The Story on T.I.M.E Stories

What_Did_You_Play_Mondays_T.I.M.E Stories

When I report on a game for this blog, I try to make sure it ticks a few boxes. For one, it needs to have depth; a plot or mechanic of sustenance so that I actually have something to talk about. It needs to be entertaining, for obvious reasons. And, perhaps most of all, there needs to be something noteworthy about the packaging.

The game I played this weekend is called T.I.M.E Stories, published by Space Cowboys–and it didn’t just tick all the boxes, it punched through them. Especially in the packaging department. Calling this game box “noteworthy” is an understatement.

But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s see if I can sum up T.I.M.E Stories. Oh boy.

Stories Old as Time

Describing the story of the game is tricky. Not because the game lacks a plot (the exact opposite actually). In fact, the plot is so deep that half the fun is just making your way through the twists and turns in the story. The premise is that you’re a temporal agent of the T.I.M.E. Agency. So, yeah, it’s a time travel game. Those are rare enough in general, but T.I.M.E Stories is truly a gem. As a time-travelling cadet you are transported back to a time in history to fix some sort of disturbance. In the case of the base game, the destination is a mental asylum in 1927. All you know at the outset of the game is that something is going down and you need to handle it.

Want to know what it is? Tough. For one, the unfolding story is the ultimate mechanic. To spoil that is to ruin the game. And for two, well, my gaming group and I didn’t exactly beat it yet…

That’s right. Our first mission was a failure. But that’s the beauty of time travel. You can go back again and again until you get it right. And, believe me, you’ll want to go back.

If you didn’t guess, T.I.M.E Stories is cooperative. You and your team are trying to unravel the plot together via choices, puzzles, conflicts, and plenty other creative twists that you won’t see coming. As in all games, your choices are still your own and there’s always points of contention with your teammates at some point. But much like variety is the spice of life, competition is the spice of games–even co-op ones.

If you’re thinking But can I ever play again after I beat the story? welcome to the 20 straight minutes I spent in the game store trying to decide if it was worth it. But having played it, I can tell you that answer is a resounding yes. For a number of reasons, actually.

First of All

Good luck beating it on your first run through, hot shot. There are so many twists and turns in the story that even if you do come out victorious on all the challenges your first time through, you still probably missed a lot of side quests and scenarios. If you play again, your goal should be to discover those extra rooms, clues, and items. Or, if you did discover everything, next time do it faster. That’s the whole point of the T.I.M.E. Agency. Trying to achieve that “perfect run.”


There’s a dice-rolling element. I’d call it a combat mechanic, but there’s a lot more gray area in this game than just cut-and-dry combat. The clever and tension-building dice roll mechanic will make any replay a different adventure altogether.

And Third

There are more scenarios available utilizing the base set. Currently, there’s 3 available stories beyond the Asylum scenario, each with their own characters, plots, items, and quests. The stories have an end but, potentially, the game is endless.

Though, technically, it is a story-based game, meaning once you’ve played through, you get what’s going on. But much like a good movie you watch again, or a favorite book you come back to, eventually you’ll want to relive the experience.

Of course if you only play to play it once through, it’s very easy to savor the flavor of this game. That’s where the ingenious packaging comes in.

The Story on the T.I.M.E Stories Box

T.I.M.E Stories custom box_story game

Image: Space Cowboys

I’ll start with the visuals. In a word: perfect. The custom game box is unbelievably eye-catching. Much like Tokaido, it favors the minimalist approach. But T.I.M.E Stories’ box makes Tokaido’s box look like a Jackson Pollack painting. Stark white with a simple, nearly-invisible font that ensures you’ll have to get up close and personal with the box to find out what it is, the biggest visual component is a right-skewed rendering of one of the time travel pods.. A subtle sliver and a hint of things to come. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the outer packaging is the use of both matte and gloss laminations, creating two different textures–one soft touch, one smooth–in conjunction with the crisp turned edges. If you turn the box over or unbox the game itself, that’s when the colors really start to pop. The gameboard itself is beautifully minimalist as well, allowing the beautiful era-appropriate artwork of the cards to shine once the game is in play. The simplicity of the board also lends itself to the replaying of scenarios. New decks, same board.

But that isn’t the ‘ingenious’ part of the game box.


The really cool feature of this box is the custom thermoformed insert. It’s the definition of unique. Not only does it pack the game components away in a very organized fashion (a huge bonus in itself), the molded plastic insert acts as a ‘pause’ feature, kind of like a video game. Specially-labeled and spaced compartments allow cards and tokens to be put away so that if you need to take a break in the gameplay, you can easily pick up where your team left off. There’s your other replay value factor: much like a bookmark in a book too good to finish, you can stretch the hours of gameplay out as long as you like.

