Creating a Board Game Box: 3 Things to Consider

Thinking about making your own custom board game box? Read this first. 

Sunrise Packaging has worked with a lot of unique projects over the years, but some of the most innovative and excited creators are those who make games. It’s a true passion project. And we hate to see that excitement fizzle out over some of the most common things that game makers miss or don’t consider when they design their custom game board box. custom game board box, custom game board

On the surface, creating game board boxes isn’t an overly complicated thing. But like any packaging project, there are things to consider that an outsider might not think about beforehand. The weight of the packaging materials, for instance. The mobility of the game box. The design and print quality of the box. Not to mention the copy for the box as well. In a way, custom board game boxes aren’t unlike product launch kits in everything they need to accomplish. 

Custom Board Game Box: Choose Your Own Adventure

Things that every game maker should consider when it comes to crafting their own game board boxes. Essentially, it comes down to one thing: plan ahead.

  1.  What’s your budget?
    Knowing what you want to spend can help determine other options. If you want to make money on your custom game, it’s completely necessary to have a budget in mind for what you want to spend on packaging on top of the game production costs. 
  2. How do you want users to interact with the packaging?
    Customer experience is of increasing importance. Not to mention that a great unboxing video could increase sales dramatically.  Sunrise Packaging can help craft boxes with handles and magnet closure as well as custom inserts and printed elements inside the box itself. Get creative, but keep the whimsy in check. Outlandish ideas aren’t always the most sustainable
  3. What will entice buyers?
    You’re browsing online and see a interesting game. You click on it, and read the position description. Alternate scenario: Walking through a store, you see an unfamiliar product. You’re compelled to pick it up and find more about it. How do you decide whether or not to buy it? Make sure to craft content that will speak to buyers and compel them to actually purchase it, not just pick it up for a moment.

Proper planning is the most important part of creating a custom board game box that will sell. These are just three things that you should consider. 

Contact Sunrise Packaging for Guidance

Making your own game packaging might seem more cost-efficient, but it’s not if you have to spend hours upon hours doing it. Leave it to the experts; we’ll leave the game making to you. Contact us today!

Games Without Board-ers #WhatDidYouPlayMondays

What games did I play this weekend?

This weekend was a gamefest for me. Not only did I get to play several board games, I got to try out another grail game. But what did all these board games have in common?

No boards.

That’s right. Every game I played this weekend didn’t have the traditional board that comprises a board game. Maybe a tabletop game would be a better name. Whatever you call them, these games each had their own mechanics and systems and custom packaging.

Saturday’s board game was called Betrayal at House on the Hill. If you think the name’s a mouthful, you might not be surprised by the two manuals the game comes with outlining several scenarios. The premise is a group of people brought to a haunted house in the dead of night. Forced to explore this mysterious manor, the visitors eventually discover a traitor among them and the game takes a turn.

But how does a game of property exploration exist without a game board?

Tiles. Chipboard tiles representing various rooms, stairways, and foyers are laid out as the players explore the house, giving the impression of searching the dark with a flashlight. As the game progresses, a game board is actually  built, but never completely, and rarely the same as a previous playthrough. Definitely a twist on the classic game board. Of course, the game box needs to have different elements. Deeper to hold the extra pieces, with a unique cavity for holding the tiles. An ordinary die cut gameboard usually just sits on top, like an extra lid.

Sunday, I followed up my board-less theme with a dice game. Firefly: Shiny Dice capitalizes on the cult hit Firefly–one of my favorites. Much like the show, the plot of the game revolves around forming a crew of outlaws to fight even more underhanded villains–all aboard a spaceship.

firefly_shiny_dice_gamegames_firefly shiny dice contents

This would be a pretty standard affair for a board game, but Shiny Dice does it with–shocker–dice. Dice, cards, and a playmat that is basically just a screen-printed mousepad make up the contents. While the rules seemed overly complex, it finally hit its stride. I can see it being difficult to make a press-your-luck dice game that plays longer and with depth, but there’s a lot to remember.

For a game that is mostly just small components, I would have appreciated nicer packaging (especially for the price point). Even forgiving the plain cardboard interior, it’s sad to open up a game and see three sets of cards combined and in disarray, with dice all akimbo. SBS dividers would have been appreciated.

