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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Keeping Legendary in Geometric Order

Kevin L. Kitchens
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FILE PDF AVAILABLE: Etsy Link


The Legendary base games from Upper Deck Entertainment, save the original release of Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, tend to come in a standard size, long box. It's designed to hold two rows of cards and the roll-up game mat in the center. Unfortunately, most of these games have not seen enough expansions to justify all that extra space. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game now has a second expansion so that content is growing at least. But doubtful we'll see anything new for the excellent Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game as all the episodes were already covered. The potential winner of most expansions is the newly released Legendary: A James Bond Deck Building Game.

The long slots for the cards are simply the "void" where the flimsy cardboard fence for the rollup playmat is not. They provide foam blocks to help section off the cards, but once you start removing cards for play, everything slides around and falls over.

Blech.

You could pay the cost of another game to buy a laser cut, wooden divider system... or you could make some from inexpensive card stock as I did here.



I measured the width of card slot (95mm) and then the length of one of the slots (~372mm). Dividing that length by four gave me 93mm. I fashioned a 95x93mm "tray" with reinforced walls as I've done with other boxes and built four of them to create subdivisions (so that's the reference in the title of this post!), which when placed end to end perfectly fill one of the two card slots.

Since Bond doesn't fill more than a single slot, I left the other side with the foam bricks to hold its shape. You could tape each of the boxes together for added stability, but I found they wedged in just fine.

However, the cards were still 'taller' than the length of each box, so when you remove them, they could fall over and lie flat. To fix this, I created simple and study inner walls for each one, further subdividing each box about in half.




Using these eight sections, I'm able to adequate sort and store the cards in a more functional fashion and not worry about them getting disorganized during play.



FILE PDF AVAILABLE: Etsy Link
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Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:05 pm
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Making Snowdonia Deluxe Master Set Even More Deluxer

Kevin L. Kitchens
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For the most part, the newly released Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set from NSKN Games is a very well designed BIG BOX package... except for a few things. Some of these we can correct. Some of these we cannot.

First off, the box sleeve. These things are such a complete waste of materials. You get all the game info and gorgeous artwork on a box wrap that ultimately serves no purpose. And the inner box itself, while in this case somewhat elegant, is generally pretty plain. When you're playing the game, it's just another chunk of something that has to sit around the game table, at risk for damage. Please, please, please publishers. Stop making sleeves! But we cannot correct this, apart from just chunking the sleeve, so...

The box itself I noticed has a couple of issues. One, it's very flimsy from it's size. The cardboard itself is thick, but the corner joints are only held together with the thinnest of printed overwrap and will probably tear very easily from the most basic of use. The second issue that's sadly getting more common is that the box height is just at six inches. Games this large need to make the box bottom the full size needed and the lid in two parts. One a "wrap" that stays attached to the bottom and then a more realistic, perhaps 2" max lid that removes. Some of these larger games are VERY hard to get open due to a vacuum created by the lid being the full height of the box bottom.



While I did make a correction to my copy of the Warfighter: Expansion #9 – The Footlocker (Sometimes You Just Feel Like Blowing Your Top), the location of the text on the Snowdonia box make this a little more cumbersome to attempt. I know designing for this might be a little more expensive for the publisher, but less bling elsewhere could probably cover it.

OK, so enough about what we cannot fix. Now on to what we can.

The Deluxe Master Set does include two very nice card boxes for storing the 8,275 cards that come with the game (more like 750, but who's counting). However, the cardbox lids are MUCH deeper than the cardbox bottoms. This results in the lids resting on the cards themselves for support -- or your dividers if you're savvy enough to download them (I chose these: Snowdonia DMS: Color-Coded Card Dividers by chunb). To fix this, it was foam core to the rescue!

The boxes are about 97mm across, so I cut a strip of white foam core to that width and then cut four pieces that were 2 3/4" tall to serve as "stops" for each end of the boxes. This would take the weight of the lid off the cards. Then, to help cards from falling over I wanted to add some dividers to create sections and keep the cards more manageable. I could not decide if I wanted to have 3 or 4 sections and in the end felt four would be best. So I cut six more pieces at 1 3/4" to serve this purpose.



