Sep 25 2016

Big Doins

No, not “doyns,” “do-INZ.”  Big stuff is brewing.  I teased this photo back when I was exploring The Cave:

Xwing_giant

And now it’s time get started on this project.  I’ve talked about Big Pimpin’ before and even made my own giant-sized Sails of Glory but now it’s time to giant growth a game I’ve wanted to since I first saw WizKids do it to Star Trek Attack Wing, it’s time to super-size Fantasy Flight’s X-wing Miniatures Game.

As you can see, this super-sizing is going to increase all the components by a pretty big margin.  Running my calculations, the size difference between the two models is about 50x. 50x yields a giant base size of 10.85″ x 10.85″. I didn’t really want to deal with a bunch fractional inches in my construction so I rounded up the bases to 11″ square which brings the enlargement factor to the nice round 51.366x.  I’m sure that won’t get me into trouble later…

To get started on the base, I grabbed a 4 foot 12×1 board and cut it down to 11″ square base boards.

xwing-stand-cutting

Table saws are great for this type of work but make sure you use all the necessary precautions. It will be hard to finish the project if you no longer have all your digits or limbs.

xwing-stand-base

The excess wood scraps of cutting the 12″ side down to 11″ made for perfect base “rails” that will keep the X-wing ship token in place on the base.

xwing-stand-rails

Walmart had cheap brooms for $1.59 each and these will make the post stand that holds the ship model.

xwing-stand-broom

First thing is to hack the broom bristle part off.  These are at an angle which are great for broomin’ but not so much for making a straight pole.

xwing-stand-pole

These are now cut approximately straight and I’ll likely need to cut these down further but the main reason I grabbed cheap brooms was for the screw-in handles so I could disassemble the pieces later (storage space will definitely be an issue with this project).

I grabbed some scrap wood to make a support piece that will go over the pole center to help keep it straight.  After I had all the wood pieces cut, I tested all the fitting to make sure the concept was coming together.

xwing-stand-setup

Before assembling, I made some markings on the base to make sure I knew where the center point was. Then it was time to glue.

xwing-stand-glue

That’s all the time I had for this project this week.  It’s a good start but with the weather starting to turn, I’ll need to move quickly to finish this project up before the end of the year.

To compound issues, I also found this great clearance piece at Target:

globe-web

It’s a metal 10″ globe which is perfect for another project I’ve had my eye on for a long time.  The little black and red pieces are from Dropzone Commander just to test if the metal globe was ferrous enough to handle magnetic pieces.  I’m really excited about this soon to be announced project as well.


Sep 18 2016

Showcase: Ventura

Ventura was one of those games that Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) brought over from its Italian publishing partner, Stratelibri, but never ended up taking off much in North America.  I found the game at Gen Con in 2011 when FFG was hyping up the release.  For whatever reason, our group actually enjoyed the theme and mechanics so I eventually picked it up.

image from Fantasay Flight Games

image from Fantasy Flight Games

While we found the game fun and engaging, there were some nagging production issues that, for practical reasons, I wanted to fix.

The first issue was the player mat.  Maybe to save on translation costs, the game labeled the phase headings on the player mat with “A,” “B,” etc.  The rule book had the same designations but also the actual phase’s name (Ventura, Administration, etc).

image from BGG user

image from BGG user “Siromist”

However, when looking at the actual cards, the game kept the name of the headings without the “A,” “B,” designations so more often than not, players would have to stop the game and try to figure out in what phase they could play a card.

ventura_mat

My first pimp of this game was to correct this issue.  I copied the mats and photoshopped the phase names back into the phase banners. This way, a player’s mat would match their card and they wouldn’t be confused on when they could use it.

The second issue came up with the figure pawns.  They are actually pretty great player pieces and really help evoke this old war style “meeting of the generals” feeling.

image from BGG user

image from BGG user “Toynan”

In practice, however, the pawns raised number is lost when actually on the board and it was hard to figure which army was which during the game.

ventura_close_red

This was a pretty easy to fix though.  I slapped on some acrylic paint sloppily and then used an X-acto knife (carefully) to scrape off the excess paint.  Some clean up and then a quick seal finished off the pawns.

ventura_close_black

That was really all the game needed to be comfortably functional.  It could have still played well as-is straight from the box, but we liked the game well enough to make it easier on everyone.

While I was pimping out the components, I decided to add a few other little tweaks like printing out flags for each of the faction banners.

ventura_banners

And created reference cards for each faction’s optional power.

ventura_cards

Overall, I was happy with how this game turned out and really like how it looks on the table top.

ventura_wide


Sep 12 2016

If You’ve Only Got a Moustache

I’ve been exploring more of Flick ’em Up! from Pretzel Games recently and wanted to add a little flair to those great little cowboy minis.  According to Stephen Foster (or Seth MacFarlane), what these fine gents need is a mustache.  This seemed pretty simple so I sketched out some concepts to see if it would work out.

flickdraft

With that done, I went into Illustrator and drew versions up and tested the sizes.

flickshadow

this was actually quite tricky to photograph- even with an extra set of hands.

