Ones Upon A Game

I am almost exclusively a solo gamer and look at the gaming scene seen through those eyes. I also literally like alliteration. TWITTER: @onesuponagame

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The Paint Awakens

Kevin L. Kitchens
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So got a roll back before summer painting my miniatures for Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Imperial Assault Minis -- Updated Photos) but then vacation, a wedding, a farewell to a very dear furbaby, and other things just got in the way of continuing. Primed and ready to go, they just sat there. But I'm happy to say I was able to get back into the swing of things recently and have a new batch to share.

Still using the wonderful Ceramcoat paints thinned with floor acrylic. Cannot beat the quality and value of these things. However, during the Amazon Prime Days sale, I picked up a set of very cool Army Painter Quick Shade bottles to try some different shading possibilities and pleased to say they work great. I'd have never attempted to put 'blood' on the Wampa using paint, but the red stain just brought it out perfectly. Same with the lizard dudes. I used a green wash on their skin only to bring out the detail. The Quick Shades are like a gel, so they go where you want them only and stay put. Definitely worth a look.











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Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:10 pm
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Bombs Away Dream Babies

Kevin L. Kitchens
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It seems like 2017 has become the year of WW2 Bomber simulation game, with new releases like B-17 Flying Fortress Leader (Dan Verssen Games (DVG)), Target for Today (Legion Wargames LLC) and A Wing and a Prayer: Bombing the Reich from Lock 'n Load Publishing, LLC. all vying to bring new life to the genre created by the legendary B-17: Queen of the Skies.

(NOTE: Watch my unboxing videos for Target for Today [link] and Wing and a Prayer [link])

I've been playing with A Wing and a Prayer lately and finding that I'm really enjoying its procedural and thematic take on the genre. However, as good as the new productions and printings have been from Lock 'n Load, sometimes bigger is not better. While I appreciate their desire to provide materials with larger print for those with weaker eyesight, the resulting charts and tables can be a bit unwieldy to be functional.


The game provided Squadron Briefing and Formation Cards


To that end I present a few modified game elements to hopefully make your experience a little more enjoyable.

First the Squadron Card I've created is the same size (8.5x11") as the one provided in the game. But I laid it out to be landscape in format and this has two definite advantages. First there is more room for the Ready/Not Ready plane sections (you can easily fit 12 or more planes in each box). Secondly the VP trackers are in a single line of 10 boxes vs two columns of five each.

The bigger reduction of game footprint comes from my reduced size Formation Card. The original is an 11x17 beast that wastes a lot of space and with the map already large and impressive, keeping your planes in flight closer at hand is a huge plus. I made this one 8.5x11" as well and provided all the same spots as the game provided board, only more compact.



My reduced and revised versions of the cards. The Formation Card has been improved since this photo for more room for Interceptors


These two boards fit easily on the same side of the board (on the right as I show in the photo, but left is fine too).

Another inconvenience is the use of oversized tables and charts throughout the game. Wing and a Prayer does a great job of keeping chart lookups to a minimum, but those charts can certainly get in the way. I've scanned all the reference charts for single player, including the rule summaries for Air Combat and resized them to fit on letter sized paper or cardstock.


Reduced and reorganized charts and reference cards.


I chose to print pairs of charts double sided, trimmed, then laminated them, so now I have three normal sized reference cards to use rather than a mixture of sizes and shapes.

Publisher David Heath has graciously granted me permission to share these files with the gaming community and I hope you find them of value as you are "Bombing the Reich"!!!

FILES
Formation & Squadron Cards: Revised Formation and Squadron Cards by Ones Upon a Game
Charts & Tables: Reduced Charts and Tables by Ones Upon a Game

There will also be patterns (soon) for this box to sort and organize 1" counters.

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Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:12 am
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Danger There's a Breakdown Dead Ahead...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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In my recent unboxing video (LINK), of Lock 'n Load Tactical: Solo I noted the dice on the cards which could be used in lieu of die rolls, but worried about the distribution being even. So I decided to check it after recently sleeving the cards.

