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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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Three

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Thank you.
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Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:09 pm
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Spent Check Chits are Quite the Card...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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With the current cowcow sale going on (4 for $20 shipped), I was looking for a fourth deck to get that I would actually use. Since I couldn't find one, I decided to take my same Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition) Spent Check Chit idea (Unit Spent Check Counters by Ones Upon A Game) and make them into an actual deck of cards.

The CowCow designer is located here: http://www.cowcow.com/Create/AjaxDesign.aspx?DesignId=205796...
Artscow (for later use): http://www.artscow.com/Create/AjaxDesign.aspx?DesignId=20579...

One problem. The chits are 55 in number and a deck of cards is only 54. I removed one of the AI-Only cards (>= 3) to accommodate this shortage. If that bugs you then you can just use the chits, but I was removing the AI only chits anyway (at least before Academy weighed in that they should be used for two-sided games).

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Sun Nov 19, 2017 4:48 am
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Cowcow Custom Cards Coupon

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Seems cowcow.com finally has another sale that includes their custom card decks (54 cards, 108 designs).

You can get 4 of these decks (or any 4 of the sale items) for $20 including free shipping. A steal of a deal if you've been looking for the right time for some very good quality cards.

ITEMS: http://www.cowcow.com/shop/4-products-for-20
COUPON: 4FOR20BUN
EXPIRES: 11/29/2017

This thread over in the Hot Deals forum is bound to have some suggestions for items to get: [CowCow] 4 for $20 w/ Free Shipping returns (double-side cards included)

As for my own designs and suggestions:

For Star Wars: Imperial Assault, Redjak's Automated Emperor cards (current as of April 2016): Get MOO-ving and play the Star Wars Imperial Assault - Solo/Coop Variant

For Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles, AI Defense Deck: Band of Brothers: AI Defense and Events Decks

Other items of note...

You can make draw bags or carry bags (from zippered makeup cases).

You can make player mats from large mousepads OR even dice trays if you clip up the corners with binder clips.

UPDATE: Takenoko Solo AI: https://www.cowcow.com/Create/AjaxDesign.aspx?DesignId=19709...
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Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:36 pm
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The Index is a door to finding treasure in the dark...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Over the past nearly three years, lots of articles, reviews, tips, images, etc. have appears on this blog... I was starting myself to get lost trying to find something!

So to remedy that I've created a new geeklist: Ones Upon A Game: Reviews, Mods, Images and Videos Index to refer to find the potentially helpful diamond in the rough.

I welcome you to subscribe to the list as a whole or just to games that are of interest to you... if such a thing is of interest to you.
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Thu Nov 9, 2017 3:24 pm
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Make Room for Undertow!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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With the Kickstarter for Too Many Bones: Undertow well funded and well into the stretch goal pool, it was time to become serious about storage space for my existing Too Many Bones and expansions.

As you may have seen, I've already solved the space issue with each Gearloc's dice set (Too Many Bones. Too Little Space.) -- now for sale on the BGG Marketplace! (shameless plug). But I also wanted to find a way to not only store the TMB materials, but fit the Undertow components as well. To that end I decided to (gasp!) chunk the trays designed by Chip Theory Games and create my own insert to hold it all (hopefully!)


Cutting the base and the walls for the insert.


First step in any insert is of course the base or floor. You CAN just do walls and use the box bottom itself, but that results in a flimsy construction. Sure you lose 5mm of height in the box, but the stability it worth the price. The box is square at 358mm, so I cut the floor from a single piece of foam core (black looks better than white). Another tip is to always measure in millimeters. It's easier to be more accurate and you don't have to worry about fractions of inches. This left about 81mm of clearance to the top of the box bottom, so I cut four strips at 81x358mm and assembled the walls (two of which would need to be trimmed another 10mm or so where they butt up to the two other walls). I secure these with white glue and dressmaker's pins (SHARP!). Some like to remove them when the glue sets, but I always leave them in. They are cheap enough to buy and they act like rebar to help the structural integrity.


