Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Month: July 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Gen Con 2016 Prep: T-minus 3 days to departure

So Gen Con is less than a week away and I have quite a bit of stuff left to do.  This year, I decided to try my hand at running a few events.  Since I feel spiritually responsible for bringing Loopin’ Chewie into this world, I decided to run a fun little Loopin’ Chewie tournament.  The game might not be selling that hot as I was able to pick up quite a few copies for cheap at various big box stores. Regardless, maybe I can, in my small way, help bring some life into it again.

I have quite a few things I need to do to get these games up to snuff.  There is the mundane stickering that will need to be done but I also find the separated paddle arm to be too flimsy to really hold up to the punishment of tournament play.

chewie bad arm

I grabbed some cheap bolts, drilled holes through both sections and attached them.  Now they don’t move at all and should do well during the tournament.

chewie good arm

Now only about 20 more go and then sticker the 7 copies.

chewie stack

I also have to finish up the prize support, fashion some small signage, and figure out how to pack it all…

Along with my Loopin’ Chewie tournament, I’m also running a couple of Thunder Road games. This will be with my pimped out copy, of course.  I was hoping to get in on another GM’s Thunder Road game but the events sold through too quickly.  Not one to cry over the little things, I decided to host my own event instead.  Unfortunately, I never finished my Battle Buses from Cabin Con so those are needing some serious love.

TR buses magnetized

I was able to magnetize them so now it’s on to some painting.  I also built a custom auto-turret that I have rules for in my Skull City expansion so that will need some work too.

TR turret

So that is how my event prep is going. I’m sure there are things I’m missing but I won’t see it until I can finish up the big and obvious items.

While not part of any event, I did try out a cool abstract game called Onitama by Arcane Wonder.  I really enjoy The Duke by Catalyst games and Onitama is very similar with evolving movement options for the pawns and a “capture the king” victory style.


Onitama image from Arcane Wonders

The Arcane Wonders version is very lavish for the game’s simplicity and while it was great playing on my friend’s copy, I wanted to shrink the game down to make it more travel-friendly (perfect for our upcoming Gen Con trip).

onitama box

I didn’t have a lot of time to really make the game look anywhere near as stylized as the official game but it seemed to work out.

onitama open box

I pulled a lot of the images from Boardgamegeek or general image searches and printed them on cardstock to adhere to the box and components.  I wanted the game to be completely self-contained (I imagine I’ll play this on the plane or on cramped restaurant tables).  That meant I wanted a magnetic board and magnetic pieces. Pretty easy to do with some business card magnets you can get at hobby stores.

onitama close

I needed to raise the deck, so to speak, as the nested board would get blocked by the sides of the top lid.  I used simple foamcore to raise it up and embedded magnets on the bottom so that the top lid, when flipped, will magnetize to the bottom of the box and elevate the whole board.

onitama full

The cards were customized simply in Illustrator and made in two parts: card stock inside then copy paper for the generic back.  Spray adhesive sticks both sides together then I used an Xacto to cut them out.  Fantasy Flight square card sleeves (light blue package) finish them off and keeps them safe.

The pawn pieces were leftover Scrabble pieces from the portable Scrabble set I destroyed in making my custom Ponte del Diavolo.  I added a little paint, sealed them, and magnetized the bottoms and the whole thing is wrapped up.

Walking Dead comes to Grand Lake, Part 2

And now for Part 2 of our epic CabinCon game of The Walking Dead: All Out War.  If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here.

disclaimer: The Walking Dead: All Out War game has not been released as of this post. All miniatures, scenery, and components are either mocked up or proxies from other games.

Cabin Fever


Running low on gas, our heroes make back to the cabin and immediately take stock of the situation. They scavenge for weapons and gear from the cabin.  The truck’s CB comes to life with a loud hiss.  A rescue helicopter is searching for survivors to be airlifted to a safezone.  After relaying the cabin’s location, the search team tell the heroes to sit tight and await rescue.  The team builds some makeshift barricades and it isn’t long before they start to hear the unnerving sound of the dead approaching…


Armed and ready, the team splits into two groups, protecting the front of the cabin closest to the road, and the open vulnerable side.


A large mass of walkers congregated near the back of the cabin.  The team had access to a few half-full gas cans so we made some improvised explosives.  The gas can/molotov cocktail works perfectly and takes out quite a few walkers.


With the back taken care of, the front of the cabin starts to see more walkers, attracted to fighting and explosion.


