Board Game Bento is signing off :(

Board Game Bento Logo

Unfortunately, it’s coming to an end

After talking about Board Game Bento a few times, Alpal decided to give them a go. If you aren’t familiar with Board Game Bento, check out Alpal’s thoughts on the latest box!  But the concept is simple – for a fixed price, each month you are sent a selection of mystery board games to play.

With both of us having a rather large gaming library, we both had the same misgiving – what if we already have the games in the box?  But after hearing me recommend it to others, Alpal was intrigued and liked the idea of getting games she may not have thought to get.

And so a three-month trial was started, with two boxes down the success has been mixed.

But unfortunately, a letter has been received by Alpal that Board Game Bento is shutting down the subscription service.

This can make sense from a business point of view, but it is unfortunate in any event.  I am guessing part of the problem was getting the news of the product to its target audience.  Local gaming shops, for the most part, aren’t going to recommend essentially buying games from someone else, even if it is cheaper.  Gamers like myself with a large library (not to mention having to pay overseas shipping) are worried about spending big money on games we already have – it’s a bit of a hit and miss scenario.

Board Game Bento Plans
It's unfortunate, but Board Game Bento is closing down.

But even as Alpal was starting to get keen (we can’t wait for the current High Seas pirate themed box!), it has all come to an abrupt end.

As mentioned in the letter, the site will still be operating and past boxes are available for sale, so check out the shop and grab yourself some great deals!

But until then, to everyone at Board Game Bento and the publishers that helped support them, thank you for a great idea that bought new games to people, and we hope that everything works out for you.

Thanks again,

Alpal and JohnHQLD

Board Game Bento – Out of This World


Month: August 2018 “Out of This World”

As a recap, Board Game Bento is a monthly board game subscription box. Each month the team at Board Game Bento sends subscribers a box of at least three board games with a total value of $80 or more. The game selection for each box is guided by a theme which is announced ahead of time. Subscribers pay $50 plus shipping; for those outside the United States we must organise a freight forwarding service.

This month celebrates games that wondered what is out there, the adventures and opportunities, the potential for the future and threats to the present.

This is a wide-reaching theme and has many avenues the Board Game Bento team could choose to take. I see the theme being driven toward games that represent “outer-space” in the near-future. Games which feature exploration of Mars, intergalactic threats to Earth, and space exploration are what I am expecting to see.

The three games featured for "Out of This World"

Game 1: Asking for Trobils

Asking for Trobils is a family weight worker placement game published by Breaking Games. I remember when it was first on Kickstarter when it’s point of difference was the noticeable dominance of orange in the colour palette. Check out the original Kickstarter page to see what I mean! The game has found acclaim with Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower; however I rarely see it in friendly local game stores or indeed online game stores.

This game meets Bento’s goal of being a recognised game that many people probably still have not tried. For that reason, it is worthy of inclusion. The cartoon-style presentation of the game makes it a little too distant from reality for me to fully integrate it into the theme of this month’s box.

Another point of note for this game is the rulebook which features a “How to Teach” section. This was the first time I had seen this in a rulebook and I think more games should be trying it. Teaching games is a very underappreciated skill, and one we will be tackling in the near future.

Some of the cards and the custom ships in Asking for Trobils

Game 2: Meteor

Meteor is a real-time co-operative resource management game published by Mayday Games. This game saw some relatively consistent play for a while in our games group a few years ago. I don’t know that many people outside my group have played it. Meteor was released when real-time games were seeing a surge in popularity, so for many people this game may have been lost in the crowd.

The theme of Meteor revolves around defending Earth against a meteor shower. Players must co-ordinate launches of rockets to explode the meteors before they hit the surface. Already this game feels like a closer fit to this month’s theme.

Meteor is a game that I have enjoyed playing in the past, but is never one I had sought out or suggested myself. Receiving it in this month’s Bento has given me a reason to play it again. It is a good complement to the genre, but not the best example of what real-time games can achieve.

A sample of the Meteor components - cards and hourglasses aplenty!

Game 3: Robots & Rockets: Lightspeed

Robots & Rockets: Lightspeed is a small card game which involves playing numbered cards at the right moment to build the best rockets. The flyer in the Bento box stated that they were planning to include the original Robots & Rockets; this game is a spin-off set in the same universe.

This game highlighted the benefit of the Board Game Bento service to me. There is very little chance I would have sought out this game for a deliberate purchase. Even though I have not yet played Robots & Rockets: Lightspeed, it has opened research on a new publisher for me. It is a small box game that I would not have otherwise noticed.