Dry fit into the box just to check.


After a dry fit in the box, it was time to start divvying up the space. Largest need of course would be the area to hold the battle mat, Gearloc mats, reference sheets, and rulebook. I laid these down in the new box and marked when walls should go to define that space. With the foam core eating up 5mm each wall, I had to get as close as I could to leave space in the other areas.

As I would no longer be using the trays to hold Gearloc dice, I repurposed two of those to hold the other dice in the game. I put the Attack and Defense dice in one and the rest in the other. Since the lids for those double as dice holders as well, I could still put Gearloc dice in the lids during gameplay. However, the remaining areas were not going to be large enough to hold those, so they would need to sit atop the stack of mats and reference cards in the main section.

My dice boxes easily fit into the area to the right of the main section. In fact, I can easily fit 14(!) of them in that section. With Undertow bringing the count to 10, there is still room for either four more or other materials.


The four section solution.


I subdivided the back section into a small compartment to hold cards and a longer section for all the chips. Unfortunately that idea did not pan out. After creating a bottom layer for extra chips, the plan was a removable top layer to hold six stacks of chips. That layer would double as an on-table chip tray. But after getting the first layer completely built and installed (without glue at least), it became evident a second layer of chips would not fit heightwise!


Goodbye Mr. Chips!


So another solution would need to be found. So I slept on it. And then I brought a knife to a foam fight!

I determined how much space I would need for a single layer of chips to span the whole box (eight stacks) and the cut down the back section to accommodate it. This left me a 30mm bottom layer (just perfect to still hold all the cards). Now I just had to construct the chip holders (again).


Pardon our mess. Deconstruction in progress.


I'd originally planned to make two four-stack chip trays from foamcore that would nestle into the open slot. However, I decided that it might work better to use 2mm chipboard and give me a little more space. Also these might prove a little more sturdy if folded vs. pinned and glued since the chips are so weighty. So I designed and cut a template (purple below) and traced to chipboard which I cut by hand. I scored the fold lines and started to assemble. After the first was complete I realized that they would work better as four two-stack holders as the weight distributed better. Also the chipboard doesn't fold "neatly" even when scored, so the non-scored side frays just a bit. For the chip areas it was on the backside, so no biggie but for the wall between the two trays it got a bit ugly. So I cut the template in two and made two separate trays and surgically separated the first one. For each I made a sturdy cardstock divider to separate the two rows as well.


From template to cutouts to final chip holders.


The end result was four trays that sit in the back section and hold about 25 chips in each, giving a total capacity of 200 chips. These can be lifted out and used on the table as needed.

So now to bring it all together. I added a "lifter" into the bottom of the main section to help, well, lift the items out of the depths and make them easier to grab. This was simply a piece of vinyl-leather material I glued down to the bottom (just on about the last three inches or so). The mats, etc. sit on top of this and then by pulling on the lifter, it raises them up slightly.

As I mentioned the Gearloc dice boxes fit into the right section, the cards in the back and the four chip trays on top of that.

But there was one thing left. The base game comes with clear cover to sit across the bottom tray. This sports the CTG name and has a finger hole for easy lifting. I decided to take that cover and trim it down so it would fit atop the books etc. in my main section. Now it can provide an extra layer of protection for the mats with the clear dice trays sitting on top of them.




Does it all fit?



TMB + Three expansions with room for more!


In all I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out. The chipboard might have been able to be a little thinner, but it would not have given me an extra row of chips, so it is what it is. I have some extra space in the chip trays, but may still have to get creative when Undertow is released. The Tyrant, Gearloc, and Lane chips could easily be stored in separate bags under the chips or in the Gearloc section. This would leave room for the new baddie chips to come. There should be plenty of room for the three new mats, though I suppose I won't be able to fit 14 there should the need arise. But for now with the known coming content, I think this offers a workable solution to keep everything in a single box. I hate tossing the nice trays from CTG, but that's how the bone breaks, I suppose.

