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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But What About Socialization???

Kevin L. Kitchens
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When we experimented with homeschooling our kids, the biggest protest from those who didn't understand the need or desire was "What about socialization???"

Saw this over on the 1 Player guild, Do you never miss the social aspect in solo gaming?

Dummiz wrote:
One thing in this hobby i really Like is the social aspect of gaming. I really miss that thing when i solo.

Do you ever miss the social aspect when you play solo?


Not really, no. While I enjoy playing some games with family from time to time, solo gaming is just a different beast entirely. They aren't really a comparable experience. Some like one or the other. Some of us like both.

Some of the Highlights...

1. I can play WHAT I want. No "ok, you get to choose that dull game" or "no, I cannot play that game for personal reasons but seriously, I'll just take a break, you go on without me." to deal with.

2. I can play WHEN I want. Late at night. Early in the morning. Whenever. if I need to stop for hours or days I'm not holding up anyone else.

3. I'm free to QUIT/RESTART when I want. Game not going well? Game just plain bad? You're not obligated to suffer through it. Start over. Trade it. Whatever.

4. Cooperative and Single Player Only games are awesome. Many games now are designed for single players. Sophisticated AIs, clever puzzles, and game systems provide an experience that sometimes is better to manage and enjoy alone.

5. I am the boss of me! Well, excluding God of course. But the point is I can be the alpha gamer and not offend anyone.

Since the start of my solo gaming resurgence I have grown a little sour on the forced solo experience, especially the me vs. me of most wargames. While some titles like Combat Commander: Europe provide such a wonderful solo experience (the cards are VERY minor issue) they provide a unique and dynamic narrative, even for the lone wolf -- most become a rote activity where the only variability is the roll of the dice. I never found any satisfaction in playing both sides of a standard boardgame or eurogame (except once with This Game is Bonkers!, that was a blast!), I'm not sure why I fell prey to the idea that wargames would be any different. Not faulting anyone who DOES like playing both sides to explore the history, but without mitigating factors like chit pulls or cards limited actions, I just cannot do it anymore.

And fortunately, I don't have to anymore. There's so many good solo systems for wargames now as well. But I do recognize that some of those would be better against another player of course.

As for some of the cons of solo gaming though I discussed those here in 2015: Gaming is Social, Games Need Not Be - The Cons of Solitaire Gaming

So I can enjoy a frozen pizza as well as a trip to Mellow Mushroom (mushrooms in name only!!!). Two different experiences.
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Wed Dec 5, 2018 7:35 pm
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The Longest Yard... resolved

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Update on my post Saturday night (Wetsuit Anyone?) concerning my order from Miniature Market of a 3'x3' neoprene mat (on clearance for $10.50) and receiving a 2.5' x 30' roll of black neoprene.

Called MM this morning and described what I received (and another user report they had received it as well). What happened is that when they received the items into inventory, they put them under the wrong SKU (stock keeping unit) which is what was being offered on the website (the 3'x3' mat)... so it seems everyone who ordered this got this big roll instead. Or multiples.

They asked if I could use it -- which I certainly can! They've also depleted the stock of the wrong product from the site, so sorry latecomers, it's no longer available.

As assumed, MM handled it quickly and professionally.

Win win! Now I can cut a mat to fit my dining table instead of piecing two together.

And still have enough to make mousepads for Christmas!
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Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:50 pm
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Wetsuit Anyone?

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Note: I will be contacting Miniature Market on Monday regarding their error and how they wish to proceed, but this one was just too funny, IMO, not to share. I trust, as they have in the past, that they will remedy this without issue.

Currently, Miniature Market is having a clearance sale and while I did not find any games worth breaking my "no new games, I really mean it" vow, I was directed to a plain black 3'x3' neoprene gaming mat. Figuring this would help when we played family games on the dining table (vs. a foamcore/felt thing I made) for picking up cards, etc... I ordered one for that purpose for $10.50. I also added a second one for me as a nice boundary for miniatures games with a 3'x3' boundary.

But then I saw a nice, printed one for $13 more, so I called them and changed my order to one of the black and one of the printed. They were very helpful, the change was made and the order was processed and shipped.

My FedEx tracking though said the box was 18 pounds. Wowie... Ok. Then I checked the original order and the addendum order and saw that it still said two of the black mats were ordered and two were shipped. Figured that explained it and could believe each mat with packaging was about six pounds each, though that seemed a bit high. I assumed they messed up and included all three mats and I would contact them about returning the extra. No biggie.

