Penguinised's Adventures in Foamcore
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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A list of the various foamcore inserts I have made for my board games.

My design philosophy for these inserts is pretty easy to follow:

1. Keep it simple stupid.
2. Don't use space in the box just for the sake of it. Empty space can be used for transporting other games.
3. Utilitarian is better than beautiful.
4. Don't be afraid to shamelessly plagiarise other designs.


Future projects:
Viticulture with the Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture expansion. COMPLETE!
Concordia with the Concordia: Salsa expansion. COMPLETE!
Cosmic Encounter with literally all the expansions.
Eclipse with the Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients expansion.
Sushi Go Party! (Actually a whole box replacement for this one. Stupid tins).
Celestia. COMPLETE!
Broom Service.
Scythe with the Scythe: Invaders from Afar and Scythe: The Wind Gambit expansions (and probably the next one too, who am I kidding).
A few small box card games whose stock inserts don't allow sleeved cards.
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1. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:14]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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I made this insert for myself to hold the base game and first expansion. Unfortunately I only had adhesive backed foam core and a pretty blunt Stanley knife but it works great and fits everything in. The manuals and included reference card fit on top.


Full loaded with all the components and boards.


Boards removed. Notice that, due to them being slightly longer, the Pantheon god cards slightly overlap the Age III cards.


Pantheon god cards and money tray removed. The idea of the coin tray is that if I ever get the metal coins I can just throw the tray away and put the bag of coins in there instead. It will mean I'll have to add an extra divider to contain the science and military tokens and stick the Pantheon tokens in with the military tokens.
The stack underneath the Pantheon god cards is, from the bottom up: base game score pad, wonder cards (including the promos), expansion score pad.


The Age I and Age II cards have risers underneath them to make them easier to retrieve. Although the Age III cards don't have risers in this picture (they didn't fit with the way the Pantheon cards overlap them) while I was taking the photos I realised I could swap the Age I and Age III cards and risers would then fit for all three card slots.


The insert emptied of all components. Note that the coin/Pantheon token tray has curved cardboard glued inside to aid in retrieving the tokens from such a small tray.


A low angle shot showing the notches for the boards and large cards.

For instructions on how to make the curved “slides” used in this insert, please have a look at this post on my geeklist.
 
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2. Board Game: Agricola (Revised Edition) [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:90]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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Agricola is one of my all time favourite games and so when I first heard of the Revised Edition I knew I’d be picking it up at some point. My old Z-Man copy of the original edition was a minefield of baggies and tackle boxes; I was determined to get it right this time.

My constraints: I wanted to sleeve all the cards, I wanted to leave room for both the Agricola: Artifex Deck and Agricola: Bubulcus Deck in the box, and I wanted the box to close flush. Sure...


The fully loaded insert. All the boards and manuals fit on top, but only just. You’ll notice that two of the card slots are mostly empty. These will take the Agricola: Bubulcus Deck once it realeases.


A close up of the resource tray emptied. Unfortunately, due to the constraints of space, I’ve had to combine resources into single tray compartments in ways that seem most logical. The compartments themselves are colour coded and have curved bases to help in getting the bits out.


The main box with the resource and player trays removed. There is a little bit of room under here to fit the major improvement and round cards. At one end of the box are all the room/field tiles as well as the first player marker, begging tiles and recommended space markers.


The empty insert. As space is at an absolute premium in this box, I had no room for risers to help get the cards out. Instead I’ve cut holes in the bottom layer of foamcore instead. It works so well that I’ll probably revisit my Viticulture insert and do the same there.

For instructions on how to make the curved “slides” used in this insert, please have a look at this post on my geeklist.
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3. Board Game: Celestia [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:615]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
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Pretty basic insert this one. Although it’s not pictured this one also has room for the card based A Little Help expansion.


The fully loaded insert.


The empty insert. Note the risers in both card compartments to aid in the retrieval of the cards.
 
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4. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:21]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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The creation of this insert presented a few unique challenges. First, as it needed to hold both the base game board and the Salsa expansion board, vertical space in the box was limited. Second, my foamcore supplies were running very low, so only partitions deemed absolutely necessary could be constructed.
These two constraints meant no removable trays and no separate partitions for each of the different resources and denominations of coins. Neither of these was a huge issue for me as big piles of tokens on the table are part of the joy (in my experience).
For a project with so many restrictions, it has turned out very well. So colourful!