BONUS! The foam from the base game that contained the dice trays can be reused to cut stoppers for the chip trays (to keep them from sliding around).
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Thu Nov 2, 2017 7:45 pm
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Gearloc Dice Boxes on BGG Marketplace

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Due to popular demand, I am making the color coordinated dice boxes (Too Many Bones. Too Little Space.) available for sale here via the BGG marketplace. This way BGG will get a much deserved 3% commission.

The boxes will be shipped UNASSEMBLED. You will need to glue them together (very easy). Also since the labels use images from the game, I cannot include them, but you can print and apply those from the files section of Too Many Bones.

Paypal only, shipping at the cost of the buyer.

Follow the links below to the marketplace item of your choice.

Boxes for All Seven TMB Characters - $25

Boxes for Base Game Characters - $16

Boxes for Expansion Characters (Ghillie, Tink, Nugget) - $12


I plan to make the character boxes for Too Many Bones: Undertow when all the colors are announced (and the label images on BGG when the game is released). If you order all seven of the boxes from this set, I will sell you the three Undertow character boxes for $10 (plus shipping) when they are ready.
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Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:56 pm
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Too Many Bones. Too Little Space.

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Added TWO sets of these to the The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund Auction 2017 (CLOSED).
Direct link to items: TMB Dice Boxes on JVMF AND TMB Dice Boxes on JVMF Listing #2

Both entries will now include TEN boxes (including the three from Undertow and its expansion) when all colors are revealed.

Gearloc Box Template/Labels: Gearloc Dice Boxes by Ones Upon a Game

First off let me be clear, the packaging of Too Many Bones is pretty darn good. Chip Theory Games has produced a perfect blend of function and storage that should be the role model to all game publishers (well, maybe not Academy Games, Inc., they do a great job too).



Each Gearloc (the characters in the game), comes with a tray to hold their 21 dice. The clear plastic trays not only store the dice in the box, but they go straight to the table to keep the dice organized before players add them to the character mat for in-game use. The lids for the trays double as additional table trays as well. It's a very ingenious design.

However...

There are currently seven characters available with three more coming in the Too Many Bones: Undertow "standalone" expansion. Even with doubling up characters two to a tray (and removing the initiative dice to a separate container), five of those trays will be hard to combine into the main game box (along with all the other chips, mats, and player cards).




So to reduce the amount of storage required in the box (and make room for expansion content), I created these "Gearloc Dice Boxes" to hold each character separate. Each box is designed to easily hold a character's 21 dice in three rows of seven and includes a snug lid. They take up less than half the space of current trays and are suitable to go straight from the box to the table. I still plan to keep the provided dice storage trays for on-table use, but with more content on the way, making more room in the box can never hurt.



I chose to cut mine on color coordinated cardstock (with black divider inserts), but also made labels with each character's name, image, and a matching color ring in case you want to use basic white. The files are available here:

Gearloc Box Template/Labels: Gearloc Dice Boxes by Ones Upon a Game

Each box template prints on a single sheet of cardstock. Cut the solid lines, score the dotted lines. You get three divider sections from a single sheet, so a little paper savings there. I use the same techniques I've used for creating other boxes, so this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dfy3gl1GGzk) will help if you cannot figure out the basic assembly.

Make no bones about it, these boxes are superior to the TMB ones in only one way -- they take less space. The included ones are excellent and if you have no issues with storing the game, then by all means, you should keep on as is. However, if you're looking for a way to fit more in less space, I hope you like this solution.

As always, thanks for reading.

---

These are now available on the BGG Marketplace: Gearloc Dice Boxes on BGG Marketplace
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Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:17 pm
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What's in the box? What's in the box???

Kevin L. Kitchens
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To borrow the line from a completely dreadful movie: What's in the box?

I decided to make some new storage boxes, specifically for a game... Have them almost ready to share, but a few more things need to be done.

But for now a teaser and perhaps someone will be able to figure it out before the big reveal...





