Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

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Convention Season Prelude

This past weekend kicked off the start of my usual convention season prep with the annual Gen Con event registration.  This will be my eleventh Gen Con and one would think I’d be used to the stress and frustration of their event registration process but no such luck.

I can’t complain though. This is the 50th anniversary of Gen Con so there is a lot of demand for hot events and so getting into those requires some blind luck.  I was happy to make it into one of the sold out event slots for CMON’s upcoming Song of Ice and Fire miniatures game and I’m excited to go see They Might Be Giants.  I’ve wanted to see that band live for years now so having an exclusive event sounds like a great way to hear them.

image from the publisher via BGG

Another event that has me excited is a run-through of the co-op variant of X-wing Miniatures, Heroes of the Aturi Cluster.  I’ve loved X-wing since my first starter box at the premiere in Gen Con 2012 and this fan-made co-op variant sounds like a lot of fun.  The designers of the variant have the whole print-n-play available for download but it’ll be great to see it all ready to go and be taught the system first hand.

image from IDW Games kickstarter campaign

Some other demo events like Blood & Plunder and Rayguns & Rocketships round out my schedule with an interesting workshop on painting non-metallic metals (NMM) as a non-gaming event.  The NMM event is interesting for my black & white Walking Dead game as I’m not sure how to really paint items like Michonne’s katana in true black and white.  I could cheat and paint with metallics but that sounds like it would be pretty out of place.

blood & plunder image from firelock games site

With the good comes the bad or maybe just disappointing.  It was odd to see that Mantic didn’t have much presence for Walking Dead: All Out War.  It seems to be selling very well for them but the only events were a bunch of duplicated one-off events and I’m not even sure the organizer is from Mantic.  Maybe they were late submitting the events and they’ll come in later.

Also disappointing was the lack of any Championship Formula Racing from Jolly Roger/Upper Deck.  They hosted some demo events last year and with the games release, I would have expected at least something.

I wasn’t able to get into any Wasteland Express Delivery events to try that game out. Someone also had an interesting “Mario Kart” version of X-wing they were going to run at 2 hours but cancelled all of the events at the last minute.  There is another similar event but it is a bit longer at 5 hours and I just don’t have the schedule for that.

Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised that all the events I decided to run this year have sold out.  That is very exciting as I had a lot of fun last year running things like my Loopin’ Chewie tournament and I’m excited to get some additional dexterity games like my favorite Catacombs and a Pitchcar variant into the event roster.

As exciting as Gen Con 50 is shaping up to be, it is still a few months off and I have another event coming up right around the corner: Cabin Con!

This is our yearly little private gathering where a few friends and I go up into the mountains and geek out on all things board games for a few days.  I’ve already got some fun events planned and it should be a great time.

Walking Dead COMIC Wednesday: Solo City

It’s been awhile but my Comic Wednesday is back with another issue of The Real Adventures of Rick and Glenn!  This time, we go back to Atlanta to explore the old stomping grounds of Rick and Glenn in another scenario from the Days Gone Bye expansion.

Chapter 4: City Slicker

If you missed the previous issue, you can find it it my Comics link in the top menu.

Dropzone Commander: Bringing Tanks to an Infantry fight.

A couple weeks back, I was able to get in another game of Dropzone Commander at Funtastic Games‘ Dropzone Commander monthly get together.  This time, my friend and I went to a 999 point Skirmish battle.

I don’t recall the name of the scenario but it featured a reinforced bunker in the center that was used to house an objective marker and two downed UCM Bear transports to use as focal points.  I decided to go thematic with an Allied Resistance force who was trying to recover the wounded UCM soldiers and get the last bits of intel reports from the bunker.  My friend had his Scourge force coming in to sweep out the area.

We both knew that this game was going to center around that bunker.  The grey pieces on the side were the only entrance points to the structure.

I actually messed this game up by starting on the wrong corner of the map.  We decided to let it play as we were already through the first round before we realized the mistake.  My Lifthawk trundled in to get as close as possible to the bunker.

Followed by the rest of my forces: a duo of Cyclone Helicopters, a Thunderstorm commander craft, some Anti-Air units (Gun Wagons and Gun Technicals) in their Kraken hovercrafts, and some Attack ATVs and Freeriders to take up the rear.

My friend brought in his Scourge Prowlers to stalk the side of a building with car debris as cover.  Then he drove on a whole division of tanks from the board edge two sets of Anti-Air Reapers and two sets of Anti-Tank Hunters.

