Empty Nest Gamers

With our children now grown and out of the house, my wife and I have a lot more time to fill. This blog will feature our thoughts on games that we've played recently (with an emphasis on how they've worked for us as two-player games).

1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »  

Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

2015 Resolution

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
This probably won't affect my rate of new game acquisition, but it should at least help reduce my unplayed backlog:

Hobbes' 50x1 Challenge!
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:41 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
29 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Essen 2014 • Underwhelmed

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
I did a big auction/sale purge in anticipation of acquiring some new Essen titles. I then spent many happy hours "window-shopping," combing through the 24 pages (!) of Eric Martin's comprehensive Spiel list and then doing more focused research on the titles that jumped out as possible acquisitions.

Surprisingly, at the end of that process, there were only two "must haves."

(1) Panamax (which almost doesn't feel like an Essen game since it's been knocking around on BGG so long and was released by an American company).

(2) Hansa Teutonica: Britannia. I love the base game, except that it really sucks as a two-player. HTB provides a shiny new map, but it also promises revamped 2p rules. My fingers are solidly crossed, as 2p HT that works would make me happy.



A few other titles seemed promising at first, but the bloom came off the rose pretty quickly once I'd looked harder.

One of these was Arkwright. I like economic games and really enjoy the Industrial Revolution as a theme/setting. The game also has some solidly interesting core elements: market demand that follows the level of employment, price setting (and investment in goods quality/marketing) to determine whose goods are sold to satisfy the limited demand, contract fulfillment with shipping to the East India Company, factory staffing with the opportunity to replace workers with industrial machines. I also mostly liked the muted/gritty art design. The rules sucked, but I worked my way through them. I posted a summary of the rules and prepared a couple of player aids, to make sure I really understood how the game worked. At the end of all that I was left feeling a bit deflated. The game just seemed kind of flat. There isn't much player interaction. No chance to buy other players' shares to leach off their success. No feedback between different types of production (e.g., no buying another player's cloth to make finished textiles, etc.). And there doesn't seem to be much room to get in each others' way. Multiplayer solitaire for four hours just didn't grab me. (Happily, there is a game that hits many of the same thematic/mechanical buttons as Arkwright, but with a lot more player interaction and half the game time -- Captains of Industry. I'm very psyched about that game, though it's more of an Xmas release than an Essen game.)

Another early contender that eventually fizzled was Greenland. The only Sierra Madre game that I've ever actually played is Pax Porfiriana. Like most SMG titles, Pax is full of wonky chrome, clunky art, and semi-readable rules. But it's a fun romp, with lots of engaging game play. I've read the rules (with great difficulty) for American Megafauna and High Frontier, but haven't played either. Both tilt very heavily toward the serious end of the serious-fun continuum -- too much so for my tastes. My hope was that Greenland would be more Pax than Megafauna. But the more I watched and read about the game, the more it seemed like Greenland was aiming to be a misery sim. It might be interesting to play, but I don't think it would be much fun (for me!). (As an aside, Ecklund posted a prickly article in the Greenland forum, explaining that it's absurd to distinguish between simulations and games. Even pure abstracts are also simulations, he tells us, because science. While it may not be possible to draw a bright line distinction between a simulation and a game, there is a meaningful continuum between those two poles and the terms can be used to discuss the character and feel of a game.)

I did wind up pre-ordering a bunch of stuff, but it's mostly in the "I hope this is good; but if it isn't I'll sell it" camp.

Meh.
Twitter Facebook
28 Comments
Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:10 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Essen 2014 Game I'm most excited about...

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
I started a geeklist inviting people to share the one game from Essen 2014 that they're most eager to get their hands on:

The ONE • If you could own only ONE of the Essen 2014 crop, what would it be?

Spoiler: Mine is Panamax.
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:29 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
32 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

One of my "Sweet Spots"

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
Sweet Spot: Medium weight Wallace designs that use cards to determine available actions.

Why: I really enjoy thinking about how to use the cards that I have in hand to determine the best course of action in the development part of the game. In my opinion, Wallace strikes a very good balance, with the card play restricting choice in interesting ways but not producing an irritating level of frustration. And in the examples below, the card play is the central driver, but it isn't the whole game. There are also interesting and important decisions to be made about developing your position (on the board and/or in terms of engine development).

