this needs to STOP - cutlassboardgame.com

this needs to STOP

Tabletop Tokki
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Let me know if you feel the same or if you have any ideas on how this problem can be better addressed by the community. Thanks in advance for your feedback and insight. 🌱

*To be clear: this game is not the WORST offender with regard to this topic, but it was one of my most recent acquisitions that sparked concern and inspired me to make this video. 💚

00:00 Intro & Background
01:51 Inside the Box*
05:01 Devil’s Advocate & Response
07:31 Who’s to blame?
08:22 Final Thoughts

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#ecofriendly #tabletoptokki

52 Comments

  1. Good points. Call it eco for marketing purposes only.

  2. Smaller boxes, means more shelfspace for more games. I see no problem with smaller boxes! I get that it takes up less space on the store shelfs and can therefor be overlooked, but I often see shelfs made for all the small games in stores and they actually often stand out to me more, because I find the less overwhelming. So I think we've conditioned ourselves to think bigger is better, when in reality we don't actually care that much.

    Love this video, btw!

  3. I agree. This happens too much. Card games that pretend to be actual boardgames with big boxes or unnecessary components. Its just not wasteful, its consumer unfriendly and deceiving advertising in the least.

  4. Believe it or not, this is the short version. Great to see you highlight this topic and to have excellent engagement from everyone. It's a complicated topic and I think the onus is on everyone to do their bit, where they can. I know the board game hobby is not a significant contributor to pollution and waste compared to other sectors like food or fast fashion but that does not mean we should shy away from our responsibility to be as eco-friendly as possible. There is an increasing trend of over-consumption and FOMO in our hobby, especially with crowdfunding. How many videos do we see with people proudly showing off their new haul from some convention or other. We're all guilty in this board game glasshouse, so none of us can be throwing stones and preaching to others. It's not a coincidence that many of the top achievers on crowdfunding come with truckloads of plastic miniatures and other wasteful components. Then again, that's the market deciding what it wants and publishers responding to this demand. Even eco-friendly publishers want to sell as many games as possible and earn good margins and at certain price points, consumers have expectations on quantity and quality for base and deluxe games. Their decision to be eco-friendly with a game might also have more to do with the theme than a determination to be more eco-friendly or they may feel under pressure to include non-eco components in some games because it suits the theme for that particular game or they feel this is what their customers will expect. Most publishers will have good intentions but no doubt some greenwashing takes place. There is not a long history of eco-friendly board game manufacturing so our hobby is trying to catch up to a certain extent. Some in Europe and US already have FSC accreditation and even some manufacturers in China have FSC now as well. However, it is not just about the paper/board/components itself but also where it is coming from – i.e. is it coming from old or new forests, forests impacting biodiversity, indigenous people? How much water is used in the production and manufacturing process and is this water coming from areas that already have water scarcity? Is the production process polluting local water courses and species? Ultimately, is the game and all its components biodegradable? There are also lower economies of scale and increased complications with having games produced closer to the demand at various manufacturing sites and sent to local fulfilment centres than just having a large print run in China with a single manufacturer. There is also a significantly higher carbon footprint with airfreighted games than shipped games. In future, new low carbon technologies like hydrogen can be used for shipping and even biofuels for aviation but this is still a long way off. A publisher could develop an eco-friendly game that is more expensive to produce but looks cheaper to consumers because it does not have all the shiny plastic laminates and inserts etc. It may also be more prone to damage during shipping as others have pointed out. Retailers will only change to eco-friendly games if they are pressured or incentivised socially or financially to do so. Many below have pointed to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle approach which should certainly be promoted. It would be great to see more board game cafes or public spaces where people can play games together in a community setting, reducing the need for everyone to have their own copy. Unfortunately, we in the developed world have a habit of exporting our waste to third-world countries that have much less capacity to recycle it and we then deem these waste exports as recycled in our statistics and off our books. I've presented on recent studies as part of my job, that highlights people largely agree that climate change is happening and something should be done about it but when asked if they would be willing to pay for this, the response is still very mute indeed. I think this is where we are at in our hobby, we would all like to see more eco-friendly games in principle but many are probably still not at that tipping point where they would be willing to pay more for this or make the necessary sacrifice in terms of their collections, consumption patterns and need for deluxe cards/board/components to provide those experiences we all crave. This discussion on improving the eco-friendliness of games is something we will no doubt here more about in future. Sorry for the long-winded comment but it's a topic I'm really interested in.

