Going Analog

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

Board Gaming Sins: Inconsistent boxes and misleading minutes

These unholy boxes have brought shame and confusion to our collections for far too long.

Rigid uniformity: dreadful in humanity but a blessing for boxes. Thanks to that thing in your skull convincing you that you’re sentient, you’re free to stand out; it’s encouraged, even. Board game boxes, however, have no right to such lofty notions. Those cardboard units stacking your shelves should do what they’re told and deliver what they say. But with any rule comes the unsavory sort looking to break it. Not because it’s cool or right, just because they can.

In our Board Gaming Sins series, we’re taking justice into our own hands. Or, er, words. Collected below are two more entries in a long list of the worst board gaming sins: heinous crimes so vile that the guilty parties should be cast into the fiery depths, to be locked away eternally by the barons of board game hell. It’s time to bring out the scales and discover which of our favorite games are guilty.

Sin #7: Inconsistent boxes

Board Gaming sins 4 inconsistent boxes logos
It physically hurts just to look.

When filling the obligatory Kallax in any board gamer’s home, there’s no greater pain than sliding in a series of boxes only to find that something is amiss. These were produced by the same publisher, weren’t they? Yet the board game birthing machine managed to churn out different sizes every single time! From now on, that errant bump in height will taint every look you cast at your collection. And don’t even think about posting a photo online -- we can already imagine the judgemental comments.

But if varying box sizes are an irritating rash among your collection, inconsistent logos and production are closer to the bubonic plague. Different amounts of cards, dice, and miniatures justify a volume change every now and again, but there are no excuses for slapping that logo any place you feel like on each print run. Please, for the sake of our shelf selfies, keep things consistent, and let the game art speak for itself.

The guilty parties:

Oink Games: Your boxes may be adorably tiny, Oink, but that won’t excuse your crimes. We had a good thing going until Nine Tiles Panic plonked its oversized rear into our delightfully symmetric arrangement. 

Tasty Minstrel Games: The name Tasty Minstrel might evoke the idea of a playful court jester, but please, keep the tomfoolery to the inside the box. That logo has been on more travels than professional bard.

Red Raven Games: How could it possibly get worse, you ask? How about adjusting the height, size, rotation, and even color of your logo between games. Ravens aren’t traditionally a game bird, but we’re willing to make an exception due to this.

The punishment:

1000 years solving the same children’s learn-the-shapes puzzle. By then you might finally understand our pain.

Sin #8: Misleading minutes

Board gaming sins going analog misleading minutes
Three hours? It'll take us more than that just to read all of this!

These immoral time-gobblers are long overdue a comeuppance. Or are they? We couldn’t tell you because we lost all semblance of time when this supposedly 30-minute game somehow stretched to over two hours. We’re not adverse to being lied to at the game table -- enough rounds of One Night Ultimate Werewolf have proven just how fun that can be. But usually it isn’t the game itself doing the lying.

Planning a game night is a delicate thing. As such. it’d be nice to have some clue as to how many hours each new box on the table will consume. Yet official estimates almost always undersell playtime, especially for higher player counts. We can only assume that, after thousands of hours spent testing, designers forget that not everyone is quite so au fait with the rules as they are. Unreliable narrators have a place in novels, but we’d really rather they didn’t fill out favorite box blurbs and manuals, too.

The guilty parties:

Twilight Imperium: Third Edition: The majestic lion on this box would have you believe that it takes just three to four hours to trade and fight your way to galactic dominance. What that furball swindler forgot to mention, however, is the hour-long setup time and just how often you’ll be pausing for rule checks in the manual. Thankfully, the newer Fourth Edition has given him the stern scolding required and pushed the expected playtime to a more reasonable four to eight hours. Presuming you're willing to call an eight hour board game reasonable, that is.

Too Many Bones: 120 minutes max? Depending on the monstrous Tyrant your squad is tackling, the title the box ought to slowly etch away to read Too Many Hours instead.

5-Minute Mystery: The time limit is right there in the name, guys. So how did nine-minute missions manage to sneak through quality control and into my deck? That’s the mystery we should be trying to solve.

The punishment:

An eternity at a bus stop, waiting for a ride that’s just a few minutes away. It’ll be here any second now, honest!

We’ve slammed the cage shut on another cluster of board game sinners, but are there any villainous boxes you reckon we’ve missed? Let us know the guilty parties on your shelves via Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. And if you’re keen for more crimes, you can find all the previous editions of Board Gaming Sins locked away here.

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.