Well today (Saturday), the box arrived and sure enough was quite heavy. I was busy pressure washing our fence to prepare for painting, so I received the box to open later.

Finally, just a few minutes ago I did and boy was I surprised. The pick tickets inside did in fact say that only one printed mat and one black mat were in the shipment. The printed one was on top and looked fine. The second one was quite the shocker.

I could tell right away that had to be more than one of the mats. So like a magician pulling scarves from his (or her) mouth... I pulled out "the mat".



Instead of a 3x3 neoprene mat, I instead had a huge piece of black neoprene. It measured about 2.5' wide and using the ever-so-accurate one-pace = three feet test, was 30 feet long!!!



I cannot even imagine what they had this bolt of neoprene fabric in their warehouse for in the first place. I cannot find any related product on their site that this would correspond to. Are the mats sold off a bolt and cut in the warehouse for each order? But this was not 3' wide either.

An interesting mystery that I hope to get an answer to on Monday... but wowie.
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Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:30 am
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Blinging the Fallout... Tryin' to Get the Game Out

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Was and am not a hater of the other board game based on the Fallout IP, but when I saw the new Fallout: Wasteland Warfare published by Modiphius Entertainment included solo AI rules, my interest was piqued and I placed my order. Finally cracked it open yesterday the first thing I noticed was there are LOTS OF LITTLE COUNTERS. Wow... Tiny little things that make 1/2" wargame counters seem a blessing (and I hate 1/2" wargame counters!).

After punching (and peeling them as they sadly weren't cleanly punched), I organized them into little piles to determine how best to organize them. Of course this meant I would make a four-module tray using my GMT compatible tray system along with custom printed lid with the game cover art.




Always need terrain in miniatures games and I'm fine with using household items or blocks, etc. to create obstacles. But thanks to this thread (Compatible terrain for under $10 for the newcomer), I purchased some ready to print scenery from Drive-Thru-RPG. However, as these are set to 28mm scale and FWW is 32mm, I opened the PDF pages in Photoshop, scaled by 114%, then cherry picked the pieces I wanted (buildings 1-2) and re-laid them out on to a new document (to maximize components per page). Printed these on 110# white cardstock, scored, and cut them out. Assembly was easy enough, even for big fingers.

Took the base/ground images and scaled to be a full page and printed on 1/2-sheet mailing labels. Stuck each label to a piece of thick coated chipboard, then cut them out with a utility knife. Next I arranged the buildings onto the four bases so they could be placed on the gameboard in clusters.

They aren't the bees knees when it comes to terrain pieces, but a step up from egg cartons for sure. And these days maybe cheaper.

The barriers and barrels were files available (or used to be) for free on Shapeways. These appear to be identical to ones being sold by Miniature Market (legally, don't get me wrong), but perhaps theirs are better printed.






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Mon Oct 8, 2018 4:21 pm
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Can't Keep a Good Man Down...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Of course, you can't keep a good woman down either, but since I'm not a woman, using "or woman" or "person" would have been needlessly cumbersome...

Absence of Malice
Recently had an unplanned "break" from BGG thanks to the Secret Police once again not liking officially unapproved and unauthorized opinions being expressed (even when done so in polite but confident discussion). This is an area that needs to be addressed as I daresay in most cases the offender doesn't realize they've touched a hidden third rail and just get suspended while the so-called "offensive" comment is left on the site. It's a very odd way of handling things and not one conducive to constructive dialogue between differing parties... but that is a discussion for another time.

EDIT: It would appear "they" HAVE started removing unwelcome (by some) comments from the site. Hopefully in lieu and not in addition to suspension.

But I'm happy to say that in spite of not being able to post or comment here, I made good use of my time, creating a few modifications for games.

Under a Blood Red Sky
First up, been loving Blood Red Skies but found that I wouldn't have the time to paint the miniature planes and that in the end (as is most of the time with miniatures), they aren't 100% necessary to the game. All measurement is from the round bases, which are about 1.5" in diameter. So I ordered some 1.5" wooden "coins" and then created 12 labels for each plane type. Made six level 3 and then two each of level 2, 4, and 5. All the coins got a 3 on one side and then another level on the other side. Sealed them with some RightStep Satin and started playing. They work great and less clutter makes it easier to play and measure.

The flight stands use an odd rock forward for "disadvantaged" and rock back for "advantaged" indicator. This not only looks silly, but causes planes to take up even more space on the table than necessary... which in a busy dogfight, can be a problem. To remedy this, I just use a green cube for advantaged, red for disadvantaged, and no cube for neutral. Another win.




