Feb 7 2016

Showcase: X-wing Miniatures case

I was trying to figure out how best to carry my X-wing miniatures models as I started traveling to tournaments both locally and farther away like Indianapolis’ GenCon and Fantasy Flight’s Worlds competition held Minnesota.  I randomly stopped at a garage sale (something I do maybe once every few years) and happened to find an old Star Wars action figure case for $3 (Power of the Force Millennium Falcon edition from Kenner produced around 1996).  Once I saw it, I knew it would work perfect as a case for my X-wing minis.

Falcon Case blog

Inside, the case had these perfect dividers and I was showed it off to a friend as I tried to figure out how to make the models work (knowing I would have to cut some of the dividers out to fit the larger ones).  After seeing it, he had the brilliant idea to cut it all out and get some custom foam to fit and hold the models.

falcon case

Gutting it out with a dremel tool was a ton of work but eventually I had everything cut out and smoothed down enough to use the entire inside to support model storage.

falcon ex1

For the top, I didn’t cut the dividers out as deep as I’d use them to store all the tokens and bits required for the game.

falcon ex2

The dremel basically melted the plastic out which left everything pretty rough.  I ended up using steel wool and sandpaper to smooth things out to finish the main areas.  I didn’t like the idea of the open cockpit so I hotglued in a piece of black plastic to cover it up.  The clips that held the case closed were shot so I went low tech and grabbed some of my girls’ white hair bands and they worked great.  The case itself was complete, now I needed to figure out the foam.

Battlefoam has a custom foam creation tool and I started messing around with it.  It was actually pretty easy to use but I couldn’t make it cut a circle like I needed.  I contacted them and they figured out what I needed.  I drew up some specs and it turned out perfect.

falcon ex4

When complete, it fit all the models I needed and I could make different foam inserts later as more models came out. The case holds everything securely and is now pretty recognizable as my personal carrying case when I go to tournaments.

Falcon Case 2 blog


Jan 30 2016

Showcase: Loopin’ Chewie

So one of the main points of this blog is to not only talk about techniques to pimp your game and talk about what is going on in the industry but also show off my completed projects. I plan on making these “showcase” posts when I finish up a project but since I have a backlog of completed work already, for now I will be discussing some of my favorite games that started me on the this path.

Up first is one of my favorite remakes: Loopin’ Chewie.

the original Loopin’ Chewie

My Loopin’ Chewie is actually a remake of Hasbro’s Loopin’ Louie game. I first wrote about this piece in April 2014 on Boardgamegeek. Ironically, Hasbro came out with a remake of their own in September 2015. The story in my head goes something like: product manager at Hasbro is tasked with reprinting Loopin Louie (since it had gone out of print in the US but still had strong sales in Europe, specifically Germany). Product manager goes to BGG to see what “the kids are doing with Louie these days” and stumbles on my Chewie conversion post, loves it and convinces Hasbro big brass to make the conversion in time for “Force Friday” in 2015. And finally, we have the Hasbro official Loopin’ Chewie… or something like that.

courtesy of Hasbro

I picked up a copy and the new version is fun but I can’t help being partial to my version, of course.  Looking more at my Loopin’ Chewie, it all started with a clearance sale at Toys “R” Us where I picked up my first copy of Loopin’ Louie and a couple of extras for Christmas gifts.  I ended up with one left over copy that I originally thought I’d use for parts in case the first copy broke down.  Nothing broke down after a few months of playing with the kids so I was left wondering what to do with my spare.

Boardgamegeek had some pretty great mods like this classic eight-player version but at the time I was really into Fantasy Flight Games’ X-wing Miniatures game and started brainstorming ideas with a friend.  I knew the X-wing mini would be too fragile and alternate minis wouldn’t be any better so my friend suggested using the Millennium Falcon.  He found a perfect Falcon model on eBay from an old McDonald’s toy and it wasn’t long before we hit on the obvious name of “Loopin’ Chewie” and the legend was born.

To get the feel of this new version, I took the entire original Loopin’ Louie apart and spray painted everything black except the paddles which I painted TIE Fighter grey.  After I painted everything and sealed it, I started pulling original Star Wars movie images off the ‘net and incorporated them into the pieces to complete the theme.

The original Loopin’ Louie features a crazy flying farmer chasing chickens around the farm so I decided the Falcon should be chasing TIE Fighters (again, not a big stretch thematically).  I didn’t want to ruin the “chicken” discs by painting them and making them too thick too work so I used permanent marker instead and sealed them.  Another TIE Fighter image from the ‘net and the discs were ready.