Examples:


In Age of Industry, you play cards to determine where on the board you can build industrial facilities. The cards specify either a region on the board (you can build anywhere in the region) or a specific type of facility (build anywhere that's connected to your rail network). That action selection foundation supports a very interesting network building, tech development, resource leaching economic game. I'm not listing Brass here because I haven't yet played it. Also, I really like the fact that AoI can be played on a variety of maps (with rules tweaks), making it more of a game system, with multiple scenarios.




I really love AfAoS. It's a historical territorial development and conflict game built on a deckbuilding engine. In order to expand into a space (to settle or attack), you must play a location card that is connected by a travel route to your destination AND you must play a card with a travel icon that matches the type of travel for the type of route that you're traversing (roads, boats, or ships). Cards can also be used for raids/ambushes, military sieges, construction of forts, deck thinning, piracy, etc. There is a satisfying range of decisions to be managed, without an oppressive burden of complexity. I was never a CCG or Dominion player, so I haven't learned the Halifax Hammer exploit. It hasn't been an issue in my enjoyment of the game.



In London, cards are primarily played to develop a card tableau. There is a board, and it matters, but it's kind of secondary. Playing cards to your tableau requires that you also discard cards of the same color, so you need to plan your hand to support your card play. Discards go into a public pool, from which other players can draw, so you need to be cautious about what you use as a discard. Cards have costs that must be paid when they're played and sometimes when they operate. Running your tableau (to perform card actions) produces "poverty" in proportion to the size of your tableau (with further penalties for cards still held in hand). Poverty is bad, but not disastrous. It can be mitigated by purchasing locations on the board (which also give VP and let you draw cards into your hand). Cards can produce VP or money, clean up poverty, or do other interesting things. The cards come out in three ages, which track the historical development of the city. It's all satisfyingly thematic.




Discworld is on the light end of my sweet spot, but can be a lot of fun in the right setting. All of the cards have unique, evocative, and funny illustrations, which drip theme if you're into Pratchett's books. Card play is very simple. Play one card; perform the actions depicted iconically along its top (which may include a special action described in a text box below the image). If the card allows you to take another action immediately, you may (which can lead to fun chaining of effects sometimes). Actions involve placement of pieces onto board locations for area influence, removing or moving previously placed pieces, constructing buildings, getting money, and reducing TROUBLE. This positional jostling is in service of secret victory conditions. If any player has met their condition at the beginning of his or her turn, that player immediately wins. This leads to guessing and misdirection and, ultimately, attempts to drag down an apparent leader. Goofy fun.



A Study in Emerald clearly falls into the niche I'm describing. But I've only played it once, so I'm not going to say much about it. I hope to explore it more, but it's somewhat difficult to teach and get to the table. Still, I'm hopeful.




Although they haven't yet been released, I'm also really looking forward to Mythotopia and Onward to Venus, which look like they will fall solidly into this niche!



And I just remembered two more Essen 2014 games that I hope will be a good match for me (despite the fact that they aren't Wallace designs). Both feature card driven actions affecting board placements. In Deus, there's an interesting looking tableau-building aspect, where you can play cards to build groups of cards by type, which can later be activated as a group -- in other words, incrementally constructed card combos. In La Isla, there's a kind of programmed action system, where you play cards to different functions (which correspond to the phases of a turn). Each card has different powers depending on the function to which it's assigned.
Twitter Facebook
17 Comments
Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:18 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

We're going to need a bigger box...

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
Ok, Klode, here's your next project: produce a bigger box for Age of Industry.

With the new maps you're selling at the BGG store (Age of Industry Expansion: Great Lakes & South Africa and Age of Industry Expansion: Belgium & USSR) I now have four six panel double sided maps that I need to keep somewhere. Even after throwing out the plastic tiddlywink money, my box top is still riding up by half an inch.

I'm at my limit!

Thank you!!!
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:20 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Our Happy Little Group

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
As promised in an earlier post, I'm going to spend a moment reflecting on the history and character of my local game group:

Davis Gamers
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


I was around to see the group's birth (in November 2009) and assist with the delivery, and I've been actively involved in the four years since, so I think I have a good perspective on how and why it's been a success.

The idea for the group grew out of a few BGG-mediated trades between me and fellow Davisite, Steve:

skrebs
United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


Each time after we set up a trade, Steve would show up at my door to swap games and we'd make friendly but slightly awkward chit-chat, including agreeing that we ought to try to form a regular gaming group. Ha. Yes. Good idea. Thanks for the trade. Good seeing you again.

