BoardGameBoost Accessories Website
Creator: Pete S.
Review written by Luke Muench
Back in June when I attended the Origins board game convention, I was playing a particularly rousing match of Azul with some close friends in a nearby bar. I found myself neck and neck with a couple other players, and in my excitement and slight inebriation, I bumped my player board, sending my tiles and scoring maker flying. While I did the best that I could to recall where everything was, there was no way of truly recovering my progress and I felt rather tilted for the rest of the match.
I wish this was an uncommon issue, but a lot of board games come with flimsy boards prone to these mishaps, with players losing hours of progress to some slamming their shins against a table leg. Luckily, a man by the name of Pete saw this problem and chose to do something about it, creating his own Etsy page to sell various wares to try and help solve this problem, and addressing the occasional storage issue, too.
Here, I’m going to be looking at a few of these products that were given to me for review purposes, discussing any assembly, the quality of the materials, and how well they work when playing.
The Game That Started It All - Azul Overlays
Among all of Pete’s offerings, I was immediately drawn to these overlays (largely due to my aforementioned plight), and man, can these be useful. Sold as two separate sections that can be clipped together, you can purchase either the overlay for the scoring half of your board, the tiles half of your board, or both. Assembly is as simple as popping out pre-cut sections and pulling paper tabs off the overlays. Some will be frustrated by the effort of getting a grip on said paper covers, but it becomes easier with some practice and patience.
The sections for the tiles are cut well for the size of the tiles, although some can feel a little tight around the shape of a tile. Still, I never had an issue with placing or removing my pieces, nor was I ever worried that anything would get stuck together. The scoring section fits the black cubes well and has notations of the point value for each square, making it easier to calculate your score at the end of a game.
As one might expect, this accessory can greatly help in keeping your player board tidy and safe from careless accidents. Some players found them to be cumbersome, though, as they are loose sitting on top of the board rather than be attached in some manner to the board itself. This can be a nuisance, but the board does its job well. Even when it does shift, all you have to do is realign everything as opposed to desperately trying to remember 20 pieces of scattered information. Personally, I find that the bottom half of the overlay is worth its weight in gold and can be very helpful for travel games to maintain your overall board state, though you will have to remove the game insert to make the components fit.
Note that some of the BoardGameBoost products do include backboards, such as those for Terraforming Mars, and while I did not receive any of these, I have used them in the past that and found them to be high-quality and incredibly useful.
Not A Vastly Different Experience - Vast: The Crystal Caverns Overlays
Similarly, the Vast: The Crystal Caverns overlays did stellar job of keeping individual player boards protected and well arranged. In fact, some were easier to read at a glance due to having the indents instinctively show players how they could interact with their boards. There are overlays for both the base game and expansion, and you can buy them in sets, meaning you only need to buy those that you feel like you need. All roles except the Cave, Cave Ghost, and Goblins have boards available.
Special indents are made in boards unique to their roles, such as the Thief for the square tiles, or the Vile Ghoul for the circular pieces, giving the overlays a unique look while also making it easier to remove some of the more awkwardly shaped pieces from the boards. It’s also worth noting that each board is labelled, so it’s simple to associate which overlay is coupled with which board.
Much of the same pros and cons can be reiterated here as was with the Azul overlays, but it can definitely feel like these can be very useful depending on the roles, especially component heavy characters like the Dragon. A couple of the boards, such as the Shadow Unicorn, have so few aspects to them that they barely feel worthwhile, but this is rare and somewhat subjective. If you love Vast as much as I do, these will likely be a helpful asset to have on hand, especially with newer players.
The Ultimate Storage Solution - CaddyMax
Called “the gamer’s gaming accessory” on the website, CaddyMax is a seriously useful and versatile item that can make putting away some of your complex and involved games a breeze. It’s also the most hands-on item in the BoardGameBoost catalogue, requiring some assembly, but it’s nothing too complicated, and the provided YouTube video makes the process fairly simple. This is further helped by small tabs that are made to be broken off, giving you easily handles to pull the protective paper covers off the pieces.
CaddyMax is completely customizable, from the size of the sections within the base of the container to the colors adorning it. This allows you to get a piece that looks nice while also being accommodating to the style and color palette you want to work with. It’s not overly large, meaning that it won’t be a good fit for every game, but its insides are roomy enough to hold a variety of items. While at first I wanted to use this with Vast: The Crystal Caverns (which worked rather well), I ended up sticking this in my copy of Gaia Project, which desperately needed a system to separate out the various little pieces generated throughout the game. Now, it’s far easier to find what I need in a given moment, and it’s way simpler to set up, one of my least favorite parts of the game.
If you were to get one item from BoardGameBoost, the CaddyMax is an easy recommendation Though the overlays can be helpful, they are game specific and won’t necessarily please every audience. This, I feel, has a place in any gamers collection and is a much-needed commodity in a hobby that lacks good storage solutions often.
All In All - Final Thoughts
Pete isn’t the first to work on products like this, but he’s by far one of the smartest in my eyes. The products that he makes are of high quality but made affordable. The turn-around time for orders are quick and communicative. The resources he provides are easy to follow. And I see these products lasting users a very long time. If you’re looking to support an indie business while getting some fantastic accessories for some of your favorite games in the process, BoardGameBoost is one of the best.
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