  5. The craziest one I had was moon rakers Titan edition. I was excited to back it and receive it but when I opened the box…the content together with the expansions just 1/10 of the spaces there. I was like…what!? I paid $200 with this ks edition Titan box that was said to create the best storage (or better) experience and you ended up giving me this crap that takes up my shelf space with empty spaces in the box!?

    The insert was also terrible.. they used an insert same to imperium classics and honestly do you guys have no idea how to make inserts for cards? Especially when you are charging on creating the insert.

    I was so disappointed but yet I don’t see many talking about it.

  6. Out of the 100 + games I own, I can name at least four off the top of my head. Large box, small amount of game play material.

    On the other hand, The White Castle has almost no extra space. Many feel they have to leave out four of the five language rules books that came with the game. Not all have to be that tight.

    Vs.

    A 13.5in × 13.5 × 2, with a board, thin cardboard play mats, rules, bag o' cubes, a not large deck of cards. Granted, an older game, but…

  7. I don't care about eco-friendliness in board games. It is better to use those resources and intentions to mitigate monumental waste products and fix polluted areas. Since board games are not one-and-done products, by replaying a game, we are doing our part.

  8. I think for the most part it comes down to cheaper and fewer game components means a cheaper and less profitable game.

  9. I too hate the wasted space in game boxes

  10. I absolutely HATE this… I understand they're trying to keep a shelf presence. But Point Salad is another HORRIBLE culprit of this. It's like 100 cards in a giant box. 😒 With a plastic insert. Wild.

  11. The reference cards are bad, A) for trying to be more eco-resourceful B) for being player friendly.

    I wonder if they looked into using cardboard manufactured from recycled materials for all the extra cardboard in the game that didn’t need to be there in the first place? I hope so.

    At first I was like, that main insert does use extra cardboard to create the three holes, but to have a designated place for cards in the insert is so awesome for the game owner…but then you showed the false bottom and my mouth dropped. 😮. That is ridiculously bad, especially for a “green” game line.

  12. Thank you, Tia. Many good points made! I would guess that the large majority of games nowadays are purchased online. So, one would think “shelf space” is much less an issue. It makes one wonder why wouldn’t publishers and local friendly game stores want boxes to have less air, less cardboard, less warehouse space needed, less shipping expense, etc.? I suppose gamers like the extra space inside the original game box to provide room for future expansions and sleeving of cards. I have read complaints from “ sleevers” when they rate and comment on games.

  13. My thoughts on this topic is more focused on the table presence of some of the games I want to play which I think is related. I have found that while sometimes boards are necessary to the gameplay of a game, it doesn't always have to be so large. It's unfortunate, but I can't support the game designer/publishers on a game I cannot comfortably lay out on my table.

  14. Totally agree that I’d love to see the trend go toward smaller boxes rather than larger. (She says as she sees her ridiculous colossal edition of Mosaic in her peripheral vision.) I also thought the board in this game was kinda dumb until someone pointed out that each section of the board nicely holds 3 cards, so when it’s full, that’s 9 cards, letting you know that the next one will trigger a flush of the clearing. Since then, I’ve found the board useful because I was continually counting the cards before that insight. Now I’m glad I have the board.

  15. I hate those tabs…leaving residue to get on other boxes……I'm in NO way eco friendly, but I don't like big boxes for the sake of box size.

  16. Oof. Guilty as charged. Currently staring at my backbreaking Special Edition copy of Castles of Burgundy with the oh so well thought out (kinda) organizer trays.

    We are a huge consumer based group as Americans. We love our upgraded tokens made of anything from metal to tusk (ok, not recently).

    It’s going to take a lot of effort, but hey, it needs to start somewhere.