Robots and Rockets is small - pictured here with LEGO shark for scale

Overall Thoughts

Setting myself a three-month trial seems to have been a good idea. I am much more impressed with the game inclusions this month. I feel the games are accessible, with their vibrant artwork and family-weight gameplay. The games included span a player count of 1-6.

This month also indicated the risk you run when making blind subscription purchases. I already owned two of the games included this month. For many that would be a large disappointment. Personally (and probably only because I have a large game collection) I see this as a good thing. It encouraged me to play those games, one for the first time. Additionally, if you have a second copy of a game you can teach it to new gamers and then give them the spare copy!

One other side note; given the box sizes of the games I was inspired to do a graphic redesign of Meteor and Robots & Rockets: Lightspeed making them more orange and including them in the Asking for Trobils box. Of course, this has remained as an inspiration and is still on my list of things to-do.


Munchkin Christmas in July on Kickstarter is a Loot Box?

Munchkin Christmas in July

Well here is a confusing conundrum

Munchkin is a game I only just mentioned the other day, and now it’s caught my attention again.  The game appeals to a certain mindset of player, and has a loyal fanbase.  The world of Munchkin and puns I enjoy more than the base card game it is all based on.

In a neck breaking change of topic, Loot Crates.  Video Gamers widely hate them, or so the internet screams.  And yet microtransaction and Loot Crate income for publishers increases year after year.

The idea of a Loot Box is simple – pay a set amount of money, and get a box with you have no idea what is inside.  Oh, you know a certain theme or an idea of the contents, but you don’t know for sure.

I personally enjoy Loot Crates and have for a couple of years.  They have even branched out over the last few years with themed boxes, such as Marvel.  I am even thinking of getting a new one, the Loot Gaming crate.  It’s Video Game based, but I enjoy games.

If you would like to check out Loot Crate, you can get USD$5 off your first month here with my referral code.  **If you do sign up with this code, I also get $5 off one box, just to be clear 🙂

Loot Crate Loot Gaming Crate
A past Loot Gaming crate. The items are Video Game themed, but I have been thinking of this one for a while.

A loot box for Board Gamers, especially new gamers looking to increase their library, is Board Game Bento.  The exact same idea, but instead of some geeky memorabilia and the like, you get Board Games!  Full copy, sealed, just for you Board Games!

Now I don’t subscribe to Board Game Bento, but not because I think it’s a bad idea.  I already have a lot of games, so paying for mystery games each month is possibly a good way to double up.

With my Kickstarter habits starting to have to come under more reasonable spending, I am reconsidering this stance.  It’s a fixed cost so easy to budget for, and is a guaranteed three or so new games a month.

The thing that is really swaying me is that what I have seen of the last couple of boxes includes things that haven’t reached Australia at all.

It’s an older box, but YouTuber Claire Din has an unboxing video from 2017 to give you an idea of what comes in a box.

OK, So we know what a Loot Box is, what’s this got to do with Munchkin and Kickstarter?

Yep, it’s a long journey, but bottom line Steve Jackson is doing a Munchkin Loot Box, and it’s on Kickstarter for a short time.

It’s not being called a Loot Box, but rather ‘Christmas in July’.

For USD$60, that is going to have to be a lot of Munchkin.  Base Munchkin retails for about USD$25, so there should be a lot of swag involved!

And it looks like there is.

Munchkin Christmas in July Whats Inside
From the Kickstarter Project, everything you will and might get in the loot box

There is also a USD$11 tier (Well, $8+Shipping) just for the bookmark and some promo cards, which isn’t a bad deal at all.

However, if you aren’t in the US and would like this box, be prepared to use a service like ShopMate or MyUS.  Delivery is to the United States only, so there will be some shipping costs on top.

I am surprised that Steve Jackson Games has gone Kickstarter for what is essentially a Loot Box run, and that the campaign is so short (5 days!).  There is definitely going to be demand for it – Munchkin, as I said, has a loyal and large fanbase.  The 150 pledges with the signed bookmark by Steve Jackson himself went immediately.  But it’s not a bad thing, and shows that Kickstarter can be used for many things.

If you want to get into Munchkin, this may not be a bad idea, especially if you live outside of the US.  Getting base games are rarely difficult, but the extras are hit and miss in Australia and I am guessing other countries as well.

But remember it’s a loot box – you can’t guarantee the version you are going to get.

Until next time,