Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“Gamers of the world, organize!”

“To horse, Proletariat!”
Err…sorry, I was getting carried away this blog entry’s title. As you might have guess, this blog entry has something to do with getting organized...not against “The Man”, but organizing your gaming paints and materials instead. I am going to discuss some things that I have done in the attempt to get organize for gaming. While everything in this write up is available in the USA, the equivalent should also be available in other countries.

Organizing your paints

I mainly use Vallejo and Reaper paints, which both come in a similar size dropper bottle. Over the years, I had to continuously move from job to job, which also meant that I moved from city to city. So I had to make my painting cases easy to transport and keep some type of order so I could find the various colors without dumping out everything out to find one bottle of paint. I played around with different boxes until I finally found the best box to keep everything organized. I use the Plano’s extra deep tackle tray box which can be bought just about in any fishing & hunting store or department. The depth of the box is the right height to hold the paint dropper bottles up right. With the semi-clear plastic, you can see the bottles tops and even read the labels on the bottles that are along the outer edges. I can easily get over 100 dropper paint bottles in one box. Also as an added bonus is that since it is a fishing tackle box, that means that there are various carrying cases designed to carry more than one box from Plano if you got hundreds of paints – like me.

T: Paint Storage Box 
B: Paint Bottles with paint blob and ID number

What I did next is to place a drop of paint on the top of the bottle’s cap which has a little depression that allows the paint sample to have some protection from being rubbed off. This allows me to quickly identify where my different colors are located in the box. Next I take a permanent marker and mark on the cap the paint manufacturer’s product code so it can be reference to a manufacturer’s color chart or listing to see if I have a bottle of that paint, especially when someone provides a list of what color paints that they use to match a specific uniform, etc. 

The Gamers’ Box

I have played around on various methods of organizing stuff for gamers, like dice, markers, reference sheets, etc, so when I run games (unfortunately, which is not often enough), the player has everything that they would need for a game. I use to keep everything in one or two banker boxes. Then when I showed up at a game, especially if I would run something at a convention, I would have to dig everything out and separate it which takes away from the time limited time available, especially at conventions. 

Over this Memorial Day weekend, I had a vision on how I could speed up the process and keep things more prepared than before this. I created “The Gamers’ Box”. I am using boxes from the ‘Really Useful Boxes’ manufacturer, which are available at most of the major office supply stores in the US, and being an UK company, I would assume also in Europe. These boxes are molded in several colors, clear, black, blue, red, green, etc. But my local office supply store doesn’t have everything available, but has enough that I can make it color coded for three different players or sides: Red (Aggressors), Blue (Defenders), Green (3rd Force – for a three-way scenario). I will use a similar idea to create a “Game Master’s Box” using either black or clear boxes, but more on that later.

T: The "Gamers' Box" unopened
B: Inside the "Gamers' Box"

The premise is that at the beginning of a game, I will give each side one of these ‘Gamers’ Boxes”, which will contain everything that the player(s) will need for the game for their side (Aggressor, Defender, or 3rd Party.) As the boxes are color coded, I can make sure that any scenario sensitive information is in the right box before the game and not have to hunt for it later or worry that the opposing player might have the information for the other side in their box.

The Clipboard for Reference sheets & other papers
The main box to hold everything is the 4 Liter box which will work for both the US 8-1/2”x11” page size and the UK A4 paper size material. At the top of the box will be a clipboard of that side’s color for the player to keep track of any paper work that would be need for the game, like reference sheets, unit organizations, maps, scenario outline and victory conditions, etc. I will create a cover sheet that will cover the top of the paperwork for privacy that will probably be the game systems cover page, like in the example photograph below for Too Fat Lardies’ “Terrible Sharpe Sword”. Since the clipboards will be the color of one of the sides, that side will be able to keep track of their clipboard and not grab the wrong one. But if they don’t care to keep track of it, then the other side can use their lack of “security measures” and break their enemies’ “code” and gather intelligence!

Inside the 4L box

Also inside the 4L box will be a flexible 12” ruler in the proper sides’ color laying loose for measuring movements and shooting, but I will properly pick up another flexible ruler so that there will be two available for multiple players sides. I am going to see if I can find a 36” cloth tape measure or a clothing size tape to add for any measurements requiring distances over 12”. I don’t want any tape measures or rulers made of metal in my boxes as they have a possibility of damaging paint jobs on miniatures when accidentally used carelessly. While I did not put them in the box for the photographs, I also use special ‘Blinds’ markers to identify hidden troops and dummy markers for the various games, especially for the Too Fat Lardies games. These “blinds” will also go in the various boxes.

0.2L, 0.35L, and 0.55L Boxes in the 4L Box

Besides the rulers, clipboard, and other loose items like blind markers, the 4L box will also have at the minimum a 0,55L pencil box and at least one dice box of one of two sizes, 0.2L or 0.35L. There might more boxes depending on the game system or additional items that I might want to add, like status counters, blast templates, or smoke markers. For now, let’s just discuss these three smaller boxes from the biggest to smallest and how they will be used with the ‘Gamers’ Box.’

