Writing about the Smonex Gloomhaven organiser is actually quite a hard thing to do. Essentially I am going to try and review the gaming equivalent of Tupperware however, doing something that might at first seem odd has never put me off before so onward.
Let’s start by talking about how easy this product is to put together. The box that greets you is surprisingly thin considering the £105 I paid to have this shipped from Amazon. I have seen the Smonex Gloomhaven organiser for around £98 but I wanted next day delivery and I figured it was worth paying the additional £7 because Jeff Bezos is no longer the richest man in the world.
When I first saw the gargantuan task before me I did wonder if starting this job at 9 pm was the wisest thing to do, however, as I have already mentioned, I generally press on regardless.
Firstly, this is a real wooden organiser, there is no MDF in sight and the smell is lovely. They actually used birch plywood with a dark stain and claim that this makes it stronger and 30% lighter than its MDF or HDF counterparts.
The build time was claimed to be simple and would take around 2 hours but I managed to put it the whole thing together in around an hour and a half because the instructions were clear, very straightforward and the pieces fit together incredibly well. There was a lot of swapping the large panels around as certain parts were on one sheet and the next piece you needed was on another. I am sure this minimises the amount of board used so its not a complaint but it helps to stay organised. I did find that some of the pieces were so well cut they literally fell out so it would help to have a large area to work in and make sure you have Glue and plenty of rags or paper towels to wipe up the excess with. I chose to use Gorilla wood glue but found that it flowed a little too well so would perhaps want something I could apply with a brush if I were to take this task on again.
I worked quickly using the provided rubber bands to hold parts together until the glue dried enough for me to remove them and use them on the next part but I didn’t do a great job with wiping up so there was a fair amount of scraping after the fact.
My ineptitudes aside the finished boxes were left to fully dry until the morning when I began to decant everything from the box to the Smonex Gloomhaven organiser. Smonex, by the way, stands for Smart One Box which is quite clever. Personally, I would have gone for Smaronox but it turns out that Smaronox is some sort of horrific disease of the gentleman’s vegetables so it’s a good job I am not in marketing.
Here then I come to my first of only a few gripes. In the images shared online, there are decals on some of the boxes that were not in my package. It’s not an issue, I think I will go through the set and maybe paint some of the acrylic letterings and possibly add some decals to the boxes just to give it a little more visual flair. Aesthetics are important and given that parts of the organiser are designed to be on display whilst playing I would like them to look a bit special.
Removing the backing from the acrylic is a real pain and I did not realise that there was also a film covering the front side which caused me a massive issue after I had built the player tablets but this is a minor issue and once I had employed my wife’s nails the problem was solved.
So the materials are of good quality, they fit together well and smell great but does it help organise the game? In short yes, it does what it says it will however, it gets some things quite wrong.
The first issue is the map tiles. The insert is proud by about an inch so if closing the lid flush won’t bother you would it matter if it was proud by about 2 inches so the map tiles could be stored better? I think not and having the tiles stored as they are means you will need a little degree in symbology and some very strong glasses to see the order they need to be placed into the various trays. It’s not a very well thought out solution and finagling the last T shaped tiles and the obtusely angled tile at the end was irritating and I ended up on youtube seeing how others had done it.
Talking of YouTube, the instructions that came with the Smonex Gloomhaven insert seemed to get the storage wrong. I had to go to YouTube to find out how to fit everything in the box. There are errors in the instructions but these can be forgiven as Smonex is based in the exotic lands to the West in a top-secret, hidden research laboratory, in the North of Philadelphia, just off Heaton road at the back of the plumbers’ merchants.
It should be noted that I did not buy the insert directly from Smonex but instead got it from a reseller on Amazon, this may mean that I have slightly older stock and so there could be a reprint of the instructions. Either way, the map tiles don’t fit as well as they could.
The organisation of things like the monster tiles, the card trays and the tokens are really well thought out and overall the design and fit of everything is very well done. The acrylic lids are a very tight fit and it might be an idea to give them a little blast with a file but I may not bother doing this myself as I will probably be the only one opening the trays and will not just pull and tug at them.
Smonex claims that the set will improve on set up times and they are not wrong. Not only that play is aided by the organisation of things you will need as you are going, map tiles aside, and I would be really interested to see if Smonexs other products are up to the same standard.
The set up with the insert was as easy as removing the trays and grabbing what we needed from the labelled trays.
Now on to the best part about the entire set up. The Character tablets. These awesome little boxes will allow you to track everything while playing like equipment, conditions and deck but it will also store everything you need for the next session so you can carry on from where you left off without any searching for anything at all.
So do I recommend the Smonex Gloomhaven organiser? Well, yes I do, it’s not perfect, its certainly not cheap and it does take a while to put together but on the whole, the benefits far outweigh the cons so it’s a no brainer really. If you have Gloomhaven, you could do a lot worse than the Smonex Gloomhaven Box organiser.