Stop Using CMON's Loss As A Market Indicator!

Stop Using CMON's Loss As A Market Indicator!

Recently, CMON issued its Third Quarter Earnings report, in which they described a revenue loss of about $4.1 million. This has caused the "BGG elite", as I've come to know them, to go crazy and saying that the end times are coming for the board gaming industry. Is anyone else sick and tired of hearing about this? One company does not represent the whole of the board gaming industry. In fact, my position is that the CMON loss has less to do with industry trends and more to do with the fact that they just didn't have that many interesting kickstarters this year. I went on a twitter rant about it a few days ago, but I thought I'd dig into the numbers a bit more to explain myself. 

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Munchkin: Shakespeare Deluxe Review


By Judith Moore

When a friend (Editors note: MEEEE!) gave me the chance to try a new variant on Munchkin, I jumped at the chance. Munchkin original flavor is already a favorite in my household; the adults have read Shakespeare; what was there to lose? I was slightly concerned that the references would be too obscure for my kids to enjoy, but that concern was soon laid to rest --buried AND praised, if you will.


This was our first Deluxe game, and having tokens and a board to manage levels makes it easier on the small fry. The character tokens and cards are whimsically illustrated, in keeping with any good Munchkin game. All good and well so far, but what of the cards? The battles!? The monsters!? The LOOT!? After my husband and I finished laughing ourselves silly, we had to explain the best jokes to the kids. While the implications of the Cuckold Horns went right over their heads, the Monolog and Dialog were instant favorites (yes, they are actual logs…) and the monsters needed very little explanation.


We were able to jump right in to gameplay! The pacing of Munchkin: Shakespeare is very different than that of the first game. There are far more opportunities for multi-level advancement, and catastrophic level-losing slapdowns, than in the first game. There are also more opportunities to meddle with other players, to the great glee of all involved. The new Bard class, in particular, leads to some great shenanigans when paired with suitable dice rolls! After only one game, we were hooked. We could not stop playing until we’d seen all the cards!

By the end of the first session, Munchkin Shakespeare had taken its place as our favorite Munchkin variant to date. It also has inspired a desire in my oldest (8) to read Shakespeare! Is this game a comedy? Is it a tragedy? The answer is yes, it is all these and more, but above all, it is FUN.

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The 10 Nerdiest Things of 2016

It's been a heck of a year.  People moan about 2016 for various reasons, but instead of looking back at any negatives of the year, here are the things that I enjoyed out of 2016.  Instead of posting several different lists for movies, tv shows, board games, etc, I decided to just combine them all together! Let me clarify - some of these items have been around for awhile, but 2016 was the year I was introduced to them.  And for me, whenever the year would get me down in one way or another, it was these 10 things (among others) that would lift my spirits.

10. Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Although Rogue One was a close contender for this list, I'll kick off this list with the Star Wars Roleplaying Game from Fantasy Flight Games.  At this point, I have 4 different versions of a Star Wars RPG on my shelf, but the FFG version is by far my favorite.  I had run Edge of the Empire in a previous year, so putting it on this list might be cheating, but this year was the year that I actually got to fully explore the game.  Previously, I didn't understand completely how the system worked and was figuring out pieces of the game on the fly.  This year, not only did I get the chance to figure out how the game was played (more on that in a bit), but I sat down with my friends and recorded an excellent campaign for The Dirtbags of Holding podcast.  If you haven't heard that series please go listen now!  Of the campaigns we have done so far, it has to be my favorite.  The pilot I came up with, Scratch, has to be the most fun character I have ever role played, and I know for a fact I'll be dusting off that character sheet at some point in the future.  If you've ever wanted to explore the Star Wars universe, even if you've never played a roleplaying game before, this game is worth taking for a spin.

9. The Campaign Podcast

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How did I learn to play the Star Wars RPG?  Well, 2 of my fellow Dirtbags, Cory and Jimmy, introduced me this year to a podcast called Campaign.  The Campaign Podcast on the One Shot Network is an actual play podcast that features Kat Kuhl as game master along with a cast of awesome characters playing through FFG's Star Wars game.  It has action, comedy, drama, and a crap ton of Star Wars.  Once I gave this podcast a try, I quickly burned through the 70+ episode backlog in order to get caught up with the story.  If you want to get a feel for how good (or bad) this system could be used, then you need to give this podcast a shout.

