Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Box Inserts

This week, I have a new-found appreciation for the change wrought by a good box insert.

I mean ... I've known that a good insert makes a huge difference, but it was really driven home by several events over the last few weeks:

  1. I decided to try out the Broken Token inserts, including their 7 Wonders insert. I have all of the expansions and promos for this game and my cards are sleeved, and which means that the base game's insert is filled with fail. I can't fit the leaders and all of the Wonders and the Babel cards and tiles in there.
  2. I acquired Food Chain Magnate, which includes 300+ cards and no insert. Looking through my collection, I have a few games in this category, too.  Nations and Megacivilization both spring immediately to mind.  Having that many cards and no insert (or tuckboxes for the cards) is - honestly - unforgivable.

Here's what you need to know about me and handicrafts:

I'm clumsy and uncoordinated.  That's putting it mildly.  I can't even count the number of miniatures I have glued myself to while assembling them. The most notable self-gluing came while when I was 19, living in a dorm, and assembling a Locust battlemech, where I managed to glue both hands to the figure and my phone, and I managed to glue the phone to my ear at the same time.

So I looked at the Broken Token's roster, first, looking for a simple kit to start with. I settled on their box insert for Legendary Encounters, because I have Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deckbuilding Game (and I quite like it, for reasons I can't fully articulate - but that's another discussion for another time), and I'm dissatisfied with the "stock" insert (because I sleeve cards that get shuffled/used a lot). I ordered the insert and a bit of Gorilla Glue.  It took me about ten minutes to get the box together.

The instructions were clear, and I barely needed to use any glue on it (and I didn't glue myself to the box).  I can do this, I thought.  So I ordered the previously-mentioned insert for 7 Wonders.

It's several degrees of difficulty higher than the other one. It took me about an hour (not including time for the glue to dry) to get this one together. But it works. It holds all the bits - all of them. Sleeved cards, extra Wonders, Leaders, City Cards, and all. In the base game's box, which is now a bit sturdier than before.

Sadly, neither The Broken Token nor Go7Gaming make inserts for Nations or Megacivilization or Food Chain Magnate. So I did some digging and found several sites of DIYers who were doing game inserts out of foamcore. The Esoteric Order of Gamers even has some walkthrough posts with video showing how to use foamcore to make inserts.

I can do that, I thought. So I had my wife pick up a metal yardstick and some glue, and I grabbed a self-healing cut mat and my trusty X-Acto knife and then I ... proceeded to make a hash of it. The yardstick didn't have any kind of cork or non-slick backing. My X-Acto knife kept cutting at an angle because I wobbled. So I had curved and angle-cut foamcore, when I wanted crisp edges and straight lines. But - and this is the important part - I enjoyed the work. So, even though nothing usable came out of it, it was fun. It was something I want to do again.  Only with better tools. And it's the kind of thing where the more I do, the better I'll get.  You know: Practice Makes Better.

I don't do things half-way. It's just not me.  So I ordered this kit. I did my research, and it's highly-rated and should do what I need it to do. Now I just need to wait for it to arrive so I can ... waste a ton of foamcore trying to get things right.

I don't expect to turn out professional-quality inserts in No Time At All, but with a bit of practice and some time, I'm pretty sure I can get some pretty solid results in a reasonably short amount of time.

Provided I don't glue myself to the box.

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