Sowing the Gears of War
Gears of War: The Board Game is a bit of a mystery. Widely regarded as a great system and a respected IP, Fantasy Flight Games dropped the ball big time on supporting this game. Even with the IP license lost, the system deserves another sci-fi theme applied to it.

Be that as it may the community has geared up and created several missions and other mods for the game, including a collection of 24 new COGs created by user Alex Hajdasz. In order to make these more playable in-game without proxying other miniatures, I created a set of standees to go along with them.



You can get the COGs and the standees at the BGG file pages below:

Custom COG Pack Collection
alternate COG standees by ones upon a game


Shine On You Crazy Firefly
Another miniatures-replacement project I had in the wings and suddenly had a little time for was for Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats. Again, with no time to paint, had planned when I first got the game to add Standees. This was not only to make our intrepid heroes clearer on the board (in both casual and heroic states), but I was having a hard time matching the baddy miniatures to their respective stat cards. So while I was in the rhythm of making standees, put this set together as well.

At the very least it would allow people to quickly try out the game before they paint or while they paint...



You can find them here: Firefly Adventures Standees by ones upon a game
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Thu Oct 4, 2018 3:16 pm
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Watch Out! You Might Get What You're After!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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HOME COLLAPSES CLAIMING THE LIVES OF FIVE
TWO FIREFIGHTERS, THREE CIVILIANS PERISH IN THE BLAZE
FIVE RESCUED FROM CERTAIN DEATH

A housewarming party turned deadly last night, taking from our community two firefighters, a local game designer, a church volunteer, and Tammy Noblestein, the recently married daughter of Soloville's Mayor Thompson.

The Soloville Fire Department responded quickly to the call in the 900 block of Roane Avenue, but by the time they arrived, the flames were quite intense. According to sources a sterno can on the buffet line dislodged and set a tablecloth ablaze and the fire spread from there. As the conflagration increased in intensity, the building collapsed, immediately killing two Soloville's veteran first responders.

Fire Captain Jose Remiriz and FPS George E. Winters perished in the collapse. The third firefighter working the blaze had just exited the building carrying the fifth rescued guest to a waiting ambulance. The rescuer's name has not yet been released.

In addition to Mrs. Noblestein, the other victims were Tash'a Mitchell and Paloma Vazquez. Mitchell, 29, was a designer of board games, including the most recent game of the year "Roll, Draw, Shuffle, and Cut". Mrs. Vazquez, 43, worked at a nearby church, using her sewing skills to make blankets for the community.

The loss of these souls and their contributions to Soloville cannot be understated.



As mentioned, five persons attending the party were brought to safety by rescuers. These were:

Marcus Kelner, 22, Student
Gopi Kalluri, 28, Software Developer
Brad Lee Bradley, 34, Pediatrician
Neal Traversm 36, Musician
Esther Cohen, 27, Waitress

As the Mayor is taking time to deal with her direct personal loss in this tragedy, Assistant Mayor Ralph Waldeux issued this statement.

"We thank you for your prayers at this time for the victims of tonight's fire, their families, and for the recovery of the survivors. As more information develops into the cause of this fire and its aftermath, we will let you know. Until then, no further comment."

---------------

This was my first time to play Flash Point: Fire Rescue using the new Fire and Event decks from the Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Tragic Events expansion. Have to say: I LOVE THIS. Such an awesome and intense way of not only spreading the fire in a less fiddly way, but the event cards introduce new random elements to the game. Excellent!

It was also the first time I played using my own designed "Persons in Peril" deck for identifying the victims and rescued (details: The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and other Persons). I've used it before for Hostage Negotiator, but reworked it for use with Flash Point.

How I used it is as follows. I used blue cubes on the board for POI markers and then when "revealed" drew a real POI marker from a draw cup. Then if it was not a false alarm, when the victim was rescued or lost, I would draw a card from the Persons in Peril deck to see who they were. If they were rescued, I put them in a discard pile as normal. If they perished, I added them to the discard pile rotated 180 degrees. The POI marker went on the board as normal to keep up with the win/lose condition counts. The male/female/age/race, etc. on the POI counter had no bearing on the deck draw... each POI just represented a "human" (or dog/cat) victim. Special POI markers from the Tragic Events expansion were used if necessary by Event card.

Definitely made for a more immersive experience, IMO.

But I'm. An. Or. din. ary. Guy.

