Apr 30 2016

Pitchcar Transitions

I’m a huge fan of dexterity based games so it likely comes as no surprise that I’m really into the disc racing game, Pitchcar.  This game features finished MDF boards cut to slot car racetrack pieces that you freely assemble into a race course and flick your “race car” disc around, simulating an F1-style race.

Like a lot of high-end dexterity games, Pitchcar is pretty pricey.  I was able to find the sister game, Pitchcar Mini, on clearance and snagged it and a few expansions.  While the mini version is great, especially for little kids, I’d still hoped to find the full-size version available. A year later I was able to find the main game on sale as well and promptly picked it up.

At this point, I had both versions and it seemed a shame to only ever use half the pieces I had so I wanted to make some sort of transition piece to be able to race on both sizes.  I had a few options on how I would approach it but my decision was made for me when Boardgamegeek user flashhawk posted a Pitchcar-to-Pitchcar-mini conversion template.

With some old laminated pressboard in the garage, I printed out the template and got to work.

pitchcar cutout

First thing was I attached the printed sheet to the board with a glue stick and then Dremelled the pattern out.  This was the first time I’d used the Dremel for this kind of work and it was pretty sloppy.  By the end of the piece, I was able to get a handle on it. It will be rough but still serve its purpose.

pitchcar sanding

The Dremel leaves a lot of rough edging so over to the belt sander I go.  This also helped smooth out some of the lines and contours. After things were more or less clean, I went down to test fit.  Of course it was way off but overlapping the correct jigsaw piece and marking the adjustments with a pencil is easy enough.  Back to the sander for some adjustments and back down for another fitting.  I think I had to do this about two more times before everything was where I needed it to be.  Next time I’ll keep the pieces by the sander to limit the back-and-forth trips.

pitchcar fitting

As you can see, it’s not pretty, especially the smaller connection on the right, but it’ll do for a first pass.  The piece still isn’t complete as the thickness of the pressboard is a quarter inch and the Pitchcar tracks are less than that creating a horrible “lip” that will ruin the play experience.  Back to the belt sander again to round out those lips and get rid of the glued paper still stuck to the piece (the white bits you see in the picture).

pitchcar final fit

This completes the piece from the gameplay perspective.  I’ll still need to paint it black and seal it but I’ll wait until I finish up the other side.  I also have some ideas on some other custom options so hopefully more to come!


Apr 24 2016

Showcase: Ponte del Diavolo

I’d been working on a way to pimp out a favorite abstract game, Ponte del Diavolo, on and off for a year or two but a friend of mine was coming back into town in the summer of 2015 so I rushed to finish it up.

original game photo from geoman on boardgamegeek

My goal was to increase the board size to a 12×12 board (which could always drop back down to the regular 10×10 size), have interlocking tiles, and be portable. I found an old travel scrabble set at a thrift store and thought it would be perfect.

I used a dremel to grind down the scrabble logo on the top of the case, and the tile divides I wouldn’t need on the inner board. I then printed some art and titling to fill-in the ugly grind marks.

The Scrabble set doesn’t come with nearly enough tiles so I bought another set on eBay and sanded off the scrabble lettering from each tile. I threw half of them in a bag of minwax stain to get them all in the color I wanted. Finally, I sprayed them down with a poly spray to seal them and went looking for bridge ideas.

I found the perfect size and style bridge on Shapeways by user Freedlun.

I picked up a sample and did some tests, then ordered the rest that I needed. I didn’t want to keep the bare white so I painted them up simply and sealed them.

I didn’t want everything to just rattle around in the storage tray side so I made little custom cardstock trays to hold everything. It was all finished in time and my friend and I had a blast playing through the game again. It was a tight game and he squeaked out a win after a very poor opening.


Apr 17 2016

Printing Resources part 2

In part 1 of my review on print resources I discussed Artscow/Cowcow as a good general printing resource. This time I’m going to talk about a few alternative print options that I’ve used.

First up is Walmart Photo Center. It is really only useful for posters 20×30 or under.  I used this service once to make my Thunder Road boards:

WM poster

close up

close up

It’s one of the cheapest options out there for a 20×30 print (under $20) and quality is definitely good enough to print custom boards on.

