An Interview With The Broken Token

Nelly Steiner Mox Spotlight

Looking to upgrade your board games? Everyone will “ooh” and “aah” when you open that board game and reveal the perfectly organized components inside. The Broken Token makes exquisite board game insert organizers that make setting up and putting away games a breeze. Today we have with is Greg Spence, CEO of The Broken Token, to let us peek behind the curtain a little and see what this is all about.

(Mox) Where did the name The Broken Token come from, and what was the inspiration behind creating The Broken Token?

(Greg Spence) We started the company with a vision of who our audience was; specifically, other groups of gamers, like us and our friends, who gathered together on a regular basis to play games, share food and drinks, and socialize. Just like in an old tavern from the fantasy novels we’d read growing up. So we wanted to pick a name that related to gaming, and rhyming is fun and memorable. Through some brainstorming of gaming words we came up with Token, then Broken to rhyme with it, and decided it fit the vibe we were going for: fun, sounds like it could be a pub or tavern, and immediately makes us think of gaming. Our “Pub Sign”-style logo treatment came next.

(Mox) Why is it important to you to improve on board game organization?

(Greg) I think board games are great for bringing people together. Especially these days when we spend so much time on our digital devices. Having that face time with friends and family, sharing some fun and competition, and having conversations that you don’t have on social media; that’s becoming less a part of our lives. So when our products encourage people to pull that game box off the shelf, sit down and put the phones away, and have those interactions, it’s a win for all of us. We often hear from customers that our organizers do just that. They love this game, but it takes so long to set up that they’ll pass on playing it. But once the game is organized and there’s less of a barrier to playing, they’re more likely to put it on the table and spend that face time with their crew.

(Mox) What game was the most difficult to create an organizer for?

(Greg) Gloomhaven probably takes the award for that one. Although Twilight Imperium is up there, too. Those huge games with so many pieces can be a real challenge. And those are games that our design team took the lead on. We’ve grown enough that we have two full-time designers, and I don’t really do much of the organizer design anymore. Once they have drafted up some plans, we all collaborate on the prototypes, but they spend the most time figuring out the best ways to sort and store most of our organizers these days. I give them a lot of credit for taking my initial style of organizing and coming up with some of the most recent creative solutions.

(Mox) What does the process of creating an organizer look like?

(Greg) It takes a lot of measuring, and a lot of people! Although the earliest parts of the process often start before the measuring. It usually begins with an idea, either a popular request from our community, or a partnership with a publisher, or sometimes just a game that our team likes and wants to get organized. Once it’s been decided that we’ll tackle that game, the next steps are more administrative. If we’re working with a publisher on it, we’ll talk to them about their future plans, and any content that might be coming, and what space might be needed for that. A playthrough of the game is critical as well.

Then we start laying out all the cards, boards, tokens, and other pieces and figure out what’s needed to optimize setup and storage. If players need to draw cards often, which cards make sense to store together? Which tokens will they be using a lot? Should each player have their own tray for their pieces? Once those ideas have been laid out loosely, the measuring actually begins. Then it’s just a lot of tweaking to find the right size for each card row, tray, or other piece of the organizer. Next, we prototype. We have demo sessions with other members of the team and get the design finalized.

Once it’s finished, all our other teams start getting involved. Our production leads cut samples and figure out the optimal settings for the equipment. The packaging team does some test runs on packing the final retail units. The marketing team starts working on instruction sheets, photos, and videos, along with prepping the marketing plan details. Shipping gets involved to make sure we don’t need a new box size to accommodate shipping the newest product. And our project manager oversees all the steps in the process. It really takes a whole team and on average takes about 6-8 weeks to go from start to finish.

(Mox) One of your passions is supporting the gaming community. Can you tell us a little bit more about your philanthropic efforts?

(Greg) That’s definitely something we like doing. Over the years we’ve sponsored several charitable gaming community events, like giving product donations for prizing or making a monetary donation. Our team has also run our own 24-hour gaming sessions for Extra Life. We love how passionate the gaming community is about supporting one another, and the drive to make sure our hobby is inclusive and welcoming, as well as making sure our community is taken care of in their times of need. As we grow, we hope to grow our support initiatives even more.

(Mox) What type of products have you not yet explored that you would like to pursue in the future?

(Greg) We have a lot of creative people on staff who really love to innovate, and we’re always looking into new ways we can improve gaming for ourselves and our community. We’ve got an army of laser cutters, a farm of 3D printers, and we recently began adding screenprinted elements to some products. So we really have created our own maker space that we can use to our liking. We’ve got a lot of ideas in the works, but we’re not ready to reveal them just yet. I can just say that we’re looking at the gaming lifestyle as a whole, and not just what happens at the table.

(Mox) We love Fox In The Forest and Gravwell. Are you looking at creating more travel board games in the future?

(Greg) We’re not right now. They’re great, and we’ve traveled with them, but we don’t have any others in the queue at this time. We’re always open to suggestions though! Those two in particular were an idea that was pitched to us by Corey Young, the designer of Gravwell. He worked on the first draft of the travel versions, and our designers refined them and got them ready for production. To keep that footprint, the game really needs to have just a single deck of cards, a small board, and a handful of tracking tokens or figures. So many games these days are going bigger and more complex, so finding games that fit that niche can be a challenge.

(Mox) Can you give us the inside scoop on what you’re working on right now?

(Greg) We’ve got a lot of products in the hopper and launching soon, even some in May. Quite a few are lined up for the rest of the summer as well, but we are pretty sure fans of Red Dragon Inn will be excited about two of the early May launches. We’re also releasing organizers (some licensed, some not) for The Networks, Call to Adventure, Dragonfire, and the long-awaited upgrade to our organizer for Twilight Imperium. Shortly after, we’ll be tackling some castles, aliens, bad doctors, and apocalyptic problems.

And of course, we’ve got several people on the team working on their parts of the process to get the upcoming Frosthaven Organizer ready. We’re really excited to once again work with Cephalofair and create an officially licensed organizer for this highly anticipated game!

(Mox) What is your favorite food to eat while gaming? Would you ever make a snack organizer/ accessory?

(Greg) A snack organizer sounds like a great April 1st release! When we game with friends, everyone brings snacks, so I don’t think I have a specific favorite. Salty snacks like Chex Mix or chips and queso are pretty popular with our crowd though. I’m looking forward to getting back to some social gaming in the coming months!

(Mox) We’re looking forward to more normal times too. Can’t wait.

Mox will be offering 10% off all The Broken Token product throughout the month of May. Come pick up the perfect organizer for your game, and don’t forget our knowledgeable staff is always there to answer any questions you may have. Limited in-store dining is now available in a few of our Mox locations, so enjoy a bite and/or cocktail while you play.

-See you at Mox!