I thought I could just use glue stick, but the natural flex of the box prevented good adherence, so I ended up using good old white glue and a couple of clamps to make sure they were secure. For the section dividers, I used glue on the sides and bottom and then held in place with applique pins, two per side. Since I was using them for the sections, I added them to the stop as well, just to make sure (and sate my OCD).



Now, the lids go on nice and secure and both boxes stay the same height (instead of shifting to one side with less cards, etc...

I added my cards (some sleeved so far) and dividers and it all fits great... in the bottom of the box (the next point of issue).



The Deluxe Set comes with three plastic trays for holding the tree's worth of wooden components. Two of them are great. The other as they say "not so much". One try is designed to hold the player pieces and the base set of cards that are used to some degree in every game, no matter what expansion you mix in. Cool idea in theory. However, the insert was designed to sit at the BOTTOM of the box. The slots for the cards just barely hold them when sleeved and the tray relies on the box sides to keep them all in place.

But for the components you need EVERY game, why are they buried down at the bottom of the box so you have to dig them out every time? The fix to this was simple.

Get rid of that one tray.

To replace it, I made five of my 75x100mm storage boxes (Etsy Link), in this case, the 24mm high version and five lids to match the colors of the player pieces. To hold the cards, I made three of my 3/4" tuck boxes (Etsy Link) to hold the 73 base game cards and the 15 solo bot cards.



Now, I can put the two card boxes with all the expansion modules at the bottom of the box along with the tiebreaker die, extra sleeves (for now) and other small items that aren't always necessary (like extra player guides the solo player doesn't need). I added on top of this a square foamcore piece with a lift handle as a false bottom. Then the two component trays, game board, rule books and newly created player piece boxes and card tuck boxes sit right on top.



The player boxes also give each player something to hold their ownership markers during the game, so win-win.

While the Deluxe Set as is is pretty terrific, hopefully you too will find these "upgrades" of benefit.
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Wed Sep 4, 2019 5:11 pm
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Well the Dream Burned up... Like Paper in (Fields of) Fire...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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OK.. I'm done. I tried. But Fields of Fire is just not the game for me. This time I got to the map setup step, was excited to see how the map would affect the mission, but then... failure to launch. Burned up on liftoff.

I think the problem is that as much as I like playing a good wargame (which FoF undeniably is), I'm not a military minded person. Fields of Fire seems to require a mindset full of military terms and tactics that I just don't possess nor really want to (not that there's anything wrong with it).

What's missing for me, that other wargames have, is "Here's the scenario, now play!". Part of the game, though I would argue this falls outside of actual gameplay, is the pre-game setup and decisions, all of which have zero interest for me. Like deck construction in a CCG or even the loadout step of the Warfighter series, this setup process is just too tedious for me to enjoy. I thought avoiding the communications step would be enough (just wing those as I need them) would be enough. But I found myself getting lost in all the verbiage of the rules and my interest leaving me like a popped balloon.

And over the course of trying to learn, I found myself wanting to just play something. But this one was taking up the table while I tried to digest it all, so I couldn't play anything in the interim. And so I just avoided the game table, surfed, and fell asleep.

I think if and when you make it past the massive entry barrier, there is a great game there. Anything that can reduce the hindrance to actually "playing the game" would do this game a great service. Even if there were a starter mission included that told you step by step what counters to put where and what cards to draw at first and guided you into it (as you played) would be a massive help. Like a parent pushing their kid on a bike and then letting go, that initial guided tour would ease the confusion for us without the necessary background. Warfighter by DVG did manage to add this in a scenario booklet and it definitely made getting the game to the table easier.

Rambling on this, sorry. Hopefully some meaning comes through.

#Failed
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Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:47 pm
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Combat for the Commander - Fundraising Auction

Kevin L. Kitchens
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You may have read my post in May about game designer Chad Jensen's fight with cancer and the need for additional funds to help offset expenses (Man down! Man down! Rally the Troops!).

To aid in this effort, I am auctioning my original framed cross-stitch of the Combat Commander: Europe box art to raise funds for his treatment.



100% of the proceeds will be directed to the GoFundMe account established for this purpose.

I invite you to bid generously or just donate directly to: GoFundMe

You can see more about the stitch work here: There's Just One Game That Has Left Me in Stitches.

