Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Category: Reviews (Page 1 of 2)

Walking Dead Wednesday: RV Upgrade

Even though I have fatherly affection for my silly, taped-up RV, I picked up the Mantic official RV to have a better looking model for the game.

So I punched out the MDF pieces and followed the initial instructions and glued it together to prime the “interior” of the model.  I also put the main parts of the wheels together and primed them as well.

A keen-eyed observer will notice I already have a problem but we’ll get to that later.

Next I primed the outside pieces the standard grey I’ll be using for the model.

Ruh Roh. Apparently I didn’t pay attention enough to which side was which on the inside frame pieces and now have them glued to the wrong sides. Be careful when assembling as it seems really easy to do.

So with this mess up, I could try to take the inner frame apart and glue it back or I could flip the outer pieces around and have the whole model reversed. I wasn’t going to risk breaking the model to fix the inner frame so I tested the reverse sides.

Hmm. Just not feeling it. You lose a lot of the etched detailing and the outer door on the driver’s side just feels weird. After some brainstorming, I come up with a nifty plan C.

I went in to illustrator and photoshop and made custom windows overlay inside the frame, blocking the incorrect inner sides.  After seeing this more in the test, I actually prefer it since the interior has no detail, the see through windows make the model a little odd.  These windows were really easy since they sandwich between the frame and the detailed outer pieces.

Inserting the stylized curtains to the interior of the model (inside the already put together frame) was a bit more challenging and not unlike putting together a ship in a bottle.  For anyone going this route, plan ahead and attach your window images on the interior frame pieces before you get the whole thing together.

Next it was an easy bit of attaching the out detail pieces and the frame for the awning.

If you take a quick look back at the Mantic image of the front bumper and my front bumper, you’ll notice another little hiccup. This time, it’s totally on Mantic as the instructions show the bumper in the configuration that I have but the intent is likely how they have their press image. I’ll see how annoying the discrepancy is and maybe I’ll correct it.

There was one last feature I wanted to add: a Windshield.  The open/exposed front looks odd to me and I didn’t want to do another paper image like the other sides. Luckily, Mantic already supplies the answer, albeit from another source:

Using the clear plastic window piece from one of their survivor boosters works perfectly.  Cut to fit and glued in, I have my new RV all ready to rock and roll out.

I may still decide to paint it up more and add some detailing but for now, I’m calling it good.

edit: someone asked about the window graphics so I have posted them below.  It’s in b/w but the gray window graphics can be used for color as well.  It’s also really easy to do in Illustrator: gradient > type: linear > angle 45 degree > pull the gradient slider towards the light color until you get the “glare” effect you want.

click for full size image

War of the Ring Anniversary Edition

As I teased at the end of my post last week, my copy of War of the Ring (second edition) Anniversary Release from Ares Games arrived.  I finally got a chance to check it out and it is, in a word, glorious.

With a foot print of nearly 16″ x 20″ and over 6″ tall, this box is massive. The only box that comes to mind that might be bigger is the OGRE Kickstarter.

The box itself has some nice features. The art is classic and well done and the sides and bottom are all done in black fabric.

Underneath the sturdy top box lies a full fabric wrapped case with magnetic latches and metallic lettering and art. As a little side note, the fabric wrapped boxes removes the silly “box fart” that most larger board game boxes encounter. This box can swing in event the most sophisticated parties.

Opening the inner case reveals layered trays to hold all the components.  Each tray is divided by a thick art piece that features some great John Howe art and, on the reverse, a guide to putting all the miniatures back in their tray.

Speaking of miniatures, the main draw for this anniversary release was the pre-painted miniatures.  These miniatures turned out pretty good for pre-painted but not near the quality of Rackham’s AT-43/Confrontation line or Fantasy Flight’s X-wing.  Even the venerable Heroscape might be better in the pre-painted department.  I think it the lack of a good wash and the painting attempt was emphasizing multiple painting steps and color options over letting a good wash bring out those details.  (click on any of the above images for more detail)

You can see from these close ups of some of the random samplings of figures that, in general, the painting is fine.  Some models are easier to paint or lend themselves to this style while others are a little harder to pull of or show what can happen with an assembly line-style painting process.  Poor Gimli lost half his face up there with a paint mishap.

After the minis, we get to the print material of the set.  Namely, the player cheat sheets, the opaque bag, the slipcase of the rulebook and companion book and the massive playing board. That board takes up almost my entire 3.5′ x 4.5′ game table. The hardback rule and companion books are very well done and bound stylishly as well.  I will likely keep these out of the case for casual reading.

A nice little touch to the game board is the foil stamping of the Mount Doom area. It’s hard to see in the image but in person, it stands out.

And of course, the whole thing comes with an authenticity letter claiming my copy is 1 of 2000 printed.  Actually number 87 according to the sheet.

I wouldn’t be a game pimper if I didn’t try to pimp even the most pre-pimped game in my collection.  I made this alternative bag for the “hunt tiles” a while ago for my original second edition.  While the Anniversary Release’s bag is nice, I will probably keep using my original bag.

