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Small Box Challenge


This contest is complete, and the winner has been chosen.

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Game Ad Game Name Crafter Point Votes Status
{{}} Winner! Finalist Semi-Finalist

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Use your creativity to think INSIDE the box—the game box, that is.

Small-box games tend to be affordable, portable, and make great gifts. Games that use a standard box and components are also likely to have lower manufacturing costs, which can make them appealing to publishers.

Inspired by small-box games like Love Letter, Deep Sea Adventure, Targi, and the Tiny Epic series, this challenge is about utilizing The Game Crafter's Small Stout Box and a limited selection of components to create big fun in a small package.

You are welcome to use any theme, mechanism, or player count, but you are limited by the type of components you may include, and by the amount of space in the box.

The judges will be looking for games that are easy to learn and play, are sized just right, and have high replay value.

Judging will be by a committee of game designers and developers including: Eric Alvarado (Talon Strikes Games), Jasper Burch (Pine Island Games), Ben Downton (Prometheus Game Labs), Chad Elkins (25th Century Games), Carla Kopp (Weird Giraffe Games & Galactic Raptor Games), Luke T. Kyle (Cattledog Operations), Alexei Menardo (Digital Board Game Labs), Joe Slack (The Board Game Design Course), Cody Thompson (Jellyfish Game Studios), and Emily Willix (Small Furry Games).

At least 1 winner will be selected, and prizes may be awarded in various categories, including best overall design, best value, and most creative use of the game box. The winner(s) will receive a possible publishing opportunity, consulting services, and other prizes. The 10 finalists will also receive a prize (see “Prizes” for details).

Good things come in small packages. What will you create?

Learn more about Small Furry Games at

Contest banner by Tanner Simmons (Twitter: @FourStringFS)

Contest start date: {{wing.format_datetime(}}

To qualify, your game must comply with all of the following rules:


  • You may use any theme, mechanism, and player count.
  • Your game MUST use all the required components, and you MAY use any combination of the optional components, provided they fit inside the box. (See "Components" below for details).
  • Your game must be teachable in 10 mins or less.
  • Your game must be playable in 60 mins or less.
  • All artwork must be your own, commissioned by you, licensed to you, or in the public domain.
  • The total cost of your game must be less than $44.99 per game. (Though not required, games costing less than $25 are highly encouraged.)
  • The game you enter must not have existed on TGC prior to the start of the contest (though you may submit a new, travel-size version of a game that currently comes in a larger box).


  • A rules document must be downloadable from your game's shop page.
  • The game must be publish-ready (as it relates to The Game Crafter's shop, not as it relates to being finished). This means it has a logo, backdrop, shop ad, action shots, description, and cool factors. It must also have all images proofed.
  • Though not required, a 3-minute overview video is highly encouraged.


  • All entries must be submitted through TGC's game editor (by clicking on the "Contests" button) no later than 11:59 PM US Central Time on September 30, 2021.
  • Contestants may submit multiple entries to this contest. Each entry will be judged separately.



Your game MUST include both of the following components:


Your game MAY use any number and combination of the following non-plastic and non-metal components, provided they all fit into the box:

  • Booklets and Documents
  • Playing Cards (all shapes/sizes, excluding plastic and foil cards)
  • Mats (invader, flower, and US game mats will fit in the box)
  • Mix N Match Items:
    • Small Chipboard Punchouts (chits, standees, etc.)
    • Small/Mini Cardstock
    • Small/Mini Stickers
  • Stock components made of wood, paper, or chipboard (meeples, cubes, dice, chits, etc.)
  • Custom wood dice and meeples
  • Glass Gems
  • Box Inserts
  • Cotton and Burlap bags
  • Notepads, Pencils, and Scorepads (Small)
  • Player Screens (Small)

Need Ideas? Get a Brainstorming Box

If you'd like to jumpstart your contest entry by playing with sample pieces, we've assembled a "brainstorming box," which includes 75+ different blank cards, chits, meeples, tokens, and other game pieces that are all compatible with this contest. (It’s also great for prototyping in general and includes "cheat sheets" to help you compare sizes, shapes, and color availability.) While these are not "design kits," they do provide physical samples of a variety of components, for those who like hands-on brainstorming.

Brainstorming boxes will be available at a discount through a crowd sale during the first few weeks of the contest. Click here to order a brainstorming box and click here for the crowd sale (runs May 1 - May 30).