First the card breakdown.

Of the deck of 55 cards (referring to the symbols along the bottom of the card):

12 Offense-only.
12 Defense-only.

This leaves 31 other cards which when added to one of the set of 12 produces an "in-game" deck of 43 cards. Which of course is not evenly divisible by 6 sides of a die (6x7 = 42). So there is at least one off on the distribution.

The other 31 cards breakdown as follows:

14 with no additional effect (bottom blank)
3 force a reshuffle of the deck (when the card is completed)
14 produce a potential random event (on a die roll before the card is processed for the AEO).

For the die-roll breakdowns (upper right corner)

Attack Cards (12)
1 2 | 2 1 | 3 2 | 4 2 | 5 3 | 6 2


Defense Cards (12)
1 2 | 2 2 | 3 2 | 4 2 | 5 2 | 6 2

Of these two decks, the Defense cards have the expected distribution whereas the attack cards have one extra 5 and one less 2.


Other Cards (31)
1 5 | 2 6 | 3 5 | 4 5 | 5 5 | 6 5

While the other cards have a number not divisible evenly by 6 (one extra), that one extra card carries the "2" missing from the attack deck, though it would be an extra "2" on defense and a extra "5" on attack.


Overall Attack Posture Distribution
1 7 | 2 7 | 3 7 | 4 7 | 5 | 8 | 6 7

Overall Defense Posture Distribution
1 7 | 2 8 | 3 7 | 4 7 | 5 7 | 6 7

I'm not sure if this distribution of die rolls was intentional or an oversight. (UPDATE: Per Lock 'n Load Publishing, LLC., this was a deliberate design choice based on playtesting feedback). With the attack/defense decks being 12 cards it would seem reasonable that the distribution would be two of each value. With the remaining 31 cards not being divisible evenly, then the distribution would of course be one off no matter what.

Perhaps there is an advantage to the defense deck having one extra low (but not lowest) die and the attack having one extra high (but not highest)?

Personally I prefer die rolls anyway and not burning through the deck to generate the random numbers. It works great in games like Combat Commander: Europe as it's integral to the game and the timing mechanism. But here in Lock 'n Load Tactical: Solo, it doesn't really add anything to the game to use up those cards (other effects aren't triggered when they appear on a die-roll draw for example), so for me I will just continue to roll physical dice for both myself and the AEO. YMMV.

Clarification: "Breakdown" does not imply a breakdown in the game or the AEO in general, just this is a breakdown of the cards
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Wed Sep 6, 2017 4:52 pm
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And Now I Feel Like, Someone's Unboxing me!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Well, now this is a cool reversal of roles...

BGG member and subscriber to this blog Brendan McGuire ordered a copy of my "Persons in Peril" deck usable with Hostage Negotiator and Flash Point: Fire Rescue from The Game Crafter, LLC and turned the tables and did an unboxing of my creation. I think he did a pretty good job too!

For more details on "Persons in Peril" see here: The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and other Persons

To see the contents and quality of the cards, watch this:


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Wed Aug 23, 2017 4:44 pm
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May the Force Box Be With You!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Since I finished (finally) my design for the modular counter/component storage boxes, I decided to put them to the test and refit my Combat Commander: Europe collection. CC:E complete has seven different factions: American, British, French, Germans, Italian, Russian, and Partisans. Before this I had them all stored in three GMT trays (with a fourth for markers, etc. to be on the table during games).


Counters all neatly stored in GMT Trays


Rather than simply make cardboard full tray replacements, I took advantage of the modular nature and built custom "Force Boxes" for each faction specifically. This ended up being two-module boxes, essentially a 1/2 GMT tray each for the Americans, Russians, Germans, and British.