Finally, my gaming group and I finished up with another fairly new title: Diamonsters. From the makers of Machi Koro comes a game of gem-munching monsters and a bidding system that is simple to learn. The game doesn’t have a ton of depth and, as one of my pals noted, plays a lot like the classic card game War. But it is nice to play a quick, fun game once in awhile as a palate cleanser. My only complaint about this game is the box. Don’t get me wrong, the artwork  is beautiful and the box is a masterpiece. A sturdy two piece setup box with soft-touch lamination.

diamonsters custom game box telescope_box_diamonsters diamonster_two_piece_rigid_setup_box

However, it’s a real pain to get open. It’s like hermetically-sealed or something. As I struggled to separate the top from the bottom, the packaging expert in me was screaming Would it kill you to put some thumb notches in this thing?!

The point of all this: I kind of missed the game board. Betrayal was a blast and very unique, but it still built a game board. There’s just something about that turned edge chipboard that makes a game a game in my opinion. Game designers are tasked with reinventing the wheel in a lot of ways, but sometimes you can’t beat a classic.

Keep Sunrise Packaging in mind for all your custom board game needs and don’t forget to keep up with your fellow gamers with the hashtag #WhatDidYouPlayMondays!

WDYPM

Tokaido: A #WhatDidYouPlayMondays Review

If you count this as a long weekend, then I did get some board-gaming in. The weekend proper was a busy one and I didn’t get much play time in, but after missing out on gaming entirely last weekend due to a grueling weekend shift, I knew I had to make up for it with something big. Fortunately I was more than satiated by getting to play one of my “grail games” on Thursday evening: Tokaido.

I have watched and re-watched this game played on one of my favorite episodes of TableTop. I’ve mentioned it before, praising its minimalist artwork. But this would be the first time I’d personally get to play it.

Sadly, I couldn’t get any pictures, but BoardGameGeek has plenty.

There was a chill in the air as it was unboxed. Not just because I was finally getting to play a game on my Must Play list, but also because this game comes with a certain level of reverence built in. I would call this board game a game of cultural elegance. The premise is a group of players on a literal road trip; spanning Japan’s East Sea Road from Kyoto to Edo. Along the way, players must stop at destinations ranging from souvenir-filled villages to religious temples in need of donations. Each character has an “ability.” Some pay less for food, others get more money from farming, but each of them is unique (and represented as beautifully-drawn characters).

My friends and I played two rounds, traveling back and forth, sampling traditional cuisine and capturing the beauty of early Japan in panoramic paintings. Like any good game, Tokaido was very immersive. There were times when I could almost taste the sushi, or smell the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. For such a seemingly simple game, Tokaido was filled with equal parts strategy and subtlety. One of my gauges of a great game is whether it lends itself to inside jokes and theme-based, good-natured ribbing of other players. Tokaido had this in spades. Although, I found because of the theme, I held back some of my usually-more-colorful exclamations.

Well played, Tokaido. Well played.

I won’t go into too much depth on the game box, for a couple reasons. For one, I talked a lot about it in that other blog post and, for two, the box is very minimalist. Stark white with splashes of beautiful artwork in the style of Japanese watercolor paintings and organic brushstrokes give Tokaido’s custom game box a unique charm. The game board itself continued the tradition.

It was a die cut board, turned edges wrapped around durable chipboard. What made it unique was that it folded out the long way to emphasize the long road trip. The minimalist graphics continued within: a mainly white board with black lines and thumbnail splashes of color representing the stops along the road. It fits so well with the theme, you’d almost be disappointed if there was more imagery on the board.

The player cards are also rigid chipboard punchouts. Though they don’t benefit from turned edging, they (like everything in the game) has a beautiful glare-reducing lamination that gives a warm glow to the artwork and also making it easy to see along the way. One of the cool elements of this game is each player is represented by a colored meeple. In order to personalize each player, the character cards have a circular cutout to place a colored emblem to remember which game piece is yours. Just one of many subtle-yet-fascinating elements this game provides.

Other pieces in the game are the cards, each with delightful artwork. Especially the panorama cards that create paintings of beautiful vistas. Your currency is cool chipboard coins with the middles punched through.