And while you're waiting, you can while the time watching my unboxing of Battlestations: Second Edition by Gorilla Games



Have a great weekend everyone!
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Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:26 am
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Digitally Painting Miniatures

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Welcome Geek Weekly Readers!

When making my counters for Silent Death: The Next Millennium Deluxe Edition (I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream for Silent Death!) I knew I was going to want ship images on them. While just technically the text would have been enough, this isn't wargaming in the 1980s anymore. I wanted bright, colorful, painted ships to distinguish the ship models.



But how? The artwork in the books is sketchy at best (see what I did there?) and of course copyrighted material. Since the game was 22 years old I didn't know if I'd be able to secure proper permission to use those and quite frankly, I wasn't optimistic at how they'd actually turn out.

So I turned to my other skill as a photographer and decided I'd photograph the actual miniatures from the game and then use tricks for colorizing old photographs to digitally paint the miniatures.

First I set up a green screen of sorts with a green piece of cardstock, poking a hold in the center and then threading one of the game's flight posts through the hole. Using a 70mm fixed length macro lens (photo nerd!) I set the camera on a tripod and focused on each ship from a top-down perspective. The lighting remained the same for each ship as did the focus distance, so the scale of larger ships to smaller ships would also remain the same. I took two shots of each ship (just in case) as well as a set of torpedoes and missiles.


Ship photograph, lifted from green-screen background and converted to greyscale.


Next off to Photoshop (with a quick stop in Lightroom for cropping and a little processing). Since I had green-screened each ship, it was a simple matter to remove the ship from its background and only have the ship image. Next I added a greyscale filter to remove all hint of color and only keep the tones and highlights and shadows. This would allow me to add color without it being tainted by color cast from the lighting.

The first step of adding the main ship color was easy. CTRL-click on the isolated ship layer to select just the ship. Then I added a solid color layer to the image with the color choice I wanted. Since the ship shape was already selected, the layer mask already restricts the color to that area. Finally changing the blend mode from "Normal" to "Overlay" and voila (or "walla" to those who mishear things), the shades of grey becomes shades of the chosen color and all the ship detail comes through.


Adding the main ship color.


Repeating this process for the other targeted areas of the ship is just as easy. Select an area, add a new color layer (though on these successive layers I set to "Color" blend mode vs. "Overlay") and you're now painting. The opacity of each layer remains 100% as the blend mode takes care of rendering the combinations of color. One thing I did different was on the canopy of each ship. For that when I selected the area, I did use that selection on the layer mask of the main ship color to black out (or hide) the body color from the canopy. Whereas the other areas of the ship might be "really" be decals or paint over the base color, the canopy would not have been painted over.

The cool thing is that the lighting from the photo still allows the texture and detail and highlights to come through on the "painted" model.

When all my layers were complete and I liked the scheme of the ship, I then flattened all the visible layers into a single new layer (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E). I have a plugin called Topaz Simplify (http://www.topazlabs.com/simplify) and it features an oil painting setting that produces a nice smooth look to images... simplifying their colors as the name suggests. I applied this to the merged image to create a painterly effect. However, it's a little drastic on its own and some of the details get lost in doing so. So the next step is to set the oil painting layer to a 50% opacity. This blends that layer into the photographic layers below to create a visual combination of art and detail that looks quite nice (IMO).


The "painted" photograph (left), the "Oil Painting" filter alone (center) and the final merged version (right).


Finally CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E again to permanently combine everything into a single layer and the digital miniature painting is complete.





My final paint jobs...


When I'd completed all the ships, I combined those final 12 ship layers into a single Photoshop file to make sure they were all centered and stacked and then exported each image (with a transparent background) to its own PNG (portable network graphics) file and referenced each ship image in the data file spreadsheet used to construct the counters.



Another cool thing about this technique is that you can change the color if you want or make different paint schemes. Simply by changing the color of the solid color layer you can make the ship blue or purple or red, etc...

