Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Tag: adrenaline

Gen Con 50 Recap Day 2

As I said in my Day 1 report, seeing the Time of Legends: Joan of Arc display case had me ditching events to check it out in the dealer hall.   My friend and I lined up at the appropriate entrance and bee-lined to the Mythic Games booth to sit down for a demo as soon as the hall opened.

This game isn’t a full tabletop minis game but it really tries to blur the line between board game and miniatures game. The design immerses you in the setting by adding physical terrain pieces instead of cardboard templates or drawn in graphics.  The miniatures themselves help limit the need for any text or rules on the actual play surface as every thing it taken care of on stat cards set off to the side.

The system is supposedly set up to handle full-on tactical combat scenarios where the goal is mainly combat focused, as well as combat light or even no combat “investigation” scenarios that will play more like a deduction board game.  This second type of game wasn’t really explained in much detail and no purely deductive scenario was available so I’m not sure how that will really work.

Instead, they had a hybrid scenario that combined the combat elements with the investigation style mechanics.  This particular scenario centered around a werewolf hiding in the village and the local Lord called in to help deal with the issue.  All the scenarios in Joan of Arc are rich in historical mythology of the era and this scenario was no exception. The rules will talk about an actual legend from the time period that the particular scenario is dealing with this one featuring a village overrun by wolves and stolen church artifacts.  The priest in the village asked for the Lord of the area to help and so we have one side playing the French Lord hero coming into the village with the priest.

The other player is playing the werewolf.  The wolf is hidden as one of the villagers, secretly chosen at the beginning of the game. The wolf player needs to survive 6 rounds and the French player needs to discover the werewolf and kill him.

The game is played in game rounds, each player taking their entire turn before the other player takes their turn.  Turns are given a set number actions depending on the unique card that is revealed at the start of the round. These actions are then allocated as the player sees fit until they are either done and want to save actions for later or they have no more actions to spend.  The actions available vary per scenario but basic actions are moving and interacting (or attacking).

What struck me as interesting in this game were the varied action options.  In this scenario, I could ride in with my hero and priest and talk to a witch living in a nearby glade (on the map). Talking with her was done through a randomly drawn card by the opposing player. That player read the two discussion options I had and then, after I chose which path to take, told me the result.

Later, I had the chance to interrogate the villagers, one of whom is the werewolf.  If my knight is doing the interrogation, he rolls a die and a positive result means the other player must answer my question truthfully (yes or no questions only). If the result fails, they can lie or ignore me.  If I want to be ruthless, I can just start cutting down the villagers but this is risky in that each villager I kill that isn’t the werewolf burns an entire turn, accelerating the ending and my loss.  I must confess, I grew frustrated with these stupid peasants and their lies (couldn’t roll a success to save my life) so I did chop one innocent down. It didn’t bring the others in line…

The priest, however, can ask villagers questions but they can’t lie (no die roll).  These questions are always yes or no answers (no “who is the werewolf” instant win questions).  Finally, I asked the right question and the werewolf was revealed. The options in this game expand ever more as the buildings aren’t just pretty terrain, you can go inside them (via a cut out template depicting the interior) and gain clues or items or more. The werewolf turned out to be a villager that had made its way into a secret crypt in the church and was busy praying to it’s dark God.

I surrounded the church and fought my way in, past the werewolf’s wolf pack guards and cornered the beast in the crypt.  With one turn remaining, I was able to score the killing blow on the last die roll to win the game.  It created a very epic story and my friend and I enjoyed the game so much, we cleared Saturday morning to race over and play the other scenario.

While I was standing around chatting with the designers, another of the werewolf scenarios was wrapping up and ended in equally epic style with a last round, last die roll werewolf kill. Bodes well for game balance, at least for new players.  The game comes to Kickstarter October 10th and I will definitely be backing this excellent game.

Having wrapped up what will end up being the best new game at the Con, I walked around the Mythic Games booth to see the Monolith Games side as they had another game I was interested, their new Batman game.

They had a great looking display and with the game “engine” based on their Conan game, I thought it might be pretty interesting. I checked out the models in the display case and they all looked great.

Probably having nothing to do with the great diorama they set up.

Then something struck me.  That diorama looked great and really set the tone for the game I’d really like to play.  But when I looked over at the demo table…

Hmm… I want to play the scene that is going on in that display case, not the drab 2D map with board-gamey lines all over it.  Then it hit me, I do play the game in the case with Knight Models’ Batman Miniature Game.  With this (obvious) epiphany, I moved on without even trying a demo.

