Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Category: Showcase (Page 1 of 4)

Showcase: Hnefatafl, Tablut variant

Earlier this month, I was at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and was inspired by some of the ancient game pieces they had on display to make my own Hnefatafl game.  I posted earlier about how I was making the pieces and sourcing for the board and today I have it all completed.  I’m beyond excited about how it all turned out and can’t wait to start playing the game.

A look back at what I had done before shows that I still needed to stain the “attacker” pieces dark and get the board in from The Merry Merchant. With that now finished we can see the final game in all it’s glory.

To finish off the outside attacher pieces, I decided to go with a dark Espresso stain using another Polyshades 2-in-1 from MinWax.  I used the same technique as I did with the lighter pieces and found that I liked the light, brushed approach best.  MinWax recommends two coats but the first coat went on with a lot of brush strokes that I didn’t like at first but as the stain set, the strokes grew soft and created this tiger eye-like look to them and so I ended up keeping it at one coat.

These dark attacker pieces then contrast very well with the light stained defenders.

As you can see from above, the board is not just some simple burned in squares but rather, The Merry Merchant put a lot of excellent imagery into the design as well.

The designs aren’t just there to look pretty though. They help guide the player to set up the board and know where the victory positions are (the four outside corners).  I can’t praise quality of this piece enough.

When everything is all done, the board folds and gathers into a bag to hold all the pieces.  With everything complete, now all that is left is to play.  Since it travels so easily, I’ll likely bring it almost anywhere.

 

Showcase: Last Night on Earth/Invasion from Outer Space

One of the first board games I really got into was Flying Frog Production’s Last Night on Earth zombie horror game.  The game first hit the shelves in 2007 and I picked it up right away due to its unique art style using edited studio photography in place of the more common painted or illustrated art of other games.

image from bgg, publisher

The game play itself was pretty unique to me as well.  This game didn’t set players against each other or co-operatively against the board game itself, it had a player play as the zombies trying to defeat the heroes.  This one-vs-many approach was pretty common in dungeon-delving games like Heroquest and Descent but it was novel in the zombie game genre- a genre, I’d like to point out, was not anywhere near as populated as what we see today.  If you check out that Boardgamegeek geeklist of zombie games, you’ll notice most of the entries are after Last Night on Earth came out. Essentially if you wanted a zombie game back then, you were either doing the All Things Zombie miniatures rules, something by Twilight Creations, or little unknown one-off games from small publishers.

In my narrow view (and increasingly narrower) view of the board game hobby, Last Night on Earth’s hit release was at the beginning of the wave or possibly the catalyst for wave of zombies games that came after its release.

So with this game, I loved everything about it: the storytelling, the art, and the mechanics, but I wanted more. As I wrote about in one of my first posts years ago, this game really got me into painting and pimping out games, starting with painting the minis.

These were some of the first minis I ever painted and the original painting thread on Boardgamegeek was the inspiration.  Looking back at what I’ve done since then, it’s hard not to understate how important that one article was to my enjoyment of this hobby.

Flying Frog saw a lot of success from Last Night on Earth and was able launch their game company from it, spawning several expansions and ultimately branching out into other game systems.  In 2010, Flying Frog returned to the Last Night on Earth system and created a ballsy new edition: Invasion from Outer Space.

Aliens invading the setting of Last Night’s Woodvale was not that far fetched but Flying Frog decided to take on a crazy twist to the story by adding a carnival setting complete with tutu-wearing dancing bear.

The reaction to this adventurous take was pretty mixed.  I loved the wacky theme and new territory Flying frog was breaking into but the public seemed to not care for such a whimsical approach.

The heroes were more developed, more interesting, and more fun to paint, but I think it confused buyers looking for a more serious approach to the game system. In their defense, Flying Frog added rules to use the heroes from Last Night on Earth in the game in case you wanted to leave the crazy carnies out of it.  This mix was not enough and ultimately Flying Frog never returned to the game.

Abandoning the title was pretty sad as the aliens and mechanics around them were great and I really wanted to see more on the Carnival adventure.

One little pimp I did to the game outside of just painting the minis was adding these flying saucer miniatures taken from Monsterpocalypse by Privateer Press.  These markers represent the flying saucers flying overhead, warping more aliens down to the planet and causing havoc.

