Cards and Dice and Meeples, Oh My!

Have you ever opened a game box to find it looking like this?

Me, too. Maybe it dropped on the floor, maybe it got shuffled a bit in the car, or maybe it always looks like that. Cards and dice and parts – everywhere. The bottom line is, you have to clean up the game before you can even begin setting up for your fun. And that puts a damper on the party.

We’re not the only ones with this messy problem; an entire cottage industry has sprouted up around proper storage of board and card games. Visiting my friendly local game store, I found foam inserts, card boxes, component boxes, and even entire laser-cut wood inserts made to fit inside the original box. All of these are nice, but expensive.

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s easy to find cheap plastic zip loc bags that can store your components. These aren’t expensive or particularly nice, but they do hold the parts. Most games come with plastic bags like these but mine tend to disappear. For one thing, they’re slippery and easy to misplace. They also tend to be small – not much larger than the components themselves. That makes it very tempting to dump all the parts out of the bag rather than trying to get enough fingers in there to get the pieces out. Can you say missing meeple?

A More Elegant Solution

I wanted something different. Something more elegant, more impressionable, more stable, and easier to use. And I found my solution in the least likely place imaginable – in the wedding favors aisle at the craft store. Organiza bags are inexpensive, see-through fabric bags that are typically filled with mints or candies for weddings and other milestone parties.

They have everything I want.  Organza is a semi-soft, thin material that can be made of silk or synthetic fibers; mine are clearly synthetic. Unlike those slippery plastic bags, they’re durable with constant use as well as comfortable to hold and manipulate.  Unlike thick plastic deck boxes and component boxes, they’re partially see-through, so I can tell at a glance exactly what is in bag A vs bag B.

Look how much nicer that same Sushi Go Party game looks when separate sections are bagged up. I bagged all the “rolls” together, all the “appetizers” together, etc, so that we can find what we want for game setup as quickly as possible. I shook the bejeebers out of the box and the components are still neatly separated.

Having way too many games in my library, I ordered a bulk unit of 100 bags in size 5″x 7″ – they come in all kinds of sizes from 2″ x 3″ all the way up to 8″ x 10″ to fit just about any component need. My large Mysterium card decks fit inside my large bags, as well as all the jumbled stone blocks from Imhotep.

Plus, these are large enough to actually get my hands inside the bag. Instead of dumping piles of pieces on the table, I find myself reaching in and grabbing what I need – with the result of fewer lost pieces. Opening and closing them is also super simple – they pull open and pull closed.

Since I ordered an assortment of colors, I’m also able to color code the bag contents. Green parts? Green bag. Orange parts? Orange bag. I haven’t been able to color code everything, but many of the components are fitted to bags in ways that make the game easy to put away. And that’s a great benefit at the end of the night, when everyone’s tired and wants to go home. It’s possible that the upscale look of these bags helps my gamer friends feel more protective towards my games; I find friends helping to put the pieces away quickly and carefully.

My gaming M.O. is a little different. I pack up pretty much my entire game collection and cart it off to a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop every couple of weeks; maybe your games don’t earn as many frequent flyer miles. Still, if you find yourself taking games in the camper, to the cabin, or on a road trip, it’s nice to know that they’re packed neatly and will stay that way.

For some of my travels, I’ve even been known to just grab the component bags and throw them in a backpack for a quick trip – who needs to carry the box or the rulebook? And that’s led to gaming opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise happen.

Where to Get Them

I bought my bulk packs at Amazon. They were reasonably priced and arrived quickly with prime shipping. Here are some of the options:

These are multicolor larger bags – about 5×7 – and work nicely for chipboard buttons, dice collections, and larger card decks:

These are plain white smaller bags – a little smaller than 3×5 – and would be great for small collections like Catan houses or Pandemic cubes:

Hope these help you keep your game collection in order, keep your parts safe, and get to the fun faster! If you’re ever in western New York, come and find me and my fellow game guides at one of our pop-up game nights. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to find out where we’ll be next.

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