    Meanwhile, hand me my whaler harpoon and dice, I think it’s my turn.

  17. I have the same issue with Furnace. Love the game, but my god, that box and insert made to fill out the space is annoying and it also has some cardboard player pieces which, sure they look nice, but are not needed as well as an extra large first player marker…

  18. Extra air in a box or bag has never bothered me. I hate when a box just barely holds everything, like a puzzle. Then forget about sleeving the cards. They'll just be scratched and bent within a year.

  19. Wait till you buy one of those Arkham Horror LCG boxes. Astronauts can use them as an emergency air supply. 😆

  20. I have a different take on this. If you look at the vast majority of packaging and whatnot that you consume and throw away, most of it is from food. Therefore you can make a much bigger impact by focusing on reducing food packaging. One way to do this is to change your diet. I recently started eating mostly soups made from dry beans and fresh vegetables, lots of rice and potatoes, and I get my protein from eggs and canned fish (the tins are recyclable). I have MASSIVELY reduced the amount of stuff I throw away. I think everyone's time would be better spent on areas like that.

  21. I think we as consumers tend to become more aware of these issues the longer we are in the hobby. My first two years I absolutely went hard into the big miniature campaigns, but I'm barely looking at or backing any of those anymore because I feel such guilt about the waste I'm generating. I really appreciate the shift to standee core boxes (I took that edition for Oathsworn) in recent years, and I love that meeples are making a comeback.

    I recently bought a Lenovo laptop for work and was pleasantly surprised that it was 100% packaged with paper/cardboard materials, so other industries are starting to move in that direction as well. Every bit helps.

  22. I don't know much about Forest Shuffle, but here are a couple POSSIBLE reasons they made a couple of these decisions—
    • For the tip cards, keep in mind that cards are printed in sheets. If you don't fill the sheet (usually ~108 cards), the extra will be wasted (it gets trashed/recycled, but you still pay the printer for it). Depending on how many cards are used in the game, they may have chosen to use the extra card slots to print the tip cards, therefore SAVING paper.
    • For the "insert," keep in mind that inserts primarily exist to keep game components safe during transport. Without the cardboard insert, the cards would be shifting around inside the box, banging against the edges (in waves during ocean freight; dropped & tossed by lazy shipment workers). Since they didn't use plastic wrap, the cards would be even more vulnerable. They made the insert kind of nice and presentable for storage, but it's really there (first and foremost) for shipping protection. (Now, if they had reduced the box size to hold the cards snugly, they could avoid the need for the insert. That would be more eco-friendly, but there are tradeoffs for that.)

  23. I agree 100% with your points, I also like smaller packaged board games but I think board game's publishers aren't the worst offenders. Did any of these publisher create more waste/ (being worse for the environment) then lets say 100 cars. I think in the grand schema of things they aren't so bad. Not great, would be better if they were more eco friendly but not the worst? Or maybe I am just crazy.

  24. Going gaming this evening, taking The White Castle and The Red Cathedral. Each is a lot of game in smallish box. Both fit in my backpack, leaving room for a few card games.

  25. I'd argue that the overconsumption of games — far more than anyone could reasonably play on a regular basis — is far less environmentally friendly than the amount of cardboard or cardstock used in any one game. The hobby should rather move towards a culture of REDUCING the number of games that each person owns, REUSING games by sharing between multiple households or borrowing from a local library and then RECYCLING by using sustainably sourced materials and managing end-of-life waste responsibly. Case in point: why must every board game YT channel have a glorified wall of hundreds of games in the background? Doesn't it promote overconsumption?

  26. To your point of "they tried to be eco here, but why not there" ….I see all of the discussed criticisms as moot while manufacturing remains overwhelmingly in China.

  27. I hated that my Search for Lost Species came closed with those 4 stickers instead of shrinkwrap. The stickers were glued super hard and left stains and glue residue on the box.
    I'm not even sure having 4 large stickers is that more 'eco-friendly' than a micromm thick shrinkwrap.

    Then the game came with an absolutely useless big cardboard boat. 🤯

    That Forest Shuffle box size is a much bigger crime. It even makes taking the game to gaming events harder. I always prefer smaller boxes.