8. Numenera

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This year was also the year I figured out what the heck this Numenera game that I kept hearing about was.  Starting out as a Kickstarter in 2013 that raised over half a million dollars, Numenera is a science fantasy Role Playing Game that takes place in a billion years into the future.  Eight great civilizations have come and gone on Earth, and now you play as characters in the Ninth World, exploring the world and finding remnants of the previous civilizations.  The line between technology and magic is very thin in this game, as players get "Cyphers" - one use bits of technology (called Numenera in the setting) that can do all sorts of mysterious things.  This game, and the Cypher System that powers it, intrigues me so much.  It revolves around letting the GM easily make adventures and stories, while not being completely light on mechanics like other narrative focused games.  In fact, Monte Cook Games, the company that produces Numenera, touts that you can use the Cypher System to create adventures right on spot.  Here's an example of one of these instant adventures, hosted by the company at Gen Con this year (see if you can hear me in the audience shouting suggestions!).

7. Scythe

If you had told me at Gen Con that the board game Scythe by Stonemaier Games would end up on my Top list of 2016, I never would have believed you.  Scythe is a resource management/area control game set in an alternate World War I era….with giant mechs.  Yeah, sounds like it would be right up my alley right?  However, when I gave this game a try at Gen Con, it seemed very complicated and too complex for me.  Fast forward a few months, and I decided to pick up a retail copy of the game at a nearby store.  Since I had played with the Kickstarter version, I *had* to of course pick up the metal coins and realistic tokens.  Then, the game seemed complex to set up so I *really* needed to get The Broken Token insert.  Makes total sense…..  By this point I had gotten a few plays in of the game and was completely sold in.  The components, the artwork, the strategy, all of it just hits me right in the sweet spot.  I even took it home for Christmas and taught my dad how to play - and he normally is not much for very complicated games.  Yet we played the game multiple times together over the break - and had a blast doing it!  This is a game I can't wait to take out again, and I feel that purchasing the expansion for the game is in my near future.

6. Legends of Tomorrow

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I love the DC Comics TV shows that are on the CW network.  So when I heard about "Legends of Tomorrow", a show where some of the characters spun off from previous shows "The Flash" and "Arrow" time travel to stop a massive plot, I was sold.  Featuring characters such as Captain Cold, Firestorm, The Atom, and Rip Hunter, the first season of the show had its problems but was still enjoyable to watch.  If that was all that I had seen, however, it would not have been enough to end up on this list.  Luckily, the first half of the second season has come out, and has made this show a part of my "must watch" TV each week.  Now, I can not stand to be behind in this show, for they have taken out what didn't work in the first season and cranked up what did work to 11.  Not to mention, the huge crossover episode "Heroes vs. Aliens" between Supergirl/The Flash/Arrow/Legions of Tomorrow put together is easily the best live action work that DC has put out in years (sorry Batman v. Superman, but you had some serious problems).  With drawing in at least 3.3 million viewers each night, I'm probably not the only one who felt this way.

5. Ice Cool

This game completely caught me by surprise.  Ice Cool, by Brain Games, is a dexterity game where you flick penguins around a school trying to score fish before the hall monitor hits you.  The penguins are weighted like "weeble-wobbles" so that they are always wobbling around and can result in some special trick shot maneuvers.  Here is a play through of the game, if you want to see the game at work.  It is such a simple game that was sold to me as a kid's game but I've had more fun playing this with adults than I have kids.  You can get some really ridiculous shots in some times, which makes the game more than a straight skill game.  One randomly good move can get you caught up, and is hilarious to watch someone try and repeat the same shot.  This game is a ton of fun that you can play with all of your friends and family, so I encourage you to give it a try.