Unfortunately, the gas can explosion didn’t destroy as many walkers as we hoped.  And now some of the walkers that didn’t perish in the initial blast and heat rise again, only this time on fire.  The explosion itself also brought even more dead to the party.


The team retreats back to the front of the cabin and when things start to look really desperate, the team hears the unmistakable sound of a helicopter.  Their is no safe place to land so it drops a ladder down in the road near the front corner of the cabin lot.

The sounds draws the walkers to the front where one of the heroes was making his last stand.


The main group of heroes, wounded and slow, are swarmed by a fresh group of undead.  Reese, determined to hold back the flaming horde, holds his ground. Finally, our last two heroes are pinned behind the truck and our makeshift barricade, while more dead pour in that gap, trapping them.  Rescue is just within reach but the dead are relentless.


The team concocts a bold plan- throw the last gas can bomb at the horde around Reese.  It works! The walkers are all knocked down and Reese is cooked but still alive.  We use the distraction to get Taylor, previously savaged by the dead and looking like he has one foot in the grave already, to the helicopter and rescued.  Jeremy, pinned with me behind the truck makes a break for the ladder as well while I distract walkers my way.


I join Colton, now getting into trouble with walkers as well.  Since all of the walkers surrounding Reese are still down, he makes a run for the helicopter.  Our comrade from the restaurant, Vincent Blade-y Hands falls to the swarm but Sterling is able to break free and escape.



Before Taylor passes out in the helicopter, he realizes that he still has the truck keys. Seeing his friends still in trouble, he hits the car alarm button, distracting the walkers and allowing the rest of us to break free and get up the ladder





This session started with everyone getting new equipment and increasing a stat per the campaign rules.  Like most RPG/RPG-light games, this progression always gives the character more development opportunities and gets the players more invested in the game.

I knew a danger with playing another session would be keeping interest.  All too often, we’ll have a great first game experience and everyone wants to try it again but the second game falls flat as it fails to capture the magic of the initial game.  Kind of like movie sequels, I guess.

I had to manipulate the game a little more this time as I didn’t understand how powerful our group would be fully armed. It started off a bit too easy with a few walkers surrounding the cabin and they were easily picked off.  I started throwing full groups of walkers at us and that helped ratchet up the danger.

The group had some great ideas for getting out of the different situations:

  • Taylor turning on the truck alarm was particularly brilliant as he was basically out of the game due to being the first rescued.
  • Sterling tried (and failed) to convince Blade-y Hands to sacrifice himself for the group.
  • Reese telling the group to center the gas bomb on himself in the hopes of getting rid of the swarm around him.

I had a lot of fun running and playing the event and it had a great ending that seemed to satisfy everyone.  It also left a lot of story ideas to continue on in case we have another session:

Taylor was wounded and bitten in the chopper with only one health remaining… will he survive? Will he turn? How will that affect the helicopter rescue? Several other heroes were bitten and wounded as well. What of their fate? Where are they going and who is the crazy rescue pilot?

Walking Dead comes to Grand Lake, Part 1

So I’ve talked a bit about my CabinCon prep for the Walking Dead minis game (All Out War) by Mantic Games but I got the chance to put the whole thing together and play two epic sessions.  The first session is below.

disclaimer: The Walking Dead: All Out War game has not been released as of this post. All miniatures, scenery, and components are either mocked up or proxies from other games.

Taco Troubles

As has been tradition since the first CabinCon, a group of friends head down to the local restaurant Pancho and Lefty’s for a chance to get out of the cabin and stretch their legs.

from Take My Trip dot com

The friends all take a seat at a large table on the side of the open restaurant.  Before the server can even take a drink order everyone sees a flash pass quickly by the restaurant front window followed by an explosion that rumbles the walls.


The group jumps up and starts to run through various emotional reactions, some running to the window to see what is going on, while others cower in the corner taking cover from an unseen threat.



Eventually some brave souls venture outside only to find carnage and mayhem have taken over the town of Grand Lake.


We find that the source of the explosion was the fiery wreck that once was our main mode of transportation, Reese’s Xterra.


Unfortunately, the fire and explosion brought some unwelcome guests… The Walking Dead.


Things start to get interesting as the Dead are now breaking into the back of the restaurant.


This forces our heroes into the street with only the most rudimentary weapons.  Don, the local Police Officer is a good shot but years of training to fire at center mass is hard to ignore.  Don is making a lot of noise and attracting more hungry dead.


The team starts to converge around the only intact vehicle in sight and start to make their stand.


Just when the heroes had scoured the area for a way to start the truck, a man stumbles out of the adjacent building.  He is wounded and being chased by several Walkers.


