A Defense of Keeping Punchout Skeletons

Punchout Skeletons from the game Sidekick Saga

What do you do with the punchout skeletons from your board games?  A punchout skeleton is the leftover cardboard outline (see above) not used in the game.

“I throw them away.  Why are we still talking about this?”

Most people throw them away.  I don’t.

You Keep The Punchout Skeletons?

This particular post is motivated by a few things.   The first motive is a story by my friend’s father.

Punchout skeletons for Nemo Rising

According to my friends Alison and Charlie: every time their Dad opens a new game, he punches it out.  He then looks at the punchout skeletons, laughs to himself and says “Oh Richie”. Then he just throws the punchout skeletons away!!!

I am Richie:  Yes, to be clear, Alison and Charlie’s Dad is laughing at me.  Because I keep the Skeleton Punchouts.

So I offer a four pronged defense of why I keep the skeletons.

Reason 1: You might need something you didn’t punch out!

New tray (2)
Plastic Insert for Sidekick Saga

This reason was motivated by a conversation I recently had with my manufacturer.  My manufacturer was trying to fit all the pieces of Sidekick Saga into a plastic insert/tray.   (see above) They asked:

“Do you need the blank tokens to fit in the tray as well?”


YES!  Absolutely!  Sidekick Saga has a “Build-Your-Own-SuperHero” mechanic where you need some SOI tokens (blank square tokens on right) and Character Standees (bottom-most blank tokens).  Players can draw, print, glue or whatever works on these blank tokens.


I have been chatting with the manufacturer for months, and they know the game really well.   But it didn’t register until they asked about them.

If you threw away the skeletons, you might have also thrown away the blank tokens …

Keeping the skeletons keeps you in the mindset of keeping all components (and not accidentally throwing anything away).

Reason 2: Double-Check for Components

Nemo Rising: A newish cooperative game

I was recently unboxing and setting up a relatively new cooperative game called Nemo Rising. (This is a cooperative games blog after all).  During set-up, a question came up about the components.

Components List from Nemo

I felt like I was missing something!! (This Rulebook could have used a picture of components …)

Punchout skeletons for Nemo Rising

So, I went back and double-checked what I punched-out versus what was in the Components List.  It turns out a few  tokens were “hidden” somewhere on the table, but matching the punchouts skeletons to the components allowed me to “double-check” the component list with the actual components.

A side-effect of the “Double-Check” rationale is you can ALWAYS see if you have all the components of your game!!  Have you lost any components?  Did you buy a used game and want to verify the components?  If the punchout skeletons are included with the game, you can double-check the components!

Reason 3: Keep Rulebooks Flat

Box for Battle for Greyport

I reviewed Battle for Greyport some time ago.   It’s a smallish box with a lot of components.  But the Rulebook lays awkwardly in the box.

Rulebook hangs weirdly in the box!

If you look closely, you’ll see the rulebook is “kinda” supported by a few deck dividers.  And there’s a lot of empty space on the bottom left of the box, so the rulebook “droops” in that part of the box.  If only there was a way to keep the Rulebook flat!!!!!

Punchout skeletons to the rescue!

The punchout skeletons can support the Rulebook (like a rulebook bra?) so that the Rulebook stays flat (in the box) and doesn’t bend weirdly.

This, to me, is the best reason to keep punchout skeletons: I like to keep my games in good shape, and keeping the Rulebook flat keeps it in good shape!!  (One of my pet peeves are Rulebooks that don’t lay flat!!   It’s hard to learn a game if you can’t put the Rulebook down FLAT on the table!! )


A related benefit (if you have multiple punchout skeletons)  is that you can separate content.  For example, the Kickstarter version of Battle for Greyport came with content for The Red Dragon Inn (see above).    I can keep that content sandwiched between the skeletons to keep it separate from the main game.

Reason 4: Completionist

Punchout Board for Detective: City of Angels

At the end of the day, I like to have everything that came with the board game.  I am a completionist.

If I need to ever sell a game, I can honestly say I am giving a buyer everything that came with the game!  I can show a buyer that I have all the pieces (because I can double-check components).  I can show a buyer that I care enough about my games to keep everything in good shape!  This gives a buyer confidence that my games are in good shape.

In Detective: City of Angels, it makes sense to keep the punchout skeleton because the game actually encourages you to put the people tokens BACK IN THE PUNCHOUT!! It shows  that you have a complete set of people!!!  Detective: City of Angels is a game that I could easily see selling because it has a limited number of cases: you can only play it so many times.   Keeping the punchout skeletons keeps the game together and complete so I could sell it more easily.

Reason 5: Pack the Game for Transport!

EDIT: This section is new as of April 4th, 2020.  In my organizing Sidekick Saga (from Reason 1), I noticed that keeping the Punchout Skeletons help keep the game together when it gets moved around.  The game was made to “fit” in the box when everything is new, so the game is pretty packed when you first open it: the game is “made” to be packed tightly.  If you get rid of the Punchout Skeletons, then the cards tend to be more free form: if you turn the box at weird angles (shipping, putting in your car, taking the game out of a box, etc), the cards can tend to “flow around” and leave their spaces.

When packling back up, this is how I store the standees: I don't want to keep taking the plastic bases off, so this is way to store them so that the bases stay on (on two empties too!)
Note the air … if we don’t pack the box, the cards will tend to wander!

Not so if you include all the Punchout Skeletons!!   With the Punchout Skeletons, everything fits “snug” in the box, and the cards won’t wander!  The Punchout Skeletons HOLD THE CARDS DOWN!

Packed tight!  Components won’t wander …. The Punchout Skeleton HOLD THE CARDS DOWN!

Of course, this depends on the game itself and how it uses space, but it’s been my experience that if you keep the Punchout Skeletons, you can keep it “packed tight” and avoid wandering cards.


Using punchout skeletons to separate content

At the end of the day, I realize it does seem a little crazy to keep the punchboard skeletons.   I think Alison and Charlie’s Dad thinks I am especially crazy.  I hope I have convinced you that there are good reasons to keep your punchout skeletons. No?

Well, If you don’t want your punchout skeletons, can I have them?


3 thoughts on “A Defense of Keeping Punchout Skeletons

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