The Death Star was the hardest but there was a relatively cheap planetarium toy put out a few years ago that I found on Amazon. It was the perfect size and already came in 2 halves. I cut the slit for Chewie to bounce through and fit over the whole assembly. I used a hot glue gun to secure the dome to the rotating assembly and it was ready to go.

I brought this out to GenCon to surprise my friends and all of us had a blast.  It remains one of my favorite pimped games as everything came together and worked perfectly all the while requiring some different techniques.


Jan 24 2016

Defend the Home tree!

No, I’m not talking about that lame James Cameron movie, I’m talking about the tree that houses your nest base in Plaid Hat Games’ new Tail Feathers game.

The game has anthropomorphic mice who battle evil rats and bugs while riding friendly birds through the forest. It’s a pretty fun game that blends tabletop minis with standard board game elements to create a dynamic and immersive environment.

Being a minis player, I like to pimp out my terrain but always want my battlefield to be functional over just looking good. After playing a game, I started eyeing that “tree” template and wondered if we could take the game a little further.

Great looking game, albeit a little…. flat. image from Plaid Hat Games website.

I started looking at my options and thought that maybe we could pimp out the tree by going 3D. For the prototype to see if the 3D build was even possible, I grabbed a foam cylinder like the kind you find at a hobby store for fake flowers to use as the “trunk.” I then scanned the tree game piece and used it as a template on some foamcore and cut out the “limbs.” Inserting the limbs at various heights and in the general layout as the original tree game piece, my tree took shape.

home tree prototype

Weight is a big issue and what you aren’t seeing in the picture is a set of about 20 big nails on the other side to make a counter-weight to make sure the minis on the tree don’t tip it over. While this works for now as a prototype it won’t work for the final build.

I have a few other projects I’m wrapping up at the moment so this will go on the backburner but my next steps will be to build the limbs out of something sturdier. For that to work I will need to bust out the scroll saw or find time to use a Laser Cutter. A Laser cutter would be the easiest option but I don’t really have access to one so I’ll probably have to go old school. The trunk will either need to be a flat vertical piece or a series of discs that can lock together and disassemble for storage. To deal with the weight balance, a flat “foot” spreading in the direction of the limbs should keep things upright, even with the bird miniatures.

I’m pretty satisfied with the prototype so I’ll let it marinate while I wrap up some other current projects.


Jan 16 2016

Pimping tokens

I’ve heard about techniques to pimp out tokens but I have never tried it myself.  I’ve heard once you go this route, it’s hard not to paint/tint all your tokens and that is not something I want to get too deep into.

When I pimp games, I usually don’t mess with the tokens as I’m busy messing with the other aspects of the game like miniatures, cards, tuck boxes, or cheat sheets.  I have a couple of projects I’m working on right now that are actually full remakes of existing games and while I’ve done this before, this is the first time I’ve had to make tokens for a game remake.

Two games I’m working on right now required some tokens and since I’m remaking the game from scratch, I needed to find a way to make tokens quickly and easily.  I didn’t really want to make the tokens from scratch but luckily, I have a metric ton of old tokens from the Star Wars: X-wing Miniatures game and I’ve found that they make a great base to sticker my own token images on top of.

token close

Since X-wing gives you new tokens each time you buy a ship and I went pretty deep into the game, I have more tokens than I can ever use in a single session.  This has come in handy as I make tokens for these new games.

Outside of the image collecting and photoshopping, the process is quite simple.  Print the images on a sheet of TrueBlock Shipping Labels (from Avery, though I’m sure other label options will work), cut the images out using a circle punch (a 5/8ths inch punch seems to work well for X-wing tokens), and stick them on.  I use TrueBlock labels because they are permanent and block any image bleed-through from the existing token.

In the “Travel” version of Rum & Bones that I’m making, I needed some custom tokens that weren’t normal token shapes that I could pillage from other games.  This was a little more work but not too bad.  Take some art board that you can get from any craft/hobby/art supply store (I used a 16 in x 20 in white board from Canson) and stick the whole label sheet on the board.

Next, take an X-acto knife and metal straight edge and cut the shapes out that you need.  Be careful as it is really easy to get careless and cut yourself (I did this on an earlier job cutting a new board out for my Thunder Road pimp out).  Art board cuts best with a lot of slow, light-pressure cuts instead of trying to cut through in just a few passes.  It can be tedious and that is what makes it most dangerous as it lulls you into security after about 10-15 passes.

token close

The white board isn’t as subtle as the gray of published tokens and so I will likely tint these like I’ve seen others do, bringing us full circle.  Jeff Tibbetts, on his blog Tibbs Forge, has a great process for tinting tokens.  An example of his work can be seen below:

Tibbs Forge tinted token- look at the different caution bands he puts on the Space Hulk ladder token.