While this worked great for top-down wargame counters, the same process could be used to "paint" boardgame miniatures from the front and produce standees instead of using the in-game miniatures. Perhaps instead of painting all those stormtroopers in Star Wars: Imperial Assault!!!
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Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:47 pm
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I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream for Silent Death!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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FILE LINK TO COUNTERS: Silent Death Ship, Missile, and Torpedo Counters by Ones Upon a Game
FILE LINK TO MAP (20MB!): https://tinyurl.com/StarfieldMap

A few months ago, I'd never heard of the game Silent Death: The Next Millennium Deluxe Edition. I saw it pop up in an auction, did some quick research, and jumped at the chance to own and play this classic from 1995. Space combat, spaceship miniatures, solid reputation. This was going to be fun. I loved playing Deep Space Navigator back in high school and this seemed like a natural progression from that, with a little bit of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game for fun.



The game arrived and like most, went directly to the "to be played" (aka "Shelf of Shame") pile where First-In-Last-Out is typically the motto. Until last week. Then I got it out and started examining the contents. The bad news was that some of the ships did not survive their 22 year old journey to my door. Tips of stands were broken, some ships were super glued in place. One of the more fragile designs was in two pieces ("Monster Wrecks In Spaaaaaace!").

But the good news was that there were actually nearly TWO sets of ships (normally there are four each of twelve designs) in the box. So separating the wheat from the chaff, there was still an almost complete set of intact ships as well as more than enough stands and even sprues of unpunched missiles and torpedoes.

However, as I set up the map to play the first tutorial scenario, I realized what a table hog this would be. Well, perhaps not a "hog" but a very large pig. The paper maps were 2x3' each and could be setup in 4x3' or 6x2' depending on the scenario. Twelve square feet no matter what. The ships and stands were also a little fragile, which gave me pause. I thought of running on a single map, but quickly realized the movement range of the ships would be nothing on a single 2x3' area and I'd quickly run off the edge. I would also need a means of marking ship "A" from ship "B" (similar to the numbered tokens in X-Wing).

So to that end, I decided I'd "upgrade" the game and make counters to use instead of the miniatures and create my own smaller map.

The Map

The map was easiest. In Photoshop I made a a hex grid of 1" tall hexes (vs. the 1.5" ones on the included maps). I made sure I had the same number of hexes in the playfield as the original (24x18). Not wanting a simple black background, I snagged a couple of NASA nebula images and a starfield pattern and layered those behind the grid (so that each fell within it's own "1/2" map) since the two halves can be joined on long or short edges.


The two map sections.


The Counters

Over the past year or two, I've become pretty adept at using Photoshop and data to generate cards, counters, etc. Once you get the hang of it it's pretty simply really. And saves a ton of time!

Having just used this technique to create the cards for my Bible Books: Match project it was the obvious solution to make the counters.

Fortunately, since they are replacing miniatures and each ship can have different values based on pilot skills, the counters did not need much information, so I designed them minimalistic with only a ship name, ship image, and squadron identifier (A-D in two sets, white and gold). I made these 3/4" in size (to fit the hex map).

For the missiles and torpedoes, I did the same technique but went with a 5/8" slightly smaller size and added the optional speed rule value to each level of torpedo.

An Excel spreadsheet cannot create graphics, so I had to create the ship images myself using a mixture of photography and digital painting in Photoshop (more on that process: Digitally Painting Miniatures).


The 12 Ship Designs



In Printing, Everyone Can Hear You Scream!

Printing the map though turned out to be a much larger (pun!) problem than I imagined. I have a large format printer that will do up to 13x19 A3+ prints. My plan was to print each 24x15.5" map in two 12x15.5" sections and then piece them together. Simple right?

Nope... I turned on the printer to be informed that I needed to replace three of the ink tanks. No biggie, I'd preordered some extra ink and loaded them up. But then the printer insisted the "Grey" tank was not inserted in the right slot. So I double and triple and quadruple checked (OCD is YAY!) and sure enough it WAS correctly inserted. But the third party ink tank did not have the correct chip programmed so the printer would not proceed with anything!