Then Steve made a trade with another Davisite, Dagon:

Dagon Jones
United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmb


They had a similar chat, but actually decided to do something about it. They picked a date to get together for gaming after work and Steve sent me an invitation. We all met at Dagon's house (with Dagon's wife, her son, and a friend of Steve's who was never seen again...).

We had a good time and agreed to try to keep things going. Steve set up a yahoo group and Dagon made an entry in our local area wiki:

http://daviswiki.org/Davis_Board_Gamers

And I set up a blogspot page:

http://davisboardgamers.blogspot.com/

Then I spent an hour or so sending invitations to every BGG member within 20 miles of us, using the "find members" tool:

http://boardgamegeek.com/users.php

That broadcast netted us a couple of reliable members, which helped to get us to a sustainable size.

After that initial outreach, all of our new members have found us through the Google (our wiki page is the first hit for "board game davis"). I think that web presence has been crucial to our long term viability.

Here are a few things I really like about the group:

We're big enough to support a range of tastes.

With 10-15 people at an average get-together, we can run 3-4 games simultaneously. This helps ease the politeness dance you can fall into when everyone awkwardly negotiates over "what are we going to play?" If one person really hates Ra (Hi Paul!), that doesn't prevent other people playing it. Etc.

For example, at one recent get together we had simultaneous games of Bruges, Riff Raff, Dominant Species, and Cribbage.

The size also enables us to do special one-off events when we're in the mood. So I might mail the list and ask if anyone wants to play Dune this weekend. And we've also spun off an informal sub-group that's exploring 18xx-space.

We're pacing ourselves.

When we first got started, we set our meeting schedule to every other Tuesday night. We could have gone weekly, but decided to start out at a slower pace. I think that was a great decision. Meeting twice a month is infrequent enough that people don't get burned out. That means we usually get good attendance and get to see most of the group at most events. I think that's helped to build cohesiveness.

If we had gone to a weekly schedule, I suspect attendance would be a lot more irregular, and some might have dropped out entirely.

For those who want a little more, we have the one-offs.

We've been holding that pace for four years without any significant breaks.

We've got similar expectations.

For the most part, I think we're all looking for a similar gaming experience. Get together in somebody's house after work, eat a light meal, drink a bit of beer, and play games for a few hours. Members sometimes bring their older kids. It's all very low-key and good-natured.

(We tried meeting in pizza parlors, but I never liked the vibe. Space is often an issue and you're competing with TV noise. And I always felt like a bit of a spectacle. I'm much happier crowding into people's little Davis houses.)

I'm proud of us.

We built a solid little community to support our hobby, and it's thriving.

Here's what we've played at our regular get togethers over the last four years:

http://boardgamegeek.com/plays/thumbs/user/Davis+Gamers/subt...

That's 467 plays of 202 distinct games, which I would have completely missed if we hadn't taken the plunge.

Game on, Davis Gamers.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Sat Nov 9, 2013 5:23 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
19 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

So this happened...

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
Turning 50 feels like a major milestone, and worth commemorating.

It also feels a bit like a wake up call. Unless I intend to go gentle into that good night, I need to shake things up. I need to live a little more intentionally, especially with regard to my health.

So I decided to put a marker down; a stark and constant reminder to be present.

Also, I couldn't resist the urge to do something stupid.

I got a tattoo:



It's based on this ancient greek amphora, showing Achilles and Ajax taking a break from the Trojan War to play a board game:



I might eventually get some color added to the robes and helmet crest. I'm not sure yet.

So there.
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Fri Nov 1, 2013 11:26 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
28 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

You say it's your birthday?

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
I turned 50 last Saturday, which seemed like a really good excuse to play lots of games with friends. So my wife and I announced that we would host a full game day, running from 10:30 to 10:30. We invited the members of our regular game group and nearly everyone turned out (a new high-water mark for our events, we had 17 people and one dog).

There was lots of food and drink to be had (it was a quasi pot luck). One of our regulars is getting his doctorate in food science, so he can always be counted on to make something interesting. This time it was maple-bacon cake. bacon

We started with a big X-Wing team bash, with two 100 point squads per side. The goal was to either exit the Lamda shuttle from the far side of the table or blow it up before it could escape. Things devolved into a big of a scrum in the middle of the table and eventually the shuttle succumbed (boo!). It was fun, but I've concluded that less is more with this game.



