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Board Game Compression Experiment

Reading about folks “compressing” their games in preparation for travel, I was inspired.

We just returned from a weekend trip to Indianapolis (about 90 minutes from our home on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio) with a bag full of games (in their boxes) in tow. I thought this would be a good opportunity to experiment to see what could be gained by “compressing” these games for easier transport.

THE STARTING HAND:
These were the games we took to Indianapolis with us.

These 11 games in their boxes pretty much filled my ‘game garage’, which is an insulated food transportation bag from Gordon Food Service, roughly 21″x12″x12″ (available in-store for $3.50). It’s got ‘good enough’ handles, though with that many games the handles dug into my hands a bit. Still, for the price, it’s a great solution. And if it breaks, who cares? It was $3.50!

I weighed the bag with the games in their boxes and it was 31.5 pounds. Here’s a picture:

 

THE GAME PLAN:

  • To gain as much space as feasible by leaving behind the box, inserts, and any other non-gameplay-related pieces.
  • To take the entire game — boards, minis, pieces, parts, manuals, etc. Leave nothing behind but the box (and etc. as detailed above).

I removed all the games (except those marked with an “(*)” above which weren’t “compressed” because they’re already small enough {though I probably could have saved a little space in the Deep Space D-6 box and possibly the Tiny Epic Galaxies box}) from their boxes and put the components into a large Ziplock bag, one game per Ziplock. In the case of real travel, I would label each bags with a Sharpie. Components in most of my games are in small Ziplock bags within their boxes, so this was fairly easy. For card-intensive games like Mystic Vale, Ashes, Dresden, and Aeon’s End I rubber-banded the cards together in their groups as in the box (for example, all Book cards from Dresden were rubber-banded together). Manuals, boards, minis, and etc. were placed together into a stack nearby.

After “compressing” all the games, I put the manuals, boards, minis, etc. into the bottom of the bag. I put the Ziplock-bagged games in next. My ‘game garage’ was less than half full, and the weight was reduced to 23 pounds — a weight savings of 8.5 pounds!

OBSERVATIONS:
Rubber bands are bad. If I were doing this ‘for real’, I would use something more forgiving than rubber bands to collect my cards together, especially cards with dividers like those in Aeon’s End and Dresden.

It bothered me very little to remove the games from their boxes and put them into easier-to-transport Ziplocks. If I had a proper solution to use instead of rubber bands for card-sets (maybe smaller Ziplocks for a bag-within-a-bag approach), I would not mind transporting games this way.

Every game’s components (except for boards, minis, and manuals) fit inside a standard gallon-sized Ziplock bag — even Delve with its loads of tiles and dice. Even games that feel “bigger” fit into a gallon Ziplock.

Mystic Vale is really heavy for its size.

Mystic Vale’s Advancement cards slice right through rubber bands. Like a hot knife through butter.

Flimsy boards and manuals need support. They can be a little floppy (especially the manuals) and I worry about them getting bent. Consider taking a printout of the manual on 8.5×11 paper — using FinePrint to save paper & space — for travel and store the boards carefully (maybe on top). Or use a piece of cardboard or a binder to provide some ridgity to the boards and manuals.

Consider not including minis to further compress. Or, perhaps more realistically, don’t take mini games (like Scythe) at all because the hotel may not be set up for them. The added bulk of minis and sometimes-difficult play conditions at a hotel make mini games (to me) less-appropriate candidates for travel.

One drawback I noticed was that the ‘game garage’ was less structured without the boxes inside, and it wouldn’t stand up on its own. This was expected, but still noteworthy.

THE END GAME:
If you’re traveling, don’t be afraid to take your games out of their boxes and put them into labeled Ziplock bags. Consider the boards and manuals as you pack to prevent them from getting wrinkled or buckled.

 

The manuals and boards.

Board Game Night, 2017-06-25

For many months now, Wendy & I have been quietly hosting Board Game Nights at our house. We try to get folks together for “gaming unplugged” about once a week, though sometimes schedules get in the way and make it less often than we’d prefer.

But once we get folks together, phones are put away (except for the occasional rules clarification and recording of the game on BoardGameGeek.COM), and people begin to interact in meaningful ways, all facilitated by cardboard chits. Laughter happens, drama happens, game-based tensions rise and are resolved, and common experiences are experienced, real-time and together, around a table.

Last night, we had friends over for the first time to play games, and they brought their bright 7-year old daughter with them. Among other games, we played MYSTERIUM, which allows you to vote for or against the selections made by other players. The little girl was very anxious about voting against anyone because “they’re [my] friends!”, she said.

We talked about it with her at the table, helping her to understand that it’s just part of the game and “nothing personal”. While she was still a bit apprehensive about voting against her friends, she embraced the spirit (pun intended) of the game and fully participated.

I hope, if nothing else, that she enjoyed the game. But more so, I hope that she learned that games can be a ‘safe space’ that is non-damaging (and in fact healthy) to relationships. Even if you have to vote against a friend!

