Following up on last month’s Travelling Gamer article, it got me thinking about the bag I took on my annual gaming long weekend, into which I’d shoehorned a whopping 22 “travel games”, including Blood Rage.

Considering we played almost all of them, how on earth would I manage if I needed to pack games for an entire week? Our long weekend may one year transform into an entire week, so I thought I’d best research the issue now.

I don’t ever want to take a bag bigger than the “22”, so how can I go about fitting even more games into it? This was going to be an exercise in streamlining and hardcore unboxing, and I was bang up for the challenge.

A few hours and a huge pile of empty game boxes later, and that same bag now held not 22, but 42 games, which considering the significance of the number, I took to be Universal approval of the endeavour.

So how was this insanity achieved?

Bag Choice

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Kaiser 2

The Kaiser 2 bag from KR Multicase

First of all you need a suitable bag, and luckily when selecting one for my long weekend I had just the thing on hand. As I’ve been known to like a bit of miniature painting over the years I’d already bought something to store the many and varied examples. Namely the Kaiser 2 bag from KR Multicase.

This bag is waterproof, has carry handles, an adjustable shoulder strap, internal reinforcements on all sides and is fully lined. It was just the right size for my meagre amount of painted minis, but KR offer a number of different size options with the same features, including backpacks for easy carrying.

However, if you don’t collect minis and don’t fancy a KR bag there are a number of other options (see Bag Alternatives).

Storage Boxes

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Bag and Boxes

My Kaiser came with two of KR’s own reinforced cardboard boxes made from thick stock and featuring overlapping sides (making the sides double thickness for extra rigidity/durability).

I emptied one of these boxes of its precious metal cargo to use it for whole boxed games that were pointless or impractical to unbox, and it’s also useful for boards, player sheets, rule books etc., if you’re too paranoid about damage to store such things in the bag’s outside pockets.

For the other half of the bag I took a trip down to the local hardware store (Homebase if you’re in the UK) and acquired three plastic boxes (made by Wham) with fixed compartments. Whilst the boxes with custom dividers are slightly more useful, they’re also about two or three times the cost, and the ones I chose had compartments that exactly fitted standard playing cards.

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Wham storage boxes

If you have a lot of small cards to transport, you might be better off with smaller boxes on top.

The boxes concerned also exactly fitted the bag. And I mean exactly. Like they were custom made to fit. Also by getting three identical boxes they’re designed to stack with each other, which saves you a precious few millimetres that can make all the difference when it comes to zipping the bag shut.

I got three different colours to easily differentiate them and their contents once all packed up.

Game Selection

I didn’t necessarily pick games that I could just as easily stuff into a pocket. So Zombie Dice didn’t make it as the container is pocketable, pretty useful to shake the dice in for the game and perfectly stores the base game and all the expansions, along with some brains from the BGG store.

Obviously there are some easy substitutions that can be made, and I’m just working from my personal collection, so if you’re thinking “Erm, Tiny Epic <insert preferred flavour>??” it’s because I don’t own it!

So this is how the box contents break down. I cut some strips of paper to put underneath decks of cards, as the compartments were so close fitting that it would be impossible to get them out otherwise without upending the box every time. Which isn’t clever. You could also use rubber bands or loops of clothing elastic.

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Game Box 01

1. Bang! The Dice Game: The Walking Dead 2. Bang! The Dice Game + Old Saloon expansion 3. The Resistance + Hidden Agenda expansion 4. Jaipur tokens 5. Ninja Camp 6. Love Letter + Jaipur cards 7. The Resistance + Hidden Agenda cards 8. Bang! The Dice Game + The Walking Dead cards 9. Grass 10. Lotus 11. Lotus + Citadels tokens 12. Citadels cards 13. Hive Pocket 14. Odin’s Ravens 15. Coup + Reformation expansion 16. Lotus tokens

If you’re wondering why there’s both kinds of Bang! The Dice Game in there, it’s that if some folk don’t like cowboys then they’re usually up for some zombies, but sure, you could exchange one of them for something else.

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Game Box 02

1. Age of War dice + Munchkin die 2. Ninja Dice + Kage Masters expansion 3. Carcassonne 4. Codenames 5. Pocket Mars + Light Speed 6. Kingdomino (A) 7. Munchkin cards 8. Sea of Clouds 9. Dark Deeds cards 10. Playing cards + Sea of Clouds score pad 11. Age of War cards + Sea of Clouds coins 12. Dark Deeds mat and tokens 13. Poker Dice 14. Crown and Anchor dice.

There’s a mass of Sea of Clouds coins under Age of War and the pack of playing cards. Obviously the playing cards could count as dozens more games, but I’m trying to be fair here!

The Poker Dice turned up when I found the playing cards and the space there couldn’t fit much else. The Crown & Anchor dice were with them and it’s actually a pretty decent betting game down the pub.

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Game Box 03

1. Isle of Skye 2. Warhammer Quest: The Card Game 3. Splendor 4. Welcome (Back) To The Dungeon 5. Guillotine 6. Car Wars: The Card Game 7. Schotten Totten 8. Kingdomino (B) 9. Isle of Skye player screens

Okay so Isle of Skye isn’t entirely necessary if you have Carcassonne, but they’re different enough to warrant taking both, and they both fit the boxes very easily.