Auction details below.

Auction Link: [CLOSED] Combat for the Commander - Fundraising Auction
Auction Ends: After August 15, 2019 at 11:00pm Eastern
Ships From: USA, First $20 covered to rest of the world.
Ships To: Worldwide, First $20 covered to rest of the world.
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Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:00 pm
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RIP Roy Batty in 2019. RIP Rutger Hauer in 2019.

Kevin L. Kitchens
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“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”



https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/rutger-hauer-died-blade-run...
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Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:41 pm
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Miniatures Don't Make a Game Great

Kevin L. Kitchens
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A good game is a good game regardless of the components... (and a bad game remains a bad game...)

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Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:00 pm
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You Gotta Standee for Something, Or You'll Fall for Anything

Kevin L. Kitchens
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I think I'm starting to hate miniatures.

Well, not hate, exactly. For the right games, they're right on. But unfortunately Kickstarter has become Mini-starter at least in the board game space. I'm surprised we haven't see a miniatures version of Yahtzee yet. (Hope I didn't give some sociopath entrepreneur an idea!)

Whereas the plastic little statues used to be reserved for tabletop miniatures gaming, now they are being used as pawns in the deadly fundraising arena of crowdfunding. And for the most part, pawns is all they are in the game. Where cubes gave rise to meeples and then to character meeples, little plastic statues are now all the rage. And creating even more rage! (HULK SMASH!)

But I'm digressing down a rabbit trail for sure.

Miniatures can be good in some board games but are superfluous these days in most (see Brook City for a recent example). In Batman: Gotham City Chronicles they are a good use of miniatures -- and pretty much the whole reason that game costs as much as it does. Like Core Space, they at least took the helpful step of making each side a different color plastic, so the game could somewhat be played right out of the box without painting being necessary.

Face it, we're not all painters.

And while I can do a decent job, I don't have the time to paint 150+ miniatures. And with every game coming out with grey plastic blobs, multiply that time requirement and we'd all spend our time painting instead of playing.

And some of us just want to play the game. A game should stand or fail on its merits, not its minis.

(catching my breath, almost fell off the soapbox)

So to that end, I set about in the same manner I did with MERCS: Recon – Counter Threat/MERCS: Recon – Assassination Protocol (MERCS: Recon Standees v3.0 Now Available...) and created standees for all 150+ miniatures in the base set of Batman: GCC.



No, they are not so flashy as a set of well painted miniatures. But at the same time, they don't take as long as painting would take. And they work 100% the same in the game. In fact, maybe a little better as they have the name of the character right on the standee and for those larger (or smaller) than a "1" size index, that value is on the image too so you can easily add up the value of an area.

At the very least, for those who have them sitting on their painting table, they can still be playing while they work.



They come 14 to a sheet and there are 11 sheets for 154 total standees. BTW, there are two for Two-Face (both a heads and a tails), bringing up the total from the in box 153. Just print them on white cardstock (I used a color laser), score along the red lines, then cut, fold and glue. The "fold inside" section helps to make them a little more sturdy and hold in a standee holder better. I tried to group them in logical ways (henchfolk with their villain) as best I could, so you should be able to just print the ones you need as you go if you prefer.





These are a little wider (1" vs. 3/4") and shorter than my previous standees. I was going for a little closer to miniature height for (most of) them and make them about the same width as the bases of the miniatures.

I would love to see more companies include standees as an additional, ready to play stretch goal or addon... but until they do or this fascination with miniatures dies down, I will keep making them where I see the need.

Perhaps one benefit of correcting trade imbalances with China via new tariffs will be to force publishers to consider less bling and more zing in their games... Who knows.

Standees PDF: https://tinyurl.com/BatmanStandees

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Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:06 pm
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Coming soon...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Batman: Gotham City Chronicles

MORE: You Gotta Standee for Something, Or You'll Fall for Anything
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Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:17 pm
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Mythbusting: "Cooperative Games Are NOT ALL Solo Friendly"

Kevin L. Kitchens
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This comes up from time to time and did yesterday on the Facebook Solo BoardGamers group... Fortunately this time the presentation was factual:


Meme shared by Glen Telfer


I've said this for several years and am happy to see there are clearly other right thinking people in the gaming world.