Two-Module trays for the larger force factions


The smaller forces, Italians, French, and Partisans, would not require a full two modules of 10 wells, but a single module of 5 wells was not enough to hold the units and their weapons. I considered just keeping those forces in their own box and the weapons for all three factions combined in a separate box. However, because my goal was to be able to pull out a single box for each side in a battle, that just nagged at me to have the additional box just for their weapons.

After some overnight deliberations, I came up with a better solution. A smaller, 2x3 six-well tray to accommodate these smaller forces. The tray and dividers all cut from a single piece of cardstock and the lid can be printed two to a page. So you can make two of these complete from three pieces.


The 2x3 (6 well) Tray



I opted to go with a black, 60# cardstock for the trays and then color coordinated 110# stock for the lids. I designed labels to mark each of the boxes (file pending moderator approval on BGG) as well. So just like that I reduced my four GMT Trays of CC:E to one game-ready tray and individual and smaller force boxes for each faction. They take up less table space and are more convenient for players (or player) to select their units.


The whole kit and kaboodle


And of course these trays aren't just for wargames, but for anywhere you'd use a GMT tray or even bags to sort and store components. With the suggested addition of customized well size, I added single-wall dividers so you can subdivide as you see fit. Make each module 1/2, 1/3, or 1/4 in size. Or any combination therein. These would be great for sorting and storing each player's starting components for games like Russian Railroads for example, or other games where you want to save time on setup.

With the new editions of Lock 'n Load Tactical coming soon from Lock 'n Load Publishing, LLC., I intend to make more force boxes for those games as well. And Old School Tactical. And Band of Brothers... and I better get cutting!


FILES
Files are available on BGG under Miscellaneous Game Accessory as Modular Game Storage Trays (GMT Compatible) by Ones Upon a Game and the SVG files are included for those of you with Cricut or Silhouette cutting machines.

GMT Tray Dividers are good for this or actual GMT trays. There is already one for regular cut and fold, mine are designed for cutting machines: GMT Tray Dividers - SVG Files

Force Box Labels: Force Box Labels Set
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Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:44 pm
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Eclipse 2017... Be Careful!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Allegedly there is a total solar eclipse that will be viewable in a large swath of the United States on Monday, August 21, 2017.

I had planned to take photos (safely) during the event, but after a few test shots today, I just don't think my gear and filters are up to task. So I'll just enjoy it like most people. Besides, it will be the most photographed event in quite some time. And NASA and other science agencies will do a much better job than most of us could.

Just remember to NOT look directly at the sun. Make a pinhole device from a shoebox or look at the dappled light on the ground through leaves. I'm not sure I'd risk "eclipse" glasses picked up at a local store either, but that's just me. And keep your PETS inside as well. They are curious and if they look up to see why it's getting dark, they could very easily suffer the same blindness!

Finally, for those of you "in the know" about the realities of such things, here's some beta footage from Monday's big event. Looks like they might be getting things ready for release not a moment too soon!

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Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:11 pm
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Modular GMT Compatible Game Storage Tray -- Patterns and Instructions...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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UPDATE: On request to make these a little more versatile, you can now create single walls (sheet of 10 included in the PDF below) to subdivide each section as you see fit (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, varied sizes, etc.). The instructions for folding each wall is very similar to making the other 5-well divider, so no additional instructions added. If you have questions, let me know.



As promised, here are the patterns and instruction video for creating these modular trays (as discussed in more detail here: Building the Perfect Beast (and by beast I mean storage tray))




Template PDF & SVG Files (for cutting machines): Modular Game Storage Trays (GMT Compatible) by Ones Upon a Game

Would love to see yours after you make them!
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Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:17 pm
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No Bones About It - CTG Customer Service Nails It!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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You may remember the issues discovered when I acquired a secondhand copy of Mechs vs. Minions and trying to get (nay BUY) a replacement set of cards from Riot Games (Caveat Emptor! Avoid Buying "Mechs vs. Minions" from a Third Party). A happy footnote to that story. The member I bought the game from saw that post and immediately contacted me, offered to get the replacement deck via the Riot Games obstacle course, and mail them to me. This he did and I greatly appreciate all his efforts! Thank you!

