The Joke’s On You!

On April Fool’s Day it’s hard to believe anything you read online.

Everyone wants to play a joke on you.

Target game shelf

Have you ever been fooled by the size of a board game box?

Well, sometimes we feel that way when we open a new board game and see how little is inside!

Instead of feeling excited, we suddenly feel cheated.

It’s like an April Fool’s joke on unsuspecting families.

We see an enticing board game sitting on the shelf and think of the great stuff packed inside.

But when we open our new game box, it’s mostly empty space.

What a disappointment!

Sure the game may be very fun to play, but we still carry a feeling of being tricked.

While Aladdin didn’t play any board games in the animated Disney movie, we think he’s very familiar with this problem. After all, isn’t that where we learn the wisdom, “Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.”

Ain’t that the truth!

How many times have we been fooled by the outside appearance of a board game box?

With that in mind, here are our 6 April Fool’s games – games that have deceptively larger boxes than they should.



The first on our list is this very popular new family game that’s really just cards and gems. Sure the included game insert keeps the cards and gems nicely secure so nothing slides around. But does a card game really need to be in a box this big?

Splendor board game inside

The Splendor game insert works well to hold the cards and gems.

Splendor board game inside

The insert takes up most of the space in the Splendor box.


Machi Koro

Machi Koro is another recently published game that’s been a hit with many families around the world. Similar to Splendor, it’s really just a card game with a few extra things – some money tokens and 2 dice. It likewise comes with an insert to hold the components in place.

Yet in the case of Machi Koro, even the box insert isn’t fully used. There are multiple formed sections to hold cards, but only one corner is really needed.

Oh the humanity!

Machi Koro card game inside

The Machi Koro insert accents how much empty space there is in the box.


Cable Car

Cable Car by Queen Games is actually the game we recently purchased that gave me the idea for this post. We love tile-laying games, so Cable Car looked like another great addition to our game collection. Since the game comes with a board as well, we understood the game box would need to be large enough to fit the game board.

But when we opened the game, we found the folded game board isn’t actually that big! We were left scratching our heads. Why on earth is the game box was so large?

The length of the folded board isn’t any longer than other Queen Games’ boards like Kingdom Builder. So why Cable Car isn’t in a standard size game box is beyond our comprehension. Argh!

Cable Car board game inside

What?! The box is even longer than the game board?

Cable Car board game inside

Cable Car is an odd sized long box and has no reason to be so big.



Before we got a copy of Tokaido, we’d heard it was a very Zen type game. It’s a game about traveling the East Sea Road from Kyoto to Edo. Players do peaceful things along the way like stopping at temples, bathing in hot springs, enjoying meals, and admiring sweeping vistas.

Yet, my peace is ruined every time I open the game box and see how little is in the oversized game box. Not only that, but the game pieces themselves are very small. The game uses mini-sized cards and super tiny score track markers. Surely this box didn’t need to be so huge.

Tokaido board game inside

Tokaido may be a calm game to play. But the box size doesn’t leave me calm at all.

Tokaido board game inside

Why such a deep box if everything is surface level?


Among the Stars

It seems like publishers of modern card games are tempted to play these pranks on us more than with other games because here again is another card game making our list.

In Among the Stars players build space stations to promote trade among all the alien races. They do this by drafting and placing cards in a grid pattern in their play area. In addition to the cards are a handful of clear cubes used to represent power on the power plant cards. The game also comes with a few other tokens and a score track board.

Once again, so much empty space.

The only positive with this game is that the original box can easily contain all the components from the subsequent expansions.

Among the Stars board game inside

Maybe the lack of gravity in outer space means all these components won’t rattle around in the box.


Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Castle of Mad King Ludwig is one of my favorite board games to play. Yet, the game box is like many remaining castles that dot the European landscape – big structures with a lot of empty space inside.

In this case I’m very happy to have a game box organizer from Daedalus Productions because it creates a great storage space for the various components and is also stylized to fit the game theme. So I no longer feel fooled by this game box.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig board game

The Daedalus Productions game insert for Castles of Mad King Ludwig is fantastic!


These are just a few examples of being fooled by board game box size.

We still hold out hope that board game publishers will always strive to be efficient in their game packaging. Because that means we could fit a lot more board games on our game shelves. But we know that won’t always happen.

Board game publishers don’t choose box sizes based on just fitting the game components. They’re vying for shelf presence. They want to look grand on a store shelf. And a sizeable game box with enticing artwork will grab attention and interest from shoppers.

Shoppers also tend to equate cost with size. So a bigger box may entice people to spend more than they would otherwise. Put a card game in a box just big enough to fit the cards and people will pay up to a certain amount. Put that same game with a few tokens in a large box, and people will spend a more money for it simply because it looks like they’re getting more for their money.

But with so many games now being purchased online, do large game boxes really make a difference in purchasing?

Our simple advice – try not to be fooled!

“Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.”

What board games have you been fooled by based on their box size?


Comments: 4

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Gravwell and Goonies the Adventure Card Game. Both could fit in a box a fraction the size. So much empty space. I could fit many more games on my shelves if games are packaged better.




I love game expansions and appreciate oversize core game boxes that allow me to fit expansions in with the original game. Keeping up with separate boxes (and shelf space) for the core game and each expansion is a pain.




    Conan – We agree with you for games such as that because we love consolidating expansions into base boxes as well. It’s just that most games don’t fall into that category – of getting expansions.




The worst is Smash Up Big Geeky Box. I bought that expecting to get a huge game and instead I’m left with nothing.




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