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Subject: What's Better -- Trays or Bags? rss

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Michael Hopcroft
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The thread title just about says it all. I'm trying to decide what to do with my January mad money, or what of it I can extend to board wargaming: do I buy a set of country trays for the games I have yet to punch, or would I be better served with a large collection of plastic bags for my counters? I know there are bags sold that are specialized for that purpose, and they are usually released in boxes of a hundred or so.

So my questions involve which is the better value for my money, based not only on cost but also on ease of use once the counters are sorted and flexibility (some games feature counters that don't fit into the trays.

The other question is what to look for if I seek to buy the things online, or what to ask a local store if I want them to order them for me.
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Randall Shaw
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Baggies, definitely; the only way to go.
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Michael Hopcroft
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usrlocal wrote:
I'm very sentimental about the old SPI-style counter trays, but I gotta admit that I'm finding baggies very useful. Dollar stores or craft stores carry different sizes, which can be useful for sorting counters by different types (i.e., larger baggies for an abundant number of counters, smaller baggies for things like game status counters) in a given game.


And how much do they charge for those? And also are there hobby (ours or other) stores online where I can get them in large quantities?
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Jim F
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If l can fit them in, l use a bead box from a hobby shop. Failing that it's baggies. I am not sure who, apart from GMT, does counter trays now. Maybe mmp as well? One of my ASL opponents has bought a very nifty box which stores all his asl counters. I smiled when, after telling me how quickly he could now find everything, he struggled to find the ones we actually wanted for the game. Sorry Mark!
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I find baggies just much more practical.
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Michael Hopcroft
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usrlocal wrote:
The larger ones (3x4) I get at the local dollar store go for 50 baggies for $1. The smaller ones (2 1/4 x 2 3/4) are $1 for a pack of 80. The only thing about the cheap-ass baggies from the dollar store is that sometimes the zip-loc part rips.


That is exactly why I want to go to a specialized retailer. someone who carries a decent-quality product and who knows what they're talking about when you inquire about it.
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David Heldt
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I find that with greater numbers of counters trays become more desireable--
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Warren Bruhn
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You might be able to find some counter trays at Rainy Day Games, or at Guardian Games, or at Bridgetown Hobbies in your metro area. Give then a call on the phone first to see if they have any. I've always bought counter trays at game stores, but some people order them. Maybe you could check the websites for game companies like GMT, MMP, Decision Games, Compass Games, and others to see if you can find any for sale.

I prefer counter trays, because leaving the counters in the trays until you needs them usually beats getting them out of the baggies and stacking up the counters around the map. But I do have one of my most important game's counters still in baggies, just ziplock sandwich bags bought from a grocery store, very cheap. Now that I think about it, perhaps I should get some counter trays for that game too...

Some trays don't fit into the game boxes, too short or too big. One box of mine has some larger game trays cut up to fit. And sometimes there is a bit of extra room around the tray in a large game box. So check dimensions before buying.
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Max Coffey
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I have found trays to be better for playing and storage. Mind you, baggies are useful for less complicated games that get played every once in a while.

GMT just restocked their site with I think it's 10 trays for $18. These are quality trays that fit into most boxes.

Trays are more visually appealing, presenting a variety of counters which are easier to access than baggies. I have my series games system counters all in a tray of their own, and it ports well from game to game. I had all of my ASL in trays that fit into a milk crate and it was great. Trays stack and are easier to handle in a collection and when bringing out to play. Baggies are okay if you don't have more than 10 of them to sort through or grab. I have found that counters wear more in baggies than trays, just because of the extra handling.

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Iain K
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Quote:
What's Better -- Trays or Bags?


Yes.

Seriously. Bags take up less space and for games where counters don't need to be sorted into 20 subgroups they are more then sufficient. The flip side is also true, where it helps to have counters sorted or organized into 10+ subgroups prior to play, then the space requirements and cost of trays are justified.
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Joe Wert
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So far all my games are stored in bags, except for the one I'm actually playing, which gets my two spare plano boxes. I think I find the constant grabbing of counters from a tray is nicer while playing than dumping them out of bags. Bags take up quite a bit less space though, so are better for storage.
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Michael Hopcroft
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I just got a used game where the counters had been punched and were in large bags where they seem to have been poured in essentially at random. They counters were apparently all there but heaven help me if I need to find one. Fortunately it's a game I mainly ex[ect to play via VASSAL or Cyberboard so I won't have to sort through the counters anytime soon, but still it's awkward. Looks like someone had gotten extremely lazy on that occasion.
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Bags for storage - trays for things which need to be sorted
because they see a decent amount of play for the sorting costs.
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Michael Hopcroft
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Just ordered a set of 10 trays from GMT. SHould arrive in the next couple of weeks.

I think I need baggies too, however, at least for the one game where I don't think some of the counters will fit in the pockets of the tray.
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This is really subjective to individual preference but maybe there is an overall consensus on what the majority likes. There is also the desire by some for plano boxes too, these are like fishing tackle boxes. Since you want the most bang for your buck then baggies are the way to go. Many websites sell several sizes and thicknesses and in bulk for very low rates. U-Line is a packaging company that carries a very large selection.

http://www.uline.com/Grp_5/Poly-Bags-Reclosable

Other places to try are craft store websites unless you have a local one with a good selection. I use mostly baggies but I have several counter trays too I use with some games. After awhile you'll come to recognize why it's nice to use both but if I had to use only one it would probably be baggies, price and selection can't be beat.

Best of luck!

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Randall Shaw
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"I just got a used game where the counters had been punched and were in large bags where they seem to have been poured in essentially at random."

I can assure you the result is the same if the counters are poured into the trays at random as well. cool

Games in baggies also travel much better.
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Jason Sadler
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I usually have informational markers in trays and the bulk of the unit counters in bags.
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Bill Lawson
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BeatPosse wrote:
I usually have informational markers in trays and the bulk of the unit counters in bags.


I do the exact opposite!
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Michael Hopcroft
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One reason I thought trays, at least to start, is the nature of many of the games I need to punch (I'm also wondering whether I need to clip them, but that's for a different thread). There are many different types of unit counter for each side in these games, and the differentiation is pretty important. If I need to deploy a HMG deploying a LMG on the same side just won't do. Dozens of baggies might not have been the best option for a game like that.

Then again, there's another game I'm thinking of punching that features some oversized counters. These counters are designed to be deployed upright in stands and are nearly two inches tall. They probably would not fit at all into a standard counter tray, even from the same publisher.

No idea what will happen when I start punching and sorting (and clipping?).
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Joseph Boeke
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usrlocal wrote:
I'm very sentimental about the old SPI-style counter trays, but I gotta admit that I'm finding baggies very useful. Dollar stores or craft stores carry different sizes, which can be useful for sorting counters by different types (i.e., larger baggies for an abundant number of counters, smaller baggies for things like game status counters) in a given game.

Me too, I use different sized baggies, but prefer them to counter trays (I had too many SPI trays carried sideways, screwing up my sorting over the years...).
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Roger Hobden
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Michael Hopcroft
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The games I'm planning to tray are multi-scenario games for the most part that feature a wide variety of unit types that are in different proportions in different scenarios. Things like different models of tanks on the same side.
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Trays or Bags? Hmmmmm...kind of like the age old question: Boxers or Briefs?

In the end, you should go with whichever protects all your important pieces...

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Hal Fisher
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I personally use bags but if I had better access to trays, I would like to use them as well. But as mentioned before, bags do travel better I find.
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