One Ring Binder to Rule Them All, or Bringing Order to Component Chaos

Whether you play your favorite RPG with counters like those standard for The Fantasy Trip, flat standees (like the original Cardboard Heroes), or 3d minis, organized storage is an issue. I favor counters and standees. To store them, we’ve all gone the route of zip-lock baggies, sewing and tackle boxes, film canisters, vitamin jars, etc. All of those are passable storage solutions, but are less satisfactory with regard to organization, since, even if you group like counters together, you have to paw through the container’s contents in order to find what you want.

I work in an art museum, with thousands of objects in the collection. Because we regularly use them, they need to be able to be located with relative ease. This means organized storage. Some museums take things a step further and make object storage part of the exhibition strategy, putting objects on view in their storage units.

What does this have to do with game counters? Like items in a museum’s collection, game components are only useful if they can be reliably accessed. And, since the idea of a game is to have fun, the best way to store counters is such that using them in your games is easy and pleasurable. One has to be able to see a counter in order to select it for use, and this means that better storage solutions will be ones that increase visibility. Through investigation into how other hobbyists store their materials and conversation on social media, I realized that coin and card collectors could provide an excellent model for tabletop gamers with gear to organize, and one that is similar to the exhibition storage concept mentioned above—they store their collections such that they can be viewed easily.

It didn’t take long to find readily available archival storage pages, which come in a variety of styles determined by the number of pockets per page. For TFT Legacy Edition counters, I found 30-pocket pages ideal for one-hex counters. Larger counters fit well in the pockets on 2-, 3-, 4-, 9-, and 12-pocket pages, with the 14-hex dragons need a single-pocket document envelope page.

These pages can be secured in standard 3-ring binders to facilitate further organization and ease of use, with a single, small 1-inch binder easily holding a dozen pages, which means up to several hundreds of counters all neatly organized and ready for use. Sheets and binders can be used to support one’s style of organization best; I have sheets of humanoids in one binder, a binder for real world animals, and another for fantastic creatures. Someone else might prefer to organize them by the counters’ origins, with Death Test counters separate from those for Wizard, Perilous Journeys, Character Collections, and so on.

The plastic sleeves are not perfect; the material is slippery and the pockets a bit larger than necessary most of the time, which means counters can slip out by accident. But, a modicum of precaution keeps this from being a serious issue. And, care must be taken to avoid sleeves made of materials like PVC, which are not archival and can, over time, possibly damage their contents. But, after weighing the benefits of organization, efficiency, and ease of use against these possible downsides, it is clear that albums of counters stored in archival pocket sheets is a great storage strategy. As an additional benefit, this storage solution also makes it easy to enjoy just looking at the counters as miniature artworks, which the best of them are.

My only regret is that I didn’t think of this years ago.

Now I’m turning my attention toward the megahex tiles that are supplied with several TFT products. My gold standard for this is the type of storage solutions companies like The Broken Token have come up with as aftermarket items to help with boardgame components or like what FryxGames did for their Terraforming Mars Big Box. I’m not much of a computer nerd, but I wonder if one could design walls matching the outlines of the megahexes and that could be manufactured with 3D printers. These could be fitted into something like the Legacy Edition or Decks of Destiny box, perhaps in layers.

I’ll let you know with a followup post when I’ve developed something worth crowing about. Drop me a line if you have a particularly good solution you’d like to share!

Published by antoshos

I'm just a guy who likes uilleann pipes, games, hard science fiction, Lovecraftian horror, the outdoors, astronomy, and cats. I studied painting and drawing, which, miraculously, somehow provided me with the skills from which to eek out a living as a museum curator.

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