stuff has already been asked, answered, discussed, debated...
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Sifu
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I think your work is awesome, and I'm a big plastic bag guy all the way!
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Phillip Aquino
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Circleville
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Ha, nice.. I'm a good year and a half late to the party.

Looks like he had a better idea of designing it all on software first and then cutting it out. Rather than the 'touchy feely' method I used.


And I especially liked the "Time: 30 min"... I literally laughed out loud when I saw that.



Well for any one else who stumbles across this thread, sorry for the double post, I know it can be annoying.. just wanted to share a little bit of my work.

Cheers

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Matthew Jones
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PMantix84 wrote:
And I especially liked the "Time: 30 min"... I literally laughed out loud when I saw that.


Me too, quite frankly. I'm not saying it can't be done, but I'm a bit sceptical.

PMantix84 wrote:

Well for any one else who stumbles across this thread, sorry for the double post, I know it can be annoying.. just wanted to share a little bit of my work.

Cheers



For what it's worth, you've done a fantastic job and created something that is useful and good.

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Kevin Duke
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Indeed, interesting. I was not complaining about a double post, which I don't think this is, but recalled the similarity of style and thought you'd be interested.

Just as we have new CCA players coming here, we have folks new to BGG as well, and the tiny numbers may not be obvious at first go 'round. Does a first-comer spot that there are 82 pages of threads? Yikes!

But click on "rules" and it shrinks to 18. That may still seem like a lot, but a quick few clicks could take a person to a subject line similar to the question they are about to ask. It may have been discussed. It may even have a posting from Richard B. himself (he has been here a few times.) Useful stuff, when a person learns how to find it.
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