Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Month: November 2016

Showcase: Terror in Meeple City (Rampage)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Arrival

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Ah yes, earlier this week my KS copy of The Walking Dead: All Out War came in.  All things told, it came in pretty good shape for the way it was packed (I’ve been reading some horror stories on the KS campaign page but it also sounds like Mantic is taking care of those issues pretty quickly).

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This game is pretty funny as I’ve hyped it up quite a bit over the last few weeks/months and the danger is always that consumer reaction of waning interest after you’ve opened the box.  That hasn’t happened for me on this game though.  This game has never been an item on my checklist: something to acquire, check the box, and shelve for some far off “we’ll play someday.”  I feel like my interest for this game hasn’t even begun to peak and I’m really excited to see where this game takes me.

As you can see from the above picture, there are a ton of miniatures.  This bizarre weather we’ve been having was lucky enough to hold for a few more days and that let me prime everything.  It was just in time as the weather finally turned and winter is now upon us.

As I’ve shown before, I’ve already worked up a board and building and combined it with some of Mantic’s Battlezones terrain.  Since I had already started with the little terrain pieces, I decided to finish up all the terrain elements, including all the new plastic pieces from the KS campaign.

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I started off mixing my black and white acrylics into one bottle to make a base grey that I would use for most everything.  I got the ratio off and ended up with a pretty dark tone but it worked fine as a base that I usually lightened during my painting process.  I’ll probably create another custom color with a light tone and mix the two as needed for the different gradients.

I didn’t shoot a lot of pictures of the prep and process of painting the terrain elements because I was working fast and trying to get everything done by the end of the week.  Also, terrain elements aren’t something I wanted to spend a lot time on and they aren’t really that interesting to photograph.

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The car pieces are another story.  I saved them for last as this allowed me to get comfortable with the monochrome technique on the easy/less interesting items.  These cars were painted in a typical “block painting” style (which is about as far as I go in painting anyway) but I did try out some blending for the first time on the car windows.  They turned out alright if viewed at typical “tabletop” distance… or maybe a few feet farther away. Ah well. Good enough for terrain and I got to try out the technique a little.

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So here we have the full board (overly) populated with a lot of the Battlezones terrain elements for character and the Walking Dead terrain pieces to kick the whole set up into a great play area.

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Our consummate zombie reference figure “Stan” is there to contemplate the brave new world he’s inherited. Now he gets to play with cars and barricades and searchable loot tokens.  Oooh and a Police bag full of guns. Too bad Stan isn’t into guns, he just wants living flesh.

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This terrain is 90% done for me.  I still need to apply a wash to get some real-world character on these pieces (everything is a little too clean for a recent apocalypse) and then seal it all so it can be used over and over without having to worry about scratching or chipping off paint.

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Ah, now we’re talking! Stan has friends! And Meat!

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I’m sure there are better ways to find birth control, Grimes family.

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Hope little “Coral” knows how to use that gun.

So I’m really happy to see this effect come together.  I’ll wrap up the terrain this week (though I might need the weather to improve if I want to seal things) and then I have all those figures to start on.  I’ll do the zombies next and finish up with the heroes last.

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Terrain Without Color

This week I worked a bit more on my Walking Dead terrain, specifically the game board.  As I discussed in my paper terrain post, I prefer terrain that is quick, usable, and easily stored.  Taking my Walking Dead game into the monochromatic world of black and white (b/w) makes printable paper terrain even easier. Also, painting a full game board in b/w seems too tedious for me. It can be done to great effect, however. Just check out this thread on coolminiornot.com and or this one on lead-adventures.de.

from user vikotnik on lead-adventures.de

from user vikotnik on lead-adventures.de

Those links show an amazing amount of artistry going into that board and game.  I lot of Vikotnik’s images helped push me over the edge, convincing me that b/w is a path worth pursuing.

Regarding my own b/w terrain, I’m using the Capital City pdfs from Fat Dragon Games.  They have periodic sales and you can get some of their terrain packs very cheap.

Going back to my photography days, I knew I needed a baseline. Luckily, I had my walker already painted up so I could run some test prints to figure out the right b/w balance.  To do this, I took the pdfs and converted them to jpegs and opened them in Photoshop. Next I converted the images to grayscale.  At this point, I could take the conversion at its word and just start printing but I suspected that it might be problematic so I went old school and developed a test strip.

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It may be hard to see from the photo but the natural print would have been way to dark.  I wasn’t sure if the lightest strip was where I wanted so I tried it again only going lighter and increasing the contrast to compensate for the wash-out effect that increasing the brightness will have.