4. Overwatch

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Anyone who truly knows me will not be surprised to find a Blizzard video game on this list.  Overwatch is the company's latest game, a team based first person shooter that plays a lot like Team Fortress 2.  Players take on different roles and try and score objectives instead of a traditional "deathmatch" style game.  These traits that make the game different from classical shooters like Call of Duty are exactly why the game appeals to me so much.  In this game, I don't have to be the best crack shot, as I can help my team by shielding them from damage or healing them instead.  There's a whole layer of strategy that you don't get in other games.  Not only that, but Blizzard puts their heart and soul into everything that they do, which means that you get a game with all different kind of characters.  Each character has a detailed backstory that builds to the overall lore of the game.  Playing this game with my friends has become a big thrill for me over the past few months.

3. Pokémon Trading Card Game

For a reason you will find out soon enough, I have gotten really back into Pokémon this year.  Like, in a big way.  I've been playing through different versions of the video games, buying up related shirts, artwork, etc.  However, the biggest way I've been "catching them all" is through the Pokémon TCG.  All of us here at the Renshaw house have jumped on the bandwagon of the game, at the right time it seems as Pokémon celebrated it's 20th anniversary last year.  All through the year, The Pokémon Company did several events to get people back to that 90s nostalgia, including releasing a set featuring artwork from the original version of the game.  Suffice to say, every time we go to the store now, we are picking up booster packs of the card game and enjoy opening them to see what we've "caught".  We don't get to play the game too much but we still have plenty of fun collecting the cards together.

2. Pokémon Go

I've been an off and on Pokémon fan since the 90s, but what sparked this most recent bout of Poke-mania?  Oh, you know, just a tiny mobile game called Pokémon Go.  Taking the world of Pokémon and fusing it with our own, Pokémon Go was an unstoppable force during the summer.  Oh, and Pokémon Go is still a thing, despite what some would lead you to think.  From a peak of 40 million players, less than 15 million people still play the game as of October 2016.  That's still more people than the population of Illinois!  My wife, daughter, and I all play Pokémon Go, and we love going out to places and walking (or driving in this colder weather) around catching various Pokémon.  Ashley and I will have dates where we go out and just sit around at a popular place for Pokémon and catch as many as we can together.  People scoff when they hear that I've actually spent money in the game for items and such, but spending $5-10 for an hour or more of entertainment together is a pretty cheap date, in my opinion.

1. Deadpool

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If you are reading this blog, chances are you've already seen Deadpool, the movie about the violent and vulgar Marvel comic mercenary .  You might know how great it is.  Why do I think it is better than everything else on this list?  Typically, when I enjoy a movie a movie in the theater, I can't wait to purchase it on DVD/Bluray/iTunes.  If I really like a movie, I'll even rewatch it a couple of times after it releases.  I've probably watched Deadpool over 10 times by the this point, and it hasn't even been a whole year since its theatrical release.  This movie is perfect for me in so many ways - the superhero genre, the humor, and the way it doesn't take itself serious at all.  Every time that I watch the movie, I laugh at the same parts.  It never gets old!  Granted, this is not a family movie, nor even a movie I would ever think about showing Chloe.  Still, the enjoyment I have gotten from this movie definitely solidifies its place here on the top of my list.

What About 2017?

Now that we've talked about last year, let's look ahead and briefly see a couple of things that I'm looking forward to this year.

(Movies) Superheroes.  More superheroes.  And did I mention superheroes?  There's a lot of comic book based movies coming out this year that I am really looking forward to.  I don't even have to wait very long, as The LEGO Batman Movie (probably the one I want to see the most) comes out February 10th.  On the opposite side of the year, we get to see if Batman v. Superman will redeem itself as Justice League opens in November.  Inside of those layers of DC bread, we have lots of Marvel goodness that will be drawing people into the theaters.  Between Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Logan, Some are predicting that Marvel will rake in over 3 BILLION dollars.  That's a lot of dough - I hope the movies turn out to be good!

(TV Shows) DC is already killing it with all of their CW shows, but in addition to more episodes of my favorites, the show I'm really intrigued about is DC's latest attempt.  Powerless is a new comedy debuting on NBC that features goofy scientists making all the high tech gadgets that the world needs when superheroes fighting supervillains is an everyday occurrence.  I thought the idea of a comedy in the DC universe was a weird idea, until I saw the promo.  The show reminds me a lot of another show I enjoyed, Better Off Ted.  If it can be even half as good as that show, and with the talent that is behind the show, it may turn out to be a real winner.

