Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Month: May 2016

CabinCon 2016 Prep

In less than two weeks, my friends and I will trek into the mountains and unofficially start off the summer game convention season with our own private little game convention, CabinCon.

CabinConLogo

CabinCon logo designed by Bret Bays

Started almost 4 years ago, CabinCon began as a way to enjoy the 24/7 open-gaming of a big convention but within the comfort of a private setting.  While we all enjoy the large and not-so-large conventions like Gen Con, BGG Con, we found that the larger conventions are so packed with interesting non-gaming alternatives that we don’t get to actually play many games.  CabinCon has now become our annual gaming only retreat. A time when we can break out the extreme games that are either too complicated or too long to try to enjoy in a typical evening.

I tend to use CabinCon to also break out some of the many games I’ve pimped over the years.  This year, I’m a little behind in prepping some pimped games so I’m going to have to burn through the remaining days to finish up in time.

I recently backed a new miniatures game from Mantic Games based on the Walking Dead comic series called The Walking Dead: All Out War.  I’ve been looking for a flexible zombie miniatures game and after seeing what Mantic was producing for their Walking Dead game, it sounded like everything I needed. Since the end of the kickstarter campaign, Mantic has released a couple of iterations of the rules and even though I don’t have any physical product, I’ve decided to run a game or two at CabinCon using proxies.

While The Walking Dead minis game has a great tabletop minis skirmish ruleset, it also features a solo (which can easily be expanded to a co-operative game) and a campaign option.  In this campaign option is also a nice custom character generator and I’m planning on creating all of us as custom characters to run in a little custom Walking Dead scenario.

Character Cards - Christian draft web

custom TWD minis game character sheet draft

I’ll be proxying quite a bit since I don’t have the actual cards and miniatures but zombie games are so popular, it’s hard not to have an extra couple or ten lying around to pillage for parts.

lnoe full shot

probably using a few of these guys…

I’ll also proxy the necessary cards but those are easy to do and after years of prototyping for game testing, creating cards is like second nature.  The bigger challenge will be making the terrain but I’m confident I can proxy up some paper terrain to give it enough atmosphere…

restaurant_edit_web

I’ll pull some Google Earth images to get a general game mat option.  The resolution will be horrible but it should work for the one-off game.  Alright enough writing, it’s time to get busy prototyping.

Pimped Coins

One of the recent trends in game pimping is custom metal coins.  Long a staple of LARPing (Live-Action Role Playing), allowing players to help immerse themselves more fully into their game world, custom metal coins have been pushing into the board game arena both as separate game accessories and standard components offered by the publisher themselves.

Recently, I received my Kickstarter pledge for Fantasy Coins, LLC second run of gaming coins and picked up some great custom coins for a couple of games in my collection.

First up is a set of custom coins for Lords of Waterdeep.  Custom coins are available from other manufactures for Waterdeep but they tend to be pretty expensive.  Fantasy Coins’ Kickstarter made the set relatively inexpensive.

Waterdeep coins

At the top of the picture, you can see the standard cardboard coins that come with Waterdeep. The custom coins are a bit larger and definitely give you that weighted-coin feel that you are looking for in nice coins. The designs are great and it is a really great addition to the game.  Combined with the custom DnDeeples, my Waterdeep game is becoming as pimped out as my own custom creations.

Epic Coins has a different version of a coin set for Waterdeep.  I don’t have them but they look to have the same heft and detail (though a different design).  However, they are considerably more expensive.

I also picked up a set of Fantasy Coins’ “credit” coins that work well for sci-fi games like Netrunner and, specifically to me, Race for the Galaxy.  Race for the Galaxy has these cardboard chit victory point markers that, while unique to the game system, are actually awkward and a little difficult to use with new players.

rftg tokens

The Fantasy Coins credit coins give the player some heft to the victory point tokens and are large enough to easily spot how many victory points a player has.

coins credit 1

coins credit 5

coins credit 10

Publishers are noticing the appeal of custom metal coins as well and some are including them as standard options in the game. Space Cowboys‘ 2014 game, Black Fleet, came with metal coins as a standard and was one of the first games I saw that treated the concept as a standard practice.

image from Dylan Steiger on BGG

Most games that offered metal coins before offered them as part of a deluxe package or was announced with a lot of fanfare.  Black Fleet surprised customers without any announcement of the upgrade and it generated a lot of buzz when it was released.

Publishers like Cool Mini or Not (CMON) started offering the option of custom coins to a few of their games like Rum and Bones to get in on the custom coin trend.

Ironically enough, these metal coins are upgrading the already upgraded plastic coins that came with the kickstarter.  The retail copy comes with standard cardboard coins so CMON went a little overboard with the pimped coin options for their game.

Not quite in the same realm of usable coins for monetary mechanics or victory point tracking, some publishers are making custom metal coins in the style of the older “challenge coin” tradition.  I’ve seen this notably in a recent crop of Fantasy Flight Star Wars games.

coins1

These are massive coins with great detail and are quite heavy.  Since several of these games require a random way to determine which player has initiative, a coin flip is a nice pimped out way to accomplish it.  These coins were extremely rare when they came out several years ago as prize support but are getting a resurgence in a new crop of Organize Play support.

