Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Category: CNC Milling

Catacombs: An Experiment In 3D

Catacombs, the dexterity disc-flicking dungeon crawl game, is easily my favorite dexterity game out there.  I’m a big fan of dexterity games anyway but Catacombs has always struck me as the perfect balance between dexterity game and narrative story.

catacombs box cover from the publisher (on BGG)

I’ve had my 3rd edition copy for awhile now and I got it in my head to take the game layout, which is in a 2D layout with obstacles, to 3D.  This concept is one I’ve explored before but never with Catacombs proper.  With the CNC machine up and running, this gave me the best opportunity to try out some experiments.

One map in particular stood out in particular as the perfect starting point.  The Altar Chamber map (as I call it) looked like a great fit so I took some photos (the board is bigger than my scanner) and uploaded it to Illustrator.  In Illustrator, I traced the central altar piece and converted it to an .svg to import into my CAD program. From there, I tweaked the measurements and created the file for a test milling.

The test print came out very near perfect for the measurements.  The ramp was only roughed in (that’s why it has that stair-stepped look to it) and I plan on smoothing it out on a sander.

I then added the other side to the layout to complete the rough first step.  I sanded the ramps smooth to a sharp point then primed the two pieces dark grey and sealed them.  Finally, I went back to my initial photo image and printed, cut, and mounted it to the two pieces.

The effect came out very well.  The pieces still fit well after the layers of primer and sealant and even though my printer is inferior to the professional board image printers, it still came out well enough to not be distracting.

So the big question is, did it work? Well, no. Mechanically it doesn’t quite do it.  The ramps are about as smooth as I can make them but still catch the discs sometimes and rebounds them backwards.  A big issue is that the Catacombs discs are flat walled cylinders with pretty sharp corners.  This means they catch even the slighted unevenness and bounce back.  Crokinole and Pitch Car discs have bevel or rounded edges to them so it takes a lot of gap in the tiles or ramps to have them bounce bad.

I could bevel the bottom edges of my Catacombs pieces but I think that is overkill.  At the end of the day, I may just ditch the ramp concept altogether and variant a “jump” ability where you use a card as your ramp and flick up that to get to the higher levels of the terrain.  I was already going to introduce that concept for the ranged attacks so it might be easier to add a movement/melee shot option for it is as well.  In any case, I like the look and the feel of the piece and I’m glad to see my CNC performed within the necessary tolerances to produce this piece.

Just Milling About

So it’s been a few weeks since my last post but only because I’ve been head-down in a new project: learning CAD and CAM for milling on a CNC machine.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I was excited to have a brand new tool added to my pimping arsenal: a CNC Machine. The only issue was it was a kit I needed to build and I’m not so handy with building things this complex.

The project progressed in fits and starts until just a few weeks ago, I finally got everything all together and running.  I had to take a quick detour and clean out the garage and cobble together a quick workbench table to have room to run it all but I was able to knock that out in a weekend.

With everything prepped, I grabbed a template off BGG and set it up using a trial version of Fusion 360.  I have to say, the resources MillRight CNC have put together on their site is outstanding and the direct responses from them for questions I’ve sent have been amazing.  They really go above and beyond supporting their customers on what could easily be a nightmare project.

The my workspace ready and my machine up and running, I imported Flashhawk’s PitchCar mini-converter SVG and got to cutting to test it all out.

As you can see from the video, the machine definitely did its job.  The cut was nice and everything worked as it should.

Punching out the piece was easy and cleaning up the “tabs” that hold the piece in place while cutting will be easy.

Just one little issue…

So obviously there are some scaling issues but the test was successful and I’ve been working up several new concepts that I’m eager to complete.  The first step has been taken, now the real challenges begin.

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