Enough of the digital nimrod-ity! It’s time to peel my eyeballs off the computer monitor for a few hours and engage in some good, old-fashioned, analog tinfoil hattery.
Wargame storage. There’s hardly a topic more appealing to the tinfoil-hat-wearing game-nerd crowd in all of Christendom, is there? How wargamers get all of each game’s gear into a box is both deeply personal and highly revealing.
(Please note: I’m not touching the topic of counter-clipping today. Oh nooo. That’s a different subject entirely. Today I’m writing ONLY about how game widgets get put away after whatever gets done to them has been done.)
The subject popped into my head the other evening as I was contemplating the ‘just barely’ squeeze of fitting the generously-sized counters from Conflict of Heroes into a standard, old-school counter tray. When I realized that the game’s ‘hit’ markers weren’t making it into the tray, my mind suddenly veered off down the dusty road of contemplating the changing nature of wargame components.
Conflict of Heroes, Tide of Iron, Memoir 44 – all games from the past few years that have required a radical re-thinking of the Old Ways of game storage. I made allowances for ‘block’ games years ago – remember the original version of Columbia’s EastFront hails from 1988 – so GMT’s recent new wave of block games caused me no problems.
But games with giant counters and/or lots of plastic bits – those have given me a work-out. For all of my real-world sloppiness, I like my game boxes tidy and organized. And some of the newer games really cause me grief.
Back when I was a boy, organizing a game box was simple. My first two wargames were SPI flatpacks (“Tank!” and “Barbarossa”). Even a teen-aged shaky goob could keep those organized – neither one of them had enough counters to overrun the compartments of the flatpacks.
Then came a couple of Avalon Hill games (the iconic “PanzerBlitz” and “Tobruk”) which – gasp! – had no counter trays. I managed to make do with an assortment of simple mailing envelopes, though. Eventually the organizational system for ‘no tray’ games graduated to plastic sandwich baggies and, later, to ziploc baggies.
Still, I’ve always favored counter trays of some sort. In the mid-90s, when The Gamers were still The Gamers, I bought a not-quite-lifetime supply of their counter trays. Note, please, that my CoH counters are stuffed into one of them. I have ONE MORE left. Occasionally they get re-cycled – games that don’t hit the table any more get their counters off-loaded into baggies, freeing up the precious trays for games in the ‘Active’ pile.
But as game components grow and/or morph into jumbles of plastic doodads, what am I going to do? I’ve used those little Plano tackle boxes in a few instances (and big Plano tackle boxes for ASL – that’s canon, isn’t it?), but that’s like doubling the cost of the damned game just to keep the grunts from breaking their rifles.
I appreciate the general industry shift away from every game using old-school half-inch counters, but it’s a trend that sure does make it tough on all of us old counter-tray fanatics.
Oh yeah. Recently comes word that Art Lupinacci of L2 Design is injecting some of his signature games like Russia Besieged with some sort of recombinant gene therapy that’s going to produce nearly double-sized packages with 1-inch counters, 8-foot maps and play aids the size of Rhode Island. I think the man is tempting the laws of God, nature and North Carolina with a game package that size – it could cause a rupture in the very fabric of space-time.
Madness. Sheer madness.
And waaay too big for my counter trays, dammit.