In addition to some old favorites, I had a chance to play a couple of new titles: Bruges and my home-brew copy of Princes of the Renaissance. I'll talk about those games in more detail in my October 2013 New To You post. But here are a few examples of the cards I created to play PotR:



I had a lot of fun putting that all together, and am happy to say that every portrait that I used is a period portrait of the person depicted. All public domain of course!

And here are a couple of candid shots of people having fun celebrating my demi-centennial:


Not sure who came out on top of this battle for survival.



Tempers flare in this hard fought struggle to be the principal principe. (Erica won, of course. Because she's a princess.)



The usual riff-raff.



Let me conclude by saying how fortunate and happy I am to be part of such an excellent game group:

Davis Gamers
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


Without exception, our members are good sports, good friends, and a pleasure to spend time with.

(Another time I'll talk a little about how we got the group started and how it has flourished.)

Cheers, everyone!
Twitter Facebook
6 Comments
Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:31 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Games that survive my churning...

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
I've posted a Geeklist discussing games that have earned the status of "keeper." If you're interested, it's here:

Keepers: Games That I Will Never Trade
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Mon Sep 2, 2013 9:19 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
39 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Working on the Railroad: Building My Print-and-Play Copy of 1889

United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Where should I start?
badge
Near the end?
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm happy to report that I've now completed my first print-and-play game. Overall, it was a very good experience, and I'm happy with the result. It isn't up to professional production standards, but it's much better than I would have expected before I started digging into the process.

I decided to build 1889 as my first print and play, for two reasons:

(1) It's described as 1830 on a smaller (and shorter) scale, and that's the length/complexity point where I currently fall in my exploration of the 18xx family of games.

(2) There is a really attractive set of files on the geek, here. Great thanks and praise to the graphic designer, Karim Chakroun (carthaginian):

Karim Chakroun
France
Besançon
Franche-Comté
flag msg tools
designer
mb


There are ongoing debates about whether 18xx games should emphasize minimalist functionality in their graphic design (a view I'm coming to understand better, the more I play the games) or should instead strive to be more decorative. To my mind, Karim's design strikes a very happy balance. The colors and graphic elements are understated and handsome, without being intrusive. I really like it. I'll have some pictures of the game I built, below, if you want to see what I mean.

If you aren't interested in the possibility of building a print and play game yourself, you can probably stop reading here. What follows below is a fairly detailed description of my journey, including links to all of the tools that I bought and used. If you aren't contemplating building a print and play game, it probably won't be much use (unless you just enjoy reading this kind of thing).



Shares, Trains, Charters, and Private Companies


I started with these, because they were the simplest thing to produce.

The graphics files are already an appropriate size for printing, without any futzing around about scale. (As you'll read below, that was not the case for the map.)

• COPY. So the first step was to go to a copy store and print the files onto white cardstock.

• LAMINATE. Then I took them home and laminated them. In preparation for the project, I bought a small thermal laminator from Amazon, for $36 with shipping: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008587M0K/ref=oh_details_o...



It's very easy to use. You turn it on. It gets hot. Then you put your document in a laminating pouch (open on three sides) and insert it into the back of the laminator. There are rollers that slowly pull it through the machine, heating it as it goes. The results are excellent, and the laminating sheets adhere directly to the sheet that you're laminating. That's important, because it means that you can cut the laminated sheets up into individual cards and the lamination won't fall off.

• CUT. And that's the next step, cutting the sheets into the shares, trains, and charters.

Initially, I tried using a hand-held rotary cutter and steel straight edge. Guess what? I sucked at it. As I learned in grade school, I can't cut a straight line without screwing it up. Fortunately, I tried it out on some scrap before cutting my actual copies, so I realized it wouldn't work before I trashed anything.

So instead I bought a $20 rotary trimmer (http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-199080-1002-Portable-Scrapbook...).



It has a little table and fence to keep your stock in place. It also has a guide bar, perpendicular to the fence that supports a little cutting head that slides up and down on the bar. You press down on the head, causing the rotary blade into contact with your stock and push the thing away from you or pull it toward you, cutting as it goes. All of that machinery constrains the blade's movement to one direction, meaning: straight lines!

Pro tip: it is very likely that your stock is not perfectly straight inside the laminating stock, meaning that its edges are not parallel with the laminated edge. This means that you CANNOT RELY ON THE FENCE TO PROVIDE A 90 DEGREE ANGLE. Instead, you'll need to carefully line the page up with the cutting bar to make sure that the blade will cut where you want it to. I'm not sure I've explained that clearly, but you'll see what I mean if you try it.