The fully loaded insert, all boards and manuals in place.
I normally wouldn't show these first two pictures, but it's pretty integral to the functioning of this insert to have the boards layered in this way.


Top board and manuals removed. The forum board, as well as the 5 player boards, sit between the two main game boards. This allows the board to provide a nice flat surface to cap the insert and keep all the various cards, tiles and components in place.


All boards removed. The top two compartments hold the forum tiles, separated by type (with enough room for the promotional expansion tiles).
The second row of compartments hold the player cards on one side and the purchasable personality cards on the other; the cardboard player aids sit beneath each stack of cards. Between them are the bonus tiles, separated by type.
The lower right-hand side of the box contains all the player pieces, separated by colour. Each of these trays also contains the starting resources and five sestertii for faster setup.
The lower left-hand side of the box contains all the resources and coins, as well as the city tiles, separated by letter.


Detail of the bonus tile compartment. Each slot is colour coded for its resource type (because why the hell not).


Detail of the player trays showing the curved base. This helps in retrieving the pieces for setup.


Detail of the coin and resource trays showing the curved base. Again, this helps in getting all the pieces out of the box at the start of the game.


Detail of one of the card compartments, showing the risers in action.


The insert with all components removed.

For instructions on how to make the curved “slides” used in this insert, please have a look at this post on my geeklist.
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5. Board Game: Dungeon Petz [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:150]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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There was a real potential for this insert to wind up being very fiddly due to the number of different components in this game however, I'm very happy with the end result. The game holds enough complexity for me as it is so I didn't allow space for any expansions.


The insert with all boards in place. Due to the many sizes of player boards, they sit in two layers. The large group on top contains the main board, manual, laminated player aids and home boards.


The next layer contains the cage boards and the round tracker board. These sit below the layer of the larger boards and help to keep the cards and tiles in place.


The fully loaded insert. The pets, player baggies (containing imps, minions and score tiles), show tiles and buyer tiles sit in in the only fixed section of the insert. All other tokens are in removable trays.


The card tray with risers. The risers put the cards on a slight slant which makes them easier to draw and keeps them from spilling out of the tray.


The "containment" tray. This holds the cages, cage upgrades and artefact tokens. When the game is in storage, the wooden markers also sit on top. The artefact tokens have a mid riser for easier retrieval.


The "nasty" tray. This holds the mutation, suffering and poop tokens. As these components have no space on the main board, the openings in this tray were made larger to allow fingers to reach inside so the tray can sit on the table during play.


The "nice" tray. This holds the gold and food tokens. As these components have specific places on the board this tray is small and narrow. The idea is that these are just tipped out onto the board once setup is completed.


The full insert with all components removed.
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6. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:583] [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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This one was a real challenge: fit both Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon into a single box. It weighs a fair portion of a metric tonne but it all fits. You may notice that I didn't take a photo of the insert completely empty. There was no way I was going to pull out all of the minis just for a photo, but I'm sure you get the idea.


The fully loaded insert. The square monster boards fit in a narrow slot in the side of the miniature compartment (hard to see in the photo as it's covered by minis).
The player tray holds all the PC minis, dice, shield tokens, coffin tokens, damage tokens, small treasure tokens, NPCs and miscellaneous small round tokens.
The HP tray has separate compartments for 1 HP and 5 HP tokens.


Trays removed. The cards are separated by type (from bottom to top: miscellaneous, encounter, monster, treasure, player) and sit next to the condition tokens.
The healing surge and large square and rectangular tokens are stored below the HP tray.


Cards, condition tokens and large monster and dungeon tiles removed. The monster tiles are stored below the condition tokens which act like a riser to aid in their retrieval from the narrow slot.
The dungeon tiles and player boards are evenly stacked in two piles.
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7. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:144]
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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I’ve been reluctant to pull the trigger on this one, mostly due to the ongoing nature of expansion releases. I’m very happy with my final solution which leaves plenty of space for future factions and any tokens or boards they may include.


The fully loaded insert. Note that the dividers between the different faction cards in the upper compartments are not currently fixed in place. I’ll likely glue them in once I’m satisfied that there will be no more cards coming.
The lower compartment contains four trays in two layers: a large card caddy for the common cards, a small try to hold all of the limited faction specific tokens and small game markers, a tray for all the commonly used game tokens, and another for holding the added effect tokens.


