The ol' mailman dropped a package on the doorstep yesterday -- the new Heroes expansion for Battlelore. Naturally it's too early to say much about the game play, but I thought the upgrading in packaging was worth noting off the bat.
When Battlelore was published by Days of Wonder it used a distinctive packaging system for most of its expansions (and for Memoir '44 as well) that used a clear plastic "box" with a light cardboard sleeve around it.
I always had mixed feelings about this packaging as it compares to more traditional cardboard boxes. I don't know how it compares from a cost standpoint for the company, but from a player and consumer point of view the main feature of the plastic box was its ability to provide storage that conformed to the shape of the components, especially figures. This provided protection for the figures as well as a way to keep them organized.
On the other hand, I thought the packaging had some drawbacks. For one thing, it's very bulky. An expansion with a dozen or so figures takes up a fairly substantial amount of space for the size of the miniatures it contains. My biggest concern, though, is about durability. The light plastic used by Days of Wonder was already splitting in some cases, despite the fact that my game hasn't had anything like hard usage. Likewise the cardboard sleeves in some cases are already fraying along edges or threatening to split. In a few cases the tolerances between different parts seem a little too snug, making it hard to separate.
This new expansion, Heroes, is the first completely produced by Fantasy Flight Games since they bought Battlelore (they had previously issued expansions prepared by DoW). I was curious if they'd keep the DoW style packaging or switch to something more like what they had done before with other games.
The answer seems to be to remain consistent with the Battlelore look, but make some small, but important, improvements. The Heroes expansion uses a slightly thicker and more robust plastic with tolerances that allow the parts to slide over each other easily while still providing no danger of pieces falling out. The sleeve likewise uses a slightly thicker, textured, cardboard that appears likely to be more durable, although perhaps still too light for hard use.
The art is, of course, completely compatible with Battlelore's established look, with only the FFG logo to distinguish it from the earlier Days of Wonder product.
I'm still ambivalent about the entire packaging strategy, but FFG's execution is clearly better. Many players probably have hit on their own storage solutions anyway and don't bother with the original packaging, but I prefer to retain original packaging when practicable. There is some virtue in keeping the same look, once it's been established, so I can't criticize FFG's call.