Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Walking Dead Wednesdays: Comic Timing

Lately, I’ve been working on a pet project that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: comic-style session reports.  I first saw some of these on Boardgamegeek years ago and have always wanted to try it out.

Having played Walking Dead: All Out War in a few different iterations, I thought the game would lend itself very well to this style of session reporting.  It took a lot longer to make than I thought and then I had to do a lot of site work so that it could handle the comic presentation but it has been a lot of fun.

You’ll be able to navigate to each “issue” by going to the Comic link at the top of my header but I’ll also announce every time I have a new issue up through my regular Walking Dead Wednesday posts.  My goal is to have one of these out each month but we’ll see how that goes.  I have quite a few story arcs I’m running through but the question is always time.

I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1: Running Into Trouble

Playtesting Board Games

I had a little hiccup this week and found that my old blog theme was about seven years old and way out of support.  I was wanting to add a nifty plug-in but trying to get it to play nice crashed the site hard so I went shopping for a more recent theme and was glad to stumble onto the one before you.  I hope it’s not too jarring of a change but if anyone has any feedback, I’d love to hear it.

In addition to the new look for the new year, I also am excited to test out a new board game.  I’ve actually been testing games for big publishers for the last five years or so but I’m usually under a Non-Disclosure Agreement to not talk about the product even after it is released. However, the current game I’m testing has a unique “Disclosure Agreement” instead where the publisher is encouraging the testers to discuss their experiences openly.

Restoration Games is a new game publisher started by Justin Jacobson, Rob Daviau, and Jason Taylor.  Their mission is to bring back older classic games from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and after a brief shout out to get recommendations, they settled on resurrecting a few classics.  You can read more about their announcement here.

image from Restoration Games

Shortly after their announcement, Restoration Games reached out through their email list and asked for playtesters.  Having done a lot of testing before and enjoyed several of Rob Daviau’s games, I jumped in with one of their new titles, Downforce.

In their instructions for testing, they had a curious note about how this was a public playtest.  I’ve heard of and seen “open” testing (typically done on large RPG releases) but this is the first time I’ve seen a publisher ask for open feedback and not told me to keep everything behind closed doors.

I love testing and have thought about talking about playtesting for game publishers for awhile but with this open call from Restoration Games, I’m glad to put some actual examples together instead of talking in vague NDA-speak.

To start off, playtesting is not particularly glamorous. It’s not economically beneficial and the bulk of the work you put into testing most people will never know about.  You are the stage hand, the grip, the matte painter of the board gaming world.  They definitely need you but you won’t be walking down any board game red carpets because you helped test a blockbuster game (if there even was such a board game red carpet… maybe at Essen?).  You do this because you love game design. You love seeing something mediocre develop into something great and being part of a team that is working to better the hobby you love.

You also do it because you like crafting, which, in an odd way really pushed me into pimping out games.  After testing for a few years, the tricks and techniques to scratch-building artless board game prototypes helped teach me economical and quick ways to pimp out my own collection of games.  Testing also helped me get set up with the proper tools to make prototypes quickly and efficiently.

Most of these tools you should have in your home already but if you don’t do a lot of papercrafting, you might still want to pick up a paper cutter (rotary trimmers are the best and safest not mention really cheap at hobby stores).  Other than that, scissors, tape, and maybe some old card board boxes if you want/need a stiff backing to some of the prototype components.  Lastly, you’ll need a printer or access to one as you will be printing quite a bit of material.

Downforce is a pretty light prep job for a full board game.  It required 21 pages to print out and cutting out about 60-70 cards out of some of those pages.  The game board prints easily and the files were set great for light printing and cutting.

Game components are not supposed to look great at this stage (the better they look, the faster they will run you out of ink and that can get really pricey). It goes without saying that all the components you see here are full-on prototypes and it should be obvious that the final product will look nothing like the art-less prototypes in the images.

Like most Print-N-Play productions, you usually need to provide the more common game pieces like pawns, dice, or tokens.  For this game, I raided an old box of Micro Machines to work as the car pawns.  The game requires money but I mainly have coins in low denominations in my collection, so it took a little longer to find what would work best.  I settled on pillaging the money chits in Fantasy Flight’s underrated Black Gold.

And with that, I have everything assembled and I’m ready to play.  Downforce comes with an optional kid variant so I’ll likely rope my kids into playing a game or two before I try the game out with my normal gaming group.

If testing games is something you might be interested, this could be an opportunity to try it out with a new game publisher.  Their testing period might still be open so go to Restoration Games’ contact page and let them know that you are interested.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated nor have I received any compensation from Restoration Games for discussing the testing or creation of testing material.

