Category Archives: Projects

Foam Alone

Bitten by the foamboard bug, I’ve spent a bit of time over the last few days housing a couple more games in foamboard inserts.

Carcassonne, with Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders expansions

The cardboard insert for Carcassonne is actually very good, with a perfectly sized channel for the tiles and a well for meeples, etc. It will actually happily hold at least one expansion in there, as well as the tile bag from Traders & Builders. However, just in case I feel like getting another expansion or four in the future (and in order to get some more foamboard practice in), I decided to go all foamy on it.

The standard base game box.

The standard base game box.

Lid off, rules (for base game and expansions) and score board are underneath.

Lid off, rules (for base game and expansions) and score board are underneath.

Under the score board, an inner lid holding the starting tile in pride of place (and the hole when you remove the tile acts as a useful handle to get the snug lid out). Take the lid out and...

Under the score board, an inner lid holding the starting tile in pride of place (and the hole when you remove the tile acts as a useful handle to get the snug lid out). Take the lid out and…

Normal meeples top-left, expansion parts top-middle, tile bag top-right. Next row down is the base game tiles (and 50+/100+ score tiles on the right), then the two expansions in the next row. Plenty of space for more expansions should I ever want them.

Normal meeples top-left, expansion parts top-middle, tile bag top-right. Next row down is the base game tiles (and 50+/100+ score tiles on the right), then the two expansions in the next row. Plenty of space for more expansions should I ever want them.

Suburbia with Suburbia Inc

I took strong influence from a foamboard design by Redditor Belryan and tweaked it slightly to fit the components in slightly differently.

The box.

The box.

As with Carcassonne, the rulebooks and boards sit just under the lid. This time, they act as the lid for...

As with Carcassonne, the rulebooks and boards sit just under the lid. This time, they act as the lid for…

...pretty much everything! Across the top we've got money and player bits. Lower down, on the left are the borders from the expansion, then round Goal tiles (split into base and expansion) and Bonuses and Challenges from the expansion, then three columns of hex tiles. Each column contains (top to bottom) the base game tiles, expansion tiles and the green/grey/yellow starting tiles for each suburb.

…pretty much everything! Across the top we’ve got money and player bits. Lower down, on the left are the borders from the expansion, then round Goal tiles (split into base and expansion) and Bonuses and Challenges from the expansion, then three columns of hex tiles. Each column contains (top to bottom) the base game tiles, expansion tiles and the green/grey/yellow starting tiles for each suburb.

Turn the box ninety degrees and lift out the tile and money trays to reveal the player boards (right) and player aids (left). Once you know the game, the player aids aren't even necessary, so they could stay hidden for a long time.

Turn the box ninety degrees and lift out the tile and money trays to reveal the player boards (right) and player aids (left). Once you know the game, the player aids aren’t even necessary, so they could stay hidden for a long time.

Again, I’m really pleased with how these inserts turned out. The Suburbia insert suffers a little from some slightly shoddy measuring on my part, so the lift-out tile tray is more of a wrestle-out tile tray and the borders are a tight fit, but it works. Plenty of room for future expansion tiles in A, B, C, Bonuses, Challenges and Goals. Just have to hope there aren’t any more borders.

I’m feeling adventurous now, so it might be Mage Knight next…

Chairman of the (Foam) Board

As any board game hobbyist knows, games generally don’t come with useful box inserts. The insert is designed to get the components from the factory to the gamer – via several legs of transportation – without damage. Once you’ve punched out the tokens, unwrapped the cards and sorted the wooden/plastic/ivory/whatever pieces into bags according to player colour, the insert is usually a hindrance to decent game storage and it gets hurled on the bonfire at the earliest opportunity.

With some games, that’s not really a problem, but when you’ve got a lot of delicate components that need to retain their ability to hold hidden information, you don’t want everything knocking around together and getting damaged. (“Ah yes, I recognise the back of that secret tile. It’s got a meeple-shaped dent along one side.”) And that’s where a bit of foamboard comes in.

Regardless of your feelings about Elder Sign as a game… this is a very, very cool foamboard insert by Maxime Verrette on BoardGameGeek (click the image to find out more).

Foamboard (a.k.a. foamcore – although I avoid that term largely because it sounds like a sub-genre of metal) is essentially a layer of plastic foam sandwiched between two sheets of thin card. It’s also the only material with which I’ve ever successfully carried out a DIY/craft project, so I’m a huge fan.

My immediate concern was Hegemonic. With all those lovely bits knocking around loose inside the box with metal coins, it would only be a matter of time before a card or sector tile got a telltale dent.

Here’s how things started.

I’d made some tuckboxes for the cards (bottom left), but they (a) were ugly; and (b) didn’t solve the problems for the rest of the components. I watched the Esoteric Order of Gamers’ videos on building foamboard inserts, ordered some A1 sheets of the stuff and got cracking. I laid the pieces out in the box and made a rough plan:

Look, I was raised by a doctor, OK? If no one else needs to read it, I'm not bothered how messy my writing is...

Look, I was raised by a doctor, OK? If no one else needs to read it, I’m not bothered how messy my writing is…

First step was the inner foamboard box. I decided to attempt to run before I could walk, making interlocking ends for the walls of the box. Not a great move, given that I ended up with worse piece-to-piece contact than I would have done with a straight glued corner.

This was probably the best joint of the four. Yuck.

This was probably the best joint of the four. Yuck.

I also learned the perils of cutting foamboard too quickly and at too steep an angle.

Choppy-choppy makes sloppy-sloppy.

Choppy-choppy makes sloppy-sloppy.

So that was two lessons learned within the first few minutes. But I had a functional box that fitted perfectly into the Hegemonic game box.

FILL ME WITH THINGS.

FILL ME WITH THINGS.

After that, it kind of just flowed naturally. I kept getting choppy edges if I wasn’t careful enough, but I generally got better at cutting the board. And I managed to fit in some nice little flourishes, like notches to make sure all the cards were fully accessible and easy to lift out.

So, from the bottom up, I present my custom foamboard insert for Hegemonic.

The empty insert. Notice the raised and shaped floor in the second compartment from the right along the top. You’ll see why it’s there in a second.

Galaxy board, sector hexes and cards in place. Technology cards are separated into two decks, for 2–3 player games and 4–6 player games. Same goes for the sector hexes (left- and right-hand piles respectively). Leader cards are under the action cards in the top-left well.

Remember that little notch under the middle hex well?

The cut-out neatly houses the Arbiter token and phase marker.

This lift-out tray holds the six sets of player pieces…

…and sits on top of the lower compartments when placed in the box.

The lid for the player pieces fits snugly into the top of that tray, while two separate lift-out trays of coins fit above the hex piles.

I deliberately chose to have two boxes of coins, so they could be lifted out and placed at opposite ends of a table for a large six-player game – less reaching means smoother gaming! I was also convinced that a single, large box had more potential to fall to bits under the weight of the metal coins it contained.

Snug lids fit into the tops of the coin boxes, while the player boards, scoreboard and player aids sit on top of the player-piece tray.

Another lid, including a small “buffer” piece to make the top of everything level.

The central galaxy board, rulebook and BGG printouts (teaching script and FAQ) sit on top.

And the lid goes on nearly all the way. Just a couple of mm in it.

So there you have it – a success! The main expense involved was that of time. The whole process took about five hours from start to finish, but time’s one thing I’m not really short of at the moment. I’m sure I’ll be making many more inserts over the coming weeks.