Game Trayz Are Everything You Want Game Inserts to Be

euphoria_before

Euphoria, before.

Game storage is a topic that has always intrigued me. I’m not talking about where to keep your games, rather the cardboard or plastic inserts that organize the cards, dice, pawns, boards, score trackers, meeples, and assorted cardboard bits. So many games come with horrible inserts or no inserts at all, leaving players like me to try to fashion something myself from foam core board, battle foam, or some other material. My closets are full of Plano boxes and I’ve purchased enough small plastic zipper lock bags that I am certain I am on a DEA watch list. Certainly, a few publishers put thought into their inserts but, unfortunately, most do not.

All of that could possibly change with the introduction of Game Trayz, a wonderful new and exciting product from Noah Adelman. While Game Trayz is a revolutionary way of thinking about how tabletop games are organized, how Adelman got here is a bit more prosaic. “I graduated … in 2001 with a degree in Computer Engineering. After running a website development and marketing business with my father and brother in law for many years, I decided to take a marketing position at MiniatureMarket.com. My love for board games started several years before that, but my collection greatly grew while working at Miniature Market,” says Adelman.

euphoria_after

Euphoria, after, with Game Trayz custom insert.

“I always went out and purchased $8-$12 plastic Plano boxes and little plastic baggies to keep all my games organized, and saw all my friends doing the same. I thought that if I am willing to pay that much for a generic solution, I would gladly pay more for a perfect, well-thought-out solution. After a year at Miniature Market, I had made many contacts in the gaming industry. My idea was to design trays not only to store the game pieces safely, but also help with setup and in game play. I saw other solutions made from foam and wood, so to approach from a different angle I started looking into thermoforming. Another friend of mine had worked in the thermoforming business for many years and was able to get me a job at his office where I have been working for the past year. There, I gained knowledge of the thermoforming process and with the help of my friend, we designed the first Game Trayz for Terra Mystica.”

euphoria_lower_tray

Little touches, like stands to support tiles and embossed cavities that tell you where to put components, make Game Trayz a must-have.

While the Terra Mystica trays were more of a proof of concept than a complete solution, Adelman went on to approach a friend of his, Stonemaier Games’ Jamey Stegmaier, about creating a complete solution for Stegmaier’s game, Euphoria. “He [Stegmaier] generously offered to put a blurb in his monthly newsletter about Game Trayz, and we instantly got over 600 fans on Facebook! There was much excitement just from the preliminary design mockups. Since then, Stonemaier has been pivotal in helping get the word out about the trayz, and his fans were very responsive to the idea.”

As you can see from the images in this post, the before and after photos of Euphoria are pretty breath-taking. Everything has a place in the Game Trayz and figuring out where to put the components is pretty easy because Adelman has taken the extra steps to put icons or labels in most of the cut-outs so you know what goes where. Adelman also plans on including videos and instruction sheets to be perfectly clear about how to use the inserts, but he says “I strive to make the Game Trayz as self-explanatory as possible by engraving symbols in the plastic to show where all the pieces go.” Additionally, Euphoria has a simple lid to keep all the pieces from falling out of their bins, if the game is stored on its side.

leftovers

No need for this anymore.

Each insert has been thoughtfully considered and prototyped before being offered as a product. Trays for the resources used most commonly in games are duplicated for either side of the table and are small enough and positioned to be accessible so they can be quickly removed from the box and put into play. Adelman plans on offering the trays in a variety of materials, colors, and thicknesses. “We use plastic that is 2-3 times thicker than most of the flimsy plastic trays that come in some games,” says Adelman. “They are designed to last as long as the game pieces.”

When Adelman sets out to create a new tray, he has three considerations: “One, store the game components safely, plus allow for the box to be shaken and stored vertically without pieces falling out of place. Two, decrease setup and cleanup time to get games started quicker and put away faster. Three, add in-game organization and optimization to streamline play and de-clutter the table.  If I can achieve this, the game needs some Trayz!”

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The Terra Mystica insert that started it all.

The company, though in its infancy, shows potential for big growth. Just this week, the designer took the big step of leaving the security of his day job to pursue developing Game Trayz full time. Even though there are only trays for two games, Adelman says that will change soon. “Right now we have many preliminary designs for games like Belfort, Eclipse, Tzolkin, Caverna, Coup, Power Grid, and Escape! We are planning on running a poll to get some feedback on what games gamers want Game Trayz for. [We are] also working on how to structure a possible Kickstarter for Game Trayz.”

terra_mystica2

Insets have a peak built inside, so removing tokens is simple.

Additionally, Adelman is in talks to make a custom Game Trayz as a stretch goal for a game currently on Kickstarter called New Salem. It’s a great and really interesting idea for a game on Kickstarter looking for a unique stretch goal.

While the Game Trayz have been in existence for about a year, Adelman is only just now starting to see some real traction. But his early fans are passionate. “I love getting feedback from people who say the trayz have shaved 10-15 min of setup time. Plus, there is always the bling factor, and people love to show off their tricked out copy of Euphoria!”

Dave Banks

About Dave Banks

I work. I play games. Sometimes I work at playing games.

Dave Banks

About Dave Banks

I work. I play games. Sometimes I work at playing games.