After some final size tweaks and additional color options, I printed out the set on a 4″x6″ mailing label.

flickprint

I then used an X-acto knife to cut out some tests (always go slow and light to make sure you don’t injure yourself).  The blonds really didn’t work on the natural wood but will likely do well on the black stained meeples.  The old-man grey worked well for the black ones in my first test.

flicktest1

And my favorite mustache (I’ve been calling “the Russell”) worked great on the natural meeples.

flicktest2

One issue that came up was the tearing of the label paper even with a sharp blade. This seems inevitable which results in the white under layer coming through around the edges.  I think there are a couple ways around this that I might try out in the future but I am happy with the results so far.

flickfinal2a

flickfinal1

Since these label stickers are pretty non-permanent (even the labels that say “permanent”), I will likely have to explore some other options.  I think the best permanent way to go (without resorting to risky freehand work) is to print on custom modelling decals and affix them to the meeples that way.  The print would come out sharp and there would be none of the “whiting” that happens around the edge.


Aug 28 2016

Exploring The Cave options

Recently, our group tried out The Cave, a 2012 game from Polish designer Adam Kałuża.

image from user MacTele on BoardGameGeek

image from user MacTele on BoardGameGeek

It’s a nice game of cave exploration and has received some positive press by both Rahdo and Shut Up and Sit Down. While playing the game, however, we noticed that it has a mechanic for descending deeper into the cave.  The descent tile is marked with a yellow token to indicate the new depth but can be a little confusing to new players, both in how to determine the depth and where the depth changes are.  The tile graphics for the depth changes aren’t very strong as the artists went for realism over function and the tiles tend to blend together.

We were discussing ways around this issue and inevitably, it led to pimping.  I had some excess foam core laying around so I decided to try out some options to build a system to represent the 3D depth changes.

To save some foam core, I first made a box for the large starting tile.

cave_box

Then I took the foam core and cut it into strips.

cav_foam_strips

note: I wouldn’t normally use USPS boxes for a cutting board but this one had water damage and I couldn’t use it to mail anything.

I cut the strips into squares to prop up each tile to create the illusion of depth.

cave_square_cuts

Always be careful cutting any material. Take is slow and easy.

After I had a few squares, I tested the set up to see if they were stable enough.

cave_foam_test1

Satisfied that they would be stable and not too fiddly, I cut the rest of the strips up to build the first proof of concept.

cave_foam_rd1

depending on how I execute the depth option, I may need about 4 times more squares…

With this system, there are two different general ways to accomplish the 3D depth changes, reverse the “depth” by having the tiles start flat on the table and instead of descending each time a depth-change tile is drawn, elevate it to show the change.

cave_upward_test2

The other option is to start the tiles at the highest level and shorten the levels for the descending depth changes.

cave_downward

Obviously, the second option is more thematic but will require a lot more tiles to create the effect.  It also has the limitation that the depth can only go down four times unless you want all the tiles to start higher.  I did try an option of descending only one foam core level at a time instead of two but the changes were too slight to show the depth change differences.

The first option (upward “descent”) is the most efficient and doesn’t have the issue of limiting how many depth changes you can illustrate.  It doesn’t look as thematic but does achieve the goal of making the depth changes obvious.  In the end, I will just cut up as many squares as possible and we’ll have to use differing methods depending on how many players are in the game (because you use more tiles the more players you have).

To finish up, I’ll have to cut up a few more boards of foam core and then glue them into double-layer stacks to make it easier to use.  I will want to run some final tests to see what the minimum tile amount will be as I might need to get some more foam core. And then there is the question of how to store it all…

While looking for my foam core, I stumbled upon the beginning of another project that I had to shelve temporarily.

Xwing_giant

More to come!


Aug 21 2016

New Dropzone Commander: Reconquest Phase 2

The latest Dropzone Commander book, Reconquest Phase 2, came out a couple weeks back and I was able to get my copy the other night.  In celebration, a group of friends threw down a four player, 1000 pt army mash up.  Brian hosted and put together the scenario “Survey and Control.”

dzc_survey_wide

Survey and Control ready for action

dzc_brianucm

Brian’s great looking UCM

dzc_lifthawks

Lifthawks fly into action

dzc_survey_battle

The battle heats up surrounding the big red tower.

We were rusty so we weren’t able to complete the full game but it was looking really tight so it would have been interesting to see how the final rounds would play out.  Not many new units were on the board since we’re still assembling and painting but I was able to throw in my newest additions to my Resistance family.

dzc_krakenclosed

my grey Kraken

dzc_krakenbus

The Battle Buses are not that new as I’ve featured them in my Gen Con prep posts but the Kraken transport is a new one and this game marked the first time I was able to put the full unit into action.  It was a little slow for the large 6′ x 4′ map and I used the infantry inside for intel gathering but it was nice to see how I should field them.

