Box Design 101

As if designing a card game was hard enough, getting the boxes together is a whole different ball game.


We’ve been in touch with several packaging printers for a couple of months now, and gotten a truckload of quotes in. What we keep running into is the cost gets very high in each case. This all comes down to the fact that we’re designing a card game that’s not a standard size. We decided to do this to improve legibility of the cards, but it means we also need a custom sized box. And every custom designed box comes needs a specially designed cutting tool, a one-off cost that hikes up the total order price for just 200 boxes. If we were making 2,000 boxes, the unit price would drop significantly, back into the realm of our asking price for the game. At 200 only, it just can’t be done.

So, does this mean no box? No my friends! It means Phil and Johno just get more creative! We’re gonna be designing our own box, and the way things are looking we’re gonna get it printed at the same place as the cards. Then with the help of several close friends here in Amsterdam (with the promise of booze and food), 200 boxes shall arise from a one-night cottage-industry production line. Quality is going to be paramount here, so we’re getting the trusty guillotine out alongside lots of nifty tricks we’ve picked up along the way. It’s not a definite decision yet, but it’s looking more and more likely.

As for the box itself? Our time with my parents gave us a bit of a break to really focus on how we want it to look. It took a little while, but we finally had the artwork we thought would look good, so we stuck it on a basic box design, printed it out (on a printer that only had magenta and black ink left, figures the colors), and had a good long look at it.

Nice, definately heading in the right direction. Now for the design of the box itself. Since our stack of cards is ‘higher’ than the space required for the included dice, it rules out using the standard ‘playing cards’ box. The cards sticking out above the dice could slide loose and push the flap open. A two-piece box won’t do either, we don’t want people fiddling around with a lid and a bottom in the pub. It needs to stay portable and small.

Then the inspiration came to us in form of a cigarette packet. It seemed to do the trick, and made sense. Hard-core gamers will know the Magic deck boxes out there. Perfect! A quick search on the interweb found a net diagram for a flip-top box, which I got stuck into with my crazy geometry.

With the design ready to go, Phil used his word-smithing prowess on the descriptions on the packaging. The design was finally reaching something we were happy with. It was time for another prototype test. The net-diagram is slightly larger than an A4, so a bit of realigning was necessary to get most of the important bits on a page that could be cut, folded, and stuck together. But it worked. We had our flip-top box prototype Mark I!

The prototype presented only one slight problem. My calculations took things a little bit too royally, and with the side of the top exposed we could clearly see the room for the dice atop the cards resembled more of a dice palace than a cozy little cave. Too much room for the dice to bump around.

So now I’m finishing the rework on the design again, adjusting the sizes, getting a PDF file ready. I’m away at work for a few days, but I will have the chance to find a printer at work sometime tommorow, and will give another whack at the new prototype, Mark II

Also since we’ve come back home in the meantime, we’ve had an extra aid in doing all this work; we have our hands on our new cards now! It makes it so much easier when testing the box sizes, as now we can put the actual cards into the box to see how they fit. Since we promised you guys a bit more eye candy on those cards, here are a few snaps of the cards. They look absolutely gorgeous!


So, more news on the box to come this week. It should take only a day or two for those to be printed and arrive at our humble domain. When they do, we’ll give you the latest.

Until then,
Keep questing you fine drunks!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.