Pro:

  • Cheap poster printing

Con:

  • Options are limited to poster prints
  • Poster size limit is 20×30

A friend of mine has been talking a lot recently about Printer’s Studio and so I tried them out on some card and poster options.  Printer’s Studio offers a lot of the same options as Artscow and Cowcow but has some interesting alternative sizes that aren’t available elsewhere.

One of the main uses I see for them is they offer every board and card game card size available for complete custom printing. It is really incredible to be able to print custom cards in any size (Artscow decks are limited to Poker, Circle, or Heart shaped/sized cards). The quality of the cards (300 gsm, 310 gsm, or plastic!) can also be selected as well as the finish (smooth or linen).

Another great aspect is in some card sizes, the minimum print amount is under the standard 54 cards.  Poker sized cards, for instance, can be bought in sets of 18 cards. Card packs can be either shrink-wrapped or in a card tuck box with a clear window.  This box is a bit more useful than the designed box that comes from Artscow.

PS box

Here are some samples of the card printing.

PS good cards

These cards were special POD options for Plaid Hat GamesTail Feathers game (printed with permission from their site).  The card download from the site was set up with proper print specs and Printer’s Studio did very well printing them within the designed specs.  This yielded a very good set of cards that were cropped very well.

PS bad cards1

I tried making my own custom set for small-sized version of Rum & Bones that I’m making and the prints didn’t come out as clean.  It seems the cropping of the single image card back was inconsistent and left some slight white edging on some of the cards (notice the top of the 3rd card from the top and the left side of the 2nd card from the top).  This wouldn’t be so bad if it was the front of the card but technically the inconsistent card backs make the decks “marked.” We aren’t that competitive with games (especially not my homebrewed custom creations) so it won’t be so bad but still slightly disappointing.

It could be user error that created the inconsistency but when I set up the files, the bleed areas were good and so it should have worked out.  Like Artscow, it may take a test print to see how best to set up your cards.  If you know how to create proper print specs, that is likely the ideal set up for this company.

Printer’s Studio also has good poster options as well.

PS hoth poster

close up

close up

I needed a poster size larger than 20×30 that didn’t cost $60+ (like FedEx wanted to charge) and Printer’s Studio has options up to 24×36 for under $20.  The quality of the poster came out great and is a great alternative to Walmart for roughly the same cost (Walmart won’t charge you shipping if you do an in-store pick up so Printer’s Studio’s total will be a little more due to their shipping charge).

Similar to Artscow, Printer’s Studio does offer coupons though they are not as frequent as Artscow nor do they get prices down as low- currently Artscow has one of its typical “4 for $20” sales which get you complete 54 cards for $5 each (shipped). Still, their coupons can be great for the quality and prices you find on their site.

Pro:

  • Best card printing options with every size available
  • Great poster size options
  • Competitive pricing
  • Great quantity/quality options (cards)
  • Cheap shipping

Con:

  • some inconsistency in print cropping
  • layout system not precise and takes some time to get used to

Apr 10 2016

Printing Resources part 1

After searching for a good printer that will do a cheap 24×36 poster for a game board (jury is still out on if I made the best choice), I decided to cover the current printing options I use.

First up is Artscow and Cowcow.  These two companies are very similar and may even be owned by the same parent company.  They are my number 1 printing site.  I only use them when I have a coupon for 20+% off and free shipping otherwise they are just too expensive but when those coupons come around, they create amazing deals on everything from printed cards, gaming mats, canvas boards, or gaming bags.  You can find these coupons by either checking out the “hotdeals” thread on Boardgamegeek or subscribing to Artscow’s newsletter.

I first was introduced to Artscow through their card printing services.  They really only have one option to use standard poker (bridge) sized playing cards but the option is flexible enough to have unique front and back printing for every card.  Custom card purchases come in sets of 54 cards so you will need to use that minimum or risk paying for cards you don’t need.