One interesting thing that came out of last night’s game was Brian’s recommendation to have the rulebooks cut and spiral bound.  After flipping back and forth through the (now) three different rulebooks, having them spiral bound and able to lay flat made a lot of sense.  Today I decided to try it out and had FedEx Office cut the binding.  I was about to just have them separately bind each book but then I started to think about some alternatives.

dzc_cutpages

I thought I could just have all three bound into one massive book but the size seemed too unwieldy.  Then I hit upon the idea that I should split the pages into two books, one with all the rules and units, and the other one with all the fluff and story. I couldn’t burn an hour at the FedEx Office store assembling my books so I took them home and started working from there. In the process, I started to realize that I could also rearrange the contents a bit to help organize things better.  It would have been easiest to just rip the fluff out and then put the book information together and call it done but it wasn’t that much more work to actually pull all the relevant sections together from each book and keep them together as coherent chapters.

dzc_bookclosed

dzc_bookopen

This turned out very well as I now have all the rules across all three books in the same place, all the scenarios in one section, all the units, etc.  This makes the material a lot easier to find.  The indices and contents were of minimal value in the original books (sad when publishers don’t realize the value of strong indices) so that was no major loss and the organization here is much easier anyway.  I’ll still likely add tabs to call out the important divisions or frequently referenced rules but for now, this was a great little rulebook pimp.

Flick em Up!

All this binding reminded me that I wanted to do something with Flick em Up! as well.  This great dexterity game comes with a rule book and scenario book and has 2 expansions, each with their own rules/scenario book.  The books are multi-lingual (containing multiple languages in one single document) which makes them quite thick.

feu_thick

Since space is a premium in the game box, I decided to rip out the other languages in the document and have them rebound to only contain the English content.  This made the final manuals about a third the size of the originals.  The spiral binding hampers the size reduction but I’m sure I can position the manuals so that the spiral is on a side that has room for it.  The reduction of the bulk of the middle area of manual is the real gain.

feu_thin

Most game manuals I have don’t need this kind of treatment as most game manuals are Saddle Stitched and will lie flat as needed.  Miniature game manuals are usually too large/thick for that binding technique so the next option is Perfect Binding which groups the pages into sections, uses an adhesive to keep them together, and then wraps it all with a thicker/heavier print around the content as a cover.  It’s a strong binding option but the manuals won’t lay flat, making it annoying to keep references open.  Flick em Up has this style as well, likely because the higher page count due to the multi-lingual approach.

Since the option for the consumer to cut and spiral bind these manual is cheap and easy (assuming you have access to a print shop), I don’t see a reason to not do this for most games that have Perfect Binding manuals. Also, if interested, you can learn more about different binding options from this great UK binding site: Student Bookbinding

I’ll leave you with my next fun little painting job, my Resistance “Prime.”

dzc_inspirado

wip – inspiration

dzc_rollout

wip- Prime is coming together

Roll out!


Aug 14 2016

Showcase: Rum & Bones

Rum & Bones was an unexpectedly good game that came out in 2015 from CMON (previously Cool Mini or Not). When I first saw the game, it didn’t seem like it would work but after playing it, Rum & Bones turned out to be quite fun.

RB_original

original Rum & Bones laid out on my table

As we’ve come to expect from Cool Mini or Not, the components for Rum & Bones are of some of the highest quality in board gaming today.  For a game pimper, there isn’t much one would need to do to pimp this game out besides painting the minis and making some upgrades to some of the cardboard tokens.

GMM Studios Gen Con 2015 display for Rum & Bones

The guys at GMM Studios, a professional painting studio, proved me wrong by making an amazing custom Rum & Bones display for Gen Con 2015.  It is a full 1:1 scale 3D “board” for the game.  The amount of detail and time they put into this playable display is amazing and you can read about it’s creation as well as see a ton more pictures in their announcement article.  It is simply fantastic.

I did not have any intention of pimping out Rum & Bones and after seeing GMM Studios work, I knew the pinnacle to pimping this game had been achieved. However, I have a friend who runs a great cocktail blog, Cocktail Hacker, and he received this great whiskey sample from Blade and Bow that included a split barrel case.

image from Adventures in Whiskey

image from Adventures in Whiskey

My friend didn’t have a use for the case after he was done so he gave it to me to do something with.  I kicked around a few ideas and then thought it would be a really fun case for Rum & Bones. As you can see though, that case is really small so it would likely only hold some of the tokens at best.  I didn’t want to use this great case as a simple bits bucket so I started thinking about how I might have it hold the entire game. Soon the entire project started to take shape.

