The hobby of tabletop gaming is an expansive one. Successful games pave the way to expansions that prolong the entertainment and refresh the experience. A game with a vast number of expansions often times becomes cumbersome to deal with. Only the most dedicated would want to tote a menagerie of boxes to a game night event just to play one game, the rest of us would prefer to simplify. One of my best examples of this is Carcassonne. I’ve taken to housing 2-3 copies of the base game as well as 28 mini and standard expansion in a large modular Plano case. When the situation isn’t quite as overwhelming as Carcassonne, I will often opt to house a game and any expansions in the original game box and create an insert to organize it all. Then there are the times that I prefer to leave the design to another – this is one of those instances.
I recently reviewed the Harbor Expansion for Machi Koro. Aside from the promo Mega Gaming Store card, this is my first expansion for the game, but others are on the horizon and I would like to be prepared for them. The main Machi Koro box is of ample size to house the main game as well as several expansion, but the box insert is not the most accommodating. At present, I have all the cards and coins bagged and stored in the insert. I was interested in a better way to house the game and allow me to have the cards sleeved. I purchased, as instructed by my wife as a gift for my upcoming birthday, the Go7 Gaming Box Insert for Machi Koro, lets see how well it works.
Go7 Gaming Box Insert for Machi Koro
The insert kit arrived well packaged with a hand written note of appreciation on the receipt and, aside from a few of the components prematurely knocked free from their frame, in perfect condition. The kit features walls and a bit box made of High Density Fiberboard (HDF or Hardboard), an engineered wood product made from small wood fibers that have been highly compressed. There are also acrylic dividers that are fitted into slots on the insert walls for card storage. I reviewed the assembly instructions provided on the Go7 Gaming site and while noted to be of greater difficulty, I originally opted to stain the insert components. I even bought a can of Minwax Golden Oak wood stain. I then realized that with the Winter weather conditions currently in Colorado, I wouldn’t want to wait for this to dry in my garage, and with no properly ventilated area in my apartment, the choice to skip the stain was made for me.
I began by replacing any components in the frames that were knocked free during shipping, gave each ‘unpunched’ sheet a quick sanding with 220 grit sand paper. [NOTE: Had I stained them, this would have been the point to complete that by staining each side of the whole sheet to minimize the amount of stain coverage on the edges and slots of the components. Any accumulation on the edges or in slots could cause issues for fitting together components or installing dividers in the finished insert. Stain would be applied with rag or brush, allow to soak in for 15 minutes, then evening the stain coverage and remove excess with a rag. A light sanding after the stain has dried is usually a good step as well.] I followed up the sanding with a dry-fit assembly of the whole kit to verify positions and fit of all the components before beginning the actual build.
Build & Fit
Overall, the build went smoothly. I used Gorilla glue to bond the components and clamps to hold the pieces while the glue set. The build instructions were followed to the letter, building the bit box first, then the right and left inner wall structures, and finishing with attaching them to the end walls. After allowing the glue time to dry overnight. I made sure to remove any excess glue using a craft knife and sanding. I verified the fit of the bit box and acrylic dividers fit properly. I ended up doing some significant sanding on the bit box to provide smooth action removing and returning it to the insert. While the bit box had fit perfectly during the dry fit test, I surmise I was a little over zealous on the glue and clamps on the main insert causing the bit box storage to be tight. I decided the adjustment was best carried out on the back of the lid of the bit box, as this would provide the ability to adjust the overall size of the bit box without needing to modify multiple components. I would estimate that I removed close to a quarter of the thickness of the lid. Next I tested the whole insert in the Machi Koro box, where it fit perfectly.
I really like this insert, it is sturdy, easily built and very accommodating for adjustments due to builder error. It provides plenty of space to organize all the game components. I have separate slots for each ready-to-use set of player start cards. The coins and dice are sorted into the bit box and it accommodates all the sleeved cards from the base game as well as the Harbor Expansion with room easily to hold 2 additional expansion the same size as Harbor. My only gripe, which is minor at best, is that the bit box only has 3 trays – the Harbor Expansion adds a 4th coin denomination to the game.
Previously I have made my own inserts, like one for Munchkin Deluxe (1, 2), but they have been from cheap project wood from the local craft store, everything was hand cut and assembled. I have wished to have access to the precision of laser cutters, if I did – the inserts from Go7 Gaming are exactly the sort of high quality kit I would be turning out. For the vast majority of us that don’t have laser cutters / CNCs and don’t have the skills to draw up plans for projects of this sort, Go7 Gaming is the place I would direct all my friends. Well designed, high quality materials, reasonable prices, friendly staff, and ample instruction – Enough said, go get one!
The one gripe that I noted about the insert was addressed with welcome news by Bobby from Go7 Gaming: “[There is] an upgrade on the schedule for an update to one of Machi Koro bit boxes to provide a splitter for the new coins. It should be minimal in cost shipped for existing owners.” While I look forward to the upgrade to the bit box, I took it upon myself to create a divider for the 10/20-coin bit box tray. I used the component frame that contained the insert walls; the side without the cutouts for the dividers is the same width as 1/3rd the height of the inner dimension of the bit box tray. That side of the frame is long enough to cut 3 pieces with some room to spare. I cut 3 pieces from that section of the component frame, glued and clamped them edge to edge, sanded then trimmed the new wall to fit as a tray divider, perfectly uniform with the rest of the bit box tray. A quick solution that matches the material and style of the rest of the insert.