I’ll likely start tinting these tokens to hide that white edging.  Tibbs Forge work is really impressive and pretty inspiring for this type of work.


Jan 9 2016

Resolutions

2015 has come and gone and while I haven’t really been updating this blog, it was still a big year for board game pimping. When I started out the year, I made it my resolution to post at least one of my pimped games to the Boardgamegeek monthly “Pimp My Boardgame” contest. This contest was a big inspiration for me to start pimping games and even make this blog.

The contest itself has been running since 2010 by veteran user helgerehwald. The contest features a meta-game where winners gain points to become a member of the Pimp My Boardgame Hall of Fame. I didn’t give a lot of thought to this when I entered my first pimped game to the contest back in 2012, but after watching the contest and seeing several users posting great pimped content month after month, I was inspired to try to join this elite group of painters, modders, and graphic designers.

My other goal for 2015 was, by submitting my work every month, I would win enough points to join this Hall of Fame. It took me awhile to get everything organized. I did an inventory of all the games I’d already pimped out and checked on which projects that were still pending. By March, I was able to start and submitted my Last Night on Earth painted set as well as my pimped out A Touch of Evil set. Each month limits you to 3 entries so I rounded out the contest with some painted Star Wars: Armada fighters.

Star Wars: Armada

After that, I was able to post at least one entry per month except August and November. After getting 2nd and 3rd in various contests over the year, to combine with some earlier 1st place entries (before 2015), I was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I am very excited to be in there and be among some of the best and most prolific board game pimpers on Boardgamegeek.

So now what? I still really enjoy pimping my games and I will still post entries to the contest but my focus for 2016 will be on this blog and showcasing what I submitted over the last year as well as the new projects I’m working on. I’ve got some great projects that recently finished or are about to be complete and I can’t wait to showcase them.

more to come…


Feb 1 2015

Gen Con 2014 wrap-up: continued

So last time I talked about Aaron Jenkin’s massive 3D recreation of FFG’s A Game of Throne board game. This time I want to highlight some of the other large scale pimp-outs I saw at the convention.

I’ll start with a favorite area control game of mine, Domaine.

IMG_1334

Domaine is the non-auction re-theme of Löwenherz, an interesting area control game where you try to carve out point-scoring areas by walling yourself off and expanding into other players’ territory. Mayfair loves to showcase giant versions of their games at conventions and this one is no exception. I had the chance to play on the map depicted above and found the size adequately pimped to large size but not so cumbersome as to drag the game down.

IMG_1336

Unfortunately, since this was just a standard event, the creator of this set wasn’t around to talk about it. The pieces were very well made and had quite a bit of heft. Under one of the pieces, I did see a note saying “Scuplted by Action Terrain,” which I found out is a Vancouver based hobby/modelling store.

IMG_1335

In addition to terrain pieces, the game also sported painted knight figures for both player pieces and score tracker. If I had one criticism on the whole set up, it’d be that the trees force the player to put the pieces on top of the sculpt and it makes for a very busy board and breaks the visual aesthetic. I got used to it after a while but I think I’d rather see a better solution for the forest spaces on the board.

My large-sized victory:

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As I mentioned, Mayfair likes to bring out their large-sized games to the convention and so they have most of their catalog on display in grand fashion. The biggest was Settlers of America game in the Catan line.

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Mayfair isn’t the only company to put out large-sized versions of their games, Catalyst Game Labs brought a massive room-sized version of The Duke.

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I did ask a bit more about this version and apparently Catalyst is willing sell a copy of the game at this size but when pushed for a price, the figure was easily in the $3,000.00 range. I think I’ll stick with my regular-sized edition at home.

Companies can afford to make large-sized versions of their games as marketing tool. It’s impressive but they do tend to have the capital and drive to pull off these monsters. Like Jenkin’s Game of Thrones, I find it more impressive to see casual gaming enthusiasts take on the challenge.

IMG_1352

This version of 1812: The Invasion of Canada was really impressive. A massive board set in stunning z-scale (1:300) detail. I only got to watch this game for a little bit before being pulled away but I would love to get a game of it in on this epic map.

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Another wide view of this great pimp-out of 1812.

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Another enthusiast showcased The Battle of Five Armies from Ares Games. The creator of this version was a playtester for the game which explains how he was able to create a large version so quickly after the release. I was actually scheduled to play in this event but a scheduling mix up had me too late to join in. I enjoy War of the Ring so I’d like to try this game out and see how it measures up. I figure playing on this great set up can’t help but improve it’s standings.