Last but not least, I also picked up a hand-made, painted custom mount doom for my original version some years ago.  It’s nice see that it fits well on this large game board as well.

Walking Dead Wednesday: Prelude to Woodbury vs Core Set comparison

I saw a user on Boardgamegeek talk about only going with the Prelude to Woodbury expansion to start his collection in The Walking Dead: All Out War and never picking up the Core Set. I think this is perfectly doable but like in most things, there will be tradeoffs and balances to this approach.

I decided to research more into this and find out exactly what you’ll be missing if you go this route and what do you gain.

First things first, however; not picking up the Core Set (CS) and only buying the Prelude to Woodbury (P2W) expansion is only viable if you are running your games as solo or co-op experiences.  As will be evident soon, you will be missing some critical items to run true competitive games or attempt tournament/league play.

Let’s start out by looking at the Core Set (taken from Mantic’s TWD contents file):

In addition to the items listed above, the Core Set comes with six survivor figures and twelve walkers. At $50 MSRP, this entry point is a great value.

Now that we have our starting place for comparison, let’s look at the Prelude to Woodbury (P2W) set:

In addition to the items listed above, the set comes with one survivor and five walkers.  This set can cheat a little bit with the walkers as they also include four “Captured Walker Counters.” If you’re not needing these counters for a scenario, they can proxy for more walkers on the board.

At $40 MSRP, this entry point is cheaper but for most players it won’t be worth the savings if they plan on continuing their collection.  It does work as a great demo set to initiate new players and if cost is the most important consideration when dipping your toe into this game, then the P2W set is a fine place to start.

Let’s say that last statement describes you but you want to know what you might be missing.  First off, you’re getting  less than half the models of the Core Set.  If you plan on just playing around with the P2W contents and the narrative campaign it has, the loss in model count is not a big deal.  The campaign in the rules only uses the contents of this expansion so you won’t be short anything in this box.  So even though you don’t get as many models and half the terrain templates, it shouldn’t matter.

What will hurt if you’re moving on to play any competitive games are several rules interactions like building a survivor group and some nuanced situations in melee and shooting that won’t or will rarely exist in solo play. Your event deck and supply deck cards won’t be complete so you’ll need to use your opponents when you play.

You’ll also be missing a paper game mat from the core set.  This may be an issue as three of the six scenarios in Days Gone Bye use that mat.  These mats will be sold separately in a deluxe quality (likely neoprene) so you can always pick one up later. Otherwise, the game mats are strictly decorative. You can always measure out a play space 20″ x  20″ and set up the scenery as shown.  Given that this is a miniatures game, a lot players will ditch the paper mat anyway and create their own version.

If you are planning to expand your game, however, starting with the starter and moving on to the Days Gone Bye expansion is going to be your best option, even if playing solo.  The P2W set, at that point, is nice to have for more walkers and the extra dice, etc but not necessary.

Gen Con 2016 Prep: T-minus 1 day to departure

The final prep day.  Yesterday worked out well as I was able to finish up my Dropzone Commander Battle Buses.

bus group final

bus rollout 2

bus rollout 1

These guys will be ready to wreck face this weekend and I’m excited to see them hit the table. Dropzone Commander seems to be picking up steam with my gaming group so it’ll be great to throw a battle bus or two out there in the field.  Now I need to get those con exclusive double deckers up and ready.

Thunder Road also saw the finalization of the defense turret.  I had to add an acrylic base and highlight the edges to make sure the turret didn’t get lost on the board.

turret final2

Thunder Road wasn’t the only thing getting some love yesterday. Loopin’ Chewie saw some action as I finished up the winner plaque- the (soon-to-be) legendary Golden Paddle.

chewie plaque final

This took a little longer than expected as I had to finish the tournament graphic (pillaging the real Loopin’ Chewie logo) and figure out how I wanted the plaque to mount and what to use to mount the custom paddle arm with.  I went with simple options for both and the Golden Paddle is actually just hanging free from a hook so that the winner can remove and play with it if they choose.  It likely won’t hold up to many plays (if any) as the paint will chip but it could be a cool little set piece to throw down with occasionally.

In other Loopin’ Chewie news, Rob McFadden from One Shot Manufacturing got wind of my little Gen Con tournament and asked if I wanted to use his new 6 player adaptors for prize support and play.  After checking out his work, it seemed like a great fit.  I received the pieces in the mail today and did some tests.

chewie 6 pieces

I have to say that I’m really excited about these little guys.  They are small and fit absolutely perfectly to both the main motor base and the paddle arms.  You do have to glue them to the base so they will stay but Rob has a tutorial on youtube here.

chewie 6 attached

Apparently Rob had to switch plastic suppliers but the switch altered the color to better match the light grey base of the game.  The images shown here are all of the new color and material.  Rob had both kinds available to ship and aside from the color, I haven’t noticed a difference between the two.

Chewie 6 full

Later today I plan on following his youtube instructions to have a set ready to play at Gen Con.  If you are interested in finding out more about his Loopin’ Chewie accessory, check out his site via the link above or his Boardgamegeek store here.