Using their Silverlight system can be frustrating but having used it for several years now, I like the options you have and rarely get bad results anymore.  The key is to leave yourself enough bleed edge on the cards. I typically make my image size a quarter of an inch bigger than needed all around and that usually works well.  Alternatively, you can reduce the image size in Silverlight to fit the proper printing zone and back fill a color to match your border.  This is riskier since you’re trusting that you background color (usually black or white) will match whatever color options they have since they don’t give you the CMYK or RGB codes.

artscow cards good

In this example, we had plenty of bleed and the cards are cropped pretty uniform across the set.

artscow cards bad

Here, I didn’t leave enough bleed and the printing comes almost out to the edge making for a somewhat sloppy design.  It also emphasizes the inconsistent cutting/cropping that is evident in more card printing manufactures.

I don’t have specs on what core the cards are (grey, blue, purple, etc) but the cards have a general flat/smooth finish and come in a cardstock tuck box that has a general design on it that I typically don’t keep.

artscow card box

Game mats are basically Artscow’s “bar mats” or “plate mats.”  They are a standard mousepad-like mat that has a printed “durable heat-resistant polyester fabric top, backed with a neoprene rubber non-slip backing.”  As expected, the color saturation on these mats aren’t as strong as a standard print and the resolution may be too soft for fine print but it remains a great option for personal player mats or even small game boards.

artscow mat 1

A close up reveals the “softness” of the printing resolution.

artscow mat cu

The process is the same as designing cards in that you likely want more bleed than necessary and if you are familiar with their Silverlight layout for card printing, it will work the same for all of their custom items.

Game coasters are another option for the game-pimper and they work like smaller, thinner versions of their game mats but are still the fabric top with neoprene rubber backing.  I’ve used these as gifts for friends, accents in my gaming room, or even game accessories.

artscow coaster

Canvas options come in a variety of sizes and are a good option for flexible gaming board replacements.  I’ve seen them used for large boards like 20×30 inch standard game boards or smaller square ones like my custom Duke play mat.

artscow canvas

Canvas gives you a durable surface that has a matte finish and is flexible (though I still roll mine and won’t fold them up).  The resolution is better for text print than the neoprene mat options but can still be too soft for very fine text.

Gaming bags are a high-end way to hold your gaming bits but also can be nice options to use for games that require a blind draw mechanic.  Artscow bags come in a few different sizes and offer full printing around the outside of the bag.  I’ve used them for dice, meeples, chits, and cards.

artscow bag 1

If you look at the detail, you can see that the printing quality is pretty strong for the material.

artscow bag cu

Pro:

  • one-stop shopping as they carry almost anything a game-pimper would need to pimp their games
  • cheapest printing options (when using coupons)
  • can print other user’s contributions

Con:

  • printing interface takes getting used to and uses the older MS Silverlight plug-in that isn’t the easiest to get working and may no longer be supported
  • shipping and manufacturing is from China so expect 3-4 weeks or more turnaround time.

Apr 3 2016

Pimping Tokens redux

Back in January, I talked about tinting tokens for a couple of projects and finally had time to finish them up.  When I finished the tokens for my Rum & Bones tokens, they looked a little bland with the bright white sides.

tokens2

Grabbing some different colored permanent sharpies from a hobby store, I was able to dress up the tokens a bit better.

tokensRB3web

tokensRB2web

tokensRB1web

I also am starting to finish up my Assault on Hoth project after finally sourcing a good printer for a 24×36 poster- needed for the game board.  After checking some of my usual print sources, I found Artscow only has canvas in that size, Walmart only goes to 20×30, and FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) wanted over $60.  I went back to Printer Studio who I used for some custom cards for Rum & Bones with mixed results.  We’ll see how the print comes out but I’m hopeful it will do fine.

Having secured that board print, I decided to start finishing up the other components and that starts with finalizing the tokens.  I’d already designed the token images and punched them out but the final images didn’t come out with the resolution I had hoped for and they all look very similar.

token close

To help differentiate them, I decided to tint them to help limit confusion while playing the game.

tokensHoth1web

tokensHoth2web

I’m satisfied that the different shaped tokens and colors (black for the Imperial and red for the Rebellion) will keep the two factions apart but the slight differences between the two units within the factions (light troopers vs heavy troopers) might still be hard to tell apart.  I’ll know better when I put them on the board (when that arrives in a couple of weeks).


