I have previously written about small box games in my article “Compressed collections” which can create a lot of gameplay with only a few components. However, even larger box, or big box, games are sometimes very inventive when it comes to using components in a clever way to create more gameplay and possibilities than would otherwise be possible. After all, board games have it much harder when you compare them to computer games. They have a limited number of components that come in a box, even in a large box. So I want to look at how the same components can be used in many different ways.
“Hm. Deep Purple looks good. Life’s A Peach is also very warm and rich. Oh, and of course, we want the Cactus Jack. That would be the perfect triad of colours.” You step back and look at the colour samples you just painted onto the wall in the kitchen. “Yes, that’s it.” You’re so pleased to have come up with this perfect colour scheme. It had been harder than you had expected. Mixing the 13 cyan, 14 magenta and 15 yellow in the right combination had been a bit of job, let alone getting all the red, green and blue to mix up the cyan, magenta and yellow, but the result was more than worth it. “Yes,” you say out loud, “that’s the perfect Swatch by Minerva Tabletop.”
Sparkling jewels, shiny gems and precious stones lay in front of you – but only a handful and not necessarily the best example. Your hope was to sell some them for enough profit to be able to buy shares in a diamond mine and attract highly skilled craftspeople who would transform the slightly lacklustre gems into magnificent jewels and allow you to bask in Splendor by Space Cowboys.
As many of you probably know, I only have limited space for games. That’s why I very much like small box games that have a lot of gameplay crammed into a small volume. It’s also the reason why I have been reboxing games that come in bigger boxes, compressing them down and getting rid of all the extra air that came with the original packaging. I have written about this in my article “Box clever?” a couple of years ago, and this time I want to give you some concrete examples of small box games crammed to the brim and larger box games that I have shrunk down.
The cost of tabletop games is a topic that keeps popping up. There is the question of whether games have now become “overproduced”, in the sense that the game components have become more expensive, due to an increase in quantity, an increase in quality or both. There is also the question of whether games have always been sold too cheaply, leaving everyone with tiny margins. There are many reasons that decide the cost of games, but I want to look at the other end of the chain. I want to see how consumers decide when a game is good value for money.
“Bubble, bubble,” the herb witch cackles. “Stir the pot – nice and slow,” the miracle doctor says. “Slowly, add another ingredient… what will it be?” the quack surgeon asks, looking at you intently. You reach into the bag, with anticipation, not quite sure what ingredient your hand will retrieve. “Come now, come now,” the witch emplores. “Put it in the pot, don’t hesitate,” the miracle doctor tells you, rushing you along. You can’t look. You quickly withdraw your hand and throw the ingredient in the pot and as you do so, you open your eyes a tiny bit and see a flash of white. A cherry bomb lands in the pot with a splash and a fraction of a second later it explodes. However, it’s not too late to seek help from The Herb Witches by Schmidt Spiele.
As we all know, plastics are the scourge of our planet and can now be found virtually everywhere – from the obvious places like landfill sites to the most unexpected such as in the Arctic. They have invaded the food chain and it is estimated that less than 10% of plastics is recycled each year globally. Some countries have introduced legislation banning certain types of plastics and we each can do our bit to help reduce the use of plastic and thereby reduce plastic waste – and we can try to influence the use of plastics in our hobby.
“So, let me illustrate. Imagine a line that represents time and at one point is 1985, to the left of it the past and to the right of it the future. If we travel back in time and make some small changes, the timeline skews off at an angle, creating an alternate 1985 – or rather, it’s an alternate to you, Einstein and me, but a complete reality for everyone else. It turns out that Biff took the Sports Almanac into the past and thereby created this new timeline. It’s now up to us to find a new way to get Back to the Future: Dice Through Time by Ravensburger.”
A small queue of customers was waiting outside. It was our opening day. We had our tea ready and some bits in our pantry, but still had to buy the flavours, which we wanted to get fresh from the market during the day, so that every tea would taste fresh and our customers would be happy. Everyone was nervous, but there was nothing for it – we had top open up and start serving Chai by Steeped Games.
“I think everyone agrees. We want to build the best metropolis in the world and we have a great opportunity to do so from scratch. We have a large plot of land that is ready to be built on. We can really create something special here that will make everyone happy. It will be magnificent.” The mayor looks around the room at all the happy and excited faces, until he spots the urbanist. “What’s wrong?” the mayor asks. “Well,” the urbanist replies, “we do have a few challenges. Depending on which architect builds what we can place new buildings only in certain columns or rows of the empty plot’s grid system, and we can only choose buildings from a specific row or column from the available ones. It’s going to be really tricky to build our Quadropolis by Days of Wonder.”