Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Month: January 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Game Challenges

I recently popped over to Sean’s Gaming and Shooting Blog, a fellow Walking Dead: All Out War fan, to check out some of his painting techniques and stumbled across an end of the year post about yearly game challenges.  Sean was pulling this from a post he saw at The Stronghold Rebuilt.

(i) Select a list of Six games. These can be miniature, card, board or role-playing games. You may change entries on the list during the year, but game-plays for games you drop should no longer count towards the challenge.
(ii) To start the challenge, post the link to your blog.
(iii) You commit to play each of  your six chosen games at least six times during the course of 2017.
(iv) When you play a game in your challenge list, record the play in your blog. This record can range from a one line acknowledgment to a full blow-by-blow report.

The challenge is one I’ve seen commonly on Boardgamegeek over the last few years.  It’s one of these “quality over quantity” reactions the board gaming community goes through as we wrestle with the unending onslaught of thousands of new games that come out each year.  Inevitably, our collections grow disproportionate to our free time and we end up playing a game once or twice before we have to move on and play the next exciting acquisition.

This is something my friends and I debate quite frequently as we each have our own level of comfort playing the inevitable “new game of the week” while also wanting to revisit some of the fun times we had with last week’s (or last month’s) new game.  It’s a hard balance to strike but we fight the good fight and still are able to mix in some older games each week.

The main issue and the reason why we struggle with the concept of always playing new games is because games are not linear pieces of entertainment.  They are not novels or movies or even some video games, to be consumed once and moved on from.  They are open-ended, highly interactive, and never tell the full story in a single game or session.

Looping back to gaming challenges, I think why challenges like this exist is to pull us back as consumers and remind us that we are gamers first and foremost.  As gamers, we need to game. It’s not enough to acquire the latest hotness or some grail game you’ve pined after for years. That is merely the first step. The loading up of the caravan to start your journey.  We fail if we never get out of the garage or, in this case, the game sits sadly shrink-wrapped on an ever cramped game shelf.

I will accept The Stronghold Rebuilt’s game challenge this year (or what is left of it). I have a lot of plans for this year already so I like that this challenge is devoted to only six games and seems easily doable.

The Walking Dead: All Out War

This first item is likely obvious and should be the easiest to accomplish. I’ve already started my weekly series dedicated to this new gaming love affair and completed my first comic session report. I have plans for at least the next four or five with more rattling around in my brain waiting to be explored.  It’s also solo-able which means I don’t have to force my friends to play if they don’t want.

Dropzone Commander

Perhaps another obvious choice.  Dropzone Commander is my go-to social miniatures game at the moment and our group has a lot of momentum with it so I’m glad to see that this has a lot table-time left.  Recently, our group is branching out into the local tournament scene so getting in multiple games of Dropzone shouldn’t be a challenge this year.


Santorini is a new acquisition that is easily one of the most eye-appealing games in my collection.  It’s an abstract game that plays quickly so I will likely go with Stronghold Rebuilt’s suggestion of considering a session of games as one “play.” A game this pretty sitting boxed up on a shelf is a travesty.

Championship Formula Racing

Also known as a revision of the classic Speed Circuit from the 70’s.  I don’t even own this game yet (as it is supposed to release in the next month or so) but I had a chance to play it at Gen Con and the “no-luck” aspect really intrigued me along with the promise of AI cars making the game solo-able.  This one may struggle in this challenge if the AI car rules don’t ever make it out but I’m confident I’ll still make it work.

Batman Miniatures Game: Suicide Squad Campaign

Yes. Another miniatures game.  I know. BUT! This goal is a little unique in that I want to just get through the 6 games of the Suicide Squad campaign from Knight Models’ new Suicide Squad starter package.  It looks like a lot of fun and, well, I’ve already bought the minis when I tried to swear off getting into another minis game.  I gotta justify it somehow so it is a prime target for the challenge.


