How important is that game tray?

Pretty innocuous question…but one that’s far more important that you’d think.

If you’re a gamer with a pile of boxed games on your shelf, think of those with a fair number of components. Does the game have a tray that holds the components nice and organized? Or is it just a big cavity where everything sits? Or worse, the tray really only held the components in place until you purchased it and once you open everything, you can’t even really put the flimsy tray back in so you end up discarding it and all your components just slop around inside a big box?

I love a good tray. I know it sounds a little strange, but when a game company spends the time to think out how someone is going to use a game and provides a tray that holds the various components in an organized fashion (and safety proofs them against potential extra damage during use)…it just feels like that company went above and beyond.

One of my all time favorite trays is for a game called La Cita. Not only is it a fantastic game, but it’s got a freakload of chits and a most unique tray that holds the chits and gameboard for easy use.

Another great example of a well thought-out tray is Dominion, with the cardbard naming insert to go along with all those Racko (how’s THAT for a name-drop)-like card slots.

So, when it comes to Leviathans, I want the packaging and the very tray that holds all the components not simply to be something to get the components from the printer to the customer. Instead I want it to be an organization tool that will allow players to quickly and easily carry the box to a game, open the lid and they’re up and playing in short order…and it goes away as quickly. I also want it to be some-what future proof, so as additional rules booklets, Ship Cards, and game templates are published, they’ll easily slide directly into the tray of the core box.

Now obviously I can’t future-proof the tray for more miniatures…and after a while the Ship Cards are going to over-load what I’ve put together…but it should work for the first few steps into the game and universe.

What does all of that means? It means that no matter how many times I tried to type up a description of the tray, the printer was nervous about not understanding. As such, I simply spent the time last weekend and built a mock-up of the tray, took a dozen plus photos, then compiled a huge email as a companion to the photos…and suddenly the printer gets it.

Leviathans_Handbuilt Insert Tray_Photo 1.jpg

The white box bottom is simply from another game I own, but is just about the right size for the box. You’ll notice a big white styrofoam container in a big cavity…that’s where the miniatures will go (doubt the final will ‘be’ styrofoam…it just prooved useful for making my point). Then you’ve got the gameboards, the dice (again, white samples, so no colors), and two slots, one for the Ship Cards (Destroyers/Cruisers) and one for the Recognition Cards.

Leviathans_Handbuilt Insert Tray_Photo 2.jpg

This second photo shows the two gameboards removed and a cavity underneath for a variety of items: templates, rules booklets, Ship Cards (Battleships), and so on. For those familiar with BattleTech, you’re probably wondering why a template from HexPack: Lakes and Rivers is in the box. That’s about future-proofing. There’s plans for a product that will include a template of that size and so I wanted to ensure the cavity I built would fit that template once it was released.

Well, there ya go. 15+ years in the industry and I still find myself doing things I’ve never done before…and scratch building a complex insert component tray so the manufacturer knows exactly what we want…that’s absolutely a new one.

See ya next duty shift!


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