Mar 27 2016

Why We Pimp

One of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog was to show off my pimped games and talk about how I created them.  After a while, I started thinking about why we pimp out our games and I found the question compelling enough that I’m starting a new blog series called, simply, “Why We Pimp.” In this series, I’ll focus on a narrow aspect of board game pimping and look at it from the philosophical perspective.

Of course, the biggest question is the general “why?”  Why do it at all?  Board game publishers spend countless hours designing beautiful games and yet we still want more.  Manufacturing for board and table top games has never been higher and the trend now is actually over-producing the value in a game. Take Cool Mini or Not‘s (CMoN) fantasy sports game, Kaosball by Eric Lang.  This is a relatively simple sports game with minis on a game board but CMoN decided really ramp up the production value by creating countless teams, each with their own minis and game bits.

Kaosball looks like your standard minis board game but if we look closer at the components, some peculiar things start showing up. Take the “team” of minis that each player can field.

Boardgamegeek user bumyong’s painted Malltown Zombies team

The team looks like your standard game miniatures except that big bust character.  It actually represents the team’s manager and that’s about it.  A big sculpted piece to sit there off-board and represent the player, for lack of anything else, in a thematic way. Pretty interesting production decision but the game doesn’t stop there.

Boardgamegeek user xcrun55’s picture of the team dice

Again, we have nice production value here.  The game includes these well engraved and painted dice but only that d6 in the foreground is needed.  Or rather, the two d12s in the back aren’t used as dice but instead, they are tokens to help track information on the game board.  Not a bad idea to use a big tactile piece that is easy to see and pick up to track the game state.  CMoN pushes this concept one step further and adds one of these non-dies to each team set in the team’s color.

So we have an example of a publisher pulling out all the stops to provide the user a totally pimped out gaming experience by adding production value that serves almost no mechanical benefit (or at most, redundant benefits).  And yet… we gamers still want more.  As you can see in bumyong’s image, providing beautifully sculpted miniatures is not enough. We need to pimp it further by painting the pieces.

Boardgamegeek user Minis by DJS painted up more Kaosball components

The pieces look amazing painted up but I believe it is not the actual quality or value of the pimped components but rather the user’s want to personalize the game in his collection. The user loves all the extras provided and enjoys the thematic non-functional pieces but wants the experience to become personal.  He or she wants to join in the experience of design and creation and help claim a little piece of the game for themselves.

I don’t believe this is just that the users wanted painted pieces.  Fantasy Flight Games goes out of it’s way to produce possibly the best pre-painted minis since now defunct Rackham gave us AT-43.

Fantasy Flight’s X-wing Force Awakens Core Set

And yet…

Boardgamegeek user Simon Andrews’ amazing repaint of the T-70


Mar 19 2016

Paper Terrain

I really love miniature games.  I love the spectacle, the freedom of gaming choices, the complex strategies, and the unique customizations you can achieve to bring individuality to your game components.  Pimping minis games is so ubiquitous though that I’ve seen it argued that the vast majority of effort in a minis game isn’t pimping at all.  Rather, it is more like a minimum requirement to play the game, much like punching out game tokens are in a board game.  I can see both sides of the argument but I grew up and still consider myself a board gamer first, minis gamer second so anything beyond punching tokens or bagging up components feels like work and if it is work making the game look better or play better, I consider it pimping.

This “work” aspect is my least favorite part of minis games.  I want to play the game so I can figure out what, or even if I’d like to emphasize something when I decide to pimp it out.  I’m not a fan of some of the staple hobby aspects such as modelling and painting. The other issue I have with the genre is storage.  Even if I had the room, storing all the extras that come along with miniature games like terrain, custom boards, modeling and painting tools, and the miniatures themselves can eat up way too much storage real estate.

paper terrain 1

One cheat I have to get my minis games to the table faster is my savior: Paper Terrain.  Paper terrain works for me on so many levels.  It is a cheap option to get decent-looking terrain on the table, it can be made to be collapsible and fold down to a very small space, and finally, it can be infinitely customized in my most preferred method- digital image manipulation.

