Going Analog

Where video game industry veterans introduce great board games to video gamers

Board Gaming Sins: Baggie beggars and bewildering box blurbs

Our next entries in the tome of Board Gaming Sins bring deception and a dearth of storage.

Look at them, sitting so smugly on your shelf. Those uppity boxes think that because you bought them and provided a place in your house, they can get away with anything. Sure, most are good little cardboard citizens when invited to the table, but there are some repeat offenders hiding in our homes. It’s about time someone took them to task. In our Board Gaming Sins series, we’re taking justice into our own hands. Or, er, words. It’s time to bring out the scales and discover which of our favorite games are guilty.

Sin #5: Baggie beggars

Board gamins sins episode 3 star wars imperial assault
And where exactly am I expected to store all of that?

Please, sir, I want some more! Oliver Twist may have had it tough when it comes to food, but at least he had a bowl to store it in. Over in the world of our favorite hobby, we seem to be having the opposite problem. Board games these days are eager to nourish us with custom minis, tokens, and dice --  there are some seriously impressive production values out there, and we’re not complaining! It feels lovely to be spoiled by our purchases, but we would like to politely request enough baggies and storage options to hold each game’s overflowing innards.

Opening a new box to find four different token types and just one small bag to store them in feels akin to greedily lifting the lid of a treasure chest, only to hear the click of a trap activating behind you. Only we don’t remember Lara Croft ever paying up front for the treasures that attempted to kill her. 

Knowing every game will be preceded by several minutes of cube-shuffling tedium is a surefire way to put us off playing at all. Worse still is leaving it up to the dreaded insert to hold everything in place (we all know how reliable those tricksy bastards can be). If you’re going to go all out on components, the least you can do is stretch to some containers or bags on the side.

The Guilty Parties:

Arkham Horror: The Card Game: This lovecraftian deckbuilder assails you with mental horrors and physical strikes from creatures of the abyss. The Chaos Bag is intended as a source of dread, but the greatest terror of all is knowing you’ll need to separate each token type every single time you play.

Welcome To…: The worst thing about moving into a new home is looking at the mess of splayed boxes and realizing just how bad at packing you are. Welcome To… takes its theming a little too seriously by flipping open to reveal a horrific mess of cards for you to organize. With how much a mortgage costs to arrange, you’d think the estate agents could at least provide a rubber band or two for happy new homeowners.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault: We’re going a bit beyond baggies here, but when a game supports an entire industry dedicated to creating custom inserts for it, something is definitely up. The Galactic Empire’s budgets must have been put under some serious cuts, because Imperial Assault shovels over 20 miniatures into a single bag held only by a flimsy bit of cardboard.

Sin #6: What am I playing again?

Going analog Board Gaming Sins 3 skulk hollow
Epic Meeples! Wonderful, but what am I actually playing here?

Enter a magical world of fantasy, where orcs, elves, and humans have lived in peace for years. However, war is on the horizon. The Ancient Springs have awoken, and the land’s fragile alliances teeter on the verge of collapse as each nation vies for control. Are you ready to stake your claim?

Uh, that’s cool and all, but what are we actually doing here again? We brought a bunch of swords because you mentioned war, but everyone else appears to be holding vegetables. Oh you’ve got to be joking -- are we bidding cabbages? Listen, you have got to start including how we plan to compete for the Ancient Springs in your invites. This could have been really awkward if we started stabbing on first sight. Right, we’ll be back in an hour with some turnips….

We don’t expect a board game’s back-of-box blurb to tell us everything -- rulebooks were invented for a reason, after all. It’d be nice to get some details, though. An idea of whether we’d be holding cards or dice doesn’t feel like too much to ask from a quick once-over. Premise and mechanics are key back-of-box details. Your best attempts to cram a young adult fantasy novel into a few paragraphs are not. Save the grandiose narratives for after you’ve explained how we’ll be having fun.

The Guilty Parties:

Skulk Hollow: Dazzle us all you want with your gorgeous art, Skulk Hollow -- seriously, just look at it -- but at the end of the day you’re still a board game. We’d like to know a bit more than “Scale the guardian’s body!” and “Epic meeples!” when weighing you up.

Condottiere:“Only through the cunning maneuvering of your mercenaries and clever manipulation of the powerful church will you prevail.” So it’s war, then! Um, so how exactly are we fighting again, and why is the battlefield full of scarecrows?

Beasty Bar: We’ll let the blurb do its own talking here:

“The big beasties as well as the small ones scramble to get a place. They push and even gnaw at the animal in front - using claws, paws and a very personal scent. But maybe one of these zany seals has switched the way in and the way out...”

Any questions? No? Good.

Want to check up on our previous offenders? You can catch up on all previous Board Gaming Sins features by clicking here. Got your own despised board game transgressions? Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! While you’re at it, be sure to check out the Going Analog Podcast as well for more cardboard chit chat. 

Author bio: When he’s not losing himself as a mercenary in Frosthaven, Henry Stenhouse can be found scouring the web for the latest and greatest games, then wondering why he never has time to actually play them. Share your love of deck builders with him at @Fernoface on Twitter or drop an email to henry@moonrock.agency.