The four trays removed. Note that there is plenty of space in the tray containing technology and blessing tokens for any addition tokens they decide to add to the game in the future. I love the artwork and funny messages on the original cardboard insert so much that I decided to incorporate them into the trays and the insert itself.


The game token tray with colour coded slides and faction specific tray. The card caddy has minor spoilers (if you haven’t already I strongly recommend you take a close look at the cardboard insert in your copy of the game).

Spoiler (click to reveal)

One side of the card caddy showing the stealthy ninjas. What I really like about them being in the card caddy is that they are slowly revealed as the game plays and cards are drawn



The insert with trays removed. There is a recessed space beneath the trays and caddy for the score board and first player marker.


The empty insert. Notice that half the insert has a foam core base and the other a cardboard base. This allows enough depth for sleeved cards and the player boards to stand upright, but also gives me another opportunity to preserve some of the wonderful artwork of the original insert.

For instructions on how to make the curved “slides” used in this insert, please have a look at this post on my geeklist.
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8. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:93]
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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Most of the inserts I had seen for this game use up as much of the space inside the box as possible. With this design I decided to keep it simple but leave big areas of open space. There is more than enough room for any expansion(s) I decide to get but also room to fit smaller games when I travel.


The insert fully loaded. The board tiles occupy one of the large slots, the wagon and player aids the other.


The coin tray, player boxes and gem box. I decided to put 3 wagon plank tiles in each of the player boxes to aid setup.



The main box with the tray and boxes removed. The large space next to the market and mosque tiles is unused. The cards have small risers underneath them to aid in retrieval.



Low angle view of the large tile slots showing the large volume of empty space. Easily enough room for some small card games when heading to game night.



The empty insert.
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9. Board Game: Jump Drive [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:915]
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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For a game as quick and snappy as Jump Drive I want to be able to get it out of the box and be ready to play as quickly as possible. This insert doubles as a caddy for the cards and tokens which means the only setup is to remove it from the box and draw cards. The basic structure of this design worked out so well I may revisit it for a few other card games in my collection.


The fully loaded insert. I split the deck in half, not just to help it fit in the box more easily, but also to allow easy drawing for both sides of the table. There are two compartments for single VPs (again, for ease of access for all players) as well as wider 5 and 10 VP trays and a raised central slot for exploration tokens.


The insert out of the box and ready for play. The partitions are much higher than they need to be for one main reason: they keep all the VP tokens in their correct compartments when the box it turned sideways (which is how I store all my games). I didn’t use all this height for the compartments as it would have made them far too deep to easily retrieve the tokens.


The empty insert.

For instructions on how to make the curved “slides” used in this insert, please have a look at this post on my geeklist.
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10. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:247]
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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I actually quite liked the original insert for this game however once you add either of the expansions it becomes woefully inadequate. This is probably my weakest design and poorest project in terms of build quality (I must have been using a butter knife to cut the board) but it gets the job done.
This insert is for the base game as well as the Power Up! and Halloween expansions.


The fully loaded insert with the board in place. In order to use the board as an effective lid for the power cubes and tokens, I had to notch the top of the insert to allow a snug fit.


The fully loaded insert with the board removed.


A low angle shot of the insert showing the notches to allow the board to fit snugly in place.


The insert with the dice tray and power cube and token tray removed. The cards pretty much fit exactly in place, no room for any more. If I were to design this again I'd allow a bit more space for risers.


The insert with components and trays removed.
 
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11. Board Game: Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:202]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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This insert, like a few of my other designs, doesn't attempt to fill up all the room in the box but instead leaves the space open. This allows me to pack multiple games into a single box when I travel.


The lid I made for the foamcore insert from the original cardboard insert.


The fully loaded insert. The large, empty piece of foamcore is used to keep the components which sit below it in place. It creates enough room for a few small card games to be transported in this box.


The card and point token trays. Both sides of the card tray have sloped risers to make card drawing easier and to prevent them from sliding out of the tray (a particular issue with the sleeved mission and discovery cards).


All trays and cards removed. The blocks in the lower compartment are positioned to prevent the large board pieces, launchpad etc from sliding around.
The astronaut trays are grouped into pairs with the relevant decks of cards on either side.


The insert with components removed.
 
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12. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:48]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
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My first ever insert! I was sick of huge wads of cards and bags of tokens rattling around in the box. This insert is for the base game as well as the Alien Artifacts and Xeno Invasion expansions.


