Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Category: Variants

Walking Dead “Wednesday”: Body Count

After making my Lurker variant using one of the existing Walking Dead models, I found that I wanted more but didn’t want to start ripping apart a bunch of my already painted doubles so I’ll have to wait to see what other doubles I might get later on.  I don’t want to have to wait too long so I went in search of some modern figure bodies that I might be able to use. Eventually, I found a set of dead body figures from TTCombat and after receiving them, I found they work quite well.

TTCombat figures come unpainted.

Since these are scenery pieces first and foremost, I tend to spend as little time as possible on them but even with that, they were very easy to work up, especially in the black and white style.

Now I have a veritable minefield of Lurker zombies just waiting to devour my hapless survivors.

rick grimes rides through a corpse strewn street

I don’t think you want to take this road, Rick.

Walking Dead Wednesday: Horseplay

As I mentioned in my Lurker post, I picked up a second Rick on Horse set on accident so I’ve been looking at what to do with the extra miniatures. Since I found a nice use of the extra duplicate walker, I decided I should do something with the extra Rick figure too.

Checking out some of the upcoming expansions, I saw the retail booster of Ezekiel and his tiger, Shiva.

One thing that caught my attention (after the awesomeness of Shiva and some cool new equipment cards) was the concept of playing an animal as a survivor.

I decided to make a separate “horse” miniature for the game that you can play as a functional survivor. The booster pack already comes with a horse equipment card so I would use the mechanics of that to make the rules.  First, however, I wanted to make the horse miniature.

I started out trying to cut off the glued on Rick figure but found it less destructive to push Rick back and forth on the horse until the glue broke and I could just pull him off.

Next, it was really easy to use greenstuff to fill the hole and smooth it over.

Then all that was left was to paint it up.

I don’t keep notes on the specific shades I use to paint but it would have been really helpful making this doppleganger horse.

And finally, I made up a survivor card for the horse based mostly on what the equipment card has and then extrapolating the stats based on the custom survivor creation rules in the back of the Days Gone Bye expansion.  This got everything to 20 points, just like the equipment card.  I can’t read the low quality image of Shiva’s card but it looks like there is some kind of “beast” or “animal” trait that forbids the animal to manipulate thing or reduce the threat counter. Even if it doesn’t, it seems to make sense that the action pool will be limited on an animal.

I removed the gear slots just like Shiva’s card but left the Pack slots. This works similar to the equipment card’s own rule on allowing you to attach items to it to simulate thing being stored on the animal.  I haven’t tested anything on these rules but will hopefully give them a run soon enough.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the Rick figure.

Walking Dead Wednesday: Creating a Lurker

I was priming my new Rick on Horse figure and the walker figure that comes in the expansion kept puzzling me.

from Mantic Games

This walker is an alright sculpt but his hunched over appearance just kept nagging at me.  Not that there was anything wrong with it but it kept reminding me of something and then it dawned on me: the posture is perfect for making a sitting walker like I’ve seen so many times in the comic and TV series.

I thought of maybe cutting the model up and repositioning, using greenstuff to gap-fill but then I remembered the trick you can use to straighten out bent miniatures using hot and cold water baths. For more on using hot water to bend miniatures, check out Pair of Dice’s Youtube video tutorial. I decided to try it out and was pleasantly surprised with just how easy it was.

First I cut the model off the base using a small razor saw. I find when doing this kind of cutting, it’s best to use some thick work gloves to keep the saw from slipping and cutting up your fingers.

Next you’ll be using the actual hot water technique.  Since you’ll be doing this with a very hot model, I recommend using some safety equipment like pliers and/or work gloves.  Once you’re ready, dunk the model in the hot water using pliers or whatever you have available so as to not burn yourself.

Once the model is hot, fish it out of the hot water and simply bend the model over to a nice sitting position.  I used two sets of needle-nose pliers to get the effect. You won’t have too much time so bend it to an approximate position and then hold the model in the cold water to lock in the new position.

After about a minute or so in cold water, the miniature should be stable and you can pull it out and set it down to see how well it works.  It took me a few tries to get the position I wanted.  Putting the model back into the hot water will have the model try to reset to it’s factory position.  This can be used to help straighten out parts of the model that you didn’t want bent.  The legs of my model kept curling up and looked funny when I tried to set it down flat on the table so I dunked just the ends of the legs in the hot water. This “reset” them straight and finalized the position.

So I’m liking the model a lot but the other side of this was I wanted to have these Lurker walkers be different in the game so I also came up with the walker variant “Lurker” card below.  The supply deck already has a Lurker card but my card will be for corpse models laying around in the play area while the supply deck version will handle the ambush style threats they pose.  I think these will be especially fun when we get into expansions with tight spaces like the Prison or Woodbury maps (potentially as I haven’t seen them yet).