A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Too Many Bones in a BGG auction. All was great except that the encounter and tyrant cards all had a weird bend to them. They would not lay flat and as they are already slick PVC, they would not stack well either. The Loot cards of both varieties were just fine. I asked in the forums and some suggested heating them in the oven (!!!) with a weight on them and then letting them cool. While this would most likely work, I wasn't very keen on the process.

Fortunately designer Josh J. Carlson saw my plight and directed me to email Chip Theory Games support about it. I did and they immediately offered to replace cards, no questions asked (well except for a picture of the problem). Like Riot, they do like to verify the purchase, but had no issue sending the replacements directly to me. And not only were they sending the bad cards, but the entire set of cards from the game.

Well done CTG! Well done!

Since I'd already ordered the v2.0 Upgrade Kit and the three expansion Gearlocs, I was happy to find the replacement cards tucked into the shipping box when all arrived yesterday.

For those of you that may not yet know the second printing of TMB is now shipping (and selling out fast). For those of you, like me, who want to upgrade your 1.0 to 2.0, they are selling a nominally priced Upgrade Kit ($9). This kit includes errata for rules, chips, reference cards, cards as well as a replacement top tray and two nice tuck boxes for the cards.

As with all CTG games, the only way to get these new is via their online store (https://chiptheorygames.com/store). Which is a little bit of a shame. In terms of gameplay and component quality, this is hands down the game of the year for 2017 (barring something really great in the last four months). But the limited availability (quality over quantity) means fewer gamers get to experience this dice-based, puzzle, brain-bending RPG.

And all without resorting to a "magic" based theme!

Here's my unboxing of the v2 upgrade kit as well as a representative component view of one of the three expansions (Ghillie)...



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Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:40 pm
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The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and other Persons

Kevin L. Kitchens
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A little over a year ago I released my "Hostage Cards" unofficial expansion for Hostage Negotiator by Van Ryder Games. It was met with more enthusiasm than I anticipated (thank you!). This deck of 27 characters gave a little more depth to the yellow meeples of that game and many felt increased the tension (some said too much!).

If you've not heard me harp on these before, you can read all about them and download the print and play PDF versions yourself if you like.

Hostage Negotiating Just Got Real-er-er-ish (and Dark)

With the current Kickstarter campaign for the Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Tragic Events expansion underway (LINK: http://kck.st/2fuhTs3), it occurred to me that these cards could as well be used for other games. With the limited direct ties to Hostage Negotiator, I decided to sever that connection and make the cards a little more versatile and work with not only HN, but also for Flash Point: Fire Rescue and perhaps other games that use a hidden "victim" component.

So from this point forward "Hostage Cards" are now "Persons in Peril"



Obviously fire rescue isn't about hostages, nor are they "victims" if they are actually rescued, so "Persons in Peril" seemed like an appropriate fit. This deck includes the original 27 character cards as well as five "False Alarm" objects and two straight-from-casting-central cute animals (a dog and a cat). There are also 20 "blank" character cards for you to make your own persons in peril should you so desire. The entire 54 card deck features an all new back image as well.

The 54-card version is now available on The Gamecrafter (LINK: http://bit.ly/2uGANxU). As promised the original "Hostage Cards" will remain free PnP for those who only want it for Hostage Negotiator.

A reduced price 36-card version (same as the 54 but with 18 fewer of the blank cards -- there are only two) will be available in the next week or so. UPDATE: They're ready... https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/persons-in-peril-expans...



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Wed Aug 9, 2017 7:09 pm
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From the Mountains, to the Prairies, to the Dice Tray Made of FOAM!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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For those of you still awaiting the plans for the cardstock GMT Trays (Building the Perfect Beast (and by beast I mean storage tray)), thanks for your patience. They ARE coming. I got the plans themselves done two weeks ago and just need to cut some more and prepare instructions. Due to personal delays, I've not made the time to do that right. But will very soon.