Another pro tip: Karim's files have crop marks on the outer edges of the central image space. There are no lines separating individual cards. This is nice graphically, because you don't have any evidence if your blade strays slightly from the intended cutting line (with intermittent borderlines appearing and disappearing to show your sloppiness). The solution is to make one set of your cuts (horizontal or vertical) using a "perforating blade" on your trimmer (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000NV4L10?tag=article-boardgamegee...).



This little guy leaves the cut lines structurally intact, so that you can continue working on the sheet without having it come apart as you proceed (which would make it impossible to continue using the exterior crop marks to line up your cuts). Once you're completely done with all cuts, the perforated cuts can be easily separated by hand. As discussed later, this technique is especially important when cutting out the hex tiles. Many thanks to Karim for posting this advice originally, here: N/A. (Note: he uses a handheld cutter, which, as mentioned above, is beyond me.)

• CORNER ROUNDING So after cutting out all of those cards, did I throw them in a ziploc and consider the job done? Nope. I bought a device that cuts a round-over on the corner of a piece of paper.

I went cheap and bought a $5 corner cutter: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000B7S4FK/ref=oh_details_o...

Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. The cheap one wasn't happy going through cardstock and two layers of lamination, so it did two annoying things:

(1) It jammed almost every time, requiring me to push the cutting punch out of the hole it drives into (rather than having it spring-return as designed).

(2) It almost always left one of the lamination layers intact. I had to trim those off with scissors.

It was a nuisance, and it might have been easier if I'd bought a $15 corner chomper. But the results were well worth the hassle. The cards really look much better with rounded corners. Strongly recommended.

PRESTO:





[Sorry about the quality of the pictures througout. I don't pretend to be a photographer.]



Station Tokens


The next easiest step was producing the token markers.

• PRINT. I color printed the token sheet directly onto whole-sheet label stock (available at the copy store).

• PUNCH AND STICKER.
I have a pretty good supply of painted round wooden disks (a lot of these came as extras in my copy of Steam). I sorted out the necessary number of each color to match the companies. Then I punched out the company tokens from the sticker sheet, using a handy little $5 half-inch circle punch: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000XAKWPK/ref=oh_details_o...

Pro tip: Peel the backing off of a company's token stickers BEFORE you punch them out. Otherwise it is a total bitch trying to peel the backing off of the little half-inch circles. I didn't know this at first, so I punched out a whole company's worth of stickers before trying to peel the backing off of any of them. This turned out to be so difficult that I was considering just gluing them to the disks, backing and all. Finally I found a work-around. I took one blade of a pair of scissors and scored the backing on each circle, deeply enough to cut through the backing but not the sticker itself. That gave me purchase to peel the backing off. I strongly recommend just peeling first and then punching. (The main downside of that approach is that you have to be careful that the sticker doesn't get stuck in the punch. It didn't happen to me, but I saw the possibility.)

Center and apply the stickers and PRESTO:





Printing the Map and Hex Tiles


This was the most trying part of the job. Because the hex track tiles are overlaid onto the game board, the tiles need to be the same size as the hexes on the map. This means that you need to print both the map and the tile sheets at the same scaling (ideally 100%).

The difficulty is that the map won't print at 100% onto any standard (U.S.) paper sizes. The map files come in two flavors: a single large file that would need to be printed on a poster printer or a tiled set, where the map has been broken up into a number of sheets to be printed separately and assembled into a folding board.

I wasn't going to print the poster-sized map. I wanted to laminate and mount the thing, which wouldn't be possible at that size. Also, I planned to store my whole game in a standard(ish) sized game box. I didn't want to roll and tube a paper map.

So I was going to be tiling. Unfortunately, the pre-tiled files provided by Karim are too large to print 100% on U.S. letter-sized paper. I could have printed them on legal-sized, but then they wouldn't have fit the laminating sleeves (or the game box I'd planned on using).

Fortunately, Adobe Acrobat has the option of printing a large file as a series of tiles. Karim's files are jpegs, so I first needed to print them to pdf (which also meant setting a custom paper size, so that I could print the entire image).

Once I had the pdf file, I took it to Kinkos and printed off nine tiled pieces of the map, onto cardstock. (I had to pay their tech to do it for me, as the self-serve doesn't allow that degree of control over printing.) The results were a bit wonky, as all pages except the central one were about 1/2 pages (edges) or 1/4 pages (corners).