I’ll place these Lurkers just like normal Walker placement rules except they can be placed in contact with scenery elements but do not count as an enemy model for the purposes of searching or defending a barricade.

Variety as Life Spices

While I love pimping out games, my first foray into altering board games came from the mechanical design side of the hobby.  Cutting my teeth as a young lad on such classic titles as HeroQuest and Battle Masters, it wasn’t long before the little wheels in my head started turning as I yearned to dive deeper into those gaming worlds.

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my yellowed copy of one of the first variants I attempted – an expansion module to HeroQuest

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25+ years later and my handwriting still hasn’t gotten much better

After all this time, I still have a compelling need to create my own variants for my favorite games.  It’s hard to say which side pushes harder, the desire to improve the functionality and aesthetic appeal of a game or the fun in varying the rules to better suit where I want the game design to go.  Since pimping out a game requires little collaboration, I tend to do it more as I am free to mod and pimp at my leisure but it doesn’t mean that I don’t still jot down notes and variants for most of my games. I don’t think I know how to pimp games without also wanting to create a more personal set of rules.

variants-menu

Looking back through these notes and files, I realized I’ve amassed quite a little collection of variants and so I created a new page on the blog to put them at easy reach.  Like most things, this will be a work-in-progress and updated when I can.  I’ll try to add links or download options for those curious to see these variants in more detail but for now, I want to highlight a particularly obsessive variant I’ve been working on.

It’s no secret I’ve been really getting into Flick ’em Up! by Pretzel Games recently.  At Gen Con, I was able to try out a curious and ultimately fantastic new game by Filip Neduk of Czech Games Edition, called Adrenaline. Adrenaline is a fun resource control game set as old school first-person shooter (FPS) video game where the resource is damage dealt to your enemies.  It has some of the best theme-implemented mechanics I’ve seen for a board game attempting anything like this genre and I was sold almost immediately.

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prototype play at Gen Con 2016

Unfortunately, it was released at Spiel in Essen, Germany last month and hasn’t made the trek over the pond quite yet. Even though I definitely want to add this game to my collection, I couldn’t stop thinking about combining all the great damage and scoring mechanics of the game with the dexterity and almost FPS nature of Flick ’em Up! So a couple weekends back, I prototyped enough components to try out this Frankenstein-ian creation and was happy to see that it actually worked quite well.

flick_adrenaline_variant1

At a quick glance, it still looks basically like Flick ’em Up!- open table layout with three-dimensional Flick ’em Up! pieces scattered around to make a more dynamic playing area.  However, if you look carefully (at the table, not my friend’s impressive liquor display), you’ll notice I added some cards representing the different weapons the cowboys can acquire and the player board, where most of the new rules interaction comes into play.

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Looking at the new player board, it is basically a carbon copy of the player board in Adrenaline, but rethemed to fit Flick ’em Up’s setting.

The board tracks damage from your opponents, points given when you die, action options, and keeps your resources close by.  The points are now represented thematically by money (courtesy of 7 Wonders) and instead of skulls representing kills, I have little tombstones.  Even when messing around with new mechanics, I can’t help but try a little pimping as well.

flick_adrenaline_variant3

While I spent a lot of time getting the look of the player boards to a quality we could enjoy, I knew the biggest mechanical hurdle was getting the weapons right.  From experience, I knew these custom weapons would take a lot more effort and will undergo a lot of iterations to test and get right since they will be the biggest marriage between the two systems.

Adrenaline has 21 unique weapons in its game and since the concept of what each weapon does is largely abstract and only defined by how and who all it can hurt, there is a lot of freedom in the variety of each card. Since the way you deal damage in this variant is largely based on the dexterity flicking component of Flick ’em Up!, the weapon powers had to be grounded more in what options were physically available.  Luckily, Flick ’em Up! contains a lot of varied options in weapons and effects so I settled on nine unique weapons.  I actually like the more limited weapons pool as it helps the balance a bit from both a testing side (less variables to test and correct) and a gameplay side as a powerful weapon won’t be unique and others will have access to the same option if it proves too potent.

flick_adrenaline_variant4

The test game we ran worked pretty well and I was pleased that the concept worked fully and was enjoyed by the players.  The variant isn’t quite ready yet as the pacing was a little slower than I liked so I’ll go back to the drawing board on the weapon concepts and see what I can do increase the tempo of the game. Then I’ll test again until the game feels more in-line with expectations. After that, I’ll finalize the art for the weapon cards and finish up a general rules document.  Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to host the variant at one of the upcoming game conventions next year.

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