Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Good box, bad box

One convenient feature of board games is that they are self-contained. Everything you need comes in the box. Unpack the box, play, pack the box away.

In recent years many board games have come a long way in their design and been quite clever in how their act as a storage unit for the game and its components.

Lords of Waterdeep is probably the exemplar of this. The game itself features a board, three different types of card, building tiles, agent pieces, and four groups of wooden cubes representing the adventurers. Being able to keep all this separate really helps with setting up and packing away. The box design aids this perfectly:


I’m not the only one who gets excited by good design, right? This is the best I’ve come across, and many other board games do very well too. With Lords of Waterdeep, the rulebook even gives you a map showing where everything should go:


On the other hand, we have the Talisman Dragons box. Talisman is a modular game. The original comes with adventure cards, a board, plus counters and miniatures. The expansions tend to add more of each; so more boards, more cards, more miniatures.

With the smaller expansions the intent is clearly that the basic box has room. It does, but only to a point. For expansions like Talisman Dragons, where the box is the same size as the original Talisman game box, the expectation is of more storage space. Instead, we get this:


A box, with the space occupied by a rigid interior incorporating a baffling trench feature. What am I supposed to do this this, Fantasy Flight? Like really, was a plastic interior to hold cards and counters too much? The Dragons expansion comes with plenty of each, and additional miniatures too, plus an alternative board centre. The lipped area you see will support the board and the counters, as long as they stay on the card frame and don’t get used!

Cards won’t fit in the trench, as seen here:


At least they wont fit in a way that lets the board section also fit. It’s one or the other. This box is bafflingly, insultingly useless. It represents the last Talisman expansion I will ever buy. I mean, really.

There’s no excuse for bad box design in this day and age, and that is some epic bad box design.

7 comments on “Good box, bad box

  1. gilberterik
    December 28, 2014

    Have you tried lifting the tab at the bottom of the trench and using that to keep the bag laying flat in place to either end of the trench?


  2. Troy
    December 28, 2014

    When I see a box like the Talisman box I will either flip the insert inside out (so you get two large areas to store stuff) or store the insert somewhere else.

    The only complaint I have with the Lords of Waterdeep insert is they didn’t size the card holders for sleeved cards. They fit length and width wise but the depth of the insert doesn’t work very well when the cards are sleeved (even the thinner penny sleeves).


  3. Flames of the Phoenix
    January 1, 2015

    I have found that box inserts rarely fit the contents all that well, especially with Fantasy Flight. They tend to use their generic insert, which might work to package everything originally, but is terrible after you have punched out everything and unwrapped it. They are not the only offenders, but I have quite a few of their games, so I have noticed a trend with them.

    The Lords of Waterdeep one looks pretty nice, though.


  4. Azazel
    January 25, 2015

    I tend to find that most boxed boardgames’ inserts and interiors aren’t much when it comes to adding in any kind of expansion. Something like Waterdeep seems to very much be the exception rather then the rule.


    • davekay
      January 25, 2015

      No, Lords fits its own contents perfectly, but will not fit the expansion, which requires its own (similarly designed) box.


      • Azazel
        January 26, 2015

        Well, at least they’ve made the effort. As much as I like many of FFG’s products, they seem to use the same kind of folded cardboard in most (if not all) of their games, so it usually just gets chucked after awhile as I try to fit in the additional products.


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This entry was posted on December 27, 2014 by in Board Games and tagged , , , , , , .
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