by Rick Thornquist
April 1, 2011
There are a lot of game awards. Lots and lots. Too many, actually. It seems that every two-bit game group, web site, blog or podcast has some kind of game award. And who gets the recognition from these awards? Those highfalutin’ game designers. They end up getting all the glory just because they created the game. Ridiculous.
There’s lots of other people besides the designers who are responsible for these games. Publishers, graphic designers, artists, editors, and many others. They may not get the awards, but at least they get credit in the rules. Even playtesters get credit in the rules. Check out the credits of Le Havre sometime – half of the population of Germany is in there.
Yet there is one person who makes a huge contribution to the games yet receives no recognition whatsoever. Yes, I’m talking about the box insert designer, uh, person (or whatever they are called).
These purveyors of plastic, these masters of molding, these, I can’t think of another one, do something that all the other people can’t (or won’t) do. They keep our games organized. They keep the cubes, the meeples, the money, the boards, and everything else away from each other and in their rightful place. They should receive accolades for their work, yet they toil in obscurity.
It’s high time the box insert design designer guy got his (or her) due. Therefore, I hereby announced the Opinionated Gamers Box Insert of the Year Award (TM).
Yes, the OGBIOTYA, or, as I call it, the Boxy (TM) (or, perhaps, the Inserty) will be awarded to the game with the best box insert that was released in the current gaming fiscal year (Essen to Nuremberg). I will be taking nominations (see below) for the award plus nominations for the Boxy Hall of Fame, for previously released games whose box inserts deserve recognition.
I will start us off with a nomination for this year’s Boxy: Tikal II
In recent years, the art of creating box inserts has waned. Publishers, in the interest of cutting costs, have given us box inserts that don’t even fit the components of the game (I’m looking at you, Alea) or worse, generic box inserts with baggies. Some games even don’t have a box insert at all! The horror. Tikal II has returned us to the golden days of box inserts where a molded plastic try with individual wells holds the pieces snugly in their place. Tikal II also has given us an innovation in box inserts – molded plastic numbers beside each component that corresponds to the components in the setup guide. Bravo, unnamed box insert girl or guy designer. Bravo.
And here’s my nomination for the Boxy Hall of Fame: Domaine
Most good box inserts are functional. And then there are some that are works of art. Domaine’s insert is both. This one is two layers of inserty goodness, the bottom layer holding the pieces and the coins with the top layer holding down the bottom layer with the map tiles and the board frames. It would have been easy to just do it all in one layer, but the insert person decided to do it the hard way, and it came out splendidly. My hat is off to you, box inserter, you know, whatever.
Please contribute by giving your nominations for the Box Insert of the Year Awards or the Boxy Hall of Fame in the comments section below.
And, on behalf of all gamers, box insert designers, we salute you!
Other Opinionated Gamers:
Ted Cheatham: At a first thought, Rum and Pirates had that great case for the bits.
Wei-Hwa Huang: Hall of Fame nomination for goes to Valley Games’ Titan, made all the more impressive by the fact that the game was produced in China and not Germany, meaning that the insert needs to deal with components of somewhat shoddier quality. An insert has to be just right so that the pieces are tight enough that they won’t fall out even if the insert is fully turned upside-down. And the biggest problem with inserts is that they tend to fit just fine before you punch out the cardboard, but once you throw those frames away, there’s extra room for all the pieces to fall out of the insert. Titan solves this by having the box be smaller than its contents. Ingenious.
Dale Yu: Hall of Fame nomination to Dominion. (Yes, obvious disclaimer here as I am one of the developers of the game). The molded plastic insert helps keep the cards orderly and easy to access. Furthermore, the wells are deep enough to allow you to store the game on its side without worry that the cards will escape from their appointed slots.
I would also second the nomination for Tikal II. While the insert doesn’t give the players any more choices to make during the game (sadly), it does make it easy to identify the pieces and quickly/efficiently put them away afterwards.
Patrick Korner: I’d give a hall of fame nod to Big City, whose multiple-tray insert is a thing of wonder. For a game from this past year, well, it’s hard (impossible?) to top Tikal II.