The secret life of a board game geek…

It’s true, I am famous on the internet!  To see how, you need to read further…

As noted in my recent article, I love board games!  One thing I didn’t have time to go into in that article are the many “expansions” that have come out for many popular games.  Expansions breathe new life to a familiar game by adding new rules and generally add new game components such as advanced pieces, or a new map.  They generally increase the length and complexity of the game they expand, and they vary from a few dollars for a few cards and new rules, to nearly the same price as the game they expand.

As much as I love board games, I am addictied to expansions!  This is despite the fact that they rarely provide significantly more fun than the original game itself.  It’s worth calling out a few ppoular games to see how their expansions extend the gameplay experience:

  • The Settlers of Catan is the archetypal mainstream eurogame.  It has as many reissues, expansions, and spin-off games with similar rules as any other game.  The most famous expansion for this game is the Cities and Knights of Catan, which is on the higher end of the scale in terms of added complexity and cost.  It turns a game which can frequently be completed in around an hour into a game which frequently takes 2 hours or more.  I really enjoy this expansion, but it is practically a whole new, more complex game based on the idea of the original.  This is a good example of a large expansion which makes you really rethink your approach to the game.
  • Race for the Galaxy is a recent card game.  As I noted in my earlier article, it is complex to learn but fun to master.  It has two expansions so far, both adding relatively little new material and rules.  Unfortunately, the expansions are pretty pricey for what they add.  The first expansion, The Gathering Storm, simply built on the rules of the original, providing a little more options for growth, without changing the formula for success.  The second expansion,  Rebel vs. Imperium, added new attack mechanics which changed the tone of the game and increased the complexity a good bit.  Overall, both are examples of mid-sized expansions which evolve the game by adding new ways to win, without breaking old techniques.
  • Ticket to Ride is a fantastic game which has been recreated several times as a complete new game based on the original rules.  Spin-off games in the series include Ticket to Ride Europe which is the only edition we own.  Both the original game and the Europe edition have seen relatively small expansions (ex: Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912) which keep the original rules and map, but replace the destination cards used when playing the game to mix things up.  These small expansions often offer the least value despite their low cost since they only change the game in minor ways.  (That said, I don’t have Europa 1912, and I do look forward to getting it and being pleasantly surprised.)

One of my favorite games, also turns out to be the king of expansions and spin-offs; Carcassonne.   It’s simple design and modular tile-based gameplay is easy to extend and reimagine. Carcassonne has seen 6 mid-sized expansions, 8 small expansions, 7 spin-off games (one is for children) and a card game only tied to the rest of the series by name.  I had collected every expansion and spin-off in the series until recently, when they released a poor game and a poor expansion in the series the same year.  The expansions alone are difficult to keep organized, since they all consist of square tiles which are difficult to distinguish from one another.


This is why I am famous, if only amongst a small number of board game enthusiasts on the popular Boardgamegeek website.  To aid in my own organization, I designed a set of printable “tuck boxes” that store the tiles from one expansion so I can keep them separate from other expansions and the main game.  I designed boxes for a few of my favorite expansions quickly in PowerPoint, printed them on cardstock using a color laser printer and then folded and taped them into perfect little boxes.  Pleased with my work, I shared them with other Carcassonne players.

Assembling a Printable Tuckbox for Carcassonne which I designed.

What followed after sharing them on the web is a little strange.  I started getting emails from folks who found my tuckboxes on the web like the following:

I already have several your boxes (for the Cathars, River, the 3rd expansion, the 5th)
I would like you to ask for the others, do you have boxes for the 1st, the 2nd, the 4th