As I was admiring the board, our game night host, Becca, noted how nice the board was. It didn’t “feel cheap.” Gamers pump a lot of money into their pastime, and there’s nothing worse than a great custom game that has a flimsy board. One that can pick up with a gust of wind or come undone with a bump of the table. Tokaido definitely did not suffer from that–very hearty, very stocky–and should be considered a gold standard in board game design.

All in all, this game is a must have. Very fun, I will be playing again. And if it was only in my collection for the visuals, it would be money well-spent.

What did you play this weekend? Remember to join other players at your virtual water cooler Monday morning, using the hashtag #WhatDidYouPlayMondays

WDYPM

Labyrinth : A #WhatDidYouPlayMondays Playthrough

For a long while I’ve wanted a watercooler topic to call my own. You know, something everybody is buzzing about Monday mornings. But since I’m not really up on real-time TV shows and sports is another language to me, I’ve struggled to find something to make a tradition out of.

 

That’s why I gravitated so quickly to the #WhatDidYouPlayMondays hashtag on Twitter. Pioneered by Geeky Goodies, the WDYPM movement encourages board gamers to post about what games they played over the weekend. Board and tabletop games are already great for increasing social interaction, but WDYPM takes it to the next level, connecting gamers around the world. A virtual watercooler for sharing your weekend gaming experience.

 

 

So What Board Games Did I Play this Weekend?

It was a pretty busy weekend for me, but I did get to play a few different board games, including two I’ve been meaning to check out for awhile. The one I want to zoom in on is Ravensburger’s Labyrinth, designed by Max J. Kobbert.

labyrinth_board_game_ravensburger

Labyrinth has been around for awhile and for a good reason: it’s simply a great game on all points. Easy to learn and deceptively strategic, Labyrinth proved to be one addicting board game. I was hooked from the moment I opened the box.

 

Like a good custom box should, Labyrinth’s packaging boasts colorful, kid-friendly graphics that will entice players of all ages. This version of the game has updated graphics and a beautiful turned edge box with a bright green dragon on the cover–definitely hard to pass up. It also sports the tell-tale Ravensburger blue triangular logo in the corner, which sends a message on its own. It was easier to invest in this game knowing it was from a trusted gamemaker. On the flip side–literally the flip side of the presentation packaging–the game includes a brief blurb about gameplay, a shot of the full board along with a few examples of cards. Along the side the game box has a contents list and an age range. The only thing I’d like to see in addition is a play-time gauge, but after playing this game, I understand how varied it can be with this particular game.

 

I was eager to get to playing. I had heard lots of good things about this particular game, and the unboxing only urged me on. I’ve never punched cards and tiles so fast. Even as I did, though, I was impressed by the quality of the chipboard tile. It’s impossible to get a true turned edge with punch out tiles, but the ones in Labyrinth are thick and sturdy and made of a very hearty cardstock. Definitely felt like I got my money’s worth right out of the gate.

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I’ve seen board games and I’ve seen tile games, but this is the first one that had both. Labyrithing includes a die cut game board with turned edges and tiles. In fact, the board itself has tiles firmly affixed to it. The combination of the two gives Labyrinth its unique play mechanic.

 

With one extra tile to be pushed into a row or column, a player is constantly rearranging and reshaping the maze that forms Labyrinth. It is so deceptively simple, yet subtly tricky, that I found myself plotting ahead as much as I found myself saying aloud Man, this is cool!

labyrinth_custom_board_game_chipboard_tiles_gameboardturned_edge_game_board_with_chipboard_tiles

 

We weaved our detailed miniatures–very cool witches and wizards–through the ever-changing maze, claiming treasures and trying to cut one another off at every pass. While I lost both times (losing is just par for the course for me, as I’m sure you’ll find out) I still enjoyed playing. Turns were quick and active. A lot of the game was very head-to-head, which is important to a “loser” like me. Never did I feel like the big W was out of my grasp.

 

When it was time to pack up, I was curious how Labyrinth was going to pack up in the game box. After all, the game components–save for the minis–were all punch-outs. But this game was a custom packaging dream.