This last item I’m going to hold in reserve as I want to poll my friends to see what game I should put on this list.  I learned from my last gaming challenge years ago where I vowed to play every game in my collection at least once, that taking on a challenge like this can force your friends to also commit to such a challenge, whether they want to or not.  That hardly seems fair so I will poll them and have them weigh in on what game they would like to hit six time this year.  Should we finally start that Pandemic: Legacy campaign? Maybe run through a Descent App Co-op? Bludgeon 7 Wonders: Duel to death with repeated plays? Prep for Gen Con with some challenges of The Duke? Flick it up with Crokinole, Catacombs, or Flick ’em Up!?  Hit a sadly missed game in their own collection?  Let me know, Gentlemen. You know who you are…  I’ll announce the game next week.

Edit: Alright, we’ve come to decision:

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

We’ve been wanting to do a Legacy game for a while now. We tried Risk Legacy but then some friends moved away and the game died. Hopefully we’re more successful with this version.

Walking Dead Wednesdays: The Great Outdoors

A big thanks to all of those that checked out my comic last week! The response was great and I hope that you’ll check out the issue next month as well.

Speaking of that issue, I’m moving forward in the Days Gone Bye expansion campaign and that will take me out of the city and into the wilds.  That means I need a few new pieces of terrain, namely trees. Lots of trees.

I was looking around for good tree options both homemade and manufactured and settled on a set of deciduous trees from Woodland Scenics.  After getting them, I decided to leave them unflocked because I couldn’t find any greyscale flocking and I didn’t want to just start spray painting the regular stuff. Luckily, I can always pretend that the campaign is occurring during winter or late fall/early spring.

The trees come stock in a brownish-grey which actually is really close to my black and white set up. This is awesome as it means I didn’t even have to try to paint them.  I may still eventually paint them but for now, I think they’ll work just fine.

The branches come flat in these sets so you have to bend the branches into natural positions.  This was actually pretty fun and easily accomplished while catching up on some tv shows I was behind on.

The main issue I’ve found with trees on tabletop terrain is they are too top heavy and can be annoying as they catch on things and scatter all over. Weights are usually mandatory but I had a better idea: magnets.  Magnetizing the trees to the base templates allows them to stay put and be easily removed when I want.  I will note that Woodland Scenics’ trees come with optional trunk bases so if you glued them down, you could easily remove the main tree and yield the same result. I like the templates flat so magnets won out in the end for me.

I drilled holes in the bottom of each tree trunk base until it was deep enough for the magnet then stickered over the hole and magnet to keep everything in place. Unlike my Dropzone Commander minis, I didn’t use glue as the sticker will be there to hold everything.  Make sure to get your magnet orientation correct or you’ll run into issues later. Since I drilled through the trunk, some of the tree posts were a little long and needed trimming before they would sit in flush to the trunk base.

I decided to use the stock tree templates from Mantic as my base but they are in color and I can’t have that.  So, like I did with the new boards I made, I scanned the template images in, converted them to black and white, and printed them on a large label sheet. Since my entire Walking Dead set is black and white, I don’t have an issue destroying the actual templates so I’ll sticker the new black and white image on top of the real template.

Next I drilled holes into the existing templates for the magnets to go into, placed them in, making sure to keep them all in the correct orientation to match my trees, and then placed the b/w template sticker over the top to keep the magnets in place. On the back side, just like the trees, I placed small stickers to keep the magnets firmly in place.

And done. Trees that won’t scatter to the slightest touch or knock over when someone hits the table.

Now it all comes together.  I have my trees and their base templates, my new Mantic image boards, and a hastily done papercraft RV all ready to roll.

Damn. Another Grimes family outing ruined by walkers.

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.

Walking Dead Wednesdays: Comic Timing

Lately, I’ve been working on a pet project that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: comic-style session reports.  I first saw some of these on Boardgamegeek years ago and have always wanted to try it out.

Having played Walking Dead: All Out War in a few different iterations, I thought the game would lend itself very well to this style of session reporting.  It took a lot longer to make than I thought and then I had to do a lot of site work so that it could handle the comic presentation but it has been a lot of fun.