I first came across paper terrain when I was pimping out my copy of Kwanchai Moriya‘s OGRE re-theme from Steve Jackson GamesKwanchai’s re-theme featured a World War II motif and used buildings to indicate the impassable terrain.  Since I was going all 3D in 6mm scale on the project, I needed 6mm scale buildings.  A lot of 6mm buildings can be found in resin but the costs quickly added up when figuring the amount of buildings I would need.  I was already having a paint quite a few 6mm models and also didn’t relish the idea of painting up a ton of buildings as well.

paper terrain 2

Paper Terrain is pretty popular with World War II games for it’s ease of use and quick production times. I found a great site from Scott Washburn on paper terrain and used his free sample building to outfit the houses I needed for OGRE. Scott has some great items up on that site and I really like the variety of his European building options.

Most of his terrain is 10/15 mm scale so I had to downscale the graphics to make it work for 6 mm.  With paper terrain, scaling is quite simple and just using some basic math to determine the appropriate scale height should help to determine what percentage to reduce the final graphic to. Upscaling can be difficult however, unless the original image had the resolution to increase as the image will quickly become distorted.

Since the images are digital, you can customize any paper terrain in a number of ways.  Photoshop can be used to enhance some of the features or add/remove detail as well as alter the color schemes, giving you more variety from the same model.  If you’re good with geometries, you can also start digitally cutting up the images to create brand new structures.

For my OGRE project, I needed some larger buildings that spanned 2 hexes as well as the central terrain piece: the Command Center.  The expanded house was easy, I simply duplicated the sides again, chopped it down to only one floor and add the second roof.  Each building is a separate piece so I can have them separated if need be.

terrain house

The Command Center was a bit more work.  I started with a few short “box” building shapes using the housing side image to keep things uniform and nondescript.  Then I created a double high, large box building to make the main body of the Command Center.  I finalized the building structure with a tall tower structure to give the building some dynamic presence on the board.

After assembling, I finished out the piece with the top of the “laser canon” mini from the original Fortress America game by Milton Bradley.  Using just one paper terrain image file, I was able to make a variety of building options for my OGRE set quickly and cheaply.

terrain command


Mar 13 2016

Showcase: Thunder Road

So Mad Max: Fury Road came out in the summer of 2015 and a friend was really into the whole mythos and genre. He picked up an old Milton Bradley game, Thunder Road, first published in 1986, and showed it to me.

After playing the game, I immediately got hooked and had to get a copy.  I ended up with a UK version off eBay for not too much considering the movie was pushing the secondary market value through the roof.  My friend had commented about pimping out his copy with additional rules and paint jobs and I couldn’t resist the temptation either. I checked out Boardgamegeek and it pushed me to want to both pimp out my set as well as push the game system farther.

I set out with customizing my teams first:

I tore most of the vehicles apart for painting and incorporated Boardgamegeek user Roolz’s clear plastic rotor for the gyrocopters. I wasn’t a fan of the abstract “gunners” on some of the vehicles so I pillaged some Resistance Fighters minis (10mm) from Dropzone Commander. The War Rig is such a cool concept that I picked up a Thunder Road micro machine and used a file and drill to distress the model and paint it up. I added toothpick spikes to some of the vulnerable areas and grabbed another Dropzone Commander piece to work as the plow/fender.

I really liked BGG user Mathiasrapp’s campaign map idea so I made cards used to determine what board type would come up next. I pillaged the concept straight from his WIP post.

This created a couple of needs right away with new boards and terrain. Using BGG user Soldier’s great large map (without grid), I was able to photoshop two new boards that were similar in concept to BGG user David Miller’s Bridge board.