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So that wraps up some of the “big” pimp items I saw at Gen Con 2014. In a few weeks, the local Genghis Con will be happening in Denver and I’m looking forward to seeing what people pimp out for it this year.


Sep 5 2014

End of Summer: Gen Con 2014 wrap-up

So July and August have come and gone but one of my yearly highlights occurs during summer so I’d like to go show off a game pimper’s view of my favorite gaming convention: Gen Con. For those that don’t know it, Gen Con is one of North America’s largest gaming conventions. This year, it’s attendance topped Essen Germany’s Spiel convention. Since Spiel occurs in November every year, I’ll be interested to see if their numbers improve to edge out Gen Con.

How big is this convention? The latest numbers came in at a staggering 56,614 unique attendees over the 4 days (August 13th-17th). This was my eighth year and it was good to see that the convention still holds its charm and I still find a lot of great things to do.

There are a lot of reports out there on the convention from both a casual observer to a full on game “reporter” so I won’t try to rehash what has already been said about the experience. Instead, I’ll look at it from a game pimper’s perspective and I’ll start with some of the best custom games I saw or experienced.

First, and likely my favorite pimped game, was Aaron Jenkin’s 3D super-sizing of Fantasy Flight Games’ A Game of Thrones: the board game.
AGOT2web

This beautifully crafted board faithfully represented the original 2nd edition game board from Fantasy Flights game in painstaking three-dimensional detail:
AGOT3web

The beauty about having this appear at the ‘Con was it wasn’t just eye-candy, Aaron actually hosted multiple events during the convention, allowing up to 6 players play the full game out on this amazing creation. I was lucky enough to have a chance to play on Friday night and it was a great experience. It was my first time ever playing the game and Aaron and the other players were great at teaching me the game. My only issue now is, if I pick up the game, will it ever match the immersion that this custom version created. Maybe I’ll have to try to craft a pimped out version of my own…

Aaron has set that bar exceedingly high though. Not only was his board amazing to behold and fun to play on, but he also had custom miniatures to replace the regular wooden pawns, custom boats to replace the wooden versions in the game, large Game of Throne replicas of key pieces like the Iron Throne, the Raven, and Valyrian Steel. Those game pieces made me not care about the actual game play at times and just had me go nuts and bid on the option just to have those cool set pieces near me.

Aaron has more on the creation of this gem on his blog so definitely check it out.
AGOT1web

Next time, I’ll highlight some other gaming experiences at the ‘Con. Super-sizing seems to be all the rage and I’ll jump into some other “giant” versions of games that I saw and played.


Jul 6 2014

Pimpin’ Game Bits

I saw this Kickstarter project the other day (no affiliation) and it looks like a great collection of gaming bits to pimp out some of the dryer Eurogames that use static wooden blocks:

Treasure Chest Kickstarter

Treasure Chest

While Agricola is not a favorite game of mine, I will say that playing with pimped components can make it less dry. Eurogames seem to have this issue more than others where immersing yourself into the story the game develops is harder due to the multiple layers of abstraction and generally dull components. Honestly, Carcassonne came out 14 years ago and at least tried to capture some theme by using Meeples for components. New Eurogames coming out with dull wooden blocks is such a crime.

Lords of Waterdeep is a great game but also came with exceedingly dull pieces. Luckily, a BGG user, Danny Perello, made these awesome bits for the game:
DnDeeples

There is a site to pick up official copies of these bits here:

The Broken Token

A friend of mine has the original wooden versions from Danny and they are a great addition to the game. It was interesting how this little change in the game bit affected how our group talked during the game. Previously, we broke into a habit of just asking for “white” or “orange” cubes, thereby killing all sense of theme or story to go with the game. The game because a number crunching game and, while still fun, it didn’t really feel like anything more than a complete abstraction. The addition of DnDeeples, as they are known, started changing the way players were requesting resources. Soon, “I need two white and one purple” became “here are two priests and one wizard.” It didn’t completely replace the vocabulary but even some of the holdout players will ask for a “couple of white dudes and an orange guy.” Baby steps I guess.

Back to the Treasure Chest Kickstarter, I plan on picking up a set for my favorite Euro: Kingsburg. I’ve been looking for a set of nice wooden bits for that game and it looks like this one fits the bill quite nicely. The Kickstarter ends in 3 days so you’ll want to act fast if this is something you’re interested in.