You’ll be able to navigate to each “issue” by going to the Comic link at the top of my header but I’ll also announce every time I have a new issue up through my regular Walking Dead Wednesday posts.  My goal is to have one of these out each month but we’ll see how that goes.  I have quite a few story arcs I’m running through but the question is always time.

I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1: Running Into Trouble

Playtesting Board Games

I had a little hiccup this week and found that my old blog theme was about seven years old and way out of support.  I was wanting to add a nifty plug-in but trying to get it to play nice crashed the site hard so I went shopping for a more recent theme and was glad to stumble onto the one before you.  I hope it’s not too jarring of a change but if anyone has any feedback, I’d love to hear it.

In addition to the new look for the new year, I also am excited to test out a new board game.  I’ve actually been testing games for big publishers for the last five years or so but I’m usually under a Non-Disclosure Agreement to not talk about the product even after it is released. However, the current game I’m testing has a unique “Disclosure Agreement” instead where the publisher is encouraging the testers to discuss their experiences openly.

Restoration Games is a new game publisher started by Justin Jacobson, Rob Daviau, and Jason Taylor.  Their mission is to bring back older classic games from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and after a brief shout out to get recommendations, they settled on resurrecting a few classics.  You can read more about their announcement here.

image from Restoration Games

Shortly after their announcement, Restoration Games reached out through their email list and asked for playtesters.  Having done a lot of testing before and enjoyed several of Rob Daviau’s games, I jumped in with one of their new titles, Downforce.

In their instructions for testing, they had a curious note about how this was a public playtest.  I’ve heard of and seen “open” testing (typically done on large RPG releases) but this is the first time I’ve seen a publisher ask for open feedback and not told me to keep everything behind closed doors.

I love testing and have thought about talking about playtesting for game publishers for awhile but with this open call from Restoration Games, I’m glad to put some actual examples together instead of talking in vague NDA-speak.

To start off, playtesting is not particularly glamorous. It’s not economically beneficial and the bulk of the work you put into testing most people will never know about.  You are the stage hand, the grip, the matte painter of the board gaming world.  They definitely need you but you won’t be walking down any board game red carpets because you helped test a blockbuster game (if there even was such a board game red carpet… maybe at Essen?).  You do this because you love game design. You love seeing something mediocre develop into something great and being part of a team that is working to better the hobby you love.

You also do it because you like crafting, which, in an odd way really pushed me into pimping out games.  After testing for a few years, the tricks and techniques to scratch-building artless board game prototypes helped teach me economical and quick ways to pimp out my own collection of games.  Testing also helped me get set up with the proper tools to make prototypes quickly and efficiently.

Most of these tools you should have in your home already but if you don’t do a lot of papercrafting, you might still want to pick up a paper cutter (rotary trimmers are the best and safest not mention really cheap at hobby stores).  Other than that, scissors, tape, and maybe some old card board boxes if you want/need a stiff backing to some of the prototype components.  Lastly, you’ll need a printer or access to one as you will be printing quite a bit of material.

Downforce is a pretty light prep job for a full board game.  It required 21 pages to print out and cutting out about 60-70 cards out of some of those pages.  The game board prints easily and the files were set great for light printing and cutting.

Game components are not supposed to look great at this stage (the better they look, the faster they will run you out of ink and that can get really pricey). It goes without saying that all the components you see here are full-on prototypes and it should be obvious that the final product will look nothing like the art-less prototypes in the images.

Like most Print-N-Play productions, you usually need to provide the more common game pieces like pawns, dice, or tokens.  For this game, I raided an old box of Micro Machines to work as the car pawns.  The game requires money but I mainly have coins in low denominations in my collection, so it took a little longer to find what would work best.  I settled on pillaging the money chits in Fantasy Flight’s underrated Black Gold.

And with that, I have everything assembled and I’m ready to play.  Downforce comes with an optional kid variant so I’ll likely rope my kids into playing a game or two before I try the game out with my normal gaming group.

If testing games is something you might be interested, this could be an opportunity to try it out with a new game publisher.  Their testing period might still be open so go to Restoration Games’ contact page and let them know that you are interested.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated nor have I received any compensation from Restoration Games for discussing the testing or creation of testing material.

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