These boards were made just using a Walmart photo lab to print a large image with both board images on it, cutting them down, and spraying adhesive on them onto art board. Finally, I cut the art boards down to size and they were ready to rock. I was able to do water effects pretty easily but I wasn’t able to create any cliff edges that matched the art style to my satisfaction. I decided to save on creating cliff-side boards by making miniature cliff terrain out of corkboard. I glued layers together and sanded down the shapes I wanted. Lastly, I painted them up to match the color scheme of the boards and glued art from the board on top of the “mesa” to help it blend in.

You might also notice some signs and some oilslick markers in that double board image. The signs and road blocks are 10mm terrain from 4Ground‘s 10mm Sci-Fi range. The Oilslick markers were super easy: squeeze out a blob of black acrylic paint on a plastic painting surface and wait for it to completely dry. Then seal it with a high gloss sealer and they are good to go.

BGG user Soldier had a cool concept going with his advanced rules where you could customize your vehicles before the game. I loved this concept and Soldier was gracious enough to send me the source files from his WIP thread.

I was wanting to keep the rules as simple as possible and keep the standard rectangle grid layout so I modded a few of Soldier’s vehicle concepts to still work within the existing game (closer to David O Miller’s Advanced rules).

This has been, by far, one of my favorite games to pimp and if you like anything you see here I encourage you to click on the links of the other user’s customs and thumb them as my variant would not have been possible without their contributions.


Mar 6 2016

Tuck boxes

One of the first things I ever did to pimp out a game was make tuck boxes for various game card decks.  Sometimes tuck boxes are necessary for a game due to poor insert design or because you’ve expanded a game too much and had to ditch the insert all together. Other times, tuck boxes are a natural pimping addition to help explore more of the theme of the game while keeping things organized.

tuck1

The first tuck box I ever made was for Fantasy Flight’s Fury of Dracula (2nd edition).  This was due to a combination of convenient storage as well as an awkward game design choice where the event card deck made you draw cards from the bottom of the deck because secret information was placed on both the front and back of the cards.  Boardgamegeek user Jupklass had an innovative tuck box solution that featured a flap that folded down within the tuck box to hide the extra information on the back of the cards.

After making that tuck box, I started finding all sorts of games that I wanted to use tuck boxes for.  Boardgamegeek is a great resource to find fan-created ones but I soon wanted to make my own. There are quite a few different tuck box generators on the web but the one I’ve been using for years is an old one set up by Craig Forbes: Tuck box generator.

tuck3

This generator gives you a pdf of your tuck box based on the settings you put in.  I recommend getting your deck put together and measuring it, making sure to give a mm or two for clearance.  If you’re going to sleeve your cards, you’ll want to measure for that instead.

After getting the pdf, I like to run a quick test print on stock copy paper to cut out and mock up to make sure my measurements were correct and that I’m happy with the size.  If the printout passes the mock up test, then it’s time to design your image and print a final copy for actual game use.  Even if you aren’t making a custom tuck box and instead are printing a design from the someone else, I still recommend a quick low-resolution test to make sure you don’t need to manipulate any of the measurements to fit your situation.

For most of my image manipulation and design, I use Illustrator and Photoshop but less complicated designs can get away with other program options.  My versions of Illustrator and Photoshop are old as I got them in college but it makes importing pdf files easy and maintains some options for manipulation.

Damage Deck box

So the above example is a custom tuck box I made for FFG’s Star Wars: X-wing Miniatures game.  Since I’m only making one, I didn’t care about having full black coloring and the amount of ink that might use up but that can be a consideration when designing your own.  Since I’ve played in quite a few tournaments, having a simple storage solution for the game’s damage deck is pretty handy.  As these were going in my custom Millennium Falcon carrying case, I wanted to dress up the box so that it wasn’t just some generic looking after thought.

To create the actual tuck box, I print my boxes on cardstock paper and then, depending on how much I’ll use the game, laminate the printing using self-adhesive laminate sheets that you can find in office supply stores or Amazon.  These sheets provide long-lasting protection to a box that will see serious use, like my tournament damage deck box.

After printing and laminating, I cut the box out with sharp scissors or an X-acto knife (if the box is small enough).  Fold the box together and then glue it to finalize.  I’ve used a variety of glue options from straight white glue (like Elmer’s) to super glue.  If I’m not laminating, a lot of glues may be too “wet” and cause colors to bleed/fade as the glue dries so I’ll switch to a contact cement.  Remember to have plenty of ventilation when using the more exotic glue options.