The fully loaded insert. One of the horizontal card slots on the right holds the base game deck, the other holds the start worlds, starting hands and player action cards. The vertical slots on the left hold one expansion each.
The removable tray holds all the small expansion tokens as well as the most commonly used wooden markers.
The VP space has one large bag containing 24 points worth of VPs, 3 bags containing 12 VPs each and a whole lot of loose, spare tokens.


The space underneath the token tray is used to hold all the larger expansion boards and tokens as well as the less commonly used wooden markers.


The empty insert.

Due to the thickness of the sleeved card stacks there wasn't enough room to place risers which makes it a little difficult to retrieve the cards. Drilling a hole through the base of the insert in the middle of the divider between each pair of card slots would probably work to remedy this issue, I just haven't gotten around to trying it yet.
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13. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:65]
Ben Tinney
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BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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This insert, the best I have made so far, is an almost direct lift from a design by N/A (see a picture of his original build here).
The minor changes I have made to the original design are detailed with the pictures below. It allows room for the base game, the Ambition expansion, as well as the two promo tiles.


The fully loaded insert. The main change I made from the original design was to decrease the width of the dice and VP trays to allow more room for tiles. I felt that expansions are more likely to add further tiles to the game and so extra space for them would be a good idea.
The bottom leftmost partition contains the goal tiles from the expansion as well as the phase tiles. Next to that are the dice cups, each of which holds the corresponding score meeple. The outermost cup (blue in this case) also contains the folded, empty tile bag. My cups have been lined with felt and so need to be tightly stacked to fit in the compartment.
The leftmost middle partition contains the start worlds and faction tiles. The bag tiles occupy the right hand centre partition. If the tiles are arranged vertically rather than horizontally (as shown here) it opens up a lot more room for extra tiles.
Due to the weight of all this cardboard I left reinforcing pins in the partitions permanently to increase their strength.


Dice and VP trays removed. The phase strips, player boards and screens fit tightly into this space. The thickness of the folded screens is the main limiting factor on how deep the dice tray can be.


The dice and VP trays. The VP tray is just a simple two compartment tray. I considered several options for making the VPs easier to setup but in the end it's just easier to dump them in a pile and count off the required number.
Each compartment in the dice tray is lined with a corresponding coloured cardboard "slide" to aid in retrieval.


The insert with components and trays removed.

For instructions on how to make the curved “slides” used in this insert, please have a look at this post on my geeklist.
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14. Board Game: Slidey [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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It’s been a long time coming, but finally here is the method I use for adding curved bases (or “slides”) to box compartments. Hopefully these steps are easy enough to follow but please let me know if you need any clarification.

Step 1: Line the flat sides

Figure out which sides of your compartment you would like to curved and which you would not. For the flat sides, measure their dimensions and cut coloured card to fit. In this case I’ll have two curved sides and two flat sides, but you can also have three flat sides and one curved (See my Concordia insert for an example of this type)


Note that the curved side(s) will almost always be the short side(s) of the compartment you’re working on. Making the long sides curved only really works for very large compartments.
Anyway, once ther’re cut, glue them in place. I use PVA glue (the same one I use for the construction of the insert itself) and spread it in a thin, even layer across the whole of the piece of card with my finger. Keeps it neat and tidy.


Step 2: The bottom layer of the slide

Measure the width of your compartment (ie the length of the side which doesn’t have coloured card now glued to it) and cut a strip of thin card slightly (0.5-1mm) narrower than this width. You want the piece to be quite long as you’ll be using it to define the shape of the curve. As for the cardboard itself, I use card about three times the weight of standard printer paper. You just want something that will easily flex, but not fold or crumple when half coated with glue. It needs to be a little narrower than the compartment so that it can curve easily without catching on the sides.


Lay this card into the compartment, holding one end and pushing the other in so that the card flexes and forms a curve (see the image below). The main things to consider here is that you want some contact on both sides and the bottom so that the glue will adequately hold it all in place, and that the curve is gentle enough to allow the pieces that will be stored in the compartment to slide out easily. This comes with practice but basically large pieces need wider and flatter curves, small pieces can handle much tighter curves.


Once you have the curve shape you want, mark with a pencil and cut it to size. You want this piece to be a couple of millimeters shorter on each side so that it doesn’t show at the top end he when glued.


Even though this piece will only touch the compartment at the sides and the bottom, coat the entire back evenly with a thin layer of glue. This is very important as it helps the card curve evenly. Carefully glue it in place, taking care to not get glue on your nice, neat side panels.