You retain all rights to your game, and are welcome to sell it in The Game Crafter shop during and after the contest, regardless of the outcome of the contest.

The first round of judging is handled by a community voting process. The final two rounds are handled by the judges. See complete details.

  • ROUND 1: Community Voting to determine 20 semi-finalists
  • ROUND 2: Judging to determine 3-7 finalists
  • ROUND 3: Judging and playtesting to determine the winner(s)

Games will be evaluated based on this scoring rubric.

1 winner will be chosen as the "best overall design." One or more additional winner(s) may be (but won’t necessarily be) awarded in each of the following categories:

  • Most efficient design (size, cost, low-waste)
  • Most accessible design
  • Most creative use of the game box


Can I use a game board in my game?

While no traditional boards are allowed, designers are encouraged to make creative use of the game box, rule booklet, documents, and optional sheet(s) of cards, screens, punchouts, mats, and cardstock to create engaging play spaces.

For large boards made from punchouts, check out this new modular board system from Balaporte Design!

How do I know if my game will fit in the box?

When creating a game, add a Small Stout Box to your list of components. Once you've added all your components, check for a yellow warning message that says "this game is using a Small Stout Box, but we do not believe your game will fit in this box…" This message means you need to remove (or trade out) some of your components if you want them all to fit. If you do NOT see this message, it's a good sign that your game will fit into the box. (However, the best way to ensure your game fits is to order a copy and verify it yourself.)

Can I use larger components (such as punchout sheets), if they fit in the box after they are punched out?

No, all of your game components, including the rulebook, must ship inside the Small Stout Box.

How do Mix N Match components work?

With Mix N Match components (such as chits), you can order many differently shaped pieces without paying a new setup fee for each item. For example, if you order small quantities of circles, squares, rings, mini hex tiles, and standees for your game using the Small Mix N Match Chipboard, The Game Crafter will print all the shapes onto the same sheet of material. This saves on waste and production cost.

To find which pieces are compatible with each other while browsing small chipboard, cardstock, and sticker products, you can click “What mix-n-matches with this?” to see a list of all components that share the same setup. To make sure all of your items fit on one sheet, view your game’s Production Cost and check the Sheet count. Click here for a video about how Mix N Match works.

Can I ask players to provide additional, household items in order to play the game?

If necessary for scorekeeping and/or timekeeping, you may ask players to provide their own pencils/pens, scratch paper, calculators, or timers. You do not need to include them in the box. However, if your game requires players to draw or write as a central part of the game (e.g., games like Pictionary or Scattergories), those items should be included in your game.

Can I include virtual components in my game?

You may provide a link or QR code to download enhancements to your game (e.g., a musical timer, how-to-play video, downloadable instructions, etc.). However, your game should still be playable without these enhancements.

Why these components?

We've chosen to put an eco-minded spin on this contest, since sustainability is a topic of growing interest among many game designers, publishers, and consumers. While there are many criteria to consider when designing for sustainability, for this challenge, we want to focus on using renewable materials (chipboard, wood, paper, etc.), reducing waste, and avoiding components made of plastic. While these elements alone don’t necessarily make a “sustainable game,” we believe this is a great way to challenge existing ways of thinking, spark new conversations, and begin to generate solutions.

The winner(s) shall receive all of the following prizes:

  • Potential publication of their game as part of a small-box series by Small Furry Games (this applies to all games in the contest).
  • 5 hours of professional services (graphic design, rulebook editing, video editing, sell sheet creation, etc.) to help the designer develop, pitch, and/or self-publish their game after the contest.
  • $500 of shop credit on
  • Automatic Showcase status for their game on
  • The possibility of judging a future contest.
  • Induction into The Game Crafter Hall of Fame.

Each finalist will receive detailed feedback from the judges, a copy of The Board Game Designer's Guide to Careers in the Industry by Joe Slack, and a copy of a published small-box game from 25th Century Games, Jellyfish Game Studios, Prometheus Game Labs, or Weird Giraffe Games.

Semi-finalists, finalists, and the winner will all receive accolades for their achievements.

Small Furry Games has prepared a complete scoring rubric in the form of a Google Spreadsheet.

The gist is as follows:

Category Max Points
Overall Gameplay 10
Theme 10
Mechanisms 10
Rulebook 5
Accessibility 5
Value (sizing and cost) 5
Other 5

The finals results are here.

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