Walking Dead Wednesday: revising my boards

When I first set out to create my initial boards, I decided to use some 8″x8″ tiles from Fat Dragon’s Capital City papercraft pdfs.  Looking through the campaign in Mantic‘s Days Gone Bye expansion for Walking Dead: All Out War, I noticed a few non-city themed play areas and the expansion came with a field-looking paper mat.  Since I don’t have any open field paper terrain, I will need to make something else. I would just use that paper mat but it’s all in color and will clash with my theme so I decided to scan the mats and reprint them in black and white.

Since I knew the scan and reprinting would weaken the fidelity of the original, I wasn’t too concerned with printing at the highest quality.  First I scanned the mats in piecemeal, converted them to grayscale and then manipulated that brightness/contrast to varying levels just like my original boards.

When I found the right contrast, I did one more print of a larger section to make sure it was where I wanted.

With the other boards, this would be the end. Just print, spray adhesive on some foamcore, cut them down, and be done. Unfortunately, these squares could either cut down to 7″ x 7″ squares or the fold lines are on 10″ x 10″ squares and will be less fiddly. I chose to stay at the larger size but that means going to a print shop as I need a minimum tabloid (11″ x 17″) sized paper and my home printer just can’t do that.

I went to FedEx Office and had them print out the sheets I needed.  I then went home to check and they looked fine.  I’m pleased with the brightness level of the prints as they seem to match the originals pretty well.

When you compare them closely though, you can really see the print quality suffered.

I’m not too concerned about it though as they are just the main mats and are pretty non-descript.  The effect is almost like when people print game mats on vinyl banner material.

All I need to do now is spray them onto foamcore and cut them down and I’ll have the regular mat images in my preferred black and white color scheme.

CNC Progress

This week, I was able to start my CNC machine project.  It’s slow going as I’ve never had to assemble anything this complex and so I’m taking my time.  I could have opted for the pre-built version but reading up on the kit a bit more, several users noted that it was good to build it yourself so that if things go wrong in the future, you’ll have an idea of what the problem might be.  I’m not sure if that will really work for me but the building process itself is pretty cool.


So here we have all the kit pieces laid out on my new workbench I made a couple of weeks back.  The large device at the back of the table is my photo enlarger, which was the real purpose of this room- to build up my darkroom again, but I found that I broke a key piece of the enlarger so I have to source out a replacement.  In the meantime, the room will also serve as my pimping workroom, or “The Lab,” as I call it.


The kids were away so I actually moved everything upstairs and worked at the kitchen table, catching up on the latest Walking Dead episodes from the mid-season break. The picture above are “V-wheels” that were a bitch to press together (my thumb is still sore).  Eventually, I opted for two sets of pliers to get those bearings in the plastic wheels.


Next I put the V-wheels in the Y-axis plates. These plates will hold the main board “table” of the machine.


And they attach on these rails that connect the front and back of the base of the machine.


The base then attaches to the Y-axis plates and also gain some T-nuts and another guide plate.


And here we are.  This is about one-third through the assembly instructions.  Next is assembling the X-axis and Z-axis components and putting the motors and belts on.  Then finally is the final assembly.  After that comes the electronics and setting up the software and everything else.

In gaming news, I stumbled on this interesting little preview:

image from BGG, from the game publisher

image from BGG, from the game publisher

This is Gang Rush Breakout from CMON and Ankama. Those of you that have followed me for awhile might notice the game looks similar to a classic game that I’ve been nuts on pimping: Thunder Road.  While this game (from the brief publisher descriptions) doesn’t seem like it has a lot in common with Thunder Road mechanically, it does have a pretty cool look to it and I’m looking forward to hearing more about this game.

It is due to release in April, shockingly without a Kickstarter but since Ankama seems to be driving the publishing aspect of the game, maybe that is just the way they do things.  Ankama is responsible for Krosmaster Arena, which also avoided using Kickstarter.  I’ll likely wait to play this at Gen Con before I really commit to picking it up but I have some high hopes for it.

Speaking of Gen Con, I got the notice that they are opening up the event applications in a few weeks so I better get on this.  Last year I missed the early deadline and my events didn’t make it into the general admission until after the main event signup date.  I’m going to make sure my events get in on time this year to see if that helps the attendance any.

I’m planning on running my Loopin’ Chewie Tournament again as it was a lot of fun and though there weren’t many in attendance, they all seemed to have a good time.  I will likely run one more event as well but I’m not sure which it will be.  I could do Thunder Road again or I’ve been thinking about running a PitchCar variant of mine.  I’m also stupidly into Mantic’s Walking Dead: All Out War and had a blast running a custom event at CabinCon so might try something like that.  Decisions, decisions.  Only have a few weeks to figure it out. Maybe I’ll flip a coin.

Walking Dead Wednesdays: A New Series

With all the work I’ve been doing on Mantic’s miniatures game, the Walking Dead: All Out War, I thought I’d start up a little sidebar post series that focuses on this game and other related topics.

I completed painting all 26 walkers from the kickstarter wave 1 shipment before Christmas but only now had time to take some quick shots of them. So here we have, Walker Class of 2016!


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