Step 3: The final layer

NOTE: It’s usually best to wait for the slide bases to dry before glueing in these final pieces.

Now it’s time to cut your nice coloured card to cover the plain base layer. This card will be the same colour as the sides from Step 1 and will be the width of the compartment and a couple of millimeters longer than the bottom of the slides cut in Step 2. You want this piece to evenly cover the slide base and come all the way to the lip. This is why we cut the base a little bit short.


Coat the back of the piece evenly with a thin layer of glue and stick it in place. Take your time and smooth out any bubbles. You want this piece to stick evenly and completely to the base layer.


Voila! Enjoy the satisfaction of being able to easily retrieve components from your newly lined compartment!
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15. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:103]
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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A game absolutely crying out for a good storage solution. This insert accommodates the base game as well as the Suburbia Inc expansion. I have zero interest in the 5-star expansion so I didn't leave room for it.


The fully loaded insert, capped by the scoreboard and market triangles. There is enough room for the manuals to sit on top as well.


The fully loaded insert. The coin tray has an extra space to hold tiles discarded during the game (I found it too untidy to just have them laying on the table). The right-hand slot holds all the A, B and C tiles. The next slot, from bottom to top, holds the suburb, community park and heavy factory tiles; the bonus and challenge tiles; the start player, "One more turn" and spare tiles; and the goals. The centre slot holds the borders and player specific wooden pieces and investment tokens.


The insert with the coin tray removed. The player mats and player aid cards fit snugly underneath and do not move around during transport.


There are two risers underneath the border tiles to aid in retrieval.


The insert with all components removed.
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16. Board Game: Viticulture [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:132]
Ben Tinney
Australia
BROKEN HILL
New South Wales
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This one has been a long time coming as I was really keen to fit all the commonly used bits from Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture (that's the original with all the things, not the essential edition) as well as the Viticulture: Moor Visitors Expansion expansion into a single box.

As I was beginning to put it together I offhandedly said to my wife "It's a pity I won't be able to fit everything in; we probably won't play the parts I leave out once this is finished".
"What do you mean "leave out"?"
"There's no way I'll be able to fit everything in, the box isn't big enough."
And then, with a slight smirk and a raised eyebrow, she said something that changed the entire point of the build: "I bet you can't make it all fit."

And so, dear reader, I present you with the insert I'm branding as: LOOK, KATHERYN WAS WRONG! AKA Wow, my wife really knows how to motivate me



The fully loaded insert. This picture is just here to show that yes, both the original and expansion board and both manuals fit in the box flush with the top.



Boards and manuals removed. The compartments along the bottom take advantage of the fact that the vineyard and structure player boards are not the full width of the box. This allows me to make use of a small volume of extra space to hold the larger cards. From left to right these compartments hold: Property tiles and Automa cards; Glass beads (in a removable box for easy dumping); Mama and Papa, Patronage, Mafia and Special worker cards. There is enough room in this compartment for the promo special worker cards if they ever find their way into my collection. You may also notice a length of ribbon draped over the boards. This allows me to lift them out without having to jam my hand down the side of the box. It works so well (I can't believe I haven't thought of it before) and I'll be using it in a lot of future designs.



Vineyard and structure boards removed. All the small cards fit along the right-hand side in order of how they are placed on the board. Top to bottom: Vine, Summer visitor, Wine order, Winter visitor, Structure and Special (Arbour and "Super secret" Structure). Below that is another removable box which holds the cows (for Arboriculture) and the special worker meeples. It is here that I have made my one concession: I have only included 2 of each colour special meeples, not the 11 which came in the expansion. This is functionally the same as you only ever use two of the cards at a time and is actually what the essential edition of Tuscany contains. The Formaggio/Arboriculture boards also require the ribbon in order to retrieve them from the box.



Formaggio/Arboriculture boards removed. This compartment contains 3 removable trays, two of which hold three sets of player pieces each, the other contains the coins, grape and extra worker meeples, and Morale and Cheese Cellar markers. If I ever obtain the metal coins for this game I will just lop off the coin end of the middle tray and have the metal coins in a small draw string bag in the resulting space.



The whole kit and kaboodle! When it's laid out like this I can scarcely believe I fit it in myself. My four-year-old son was watching me set up the game the other day, pointed to the box and said: "It's like a TARDIS!" I have to agree.
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