By the start of round 2, he was able to get one group of Warriors into the bunker at the cost of their light transport.  That transport thought it was going to be a badass and stay “to the deck” but must have clipped the bunker taking off as it spun out and crashed to the ground.

My Kraken launched a bunch of Gun Technicals to take down more light aerial transports but only got one.  The Prowlers came in to respond, one even trying to take a leak on my shiny Gun Technical.

Bastard.

The Scourge are able to get a second group of infantry into the Bunker as I drop all three of my infantry groups inside.  I definitely have the numbers to hold out in there but we’ll see if the Scourge can find the objective next turn and get out before the battle gets too pitched.

Round 3 starts with the infantry battle and I wipe all the Scourge clean down to one lonely Warrior on one final infantry stand. I send my APC’s around the side and ‘nade that last stand but it totally fails.

My Cyclones get in on the action after seeing the Scourge Anti-Tanks come around and shred my Thunderstorm command unit.  I can’t have those Hunters running free so my Cyclones go full out and wipe out three tanks.  At this point, each Hunter unit is down to one tank.  My Cyclones fall quickly to the Scourge Reapers but it was worth it.

And I get a lucky Objective find and get an infantry group out of there and head home.

Meanwhile my Freeriders have been hopping building to building until they got over the far focal point, where they will camp it out.  The Scourge only have a Reaper to try to claim that focal so I’ve locked that one in.

My Attack ATVs try uselessly to weaken the Scourge Reapers but get taken down instead.

My objective is still trying to make it home while I repair my Thunderstorm and keep my Gun Wagons covered, waiting for the Scourge Overseer to try to come out and make it’s final push for the focal point.

The Overseer comes out but shrugs off most of my Gun Wagon hits.  It won’t take the focal point so my side has this one secure.

I run my remaining APC over to the far side focal point as insurance and take this one at the end of the game as well.

Finally, my Lifthawk makes it to my starting zone and takes the objective home.  The final result for this one were firmly in the hands of the Resistance. I got some really lucky rolls in the mid-to-late game that took out a few key Scourge tanks but I think the biggest thing was being able to overwhelm them with my infantry. With only one objective, this swung the game pretty well in my favor and starting in the wrong corner next to a focal point didn’t hurt either.

Walking Dead Wednesday: Pimping Out the Killzone

I recently picked up the new “Walker Premium Accessory” kit that Mantic makes for the Walking Dead: All Out War game and had a chance to put it through its paces. The small kit contains a long 10″ ruler/template for noise/mayhem and walker shambling and a clear acrylic Killzone template.

I’ve been wanting a clear Killzone template ever since I saw the stock cardboard template on the Kickstarter so I’m glad to see that Mantic decided to make one.  The template is a pretty standard clear acrylic with text etched in.

On a dark background, the text shows up pretty well but the lettering is pretty faint and since my set is all in shades of grey, the lettering gets completely lost.  Time to pimp this little template out.

I’ve done this with other custom acrylic works and so I wasn’t worried. All I need is a damp paper towel, a dry paper towel and some cheap acrylic paint.  I went with a deep red to get the lettering to really pop out.

This technique is so simple. Dab a little bit of acrylic paint on your finger and then start smearing it across the etched lettering. The thinner outlined lettering at the bottom is the easiest so I started there.

Just smear it over all the etching until the paint starts to dry.  When it starts to dry out, you can keep rubbing to get most of it to come off the smooth acrylic top.  Periodically wipe your finger off to clean it.  When most of the paint is gone, you can spot clean off trouble areas with the damp paper towel, then go over it again with the dry one. The only thing to really watch out for are long, deep scratches in the acrylic.  Those might take the paint in just like the etched portions.

You shouldn’t need to worry about getting inside all the small areas as the paint should come off easily by simply wiping across the whole block of lettering.  Some paint may come out of the etching but that’s ok.  Let it dry and then do another layer to really finish it out.

The thicker lettering for “KILL ZONE” may need more detail as it is easier to wipe away the paint in the etching but mine seemed to only need two coats.  The above photos were all after one coat.

After playing around with it on the board, it seemed too faded so I went back and quickly did that second coat and I’m a lot happier.

So, if you want that template to stand out better, grab some acrylic paint and start smearing.