0.55L Box 
The 0.55L box, unlike the other boxes, has a double duty. First it is a pencil box that will contain a couple of mechanical pencils, an eraser, and a 6” ruler for keeping notes and updating a scenario map if there is one. I will pick up some grease pencils to add to the box for drawing on a scenario map, if one is needed. I will probably also add a small note pad for passing notes or making notes to oneself. The box’s next duty is to be used to roll dice in so they don’t go bouncing all over the table and possibly damage miniatures or knock over miniatures. As you can see from the pictures, one can easily roll up to 10 dice within the box and not have them bouncing out. Again the box is the same color as the side so it can easily be identified which side the box’s dice rolls are for when needing to make comparison rolls (like in the rules ‘Force on Force’). A second 0.55L box could be added to the 4L box if there is a desire to have a second dice rolling box for multi-player sided games, but if that is the case, you might want to consider using the 2nd 0.55L box for carrying your dice instead of one of the next two sizes that are discussed below, due to the limited size of the of the 4L box.

0.35L Box

The next size box in my ‘Gamers’ Box’ is the 0.35L box. This is a great box for a large number of different size dice. In the picture, in the box I have ten dice of each of the following sizes: d6, d8, d10, and d12. I still have enough room for probably another 10 x d4’s and 10x d20’s. What you might have noticed in the picture is that each die type is a specific color. That is because in games like ‘Force on Force’ where the two opposing players roll off and then compare the dice to beat the opposing player’s individual dice, it is a lot easier to tell one player to roll their red dice and the other to roll their blue dice as the only d8’s in your game are the red and blue dice! So this should help to prevent the accidental rolling of a d12 with the d8 because all of the dice are different colors. I have not created a separate pool of dice for my Green box yet, but I don’t plan to do many three-way games. So I can take my time getting those dice.

0.2L Box

Finally, the 0.2L box is the smallest that I have for my ‘Gamers’ Box’, but they do make smaller boxes. The 0.2L box can hold up to 48 ‘Flames of War’ size dice or a deck of normal size playing cards (Poker deck size). While I don’t like “Flames of War”, personally, I do like the themed dice and use them for various games that are d6 based, like the Too Fat Lardies systems and the Blitzkrieg Commander system. In this photo, you can see the FOW Soviet dice which I use for any Communist forces, like Soviets, Viet Cong, etc.

Game Masters’ Box 

I did not have time to really start working on this box yet, but this will be the box that I will carry everything that I will need as a Game Master, minus miniatures and terrain (unless I have room). Currently, I am thinking that the 9L box might work, but some of the rules that I have are in 3-ring blinders from PDF files, and the 3-ring binders might not fit in that size box. So I might have to look into getting a different size box, but I will have to follow up on that on a different date. But, here is what I am planning to be packed in it.

  • Clipboard for paperwork
  • 0.55L box for pencils and dice rolling box
  • 0.2L box for a deck of playing cards or a 0.3L box that can hold two playing card decks (some games of the Too Fat Lardies games, like ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’, has enough cards for two decks when all of the optional cards are added in to the count.)
  • 0.2L box for some dice that might be needed for the GM
  • Note pad for taking and passing notes if needed
  • Boxes for spare counters, markers, and templates
  • Copy of the rules and scenario notes/maps/etc
  • Some cheap name tag stickers for convention games, if they don’t have name tags
  • For conventions, a display stand with the different game segments (i.e., Player A moves, Player B shoots) that can be seen by everyone so everyone knows what turn is on in the game. It should help in keeping the game moving and not missing any steps, especially when having a bunch of new players.
  • A display stand for convention games so a sheet can be put in it giving the scenario’s name, the game system used, a brief description of the game, the GM(s) name(s), Club name, and website or blog site address for passer-by and the players – especially if you have a website or blog since you spend all of that time to have on, announce it!
  • Players’ awards or manufacturer’s support if available at conventions – Consider if nothing else, a simple paper award for the “Most Humorous Moment”, “Most Heroic Action”, “The Best Kill” etc, can go a long way to make your game more remembered to the players and encourages future return gamers at conventions
  • Possible additional books or collection of photos to allow the players to look at regards to an actual battle the game is based off, or even other game books for the same game system. Sometimes a simple game might spark an interest in a new period with players, so encourage it!
  • Camera, spare batteries and film/memory cards for memories and blogs


Itinerant said...

Great stuff. I was just thinking about organizing things like dice, rulers, etc.

Nice timing.

Itinerant Hobbyist said...

Meant to share with you a link to my new blog.

Sapper Joe said...


I just opened your blog open and will have a look in a little bit. But just so everyone else can see, the Itinerant Hobbyist blog is at



David F said...

Great thought process. I'm also one for organizing, and your post has some great ideas.


Sapper Joe said...


Thanks for the kind remarks!

Sorry that I did not get around to approving your comment for the last couple of weeks, but I didn't have any internet service for about 2-1/2 weeks.

Thanks again!