(Games) This year, I'll have many Role Playing Games that I'll be trying out for The Dirtbags of Holding podcast, but I think the one new game that I'm the most curious about is Starfinder by Paizo.  Taking the Pathfinder ruleset and throwing it into science fiction, Starfinder releases during Gen Con this year.  If you want more information about this game, I did an interview with James Sutter, the Creative Director behind the game.  Paizo has a radical fanbase and I'm sure the game will sell very well, but the real reason I'm curious about the game is that Paizo has a great staff of creators who weave together awesome adventures and gameplay.  Thus, Starfinder is bound to be a very interesting RPG experience.


So there you have it.  What tickled my fancy in 2016 and what I'm anxiously awaiting in 2017.  What about you?  What did you enjoy last year, and what are you looking forward to this year?

How Chloe & I Stumbled Upon A New Geeky Tradition

This past Monday, Chloe and I did some geeky bonding by heading to a new store that has recently opened in our area. We weren't sure of what to expect, but we both ended up having a really great time. To be honest, I think I'm seeing the beginnings of a new weekly tradition between the two of us. What did we do? Read past the break to find out.

Recently, I was thrilled to find out that a new gaming store had opened up not too far away from me. Now, I love my "local" comic book store, but while it has a decent selection of board games and gaming supplies, the shop's layout does not lend itself to doing a lot of gaming events. Not to mention, this comic shop is like 30 minutes away from me. These two things don't detract from the fact that its a great store, and I will still frequent when I have some money to catch up on a few comics. However, the great thing about this new gaming store, other than its so close, is the atmosphere around it. The store itself does not have *that* much product, only a couple of bookshelves filled with the more popular board games. The rest of the shop, though, is filled to the brink with tables. You can tell that when the owner set up his shop, he wanted to have a lot of space for people to actually play various games.

For right now, the shop is primarily geared towards Magic the Gathering players. Practically every night of the week, there is some form of Magic tournament being hosted by the store. I've stepped in the store about 3 different times over the past two weeks. Each time that I step in there, there is at least two people playing Magic against each other. But I've had a chance to talk with the owner, and this is just the beginning. He's told me that he's pushing so much Magic right now because that's what the people in my area are really into. Over time, though, he wants to get that consumer base into other board games, and I can tell from just looking around the store that he's not kidding. By one of the sets of tables, there is a small shelf stacked with the more popular "geeky" board games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Dominion, to name a few. These separate games are open, with the words "STORE DEMO" labeled across them. Anyone can walk off of the street into the store, pick out one of these games, and plop down on a free table and play the game. I haven't been to a lot of stores that solely focus on gaming, but I've never seen a store have demo copies of games for customers to buy. It makes it very appealing to someone like myself who is interested in a new game. I can simply go to the store and try out the game with a few friends. If I like it, then I can go purchase an unopened copy right then and there.

Further extending this idea, I found out by looking at their event calendar that every Monday they are having "Board Gaming Nights". Every Monday, a new board game is featured on their website, and if you show up to the store then, you can sit down and learn to play that specific game. Not only that, but the event is free to everyone! I told Chloe about this and she said we had to go check it out. So this past Monday, we showed up at the store to learn how to play Small World. Its a game that I had seen played before on Wil Wheaton's TableTop, but had never experienced it myself. The game is very much a combination of the classic game Risk with a fantasy motif. In the game, there are several different races such as Amazons, Orcs, Trolls, Skeletons, etc. Each turn, you try and spread out your forces across the map, earning points for all the different spaces you conquer. However, each race/player also has a special ability, which might help you conquer areas quicker, or provide defenses against enemy players. The player with the most points at the end of 8 turns is declared the winner.

This game was a blast! Once I got the gist of the game down, I quickly was able to start forming some sort of strategy; which worked well for me for a large portion of the game. At the beginning, I was slightly worried whether or not Chloe would be able to pick up the game easily, but after 2 turns or so she was doing pretty well for herself. When the game ended and we tallied up the score, it turned out that my "strategy" had worked out to make me the winner! Keep in mind here, I SUCK at strategy games. I refuse to play Risk with my father and brother because they stomp me into the ground so easily. While Chloe did come in last, she was close enough to the other two people playing that had the game kept going for another round or two, she could have easily overtaken them.