I knew I had to shrink the whole game and that would mean redoing everything from the ground up.  Miniatures would be out as well to save space.

RB_barrel2

As this has been a work-in-progress for quite some time, I’ve already talked about creating some of the components like the smaller tokens here.

tokens1

And while I wasn’t going to do miniatures, I didn’t want the game to be completely devoid of representative pieces so I pillaged some meeples from other games and created some new ones of my own, which I talk about in more depth here.

pirates_blog

I took images of the board and cards, shrunk them down, and used Print-On-Demand services like Artscow and Printerstudio.  I sourced some cubes to represent the normal crew, damage tokens, and bosuns. Finally, I found some great screw-locking containers to hold everything in.

RB_inside2

The barrel itself was an actual whiskey barrel so it had all the char on the inside still.  I sanded that out with steel wool, did some final cleaning, and then sealed the whole thing with a lot of acrylic gloss sealer.

RB_fullview

As you can see, the game now takes up substantially less room on the table.

RB_cards

The pirate meeples from Minion’s Games Dead Men Tell No Tales work great and I picked up a set of Rum & Bones own pimped out metal coins for more flavor.

RB_gameview

All in all, this was a very fun project as I took a game already steeped in baroque decadence and miniaturized it to fit in a stylish yet awkward container without killing a lot of the overall charm and functionality that the original game is known for.

RB_kraken3


Aug 11 2016

Gen Con 2016, Part 4

click here to see part 1 of this series.

click here to see part 2 of this series.

click here to see part 3 of this series.


00_pika

Sunday was the last official day of Gen Con 2016 and I’m always a little lost on what to do.  The Dealer Hall is a good option to find last minute deals or get in that last demo of a game you’ve been eyeing.  This year, I was trying something a little different- I was running a few events.

I’ve run events in the past and swore I’d never do it again but those events were a huge chunk of time and very taxing.  The events I had planned this year were just an hour each and playing some of the games I enjoy most.

loopin chewie logo final 2016 copy

First up was a Loopin’ Chewie Tournament.  I had some ideas on how to run one based on how A Gathering of Friends runs their Loopin’ Louie tournament so I was ready to go with 7 sets of Loopin’ Chewie and some fun prizes.  Unfortunately, only 4 people showed up.

04_Chewie_tourney

the few, the proud

We still had a bit of fun putting the players through a gauntlet of various play styles and much to my surprise, our youngest competitor came away with the most wins and the Golden Paddle award.

04_Chewie_winner

judge me by my size, do you?

We had set up the tables early and I had a lot of people checking out the game and quite a few families stop by to try it out.  We also left a few games up while we tore everything else down.  More families joined in and played a few games.  Even though the overall turnout for the event was small, there was a bit of interest in the game and so I’m confident next year will have more people.

04_Thunder2

Next up was my pimped out Thunder Road.  We had 3 out of 4 players show up so this event was a little better attended than my tournament.  The guys enjoyed the game and my road variants and so it was definitely worth running.

04_Thunder1

The location the Con gave me was perfect as it was situated down one of the main event hall walkways.  I had quite a few other attendees stopping to talk about the game and the nostalgic memories it brought back as well as gawk at my pimped out components.

After my events were done, I dropped off my stuff at the hotel and came back to the convention center to finish out the rest of the dwindling hours, checking out things I missed earlier.

02_riverdragons

River Dragons was a cool simultaneous action game where players are trying to get their pawns across the map via river planks that you set out during the game.  The publisher only had the Giant version pictured above available to buy but I’ll definitely check the regular version out when it is reprinted.

02_Walkingdead

Mantic Games had their retail copy of The Walking Dead: All Out War miniatures game available for demo. The bits look great and I can’t wait to get my full Kickstarter copy.

02_WH40k

Earlier in the Con, there were some pretty epic set ups including this massive Warhammer 40k battle.

01_ships

Or this great looking Age of Sail homebrew game.

01_WM

 Privateer Press always has some of the most amazing board set ups for their demos and tournaments.

03_cosplayWolv

00_cosplaysent

While not known for its cosplay, Gen Con still caters to that crowd to good effect.

Marike Reimer, Best in Show

Greeting the Sunrise, Marike Reimer

Marike Reimer had a submission that won Best in Show in the 2016 Painting Competition. There is some amazing freehand work on that model.

01_firestorm

Homebrew add-ons like this massive Space Station for Firestorm Armada are all over the Con event hall. It’s great to see just how many players love to go to extremes to create immersive environments for the games they love.  The essence of pimping games.

Gen Con wrapped up with a trip to the airport and a last relaxing meal before the flight.  I got home and unpacked and found that I actually had a pretty good swag haul.