Then I printed off the hex sheets, also onto card stock.

I took my sheets home and mounted them on medium weight chipboard (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00161W6L8?tag=article-boardgamegee...). I used spray glue, picking the one that promised low-odor (chemical smells give me a sick headache). It was messy and fiddly, but produced good results (give yourself a good work area and take your time).

Then I laminated them. Cardstock glued to medium chipboard is almost too much for my dinky laminator. I had to gently assist each page through the machine, especially when first entering the rollers -- otherwise the machine would balk. But the results looked great, very sturdy and protected against liquids and stains.



Preparing the Map


My little rotary trimmer was also unhappy about cutting through cardstock, chipboard, and two layers of laminate. In fact, it refused to go all the way through. Instead, it scored about half-way through.

Fortunately, I had the handheld rotary cutter and steel ruler to fall back on. Once I'd cut all of the edges of each map tile, I took the sheet out and re-cut each line by hand. Although I'm now famous for my inability to cut straight lines, I mostly managed to stay in the grooves that my trimmer had already scored.

Now I had a set of 9 map tiles, all laminated, mounted, and trimmed. I wanted to make a folding board, but I decided against trying to make it all one piece. For one thing, I didn't want to try to think through the geometry of how to lay out the direction of each folding joint between boards. Also, I didn't want to have any tape on the face of the map (which would be necessary to get it to fold "up," with the finished faces of tiles facing each other.

Instead, I made three strips of map, each made up of three tiles. In each strip the tiles at the end of the strip folded "down" and under the central tile. That wasn't a perfectly clean solution, as the two edge flaps overlap when folded, but it works.

I used book binding tape to make the hinges for the folds (http://www.amazon.com/Scotch%C2%AE-Book-845-Inches-Yards/dp/...). It's clear, pliable, and strong.

Pro tip: When playing with my copy, the edges of the three strips of map didn't mate cleanly. There were differences in level and it was easy to bump the strips and knock them slightly out of alignment. Fortunately, my wife had the perfect solution. We took strips of blue painter's tape, which is designed to come off cleanly after use, and taped the three strips together on their backs. The tape was tacky enough to hold the map together and prevent edges from lifting or moving during play. When we were done, we just peeled off the blue tape. Recommended, if you go the multiple strips route.

PRESTO:


[This is just a portion of the map. I couldn't get a picture of the whole without awful glare on the laminate.]



Preparing the Hex Tiles


I took the laminated and mounted sheets and cut each of the lines between hexes using my rotary trimmer. As noted above, this deeply scored the material, rather than cutting all the way through, so there was no need to switch to a perforated blade. (But if you're using thinner material, you'll want to use the perforated blade on half the cuts, to avoid the problems described earlier, where your page comes apart making it impossible to align the cuts with exterior margin crop marks.)

Then I removed the sheets and completed each cut using the handheld cutter and straight edge.

PRESTO:





The Box


I had a hard time finding a blank box that would look decent on my game shelf. The best that I was able to find (at a reasonable price) was a 9x12x2.5 folding-top shipping box from my local UPS/shipping store. It cost around $2.50.

I printed this image onto a whole sheet label to cover the box top:



(That's a modified version of a portion of Karim's map, adapted by Cole Wehrle.)

Then I cropped out a horizontal strip of that image, containing only the "1889" text and the bits of map to the left and write of that number, printed it onto sticker, and used it on one side of the box.

PRESTO:







The End Result


I wound up buying about $80 in tools, which I'll be able to use on future pnp builds, and around $35 in copying. That's pricey for a single game (though it doesn't compare too badly with the price of comparable quality assembled games from Deep Thought Games, LLC).

But now that I'm geared up, I can make future games for around $35-40 total. That doesn't include the value of my time (probably 8-10 hours altogether), but I've always liked making things, so that's just part of the hobby. I'll probably wind up building at least two more 18xx games and will now (for the first time) start paying attention to other pnp possibilities.

We've played my 1889 build once so far. It looks good on the table and is very functional. When you build something yourself, you know where every error is, but viewed objectively, the results are pretty good. It's rough around the edges (especially the edges between map tiles), but I did better than I expected. In fact, that's the reaction I've gotten from my wife and friends so far -- it's better than they thought I'd manage. I choose to see that in a positive light.

All in all, I'm very happy with the process and how it turned out.

Up next: 18AL? 18GA?
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:52 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4  Next »  

Subscribe

Categories

Contributors

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.