Too quickly, he falls and the heroes cannot save him.  Don is finally overwhelmed and pulled down by the undead and consumed.


In the wounded man’s hand are a set of Chevy keys. The heroes distract the walkers and grab the keys to make a run for the truck.  They are able to get in and get it started but the Walkers surround the vehicle.


Unfortunately, one friend had gone to check out the other side of the lot and was making a stand with newfound friend, Vincent “blade-y hands” and didn’t realize the party was over.


The heroes knock over the slow dead and make a bee-line to their comrade and newfound friend and drive off to the closest safe haven they know- the Cabin.


VICTORY for now…



The guys had a lot of fun with the new Walking Dead: All Out Wars rules and I found the system to be extremely flexible.  I ran it (and warned the players) that I would likely treat it more like an RPG and push/pull the events for maximum effect.  In this way, I would take a back seat to the decisions since I new how a lot of the scenario would play out and just ran around to help.

We were obviously playing the game under the “Solo” rules and I expanded it to a co-operative level with each player controlling their own avatar.  I didn’t worry too much about the NPCs and only really played them for story effect (to be eaten or cause “Mayhem”- the game’s way of escalating the dangerous encounters in the game and the main way the heroes can lose).

For each player’s avatar stats, I made a private quiz to find out a little more about each attendee and suit a 30 point character to match as close as possible within the limits of the system.  Then I created the personal standees after getting some “action shots” of the guys with various weapons. This really got the guys interested and had them feel that something was on the line as they played the game.

To help further immerse the group, I made some crude papercraft buildings loosely representing the restaurant we frequent and the surrounding area.  Google Earth came in handy as it made for a passable paper playmat with the street and parking lot outside. This also helped keep the guys interested as the game environment slowly evolved as the game progressed.  We started in the restaurant map and it could have easily stayed inside there for the whole game if I wanted but I knew I wanted this to feel somewhat like an RPG with exploration elements and unknown events triggering somewhat logically.

Speaking of events, the game comes with a deck of random events that trigger at the end of each round and working in special events that I randomly placed in the deck, made for a very organic story that developed.  The main “end scenario” event was placed in a random set of the last 6 event cards so even I didn’t know how far along we had to survive before we could leave and end the scenario.

I designed the little scenario to be a one-off in case people thought it was fun but not worth going through again the next night.  Lucky for me, everyone loved it and wanted more so I had the “part 2” as an optional continuation of the story.  Again, the rules really open this up for players as it deals with achievement and advancement in between the scenarios.  Before the next scenario, I had the guys “level up” their character and based on how well we did during Part 1, we received time to search the Cabin for weapons, arm up and prepare for what was coming up in Part 2.


Showcase: Star Wars: Armada Tournament Case

That’s no Moon, it’s Space St- err, custom carrying case!

While I was going to tournaments for Star Wars: Armada I realized that I needed a dedicated storage system.  I’d been looking into various options and I was hoping to create another unique carrying case for my fleet on the go similar to what I’d done with X-wing: Millenium Falcon Case

I stumbled across the Death Star case from Hotwheels and picked one up to try it out.

deathstar case stock

I found that, stock, it can likely work as is with a bit of work and limited fleet build selection but I wanted to make it work for any 300 point fleet build so I went to work (this was before the tournament changed to 400 points as a standard).

First, I cut out the back to drop the “deck” and allow for smaller bits to lay flat. Next I pulled the back off and spray painted the non-station part black so that the main case stood out. The entire case is too small to fit the main range ruler so I cut slots in that back piece so the ruler could slide through and just have a little bit sticking out.

The case itself has these handy shelves that actually detach and allow for quite a bit of customization. Taking out one of the middle shelves allows for 3 VSDs or 3 AFIIs pretty easily. I didn’t want to go with custom foam since I wanted this case to be pretty flexible and custom foam for this would be pretty complicated and kill a lot of the space inside.

As you can see, I can cram quite a bit of content in there. It’s actually everything I need for a full 300 pt tourney list. I also like the VSD + GSD + Fighter/Bomber list out there and this case would accommodate that pretty easily. The triple VSD fits as well but I’d be concerned about the VSD antenna.

To ensure everything doesn’t just spill out when I open the case, I cut up some of those clear packaging pieces and placed them in using the natural contours of the plastic shelves to hold them in place. It doesn’t mess with the aesthetics and holds everything while the case is opening.

I could have just thrown Fighters in a little bag but some spare core set cardboard and these little plastic containers at Container Store just begged for a nice little Hangar.