05_swag

I was able to pick up the Flick em Up expansion and some new Wave 9 X-wing ships. I was able to grab some Mantic Walking Dead promo zombie figures and some Event exclusive Dropzone Commander packs.  Then there was the annual Gen Con die and some Catacombs and Stellar Conflict promos.  My Duke tournament “medallion” (Flava Flav style), some CMON exclusives and some fire/smoke tokens from Broken Token round out the goodies.

All-in-all a great convention and I can’t wait to see what happens next year.


Aug 10 2016

Gen Con 2016, Part 3

click here to see part 1 of this series.

click here to see part 2 of this series.

My first event on Gen Con 2016’s Friday was a fun little Liar’s Dice Tournament. It was fun but I forgot how quick your luck can swing in those games and Reese and I failed the first round.  Back to the dealer hall we went but then I had to ditch early to go find a run-through of Portal‘s new game Cry Havoc.

02_cryhavoc

I really wanted to like this game but it just felt too similar to other “dudes on a map” games. The combat was interesting and unique but it wasn’t enough to make me think I ever needed to own this over something like Blood Rage.

We decided to try a different type of event this year so all three of us signed up for the Catacombs Walking Tour.  It was interesting but ultimately, the “catacomb” was basically a basement in the bottom of an old city market.

02_catacombtour

seriously

I ditched my next event (a Crokinole tournament) and Reese and I headed back to the Yard House.  Great food and awesome beer selection.  Dragon’s Milk from New Holland has been my poison of choice lately but I have to be careful as it will kick me on my ass.

After dinner, I ran over to catch the Shut Up and Sit Down Live Podcast event.

02_SUSD

It was standing room only and I was in the very back corner but in typical SU&SD fashion, they ran a great and entertaining show. They brought in their resident “miniatures” expert who has been reviewing minis games on their site and we learned a bit more about him and some of the games he was reviewing at the Con.  The cast was a lot of fun and had some interesting audience participation but as they opened it up for questions, I had to take off to meet up with Colton and Reese for the BGG hot games library.

This year Boardgamegeek hosted their first ever BGG hot games library at Gen Con.  I’ve been to BGG Con and their library is impressive during that Con so I was excited to see what this would be like.

It did not disappoint.  The first thing was a sign that said “Time slots sold out – no generics.” As we planned ahead, this was perfect news.  It meant they were policing the room effectively and we should be able to get a table and game.  We were greeted with just such a situation and we grabbed Imhotep for no other reason than it being a Spiel des Jahres nominee and I figured it’d be light to learn.

In typical BGG hospitableness, a guy came over and asked if we knew how to play or if we wanted him to teach us.  We were honored and playing in a quick 10 minutes.

02_imhotep

The guys next to us dropped Ice Cool, a penguin racing dexterity game and since we all finished up at about the same time, we shifted over and learned how to play that one as well.  It was cute and really popular at the show but it wasn’t really my kind of dexterity game.  Maybe for the kids eventually. It did sell out at the show though so it definitely found its audience.

02_icecool

Ice Cool ran us to time so we went back to the hotel for some sleep.


Saturday was my busiest “scheduling” day as I was booked from 10am to midnight with no breaks.  This is only the way it looks on paper.  Events rarely stick to the scheduled stop times so Saturday ended up being pretty relaxed.

I started with an event I’ve been meaning to try that is hosted by the venerable NoVaG (Northern Virginia Gamers) group: Formula Waaugh!

my Ork racer, BlitzKrug, ready to kill it

my Ork racer, BlitzKrug, ready to kill it

Formula Waaugh! is a custom racing game using a lot of the rules of Warhammer 40k to create fun and mayhem.  The host was great and basically ran the race pretty open by telling us we could try to do anything we wanted and he’d adjudicate.  This is perfect for this kind of open, crazy, no-holds-barred bloodfest.

03_waa_02

Formula Waaugh! race layout

The race had a lot of craziness with some racers immediately turning around to joust with the players behind them and try to run the course backwards while others decided to cut the race size down and drive straight into the crowds.  During the rounds, other events would happen such as angry Orks in the crowd rushing out onto the field to try to join or take over some of the existing vehicles.  Airstrikes were called in, Gyrocopters came in, and a lot of carnage ruled the road.

this jump was the bane of many an Ork racer

this jump was the bane of many an Ork racer

After a lot of the other players had ground out or blew up, I made it through the initial jump and skated around some of the derelict vehicles only to catch a last land mine and blow my car out.

my watch is through, my car is done. so endeth the run of BlitzKrug

my watch is through, my car is done. so endeth the run of BlitzKrug

It was a lot of fun and the hijinks and wackiness of the event overshadowed the sometimes long turns and bad luck.  The layout was perfect and it was a highlight event of the Con.

Later that evening, I finally got to participate in an event I’ve been wanting to do for several years now: the annual Duke tournament. I’m usually bogged down in X-wing or Armada tournaments so I can’t do this abstract strategy game tournament but this year I made it a priority.  I was running behind but luckily they saved a seat for me when Reese assured them I was on my way.