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Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:55 am
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16 Pounds and Whaddya Get? A Bunch of Chips, A Bunch of Dice and All of 'Em Fit!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Way back in November, I built my custom insert for Too Many Bones and in anticipation of the release of Too Many Bones: Undertow, hoped that it would all fit in the single box... (original post: Make Room for Undertow!)

And it did!

In this quick video tour of the box, I'll show how it all fits nicely and with a couple of unexpected surprises thanks to Chip Theory Games.



Of course, it's a big heavy box, over 15 pounds of goodness in there. Fortunately they built the box itself pretty strong. So no doubt it's up to the challenge.




The New Zoo Revue

The new contents for Undertow are quite nice as well as the upgrades to the entire system that were made available to the backers.

The 3.0 Cards are much brighter and clearer and easier to read. Of course now I have obsolete 1.0 and 2.0 sets to deal with




3.0 cards compared to the 2.0 (new = left, old = right)


Love the upgraded Gearloc, adventure, and battle mats with the edge stitching. They don't take up any extra space and all of them fit in the box perfectly.





The Ally Pack includes six fun and thematic (albeit unnecessary) ally/companion chips to bling up the game.



Love that Undertow included two mini chip trays which added to the storage solution and were a providentially perfect fit for the space I already had for custom chip holders.



The new Gearloc dice are lovely as well, but the Undertow Attack and Defense dice are just slightly darker than the original game. But on a problem scale of 1-10, it's a zero.



And of course, all 10 of my custom Gearloc boxes fit right where they belong...



Wonderful production. Setup now for a refresher game and then on to new adventures.



As for the Too Many Bones: 40 Days in Daelore and Too Many Bones: Age of Tyranny content, I'm fairly confident it will fit in as well.

Now if they should release even more new content...

Gearloc Dice Boxes available on Etsy and the BGG Store

BGG: https://boardgamegeek.com/geekmarket/user/klkitchens
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/623948481/too-many-bones-gearlo...
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Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:42 pm
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Boardly Go... and Take Up Less Space

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Space.
The Final Frontier.

Table Space.
The Priceless Frontier.

File this under the more moderately helpful ideas. For me it works great as it makes the footprint of Star Trek: Frontiers a bit less and gives me a good spot to hold the Dummy AI player's deck.

Seemed to me the Experience and Reputation board was just a little oversized for its function. Especially for solo play. Plus the OCD in me didn't care for the inconsistent sizes of the spaces of the Experience track and the downright odd shape of the reputation track.

At first I designed this so each spot was the perfect size for the faction tokens. But in the end that reduced the board only about 2 inches in height and only slightly in width. Not a worthwhile reduction.

So I scrapped the idea.

For about four hours.

Then after a quick slingshot around the sun (no whales were harmed in the making of this sideboard), I revisited the project. Why did it need to host the faction tokens as markers? Especially for solo. So with a few quick calculations and a Photoshop resize step later, voila! A more compact 8x5" (ish) side board that is the perfect size for using a cube on each track. Of added convenience is that this printed on a 1/2 sheet mailing label and thus I didn't need to go outside to use spray adhesive to stick it to a mounting board. Colored the edges with a blue dry erase marker and all ready to go.




Again, your mileage may vary if the board is right for you. Should work fine with multiplayer as well with cubes of different colors.

FILE: Compact Experience and Reputation Track Board by ones upon a game
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Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:58 pm
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We've Got to Have Some Storage on the New Frontier

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Been too long since I played the excellent Star Trek: Frontiers and not at all since acquiring the Star Trek: Frontiers – The Return of Khan expansion.

Review of ST:F Nothing Compares 2U - A Ones Upon a Game Review

But as I was getting it all set up and incorporating the Khan expansion updates and upgrades, I realized better organization was in order. It's also been too long since I had #FunWithFoamCore, so set off to building a replacement insert. While the plastic trays are nice enough, you cannot combine the components and as usual, they take up more space than necessary. Would love to see how many straws we could recover from the amount of plastic in these oversized organizers.

So this one is really nothing fancy. Cannot make it the full size of the box, since they went with a hinged lid design and the flaps tuck inside the box, but no worries there. Made a section to hold the space tiles and added a couple of small strips of foam core on the bottom to give the tiles a lift to ease their removal. Same with the slot for Khan's ship. The Borg cubes are a perfect height and made their garage slots with just vertical walls (had to cut notches though to ease removal. Khan's ship stands shorter than the Borg, so simply stacked and glued four small squares of foam core together to lift it up to a better height.


