Board Game Bling - Daedalus Productions - Le Havre Insert Review

Now that I’ve reached a point where I have a good sized board game collection (or to put it another way, where the ratio of total board games to total available time becomes a factor) I’ve looked more into how I can pimp up the games I already own.

Sometimes this is with upgraded tokens and meeples, but this can be quite costly when you do it to many games, not like that’s stopped me but just pointing it out! I’ve had some good luck with Stonemaier Games recent Treasure Chest on Kickstarter and I’ll probably do a review of that soon in time for the next batch of chests soon to be released. Otherwise I’m usually resorting to BoardGameExtras and if I’m really desperate and willing to pay the shipping, MeepleSource.

But the primary way to pimp my games currently is replacing the inserts. 90% of the time I find myself having to pull out the insert and use a mix of bags and Hobbycraft boxes to contain all the cards and pieces and this works well to an extent to speed up the setup time and organise my components. This is particularly with regards to LCG’s and deckbuilders where you need to have your cards organised well to stand a chance of keeping up with expansions.

But other games with lots of components and fiddly bits benefit from this approach, particularly those with long setup times and that’s where Daedalus Productions comes in. This was a Kickstarter I was introduced to in late 2014 that included special custom wood inserts for games with the sole purpose of cutting the setup time down considerably and making general gameplay easier. Sounded right up my street and thanks to some side client work I could afford to go nuts and acquire several designs that I felt would benefit me a lot.

Now being a little tight for cash and eager to receive these designs quickly I opted for self-assemble, which meant building the inserts myself. Now I’m no arts and craft expert by any stretch of the phrase so this was a gamble for me. But they’re now all assembled and sitting nicely in my games, but was it a mission to get to that stage and how well are they lasting to being handled in and out of the box on regular occasions? Do they even cut down the setup time as planned?

Well that’s the purpose of these upcoming mini-review articles. I’m going to briefly talk about my experiences assembling the various inserts and give my thoughts about how well the inserts lives up to the claim of organising the game better.
To find out more about Daedalus and their inserts, visit their website here. Note that as stated I didn’t acquire every insert so you won’t hear from me about Eclipse or Merchants of Venus, however suffice to say that I believe inserts for those games are mandatory given the colossal setup for each (really, really, I mean Merchants of Venus takes hours to play already but a third of that time is spent just setting the blasted game up with all of those goods tokens).

Right, rant out of the way, let’s make a start with Le Havre. I’m not going to repeat paragraphs that apply to all inserts after this review is done so you’ll probably find the others are less detailed as a result.


This was one of the cheapest inserts to acquire and some may argue that it’s not particularly necessary given that there are only a few cards and it’s mainly the tokens. Well it’s those tokens that are the focus here. Le Havre comes with multiple double-sided tokens for all sorts of different goods from fish to grain to steel to coal. And sorting these out can be a pain before and after the game.

Here now the tokens can be displayed in a small case with their denoted symbols etched on to the front face so that you can easily tell which ones you’re after (and also so it looks cool!). The cards are held in little trays so that you can separate out ships from basic buildings to special buildings etc.

Out The Bag

Most of the inserts have a PDF guide to constructing them and for the most part, they give very clear instructions as to how to build each component. Not only do you see clearly which pieces you need, but it even tells you which parts require gluing and which ones don’t. In addition you also get a picture of the finished product and what it’s meant to hold although I discovered that not every guide has these. This I would hope would be corrected in some revisions to the guides in future because these are very useful for knowing what you’re building in the first place and what you’re supposed to stick in them.

For Le Havre, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but wait till you get to a couple of the more complicated inserts later. You should also take heed to the tip of sorting out all the pieces by letter before hand as they’ll all arrive bundled up in bag unsorted to begin with. This is made easier by the letters that correspond to the PDF guide being laser etched on to each piece, however take note those of you with bad eyesight or dry eyes like me that even though the letters are of a fairly decent size, you might struggle to pick out the difference between similar letters like C and D for example.

In terms of tools, each guide gives the same recommendation and I followed these to the letter. I got my super glue (with brush application if possible), my rubber mallet, my cotton buds for any excess mopping up and my masking tape for holding glued parts together. And believe me you will need these and some strong glue at that. I found that my super glue was a hit and miss affair with how well it stuck wood together which was infuriating at times. Don’t skimp on the quality of the glue, grab something that is designed to glue industrial girders together and wear latex gloves if you have to. I managed fine over all in the end, but I’m having to avoid being too heavy handed when handling the finished products.

But overall, this was a pretty easy insert to build and it didn’t take me very long at all. Card trays are a cinch to make, usually only consisting of a base and four sides in various different designs. The hardest part was the token case, but even that was pretty straightforward, only requiring some slight care with lining up the back and front panels.

In The Box

In the box, everything fits in nicely with room to spare, not that we’ll ever see any more expansions to this game bar the already included mini expansion. Despite this the separate trays don’t slide around and the lid for the token case stops any unexpected escapees.
But then this insert was never really about space issues unlike some of the other more complex ones, it was primarily to help with the setup and gameplay. Let’s face it who has ever commented that their Le Havre box wasn’t big enough to hold everything?

On The Table

As the insert was so easy to put together, it didn’t need to do a lot to live up to its name and I can take it or leave it with the card trays, they are convenient and remove the need for using bags, but that’s about it. I should note however that sleeves are an issue here depending on which ones you use. I use Mayday Premium sleeves and the trays don’t seem to fit those ones, which is a bit of a pain as it’s forced me to de-sleeve some games as a result. I reckon they would probably work with standard sized, but no guarantee.

The token tray though is the star of the show here. Besides looking great, it takes up very little real estate on the table and yet thanks to the laser etched symbols, you can easily tell which row you’re aiming for when grabbing particular resources and goods. No more bags galore and having to separate out all the tokens, that’s all done for you with this tray.


Despite the coolness of the token tray, I wouldn’t say this was an essential insert. It does a good job and certainly does speed up the setup time, but Le Havre wasn’t one of those games I found to take especially long to setup as opposed to explaining the rules. So I feel if you love the game (and for me it’s a good one in the Euro genre) then this insert is worth getting to make life easier, but if it’s a casual experience, then you can probably live without it – though it is pretty cheap to get compared to the other options.