The tournament was quick and smooth and went through the rounds pretty easily.  Things got a little hairy in round 2 when I started getting trapped in a corner by an opponent that was quickly outpacing me in levying new figures but he left just the tiniest bit of daylight in one turn and I escaped and regrouped.  I levied a Wizard and chased down his Duke and ended the game.  The final game was a fluke as I caught my opponent unaware and ended the game in about 4 or 5 total moves.  It was a lot of fun and all the competitors were good sports.

To celebrate, Reese and I ran over to the Ram.

03_Ram

I never remember anything great about the Ram but this evening solidified the fact that it just really isn’t that interesting.  The food took forever, the service was stressed due to being so busy, the order came out wrong, the food was just blah, and they have only a few beers on tap.  As much as we didn’t want every meal to come from the Yard House, we might just need to do that from now on.

After the uninspiring meal, we had another set of tickets to the BGG hot games room.  Reese and I got their and had time to kill before Colton showed up so we busted into Klask.

03_klask

Klask is a dexterity game that is a little bit like airhockey with little magnet penalty pieces and the ability to “klask” into your scoring hole and lose points.  Reese and I had a lot of fun with this.  I don’t know if I’d own it but I’d play it again if the chance came up.  Colton was able to join us and I busted through the rules for Isle of Skye while Colton filled us in on his own Formula Waaugh! experience.

03_IsleSkye

Isle of Skye was fun and Reese even had a good scotch for us to drink while we played. The game is an interesting combination of Carcassonne mixed with variable score conditions and quasi-Castles of Mad King Ludwig auction elements.  Isle of Skye ended the evening and so we headed back to the hotel to pack up for the last day of the Con.

I’ll end my Gen Con 2016 series next time with my Sunday events and wrap up.


Aug 9 2016

Gen Con 2016, Part 2

If you missed my part 1 post, you can see it here.

Gen Con 2016’s Thursday was coming to a close, or at least the dealer hall was as it was getting into the late afternoon.  Fortunately for me, my day was finally getting into full gear.  It was Blood Rage Tournament time!  This was a series of two Blood Rage games and the top 4 total scores would play a final game for the tournament prize: a full Kickstarter Exclusives set.  Pretty choice swag if I could get it.

Competitive board gaming is kind of funny in that it takes people who likely do very well at the game in their own private circles, gives them an incentive to really do well, and turn them into unfun rules-lawyery robo-gamers.  I have to fight that tendency with a big stick as I can get ultra-competitive.  Some gamers don’t fight it and our first Blood Rage game went almost 2.5 hours.  The tourney was only supposed to run for 4 hours and I had an event following so unless I did well enough in my games to wait for the top cut to announce, I was going to have to bail.

My first game was pretty crappy and I was fourth but had a pretty decent score so I stayed with it to play in the next round.  I ended up scoring very well in the second round but after watching the scores of some of the other tables, I quickly determined I was going to be in about 6th place so I bailed and headed to my next event.

I haven’t played X-wing in awhile and someone decided to run a free-for-all based on the Hunger Games concept so I was in.  Unfortunately, I was a little late so all they had left for me was a loaded down Lambda Shuttle.  More unfortunate was they loaded it down with random upgrades and so it was like a blinged out space cow. I realized I needed to make some friends fast so I worked with the two guys to my left and we created a loose alliance.

The triple alliance of Shuttle, YT-2400, and Firespray worked out well in the beginning but their maneuverability left me in the dust as I wandered the space corners alone trying to turn the cow back into the fight.  I finally made it into a scrum and picked off a random TIE Fighter.  I was holding my own but most people just got out of my way and blasted at each other, realizing they could always outmaneuver me later and finish me off. My YT-2400 friend was getting into trouble with a decked out Firespray chasing him so I told him to lead him into my killzone.  It worked and our combined fire took him down.

I now had 2 kills on my Shuttle.  Mama space cow will be so proud.

while not the actual model I used, this is what I envisioned during the match…

Some how I picked up some Autothrusters and Opportunist so I started to be a threat.  I couldn’t turn or aim but that didn’t stop fools from accidentally landing within range 1 of me and watching helplessly as I rained 5 dice with a full compliment of dice mitigation options at my disposal. The results were rarely pretty. Finally, I got hung up on some asteroids as one of the big YT-1200s started harassing me.  The game whittled down to 5 ships, two YT-1200s that were almost untouched, and then the Three Amigos: me, and my YT-2400 and Firespray buddies. We saw public enemy #1-  Lando’s YT-1200, flying Lando crew, Palpatine, a Rebel Captive, and a whole host of other nonsense, attack the other YT-1200 so we pounced and helped finish him off.  This left Lando in a bad arc of all three of us chasing her down.  Even with all our firepower we had a hard time cracking her and she destroyed our Firespray pal.  I kept harassing her and stressing her out (with a Rebel Captive of my own) and we got her down to 1 hull.  I had 3 remaining and YT-2400 had 2 left.  She Lando’d with two focus, shot and obliterated me but then barely missed evading YT-2400’s last shot. Victory was “ours.” It was a very fun event and I was proud to take my Space Cow all the way to top 3.

