How To Store ASL Counters

I started with the classic, Tactics II, around 1965 and moved on to Blitzkrieg, Stalingrad, Afrika Korps, etc. Storage was accomplished by just dumping the pieces back in the box. I never liked those plastic trays with flimsy plastic tops that came with the old SPI games and I think are still sold by Multi-Man as a component part. It was usually impossible to get the lid sealed without messing with the pieces in the compartments, and counters were always migrating to other spaces. So when Squad Leader came out, I tried something different.

I stored my original Squad Leader counters in a 24 drawer parts cabinet. Seemed to work fairly well, but had four problems:

  1. The labels kept drying out and falling off.
  2. It was awkward to get at the counters when sitting at a game.
  3. There were too many counters in each drawer.
  4. A hard jostle of the cabinet, or a wind when carrying the cabinet into another venue, caused counters to come out of the drawers. Most often I found them in another drawer or in the cabinet space behind the drawers - sometimes not at all.
So, being a true American, I bought a bigger cabinet with dividers. 36 drawers with two dividers each gave me 108 compartments. Not bad, but still had the same problems.

I'd see other methods at tournaments and was amazed at the ingenuity, such as: homemade wooden compartmentalized boxes, the use of medicinal pill boxes with the "Sunday" thru "Saturday" labels covered over with labels and the boxes velcroed onto the sides of larger storage boxes. All were either beyond my capability to build, or just seemed too makeshift. The worst method I ever saw, though fairly secure, was a guy with a large garbage bag with ALL his counters tossed in.

Then I discovered Plano products. The small hard plastic boxes with 18 compartments seemed a good way to carry a "travel team" to friend's homes and store the relatively few counters from other games. I still have game counters stored in those old boxes, such as those from Devil's Den.

The advent of ASL changed everything again. Larger Plano boxes became available with dividers to allow custom spaces. They were about 2" deep, but sealed well. When the ASL expansion games started sprouting up, with the number of counter types, I ran out of space for all those large boxes. That's when Plano came out with the 3701's, or at least that's when I discovered them.

The standard arrangement for counters in each Plano 3701 as shown on the sheet stored in the box.

I put one nationality in each one so it's simple during, and especially after, a game to keep things straight. That ends up with about 10 or so boxes just for infantry, guns, support weapons, etc. Each box is organized identically (with a couple exceptions) so finding and storing is simple in the extreme. I suggest you order the boxes directly from Plano . I think they come 6 to a carton. I only stick one label on each box (because they dry out and fall off) and that's on the side so I know which nationality is where on the shelf. I printed out an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet that goes inside each box. When the lid is opened I put the sheet in the opened cover for reference, but after a few games it becomes second nature anyway.

The German Plano 3701 open and ready for use.

The problem was solved... except for the storage of roughly twelve million types of AFV's. It was such a PITA to search through the vehicle compartments for the specified counters that I saw myself preferring infantry only scenarios.

Then, one year at Oktoberfest, I saw some of the Hozan boxes that a guy used for carting his counters up from Australia to Cleveland. (I remember his name was Aaron, but the last name escapes me.) He said he'd found them in Tokyo during a business trip from down under. After trading some e-mails with Aaron, I got the name and style specs of the boxes and found the boxes were imported by IKAS in California. (I believe they have the exclusive rights for US sales.) They're a bit pricey at around $25 each, but I've never regretted the decision.

The German vehicle Hozan storage box with all four trays stored.

IKAS'sales people were helpful and reliable and shipped me eight of the B40-GG models (each come with 60 dividers) with all the extra dividers I needed. A maximum division of compartments requires 120 dividers, and I purchased four packs per box (dividers come 15 to a pack, Part No. B-327). No migration of counters, durable, substantially air tight. You would almost think the Hozan boxes were made with storage of ASL vehicle counters in mind. (They were, in fact, designed for the storage of small electrical components.) Incredibly well designed, each box is seperated into 4 removable trays with 36 compartments each. The result is 144 separate compartments which fit 5/8" counters and leave room for your fingers to get the pieces out.

NOTE: IKAS is discontinuing the B40-GG model, however they are available as supply lasts: Single Stack Double Stack. They are being replaced by the B50 model.

One box is about 10" x 8" x 1-1/2" and has one label on the side like the Plano boxes. They come with labels that can be attached to a small angle built into each divider, but that was way too much work. I just stored the vehicle counters by nationality in the order presented in the ASLRB vehicle listings. With the exception of the British vehicles, you can store two or three nationalities in each box. One Hozan box is used just for informational counters with the most commonly used ones in the top trays. If you go with Hozan boxes, be sure to order extra dividers as each box only comes with about ten.

The Russian and US Hozan vehicle box with the two top trays removed. Notice the Russian vehicles are stored on top because they are used more often than American vehicles. All four trays are removable and seal so well when in the case that movement of counters from one space to another is impossible.

I'll never change the system again. Not only does it solve all storage and location problems, but at my age (58) I'm not interested in starting over with 18,000+ counters effectively stored. Been using this system for ten years and haven't lost a single piece. Game play is a breeze and beats the heck out of my opponent's "single bag system" at the ASL Open in Chicago - it took longer to set up the game than to play it!

© 2008, Gary Torrenga