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This had me settle on the final settings for my b/w printing and I ran a full sheet test to make sure there were no other issues across the entire image.

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With the testing done, it was time to print.  I printed out nine 7″x7″ squares to make my modular game board (Fat Dragon’s single boards are all 7″ squares).  The normal game of Walking Dead uses 20″x20″ but my 3×3 design will be a little larger at 21″x21″. I then grabbed some trusty black foam core and spray mounted the prints directly on.

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I then cut them out with an X-acto knife and lightly sprayed an acrylic sealer on the boards to help protect them from wear and tear.

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With my modular board turning out well, I turned my attention to making a building as an optional centerpiece.  With my brightness and contrast already locked in, I went to print out the buildings through Photoshop again.  This time though, I had to make an alteration as I didn’t want some generic store name from the stock pdf package.  I found an image of a drug store from a screenshot of The Walking Dead tv show and photoshopped it into my building.

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Paper terrain buildings can be extremely easy to assemble if you’re just going for stock terrain pieces. This four-sided structure just takes a bit of cutting and some glue. I use clips to help set the white glue in places where the pressure of the fold might try to mess up the connection.

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The roof is likely the most complicated part but even that is quite simple.  Make sure you read Fat Dragon’s instructions on how to score the reverse sides and it should come together.

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I ran into a little issue with the roof as a bit of the white space started creeping in around the edges.

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This will happen a lot since it will be difficult to size the roof cutout to perfectly align with the assembled roof edge/support.  This can be cleared up easily with a sharpie. Since I’m already photoshopping these tiles, I’ll just add the same roof pattern to those flaps when I print my next building.

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Paper terrain can be a little too flimsy at times and if this bothers you, you can brace the insides with more foam core.

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After test fitting some quickly cut support pieces, I made the supports permanent with some glue and toothpick “pins.”

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With the building complete, it was time to put it all together.

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The sculpted terrain bits are from Mantic‘s Battlezones line and work very well. Since I still don’t have the game yet, I might as well start getting those pieces together so I can hit the ground running painting up the fun things like the heroes and walkers when they arrive.

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Well, I’ve walked these streets in a carnival, of sights to see…

Slowing things down

My Walking Dead miniatures game didn’t arrive this week so I decided to take a break from some of my ongoing projects and focus on a little side project I’ve been wanting to wrap up. I’ve been fascinated with slow motion option on my iPhone for a while now and after messing around with Pretzel GamesFlick ’em Up!, I found a great subject to try out this feature.

Initially, I tried out a little sample video but quickly realized I had a big issue: light flicker.

After doing some research, I thought I found a solution in some battery-operated LED lights but they weren’t bright enough.  The video was ok and I could hide some of the issues by putting a few filters on like digital scratching and stripping the color out (which was awful looking anyway in the heavy blue tint of the LEDs) but it still wasn’t achieving what I wanted.

I let the project sit for a bit as I wasn’t ready to invest a heavy amount of cash for professional lighting to remove the flicker.  The ultimate solution was actually pretty obvious when I thought about it.  The reason for the flicker is the use of lights based on the alternating current of your house’s electricity and the frame rate being fast enough to catch the light alternating from the lighted to non-lighted state.  Using direct current options will remove the flicker issue but I already tried that with the battery-operated LEDs. There is an obvious alternative light source that will also not have flicker issues: the Sun.

Direct sunlight is easy enough but the resulting images are pretty harsh.  I don’t really have any opaque screens to soften this light but while walking through my house, I noticed that one of my kids’ rooms had some great ambient light. With this, I did some creative rearrangement to set up my “studio” and was able to shoot a bunch of slow motion shots of Flick ’em Up!

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setting up my “studio”

I ended up shooting over a hundred takes and then cut them down to about 35 usable clips.  IPhone’s slow motion feature is a little odd in that it records the footage in 240 fps (frames per second) but keeps the actual video time the same as the recording time.  The iPhone is smart enough to understand this and play the footage in a normal 30 fps but if you export the video, most devices will adhere to the timecode of the clip and not change the fps, meaning you’ll lose the slow motion effect as the system tries to play the video back at 240 fps.

The work around for this issue is to export the clip into iMovie (free app) and then export the clip back again to your photos folder.  This converts the clip to the appropriate 30 fps and slow motion effect. I then used Lightworks (free video editing software) to put all the clips together and added some great Ennio Morricone music for effect.

I’m pretty satisfied with the result and it was a lot of fun to get back into video editing again.

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