The rest of the Kingdomino tiles are in this one — the only game that had to be split over two boxes.

So what about the cardboard box? It was a little easier to pack, and obviously chopping and changing the contents is easier, although it’s worth pointing out that Sons of Anarchy is about as wide/deep as you can fit.

This makes the cardboard KR box too small for most standard big box sizes, but you can still get away with other Gale Force 9 titles plus things in similar box sizes like The Big Book of Madness.

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1. Ancient Terrible Things + The Lost Charter expansion 2. Onitama + Sensei’s Path expansion 3. The Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow 4. Game of Thrones: Hand of the King 5. Gloom 6. Roll For It! Deluxe 7. Mascarade + expansion 8. Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem + both expansions 9. Mr Jack Pocket 10. Skull

Why pack “pocket” games in boxes/baggies at all? Well, chances are that you might visit the local tavern in your travels, and you don’t want to be carting a big plastic box around with you. Having a few handy pocket games to take with you means no lost gaming opportunity!

Of course the cardboard box can also be used for carrying rulebooks, player aids, player boards and the like.

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Rulebooks and Player Aids

If you’d prefer storing the rulebooks in an outside pocket I’d recommend popping them in a binder with fixed plastic sleeves. Not only will this make doubly sure they’re waterproofed, but saves you from rifling through a pile of paperwork to get top the rulebook you’re looking for. Or else just take them as PDFs!

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Rulebooks

Of course if you all know the rules well you could leave them at home, but you’ll still probably be wanting the other cardboard components. These can actually be kept to a relative minimum. For example these are the various player aids from the games in the plastic boxes:

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Player Aids and Scoreboards

You could even ditch a few of these as non-essentials, but they really don’t take up much space

Swapsies

Naturally there are a load of games that you could swap out for many that I’ve included, plus of course you could use an entire plastic box to transport the parts of a bigger game. For example on the annual gaming weekend last year I took Blood Rage together with the 5th Player and Mystics expansions, like this:

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Blood Rage

The Fire Giant needs to be placed in the centre so that his sword doesn’t cause any obstruction when you snap closed the lid. He rotates as this happens so the figure doesn’t get bent/damaged. The player/game sheets went in the cardboard box. The board went in a large ziploc baggie sandwiched between the boxes.

There are a few other games from my collection that are worth unboxing, and that I may well swap out others for, such as Kanagawa, which would be a good substitute for the luckfest that’s Dark Deeds (still with enough room for the Poker Dice and Crown & Anchor!):

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Kanagawa

You might have noticed that the little play mat is missing, which although thematic, is entirely superfluous.

For single compartment decks of cards there’s always the splendid Star Realms, and the newcomer Super Hot: The Card Game (although that’s best played solo which is a little antisocial):

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Star Realms and Super Hot

Forbidden Island is also a candidate for replacing poor old Dark Deeds:

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Forbidden Island

The water level board does fit the compartment over the cards — I just wanted to show you that everything goes in!

I’m sure you can think of plenty more!

Bag Alternatives

Pretty much any heavy duty bag will do for this, although do try and get something that is:

  • Waterproof
  • Rip-resistant
  • Has a shoulder strap(s) (it’s gonna get HEAVY)
  • Takes your Plano type boxes with minimum wriggle room.

Apart from the KR bags that we’ve already looked at , there is another type of bag that appear custom-made for this unboxing/game transport endeavour, and that’s the fishing tackle bag.

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Fishing Tackle Boxes

You can save yourself the trouble of measuring up and matching plastic boxes to internal bag dimensions as most tackle bags are designed to hold such boxes, and many even sport a front-loading design to let you access the box you really want without removing anything to get at it..

What’s more, due to the nature of the sport, these bags tick all the boxes for ruggedness and waterproofing too. They’re not the cheapest things in the world, especially after you’ve purchased the boxes too (which are often more expensive branded items, like Plano) but if you’re a fisherman, maybe you have one of these up already?

Bag Of Holding For Travel Games - Fishing Tackle Backpack

The best kind for our use are the backpacks that have room for 3 or 4 large plastic boxes, plus plenty of space above them for essentials. No, I mean clothes and toiletries for a long weekend away, not more games. Word of warning though —the backpacks aren’t cheap.

Any More Games?

Could I have fitted more games into the bag? Undoubtedly so, particularly by using the outside pockets, but I wanted to keep things as protected as possible which meant none stored externally, and trying to ram too many in boxes might cause damage too.

There’s also the weight factor — too many more and the bag would start to become a lifting hazard! With just a shoulder strap you can’t carry the bag particularly well for your back, so my advice is, keep it sensible unless you’re going for a backpack option.

But hey, surely 42 is enough? After all, it is the Meaning of Life!

Pros:

  • You won’t be running out of fresh travel games to play any time soon.
  • It actually gives you pause for thought about how to efficiently store your games at home.
  • The kit is waterproof and pretty shockproof. Your games will be fine so long as they’re not run over by a truck.

Cons:

  • Weight. The Optimum Game Density of the bag is massive as the bag is pretty much solid plastic and cardboard. That weighs a ton, so mind your back.
  • Packing bigger games impacts hugely on your total number of games.

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