I’ll leave you with a nice link from Reddit user FlakyPieCrust that catalogs some great custom coin resources to pimp out your game with.

Reddit link

Showcase: OGRE

This is one my first fully pimped project and easily one of my favorites.  For a long time I’d been interested in Steve Jackson GamesOGRE.  I like the simplicity and asymmetry but wasn’t a fan of chits and hex grids nor did the theme seem especially original after I found it 30+ years from it’s introduction.

Kwanchai Moriya is probably my favorite board game artist though he didn’t start out as such.  Originally a studio artist (and still is), Kwanchai is an avid board gamer and being an artist, started playing around with retheming out of print games.  One of his first and most popular was taking OGRE and retheming it into an alternate World War II war game.

KOGRE box art copy

Kwanchai’s art and theme really drew me into the game and I had to make a copy for myself.  There was some controversy about the legal rights to Kwanchai’s work so it is no longer available but I was able to get a hold of the files before they were ripped down.  I’m not a fan of chits in games. I recognize that they are extremely efficient but they don’t do anything to immerse me in the game. Being a game-pimper, I really can’t make a project with them so I was thinking about alternative options.

Making the game with 3D elements seemed the best way to go so first was what to do with the OGRE himself. I thought a few things like a paper standee or maybe a wooden token cut out but a friend of mine suggested maybe going full 3D and making a miniature.  I have no talent for that and no time to learn but luckily, he did.  It actually turned into a huge project for him and at times I think he regretted the suggestion but what he finally produced was absolutely amazing.

residentninja’s Kwanchai inspired robot

We had a lot of discussion on size and scale and ultimately decided to help emphasize “Robbie’s” (as we called him) size, we went with 6mm/ Z scale.  I started sourcing 6mm German WWII soldiers and vehicles and found a lot of great options.

I ended up going with CinC miniatures for the figures and the vehicles from Historical Board Gaming.

OGRE infantry

OGRE vehicles

Next we needed the houses to block terrain.  I covered how I made these in my Paper Terrain post but it was easy to make them in scale.

terrain house

terrain command

With all the pieces assembled and ready, I grabbed a couple of cheap Trivial Pursuit games from a thrift shop and remade the main board by printing out the board images in pieces and using spray adhesive to the Trivial Pursuit boards and laminating them.

I made some reference pieces, grabbed dice from Flames of War, and found a tray to put it all in and that was it.

OGRE tray

My fully rethemed and 3D version of OGRE.

This was the first entry I ever submitted to Boardgamegeek’s Pimp Your Boardgame contest.  It placed 4th against some stiff competition but I was still very happy with the results and I think of this game as the catalyst that got me pimping games.

Thunder Road: Skull City preview

After working up a lot of pimped-out items for my copy of Thunder Road, I’m still finding I want to do more.  I want to add some different features and I started thinking of possibly moving it to a new setting and an urban Death Race theme seemed appropriate and interesting.

When I first picked up Thunder Road, I noticed the UK version (the one I own) is actually a great match for the 10mm Dropzone Commander‘s scale models.

DZC TR size compare

This has led to a few crossover elements like adding some of the infantry figures to the actual Thunder Road models to help improve their aesthetic.

Dropzone Commander has a great paper terrain set in their “Ruinscape” accessory and it is with that I decided to build my new theme around.

I decided to turn the whole thing into a little unofficial “expansion” called Thunder Road: Skull City.  Skull City will use all the rules I developed for my Advanced variant and expand it to use the new burned out urban terrain.  I have the extra rules cards being printed and hope to have them soon from CowCow.

rBack Skull City

First thing I had to do was make the “swappable” boards iconic to the game.  These are boards that continuously are placed one in front of the other as the cars race off the edge of the lead board.  This is the main mechanic of the game and helps create the endless road that is such an integral part of the game’s appeal.

I had a few options like scanning the terrain tiles and editing them in Photoshop similar to the boards in my advanced set but I wasn’t confident I could get the quality I wanted so I decided to actually use the actual tiles themselves and mod them.

SC ruler1

sc ruler 2

I started by laying out the tiles I wanted to use and measuring out the distances to match the original boards.  I then grabbed a metallic silver sharpie and used a straight edge to start marking the board lines to match the original.  It took awhile but with some patience and heavy use of my other boards as a guide, it started to come together pretty well.

SC layout

Afterwards, I cut the tiles to size- basically used one and half tiles per “board” and that perfectly matched the size needed for the regular boards.  I used the same process of mounting them to artboard as I used on my poster image boards.  I sprayed both the 11×14 artboard and back of each tile with 3M adhesive spray and carefully laid them on the board.  I broke out the straight edge and exacto knife and cut the final board down to size, this time without cutting the crap out of my finger.

The final boards came out well and I did a quick test set up.  I have a few items left to finish up the “expansion” but it is coming along very well.

skullcity3

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