At the end of the night, when Chloe and I were helping put away all the gaming pieces, she turns to me and says "So, we're buying this game right?". I just laughed and told her that we couldn't tonight, but that I would keep my eye on it in case I saw any good deals on it come up in the upcoming weeks/months. And as we said goodbye to everyone and headed for the car, she asked me another question that drew a smile from me:

"Can we come back next week?"

You bet we will.


Review: "Gatecrash, The Secretist Part 2"

Before I start on this post, I realize that a few weeks back I mentioned that I was trying to avoid doing written blog reviews.  What I meant to say was that I am trying to not constrain myself to just writing review posts, I want to make sure that the blog posts I write are constantly entertaining and not pigeon holed into one type of writing.  Having said that, I was recently sent copies of Parts 1 and 2 of The Secretist by Wizards of the Coast, written by Doug Beyer.  The Secretist is the story that accompanies the current Magic: The Gathering set, Return to Ravinca.  If you're a fan of Magic or a big lover of fantasy books, you will want to click past the break for more.

For those of you who may not be that familiar with Magic; it is a collectible card game where you and your opponent take the form of powerful mages called "Planeswalkers" who duel each other.  Each year, Wizards of the Coasts releases a "block" of Magic cards.  This block of cards consists of 3 different sets that are released throughout the year.  Each one of the sets within the same block of cards take place in the same location, sharing a common theme and background story that weaves its way into the various characters, abilities, and flavor text.  This background story is typically expanded upon by a series of novels that are released around the same time as the individual sets.  So each year, a block will contain 3 sets of cards and 3 novels; one to go with each set.  This year, Wizards is experimenting with this formula a bit; releasing 3 shorter novellas throughout the year as ebooks.
The first part, Return to Ravnica, The Secretist Part 1, stars Jace Belerin, a Planeswalker who specializes in mind magic.  Jace has discovered an ancient code within many of the structures located in the world of Ravnica, a world consisting of one giant city rules by ten various guilds.  The code that Jace has discovered is believed to lead to an "Implicit Maze," which at the end of it is rumored to contain some sort of weapon.  In February, the second ebook in the series, Gatecrash, The Secretist Part 2, the discovery and subsequent exploration of the Implicit Maze has caused dissent between the ten guilds, causing their leaders to prepare for all out war.  Jace finds himself in the middle of the guilds' tensions and must find a way to discover what is really inside the Implicit Maze before war tears apart the entire world of Ravnica.
Up until this point, I had never read Magic's background novels.  Each year I see them, and am tempted to read them, but they always get placed low on my to-do list.  When I got the copies of "The Secretist", I was determined to finally get off of my butt and read these Magic stories.  I downloaded both parts for the Kindle app on my iPad and got to reading.  The availability of the stories as ebooks made it so much easier to obtain and read through the stories, and I really enjoyed that.  If Wizards of the Coast were to release all of their Magic stories as ebooks from now on, I could see myself reading more of them.  Especially because I loved this story so much.  The way that the author describes the various people and guilds, most of which are available as different cards in the Magic set, allowed me to get more immersed into the story and location.  The description of the different guilds battling it out is very vivid in its description; you can easily see in your mind the way that the characters cast their spells to attack and defend against their opponents.  I am more of a Science Fiction reader, but I have read a couple of different Fantasy books.  None of them have gone into as detail as these books on the magic and the way that the spells come into reality.  The fact that the card game is called "Magic: The Gathering" probably is a large reason why this is the case.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed these two books, and I am really excited for the final part of the story.  Not only that, but I am excited for the next time that I get to play the Magic card game, as I feel I will have more understanding as to why the cards are the way that they are and why certain mechanics behave in a particular way.  That, of course, is probably Wizards of the Coast's goal in publishing these Magic stories; and for this Magic Block, I feel that they have succeeded.
Gatecrash, The Secretist Part 2, along with the first part of the tale, can be found for $1.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.  If you are a big Magic: The Gathering fan, or someone who wants a different sort of fantasy tale, then I highly recommend that you pick up this book.  If you do, let me know what you think and if you are as excited as I am for the final part!

What? You've Never Heard Of Munchkin??

