The trouble with tabletop games is that in many cases they’re not always tabletop friendly. Often the board itself takes up most of the available space on its own to say nothing of individual player boards, cards, dice, a space to roll said dice, tokens, drinks, snacks, at least one cat and between 1-6 smartphones. So what can be done about this? What follows are my thoughts on how you can conserve your precious table top space.
Dice are small, so you'd figure this wouldn't be a big problem, but once those things get rolling it won't matter how spacious your play space is, at some point at least one of them is going off the table. This is often the result of players trying to avoid knocking over delicately positioned pieces on the play area. Because the centre space of the table is normally well spoken for, this results in players rolling dice near the unused edges resulting in dice going astray.
Dice trays or towers can be useful in keeping wild dice in check and conserving table space by handing the tray around the table or having a dedicated space positioned on the table specifically for dice rolling purposes. Plus, there’s something about dice towers that just seem to make rolling dice extra fun!
Like many of us, I'm a frequent phone user, but even I can appreciate the need to unplug once in a while, especially when it comes time for board gaming. Phones these days are also fairly sizable and people like to keep them at hand, if not in hand, which means they get plonked on the table, taking up a non-zero amount of tabletop real estate. It’s a simple matter to keep them off the table, in a bag, or your pocket. It also prevents unnecessary distractions during gameplay and is considered good table etiquette not to be tapping away on your phone during a game. Exceptions are made for app assisted games of course.
Board Game Bowls
From hit point counters, to coins, cubes and any number of dozens of other components, a table can quickly become choked with cardboard and wooden pieces, splayed out all over the place. Game bowls and trays are a great way to keep things in check on the table. As I covered in my recent blog of storage solutions, board game inserts such as GameTrayz and Folded Space inserts often provide removable individual trays that can be utilised during gameplay to organize the space and keep things clean and tidy. For games without these inserts I like to keep a supply of wooden bowls on hand for just this purpose and to be honest, they’ve been some of the best money I’ve spent on the hobby as these bowls see a lot of use! Not to mention they look nice and elevate any game just by being on the table. While there are bowls and trays that have been specifically designed for board gaming, any bowl shaped vessel will suffice as long as it’s not comically large for the purpose.
One of the most frequently utilised game components next to dice are cards, and they normally hunt in packs. This means you’re likely to have anywhere from dozens to hundreds of cards on the table at any given time. At the start of most game sessions this isn’t much of an issue since the cards are normally stacked in neat little decks with maybe a few distributed here and there to players. But as games go on and these decks begin to come into play, these cards can eventually take up an awful amount of space. A possible solution to this is card holders. Again there are some that have been specially designed for board games, but sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. Office supply shops often sell business card holders which can function well as a way for individual players to organise their hands or to keep multiple draw decks safe from being scattered across the table by a particularly exuberant Kevin. While not the prettiest option, it's more of a case of function over form.
So those are a few basic tips for saving some of your precious table space. If you’ve found any of these suggestions useful or if you’d like to share some ideas of your own for reducing game footprints, please share your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time, roll on and have fun! If you have any recommendations for future Table Tips, let me know at email@example.com.