[UPDATED] Cincinnati Bell — STILL not complete!

The Cincinnati Bell installation from February 28, 2017 still is not complete as of this writing (May 2, 2017). They have not buried the fiber in my yard.

I’ve spent dozens of hours on the phone with Cincinnati Bell, trying to determine when this will be completed. Appointments are made. Appointments are missed.

I am promised returned calls which never come.

[UPDATE: 2017-05-03]

After much (!) effort on my part, today, this saga has seemingly come to an end. At 7:45am this morning (2017-05-03), Cincinnati Bell was here to bury the cable. It went smoothly and looks good. About time — it only took 64 days for this to be resolved, not to mention dozens (literally) of phone calls. Yikes.

Well, that was an ordeal!

I’ve been fighting with Cincinnati Bell for over a week and half now.

We ordered installation of FiOptics service (with a Static IP) to our home to get rid of Time Warner Cable and their dreadful Internet service. I’ve had Cincinnati Bell 5 installers in the house (including one confused tech that arrived {unannounced} this morning), countless hours on the phone with tech support in various countries, and loads of emails since the installation because the service simply. didn’t. work.

That all changed today, when I received a call from R (who asked me not to use his name, so just an initial will have to suffice) from Cincinnati Bell. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and was able to visualize my setup accurately to diagnose the problem. We spent 40 minutes diagnosing and fixing the problem (mostly fixed — I STILL cannot watch FiOptics TV on my Android or iPhone), and it’s working. I wish I could have had access to him, oh, 10 days ago!

RIP Chuck, a great dog

On April 11, 2016, we laid to rest our dear, sweet dog Chuck. He’d been with us a long time — and was a mature dog when we got him — so he was an old fellow.

Chuck’s story is largely unknown… Before we met him, he was brought in to one of the local animal shelters to be euthanized because he had large masses growing out of his ears. However, Leland, one of the animal shelter employees, saw something in Chuck and, instead of euthanizing him, brought him to Wendy’s hospital for treatment.

I don’t think it was love at first sight when Wendy saw Chuck. He was an unremarkable dog — black, skinny, with long gangly legs. Not particularly handsome nor particularly ugly or goofy looking. Just a black dog. Wendy worked on Chuck to surgically remove the growths from his ears and in doing so, found a spark between them.

As Chuck got healthier, Wendy’s fondness for him grew. So we adopted him into our home.

Chuck was, in a word, meek. He never got angry and took delight in simple things like laying in the sun, stretching out just as much as he could to take up as much of our bed as possible, and curling into as tiny a ball as possible when cuddled up on the couch. He enjoyed running with Wendy. But mostly wanted to chill out. Chuck was steadfast in his love for us — his whole adopted family — enjoying the cats as much as the other dogs. He escaped from the back yard a couple times, but came to the front door instead of running away.

Occasionally, he would race around our back yard at great speed. We thought he was a greyhound. When Wendy ran a DNA test on him, we were surprised to discover that Chuck was a mix of Dalmatian and Poodle! His nicknames were “Chuzzle” or “Chuzzlebutt”.

(l to r): Buster, Dolly, and Chuck
(l to r): Buster, Dolly, and Chuck

Such a gentle soul. Wonderful to have around the house because he was solidly present and interested in whatever you were doing, but never nosy or insistent. He just wanted to watch.

One time, Wendy came into our bedroom to find Chuck positively frolicking with a toy — tossing it into the air and catching it (well, trying too — Chuck was never good at that), play bowing, jumping around, and generally having a blast with the toy. Wendy went to see what toy was giving him such delight, she discovered it was a shard from a tennis ball that had been chewed up. Just the tiniest speck of a ball, and Chuck thought he’d won the toy-lottery. We named the top “Speck” and treated it with reverence (until our cleaning lady eventually swept it up with the vacuum).

Chuck was laying on our bed on which I’d tossed some plastic hangers. One of the hangers got hooked around Chuck’s collar in front, acting like a hobble as it bounced against his front legs. Chuck was startled by that, but just sat there, still, because he was confused. I had the time to take a picture of it while he waited patiently for me to rescue him!

Chuck Stuck
Chuck got stuck when this hanger hooked onto his collar.

His health declined and he was “circling the drain”, losing weight (his last several months he wore a doggie sweater to help keep him warm). Wendy and I went out of town briefly and put the animals into Wendy’s hospital for care as we normally do. Sometime during that stay Chuck “crashed” and, while he held on long enough for us to get back and be with him, we knew it was the end of the road for our dear sweet boy.

Chuck Last Pic
Chuck’s last picture, being petted by Andrew.

Chuck was a wonderful companion and a great dog. Rest in peace, faithful friend.

This was a difficult eulogy to write because Chuck is difficult to capture in words. It is hard to express how loyal, loving, and just-plain-nice Chuck was in a way that does justice to it. He was a pleasant dog, and a good boy.