Having ditched my only event, for the day, I had plenty of time to wander. So I went searching for some industry friends and checked out some other interesting dealer hall items.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 had a preview demo going on but I avoided it to not witness any spoilers.

Santorini had a great giant version of the game set up for play.

The event hall had a massive 54 mm fantasy pirate game going on with this awesome 3D ship detailing multiple levels.

I jumped upstairs to see if CGE had anything to show for the new Adrenaline Expansion but all they had was this oversized mock up model of the 6th player pawn.

Spin Master Games is making a nice version of Hnefatafl.  Talking with the production team onsite, I learned they are also making a realistically priced version of Kubb.  I’m really interested to see where this goes.

I caught none other than Lord Snow playing the new Game of Throne themed Catan.  He’s playing red, smart man.

Having exhausted the afternoon in the dealer hall and environs, it was time for me to get to work.  I decided to run a few events of my own again this year, starting with Pitchcar in a “death race” variant I made up.

I’ll do a write up about these custom pieces later but this event featured my new 3D cut car discs.  These were created in CAD and then CNC’d on existing crokinole discs.  Some easy painting later and my complete set of eight cars were ready for this premiere event.

The group loved it and the rules variant held up very well.  I even ended up overselling the event because someone really wanted to join in the game.  It was great fun and had a ton of lead changes and disc flicking shenanigans. After Pitchcar, I went straight into 4 hours of Catacombs games.

These events were also sold out and filled with a lot of fun gamers ready to delve into the flick-filled dungeon.  A couple of surprises were in store for the players as I had some early promos to hand out from Catacombs Conquest (the recent Kickstarter) and I premiered my 3D board that made earlier.   Halfway through the event, Aron West of Elzra Games stopped by and was able to talk to some of the players and even finished out the finale of one of the games.

I brought out the custom Rat King disc that the Catacombs Artist, Kwanchai Moriya, had made for me.  And I also was able to provide the Wyverns of Wylemuir expansion for some enthusiastic Catacombs fans to try out.

The players seemed to have a lot of fun and it was great seeing them all enjoy the games. The event finished a little after midnight so I packed it all up and headed back to the hotel to crash.

“FateCon” 2017 Part 2

Part 1 of my FateCon trip can be found here.  Here is the conclusion of my trip out to Fate, Texas and the gaming that lies therein.

Day 2

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past was the first game to hit the table on day 2.  This game kickstarted about the same time as Mantic’s The Walking Dead: All Out War.  I was briefly in both Kickstarter campaigns but decided to pare it down and if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know which direction I went (and have no regrets).

Shadows of the Past ready. Hob is going down!

All the same, I wanted to try TMNT out to see how they approach the “one vs many” mechanic and how all that translated to the Ninja Turtle theme.

…or not. Silly Raph falls hard.

It turned out surprisingly well.  The actions the turtles can take seemed very cinematic and I had my turtles leaping across roof tops and smashing bad guys’ faces in.  I ultimately lost the scenario but liked the shared dice mechanics and the dynamic play the game seemed to offer.

odd figure sizes. why are thugs bigger and smaller than ninjas?

even normal thugs make Shredder look a bit puny.

The only downside is the minis aren’t in scale with each other.  I think this was a mechanical decision to help identify certain “mini-boss” figures but having played quite a few minis games, scale inconsistency bothers me.

Also, the villain player roll seems much less dynamic and a bit boring.  I think the game would have been better if it too the co-operative design cues from Descent and ditched the competitive one vs many system.

this setup is wrong for 2 players, our cars should be mixed, not in discrete lines.

I’ve been on a racing game kick looking for “the” racing game to add to my collection so I asked if we could break out Thunder Alley by GMT.

victory is mine after a bad pit option from my opponent.

After some set up, we got the game going and I found it to be easy enough to understand.  There were some strategy elements that weren’t obvious so the game also has room to grow via multiple plays.  It is more team-based and relies on hand-management more than the feeling of zooming around a race track so this game, while fun, isn’t the racing game I’m looking for.

Day 2 concluded with my first play through of Adrenaline.  I tried to play this game at Gen Con but got shut out after waiting for almost 2 hours so I was excited to try it out fully.

I was glad to find that the game met my expectations and confirmed that I really want to have it my collection.  The pacing seems fast enough and even though it has those euro elements and a subtle area-control system, it still felt like my figure was beating people’s faces in and collecting their skull trophies.

Day 3

In another new game to me, we decided to set up Kings of War by Mantic Games.  My friend was experimenting with reducing the size of this rank-and-file miniatures game and so we tried out two of his armies in 15mm.

