Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Tag: kwanchai moriya

Catacombs: Wyverns of Wylemuir Preview

I got a nice surprise in the mail the other day, an advanced copy of the next Catacombs expansion, Wyverns of Wylemuir.  I helped Elzra Games proofread the manual and components and as a fantastic thank you gesture, they sent me my copy early. This is a full expansion similar to Cavern of Soloth so you need the base game to play it.  I believe there are a couple of other copies floating around as it was available to purchase at Dice Tower Con.

This cover is my favorite box cover of the whole line.  I like how Kwanchai is continuing with the circle motif of the series and the inner picture is dramatic and compelling.

Because there is a brand new board in the box, it came out in the same large footprint size as the base game.

Elzra Games is learning from some of the challenges of their previous offerings and have included a box insert to keep the wood pieces from crashing around too much. I know a lot of people hate box inserts but these games can really use it for care during shipping if nothing else.  A little side note for those that pick this game up later, the new board is under the box insert.

Now that we have everything open, lets look at the contents:

  • 1 double-sided game board
  • 2 Heroes
  • 2 Catacomb Heroes (used in the Catacombs & Castles set)
  • 8 Wyverns
  • 2 Catacomb Lords
  • 5 Monster Groups
  • 11 Room Cards
  • 5 Items
  • 2 Catacombs & Castles Catacomb Warriors
  • 4 Attack Templates

In terms of raw extra content, it’s not quite as heavy as the Caverns of Soloth expansion but it makes up for it in the brand new content like the Wyverns and Attack Templates as well as adding a new game double-sided game board to the mix.

Here we have the stars of the expansion, the new Wyverns.  Elzra Games did a clever thing here where there are eight unique Wyverns and two copies of each so that both the Hero and the Catacomb sides can each run the same Wyvern if they want. Each disc has another Wyvern on the other side.

A sample of some of the new monsters.   Most of the monsters employ the new Attack Templates, which I’ll get into later in the post.

Two new Catacomb Lords and two new Heroes. One thing that both the Heroes and Catacomb Lords have in common is they all get to start the game with their own Wyvern.

Two new board layouts (double-sided), each detailing a great new outdoor scene.

Another nice addition is some of the promo cards that have been released at conventions. Elzra Games has moved away from a strictly exclusive model for promos and Kickstarter items and here we see some of the results of these releases like the Shadowlithe Fist ability for the Thief and the Teleport Chicken ability for the Chicken Hero. Adding to the group are two new template-centric options, one ability for the Skeleton Hero and the other is an item that the Dwarf Miner can start with.  Both are really interesting options for these lower tier heroes, especially the Dwarf Miner’s Rune Axe as it is a permanent item that allows him to use the ability all the time.  Quite a boon for a hero I put at the back of the pack in my strategy guides.

Here we have an example of Hyba, one of the new heroes, riding one of the Wyverns, the Wylamander.  The card abilities for the Wyverns are divided into three sections starting with the upper left ability section.  This section is the same for all the Wyverns in that it allows the hero to perform a melee shot with the Wyvern followed by the new “Wyvern Strike” shot.  The Wyvern Strike acts like a Rush shot but if you strike an opponent disc, you gain a Wyvern Claw token.  These tokens can later be spent to activate one of the other Wyvern abilities.  In the example above, Hyba spent one claw to use the Wylamander’s second ability, placing the ring template and hitting two Succubus monsters.

Later in the game, Hyba has earned more Wyvern Claws and spends them on the Wylamander’s third ability, using the spread template to hit more Succubus monsters.

In this last example, we look at one of the coolest items, the Wyvern Familiar.  This little guy looks like a ton of fun as he’s permanent, like all familiars, but if you look at his life, he has “-” like Antients and the new Wyverns which means he is invulnerable to damage.  An unkillable familiar seems very interesting but his only way to deal damage is through the short template.  This will make for a very challenging attack as you will want to get close to a monster to use the short template but with a bit of finesse since if you hit too hard, you risk knocking your target out of range.

As is likely no surprise, I’m really excited about this expansion and all the new options it brings.  The template powers bring a bit more finesse to the game as power flicking discs will generally be less effective than subtle shots that put you in perfect template range.

I’m not sure when this expansion hits the full release or Kickstarter but Elzra Games is currently running a quick Kickstarter Campaign for another game in the Catacombs series, Catacombs Conquest.  Conquest is a light, quick, card-driven version of the game meant for new players and quick, open-table play.

Showcase: OGRE

This is one my first fully pimped project and easily one of my favorites.  For a long time I’d been interested in Steve Jackson GamesOGRE.  I like the simplicity and asymmetry but wasn’t a fan of chits and hex grids nor did the theme seem especially original after I found it 30+ years from it’s introduction.

Kwanchai Moriya is probably my favorite board game artist though he didn’t start out as such.  Originally a studio artist (and still is), Kwanchai is an avid board gamer and being an artist, started playing around with retheming out of print games.  One of his first and most popular was taking OGRE and retheming it into an alternate World War II war game.