    This whole eco-friendly stuff is 90% marketing. There's millions of other industries who could easily reduce massive pollution with simple measures (looking at those shrinkwrapped oranges and bananas).

    I'm not against more sustainable solutions, as long as they are smart solutions:
    – smaller boxes
    – smart components
    – stuff on the inside can be wrapped in anything, but please don't use those supergluestickers on the boxes.

  28. I differ from ya a little on this take. The number of magazines thrown away in a month in a city like Houston just in dr offices alone outweighs all board games sold in a year worldwide wide. Amazon boxes sent a month worldwide equal the paper output of all board games purchased in a decade.

    I agree with the sentiment. I am a heavy into conservation. I simply pick my battles differently. Board game hobbyists are not really on my radar.

    That and when I decide to get rid of a game it gets converted into useful materials that I reuse.

  29. really important topic. not enough people bring it up. good coverage 👍 publishers definitely need to be more aware of packaging.

  30. Thanks for this very mindful video.

    I have design experience but I guess it's been a while since I've really thought about print design. It was only recently that I started pondering the process the publishers go through to manufacture board games. There is an interesting video from Czech Games called "Producing Board Games in 2024" (I'm not sure about the link-posting etiquette here) where they talk about some of the design decisions for their games and considerations like the size of shipping containers and the current supply of cardboard and paper they are working with. It seems like they try to find a balance between creativity and engineering.

    I agree that we coud all benefit from less waste. Packaging big concepts into a small container is one of the reasons I enjoy many of the games you review.

  31. Without the silly board, and with the manual folded in half I've got the game stuffed into a 4 x 6 photo storage case!

  32. The point about people mostly buying online so “shelf presence” doesn’t apply is an angle that needs to be more discussed. The reasons given based on brick and mortar don’t really apply anymore.

  33. As someone who also has walls of games I definitely agree with you and hope that companies continue to push for more eco-friendly initiatives. I really like your point you make about it isn't any one persons fault! This is a topic that I have personally looked forward to learning more about and it's awesome to see someone make a video about it! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    However, I'm not sure if this has been mentioned yet but I do want to give credit where it's due. Especially with Forest Shuffle where Lookout Games announced their "Greenline" subcategory of games that use FSC certified paper and are completely plastic free. So as much empty space that comes inside that box, at least with Forest Shuffle in particular, there was some conscious efforts on being eco-friendly.

  34. I think a point that some may be missing and some publishers use, is that they use the same size box for most of their games or try to minimize the number of sizes of boxes they keep in inventory.

    This alone keeps waste down from a production stand point, you may feel like it’s a waste from the consumer end, but it’s actually far more effective from the production end. If you are repacking your games and throwing the boxes away then you are creating the waste they are trying to avoid. In some cases you may need to, the box is damaged, you just don’t have the space, etc. But to say that there is just wasted space for not reason is not always the case. If companies stick to just 2 or 3 box sizes then it makes it far more effective on cutting down on waste, more eco friendly, but consumers may end up with boxes that feel too large or too small for the game in some cases. There are always compromises that need to be made.

  35. Cool comment. Personally I like the board. Could have lived without it, but would have loved it best if they had made the box the size of the board. Then it would have been a small box big game instead of a medium size mid-size game. Would still be large enough to house future expansions. Explainer cards are weird and useless, but totally a consequence of using the paper that would have been thrown away otherwise. Could have been solved differently with better overall planing. Let’s see what they do next. Generally agree, small boxes is the way to go.

  36. 1. I agree that most plastic packaging is completely unnecessary it’s just cheap.

    On a positive note

    2. There is some research being done on the science behind plastic eating bugs. All hope is not lost for this earth.

  37. Good video, great topic. It's good to hear that Japan is better about space being at a premium, I hope we can learn a few things from them as the hobby moves forward. I do like my sleeves, though. So, many things hopefully will evolve over time.