Ultimately, I still love the setting and both games but I was sad they never expanded Invasion from Outer Space.  Luckily, they haven’t abandoned everything and still produce Last Night on Earth content (though it has been quiet until very recently).

from ICv2, publisher

At GAMA, Flying Frog announced they are doing a 10th anniversary release of Last Night on Earth for 2017. From the ICv2 article:

Last Night on Earth 10th Anniversary Edition, which will be produced as a deluxe limited version of the game.  This boxed set will include eight heroes, including new playable versions of the original Townsfolk, along with a plastic Old Truck model, plastic pieces for several of the game markers, new scenarios, and an updated and expanded rulebook that includes rules for fire and the experience system introduced in the Timber Peak expansion.  MSRP is $99.95.

While I’m glad Flying Frog is back in the Last Night on Earth game setting, this product seems more like what new players should pick up as the hardcore fans likely already have the Timber Peak expansion and don’t need to rebuy all of that other material.  This is a little unfortunate as these same hardcore players helped keep the game alive and would likely want a lot of the special plastic pieces and new versions of the townsfolk.

Maybe Flying Frog will look at making a separate “upgrade” kit for original owns similar to what Ares Games did for fans of their War of the Ring Anniversary Release.

Showcase: Dropzone Commander Starter set (Resistance)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been getting more and more into miniatures games.  It started with Fantasy Flight’s X-wing Miniatures Game which spoiled me with prepainted minis and no need for any terrain building.

My game group had seen a relatively new game around by Hawk Wargames and it looked fun but I didn’t want to jump back into the whole hobby side of modeling, painting, and terrain building unless the game was truly great. At Gen Con, Dropzone Commander, a 10mm skirmish war game had demos and we were able to finally try it out.  The game was a lot of fun and the miniatures seemed easy to paint with very little assembly.  To make it even easier, Hawk Wargames had the brilliant idea of making easy and great looking paper terrain so once you pick up a starter and do any minor assembly, you can throw it all down and get started.

Why I liked X-wing so much was because it was zero effort from open box to playing on the table.  Dropzone Commander isn’t zero effort but if you don’t mind unpainted minis, it is pretty darn close.  My friend picked up the main starter set and I decided to focus on their post-apocalyptic themed Resistance army.

I’m decent enough at painting but I also want to get the game to the table as quickly as possible so I usually limit myself to a small palette of colors.  This army was a little tough for me as it wasn’t a standard regimented army and so the color schemes had to be consistent but still varied and “hodge-podgey” to represent the army’s ragtag theme.

I decided that I’d have the bulk of the army in a dark black scheme but have random vehicles in an entirely different scheme to represent newer acquisitions.  The army would keep it’s cohesiveness with a telltale red blood stripe down the center.  Red is my usual player color in games (if given a choice) so I was happy to add this element to my army.

Since the models have a few interchangeable options with weapons, I decided to magnetize these options so they can swap out easily. The gun on top of the Lifthawk dropship pictured above has magnets to swap out for non-gun versions and magnets on the undercarriage to carry different vehicle options.

The tops of these APCs have magnets as well to go into any of my dropships.  The Infantry are on clear bases as that is my favorite basing style since it is relatively easy and works amazingly well on flat, smooth game mats.

These gun wagons are part of the Resistance Army’s signature ragtag appearance and so I broke the red stripe theme and just made some post-apocalyptic trucks.  The guns are magnetized as well to swap out for the various wagon unit options.

That completed the starter army but I quickly expanded to a full 1,000 point army, which is a good beginner size that allows for some army build flexibility but keeps things small enough to not overwhelm new players.

To get up to 1,000 points, from the 600-ish point starter, I added a few new elements.

I added a Barrel Bomber and added more magnets for army building flexibility.

Then added the awesome Cyclone helicopter models.  The rotors are magnetized just so they can easily be removed for storage.

Before Hawk made some rules adjustments, Freerider motorcycles were a mainstay of every Resistance army.  Here, I mounted them again on clear acrylic bases.

Finally, I capped the army off with a commander unit. This time, I used Salakahn’s “famous” commander model to double for the general M3 Alexander super tank.

Recently, I was able to add a bit more to push my army to the standard 1,500 point tournament size.

The massive Thunderstorm hovercraft transport became my new commander unit.

Along with their crazy Walord’s Retinue.

I branched into the Fast Flyer rules with Foley’s J19 Hellhog.

Another Resistance signature item with their Breach Drill.

And at last, a unit of Battle Buses. The gunners are magnetized to the defensive bunker, which is also magnetized tho the buses themselves.

With all this work, I didn’t want to risk damaging any of the models so I used pluck foam to fill out a box and use it all for safe/easy transportion.

