All games are not created equal when it comes to box inserts. In fact, very few games do box inserts well. But there are examples of great inserts as seen in Lord of Waterdeep so I know it can be done. I understand that this is probably low on the priority list for publishers, would add to the cost, and would be hard to meet all gamer’s requirements.
One of my most recent purchases that is a box-insert-offender is Star Wars: Imperial Assault from Fantasy Flight. Basically, the insert that came with it was meant for the trash can. It did nothing to aid in the storage of all the small tokens, cards, and pieces the game came with. Again, I don’t really blame Fantasy Flight for omitting a fancy box insert. But it is nice to see publishers at least try, which Fantasy Flight did not with this game. But when it is not done properly there is something we intrepid board gamers can do to right it. Enter: foam core box inserts.
If you haven’t built a foam core insert before check out our Foam Core Basics post.
I need to emphasize here that this is was my first attempt at a foam core insert. All of my basic foam core knowledge (from cutting to gluing to pinning) came from The Esoteric Order of Gamers foam core tutorial videos (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). I used their plans to create the Imperial Assault insert. This website is a wonderful resource for hobby board gamers with things like these foam core plans as well as their rules summaries. If you have not checked them out, you must.
Now, on to my experience creating my first foam core insert. It was easier in some ways than I thought and harder in others. Once you get the measuring and cutting down this is easy. You will probably end up needing many of the same size pieces so once you get one done you can use it as a pattern for others. I figured the larger pieces would be harder to do than the small ones but (at least on this attempt) it was the other way around. Smaller, thinner pieces are harder to cut and get glued properly. This may change with more experience working with foam core but expect this in your first attempt.
Here is the final product. It turned out much better than I figured a first attempt would. I hope this encourages you to give foam core inserts a shot if you are interested at all in them.
A few takeaways:
- Take your time. If this is your first insert plan for it to take a while. Don’t rush it. This one took me several evenings to complete. Probably a total of 4 hours.
- Keep your blade sharp – this is how you get clean edges
- Stand up when making long cuts. It makes it easier to get the right angle on the cut and the enough pressure on the ruler so it doesn’t move.
- Don’t try to cut through the foam core with one deep cut. Use 2 or 3 cuts to make it through. This produces better, straighter edges.
- I prefer notching and connecting pieces if I can instead of cutting shorter pieces and gluing them individually.
- Straight pins aren’t optional for holding the pieces together while the glue dries. They make it so much easier.
CHECK OUT SOME OF THE PUB’S FOAM CORE PLANS
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You’ve built a foam core insert or two and now you want to design your own insert but you don’t know where to start. In this how to, Brian will walk you through the steps he takes when designing an insert.