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How important is box size?


I have been thinking about box sizes lately. And, I have been thinking about it even more after So Very Wrong About Games had a podcast episode yesterday where they briefly discussed box size.

I think my position has changed somewhat over the past months/years.

I think I started very much prefering the "standard" "ticket to ride sized box." This is the size box that, famously, Ticket to Ride came in. It is the size that FFG calls a "medium square." It is a square that is approximately 11.5"x11.5". For a long time I wanted all boxes to be that size, and wished that the manufacturor would just make it as deep as it needed to be. #Gloomhaven??? Yep, just make it 11.5x11.5 than make it 8 or 10 or 11 inches deep. #Twilight Imperium 4th Edition? If you wanted a box with the same amount of cubic inches, you would just need a 11.5x11.5 8 inches thick. This is the position I used to have.

But, then something happened, I moved to Central America. I don't know how long I will be here. But, I quickly discovered that the "average" game box is a real monster. If I want to ship a game down here, it will usually be $40-$100 depending on game size, insurance, packaging, weight, and a number of other things. So, I have taken to shipping my games to my US address, generally for free, and and then picking them up whenever I go home for vacation or a whatever. I have also had friends and family bring my games to me. These experiences changed me. Do you know how much room a standard sized game box takes up in a suitcase?? It is astonishing. And, if there other special things you want to bring down from the states, room can quickly become tight. So, I quickly changed my tune. I wanted games that filled their boxes. I don't really care as much how big the box is, just that it is well used. I didn't want airspace, I didn't want the boxes to be a bit bigger than they needed to be. Honestly, this is one of things that got me started looking at Sierra Madre games. I mean, just look at #Pax Emancipation. It comes in a box that 5x5x2 and has a big, meaty, heavy game in it??? sign me up.

Now we come to where I am now. I want 3 or so standardized box sizes.

  • I want the big, component heavy games to come in TTR sized box that is as deep as it needs to be, in my mind, the only reason to go bigger than this is if it can't physically fit into a 11.5" cube.
  • I want the majority of games to come in a GMT sized game box. This is about 12"x9". #Agricola (Revised Edition) comes in a box that is just about a quarter inch or so taller than a GMT box, I don't know if that is a better reference. Again, like the first category, and, further being picky.... If this box needs to be more than 3-4 inches deep step it up to the TTR sized box.
  • If you want a smaller box, go to a 7"x7" or a 7"x5".  This can be good for roll and writes, smaller games, etc.....


Other considerations:

  • Artwork: You could probably fit #Scythe in a 11.5x11.5x5 inch box. But, you would need to reformat the art that was designed for a rectangular box. The same is true of #Twilight Imperium 4th Edition and many other games that were designed for rectangular boxes. I am convinced that they could be every bit as beautiful and arresting, but it wouldn't be the exact same art.
  • Expansions: I don't buy many expansions. Some people, , buy all the expansions. I, generally speaking, don't need room in the base box for expansions. Some people will want room in the base box for expansions. Actually, I would like an option to spend a bit more for an expansion, and have it come in a box big enough for it + the base game etc...
  • Materials: Cardboard is a suitable material for game boxes, metal is not.
  • Storage. I tend to store my games vertically whenever possible. That is one reason I love the GMT sized game boxes. They feel "smaller" than the "normal" box. But, they have a better presence on the shelf because they are a bit taller. The other thing is that I don't have any fancy storage solutions. My games get to live on bookcases, and for some of my bookcases a 11.5" square is sticks out a bit.
  • I am ok with some, a few, outliers. I am fine with Button Shy continuing to offer wallet sized games. I am fine with comprehensive storage solutions. For instance, Chip Theory Games have their "Trove Chest" coming out right now. This is a big box, specifically designed to fit into a kallax cube, and it is designed to hold all of the current #Too Many Bones content plus future expansion content. This is bigger than my ideal, but you can choose to buy it or not buy it. I am not forced into it.

So, obviously, this subject may not be that important...LOL. But, these are things that that are sorta pet peeves of mine. I wish we could go to standardized box sizes. But, I don't think it will ever happen. Also, just to be clear, box size is a factor not THE FACTOR in buying a game. I will probably buy #Cloudspire with my latest GAW win. This is a box that is bigger than my ideal, it comes in at 13.4x11.4x5.8. That is a chunky boy, and considerably bigger than my ideal. But, I am interested enough in the game, to not worry as much about the box size.

So,what do you think? Am I to picky? Do you have preferences for box sizes? If you do, do they line up with mine or are they different? I know that in many ways box size is sorta unimportant, but, it is a factor in our hobby. And, quite frankly, the average dwelling size of dwellings in the USA is much larger than most other countries. I think that oversized boxes are, and will become, a bigger problem in some European and/or Asian countries, or in small apartments in the USA.

