Kevin L. KitchensUnited States
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
I am almost exclusively a solo gamer and look at the gaming scene seen through those eyes. I also literally like alliteration. TWITTER: @onesuponagame
Archive for Game Customization
15 Jul 2019
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Several years ago I created tray dividers for Academy Games, Inc. Conflict of Heroes series. These were cut and fold paper dividers that kept the numbered counters neatly organized in sets of 5 so they were not only easier to find, but when some were removed for play, they kept the rest of the counters from falling over in the tray.
Original file: CoH Insert Dividers by Ones Upon a Game
Then the other day it occurred to me that these could actually be more sturdy if they were 3D printed, so remeasuring and using various tools, I created just such a model for both the small and the large "wells" in the Conflict of Heroes awesome game trays.
The base game of Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Operation Barbarossa 1941 (second edition) has 15 large wells and 6 small ones. The German and Russian units each take up 3 large slots each plus an additional one each for the Conflict of Heroes: Monster Tanks of the Eastern Front expansion. I'd tried to print three grey and three tan ones and the rest in white, but my tan looked too much like white when all was said and done, so the effect wasn't as cool as I'd hoped.
However, in all I'm happy with how they turned out and they work great as replacements for the cardstock ones. I look forward to adding them to all the other games in the series too.
Free STL files available on Thingiverse. You can also order them there printed as a set for a low price (no money to me at all!).
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13 May 2019
3D Pawns on Thingiverse
Three Piece Board
Brook City, the latest release from Blacklist Games and designers Adam Sadler and Brady Sadler, is another great game using their "Modular Deck System". Combining decks for the various parts of the game, in this "case" the cops, the criminals, and the current case (four short of the "7 C's of History"), produces a host of combinations and increases replayability. It's a fun, unique system (bearing only the most superficial similarity to Sentinels of the Multiverse, to which it's erroneously compared).
However, unlike their previous Street Masters (a nostalgic martial arts romp using the same MDS), Brook City is just a tad bit overproduced. The Kickstarter promised and delivered minis galore! Minis for the cops. Minis for each car and vehicle. Minis for each crime boss and his/her henchfolk. Lots and lots and lots of plastic in the game. There is also a large roughly 3x2' board to sit on the table, Card areas for each cop, a card row to be maintained for each criminal, as well as one for the case. A lot of space, especially for the solo player.
In addition, the minis in question violate my two rules for effective use of miniatures. First that they be a 1:1 ratio (not scale) so that one miniature is one entity in the game. A character, a vehicle, etc. Here the game commits a minor infraction as for the most part the minis do represent a single character, except for the criminal's goons where they abstractly represent where a crime is taking place that the cops have to deal with through interaction.
The second rule of minis is scale. All miniatures in a game should be of the same scale to each other. Here the characters are not to scale to the map and certainly not to scale of the vehicles. While some may still find the eye candy appealing, it truly kills any immersion factor.
So far all the minis included (which drove up the price of the game), they are essentially just pawns and could even effectively be cubes. The miniatures for any given criminal and thugs are interchangeable with the others. They are simply placeholders (and a waste of materials really). Each cop can only use a single vehicle at a time, so while it's cute to have the various cars and motorbikes represented, it adds nothing to the actual gameplay.
Halfway through my first game, as this stark truth set in, I decided to fix it and make the game take up less space than it needed. Nothing to affect the actual game play (which is still excellent), but make the game easier to manage and keep 100% of the fun.
First off the board. Since a high resolution image of the board was not available, I resorted to photography and photoshop. I took photos of the board in six segments and then stitched them together with the help of Photoshop's align function. The photos didn't do the text of the locations justice, so I re-added that text so it would scale correctly and took the liberty of making the "street" and "river" areas a little more clear with some overlaid lines in black and blue. That done, I adjusted for skew and endup with a roughly 18x12 board which I printed out and resumed my game in progress with colored cubes for the minis and dice for the vehicles. The transition was seamless.
After finishing that game -- VICTORY! -- I knew I needed to make some tweaks to the prototype. I planned to make the board in two pieces and then connect them for folding into the main box. This would result in a resize to about 11.5" tall. I then realized that I could fit the entire game now into the smaller stretch goals box, so I made the board into three sections which would total about 10.67x16.5" when put together. I printed each section on legal sized cardstock, rough cut and glued to mat board from Hobby Lobby and then gave each piece a finish cut to size.
Additionally I knew that I could do a little better than cubes and dice, so I set to work in 3D printing land, putting my new Ender 3 Pro to the task.
I love the cones in Lord of the Rings and used that as my starting point for custom pawns. For the cops, I added a shield to the top. For the crime boss, I went with an inverted cone on top to create sort of an hourglass figure. The goons were hexes set atop the cone (to be the nuts and bolts of the operation). For the vehicles, I created my own "car" through the carving of abstract shapes.