  38. I was so pleased with Evergreen. Slim elegant box with built in storage and not a single piece of plastic.

  39. Good topic and nice job! Sounds like a Megaphone opportunity?? Or better better Button TIA 2.0 (52 cards or less in a tuck box

  40. My most frustrating experience was with Daybreak by CMYK. The way they designed the box was so poor that is did not survive shipping at all. I have some crazy pictures of what it looked like in the box. The make matters worse they did not respond to my request to replace the game. I will never play it due to the shape it is in and I cannot give it away with the sape it is in. Most of the corners ripped out and the tuck boxes were destroyed. There has to be a balance becouse some of these decisions are going to result in more ruturns which has an even larger environmental impact.

  41. You raise some interesting points but here are some thoughts to consider. Extra cardboard may be needed to protect cards from moving around during shipping. Sadly some inserts are made just for shipping to prevent damage. Cards are printed on machines that produce large sheets of cards on a grid that need to be cut. In many cases there is extra space on these sheets which would be wasted; so not a bad choice to use for rules, player aids or reference cards. As you said, player might enjoy what the board offers ascetically. From a publishers perspective it would be hard to sell this game at this price point without the board. The publisher needs to make a profit….and I think the price is still reasonable. Finally the board might mitigate wear and tear and provide a clean surface for the cards during play which look to have an environment friendly non synthetic “wax” coating. As a side note, I am not afflicted with this game but have had have some exposure to the production side of the industry.

  42. One of the trends that's really been bothering me about board gaming in the last few years has been the injection of all this social commentary… Board games are not any less eco friendly than everything else in life… Driving cars, the food we eat, basically everything on the shelf at Target. Also suddenly I'm told I shouldn't be playing historically accurate themes in games and that there should be lengthy discussions on rule books about a games' backstory. There was a time when I would sit down to play a game to NOT worry or think about everything that's wrong with the world. It just seems that the board game community is disproportionately worried about these things that don't really matter. It's just a board game. Sometimes it's ok to just have fun.

  43. I'm no expert either, but… I think it's on the publishers for all this to change. In fact, if all publishers started making appropriately sized boxes, it'd become the new normal. Just look at videogames, boxes used to be gigantic (even for cartridges) and now they're tiny in comparison.

    I've been praising publishers that have been making smaller boxes lately like Devir (The White Castle) and Thundergryph Games (Darwin's Journey). They even fit sleeved cards!

    There's another problem with huge nonsensical versions like The Castles of Burgundy Special Edition. Talk about overproduced without an option to get an smaller, all gameplay only version 😵.

    You're so great, by the way. Keep it up 😅.

  44. all cards have a plastic core sandwiched in the middle of the card stock. Its also coated with more plastic so the print doesn't rub off when you handle them. Honestly the card board insert and extra box size isn't really doing much more damage to the environment as you'd think. Maybe the issue is any board/card game claiming to be ECO friendly to begin with.

  45. I think one must be careful with this statements, because what you're criticizing is apparent to me is the same thing you're falling victim of. As you mentioned you don't know much about it, in my experience how much one knows about something says a lot of how much one cares about it. Not knowing about a topic should dissuade to complain about it, specially when naming names and pointing fingers. I could argue that you are polluting a lot more than necessary by making videos instead of blogging, all the extra resources necessary to store, manage and stream video instead of a simple text are not small, you could even make a broad estimate by checking how many hours of video have you uploaded and how many views and you'll see is not insignificant, far from it.

    Is easy to blame others to feel good about yourself without any effort, not even some research on the topic before uploading a video. And I agree that many companies claim to be "eco friendly" without taking any real actions, but to point fingers we need to know what we are talking about or all we're doing is feeding a culture of ignorant complaining that has worsen the current situation.

  46. Most paper products are created from pulp which is a by product of lumber and such. Trees are usually not cut down just for paper.

  47. How printing works: there's a fix amount of card that can fit on a paper, because the printing paper has a fix size. (Usualy around 108 standard card can fit on a paper)

    If they have place for extra cards, the cheapest and most Eco friendly if they add there extra cards, rather than sheet of papers, because after they cut up those papers they need to put the cards from there into the same box, when they pack it up, because it creates less chance of misspacking cards.

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