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2 months ago

I think the box should be just big enough to fit the components, end of story. Even though this means the boxes would all come in irregular sizes, storage would be much easier.

Twice now I've butchered the box with a kitchen knife and glued it back together. With #1565, St Elmo's Pay I got rid of about 70% of empty box this way.

I simply can't afford the shelfspace in my apartment to be storing air.

The biggest box I have is #Seal Team Flix but that's because there's a lot of stuff in it.3

Nothing makes me happier than my oink games though. They have absolutely knocked it out of the park with #Startups, the components fit perfectly in that cutesy little box which I keep in my rucksack.

2 months ago

HECK YES!! CLOUDSPIRE!!! I love seeing that. I really want to know how it goes for you! Breaking your tradition of small boxes with heavy games in there!

I am drawn more and more to smaller boxes now...Pax Pamir to me is the perfect size. It is small and compact but heavy and each crevace of space is used!

Supporter2 months ago

We will see, still getting some stuff figured out. 

Yes, still idealized small boxes with full sized games..... But sometimes you got to do what you have to do. 

2 months ago

Is the biggest challenge just getting it to where you are? I can see that being a doozy to ship/transport. 

Rules are meant to be broken lol. 

Supporter2 months ago

Yeah, that is the biggest challenge.

Of course, why do you think I am a solo gamer???LOL

2 months ago

HAHAHA yes I feel that. Solo gaming is great for flubbing some rules to have more fun :) 

Supporter2 months ago

I do not try to "cheat" But, I definitely am more relaxed on my rules than in a multiplayer game.

2 months ago

Oh I would never say it is cheating...just turning a blind eye lol or being more relxed is good!

Supporter2 months ago

The only time I intentionally "break a rule" in solo gaming I do it for thematic purposes. It is very rare that happens. 

2 months ago

Interesting! Do you have an example out of curiousity?

Supporter2 months ago

When playing as Picard in ST:F there is once or twice when I was not allowed to use diplomacy in a situation where I think he would have. I have, on at least one occasion, chosen to use diplomacy. And, I chose this even though it didn't end up helping me all that much. 

2 months ago

Interesting! I like that! Pretty cool you know the characters enough to evaluate how they would react!

Supporter2 months ago

Oh, I may be wrong..... But, that is what I think they would do....LOL

2 months ago

Lolol Nothing wrong with that! Still fun though!

2 months ago

I do not have to consider shipping costs as you do, so the only time I consider box size when buying a game is if it's something at a thrift store or some other game that wasn't really on my radar and I'm just taking a shot in the dark on. If it's a game I've researched and am sure I want, I don't really care what the box size is (within reason).

2 months ago

I'm in the process of moving house.

Standard box sizes would have been a dream but alas :D


Boxsize will NEVER have any influence whether i'm buying something or not

Supporter2 months ago

Never say never....LOL

The time it would have the biggest influence is in trying to decide between the same game with different size boxes/components.

For instance, I think I would find #Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies too small, and would, if I were buy TEG buy the "full sized" #Tiny Epic Galaxies.

2 months ago

this hobby is becoming more complex every day!




Supporter2 months ago

Not a big fan of cats, but I have to admit, you do come up with some pretty good pics of cats and games. 

2 months ago

more of a dog person?

Into rabbits, mice or rats?

guinnea pig lover? goats, chicken? 

heck I draw the jokes if i can't find pictures :p

Supporter2 months ago

I very much prefer dogs. But I generally have some other livestock around.

Supporter2 months ago

Would a standard box size look nice and be useful? Yep. Will it ever happen? Nope. Besides box art the size of the box is one of the few ways publishers can  catch the eye of potential customers browsing in a store. If all the games looked exactly the same on the shelf it would be much more difficult to stand out in the crowd of games. 

Supporter2 months ago

Sure, I recognize that what I want and what I get don't necessarily line up. That is part of life, and it is an important thing to realize. There are older, and very famous people on the world stage, right now, that have apparently not realized this yet. They would have been well served to learn it earlier in life.

Also, I do think that this reenforces the the importance of the design of the side of the box. That is often what will be visible on a FLGS shelf.

Also, I do genuinely admire those companies that have decided on standard sizes for their games.

Garphill seems to have settled on a 9x9.

Ion/Sierra Madre have recently decided on three standard sizes for their whole line.

I think Day's of Wonder does all of theirs in the TTR sized box


Supporter2 months ago

Is it bad to buy expansions?

Supporter2 months ago

Nope, of course not. I buy some myself sometimes. I sorta like expansions. I think they do a great job in keeping game companies solvent. I am happy people buy them. I just generally prefer to use that money for other game(s).

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