This box carries everything except my rule books and terrain.  It also will have enough room to expand with the other models I have waiting to finish painting.

Showcase: Assault on Hoth: The Empire Strikes Back

I’d had my eye on the old West End game, Assault on Hoth: The Empire Strikes Back, for a long time but I’m never a fan of chits and standees. So I decided to recreate a version like quite a few other BGGers and upgrade the components.

I finished this project earlier this year after working on it off and on for over a year but since Rogue One is hitting the theaters this weekend, these bad boys have been obsessively on my mind:

at-act-walker_78783f1b

Rogue One, by the way, is fantastic.  It was like watching all my favorite minis games get a big budget action movie.  Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: Armada, X-wing, and Imperial Assault could all be combined into an Epic Battle of Scariff as the movie combined all three theaters of war seamlessly into one epic narrative.

Anyway, back to Hoth: I started out with the excellent resources on the Assault on Hoth boardgamegeek page, including BennyBroka revised map and revised card deck.

hoth-wide

I had the decks printed from Artscow and the map as a matte poster print from Printer studio. I later laminated the poster at Office Depot.

hoth-cards1

hoth-cards2

After that, I started collecting minis. With Star Wars so prevalent again, the toy market is flush with new items like the resurgence of Micro Machines. I picked up the 5 AT-ATs needed from various Micro Machines sets.

 hoth-at-2
hoth-at-3

The tiny AT-STs came from these weird cube “playset” games called “box busters.”

hoth-speeders1

The small Airspeeders are from Mel Miniatures‘ Shapeways account. I looked all over for these but just couldn’t find anything in the right size but luckily Mel Miniatures had them in Fantasy Flight’s Armada scale.

I couldn’t find any trooper options in a scale I wanted (preferably 6mm for this game like I did in OGRE) so I went with making tokens.

 hoth-wide2
hoth-shield-generator

The Shield Generator and cannons again came from the “box busters” series.

hoth-dice

Finally, I was able to pick up a set of dice from BGG user Orph and they turned out fantastic.

hoth-storage

Everything rolls up into a cylinder mailing tube and I’m really happy with how everything turned out.

 hoth-speeders-2

Now that Rogue One killing it in theaters, maybe some publisher will give us some new All Terrain combat vehicle action. Until then, I have Assault on Hoth to relive my favorite battle of the Star Wars franchise.

Showcase: Terror in Meeple City (Rampage)

rampage_box

I’ve always been a fan of dexterity games and so when I saw Repos Production‘s over-sized new monster smash up dexterity game, Rampage, at Gen Con in 2013, I knew I had to have it.

daddyslittlemen

Oversized Rampage at Gen Con 2013. image from Daddy’s Little Men blog

Repos Production later changed the game’s name to Terror in Meeple City to likely avoid some copyright infringement but the game is fantastic fun no matter what you call it.

The game comes stocked full of colorful meeples and originally they offered a sticker sheet separately to add some character to these guys but thankfully the sticker sheet comes in the retail box now.

meeple-building-example

The only thing about the components that I found a little off were the monsters themselves.  While they were nice and heavy wood cutouts, they only had stickers to give them character and were all the same natural wood color.

rampage-detail

This was easily remedied.  Before stickering the pieces, I picked up some spray paints in matching colors and sprayed down all the pieces.  A quick seal and some stickering and the monsters pieces were ready to go. To me, this really helped keep all the pieces consistent and match the fun, colorful world the game art evokes.

rampage-close-up1

Since you don’t actually need a lot of color, buying individual spray paint for each color was a little overboard. You could easily substitute some craft acrylic paints to get a similar effect.

rampage-close-up2

If you wanted to duplicate this effect and you’ve already stickered your set, you could try removing the stickers with a hairdryer.  This should ruin the adhesive but should keep the stickers intact and let you peal them off easily.  You can then reapply an adhesive (I’d recommend a spray adhesive) and put the stickers back on after you paint the pieces.

Due to a sale on Artscow, I was able to create a custom bag to hold the meeples.

rampage-bag2

The image was photoshopped from the revised box cover and printed using Artscow’s small drawstring bag.

rampage-bag1

The last little job I added to complete the pimping of this game was to make a tuckbox created by Boardgamegeek user fdevans.

rampage-tuck2

rampage-tuck1

Due to the production quality already in the game, there wasn’t much I needed to add to pimp this game out.  Also, the additions were fairly simple for this game thus making it one of the simplest games I’ve pimped.

rampage-full

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