Kings of War 15mm set up and ready for battle on an intimately small map.

I love smaller miniature scales for a lot of reasons but this scale down conversion really emphasized how effective the change can be.  At 15mm, the intro 1,000 point army plays on an inviting 2′ x 3′ and all the armies will fit in small containers.

my Kings of War Dark Elves (courtesy of my host).

a hastily put together rabble of tree hugging hippy elves.

the battle can get quite pitched and those little red/blue sewing counters help keep track of the damage.

this is me routinely destroying those pathetic tree huggers. my luck was unstoppable. that and we messed up a critical rule on range units being disorganized only against melee, not other ranged units…

at the end of it all, we have the father tree left and dance around as we light his carcass aflame. it was a good day to be dark.

This intimate setting pulls you into the battle and I ended up really liking the game.  I wouldn’t want to have it at the full scale (though I’d play it if someone else had it available) as the time to create armies and terrain at that scale is pretty intensive.  Luckily Mantic also made their system flexible to use with a variety of miniatures and sizes. This means I can pull out the defunct Arcane Legions or even the original Days of Wonder Battlelore minis to make my own armies and play.

We ended the day playing a few games of Evolution, first with the Flight expansion and second with the new Climate expansion. Evolution is a pretty solid system and I liked the subtle arms race that you engage in as you try to build either better carnivores to eat your friends or better herbivores to defend yourself with.

I didn’t find either expansion really necessary unless you have played the base game to a point where you want the extra variety.


For the cost of a cheap Southwest flight, this was a great little “mini-con” to get away to.  Thanks again to my gracious hosts and all they provided. It made the trip very easy and a great experience.  I’m not sure if I can make this an annual trip but it’d be great to do it again soon.

Welcome to 2017!

I hope your 2016 went well.  I’m pretty happy with how it went on the gaming front this year and so this will be one of those obligatory “review” posts.  This was a “do or die” year for this blog as I had to decide if I wanted to pursue this passion or give it up due to lack of time and commitment.  As you can tell, I chose to keep it going and I’m really glad I did.  I’ve had the chance to meet some great people and the research that goes into each post is really showing me that pimping games has really come into its own in this hobby.

In 2016, I showed off some of my favorite pimped games like my Thunder Road Advanced and the Rum and Bones “travel” set, the latter of which was featured in a CMON facebook post earlier in the year.  I also finally posted my Assault on Hoth set, which has been a work in progress over the last few years (thanks to Rogue One for galvanizing me to finish up).

I also did a lot of work on Pretzel Games’ Flick ’em Up!, messing with mustaches, slow motion video, and an Adrenaline/Flick ’em Up! crossover variant.  The video was especially fun to shoot and edit as it was something I haven’t done since college.  It was even popular enough to make BoardGameGeek’s “The Geek Weekly” in both their regular weekly installment and their year end wrap-up.

Ok, enough about the past. I’m really excited for 2017 as I have a lot of ideas rattling around that I want to get going and post about.  Some of them are completing languishing projects, like a globe-using game of Risk, while others are brand new that I’ve been hoping to start for a while now.

Christmas was great this year and the family got together to get me a very fun pimping toy, a low-end CNC milling machine:

I’m really excited about this machine and so you can definitely expect posts on this adventure (or possibly mis-adventure) over the next month or so.

I’ve enjoyed keeping my posts to about once a week but I plan to try to post more in 2017 and I may try out an ongoing series as well.  In case you missed it, Pimp My Board game is also on Facebook  and as a secondary blog feed on BoardGameGeek as well.

Thank you all for reading and commenting over the last year.  It’s always encouraging and I’m really excited bring you even more in the coming year.

10 monkeys with 2 and a side of bourbon


Variety as Life Spices

While I love pimping out games, my first foray into altering board games came from the mechanical design side of the hobby.  Cutting my teeth as a young lad on such classic titles as HeroQuest and Battle Masters, it wasn’t long before the little wheels in my head started turning as I yearned to dive deeper into those gaming worlds.


my yellowed copy of one of the first variants I attempted – an expansion module to HeroQuest


25+ years later and my handwriting still hasn’t gotten much better

After all this time, I still have a compelling need to create my own variants for my favorite games.  It’s hard to say which side pushes harder, the desire to improve the functionality and aesthetic appeal of a game or the fun in varying the rules to better suit where I want the game design to go.  Since pimping out a game requires little collaboration, I tend to do it more as I am free to mod and pimp at my leisure but it doesn’t mean that I don’t still jot down notes and variants for most of my games. I don’t think I know how to pimp games without also wanting to create a more personal set of rules.