In other news, user Kieron on Facebook had a suggestion for my extra horse-riding Rick miniature:

I thought this was brilliant so I went looking for a source and found a suitable motorcycle through Reaper’s Chronoscope miniatures line.

This was just a test fitting so nothing is glued together but I’m liking the concept and where I can go with this.

Time-lapsed Game Session

I got in another game of Championship Formula Racing, this time the human drivers outnumbered the Historical AI ones.  While it was likely too “artsy” for a good session report, I really liked my “simulator” session.  This time, however, I opted for a more traditional approach. We also messed around with recording the game in a time-lapsed format, which is linking after the main report.

Since this game was the first for a few players, we started with a warm-up test of a few rounds to get us through a couple of the track turns so that everyone could get a feel for how they wanted to set up their cars.

After the test, we made up our cars and decided to add in an AI driver to tighten the board a little more.  I put out an easier Historical driver, Jochen Rindt, and just like my last report, he was using the Front A strategy. We opt for a nice 2 lap race on Monte Carlo.

Jochen ended up out bidding all of us for poll position and soon the race was on.  By the time we got to the first turn, Jochen (black Lotus 77)  had the lead and we stacked in line behind.

We continued to give chase while Jochen kept aggressively spending wear to push ahead.

At this point, I’m in second (red Ferrari 312T) and I feel like I can keep pace with Rindt even with him spending wear tokens like he has an unlimited supply.  My friends (orange March 761 and blue Tyrell P34) had other plans.

Colton in the Orange March 761 pushes past me on the tight no.3 curve even though I try to block him out.  It eats up wear on both cars but he is able to make it.

Reese in the blue Tyrell P34 uses the opportunity to push his car a bit and not follow the line while I end up playing conservative.  Jochen breaks away from us.

I’m out maneuvered again and take up the sad rear in just a few of the opening curves while Jochen wastes no time pushing well past us.

I end up out of that last curve way too slow and watch as everyone else shows me how to race this game.  Niki Lauda would not be pleased.

Jochen clears the first lap of two laps and I’m able to make up a little lost ground but mainly on my friends.  Jochen’s car isn’t really built for the straights though so the game tightens up a little as we get into the first curve again.

We still don’t quite have the hang of it and Jochen is off again leaving us behind.  I am finally able to do some good by pushing both my acceleration and topspeed beyond their max and end up one behind Colton’s orange March 761.

Jochen, however, has really overspent his resources maintaining this lead and is forced to play very conservative. This allows us to close the gap on the tighter 2, 3, and 4 curves.

Colton is low on wear as well and tries to push through curve 5 but ends in a spin.

Colton is still able to maintain his footing and Jochen’s conservative demeanor doesn’t allow him to capitalize on the misfortune. I still can figure out this damned curve and end up way in the back again and can only watch as my friends charge a waning Jochen.

As they battle, Reese takes a spin trying push through the next curve.

This allows me to catch up while Colton tries to take on the unstoppable Rindt. The two lead cars battle the final curve…

…only to see Rindt push too hard on inside line and spin out. I don’t think I played that AI strategy correctly but had Jochen played conservative, he would surely lose against Colton’s faster car.  We have our first lead change of the race!

Colton clears the line while Reese and Jochen leave me the slightest sliver of a chance to take that center line and possibly take second play overall.  It was a long shot as I’d need to push through that final curve, then push my acceleration and topspeed to outpace Reese. I ended up spinning out in the curve instead.  Had I played conservative, I likely could have beat Jochen but definitely wouldn’t have beaten Reese.

As it was, Reese easily takes second and Rindt limps into third place.   The game worked out very well and was a lot of fun.  We debated later about how much time the Historical driver takes and whether we could have a 6 car race with 3 AI and 3 humans.  I initially thought the AI drivers would be faster but I think they turn out to be slower than humans since the player has to make their turn then consult all the AI rules that govern its current turn.

I think the AI system is fantastic, especially for solo games but I wonder if they are too complex to use as filler cars in a timely fashion.  I might experiment a little on “dumbed down” Historical racers to see if they can be run without a strategy card (or if anything, an overly simple one) just to expedite their turn and focus back to the actual players.  I wouldn’t use that for solo play but I think there is merit to this simplification when using them to only fill out a few extra roster spots.


Also, as promised, here was the full time-lapse of our 2 lap Monte Carlo race.


Last but not least, I ordered another set of cars from Shapeways, this time from the 1957 era. I had a chance to prime them:

…and work on some base colors.

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