Not all the items on the board are miniatures in the full-size game, some are tokens that go in board spaces. Since my spaces were now reduced to about 1/2" I would need replacements. For the "asset" tokens I used the briefcase idea on the tokens and created a simple representation for that. The current lead token, I used one of the goon pawns in a different color. Finally for the "clues" that appear in the game I created two options. For when the clue is on the board in a location, I split the cone down the middle to hold the clue marker on the board. However that still might get in the way, so the pawns themselves can simply serve are the marker and the token state be maintained off board. In at least one case, the clue moves around on the board with a vehicle. So matching cars in the same color would serve for that.
I painted all the new pawns to coordinate with their respective purposes. Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue for the cops with a gold metallic shield. Each also has a car in the same color. Green pawns with Silver briefcases for the Assets. The boss was black with a red "Sauron-esque" band around the center and the henchfolk were likewise black as was the vehicle they might be using. The lead pawn was painted a light brown to match it's cork-board token, and the clues and their cars were painted to match their token color as well.
All the now extraneous components can store in the main game box and the real meat of the game can be kept in the smaller box and less shelf space.
I'm sure I missed some opportunities and needs as I've not played every case yet. For example, I suppose a few small boats would be better than the car "vehicle" pawn riding the waves... but that's a minor issue in the grand scheme. Don't have the Velocity expansion where wrecks can dot the board either. I can always create new playing pieces if it really seems to be warranted (or use substitutes), but for now being able to set the game up in a smaller footprint, more manageable for a solo gamer is a oversized win in my book.
And that's "Just the facts, ma'am."
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So Brook City from Blacklist Games arrived last week and after doing a requisite unboxing for the YouTube Channel, I of course had to start organizing the contents. Using the same universal box design I created for Street Masters (Taking it to the Street (Masters)), I cut and prepared 14 new boxes to hold the counters, vehicles, and miniatures for the game and get everything to fit in a single box. While I only have the Brook City: Keys to the Kingdom Expansion and Brook City: The Sixth Cycle expansions at present, there should still be plenty for room for Brook City: Delta Keys and Brook City: Velocity Expansion when and if I manage to get those.
The boxes are all 100x75mm in length and width and vary in depth. For the four boxes for counters, I used the 24mm variety with divider to separate groups of counters. For the miniatures boxes, the 35mm height was necessary. The lids are all the same however and I prepared 2x4" Avery Labels for each. I tried (and failed) to get a good full bleed on those, but they still did the job.
Now with everything in a single box, I'm on to my first play. Though a foam core insert may be in the future to hold the cards and boxes in order...
Pattern files are available on here: Etsy Link
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19 Apr 2019
Recently I received my Kickstarter fulfillment copy of the collector's edition of Mountaineers by Massif Games, LLC. After first doing the requisite unboxing, I set it up to play. But unfortunately there were/are some issues with the 3D mountain and the turntable. A great idea for a game, but just a little awkward.
Fantasy Flight Games like the dials in Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game or the threat tracker in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Whereas those items are designed to stay together once assembled, the turntable and board will not fold back up with the pin in place, necessitating removal (so don't press it too hard when putting it together!). Also each half of the connector is small, so it's hard to get it in place and then remove your hand before it drops through. Doable, but difficult.
The board really only needs a spindle, not a full connector. The turntable is not picked up during the game. So taking a clue from some others, I designed and 3D printed a new spindle that is about one inch tall and just sits easily under the main board. The post comes up through the board and then you can place the turntable over it. The weight of the turntable and normal (no table flipping!) gameplay easily keeps it on the post.
Not necessary, but I opted to add a large washer (this was actually from some light fixture and the piece was stashed in our tool box) between the board and turntable to give a little easier turning.
The spindle is available for free on Thingiverse and you can print yourself or order one printed.
Another problem though is the moutainside pieces. The tabs that go into the notches on the board are just a bit too shallow. They have to be because the turntable "rides" along the main board itself. So unfortunately as your placing pitons and moving climbers, you run the very real and very often risk of upsetting the board itself.
I had seen another user make a large triangle device to go over the mountain (for 1-4 players) and lock them in, but for me this didn't solve the issue of the board flexing inward during play. I had originally envisioned a complex replacement turntable with a spindle and arms and .... scrap that. This fellow's solution was a good first step, so I moved in that direction.
My solution simply involves cutting some pieces of craft of fun foam. I had a piece of black 5mm foam (found at Hobby Lobby or other craft stores) laying around and cut 1/4" strips from that. These I cut into 3" "cleats" and glued them to the turntable with the mountain assembled and in place. I used purple glue stick (which dries clear) and you have to be more patient as the foam takes a little longer to let the adhesive work. Once the outer perimeter was glued into place, I removed one panel and put cleats inside flush against the other two sides and then swapped out the third panel to get complete the inside bracing.
I turned the whole turntable over and put weight on it to make sure the glue cured and adhered well.
Now the panels are braced from any wiggly movement popping them out of the slots during rotation or gameplay. I had planned to go ahead and do the square 5-6 player mountain slots as well, but I had issues just getting that to even assemble normally. Since I would rarely play non-solo or above four players, I just left it for now and will explore that later.
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Delaying the inevitable, I created custom storage for Fields of Fire by GMT Games
Full details: http://onesuponagame.com/2019/01/14/organization-procrastina...
Now there is nothing standing in my way from learning the rules. Right?
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08 Oct 2018
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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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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