How to Uplevel Your Game Experience at the Table
A confession: I'm a bit obsessive about organizing a games and the game table. I'm not sure if it is OCD, but seriously, a game goes way smoother if things are nicely organized - not just during play, but with setup and teardown. In that regard, here are a few things that I use that can elevate your game experience, not just in making things look solid on the table, but provide time-saving "hacks," if you will.
Card Sorting Trays
The intended purpose of these trays is to organize a CCG collection like Magic or Pokemon, but I've discovered it is great for any game that uses lot of various card decks like the Arkham and Eldrich Horror games, Dominion, and Gloomhaven. It's practically essential if you have large decks that are sleeved, keeping them from sliding around and falling over on the table. The Ultra Pro 18-compartment pictured above was procured from a local game shop for $6. While there are bigger trays, this is handy enough while still having a smaller table footprint than the higher-capacity trays. It's also nice to keep the cards in when you are in-between plays of a campaign-ish game; just pick up the whole tray and put it on the shelf. Now you don't have to pack everything and set it all up again next week!
These Tempo tasting and dipping bowls that we found at Cost Plus World Market are perfect. The clear glass makes it really easy to see the contents from across the table, and the square shape is handy when it's time to clean up. Just pour the components back into plastic baggies. Bowls can also avoid the "oops, token pile is too far out of reach" issue. You can pick up the bowl and move the tokens to a better place. Keeping tokens contained in bowls also helps small stuff from ending up on the floor, turning into a mystery to be solved later. With all this upside, you can see that having component bowls are a no-brainer.
Most of the time, I store components in inexpensive plastic baggies from craft stores, but sometimes a game has so many tokens. markers, chits, and thingys that individually unbagging and bagging components every time we play becomes a big chore. So for component-heavy games like Eclipse, Caverna, Twilight Imperium, and, of course, Gloomhaven, I've opted for Plano tackle boxes or craft storage boxes. There are a ton of different sizes and models. I've found the best approach is to search around Reddit or BoardGameGeek for players who have already figured out which boxes to use, and copy an idea you like. You can find Plano or divider boxes at any big box department or craft stores, but I found the best prices and selection from online outdoors/fishing supply resellers. As you can see above, I've made fancy labels for my Gloomhaven planos to speed up component-getting - inspired by this solution from BGG user ryodoan.
Any of these inexpensive and simple solutions will make your setup just a little bit easier and keep the components not just organized, but looking good on the table!