Parking garage for enemy wessels; cards safely banded together and tucked in the extra storage slots; Used my generic boxes (5x16mm, 1x35mm) to hold the faction tokens and the player ships.


After that, I was pretty much done with the foam. I'd thought of really getting specific where things go and boxing stuff in, but like with my Too Many Bones insert, keeping it more versatile with smaller boxes holding component groups seemed to make more sense. Especially with a deeper box. (Still waiting for my KS copy of Too Many Bones: Undertow to ship to see if my plan of it ALL fitting in one box comes to fruition -- Make Room for Undertow!)

One of the things that bothered me when playing the game before were the stacks of encounter counters. ST:F takes up a lot of space and if you midjudge and have to shift things around, it's a minor nuisance (#FinalFrontierProblems) repositioning the stacks. So for the last few days I'd been working out in my head a solution to keep the stacks organized, but also stored neatly.



This is what I came up with... a small counter rack, made from a single sheet of cardstock, that has dividers to hold four stacks of counters for the game, although other games would work as well. ST:F comes with eight stacks and Khan adds a ninth one. I wanted to leave room for future expansions, so went with a four stack unit, so with three of these, there is room for three more stacks in the future.

And with the addition of a sleeve, the whole rack can be stored, keeping the counters neatly sorted and ready to go (except for the pre-game shuffle).



So now, finally, that Tribble is off my back and I can boldly go... where I went before, but want to go again...

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Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:44 pm
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Solo Gaming: A Niche Worth Scratching

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Not sure I've ever made it through a FULL 14 3+ hour episode of The Secret Cabal podcast, but had a little extra driving the last couple of days and managed to stay interested and resume play each time I got in the car. I do like their show in general, apart from occasional -- thankfully rare -- profanity and affected inflections in their speech (are they all Monster Truck announcers in real life?). However, I just usually listen to any podcasts in smaller chunks of time and move on to something else the next session.

I was listening to their latest episode mainly because of the post-GenCon information and their review of The Reckoners, but as I said, I made it to the end of this one and near the conclusion they do a short answer type session dealing with questions from listeners...

The first question (http://traffic.libsyn.com/thesecretcabalgamingpodcast/165Sec... at the 03:11:00 mark) concerned solo gaming and solo variants becoming a trend in Kickstarters and board gaming in general. I found their answers interesting and a little misinformed.

Especially calling soloists a "niche" market.

It shouldn't bother me that we're a niche market. Of course we are.

niche - denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.

So then, by definition...

* all of BGG is a "niche" of the boardgaming community.
* Fans of Gloomhaven or Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 are a "niche" market.
* Those who like playing two player are a "niche" group as well.
* Same with three or four or five.

"Niche" here is being used to minimize the impact of solo gaming. And while they didn't mean it as an insult exactly, from their perspective (as co-dependent "gaming is made to be social" players), solo gaming is a insignificant speck in the gaming community and of very limited value.

Of course this is completely wrong.

For companies, soloists are a perfect "niche" target market. Many times on the Secret Cabal, you'll hear one or more of the team state they would like to play a certain game, but would not buy it. This makes sense if someone in your group buys it, you get to try it and move on. If the average group size is three, a publisher could potentially sell to every third gamer. For soloists however, if you want to play it, then short of borrowing it from someone else, you have to have your own copy. Therefore, more gamers in the "niche" have to buy it.

Of course those who solo game are not exclusively solo either. Each gamer should make their own choices of how they play games. Solo. In groups. Some combination of the two. But solo gaming is no longer a negative identification at all. And it is growing as seen by the wisdom of many companies now to include solo variants, wonderful and intelligent AI and Automa, and of course cooperative games (not semi-coop or common goal games) which are always soloable.

As for some "niche" numbers, let's look at some data for a couple of podcast guilds here on BGG (as of this post).

The The Secret Cabal, created on September 23, 2011 has 4,674 members. Very nice.

The 1 Player guild, nearly seven months YOUNGER, created on April 12, 2012, has 9,724 or over twice as many members. And at last check it was the second largest guild in all of BGG, just falling short of the The Dice Tower which has 10,334 members (and of course has been around nearly five years longer!).

On the 1-Player Guild, there were 30 threads that were last active on August 15 or later. For the Secret Cabal, that number was FOUR (Dice Tower guild was eight by comparison).

Solo gaming is real. Solo gamers are active. And Soloists are definitely one of the more significant "niches" of the BGG and boardgaming communities.
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Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:47 pm
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