Form follows function is the box design rule of thumb. But you can have a little fun with it.
Such is the case with Aluminoes™, a collection of beautifully crafted aluminum dominoes. Their high quality construction paired with sharp colors, inlaid with crystals, and the ability to be custom engraved make Aluminoes™ a top-tier version of the classic game. This is a product that’s a perfect candidate for upscale box design. A twist on our Front Open box, this radical packaging features stylized windows that preview the product and riser for a sturdier fit. The overlapping lid secures into place with hidden magnetic tabs providing a luxurious enclosure.
The rectangular windows add a symmetry to the minimalist design. The box is a stunning black with hints of white in the form of the offset logo. This symmetry, coupled with the black-and-white theme, is reminiscent of more traditional dominoes, but the product itself is anything but traditional.
We love designing boxes to complement products. You don’t want packaging that steals the show entirely, nor would you want a product that is a diamond inside of a piece of coal. Aluminoes™ and their packaging represent a perfect middle ground between artistic design and functional storage. Keepsake packaging that becomes an instant memento, while retaining a sleek, modern look.
Learn more about Aluminoes™ by visiting their website here, and stay dialed into our blog for more interesting concept designs.
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.
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
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.
What 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.
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.
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!