Kudos, Space Cowboys. You thought way outside the box, by thinking way inside of it. Most impressive.

As an avid board-gamer and a packaging aficionado, I have to say that T.I.M.E Stories really is all it’s cracked up to be. Exciting story, nail-biting dice rolls, smart mechanics, high-art graphics, and truly unique features makes T.I.M.E Stories a game for the ages. H.G. Wells would be proud.

WDYPMWhat did you play this weekend? Keep up with Geeky Goodies’ #WhatDidYouPlayMondays hashtag and remember Sunrise Packaging for all your custom game board and game box production needs.


#WhatDidYouPlayMondays Tension Mounts with Zombie Thriller Dead of Winter

As Halloween closes in (and even scarier: snow!) it might have been the perfect weekend to play Dead of Winter, a Crossroads zombie game by Plaid Hat Games. And what a thrill it was.

Dead of Winter_custom game board setup

Image: Plaid Hat Games

What is Dead of Winter?

Dead of Winter is a (semi) cooperative game of survival set during a nasty winter in a zombie apocalypse. Players must work to defend a colony of survivors from an ever-increasing zombie hoard. That’s about as surface an explanation as it gets. A board game for 2-5 players, the box says it plays in 60-90 minutes, although our sessions have always been longer.

Is it fun?

Yes and no. Yes, in that Dead of Winter is a total blast that will leave you wanting to play again immediately, no matter how late at night it is by then. No, in the same way that the SAW movies aren’t ‘fun.’

This game is intense. And I don’t throw that word around casually. This game will get your heart racing and the gears turning. Like I said earlier, on the surface this is a game of survival during a zombie outbreak, but peel back the layers and you have a full-fledged mystery-thriller-whodunnit on your hands.

For starters, this game has a traitor element. Every objective card has a secret win scenario, which means how YOU win the game is not the same as the other players. There can be multiple winners and, more likely, multiple losers. Some objective cards are marked with blood red letters that spell out BETRAYAL! Which means that if you get that card, your win objective is to hurt the colony. There may be a traitor in the game. There may not be a traitor in the game. But every round, you have the option of voting someone out of the game (aka ‘exiling’ them). This action gives that person a new objective–meaning you may have created a traitor in a game that didn’t have one. Or worse, you may have created a second traitor. In any case, you’re staring down your friends with suspicious eyes as they take their turns around the table.

Wait, I thought this was a cooperative game?

Like many aspects of Dead of Winter, this one is a gray area. While each player does have their own objectives necessary to win, you must also protect the colony. The colony itself acts as a sophisticated timer. Each round ticks away at a countdown meter, and each character death, waste buildup, and starvation outcome chips away at your morale meter. If either of these hit zero, the game ends. At the end of the game, if you haven’t completed your win scenario, you lose. Thus, it’s in your best interest to keep the colony functioning–for the time being, at least. This means contributing food to the cache, barricading doors, searching for supplies, and slaughtering zombies faster than a Walking Dead episode.

On Top of That…

There’s a Crisis event that gets revealed every round that all players must contribute to. Failure to combat this crisis usually ends in a zombie mob or a catastrophic depletion of resources. Of course, if you’re the traitor, maybe that’s right up your alley.

And On Top of That…

There are also Crossroads cards that are drawn by a neighbor on a player’s turn. If at any time the scenario plays out like on the Crossroads card–BAM!–the event triggers and you get saddled with another mini-scenario that must be resolved.

And On Top of ALL That…

Oh yeah, every time you go somewhere–even if it’s to empty the trash–you have to roll a beautifully crafted Exposure die, which can end in a fatal zombie bite, a semi-fatal wound, debilitating frostbite. Of course, you could roll no effect at all…but where’s the fun in that?

Yes, Dead of Winter is a game that truly keeps the tension ratcheting up. It exudes theme like my brow exudes perspiration when I’m playing it. Never have I played a board game that is so indepth. Every situation, every choice, feels so real…and yet, it’s still zombies at the end of the world day.

Custom Game Board and Packaging

I find one of the most interesting features of this game is its pieces. As if to mirror the game’s complexity in a distorted way, the board and its pieces are very simple. Minimalistic. The artwork is top notch, don’t get me wrong. And the soft-touch turned edge game board that represents the colony has cool industrial-blueprint-inspired graphics. But the pieces themselves–of which there are many–representing players and zombies alike are all punchboard. Chipboard standees with plastic holders and punch-out food tokens and wound markers. And yet, it seems to fit with the feel of the game. Not once did I find myself wishing I had injection molded miniatures. Any chance for more of that vivid artwork, the better!

Perhaps the only feature of the custom packaging that I didn’t care for was the insert. The simple paperboard trays did their job of separating, but with the majority of the game’s story told on separate decks of cards, it would have been nice to have more organization. There are not enough slots for all the cards, nor did the game come with enough plastic bags to keep everything separate.