That basically finishes up my prep for Thunder Road and Loopin’ Chewie. The only thing I have left is to pack up these games and get them ready to make the flight.  While this may seem trivial, I’ve had game components and game boxes completely destroyed through baggage handling.  Now I take the same approach packing games as I would shipping them overseas.  I try to leave the original box at home since this is the first thing that usually gets torn up.  Next, I’ll use shipping boxes to create rigid structures in the bag.  Finally, I like to bag small/delicate components in tight baggies as that typically works as a shock absorber when components might rattle around.  Bagging as many loose items as possible is a pretty standard practice for me anyway so taking it one step further to secure delicate single pieces isn’t a big deal.

samples of the 6-player adaptors for Loopin’ Chewie were provided free by One Shot Manufacturing.

Walking Dead comes to Grand Lake, Part 1

So I’ve talked a bit about my CabinCon prep for the Walking Dead minis game (All Out War) by Mantic Games but I got the chance to put the whole thing together and play two epic sessions.  The first session is below.

disclaimer: The Walking Dead: All Out War game has not been released as of this post. All miniatures, scenery, and components are either mocked up or proxies from other games.

Taco Troubles

As has been tradition since the first CabinCon, a group of friends head down to the local restaurant Pancho and Lefty’s for a chance to get out of the cabin and stretch their legs.

from Take My Trip dot com

The friends all take a seat at a large table on the side of the open restaurant.  Before the server can even take a drink order everyone sees a flash pass quickly by the restaurant front window followed by an explosion that rumbles the walls.


The group jumps up and starts to run through various emotional reactions, some running to the window to see what is going on, while others cower in the corner taking cover from an unseen threat.



Eventually some brave souls venture outside only to find carnage and mayhem have taken over the town of Grand Lake.


We find that the source of the explosion was the fiery wreck that once was our main mode of transportation, Reese’s Xterra.


Unfortunately, the fire and explosion brought some unwelcome guests… The Walking Dead.


Things start to get interesting as the Dead are now breaking into the back of the restaurant.


This forces our heroes into the street with only the most rudimentary weapons.  Don, the local Police Officer is a good shot but years of training to fire at center mass is hard to ignore.  Don is making a lot of noise and attracting more hungry dead.


The team starts to converge around the only intact vehicle in sight and start to make their stand.


Just when the heroes had scoured the area for a way to start the truck, a man stumbles out of the adjacent building.  He is wounded and being chased by several Walkers.


Too quickly, he falls and the heroes cannot save him.  Don is finally overwhelmed and pulled down by the undead and consumed.


In the wounded man’s hand are a set of Chevy keys. The heroes distract the walkers and grab the keys to make a run for the truck.  They are able to get in and get it started but the Walkers surround the vehicle.


Unfortunately, one friend had gone to check out the other side of the lot and was making a stand with newfound friend, Vincent “blade-y hands” and didn’t realize the party was over.


The heroes knock over the slow dead and make a bee-line to their comrade and newfound friend and drive off to the closest safe haven they know- the Cabin.


VICTORY for now…



The guys had a lot of fun with the new Walking Dead: All Out Wars rules and I found the system to be extremely flexible.  I ran it (and warned the players) that I would likely treat it more like an RPG and push/pull the events for maximum effect.  In this way, I would take a back seat to the decisions since I new how a lot of the scenario would play out and just ran around to help.

We were obviously playing the game under the “Solo” rules and I expanded it to a co-operative level with each player controlling their own avatar.  I didn’t worry too much about the NPCs and only really played them for story effect (to be eaten or cause “Mayhem”- the game’s way of escalating the dangerous encounters in the game and the main way the heroes can lose).

For each player’s avatar stats, I made a private quiz to find out a little more about each attendee and suit a 30 point character to match as close as possible within the limits of the system.  Then I created the personal standees after getting some “action shots” of the guys with various weapons. This really got the guys interested and had them feel that something was on the line as they played the game.

To help further immerse the group, I made some crude papercraft buildings loosely representing the restaurant we frequent and the surrounding area.  Google Earth came in handy as it made for a passable paper playmat with the street and parking lot outside. This also helped keep the guys interested as the game environment slowly evolved as the game progressed.  We started in the restaurant map and it could have easily stayed inside there for the whole game if I wanted but I knew I wanted this to feel somewhat like an RPG with exploration elements and unknown events triggering somewhat logically.

Speaking of events, the game comes with a deck of random events that trigger at the end of each round and working in special events that I randomly placed in the deck, made for a very organic story that developed.  The main “end scenario” event was placed in a random set of the last 6 event cards so even I didn’t know how far along we had to survive before we could leave and end the scenario.

I designed the little scenario to be a one-off in case people thought it was fun but not worth going through again the next night.  Lucky for me, everyone loved it and wanted more so I had the “part 2” as an optional continuation of the story.  Again, the rules really open this up for players as it deals with achievement and advancement in between the scenarios.  Before the next scenario, I had the guys “level up” their character and based on how well we did during Part 1, we received time to search the Cabin for weapons, arm up and prepare for what was coming up in Part 2.


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