Jun 29 2014

Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary

One of the first hobby board games I came to appreciate was Ticket to Ride by Alan Moon.  Such a simple, yet effective game, I’ve found that very few casual games elicit the nervous end game anxiety that this one can. Being a great game that can be shared with gamers and non-gamers alike, I was happy to see Days of Wonder (DoW) produce an upgraded “Anniversary” edition.  I’ve often wanted to create a larger scaled version of the game and pimp out it’s contents like I’ve seen at GenCon (taken from Tony Hope Romero’s post on io9):

Thanks to DoW, I don’t have to:

The new 10th Anniversary edition has a lot of upgraded components including new card art and a larger board (also with new art) but the most striking upgrade is the new plastic train pieces. DoW provides a new theme to each of the player colors by introducing detailed train cars and holding them all in a thematic tin:
little giraffe heads sticking out? That's pimp
We count only blue cars...
ah, the obligatory coal-train
those were the days, a whole car for the hobos
brown is, and now always will be, the new yellow

Along with a larger board and reworked art, the publisher decided to have a little fun with the new art and put in quite a few easter eggs (I heard rumored to be about 20-25 fun little things on the map). My favorites include the geographical Duluth paradox being acknowledged:
ahhhh so THAT'S where it is...
And the reference to a favorite guilty pleasure movie, Stardust, based on the short story of the same name by Neil Gaiman:
I’m thinking Great English wordsmith, my enemies and crew are thinking Shake! Spear!

Overall, the quality is great and the reworked art, detailed trains, and larger board size make the anniversary edition a great addition to my game collection. There are a few weird production missteps like the omission of the 1910 expansion rules when they included all the 1910 game components, the mismatched color of the “yellow” player and the corresponding Brown train cars, and the box insert not being able to accommodate sleeved cards. Since I’ve played Ticket to Ride with the 1910 expansion in upwards of 50 times, the rules omission doesn’t bother me. The Yellow score tracker not matching the brown train cars is funny but will give me something to quick pimp soon. The insert not accommodating sleeved cards is pretty annoying though. I’m not a compulsive card sleever but for a board game that has an MSRP of $100, I’d like to make sure I keep the cards in good condition (especially a game that has seen as much play as my previous version of Ticket to Ride). Looks like I’ll have another game in needing of some pimping soon.

Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary edition
$100.00 (US MSRP)
Available: Now
Pro: great new components, awesome new card and board art, larger game board
Con: rules omissions, non-sleevable insert

Pimpin’?: 4.5/5   Outtasight!


Jun 25 2014

In the beginning

When I first got into the hobby of board games, I had virtually no game collection to speak of and so I was more into the “playing and acquiring of new games” aspect of the hobby. Too busy with the enjoyment of experiencing all the classics for the first time, I had no real reason to pimp out games. I had played role-playing games (RPGs) and Magic: the Gathering growing up but never did any modifications.  RPGs always had a heavy modification component as you built your own adventures or painted minis but it seemed to be so tied into the overall game experience that it was hard to have one without the other. In a way, an RPG background helped me most with future pimping projects.

The first game I ever knowingly pimped out was Last Night on Earth. This zombie apocalypse game from Flying Frog Productions was a favorite of mine and the more my game group played it, the more the theme and atmosphere really came through and engaged us. I was researching more information on the game on Boardgamegeek.com (BGG) and saw a lot of players painting up their miniatures. I am by no means a professional minis painter so, while the images looked great, I largely skipped them and looked deeper into the BGG entry for interesting discussions on the game. That all changed when I came across David Bezio’s painting article on BoardGameGeek.

In David’s article, it detailed how, with a little bit of time, some cheap paints and equipment, any schmuck (like me) could paint up some average “board game” quality minis. I was a little skeptical at first as I’ve seen what some professional painters considered “easy” and knew the results they would eventually show would amount to some Herculean paint effort on my part to achieve a similar result. This article, however, was not like previous entries I’d seen. The author wasn’t joking. This technique was easy.  It did look great on the tabletop. It really opened the door on what I thought I was capable of.  Read the article if you get a chance because all my painting really started with his advice and it really is as easy as he describes.

lnoe detail example

After reading his painting article, I set out and picked up some cheap acrylic hobby paints, a primer, some cheap brushes, and a small tin of MinWax for dipping. I worked on the base game’s minis over a few weekends as time allowed and was able to knock out the project in a couple of weekends, usually painting during a baseball game or during the missus’ favorite TV show. The results were great, the project was easy, and it was a big hit with my game group. I’ll go over what I’ve done to Last Night on Earth in more detail later when I showcase it in a post but I wanted to discuss how some well developed post on some guy’s attempt to better his gaming experience caused me and likely a whole host of other gamers to follow in his footsteps. Instantly, this caused me to look at the board gaming hobby in a whole new light.
lnoe full shot