In my short time really getting into board and card games, I have learned a lot of things. First, a lot of these games have a lot of little pieces. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT! Just tossing everything into the box they came in would just lead to massive chaos and lost pieces. Even being careful with my games, I almost lost a doom counter from Elder Sign (luckily, I found it).
So, what do you do to organize everything you have? There are a lot of ways. Some of them are pretty inexpensive, too.
The most obvious thing to do is buy zip lock bags, Since they make them in all sorts of sizes, you can pick up the size that works best for you, be they smaller snack bags, or larger sandwich bags. The bag will keep the pieces together and accessible, and make a great place to put those pieces that you do not need at the moment. You can even label the bags with a standard sharpie, just in case you feel the need to keep the pieces in specific bags. This is especially helpful for those games with tons of small pieces that only a few are needed at any given time.
Depending on what you pick for your bags and where you by them, a box can run you about $2 or so.
Speaking of bags, save the ones that come with your Star Wars: X-Wing miniatures. Those bags are the perfect size for creating squad packs. They can hold the cards for your squad, along with modifier cards, discs and other necessary pieces. Even the smaller bags that hold the black brackets for the wheels are still useful. The tokens for most ships can be contained in those bags, allowing you to keep pieces organized, even if you end up splitting up the squad later on.
Speaking of X-Wing, did you realize that the boxes for many of the deck builder games are the perfect size to hold your ships? The particular boxes shown are from the two expansions for Thunderstone Advance. Each side can fit four of the standard expansion packs, or even more ships if you take them out of the plastic. I set one up as my tournament box, which not only contains my tournament squad, but dice, maneuver templates, range template, damage cards, and a squad sheet (folded).
In many games, you need to draw pieces blindly from a cup, which usually means you need to have a cup handy. And there are a lot of problems that can come up with using a draw cup. It can be too small and not fit everything. Or it can be too big. Or it can be too narrow, making it difficult to reach in and pick out a piece. And besides, you still need to put those pieces back when you are done playing the game.
Handy for this are dice bags, sold at most hobby stores where games are sold. You can go with small bags, though you might run into whether the bags are too small for all the pieces you need to draw. Or you can just go for the gusto and snag a larger bag. Even if it “too big,” the bag will still allow for shuffling of the pieces and for someone to reach in blindly and pull out the next one (be it a boon or a bane). And, these bags usually have a pull string, allowing the bag to be pulled closed and used as storage when you are not playing the game.
In my case, I lucked out. The bag that I use for Arkham Horror actually came from a Harry & David gift box. it turned out to be the perfect size for holding all the little menaces that may crawl from the gates that spawn throughout Arkham during the game. I do use a more traditional large dice bag for Castle Panic, which has become known as the red bag of menace.
Dice bag prices start at around $1.99, but can go higher depending on what you pick.