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What is Board Game Bento?

Board Game Bento is a subscription box featuring a surprise selection of board games. Every month subscribers are mailed a box containing around three board games. Each box has a “theme” which roughly guides the selection of games. The advertised value of the games in each box is $80USD minimum. Subscribers pay $50USD plus shipping. The postage is limited to North America. In order to get the box delivered to Australia I needed to use a freight forwarding company.

Theme: Art & Anarchy

The anticipation of my first Board Game Bento was high. Having a theme really helps you speculate on what games might be included. For this first month I was to receive a box with the theme Art & Anarchy. Immediately A Fake Artist Goes To New York was sure to be included. For me it was the obvious choice. Featuring an art theme and art activities, where the social deduction mechanisms of the game inspire the anarchy tie-in.

Alas, A Fake Artist Goes To New York was not included in this box (Editor’s Note Boo!). Let’s look at what was included; I’ll list them in the order presented in the flyer.

A classic auction game from Reiner Knizia, Masters Gallery has seen many editions and variants in the years since its original 2009 release. In fact, Masters Gallery is a card game reimplementation of an earlier Knizia game, Modern Art which was first released in 1992.

This game was a worthy inclusion and supplying the Travel Edition was a nice way to get a quality game into the Bento Box without blowing the budget. Unfortunately, knowing of the recent re-release by CMON of Modern Art, I cannot help but feel that would have been a better fit for the theme (even if this is an essentially aesthetic argument).

Masters Gallery Box Art
This is the edition received in the Bento Box. Modern Art is the updated release.

Each Bento Box seems to feature one “big game” and two smaller games. Princes of the Renaissance was this month’s big game. Princes of the Renaissance is a Martin Wallace design released in 2003. The game has had a recent reprinting through Kickstarter. Unfortunately, the edition received in this Bento Box has the component quality which reflects a game released in 2003. This dated level of production is noticeable when placed amid games of today’s production standards.

My main disappointment surrounding this game’s inclusion is due purely to the reasoning that the Board Game Bento gave surrounding its inclusion:

Princes of the Renaissance Box Art
Princes of the Renaissance unfortunately did not receive an artwork upgrade with the reprint.

“We joked around the Board Game Bento offices that if we couldn’t find enough games with art themes for this month we’d try to get a game featuring the Ninja Turtles. Thankfully we were able to acquire Princes of the Renaissance by Mercury Games, a game that features the heroes in a half-shell’s Renaissance artist namesakes.”

And there’s the problem: This paragraph on the included flyer just made me wish that I had received a TMNT game instead.

Game 3: Stickman

The Swiss game Stickman was included especially for “introducing our subscribers to international games that are hard to find in North America”. Interestingly, my local game shop stocks almost the entire Matchbox Collection from Helvetiq, so this one was less exciting to me. Add to that the fact that this game is one that requires drawing on other players backs, the invasion of personal space issue pushed me away from this being a welcome inclusion.

This game has its place in the Bento Box; it’s quirky, probably not one you’d hunt down, and for most people, it is a hard-to-find game. It also is the most recent release by a long way, having only been released last year (2017).

Stickman Box Art
The Helvetiq Matchbox Collection all have similarly striking cover art.

Overall Thoughts

So, my first Board Game Bento is a bit of a let-down. But that’s okay, I decided to give them a three-month trial period before making a solid judgement. I was surprised at how old the games were; I was hoping for some more recent releases or even Kickstarter funded games. The monetary value is there, but as always because it is a blind purchase, you run the risk of the inclusions being not to your taste. For me, none of these games got played at my house, but I have been able to find new homes for them (even if that was the charity shop in some cases).

One final note – the flyer stated that next month’s theme is “Gear!”. But this was a printing error. Next month is “Out of This World”, with the “Gear!” theme to follow after that.

Alpal
Author Alpal
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