SCREAM!

Then I remembered by regular Canon 5400 printer can print up to legal sized paper, so after some digital slicing of each map image into four 7.75x15" pieces and physical slicing of my 13x19" paper into 8.5x13" pieces (legal is 8.5x14") I was able to get the map sections to print.

Check!


Point, Counterpoint. Counterpoint. Counterpoint.

First up, I wanted these to have a very nice finish to them, so I assumed (wrongly I now know) that photo paper would be the best to print them. But photo paper is meant to show photos well, not the fine detail of lettering. The highest quality setting actually produces the worst results for fine details of such small images. But I finally got something to look somewhat decent and simply dismissed my printer as unable to produce 3/4" counters with any level of sharpness.

I'd once seen a video on using peel and stick floor tile to create single-sided counters for games. Normally I make double sided ones, but this would be the perfect application of this method. Or so I thought.

I got a nice thickness tile from Home Depot and while the counter sheet stuck cleanly as expected... cutting the counters out proved to be quite the chore. I think this method works better with thinner vinyl tiles not the thicker, more sturdy ones. To cut them out, I had to score the lines twice using a metal ruler, then "snap" them backwards, then slice again to separate the strip from the sheet. This snapping did not always produce the cleanest of edges and I was not happy with how they turned out.



Using peel and stick tile for backing. Note the cork removed from the back of my metal ruler (that's sticky!)


So with bad printing and bad counters I was resolved to just be content with using them myself and never sharing with anyone. (and as wordy as this post is, I'm sure some of you wish I'd stuck to that!).

But the next morning I was determined to try again.

And I did. This time I would forgo the option in my printer to print as a photo and just print as a document on photo paper. Perhaps the printer is doing something different in photo mode. Nope. Turns out the photo paper is the issue for not holding the fine detail.

So next I tried the document setting on cardstock. YES! Much finer detail (I should have known this, but I wanted that sheen of the photo paper!). So while it was sharp and reasonably bright, the colors on the ships just didn't "pop" as I wanted them to. Drat, drat, double drat. But I'd make do and add some clear coat finish to them and maybe brighten them up.

I decoupaged them to a sheet of thick chipboard and then to add a layer of protection and the aforementioned brightness, I covered them with another coat of gloss Mod Podge. Not too bright. Inkjet ink is water based. Mod Podge is water based. Smear central.

SCREAM!

Tough. I'm using them anyway.

Nope.

Couldn't let that stand. I finally remembered I had some "brochure paper" I'd picked up many years ago at an estate sale. When I say "some" I mean one sheet. Printed the counters again on this and NICE! Crisp edges, bright colors. This was the solution. Third time's the charm.

Not wanting to get smeared again in my media, this time I planned ahead and sprayed them with a coat of Krylon acrylic. Unfortunately it was a Satin finish and that killed all the brightness, but fortunately not the color.



So finally after all this comedy of errors, I have a set of 96 nicely mounted ship counters to play Silent Death with. The missile/torpedo counters are still from the smeared cardstock batch, but so be it (I'm sure I'll fix it all later). And after two basic missions, I have to say this game is a gem. There is a lot to love in it. A lot seemed to be adopted for X-Wing as well, including the pilots firing in skill order, etc.



The cool thing is that you don't need to find and buy the boxed edition and pay an arm and a leg for it. You can buy the $9.00 rulebook PDF currently at DriveThruRPG (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/156598/Silent-Death-The-...), add your own miniatures (or counters), and hex map and some dice and you're good to go.

I'll get these countersheets and maps made available soon and add the links.

FILE LINK TO COUNTERS: Silent Death Ship, Missile, and Torpedo Counters by Ones Upon a Game
FILE LINK TO MAP (20MB!): https://tinyurl.com/StarfieldMap

As always, thanks for reading this far! Hope you learned something (as I did).
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Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:03 pm
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