This case is definitely not for everyone and who knows if it will be able to hold Wave 2 ISDs and beyond but it was a fun little project and it holds up pretty well as a straight up tourney case. Also it stands up pretty well as a great Death Star prop (almost worth it for that reason alone).

CabinCon 2016 Recap part 2

So Thursday was technically over and Friday had begun but I was still keyed up from The Walking Dead game I ran and winning a game of Liar’s Dice so our resident night owl and I started up a game of Mottainai before calling it quits and heading to bed.


Some of the early risers hit Patch Work and one of the out of towners and I started up the new App-assisted Co-op version of Descent: Road to Legend.


Descent: Road to Legend actually took quite awhile but was a lot of fun.  In the meantime, the others tried out Weilong and hit a game of Tummple!



After the Epic Descent and Tummple! games, VS System was hit again and then a few of us took off to go do some archery in the woods while the rest stayed behind and played Knight Models Marvel Universe Miniatures Game. The resident photographer went “arching,” so no pictures though the Marvel minis were painted up and looked amazing.  Maybe someone will have some pics to share…

The archers got back later and joined in a few futile games of Space Alert.  While the doomed crew of Space Alert were busy getting their ass kicked, the rest of the guys hit Tiny Epic Galaxies.  We closed with a quick game of Riff Raff before we headed out to dinner at our staple “out night” establishment- Poncho and Lefty’s.



Pancho and Lefty’s came and went and we were back at the cabin to try out the last installment of our Walking Dead: All Out War homebrew game.  This time the adventure played out at the cabin we were staying and, with a little overzealous zombie distribution by me, the game seemed to maintain the tension and excitement of our first session.


The cabin stage is set… for the dead.

It can be dangerous to force a second epic game after the first one is successful as the second session rarely matches the interest of the first and tends to just drag on but this one worked well and the guys had a lot of fun.

victorious heroes (who don't look at explosions)

victorious heroes (who don’t look at explosions)

Everyone was still up and ready for more gaming after our close victory in Walking Dead so we broke out Lift It!


This game was the perfect follow up to the serious and complex minis game we just finished up as it was so ridiculously silly that it served as a great juxtaposition.  It proved crazy and hilarious and was a great ending to the day.

competitors harnessing all the tools at their disposal to out play each other

competitors harnessing all the tools at their disposal to out play each other.


co-op play!

co-op play!

Saturday started with some early morning Hive fun and then descended into some furious Thunder Road action.


custom rides take the board

custom rides take the board


After lunch, we took up a backstabby game of Jolly Roger, complete with real cheaty pirate action, some great Crokinole flicking, and another game of Roll for the Galaxy.

Having been cooped up long enough inside, we went outside to enjoy the weather before a storm could come in with the lawn game Kubb.

laying out the field of battle

laying out the field of battle




The storm soon ended our outdoor fun and we went into the darkening cabin for some Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space. After being a human player and easily getting slaughtered we went back to some dexterity action with my favorite: Catacombs (3rd edition).




After Catacombs we broke for dinner and hit an epic game of Blood Rage.  It proved too much for group as the game went a bit long and had a mix of experienced and inexperienced players, making for a lopsided victory.

We finished out the late evening with a quick game of Toc Toc Woodman.

Sunday was our pack up day but we had some time and still got in a few games before people had to take off.  I got another Descent: Road to Legend session in while the others hit The Duke and the VS System again.

Descent ended in our defeat this time around so we pushed back into another game of Roll for the Galaxy and ended CabinCon 2016 with a rip through the Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

It was a great time and the perfect length for a gaming getaway.  I’m glad everyone could come out and it was great to see familiar faces and play some great games again.


Total games played: 72

Game Play Log Breakdown:

Codenames (6)

High Society (1)

No Thanks! (1)

Liar’s Dice (5)

Delve (12)

VS System (5)

Stone Age (1)

Imperial Assault (1)

The Duke (6)

Roll for the Galaxy (3)

The Walking Dead: All Out War (2)

Mottania (1)

Patch Work (3)

Weilong (1)

Tummple! (1)

Descent: Road to Legend (2)

Marvel Universe Miniatures Game (1)

Space Alert (2)

Tiny Epic Galaxies (1)

Riff Raff (1)

Lift It! (1)

Hive (1)

Thunder Road (1)

Jolly Roger (2)

Crokinole (2)

Kubb (4)

Escape From the Aliens in Outer Space (1)

Catacombs 3e (1)

Blood Rage (1)

Toc Toc Woodsman (1)

The Castles of Mad King Ludwig (1)



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