After the glue dries, you should be ready go and can start using your box to help carry and organize your cards.

tuck2

 


Feb 27 2016

Meeple mania

I first encountered them in Klaus Teuber’s Carcassonne well after the term “meeple” was coined.  These iconic pawn figures have been a mainstay in the board gaming world since their classic design in that equally classic game.

There have been some great histories of the meeple written around the net, including my favorite from Game Inquirer: History: Rise of the Meeple, so I won’t go into detail on the actual story behind the name and creation but it is worth the read.  Instead I’ll focus more on my use of meeples and some of my favorite variations.

I don’t play a lot of games with meeples as I prefer miniatures games a lot more but on the games that got me back to playing meeple games was Wizard of the Coast’s Lords of Waterdeep.  A nice entry to the worker-placement game genre mainly due to it’s tight rules and quick gameplay.  The game features lords of the city of Waterdeep vying for control as they hire different adventurers to complete critical quests.

These adventurers are represented by regular cubes but that wasn’t very thematic so Boardgamegeek user Danny Perello crafted a simple variation on the regular meeples to create iconic adventurer “DnDeeples.”

Perello’s DnDeeples

These variant pawns help to drive home the unique RPG theme Wizards of the Coast put on the game.

I’m a big fan of dexterity games and when Rampage (AKA Terror in Meeple City) came out from Repos Production, I found it a very novel take on what to do with the classic meeple.  In this game of monsters rampaging a city and eating the inhabitants, meeples are used to support the building structures and act as collateral damage as you use dexterity mechanics to destroy everything.

The game even pimps out the meeples by offering art stickers to put on them, helping to define their role and match the stickered monster pawns.  In my version, I didn’t like the “naked” wood monster pawns so I painted them to match closer to the meeples.

Staying with dexterity games, a new game came out in 2015 by Pretzel Games hit the scene: Flick ’em Up.  Flick ’em Up is a cowboy-themed dexterity game that plays a lot like a simplified miniatures game.  In the game, you have teams of cowboys or outlaws that flick around the play area and shoot discs (bullets) at each other to deal damage.

flick em up_blog

They even expand these pawns to include horse pawns in the expansion Stallion Canyon.  The physical nature of the pawns combined with abstracted cowboy shape makes for a very fun, light flicking game.

In a juxtaposition of form, I’ve been working on what I call a “travel” version of Cool Mini or Not’s crazy blinged out game Rum & Bones. In Rum & Bones, CMON has introduced the board game industry to MOBA-style video game mechanics in which hordes of minion characters race toward the enemy in a simple AI-fashion while major heroes try to turn the tide of battle in your favor.  Typical of CMON productions, this game features a ton of highly detailed miniatures, great art, and quality card, token, and gameboard components.  Playing the game can take up a ton of room and I almost find myself overwhelmed by all the over-the-top production.

With that in mind, I was looking at simplifying the production down a bit and went with some nice pirate meeples I found from Minion Games’ Dead Men Tell No Tales board game.  I contacted Minion Games and they were great, selling me a set of their meeples for this pimp project of mine.

pirates_blog

There are a few other iconic components that Rum & Bones needed: the Kraken and Sea Monster.  I didn’t want to stick with just the card versions that the game offered so I made my own meeple-esque pawns.  The first one is based on the sea monster in Survive: Escape from Atlantis.

serpent_blog

The last one, the mighty Kraken, I drew using Adobe Illustrator and based it off the great Games Workshop Dwarf mechanical Kraken miniature from Dreadfleet.  I printed out both images of the Sea Monster (also made in Illustrator) and the Kraken, cut them out and traced them on the wood block I’d cut them from.  I set up my scroll saw and cut the outlines out, sanded them smooth, and painted them up.

kraken_blog

I’d like to make more of these types of stylized meeples but hand-cutting them on a scroll saw isn’t really efficient.  A laser cutter would be the best option but I’ll have to wait until they come down in price a bit more.