Of course, this is a very small complaint, and doesn’t diminish gameplay in the least. It does however make cleanup/teardown a little bit more of a pain.

Rating: 5 Ninja Throwing Stars out of 5

Did I mention there’s a ninja in the game? Either way, I definitely will play Dead of Winter again. (In fact, I’m playing it tonight!)




Don’t forget to keep up with other gamers using the #WhatDidYouPlayMondays hashtag and remember to use Sunrise Packaging for your custom board game design and packaging needs!

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!


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


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 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!



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.



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.





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

Game Boxes That Pop: Building a Better Shelfie

What’s in a Box?


That which we call a box. By any other name would look as sweet.


This Shakespearian question crosses my mind a lot lately. I’m completely immersed in custom boxes, especially custom game boxes. I wish I could say it was just a professional thing, but in my free time I’m cruising a little gaming group on Facebook called Boardgame Geek. Why? Because I’m addicted to shelfies. No, not selfie–shelfie. The trend among tabletop gamers to show off their collections of game boxes. Shelves and shelves of board game boxes, a veritable library of geeky goodness!

a collection of game boxes from instagram



a well organized library of game boxes



a collection of game boxes in a coffin-like container


These shelfies are a thing of beauty, showing off the crisp graphics and wraparound printing of custom box designs as much as the collections themselves. As I scan these photos, noting which game boxes my eye goes to first, I have to wonder what’s in a box? What makes a custom box design really pop? What makes a stack of rigid two-piece set boxes become a photographic masterpiece?


To further explore this, let’s look at 3 different games and their custom box design. What makes them stand out?


I should mention that most of these games can be found in the top-selling category of just about any store or site. So there must be something to this, right?


Settlers of Catan


settlers of catan custom box design, rigid two piece setup box

Image: Amazon

Let’s just get this out in the open, shall we? Catan is probably the biggest board game in the universe. There I said it. It’s a timeless classic. The archetypal perfect game. I’ve heard it referred to as the “gateway game” for people transitioning from Monopoly to the wonderful world of in-depth tabletop gaming. I put off playing it for ages (since I’m kind of a board game hipster) but, having recently converted, I have to say it’s a great game. But that packaging? That’s your box? Of all the game boxes you could have gone with, that’s what you’re going with?

So simple, so perfect?

The scene has a classic feel–and why mess with a classic? The warm colors are still bright enough to pop.  You can almost see the canvas as though it really were a Renaissance painting. With digital offset printing, these details can be brought to life on a custom box. Now that’s a pro tip: don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to detail. Game boxes are the first feature of a game a buyer sees!


Bottom Line: Catan knows what it is. And it works.



King of Tokyo

Custom two piece setup box for king of tokyo board game

Image: Amazon

Now this is my kind of game box! Bright colors, explosive graphics, robots and monsters!  King of Tokyo is the brainchild of Richard Garfield, the developer that famously brought the world Magic the Gathering. As for the custom box design, the turned-edge graphics aren’t quite wraparound (a preference of mine) but are used in a very cool way to feature all the characters. The lamination is a combination of soft-touch matte–which reduces glare and looks sharp–and a glossy lamination around the lettering and monsters. A unique combo for sure, but it definitely works to make the name shine. A note about the game board: it’s small. Instead of going for the usual bi-fold chipboard, King’s gameboard is rigid single piece, no-fold. It’s used very smartly, and conservatively, since there is not a lot of real movement in the game.


Bottom Line: Contrasted with Catan, this game box has a lot going on. Totally different color scheme. Personally, I’m a big fan of game boxes that appeal to the “anime visual overload” factor, and that style really fits King of Tokyo‘s theme.





tokaido game box design featuring a rigid telescope box

Image: Amazon

In a nutshell, Tokaido is a fascinating cultural game of tourism. That’s a pretty small nutshell to try to cram it into, but the most striking element of this game is its subtlety. In all elements, not just on its custom box. The visuals and artwork are all contrasted against a stark white backdrop. You can tell from the packaging, that the game favors a simple, elegant visual presence, completely different than the first two games. Whoever designed this particular setup box was taking a cue from the current trends in luxury packaging: organic lettering, soft graphics, and a minimalist presentation.


Bottom Line: Compared to other game boxes, Tokaido marches to the beat of a different drum. But the striking nature of its custom box is undeniable.

All these custom boxes will stick out in a shelfie for different reasons. One with a timeless traditional look, one with a futuristic blast of color and detail, and one as a stunning example of clean uniformity. All draw the eye with very different effects. When choosing a design for your custom game box, it’s important to keep all these elements in mind. Maybe one day your game will be featured in a shelfie.