 

The game box boasts a black custom thermoformed tray with slots for the cards and tiles and even the miniatures. The color adds a sense of class, while the tray itself made for a clean organization for all the pieces. There’s nothing worse than having to take a beautiful and intricate game and basically just throw it in the box willy-nilly. Luckily, Labyrinth’s custom presentation packaging doesn’t suffer that fate.

custom_thermoformed_plastic_traysthermoformed_trays_for_custom_board_game_pieces

 

Then I noticed what the recessed cavity was for: there’s an extra slot to snugly fit the gameboard into the plastic tray. As both a packaging fan and a condensing aficionado, this custom game box took the cake. While it didn’t pass the “Turn Upside-Down Test” it did come closer than most games.

 

0913152015acustom plastic tray for gameboard

Bottom line: Labyrinth is a great game for the whole family, or even for a couple short on time. They can’t all be 5-hour epic gaming sessions, folks. Let’s be honest. The presentation is very polished (due in large part to the custom plastic tray) and the rigid chipboard used here doesn’t have that “cheap feeling” that plagues a lot of games in this age of mass production. And everybody loves a good fantasy theme.

 


WDYPM

 

 

Keep up with me and everybody using Geeky Goodies’ #WhatDidYouPlayMondays hashtag, and be sure to remember Sunrise Packaging, Minnesota’s own presentation packaging experts, when it comes time to print and package your custom boardgame.

 


My Indie Board Game Journey – Chapter 1


Hi, I’m Mikel and I’m and Indie Board Game Junkie.

 

In case I need to reiterate: I love board games. From the feel of rigid chipboard game boards, to the smooth turned edges, to their custom box design and packaging, I could stay in a game store all day and lose track of time completely. In fact, last weekend I did exactly that. Twice. The intricate stories and plots fascinate me. The themes game designers choose. Fantasy or sci-fi? Cards or dice? The graphics….

Oh, the graphics….

You could almost say my least favorite part of board games is actually playing them. I mean, that’s the part I lose at. Repeatedly. But that’s just a testament to how much I love tabletop and board games. I want to make one. And until recently, I thought an indie board game was just a pipe dream.

corrugated cardboard, indie board game

Step 1

When I first started writing for Sunrise Packaging, I had no idea they made game boards and game boxes. So imagine my utter excitement when I did. I was freaking out, man! Luckily, I kept it cool. Professional. Only a few tears leaked out. Jackpot.

I had been kicking around a few game ideas by then, but it had been a long hiatus since I designed a game. It was a card game called Darwin’s Moths, and it’s still a pretty fun playthrough. But the holy grail–an indie board game–still beckoned me. But it seemed so daunting. Stick to the cards, I told myself. But without any really inspiring ideas, I ended up taking quite the break. But since discovering Sunrise Packaging and being immersed in the physical realities of board game design, I’ve been reinvigorated. I’ve started hunting the white whale again.

So here’s my journey.

I’m pretty far off from a custom board game design, but I’m getting there. And it no longer scares me. When I realized the popularity of the indie board game on Kickstarter, I was emboldened. The majority of crowdfunded tabletop games seem to hit their goal and then some. And now that I’ve seen the practicality of getting my game made, board and all, it feels more real than ever. There’s a lot of steps before then, of course. Prototyping and playtesting, to begin with. This is where I really notice corrugated cardboard playing a huge roll in my personal life.

corrugated cardboard for indie board game design

Shaping Up

From cobbling together tokens, game pieces, cards, tiles, and even prototype game boards, corrugated cardboard is essential. It’s durable enough to hold its own, but cuttable enough that I can shape it the way I need it to. It’s recyclable, and customizable. I’m not sure how other startup game developers do it, but I can’t imagine the process without a healthy dose of fluted cardboard.

I guess if I had to make a point, it’s that the idea of making an indie board game feels within my grasp. More than any other passion I’ve pursued. Even writing a book–I thought the hardest part would be getting published. But relatively, that’s the easy part. But tabletop games are so in right now, it’s a great time to make that game you’ve always wanted to make. There are a lot of steps in the process, and hopefully I can share some of them with you as I go.

In the meantime, my custom Legos have arrived! Let the playtesting begin! Stay tuned!

lego pieces for indie board game design

Gotta Start Somewhere