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time talking about this card game called Munchkin. However, in the midst of some twitter conversations I had throughout the day, I reminded myself that not everyone is familiar with this game. So instead of the post that I originally had planned for today, I decided to take a step back and introduce you guys to an amazing card game that you are sure to love! Read on to find out why...


I was introduced to Munchkin about 4-6 years ago (can't remember exactly) thanks to one of my college friends. Ever since then, I have fallen in love with the game. Later on, I decided to buy the comic book version of the game Super Munchkin, and ever since then I have been picking up different versions of the game.

So what is this game? In it, you and your friends are Munchkins - comic parodies of the stereotypical D&D type nerd. You are exploring a dungeon, fighting monsters and trying to stab your friends in the back in the meantime. It may sound complicated, but it is so simple. Put it this way - I've even taught my 8 year old stepdaughter how to play - and she loves it! She won't stop asking me when we can play again.

The best part about Munchkin is that there is a version for everyone. The original Munchkin set is a fantasy themed set, poking fun at D&D, Lord of the Rings, etc. However, according to their website (, there are over 14 different games spanning all kinds of genres. I have 4 sets myself: the original set, Super Munchkin (parodying comic books), Munchkin Bites (vampires/werewolves/etc.), and Munchkin Zombies (duh, about Zombies). Not only that, there is a space set, a pirate set, one themed after Mission Impossible, etc. etc. So there is bound to be one that appeals to you.

Curious about what this game is like? Recently, Wil Wheaton has started a YouTube show called Table Top, where he plays games with other celebrities and friends of his. A few weeks ago, Munchkin was one of the games played, so now you can see for yourself a good example of how the game is played:


So, have I gotten you interested yet? Are you asking, where can I buy this game? You can use this link right here to buy Munchkin on (FYI its an affiliate link, so you'll be supporting the site when you click the link first before you buy). If you happen to have a comic book store nearby, you can also find many of the different versions there as well. Surprisingly, I have also seen the game at my local Target as well, so there is another option for you. Let me know if you try out the game, I want to see what you think!


What Happens When You Get Too Many Munchkin Cards

As many of you who follow me on Twitter know, I am a HUGE fan of the card game Munchkin. One of my college friends introduced me to the game over 4-5 years ago, and I've been playing the game ever since. When I bought the game for myself, being a comics guy, I purchased Super Munchkin. However, I didn't stop there, and now I own 4 different versions of the base game, with many different boosters as well. How do I store all of these cards? Read on to find out.


I have been searching for a way to store all of my Munchkin cards for awhile now. Keeping them in their separate boxes is alright for the base sets, but lately I've been buying up a lot of the 15 card booster packs and my vanilla Munchkin box was starting to overflow. Plus, I like the idea of having all of my cards in one place in case I ever want to combine multiple sets together into a game. Steve Jackson Games does have their own solution: the Munchkin Boxes Of Holding. They are 2 cardboard boxes: one for your door cards, one for your treasure cards. However, I wasn't sure how these boxes would hold up, plus that still gives me two boxes to keep track of, and looking through the craft stores near me I knew I could come up with my own solution.

My first idea was to take one of the generic wooden boxes that you can find in any craft store and paint it up Munchkin style. Yet, I couldn't find one that would work best for me that wasn't 20+ dollars. Plus with the move coming up, I didn't have time to work on the painting. So, I decided to hold off on that idea...until I saw this:


It is some sort of wine box that I happened to find (okay, my wife happened to find) in the clearance isle for only $10! Now, I'm not a wine drinker or anything, but I love the style of this box! It has the medieval chest look that I was hoping to create with the wooden boxes. Once we got it home, Ashley took two of the cardboard pieces within the Munchkin boxes and folded it up so that it would fit in the box and hold the cards without them flopping around. The finished product:


Now ALL of my Munchkin stuff can easily fit in this chest (minus the game board, but that isn't needed necessarly), including all the rule books and bookmarks that I've acquired from various 'cons. If I ever fill up this box, I can always pull out the cardboard pieces and fit in more cards.

How do you store your Munchkin cards? I am really interested in seeing how other people store their cards as well. Leave a comment below and tell me how you store your cards. Do you just keep them in the original box? Do you have the Munchkin boxes of holding?