I would like modify it so I can create my own tuck box for a different expansion.
When I updated the tuckboxes to include another expansion, I added a note indicating that I would like to locate a copy of the carcassonne expansion The Cathars, which was release several years earlier with the german gaming magazine Spielbox.  It wasn’t broadly available anymore, except on ebay for 40+ dollars a copy.
A short time later, I got an email from a generous gamer who loved my tuckboxes and offered me his extra copy of the Cathars and the Spielbox magazine for 10$ shipped.  I was amazed by his generosity, and the fact that someone appreciated my work enough to give me a special deal on a difficult to locate item:
I saw in your tuckboxes from that you were wanting a copy of Cathars.  Are you still looking for one, or is this old information?
I have all of your tuckboxes, in fact, and use them to be able to store the entire game in the orignal box, which would be impossible otherwise.  …  I particularly like how you have put the expansion name on the top flap, since that is how I store the boxes in the main box.
If that wasn’t strange enough, there is a community of Carcassonne enthusiasts who are constantly producing fan-made expansions to the game.  I was contacted by one member of that community who wanted to use my templates to create tuckboxes for his fan-made expansions.

Tuckbox for a fan-made expansion made by someone else based on my design.
I have continued to get ideas, requests, thanks and general appreciation for my work via email and the boardgamegeek website.  It always makes me smile when I get another friendly message for my work. 
The latest addition to my Carcassonne tuckbox collection for the Tunnel expansion which came out in the fall.
So far, my collection of tuckboxes have been downloaded over 4700 times.  Yesterday, I released an update to the tuckboxes to include the latest expansion, The Tunnel, even though I don’t have a copy yet.  Only time will tell how the Carcassonne franchise will grow, and  if I will be able to keep up with the never-ending expansions!
As always, if you found this interesting or have a question, please leave a comment on my blog or send me an email: tom (at) tomalphin (dot) com

12 Responses

  1. Celina says:

    Your tuckboxes are Great! Thank you so much for posting them and allowing others to alter them, they have really been wonderful. The tiles fit perfectly.

  2. Maria Brady says:

    Thank you so much for designing these. I can’t wait to try them out! I’ll continue to browse your blog for a blank template, but if I am unsuccessful in finding one, is there any chance you can point me in the direction of one?

  3. Kor Smeenge says:

    Hi man!

    Did you find out allready of the latest two expansions to Carcassonne ?

    -Kornkreise (Cropcircles)
    -Die Pest (The Plague)

    Cropcircles can be bought through the Hans im Gluek website by sending them 3 euros in a enveloppe !!! I did it NICE!!! Cool new rules and possibilities. 6 tiles

    The plague can be ordered online at Spielebox (english edition of mag!) 6 tiles with chips. Beeing posted to me now.. looking forward.

    Are there any expansions you do not have still?

    Regards from another geek 🙂

    Peace love shabang :0


  4. GNUton says:

    Hi Tom,
    I didn’t tried yet your tuckboxes but I’ve to say they are very cool!
    Nice work man!

  5. Fcrogz says:

    You’ve done a great job! I love Casrcassonne too, and I love to have my things propperly organized, so I will print your little boxes because they are perfect!

    Thanks so much for sharing this 🙂

  6. Zach says:

    Thanks for making these available, i have printed out every expasion i have so far, but i am using the original carcassonne boxes for my copy of wheel of fortune as im using it as my original, great work, keep it up! 🙂

  7. June says:

    Not only do we need to go rock climbing and mountainbiking, we may also need to play Settlers together too! I think we have the Seafarer’s expansion pack.

    Have you played Agricola?

  8. Alfred says:

    Hi, thank you for your tuckboxes. They are great. I’m a big fan of the game and have all the expansions and varieties. Now i’m wondering if you will make tuckboxes for the varieties mayflower, hunters & gatherers, discovery and ark of the covenant. or do you have a template to make them myself?
    Once again thanks for your great work!!!!!

  9. Cartas says:

    Hi, your tuckboxes are great. Thanks!

    It would be great, if you make a tuckbox for “2 tiles” Carcassonne School mini-expansion…

    Are you plannig it?

  10. Thank you so much for creating these tuckboxes! If you could see my Carc box right now, you would know how much I love them! My only problem is that with the new expansions — the Minis — I’m going to run out of room!

  11. Jason Mork says:

    You need a Kickstarter campaign for this!

  12. Sara Stewart says:

    Love your boxes! Are you planning on boxes for the kloosters, halflings and the school? Keep up the good work!

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