It’s All About the Insert

One of the really fun things about board games, besides playing them if they are really good, is that wonderful feeling when you first get a game. It’s all in shrink wrap, pristine, nobody has touched what’s inside. It has that new game smell.

What’s waiting for you when you take off that lid? You know that there are going to be a bunch of counter sheets and a board, or some cards or something, but what will it look like? And what will it look like when you have spent the time punching out everything and bagging it up?

Is there a nice place to put all of the stuff you just punched out or the cards from which you’ve removed all the cellophane? Is it an empty box without even any baggies (like the first edition of The Castles of Mad King Ludwig)?

Some games come with beautiful inserts that fit everything perfectly.

Others are Fantasy Flight Games.

Planet Steam 1
(Planet Steam insert above)

Don’t get me wrong. Fantasy Flight Games isn’t the only competitor in the crappy insert tournament. But they would win a lot of years.

I’ve seen my share of horrible inserts, but I have to say that San Juan 2nd Edition really takes the cake.

San Juan 1

Who thought this would be a good insert for a card game with a huge stack of cards and really nothing else? Ok, maybe you assume that people are going to bag their cards, but it’s still really lazy. I would almost rather have no insert than this piece of crap.

This is just the reverse of the standard “one trench in the middle and then you can put stuff under the insert on both sides” insert. Whether it’s worse than that or not depends on what the game is, I guess.

Other games do a wonderful job with the insert, until you sleeve your cards because they’re going to be shuffled all the time.

Biblios has one of those inserts. It looks really pretty and fits everything beautifully, but it kind of is a waste of space. Also, once you sleeve your cards, there’s no way they’re fitting in that slot.

Biblios 1

In reality, that box doesn’t even need to be kept. Or if you do keep it, you can keep another card game or two in it as well. Perfect conservation of space!

Arctic Scavengers (Deluxe set with both expansions), on the other hand, has a wonderful insert that does fit sleeved cards. It’s kind of a tight fit, but that’s ok. It still works. It also comes with a nice labelled strip that you place in the center of the insert so it doesn’t just hold the cards, it organizes them.

Arctic Scavengers 1

Then there’s Bezier games and Favor of the Pharaoh. As bad (or I should say “non-existent”) as the Suburbia and Castles inserts were, this one is awesome. There’s room for each tile, and there’s actually a plan for how to organize the tiles so you can find them easily, and there’s even room for all the extra dice you could order!

FoP Insert 2

This is almost required for a game where you’re going to use a limited number of the tiles each game. Kudos to them for this one.

So what do you do if the insert that comes with the game just doesn’t work?

After crying, I mean.

You either make do with what’s there (not optimal), you throw away the entire insert; bag everything and throw it all into the box (that works, but you’re still digging through tons of bags), or you make your own insert (or pleasantly discover that your friend is very good at them).

Blood Bowl: Team Manager was your typical FFG game with the typical FFG insert. You see that insert for Planet Steam above? Imagine that with orcs and elves on it, and that’s pretty much what you got.

I made do with it, but after getting both expansions for the game, it was getting really full. I then threw out the insert and just bagged everything. That worked for a while too, but given all the teams and other cards that aren’t necessarily used every game, it just became tedious.

Then my friend made me this.

BB TM Insert

Beautiful, isn’t it? A space for everything, the cards fit snugly in their assigned spaces. You can leave the pieces that you don’t use in their spot without worry of getting them mixed up with the rest of your pieces.

Or Castles of Mad King Ludwig, which went from an empty box with tons of bags (which I provided for myself since the 1st printing didn’t come with any), to this:

Ludwig insert


What do you do with your inserts? Do you toss them immediately? Do you make your own? Or have somebody else make them?

Or do you make do with what the game company gives you?

Let me know in the comments.

14 Comments on “It’s All About the Insert

  1. Wow that’s a fancy insert! To be honest, I haven’t noticed most of my games’ inserts. Dominion’s always been nice and it fits all the cards. Other games, I typically just throw the cards on top of the boards. Rubber bands, ziploc bags. Maybe I’m a monster…


    • Not a monster at all! Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

      Besides, if my friend didn’t make inserts, I would make do with what I had, with bags and all that other stuff. 🙂


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  5. Have you seen the insert for Lords of Waterdeep? Whenever I think about perfect insert design I think of that game. It’s just stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I have that game, and the insert is very good for it. I wish the box itself had been better, though. But with the expansion, it gets a lot better in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean about the box. It irritates me so much that the lid doesn’t really close properly! I mean, what is the point in that gap between the lid and the base, really?

        Liked by 1 person

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