Organized Labors


Quite a few gamer geeks I know will argue that the best part of being into tabletop games isn’t the strategy, or the competition, or the companionship.  It’s not being exposed to a wide variety of genres and game mechanics and designs or being surprised by some hidden gem that comes out of nowhere.  No, the real thrill of gaming, what keeps them going, is the chance to organize and re-organize dozens of little cardboard counters and wooden blocks.

You’d think a product that comes in a fairly sturdy box wouldn’t need much in the way of storage.  But inside that box are usually player pieces, victory point tokens, coins, resource blocks, location chits, action markers, worker tiles, rules cards, and any number of other components that make chess look like Candy Land.  You could just toss everything back in the box when you’re done playing and keep it all reasonably secure, but you’re in for a nightmare when it comes time to actually play.  Nobody wants to spend half their gaming evening simply getting ready to game.  You need a way to keep all the coal in one place, all the corn in another, and everything of one color in a nice tidy package so you can just go, “Here, you’re blue.”

So any gamer who’s worth calling themselves that accessorizes with a proper variety of resealable bags and plastic containers for all their assorted pieces.  And I’m not talking about zip-lock bags off the grocery shelf or Tupperware. These are bags in a variety of sizes and containers with multiple customizable compartments.  We’ll commandeer tackle boxes and tool cases for our miniature games, or order custom-fit foam cases in which to gently nestle our figures.  We’ll sort by color, by type, by size, by shape, by theme, and then, after a while, we’ll do it all again, looking for that perfect combination of utility and aesthetics  that not only allows us to find what we need, but earns approving nods from our fellow gamers.  It’s just as much a game as the things we’re so obsessively trying to organize.

And for some, it doesn’t even go that far.  For them, it’s all downhill once they open the box.  They live for that moment when they tear the shrink-wrap away, slide off the lid, and view those pristine sheets of counters just waiting to be punched out.  They’re like kids on Christmas morning, filled with excited glee as they tear into their presents, only to sit in somewhat disappointed silence once the wrapping paper is strewn everywhere and all the secrets have been revealed.  If they had their way, they’d open everybody’s games, swooping in as soon as the box is open.

Just today, I bought three boxes in which to store a bunch of game cards that I had previously spent a few hours sorting into binder-sized pocket pages separated by divider tabs.  Yesterday’s solution is tomorrow’s inelegant mess.  And the kicker?  It’s a game I haven’t even played yet.  But I sure have organized the hell out of it.

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