Reese and I hit the Yard House for some celebrations and then called it a night. Though we couldn’t help stopping at the new “arcade” on the way back to the hotel.

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Friday was my most open day and my planned “dealer hall day” so I got in at 10am when the doors opened and started browsing.

I didn’t have time on Thursday to actually look at the Hawk booth so I corrected that error right away.

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They had some great painted displays of their upcoming Dropfleet Commander game.

Next, I stopped by the CMON booth and saw the new Rising Sun game that will be coming soon.  This is supposed to be the “spiritual successor” of Blood Rage so I’ll keep my eyes open for this one.

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There were a few other games in the CMON case but Rising Sun was the big announcement they had at the Con.  After hanging around the CMON booth and picking up some Blood Rage KS exclusive via their “coupon” tickets, I headed over to this weird robot battle game.

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This is GKR – Giant Killer Robots: Heavy Hitters from Weta Workshops (the same Weta that did all the CG in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies).  Cryptozoic is attached (likely as a distributor) but there are some big plans for this game.  Giant robot stomp-a-thons seem to be the next big thing as I think I’ve seen at least three high profile games of this theme slated to come out soon.

The GKR booth was pretty slick and they ran a well-manage queue system to demo the game.  It didn’t take long and soon I was on the field controlling my mega mech of doom.  Two playable factions in the demo but the game plans for 4 factions total.  Each faction consists of a big mech (the Heavy Hitter) and some smaller drones. These small drones act as support and give the game a little more depth beyond just smashing each other.

The game is card driven where the card deck is also your main mech’s life.  If you run out of cards, you lose.  Combat is initiated using the cards (I play card X to shoot my big gun) and then dice to determine hits and damage.  The game is pretty quick and seemed swingy but I had fun.  There is an alternate way to win by controlling enough buildings on the map so it doesn’t have to be all smash-n-smash.

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The minis are pretty amazing.  Highly detailed and really large, almost toy-sized, making them feel imposing on the puny city landscape. I asked if they will be pre-painted like the models I was playing with (heavy hitter prepainted, drones in solid color) and the demo guy said he wasn’t sure but he thought they had to be because one big feature of the game that we weren’t using was that it will have AR. AR as in Augmented Reality.

my weak and smoking mech plays keep away from the big blue opponent

my weak and smoking mech plays keep away from the big blue baddy

Basically those markings on the mech will allow some App tech to put virtual visual enhancements to the game.  Fire your big rocket barrage? The App will animate the scene overtop your real-time camera view, or at least that is how I was understanding it.  Sounds really cool and very “toy” like.  Kickstarter is supposedly coming soon and so I will definitely check it out.

Fantasy Flight did their big report on Friday so I jumped over to their display to see what all the fuss was about.

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I imagine I look this cool when I play horn

They announced a new minis line set in their Terrinoth universe.  I’m not a fan of Warhammer-style minis games so this is an easy pass for me.  Minis look really nice though.

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With only a few minutes left before my Friday events start up, I ran over to Firelock Games and checked out the Kickstarter I almost backed: Blood & Plunder.

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This is a historical Age of Sail minis game in 28mm (or thereabouts). Great detail and a crazy low entry price (for minis games) that include resin ships.  The combat can account for a lot of scenarios including ship to ship, ship to land, and land battles. I look forward to seeing more.

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The main reason I didn’t back was because I didn’t want to be responsible for buying two factions and trying to convince my friends to play.  One look at the board, the minis, and the pricing and Gen Con (and Firelock Games) did the convincing for me.

I’ll continue with the end of Friday and the thrills that were Saturday in my next post.


Aug 8 2016

Gen Con 2016, Part 1

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Gen Con 2016 was a whirlwind of gaming, events, meet-ups, and fun. This year I decided to forgo the multi-day tournament route and focus on smaller events/tournaments and check out some non-standard activities.  After 10 years of attending, I’m missing more and more so I’ve let go of that compulsion to try to do everything and just do what I can and what is fun.

Reese and Colton were in attendance as they have been for the last 6 years and we didn’t waste any time getting some gaming in.

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My Onitama custom travel set worked out well as we flew over some non-descript Kansas scenery

After a relatively easy flight, we made it to the hotel and made it our own.

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Next up was Gen Con proper.  As usual, we always plan to get everything done before the registration deadline but some publishers and event coordinators can’t get their stuff in order so I usually find some late entry events that I inevitably have to pick up at Will Call. Make no mistake, this is where fun goes to die. or sleep. either way it’s a bit of a buzz kill.

