There’s not much left to say about the game that hasn’t been said before. The gameplay is stellar. The story is engaging. The various classes and their abilities are inspired. It’s a fun game if you can get past its biggest hurdle. And I’m not talking about the game play.
I’m talking about its size.
Gloomhaven is a massive, sprawling, table-hogging affair. It’s so large and unwieldy that it pretty much requires one to rush out and buy a third-party organizer to keep it all neat and, well, organized.
Frosthaven promised to be even bigger. Before I even hit that “back this project” button on Kickstarter, I already knew I was going to need a storage solution. Gloomhaven had taught me that lesson and I’d taken it to heart.
But which insert to buy? There were two on offer at the time of the campaign, the LaserOX FrostBox and the Folded Space FS-FROST insert. The LaserOx insert (cost: around 120 USD) is fully wooden with all the bells and whistles you’d expect: trays for the player components, boxes for the various chits and tokens and such, boxes for all the cards, etc. Some of the components are even laser-engraved to add a bit of extra thematic flair. And while that all sounds great, my experience with the Broken Token organizer for Gloomhaven taught me one thing: wooden inserts, as nice as they are, add a substantial amount of weight. The thought of adding even more heft to what already promised to be a massive game from the start was not a thought I cared to dwell on.
Folded Space’s inserts, on the other hand, are all constructed out of foam core. One of the upsides of using foam core is that it can be coated with paper on either side, which opens the opportunity for adding printed graphics, comfortably occupying the center of the ‘functional vs. fancy’ Venn diagram. The other upside is that foam core is very light.
Since you’re reading this, you can probably guess which one I decided to go with.
The FS-FROST insert (cost: around 60 USD) arrived on my doorstep, inauspiciously packaged inside of a large, flatpack envelope. Inside of the package were 13 sheets of foam core—each one etched with a variety of shapes, several sheets of assembly instructions, and a small tube of craft glue. I was taken aback by just how light that stack of sheets was. My only experience with inserts up until that point had been of the wooden variety and, with those, even empty, they had a lot of heft to them. The lightness was a welcome change.
Folded Space’s website had also recommended that I order their tile storage solution if I planned on using the player trays, so I’d ordered that as well (cost: around 25 USD). That arrived in its own separate box, no assembly required. It’s an accordion-style box with several numbered dividers to make it easier to find the various tiles you’ll need for any given scenario, and it makes putting them away when you’re done a breeze. I highly recommend it.
Folded Space has engineered their product to make it as easy to construct as possible. The rules sheet clearly shows each piece you’re going to need and on which sheets those pieces can be found. The pieces punch out easily without any fear of ripping or tearing. Fitting them together and gluing them is a snap. There were a lot of components, though, so it took me a few hours. Then, I let it dry overnight before switching over the game bits from Frosthaven’s default insert, which can only be described as “functional”.
Once my game group finally met up to play, I was dismayed to find that several of the things I’d glued together were falling apart. So, I eventually wound up having to disassemble those pieces, scrape off the residue of the old glue with a hobby knife, and glue them back up again, making sure to add glue to every surface that would be touching. As obnoxious as that was, it seemed to do the trick. I haven’t had any problems with the insert since then.
The FS-FROST insert has some good things going for it, and some not-so-good. For starters, on the good side of things, it looks fantastic. All the foam core has been covered with graphics that give the impression of blistering cold, which adds a level of immersion most other storage solutions cannot. Everything fits in the box like a glove without any lid lift. And, since the different components are modular, you only have to pull out what you need, which saves a ton of table space. Pulling things out can be problematic, however. Frosthaven includes several unlockable envelopes and these are just stood on their side inside of the box which causes them to flop over every time the trays in their vicinity are removed from the box, a minor annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless. This same kind of flopping happens with the boxes holding the character class boards and standees. They’re wedged in between the trays and the rule books.
The FS-FROST has a few other problem areas in the functionality department, too. It’s great for storing things, but it’s terrible at organizing them. Yes, it keeps everything neat and tidy for the most part, but it’s almost impossible to find anything once everything’s been packed away. That largely comes down to two things: the way things are labeled, and the way that monsters are stored.
Each of the trays that hold the various terrain tiles have images printed inside of the tray indicating which terrain tiles should be placed in that location. Once the terrain tiles are in place, however, these images are hidden beneath the tiles themselves. That means, if a dungeon calls for several single ice patch tiles, as an example, I still have to hunt through all the tiles to find them. This is true for the monsters as well, and that’s even more annoying than the terrain tiles. And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to figure out where stuff goes when putting it away.
I wish the outside of the trays had been labeled in some way or that a printed manifest had been provided that I could adhere to the inside lid of the game box. Either of those would be welcome solutions to an irritating problem. Other inserts I have seen have included tuckboxes labeled with the names of each monster type. How I wish something like that had been included with the FS-FROST insert. There is a printable manifest of sorts that you can download from their website, but it should have come with the insert, in my opinion.
All those quibbles aside, overall I think the FS-FROST offers good value and does what it sets out to do: to provide an alternate storage solution to the one that’s included with the game that’s a fraction of the weight, and cost, of the traditional wooden alternatives. And it does it with style.