Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Month: June 2014

Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary

One of the first hobby board games I came to appreciate was Ticket to Ride by Alan Moon.  Such a simple, yet effective game, I’ve found that very few casual games elicit the nervous end game anxiety that this one can. Being a great game that can be shared with gamers and non-gamers alike, I was happy to see Days of Wonder (DoW) produce an upgraded “Anniversary” edition.  I’ve often wanted to create a larger scaled version of the game and pimp out it’s contents like I’ve seen at GenCon (taken from Tony Hope Romero’s post on io9):

Thanks to DoW, I don’t have to:

The new 10th Anniversary edition has a lot of upgraded components including new card art and a larger board (also with new art) but the most striking upgrade is the new plastic train pieces. DoW provides a new theme to each of the player colors by introducing detailed train cars and holding them all in a thematic tin:
little giraffe heads sticking out? That's pimp
We count only blue cars...
ah, the obligatory coal-train
those were the days, a whole car for the hobos
brown is, and now always will be, the new yellow

Along with a larger board and reworked art, the publisher decided to have a little fun with the new art and put in quite a few easter eggs (I heard rumored to be about 20-25 fun little things on the map). My favorites include the geographical Duluth paradox being acknowledged:
ahhhh so THAT'S where it is...
And the reference to a favorite guilty pleasure movie, Stardust, based on the short story of the same name by Neil Gaiman:
I’m thinking Great English wordsmith, my enemies and crew are thinking Shake! Spear!

Overall, the quality is great and the reworked art, detailed trains, and larger board size make the anniversary edition a great addition to my game collection. There are a few weird production missteps like the omission of the 1910 expansion rules when they included all the 1910 game components, the mismatched color of the “yellow” player and the corresponding Brown train cars, and the box insert not being able to accommodate sleeved cards. Since I’ve played Ticket to Ride with the 1910 expansion in upwards of 50 times, the rules omission doesn’t bother me. The Yellow score tracker not matching the brown train cars is funny but will give me something to quick pimp soon. The insert not accommodating sleeved cards is pretty annoying though. I’m not a compulsive card sleever but for a board game that has an MSRP of $100, I’d like to make sure I keep the cards in good condition (especially a game that has seen as much play as my previous version of Ticket to Ride). Looks like I’ll have another game in needing of some pimping soon.

Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary edition
$100.00 (US MSRP)
Available: Now
Pro: great new components, awesome new card and board art, larger game board
Con: rules omissions, non-sleevable insert

Pimpin’?: 4.5/5   Outtasight!

In the beginning

When I first got into the hobby of board games, I had virtually no game collection to speak of and so I was more into the “playing and acquiring of new games” aspect of the hobby. Too busy with the enjoyment of experiencing all the classics for the first time, I had no real reason to pimp out games. I had played role-playing games (RPGs) and Magic: the Gathering growing up but never did any modifications.  RPGs always had a heavy modification component as you built your own adventures or painted minis but it seemed to be so tied into the overall game experience that it was hard to have one without the other. In a way, an RPG background helped me most with future pimping projects.

The first game I ever knowingly pimped out was Last Night on Earth. This zombie apocalypse game from Flying Frog Productions was a favorite of mine and the more my game group played it, the more the theme and atmosphere really came through and engaged us. I was researching more information on the game on Boardgamegeek.com (BGG) and saw a lot of players painting up their miniatures. I am by no means a professional minis painter so, while the images looked great, I largely skipped them and looked deeper into the BGG entry for interesting discussions on the game. That all changed when I came across David Bezio’s painting article on BoardGameGeek.

In David’s article, it detailed how, with a little bit of time, some cheap paints and equipment, any schmuck (like me) could paint up some average “board game” quality minis. I was a little skeptical at first as I’ve seen what some professional painters considered “easy” and knew the results they would eventually show would amount to some Herculean paint effort on my part to achieve a similar result. This article, however, was not like previous entries I’d seen. The author wasn’t joking. This technique was easy.  It did look great on the tabletop. It really opened the door on what I thought I was capable of.  Read the article if you get a chance because all my painting really started with his advice and it really is as easy as he describes.

lnoe detail example

After reading his painting article, I set out and picked up some cheap acrylic hobby paints, a primer, some cheap brushes, and a small tin of MinWax for dipping. I worked on the base game’s minis over a few weekends as time allowed and was able to knock out the project in a couple of weekends, usually painting during a baseball game or during the missus’ favorite TV show. The results were great, the project was easy, and it was a big hit with my game group. I’ll go over what I’ve done to Last Night on Earth in more detail later when I showcase it in a post but I wanted to discuss how some well developed post on some guy’s attempt to better his gaming experience caused me and likely a whole host of other gamers to follow in his footsteps. Instantly, this caused me to look at the board gaming hobby in a whole new light.
lnoe full shot

Welcome to Pimp My Board Game…

I buy games.  I play games. And then I find it’s not enough.  Not enough to spend hours on board game hobby sites reading about them. Not enough to come up with variants and rules tweaks. No. I have to go the extra mile and modify the game’s very core- its components.  I pimp games.

Not long after I started collecting and playing board games away from your mainstream titles, I started tinkering with the game bits of my favorite games to make the game uniquely my own. Sometimes these tinkerings were to enhance the experience by cosmetically improving the game while other times I would strive to improve the functionality of the game. I found this niche aspect of the board gaming hobby highly appealing, sometimes as much as actually playing the games themselves. The more I looked into “pimping” my board games, the more I found others doing the same thing.

In this blog series, I aim to explore the board gaming hobby through the pimping aspect of the industry. I will show various techniques I use to pimp out games in my collection as well as highlight past, present, and future work I’ve done or will be doing. I will also discuss the reasons why we feel the need to spend so much extra time and money improving a game beyond what a professional publisher has already developed for market release. I encourage you to comment on anything posted, sharing insight into your reasons or techniques when pimping out a favorite game or asking questions on anything you see.  Enjoy!

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