For some reason dice towers and dice trays have become a design passion of mine. I've made them from plastic, wood, paper and more. Yet I still keep wanting to come up with other means to make them cheap and easy.

I love the new trend of collapsible trays with the fold up corners. The Control 'Ur Roll ones from Chip Theory Games are especially nice (in spite of the use of "ur" instead of "your"). Store link: https://chiptheorygames.com/store#!/Control-Ur-Roll-Dice-Tra...


Control [Your] Roll tray from Chip Theory Games


There are many others that you can find on etsy and other vendors that behave similarly (and kudos to whoever originated that simple design!).

But why buy one when you can make one?

And pretty affordably too!

Went to Hobby Lobby and was looking at various materials that might suit when I came across the fun foam section. This stuff is sold in varying thicknesses and normally in 12x18" panels. I've used foam to pad dice trays of harder materials to lessen the noise. So figured this was a perfect medium to make an entire tray from.

I selected a sheet of 3mm black ($0.99) to be the outer layer and a sheet of 5mm (.5cm on the label) brown ($1.29) to be the inner pad where the dice will roll. Wanting the tray to still be collapsible, I looked in the fabric section for snaps and while those are cheap enough, the tool to install them was not ($20-$30). I don't see myself mass producing these so I wanted to keep my investment low.

What could I possibly use to bind these together?

Something I could maybe clip on to bind them together.

If only there was such a thing as a "clipper bind".

I checked at Wal-mart to no avail, but did find these things called "binder clips" so I grabbed a box of small ones for $0.88.

Apart from a bottle of "foam glue" which was 3.99 (less 40% with online coupon) also from Hobby Lobby, that's the extent of the materials purchased.



The CTG tray is about 7" square when flat and a 4" rolling area. So this means the "walls" of the tray are then about 1.5" high. I wanted to go a little bigger for both the rolling area and the walls. So from the 5mm brown, I cut a 5" square and from the thinner 3mm black I cut a 9" square. (Using my wife's quilting rulers really made this part easier!). I uses a roller cutter to make the lines straight as well.

I scored the base layer (black) at the corners a few inches at 45 degrees to help weaken the foam in those spots for later folding. I also marked two inches from each edge to give me the location when the thicker pad would sit. Applying foam glue to the back of the pad, I pressed it into place on the outer layer and weighted it while I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

It actually took a couple of hours for the glue to setup, so don't bother checking early or you might shift your pieces. Once set though, it's set, so be patient.



Once ready, it was simply a matter of joining together each corner to make the walls and attaching a binder clip to each to hold in place. You can remove the clips and store the tray flat (attach the clips just to an edge). When clipping, if you move the clip toward the "point" you'll get slanted walls and toward the "center" you'll get more vertical walls. I found I prefer more to the center so the edges of the "pad" don't create a ridge for smaller dice to get cocked on.



Final costs?
$0.29 - 4 binder clips @ (12 for $0.88)
$0.50 - 1/2 sheet of 3mm foam ($0.99)
$0.22 - 1/6 sheet of 5mm foam ($1.29)
$0.10 - estimate of glue required
=======================================
$1.11 TOTAL COST OF SUPPLIES USED


The reality is that you can make these of any size you want (within folding tolerances of the foam of course). This would get you more or less from your supplies.

Cutting the 12x18 sheet for example into a 12x9 base layer with a 8x5 pad would eliminate some waste from the base (the extra 3x9 strip).

The basic math is to determine the rolling area you want (5x5" in my example), then determine the wall size you want (2") and add double that to each dimension to get the layer size (9x9").

Lessons Learned
I think that I might reduce the wall size to 1.5" in my next attempt. I might try using the 3mm foam for the pad area as well as the 5mm might be overkill? Will just play with it all and see. But I'm very happy with how it turned out and how quiet it is.

Next Item? A fully foam core dice tower!
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Tue Aug 8, 2017 5:15 pm
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