Catan Treasure Chest

David Sopko has some very lucky friends. He created a wonderful wedding gift – a customized boxed set of Catan: Cities and Knights using Boardcrafting tiles, felt bags for the player pieces, and wooden trays for the cards.

custom catan box and game pieces

In his own words:

“Here’s how I put it together. I found an unfinished box at Hobby Lobby that was about the right size and invoked some of my rusty high school wood shop skills to build the separators and card caddies.

custom catan card holders

I then found the different colored dice bags from the local game store for the player pieces. Brown and orange proved difficult to acquire on short notice so I used glued city-shaped colored felt on black bags.

catan tiles and gift bags

The flip charts fit in the left compartment. Then the card caddies for the commodity and progress cards rest on top of the flip charts. The resource card caddy for the resource cards lays on top of the box separators. The player and other game pieces go in the center compartment.”

custom catan gift box and game pieces_full

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Combination Platter

Jorge's fancy catan birch set

The greatest thing about attending KublaCon last year was connecting with so many fellow board game enthusiasts, sharing ideas, and getting new inspiration.

Jorge showed me a great example of mixing Boardcrafting tiles (he has the “Fancywood” edition with cherry and butternut – I think it looks spectacular) with a Catan Table.

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Tile Extractin’ Backing Action

pushing from behind to extract a catan tile from the frameOne part of my Catan boards that doesn’t get enough attention is the backing. The backing is almost invisible during play, and it is obviously critical to keeping the frame together, but there’s one feature of the backing I haven’t highlighted before.

Between games, when players need to remove or re-arrange the tiles, you’ve got to pick them up from the frame. Since the backing is soft, a player can lightly press up behind a tile to pop up an edge to grab on to.

catan board leather backing fancy leather backing for catan board

Right now, I provide backings made from vegetable-tanned leather, a softer brown leather, and recycled PET felt.

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Grand Opening on

boardcrafting amazon store launch_birch set_accessary for settler's of catan

Last week, I launched Boardcrafting on Amazon. It was a bit of a challenge jumping through all their hoops – particularly for a small company like mine, as I don’t have any UPC codes or any pictures with a white background ready to go. But I know from my own behavior, when I’m looking to buy a gift or an accessory Amazon is the first place I go.

Right now the listing is an experiment. Besides the hoops that one has to jump through, it’s something like $40 per month to list products on Amazon. So I’ll be watching it closely and evaluating whether it’s worth it. Also to that end, I’ve discounted the Amazon price by 10%.

If you have time, I’d love for readers to have a look at the Amazon listing page and let me know if there are any ways I could improve it. Also, I know Amazon gives different search results to different people. If you could go to the Amazon homepage and search for “catan” and let me know how many pages deep in the search results you have to go before my product shows up, that would be helpful too!

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Laser-cut Hive Picnic

Laser-cut Hive tiles on a blanket
At the Stern Grove Music Festival this year I decided to encourage insect invaders on the picnic blanket. These are my personal set of Hive tiles, laser-cut and etched, with my own insect designs.

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Indiegogo campaign for sculpted / 3D printed player pieces

colored 3d player pieces on a board

So this is cool…

Filipe Lopez has started an Indiegogo campaign to make hybrid 3D-printed / sculpted player pieces for playing Settlers of Catan. The campaign is already funded but has some “stretch goals” to achieve.

I think the pieces look great and would be a fun compliment to the boards I make.

The Bajosocial Blog has some more detailed photos of the pieces.

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Koji Matsumoto’s Catan / Game of Thrones Combo

Closeup of acrylic Catan hexes and pieces
Koji Matsumoto has created a beautiful take on a Settlers of Catan board. Entitled “Settlers of the Iron Throne”, it takes thematic guidance from the Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R. Martin (aka “Game of Thrones” for people like me who have only seen the TV show). His media are acrylic and silkscreen which deliver some great bold colors.

I especially like how Koji made detailed pieces like the roads and cities.

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Imitation is the Sincerest

two images of the polish dominion caddy
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, I guess. This is a product from Poland, with some familiar design.

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Boardcrafting at Kubla Con

Myself and players at the Boardcrafting booth
A couple weeks ago I brought Boardcrafting to Kubla Con, and it was a weekend of learning and connecting.

I’ve been devoting a lot of consideration and time to the marketing of my products this year. I had been thinking for a while of doing trade shows / conventions, and Kubla Con was the perfect first foray, due to its proximity (Burlingame, California) and reasonable price.

The most rewarding thing from going to the show were the “wow”s. Frequently, people would come by and have some great reaction, a double-take, a jaw-drop, a “wow” or an “oooh”, or be compelled to reach out and touch the boards and the pieces. These people get it – we instantly shared an appreciation for what a board game could be, what the experience of playing could be.

The environment was very entrepreneur-rich and supportive. Across from my booth was Emoteez who just launched a Kickstarter campaign for their customizable kids’ apparel. (As someone whose entire business was created via Kickstarter, I strongly encourage you to check it out and share the link around!)

Down the aisle from me was Geek Chic, creators of stunning gaming furniture. I got a lot of good advice from Amanda, and was really inspired to see the passion and quality evident in their products. It buttressed my belief that there is a market out there of people willing to make an investment to get a great experience.

One thing I noticed was, in the large open gaming room, nobody was playing Puerto Rico, and a lot of people were playing Agricola. I wonder if Agricola has supplanted Puerto Rico as the popular, heavy-strategy board game nowadays. If you have any insights on the matter, please comment below or send me an email.

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Anodized aluminum Catan pieces

Cities, settlements, and roads made of anodized aluminum
I just saw this Kickstarter campaign pop up, and I really appreciate the elegance of these Settlers accessories. They’d be a fine match to go along with one of my boards. I think I may get some for myself…

Campaign link

Web page

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