KOGRE box art copy

Kwanchai’s art and theme really drew me into the game and I had to make a copy for myself.  There was some controversy about the legal rights to Kwanchai’s work so it is no longer available but I was able to get a hold of the files before they were ripped down.  I’m not a fan of chits in games. I recognize that they are extremely efficient but they don’t do anything to immerse me in the game. Being a game-pimper, I really can’t make a project with them so I was thinking about alternative options.

Making the game with 3D elements seemed the best way to go so first was what to do with the OGRE himself. I thought a few things like a paper standee or maybe a wooden token cut out but a friend of mine suggested maybe going full 3D and making a miniature.  I have no talent for that and no time to learn but luckily, he did.  It actually turned into a huge project for him and at times I think he regretted the suggestion but what he finally produced was absolutely amazing.

residentninja’s Kwanchai inspired robot

We had a lot of discussion on size and scale and ultimately decided to help emphasize “Robbie’s” (as we called him) size, we went with 6mm/ Z scale.  I started sourcing 6mm German WWII soldiers and vehicles and found a lot of great options.

I ended up going with CinC miniatures for the figures and the vehicles from Historical Board Gaming.

OGRE infantry

OGRE vehicles

Next we needed the houses to block terrain.  I covered how I made these in my Paper Terrain post but it was easy to make them in scale.

terrain house

terrain command

With all the pieces assembled and ready, I grabbed a couple of cheap Trivial Pursuit games from a thrift shop and remade the main board by printing out the board images in pieces and using spray adhesive to the Trivial Pursuit boards and laminating them.

I made some reference pieces, grabbed dice from Flames of War, and found a tray to put it all in and that was it.

OGRE tray

My fully rethemed and 3D version of OGRE.

This was the first entry I ever submitted to Boardgamegeek’s Pimp Your Boardgame contest.  It placed 4th against some stiff competition but I was still very happy with the results and I think of this game as the catalyst that got me pimping games.

Paper Terrain

I really love miniature games.  I love the spectacle, the freedom of gaming choices, the complex strategies, and the unique customizations you can achieve to bring individuality to your game components.  Pimping minis games is so ubiquitous though that I’ve seen it argued that the vast majority of effort in a minis game isn’t pimping at all.  Rather, it is more like a minimum requirement to play the game, much like punching out game tokens are in a board game.  I can see both sides of the argument but I grew up and still consider myself a board gamer first, minis gamer second so anything beyond punching tokens or bagging up components feels like work and if it is work making the game look better or play better, I consider it pimping.

This “work” aspect is my least favorite part of minis games.  I want to play the game so I can figure out what, or even if I’d like to emphasize something when I decide to pimp it out.  I’m not a fan of some of the staple hobby aspects such as modelling and painting. The other issue I have with the genre is storage.  Even if I had the room, storing all the extras that come along with miniature games like terrain, custom boards, modeling and painting tools, and the miniatures themselves can eat up way too much storage real estate.

paper terrain 1

One cheat I have to get my minis games to the table faster is my savior: Paper Terrain.  Paper terrain works for me on so many levels.  It is a cheap option to get decent-looking terrain on the table, it can be made to be collapsible and fold down to a very small space, and finally, it can be infinitely customized in my most preferred method- digital image manipulation.

I first came across paper terrain when I was pimping out my copy of Kwanchai Moriya‘s OGRE re-theme from Steve Jackson GamesKwanchai’s re-theme featured a World War II motif and used buildings to indicate the impassable terrain.  Since I was going all 3D in 6mm scale on the project, I needed 6mm scale buildings.  A lot of 6mm buildings can be found in resin but the costs quickly added up when figuring the amount of buildings I would need.  I was already having a paint quite a few 6mm models and also didn’t relish the idea of painting up a ton of buildings as well.

paper terrain 2

Paper Terrain is pretty popular with World War II games for it’s ease of use and quick production times. I found a great site from Scott Washburn on paper terrain and used his free sample building to outfit the houses I needed for OGRE. Scott has some great items up on that site and I really like the variety of his European building options.

Most of his terrain is 10/15 mm scale so I had to downscale the graphics to make it work for 6 mm.  With paper terrain, scaling is quite simple and just using some basic math to determine the appropriate scale height should help to determine what percentage to reduce the final graphic to. Upscaling can be difficult however, unless the original image had the resolution to increase as the image will quickly become distorted.

Since the images are digital, you can customize any paper terrain in a number of ways.  Photoshop can be used to enhance some of the features or add/remove detail as well as alter the color schemes, giving you more variety from the same model.  If you’re good with geometries, you can also start digitally cutting up the images to create brand new structures.

For my OGRE project, I needed some larger buildings that spanned 2 hexes as well as the central terrain piece: the Command Center.  The expanded house was easy, I simply duplicated the sides again, chopped it down to only one floor and add the second roof.  Each building is a separate piece so I can have them separated if need be.

terrain house

The Command Center was a bit more work.  I started with a few short “box” building shapes using the housing side image to keep things uniform and nondescript.  Then I created a double high, large box building to make the main body of the Command Center.  I finalized the building structure with a tall tower structure to give the building some dynamic presence on the board.

After assembling, I finished out the piece with the top of the “laser canon” mini from the original Fortress America game by Milton Bradley.  Using just one paper terrain image file, I was able to make a variety of building options for my OGRE set quickly and cheaply.

terrain command

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén