Welcome to my first instructable.
First off I love Settlers Of Catan. However with add-ons, 5-6 player sets, and scenarios the box either becomes jammed full, (to the point of harming the pieces) or a kluge of ziplock bags.
So needless to say I have been searching for a solution for this for a while. The solution needed to be 3 things.
1. Inexpensive = (There are tons of great options for settlers cases on line I just don't have $50+ dollars for them. Id rather just buy another edition of the game if mine wears out due to travel)
2. Transportable = (If my solution is not easier than carrying the original box around, I will cary a box around full of zip lock bags)
3. Must hold all pieces in an easy to understand and access way = (As I often like to keep the ad-ons and scenarios separate as I teach a new player how to play. Or to keep the game pure no extra cards with the base set or other add-ons etc. )
After scouring the internet for this item I came up empty handed. I then took a day or so to look for something that would meet my needs, and here is what I came up with...
Step 1: Purchase Case
The case I found to be almost perfect for holding Settlers and many of its add-ons is found at Harbor Freight Tools.
Or here on line http://www.harborfreight.com/19-bin-portable-parts...
Total Cost (Depending on sale) <$10 Currently About $8
Step 2: Remove Unnecessary Boxes From Case and Rearrange Boxes.
This step is, of course, one of preference. However, I will show you the setup I have found to work best.
Remove all boxes marked with an X. then move the two boxes labeled with O's to the space made by removing the lower right box.
Step 3: Separate Up Your Pieces
Which leads me to another little trick I thought up.
*Before you remove your multiplayer set or scenario from its cardboard sheet. Take a ruler and a Sharpy marker and draw a line (on the back of each piece) to color coordinate one set/add-on from another. Then, if you like to throw all your pieces together you can still easily separate one set from another visually.
Once your pieces are all separated you are ready to start loading the case up.
Step 4: Player Pieces
The 7 Small boxes in the front of the case will easily hold all the player Pieces, the dice and Robber.
Simply pour each players pieces into their respective boxes.
I don't own The Seafarers Expansion (what you see is the standard game with 5-6 player add-on), but there is some extra space in each bucket.
* I am interested to see if Seafarers or the Traders and Barbarians extra pieces will fit in the space remaining. (If you have these, sets and can verify, please comment) Another thought I had, is to buy another case for the other expansions. I am pretty sure that the three main expansions should fit in one additional case. (Again If you have these sets and can verify, please comment)
Step 5: Ocean Boarders, Player Cards, Army & Road Cards, and Other Cards.
At the far left of the case you can now (just) fit the boarder ocean cards in the space provided.
*Note that the indent puzzle shape needs to point down as it encircles one corner of the Dice and Robber box.
*Also if you have the classic game the ocean pieces should easily fit in this section along with the player cards.
I have the Frenemies scenario and it has a long Guild Card which fits nicely just above the ocean cards and extends into the missing box space (see picture two)
After this, Player Building Costs cards, Army and Road cards can be placed above these with plenty of room.
* Note that I assume that the "Helpers of Catan" scenario cards are equal in size to the player cards. If they are,` there is plenty of room in this section to place the scenario cards here as well. (again if you have this scenario please verify in comments)
Step 6: Board Pieces, Cards, and Others.
As we move from Left to Right in the Box you will then see 2 large boxes. To their right, is a space and two smaller boxes beneath the space.
In the two larger boxes you can easily separate (if Desired) and store your Resource Cards and Development Cards
In the space to the right all Map Hexes can be stacked.
In one of the drawers beneath them you can place all the Number Tokens (and Harbor pieces if you want)
In the other I have placed all the pieces for the Frenemies scenario. (which easily fit)
In my current setup of the case this '2 box-> space -> two smaller box' is repeated one more time.
I have found that the 5-6 player add-on fits perfectly in the second space with all extra Sea Pieces and Map Hexes.
The number tokens for the add-on easily fit in one of the small boxes beneath the space.
*In the current setup I also have a box left over to store all the blank map parts.
Step 7: Custamazation
With the current setup you will have 4 large boxes left over and one small box.
Note that these are good to use for holding cards while playing, or for a dice catching box, or any other use you can think of.
Note that all of the boxes have small feet that fit into indents in the bottom of the case. this allows you to place them in many different positions in the case. (and as long as they have pressure pushing them down into the case they will not move. This pressure is caused by the top being closed.)
It is because of the needing pressure and the top not always being closed that I would recommend a staggered 'Open Space-> Box->open Space' setup throughout the case. This keeps the open spaces in the case smaller which keeps the land hexes from shifting or mixing during transport. And keeps the boxes them selves from shifting because some where they are contacting another box.
*I surmise, from what I can see on line, that the Oil Springs scenario has a card that is a little wider than the standard Building/Road/Army cards. To facilitate this card some movement and or replacement of some of these boxes may be necessary. (I plan on purchasing this scenario, so I will add an update as I find out more)
Step 8: Rules and Transport
Finally put the Rule Books above the boxes and close the case.
*This case has 3 latches. 2 yellow ones and one clear tab in the middle behind the handle. Make sure all of these are locked before moving the case, as spillage may occur if the case is not fully closed.
*I kept the cards in bags as there is a little movement of cards when the case is heavily shaken and being thin they might move from one box to another.
My manual and all additional scenario rules easily fit in the case and are thin enough to not effect the cases' ability to keep the boxes from spilling into one another.
I have tested the case in the current setup by shaking it A LOT and am quite happy with the results. No pieces, cards, or hexes moved around the case and all are easily removed when the case is opened.
Success on all 3 Initial criteria. :)
Step 9: Whats Next?
A thought for all of you as we are approaching the christmas season. (Or for that matter if you are approaching any birthdays of friends.)
This is a great gift idea. For <$10 (and a hand written note (with the link to this instructable included)) you can give a gift that is personal, Useful, and won't break the bank.
However, your friends will know that you only spent about $10 on their present.
Hopefully they are the friends who value you because you think about their needs and the things they enjoy, not about how much you spend on them.
(These are the only kind of friends I find are worth having)
So if you have friends like that, I think that this would be a win as a gift for them.
Thanks for your time
Happy Settling all