Spotlight on Games > Features > Random Musings

It's in the Bag

RANDOM MUSINGS on the fin-de-millénaire games scene . . .

9 April 2009 . . .

Over the past couple of years, more and more of my playing has been occurring at cafes. The advantages are numerous:

Another feature which you may or may not consider an advantage – but I do – is that while you are there playing, people notice. Not a few curious souls will come up and ask what's going on. When you explain about the nature of the new games they seem genuinely interested and often resolve to explore more and even get their own games. I have taken to carrying a card with a link to this site to hand out for these occasions.

Of course the cafe situation offers a few pitfalls as well.

In cafes you sit upstairs, possibly on an open balcony. I still remember quite with alarm the time a Jambo card fluttered all the way down an entire story to who knows where. Then there was the time half the ani-meeples landed on the floor and the stairs.

The cause of that one was not enough table space and that can be an issue sometimes, but it's usually surmountable. Little used items can be situated on spare chairs, for example.

Another pitfall is that the frequently large game collections of the players is now not available. Everyone needs to carry in their games, planning well for the various possibilities of census and preferences. For this consideration it quickly becomes apparent that apart from small card games, the game box is a definite liability, especially for games like Settlers of Catan or Helden in der Unterwelt where the board is built up from smaller pieces. In fact, without a large board to manage, it's much simpler to throw everything into a re-sealable one gallon plastic bag. And, by packing games into bags in this manner, many more can be fit into a backpack than would otherwise be the case. It also saves wear and tear on those too easily scuffed boxes.

But all of this raises the question whether it wouldn't be better for the manufacturer to produce the game in a bag in the first place. Then there would be no need to constantly transfer components back and forth between box and bag.

After all, are these boxes really all that useful anyway? Can anyone point to an insert which really works? Don't you find that every single one of them loses the bits as soon as it's turned sideways? Meanwhile, as the game collection grows, more and more precious closet and shelf space is consumed and the purchase of newer titles is impeded. This dire economy could be another reason this wouldn't be the worst idea in the world. Thus the thought grows ever stronger... Once upon a time music compact discs came in unnecessarily long boxes which were eventually cut down until eventually common sense prevailed. Might such occur again here? Of course some publishers such as Sierra Madre Games have long made a practice of publishing in bags. Ironically, two of their more recent titles have started appearing in boxes. . .

Until next time, happy gaming and see you at the cafe . . .


by Rick Heli