Looking back through these notes and files, I realized I’ve amassed quite a little collection of variants and so I created a new page on the blog to put them at easy reach.  Like most things, this will be a work-in-progress and updated when I can.  I’ll try to add links or download options for those curious to see these variants in more detail but for now, I want to highlight a particularly obsessive variant I’ve been working on.

It’s no secret I’ve been really getting into Flick ’em Up! by Pretzel Games recently.  At Gen Con, I was able to try out a curious and ultimately fantastic new game by Filip Neduk of Czech Games Edition, called Adrenaline. Adrenaline is a fun resource control game set as old school first-person shooter (FPS) video game where the resource is damage dealt to your enemies.  It has some of the best theme-implemented mechanics I’ve seen for a board game attempting anything like this genre and I was sold almost immediately.


prototype play at Gen Con 2016

Unfortunately, it was released at Spiel in Essen, Germany last month and hasn’t made the trek over the pond quite yet. Even though I definitely want to add this game to my collection, I couldn’t stop thinking about combining all the great damage and scoring mechanics of the game with the dexterity and almost FPS nature of Flick ’em Up! So a couple weekends back, I prototyped enough components to try out this Frankenstein-ian creation and was happy to see that it actually worked quite well.


At a quick glance, it still looks basically like Flick ’em Up!- open table layout with three-dimensional Flick ’em Up! pieces scattered around to make a more dynamic playing area.  However, if you look carefully (at the table, not my friend’s impressive liquor display), you’ll notice I added some cards representing the different weapons the cowboys can acquire and the player board, where most of the new rules interaction comes into play.


Looking at the new player board, it is basically a carbon copy of the player board in Adrenaline, but rethemed to fit Flick ’em Up’s setting.

The board tracks damage from your opponents, points given when you die, action options, and keeps your resources close by.  The points are now represented thematically by money (courtesy of 7 Wonders) and instead of skulls representing kills, I have little tombstones.  Even when messing around with new mechanics, I can’t help but try a little pimping as well.


While I spent a lot of time getting the look of the player boards to a quality we could enjoy, I knew the biggest mechanical hurdle was getting the weapons right.  From experience, I knew these custom weapons would take a lot more effort and will undergo a lot of iterations to test and get right since they will be the biggest marriage between the two systems.

Adrenaline has 21 unique weapons in its game and since the concept of what each weapon does is largely abstract and only defined by how and who all it can hurt, there is a lot of freedom in the variety of each card. Since the way you deal damage in this variant is largely based on the dexterity flicking component of Flick ’em Up!, the weapon powers had to be grounded more in what options were physically available.  Luckily, Flick ’em Up! contains a lot of varied options in weapons and effects so I settled on nine unique weapons.  I actually like the more limited weapons pool as it helps the balance a bit from both a testing side (less variables to test and correct) and a gameplay side as a powerful weapon won’t be unique and others will have access to the same option if it proves too potent.


The test game we ran worked pretty well and I was pleased that the concept worked fully and was enjoyed by the players.  The variant isn’t quite ready yet as the pacing was a little slower than I liked so I’ll go back to the drawing board on the weapon concepts and see what I can do increase the tempo of the game. Then I’ll test again until the game feels more in-line with expectations. After that, I’ll finalize the art for the weapon cards and finish up a general rules document.  Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to host the variant at one of the upcoming game conventions next year.

Gen Con 2016, Part 1


Gen Con 2016 was a whirlwind of gaming, events, meet-ups, and fun. This year I decided to forgo the multi-day tournament route and focus on smaller events/tournaments and check out some non-standard activities.  After 10 years of attending, I’m missing more and more so I’ve let go of that compulsion to try to do everything and just do what I can and what is fun.

Reese and Colton were in attendance as they have been for the last 6 years and we didn’t waste any time getting some gaming in.


My Onitama custom travel set worked out well as we flew over some non-descript Kansas scenery

After a relatively easy flight, we made it to the hotel and made it our own.


Next up was Gen Con proper.  As usual, we always plan to get everything done before the registration deadline but some publishers and event coordinators can’t get their stuff in order so I usually find some late entry events that I inevitably have to pick up at Will Call. Make no mistake, this is where fun goes to die. or sleep. either way it’s a bit of a buzz kill.


The front of this line is probably 300 yards away and the back was stretching out the doors and outside in the sun.  Since Will Call is 24/7, we skipped that nonsense and went straight for food.