23 thoughts on “Game Trayz Are Everything You Want Game Inserts to Be

    • I definitely think the price will be a sticking point for some—although fans of Euphoria were certainly not shy about paying extra for nice bits, and I think they’re also the sort of audience that would pay for a premium box insert. But what I’m really hoping is that Noah is able to work on deals directly with publishers to design the inserts right from the start—enough to make money for him to keep doing this, but also because the cost could be lower for the end-user if it’s integrated into the manufacturing process to begin with.

  1. Hmmm… cool but how does this scale if each tray needs to be custom designed for one game? Some kind of modular design that could be end-user customized to fit in various games would scale better (but, of course, be a lot harder to design).

    • I think what makes the Game Trayz great is that they ARE designed for each game, just like the bits for the game itself. I don’t want all my games to use the same bits—why should they all use the same inserts?

      • I agree but what happens where there’s an expansion? There’s something to be said for modular design. And look at Waterdeep’s insert. Lots of people love the idea of an insert where everything has its place but in reality it can be a pain to get all the bits back into perfectly-sized slots that have no wiggle room at all.

        • Actually, the Euphoria trays do have room for expansion built in. And in this case, there is wiggle room—but the lid keeps things in place. Moreover, the resource trays are designed so you just pull them out and use them during the game—unlike Waterdeep, where it’s unlikely you’d put the entire box on the table as a resource tray while you play.

          But large expansions—that would be trickier. Again, that’s why I hope Noah will work directly with game publishers, because then he could better take that sort of thing into account, rather than guessing.

        • Well, if you’re using those for multiple games, then you’re probably not storing them in one particular game box, in which case you could have one solution for those. The original comment was more about having one-size-fits-all trays for all types of games. Certainly the treasure chest tokens are fantastic, but they won’t replace meeples, tiles, cards, and all the other stuff you need to put away in each game.

      • It definitely makes them awesome. But from a business perspective it doesn’t really scale. It’s incredibly niche. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :)

        • Well, sure. The one set of trays for Euphoria doesn’t scale, but the concept of well-designed trays could. Just like, from a business perspective, only making one game doesn’t scale—you have to create several, and keep coming up with new ones. Well, unless you have Munchkin. :)

  2. Great idea. I hope it also helps to set higher expectations for game packaging, so that game companies start using better storage solutions out of the box.

  3. I love it! I especially love how they make those for specific games. The shipping to Germany is $17,50 which is the only reason i won’t buy it. If that is going to change i will immediately buy it since my Terra Mystika is craving for a storage solution.

  4. If I were a game publisher, I would snap up a contract with Noah right away. In our hobby, being known for great production value is a huge plus to future sales. Gamers who trust a company to “do it right” are more willing to take the plunge on upcoming games. Brand recognition is powerful!

  5. Is the Euphoria insert able to hold sleeved cards? Also, the kickstarter backers for Euphoria received extra dice and cards; is there room for those components? Maybe under the insert?

      • Just got my Euphoria insert yesterday and loaded it up today. It has places for sleeved cards and unsleeved, and there is plenty of room in the sleeved areas to hold all the cards and then some. I didn’t get the supreme Kickstarter version, but I would guess you definitely have room for the extra cards. You could easily leave then unsleeved and put them in those slots, but there is almost certainly room in the sleeved card slots to hold about that many extra cards.

        The dice tray part is snug for the six sets of four dice, and I don’t know that you could fit the extra dice in the vacant card areas or not, especially if you have the supreme edition with the extra cards. There are four spots for the square tiles, but the tiles only fill up two of them. I’m not sure if there’s enough space to fit dice on edge in the tilty part of the wells for them, but i would guess not. So you might need to keep the extra dice in the “giant pile of dice” that most gamers have rather than in the box.

      • Sorry, I missed this one. I do know the sleeved cards fit—there’s extra space specifically for those—but I didn’t know about extra dice. I just knew about the fancy bits version, which will fit. You may be able to stick the dice in the unused card slots, depending on how many extra dice and cards you have.

  6. Just received the two sets of Game Trayz I ordered for Terra Mystica (one for me, one for a friend). I ordered them on Sep 2 and received them on Oct 2. Noah responded to my emails though, so I wasn’t completely in the dark.

    They are indeed awesome and will save time setting up and putting away the game. No question of the value for me.

    However, I couldn’t figure out a way to fit everything back into the box with the lid flush. The trays fit well, but with baggies for the player tokens, I don’t see a way to fit them back in neatly. So I’m impressed and disappointed at the same time.

    • I don’t have Terra Mystica so I haven’t seen the trays in action, but it would surprise me (based on the thought that seems to go into the design) that there isn’t a way to make things fit. I might check with Noah via email to see if he’s got photos or something showing how he makes everything fit.

      • I also have the same issue Jim has. The issue with the Terra Mystica tray is that, while they are good, they are only for some of the pieces (mainly the cardboard punch out) in the game, and what the photos don’t show is that the majority of wooden tokens (in fact, the bulk of the pieces that make up the game) are still stored in baggies. So it is more art than science.

  7. With your recommendation I went ahead and ordered a tray. There handling time for shipping seems to be incredibly slow (still haven’t received my order yet or a tracking number)! I just wanted to warn people about that.

    • I have an Update!!! Still no tray or even a shipping notification, sad face. Last communication I had with gametrayz they said it would ship in 1 to 2 buisness days, that was 10 business days ago, haven’t heard from them since.

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