The reality is that all cooperative board games are solo-friendly. But then you have to look deeper at what a cooperative game truly is. Simply put, it's a game where the players fully cooperate to achieve the game's winning condition. Period. The key word being fully.

But what about Hanabi?

If they cannot cooperate fully, then we have another category for that: semi-cooperative. In semi-cooperative games, the cooperation between the players is limited or hindered in some way. Thus they cannot fully cooperate. Some information might be hidden. Communication might be restricted. Each player might have different, personal winning conditions that might impede another player's winning condition.

Because of those limitations semi-cooperative games are certainly not soloable (normally). But semi-cooperative and cooperative are two completely different categories of games.

But what about Hanabi?!

In cooperative games, a single player (true solo) can very easily play the game with one or more hands or characters as nothing is kept secret between the characters. Managing the actions of all hands or characters can actually make the game more fun because you alone get to be the alpha player and control yourself alone. No more talking back from other players who just don't understand your genius strategy! And if you do talk back to yourself...

But what about Hanabi!!!

Hanabi? Glad you asked.


photo by Club Amatent


For some reason Hanabi is the game that it seems everyone runs to as ABSOLUTE PROOF to try and dispel the truth that all cooperatives games are solo friendly. In reality, BGG classification error aside, the only myth here is that Hanabi is a cooperative game.

Even the designers of the game perpetuated this myth in the rules (as translated from German): "Hanabi is a cooperative game, meaning all players play together as a team." Except of course, all players being on the same team is not what makes a game cooperative. There are many other games, like Hanabi, where players are on the same team, yet cooperation is limited. That intro should be written as "Hanabi is a team game, meaning all players play together as a team." but then that would be redundant, so that erroneous piece of fluff text should probably just have been removed altogether.

Hanabi, as described above, is a semi-cooperative game, or as I prefer to call them: "common goal" games. The players are all trying to achieve the same goal, but they are not doing so in a fully cooperative manner. They are assisting each other, but cooperation is limited in what they can say to the player. Each player has some information hidden to them (their own cards or tiles). Semi-cooperative.

So the reality is, that in all cooperative games are completely solo friendly.

Disagree? Better yet, agree? Comment or feedback? Please send a GeekMail with your thoughts or opinions on the matter. Respectful comments for and against will be presented in a later post.
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Tue Jul 9, 2019 3:32 pm
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Old Man Solo Flew a Ship... AI, AI, Oh!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Old Man Solo Flew a Ship...
AI, AI, Oh!
And on this ship he had some cargo.
AI, AI, oh!

With a bounty here!
And a bounty there.
Here a bounty!
There a bounty!
Everywhere a hefty bounty!

Old Man Solo Flew a Ship...
AI, AI, Oh!


What started out as a title, became a thing...

But anyway.

One of the cool things about Star Wars: Outer Rim is the very easy to run AI deck. Reminiscent of the most excellent Automa we've all come to know and love (and specifically the one in Scythe), it became apparent that it'd be cool to be able to run more than one AI in the game.

Unfortunately, Fantasy Flight Games only included one deck in the game (though hopefully a second copy or even a deck with a different strategy could be included in a future expansion). So this means it's not possible to properly control two AI using just the one deck per the rules. Some have tried to spread the cards among two AI, but the result is a dilution of the actions between the two, completely weakening the outcomes.

However, there are a couple of options available now, to run two or more AI.

First and simplest.

* Take the Ace through 10 of a single suit from a regular deck of cards for each AI that you want to run.
* Shuffle each of these stacks separately and draw one for each AI player after your turn.
* The AI cards are numbered 1-10, so you can use the in-game AI deck as a second "databank" and pull the card that corresponds with the card that you drew and carry it out. When that AI's turn it done, put it back in the AI databank and draw for any remaining AI players.



The second option, to make that process a little simpler, is download this AI reference sheet I made (https://tinyurl.com/OuterRimSolo). It has the cards marked 1-10 and a reminder of the different actions to be taken. If anything on the sheet is confusing, then you can refer to the original AI card in your set. But as you play more and more the options are pretty clearly understood, so the reminder sheet is all you need.

Now Han can face off against Lando AND Boba Fett in a single go!
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Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:56 pm
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