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The front of this line is probably 300 yards away and the back was stretching out the doors and outside in the sun.  Since Will Call is 24/7, we skipped that nonsense and went straight for food.

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I haven’t had Giordano’s in probably 12+ years so it was awesome to find this Chicago gem nestled right in Downtown Indy. I hear we’re getting one in Denver so that will be awesome.  As usual, The G did not disappoint and my over-hyping didn’t ruin Reese and Colton’s opinion either.  I need to move on. I’m salivating just looking at the picture…

We got back and I read that Stonemaier Games was hosting a free gaming room so we dropped by and saw the new Adult Codenames and Codenames Pictures.  With only 3 of us, Codenames would be a bit lame but we grabbed some other small groups and got a fun 7 player game going.  Codenames Pictures is interesting but seemed to be missing the subtleness of the original game.  A variant that sounded more intriguing (though we didn’t try) was to mix the field with both Codenames and the Pictures expansion to get the best of both worlds.

We usually only get one chance at the hotel pool and hot tub so we ducked out of the Stonemaier Games room early and I jumped in the Will Call line.  It was inside at least but I was surprised how fast it moved.  From my line picture above, I was likely only 20 yards farther up but was through with everything in about 35 minutes.

We got to the pool but found that the hot tub was broken.  The pool was nice but we eventually called it and went out to look for Ice Cream.  After a few restaurant fails, we finally found some deserts at the Tilted Kilt.  It was loud and obnoxious but the scenery wasn’t terrible and the ice cream brownie disaster I ate was pretty good.


Thursday morning had us going to check out the crush of people waiting for the opening ceremony and exhibit hall doors.  Gen Con has this pretty well under control now and for the most part, things looked civil.  It probably helps that some of the instigator publishers aren’t in the hall anymore (Wizkids was notorious for having extremely rare promos/merchandise and would typically cause disastrous gamer stampedes. I don’t miss them at all.)

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hope no one down there has to pee…

Having nothing in particular that I needed to get once the doors opened.  I waited for the crush of people to die down and went in.  I only had an hour before my first event so Colton and I headed to the Hawk Wargames booth.  I don’t play with the faction that was the new “event exclusive” but I grabbed another awesome double-decker battle bus and a small pack of their regular civilian buses and trailer. Apparently, I snagged the last one of those and, while not exclusive, Hawk isn’t sure how they will sell those sets. Lucky me!

The line to buy these items wasn’t moving at all but the Hawk guys are pretty smart (this isn’t their first rodeo) and asked if we wanted to pay cash.  This illustrates reason number 587 on why you need to bring cash to Gen Con. Transaction completed, we set off to our various events.

My first event was for Championship Formula Racing (CFR) but it failed as no one showed up.  I found out later that the team that put the event together thought they made it for one specific day but the event duplicated for all days and they didn’t realize it until later.  I did get a game in that afternoon and found it quite fun.  I will definitely look for it to come out later this year.

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my little red F1 was no match for the demoer’s green machine.

With more time than initially thought, I headed over to the Czech Games room to check out Adrenaline, a first-person shooter with euro area-control mechanics.

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I caught up with a group of players about halfway through their game.  The designer was teaching so I watched for about 30 minutes.

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This was probably my favorite game of the Con and I thought was going to get a chance to demo but the designer who happened to be teaching already scheduled the next game with a different group.  Disappointing but I saw enough of the game to know that it’s one I will definitely pick up.  The minis look great, the art and design is top-notch, and the game is interesting at almost every level.  Everything about it seems fresh and innovative and I can’t wait to get it on my table.

I had some additional dealer hall time (getting skunked out of several events will do that) so I went to see Pretzel Games.

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Pretzel Games was showcasing their new Flick em Up expansion, Red Rock Tomahawk, as well as their new stand alone game, Junk Art.

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I picked Red Rock Tomahawk as I love the Flick em Up system but have been lukewarm on Junk Art.  From what I’d read, it just didn’t seem to really have enough crunch or fun to it so I’ve only looked at it in passing.  There was an open demo starting however, so I figured I’d get in and give it a fair shake.  I was so wrong. The game is great fun and I can see a lot of different gamers liking this soon-to-be hit for Pretzel Games.  You play in several rounds, with each round being dictated by a set of randomly drawn rules (little mini-games that represent different cities you travel to showcasing your junk art masterpieces).  The two (of 12?) cities I played made each round very different and uniquely fun on their own.  These series of mini-games don’t last long so you can easily tailor the experience to the gaming group. It requires some dexterity, some spatial awareness, and even some strategy in some of the mini-games.  I didn’t have time/money to pick this up in the hall so I’ll have to wait to try and get it when it has a wider release.

I’ll be back for rest of the Gen Con 2016 in my next post.