I haven’t had Giordano’s in probably 12+ years so it was awesome to find this Chicago gem nestled right in Downtown Indy. I hear we’re getting one in Denver so that will be awesome.  As usual, The G did not disappoint and my over-hyping didn’t ruin Reese and Colton’s opinion either.  I need to move on. I’m salivating just looking at the picture…

We got back and I read that Stonemaier Games was hosting a free gaming room so we dropped by and saw the new Adult Codenames and Codenames Pictures.  With only 3 of us, Codenames would be a bit lame but we grabbed some other small groups and got a fun 7 player game going.  Codenames Pictures is interesting but seemed to be missing the subtleness of the original game.  A variant that sounded more intriguing (though we didn’t try) was to mix the field with both Codenames and the Pictures expansion to get the best of both worlds.

We usually only get one chance at the hotel pool and hot tub so we ducked out of the Stonemaier Games room early and I jumped in the Will Call line.  It was inside at least but I was surprised how fast it moved.  From my line picture above, I was likely only 20 yards farther up but was through with everything in about 35 minutes.

We got to the pool but found that the hot tub was broken.  The pool was nice but we eventually called it and went out to look for Ice Cream.  After a few restaurant fails, we finally found some deserts at the Tilted Kilt.  It was loud and obnoxious but the scenery wasn’t terrible and the ice cream brownie disaster I ate was pretty good.

Thursday morning had us going to check out the crush of people waiting for the opening ceremony and exhibit hall doors.  Gen Con has this pretty well under control now and for the most part, things looked civil.  It probably helps that some of the instigator publishers aren’t in the hall anymore (Wizkids was notorious for having extremely rare promos/merchandise and would typically cause disastrous gamer stampedes. I don’t miss them at all.)


hope no one down there has to pee…

Having nothing in particular that I needed to get once the doors opened.  I waited for the crush of people to die down and went in.  I only had an hour before my first event so Colton and I headed to the Hawk Wargames booth.  I don’t play with the faction that was the new “event exclusive” but I grabbed another awesome double-decker battle bus and a small pack of their regular civilian buses and trailer. Apparently, I snagged the last one of those and, while not exclusive, Hawk isn’t sure how they will sell those sets. Lucky me!

The line to buy these items wasn’t moving at all but the Hawk guys are pretty smart (this isn’t their first rodeo) and asked if we wanted to pay cash.  This illustrates reason number 587 on why you need to bring cash to Gen Con. Transaction completed, we set off to our various events.

My first event was for Championship Formula Racing (CFR) but it failed as no one showed up.  I found out later that the team that put the event together thought they made it for one specific day but the event duplicated for all days and they didn’t realize it until later.  I did get a game in that afternoon and found it quite fun.  I will definitely look for it to come out later this year.


my little red F1 was no match for the demoer’s green machine.

With more time than initially thought, I headed over to the Czech Games room to check out Adrenaline, a first-person shooter with euro area-control mechanics.


I caught up with a group of players about halfway through their game.  The designer was teaching so I watched for about 30 minutes.


This was probably my favorite game of the Con and I thought was going to get a chance to demo but the designer who happened to be teaching already scheduled the next game with a different group.  Disappointing but I saw enough of the game to know that it’s one I will definitely pick up.  The minis look great, the art and design is top-notch, and the game is interesting at almost every level.  Everything about it seems fresh and innovative and I can’t wait to get it on my table.

I had some additional dealer hall time (getting skunked out of several events will do that) so I went to see Pretzel Games.


Pretzel Games was showcasing their new Flick em Up expansion, Red Rock Tomahawk, as well as their new stand alone game, Junk Art.


I picked Red Rock Tomahawk as I love the Flick em Up system but have been lukewarm on Junk Art.  From what I’d read, it just didn’t seem to really have enough crunch or fun to it so I’ve only looked at it in passing.  There was an open demo starting however, so I figured I’d get in and give it a fair shake.  I was so wrong. The game is great fun and I can see a lot of different gamers liking this soon-to-be hit for Pretzel Games.  You play in several rounds, with each round being dictated by a set of randomly drawn rules (little mini-games that represent different cities you travel to showcasing your junk art masterpieces).  The two (of 12?) cities I played made each round very different and uniquely fun on their own.  These series of mini-games don’t last long so you can easily tailor the experience to the gaming group. It requires some dexterity, some spatial awareness, and even some strategy in some of the mini-games.  I didn’t have time/money to pick this up in the hall so I’ll have to wait to try and get it when it has a wider release.

I’ll be back for rest of the Gen Con 2016 in my next post.

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