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

Archive for Kevin L. Kitchens

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Combat Commander: Europe FOR THE WIN!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Anyone who's read this blog knows that I'm a big fan of the excellent Combat Commander: Europe from Chad Jensen and published by GMT Games. Sadly though, my ownership predated this blog and YouTube channel. However, as the new fourth printing of the game was recently released, I decided it would be a great time to do an unboxing as well as give one YouTube subscriber a free copy and introduce them to the best tactical WW2 wargame there is. Some come close, sure... but this one is the gold standard.

Details are in the unboxing video below. Entries must be on the actual YouTube site, not here on BGG, to be valid.

Thanks for your support!

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Thu May 23, 2019 9:01 pm
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Crime Reduced in Brook City. Department Upgrades through Downsizing

Kevin L. Kitchens
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FILES
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.


Switching to prototype mid-game


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.


Creating the new (and improved) smaller board


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.


Printing the new pawns on the Ender 3 Pro


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.



Cops, criminals, clues and assets.


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.


The new pawns in use on the smaller board.


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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Mon May 13, 2019 4:58 pm
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Brook 'em Dano! Organizing Crime (and Punishment)

Kevin L. Kitchens
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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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Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:29 pm
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A Stand Up Fight or a Bug Hunt? Space Infantry Resurges!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Space Infantry: Resurgence the updated and revised version of the classic Space Infantry is now live on Kickstarter. At a base price of $75 ($15 off the MSRP), the game is slated for October 2019 fulfillment.

I spoke with David Heath from Lock 'n Load Publishing, LLC. well over a year ago and he was very excited about the improvements coming to this very solo and now coop tactical wargame.

There is all new art and components, and it includes every scenario and campaign previously released for the first edition, along with new game modes and an enhanced manual all in one package. The game also features two brand new story-driven campaigns where you, the commander, make all of the strategic mission decisions. Patrol the depths of an enemy stronghold in randomly generated Hive Missions, featuring a modular environment that evolves as you explore it. Pit yourself against your friends in head-to-head mode as they control the sinister alien intelligence and fight your squad through a persistent campaign, or work together in our new cooperative mode. Space Infantry Resurgence brings you two new variants to play through in either co-op or solitaire mode; The Last Outpost and The Horde.

Back the KICKSTARTER here.

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Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:14 pm
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Friends! Romans! Mountain Climbers! Lend me your -eers!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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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.

First off is the turntable itself. It's designed to be held in place to the main board via one of those two part grommet/connector devices that work great in many of 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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Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:20 pm
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3D or Not 3D! That is the question (Spoiler: The Answer is YES)

Kevin L. Kitchens
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About two and a half years ago I got the 3D printing bug, especially as it related to creative application to boardgaming. My review then of the Micro 3D by M3D (Boardgaming, 3D Printing, and the Micro 3D - a Ones Upon a Game Review) only whet (not 'wet') my appetite in this field of crafting. But the limitations and frustrations of 3D printing back then had me move onto other things, hoping to return when the technology was a little more matured.

That time is now.


Ender 3 Pro - all set up and ready to go!


Inspired by this thread (Adventures in 3D printing) I was drawn back into the filament's web and acquired an Ender 3 Pro machine during a recent sale. After assembly of the machine (not very hard at all) and some requisite software upgrades -- for safety and features -- I am now back in the 3D printing game for game related 3D printing.

Sure the technology still has its limitations and frustrations. But less so than before. And with the Ender 3 online community, help is not very far away. Be sure to check out the thread above for some cool gaming ideas and subscribe here too and see what might extrude from this blog.


First requisite test print -- little dog file included with Ender 3



Lithophane Print of the "World's Greatest Boardgame" cover.
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Tue Apr 9, 2019 7:29 pm
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Traveller CCG Solo: Part III - The Conclusion

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:01 pm
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What If We Give It Away?

Kevin L. Kitchens
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The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund (JVMF) Auction is well underway and well on its way to another great year.

So far, it's up to $22,860 raised in bids, but is open for items and bidding through April 6, 2019.

You don't need to be a publisher or designer either to help with this project (read more here: Jack Vasel Memorial Fund Auction 2019 (CLOSED)). Anyone can offer games, accessories or pretty much whatever (within reason!) for bids. You ship the item to the winner and the winner pays the JVMF. A feel good win for everyone.

See the items and bid here: The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund Auction (March 18 - April 6). Likewise you can visit the ITEM GUIDE to view all the items, current bids, and items with no bids.

Direct Donations via PayPal are also accepted.

I have a few items in the mix again this year up for bid as follows:

Full Dice Box Set for Too Many Bones 1/3
Full Dice Box Set for Too Many Bones 2/3
Full Dice Box Set for Too Many Bones 3/3
11x14 print of "Everdell Road" -- see photo
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 - Collector's Edition (Steam Key)

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

Also in the monthly "Games For Geekgold" contest, I'm offering up my M3D Micro 3d Printer (as reviewed here: Boardgaming, 3D Printing, and the Micro 3D - a Ones Upon a Game Review). As little as 1GG gets you an entry to win with of course more GG = more entries. As of right now, three winners will be chosen. One for the printer and two more will receive all their bid GG back + 750GG bonus. So if you're interested in starting on the 3D printing journey, then swing on over and take a chance.

M3D G4GG Giveaway
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:57 pm
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Traveller CCG Solo: Part II

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Turns 2-4 of the first solo scenario.
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Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:57 pm
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Traveller CCG Solo: Alone in the Black

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Starting a new video playthrough series with the Traveller Customizable Card Game: Two Player Starter Set and its first solo scenario: Alone in the Black.



Be sure to subscribe on YouTube to be updated as new videos are released.
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Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:53 pm
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