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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"Everdell Road"

Kevin L. Kitchens
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A tribute to a famous album cover by another group of little critters...

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Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:32 pm
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(woo hoo, woo hoo) a Black Rat and a 2D Tree

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Those of you playing the wonderful Everdell solo, may find this file useful. It's the solo steps for running Rugwort (the rattie baddie) through an entire game. Nothing fancy, but easier than flipping through the book and missing a step.

FILE: Everdell Solo Reference by ones upon a game


2D or not 2D, That is the Question

Now I love the 3D tree that comes in both the standard and collector's edition of Everdell. Since I love paper crafting, I find the design and function of the tree to be excellent. The draw deck is held tucked in the trunk, the special event cards are in the lower bough, and your seasonal worker increases rest in the upper bough until it's their time to shine.

However, as I mentioned before I added a protective varnish on the tree to keep it safe during the setup and takedown. But as I disassembled the tree to put it away after my last session, I thought how much time this takes and how, playing solo, I've already been impressed by it. I don't need to see it on the board every game. Others have also noted that with repeated use, the tree will wear out.



So off to Photoshop I went. Being careful this time not to use ANY of Starling Games (II) artwork (the photo background is even mine), I created this side board for Everdell, that will fit at the top of the board and provides space for the special events and waiting workers. Printed mine on white 110# cardstock and then spray glued to a piece of artwork mounting board. I rough cut initially and cut the mounting board a little larger. Then when the glue was set, trimmed down to the final size. A few coats of varnish to protect and voila! An alternative board for quick setup and take down.

I'll still use the 3D tree if I ever introduce the game to other players. The wow factor will draw them in. But here's a functional little board that will suffice for my solo sessions in the future. You may need to shift the basic events around a little, or move this board off the main board.



As for the cards, I will just use one of my cut and fold card shoes to keep the deck in line.

FILE: Tree Side Board by ones upon a game
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Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:42 am
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I am a Trademark Infringer!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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As a software developer, I am very conscious of piracy laws for software, music, movies, etc... When I made for add-on storage crates to be used for Everdell by Starling Games (II), it truly never occurred to me that adding the tiny logo for "flavor" was a violation, but I guess I should have. Fortunately, Starling politely notified me of my villainous oversight and requested as trademark holder that I remove their logo from the pattern.

I guess it's easy to get so caught up in the community spirit of boardgaming that one can misstep without realizing it. The issue was probably more that I was charging a nominal fee for the pattern and that's certainly fair.

So to that end, I have updated the template pattern to a generic "FRAGILE" cargo script on the lid and as a bonus included a larger version of the crate as well.

Coincidentally just yesterday someone had requested a more generic pattern to use with other games, so this worked out well overall.

You can find the pattern here if you're interested.
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Wed Aug 8, 2018 2:47 pm
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Everdell: Resource Storage Crates and Tree Surgery

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Gainesville
Georgia
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UPDATE: Starling Games contacted me and didn't like my use of the name and logo on the crates themselves, so I have re-editto remoe the logo. Fortunately someone else was interested in them without branding already so it might work out for the best all the same.

First off, have to say, Everdell is an absolute gem (or resin?) of a game. Designed by James A. Wilson, published by Starling Games (II) and beautifully illustrated by Andrew Bosley, Everdell is a breath of fresh air. Quick to play, easy rules, but medium complexity, the game will thrill soloists, groups, and families alike.

Resource Storage Crates

One thing I noticed during my playing the game though was the piles of resources (twigs, resin, pebbles, and berries) that sit in designated spots on the board tend to roll and shift around as fat fingers try to pick one up. I wanted a solution to this problem that would be thematic as well as provide storage for the resources in the game box.



You've probably noticed by now that I like to design custom boxes for various games (like for Too Many Bones and others)... but I've never delved into designing a box with full graphics. Thinking on the theme, I decided on a shipping crate motif that would look good on the board, keeping the resources in place as well as have a lid so they could go right into the game box.




This pattern is available now on Etsy for $2.49. You get two full crates from a single sheet of 65# or 110# cardstock, so you only need to print two copies. Full instructions with photos included.


Tree Surgery

Surgery of more the cosmetic variety. The Evertree included with the game is quite lovely. Made of five pieces of coated chipboard, it adds a wonderful 3D element to the game and thematically your little critters are waiting in the tree to help in later seasons (a turtle up the tree???).

However, being chipboard, I was worried the assembly/disassembly would eventually create too much wear and softness on the pieces. Also, being chipboard, it has the ugly raw edges for such a beautiful component.

First thing, I used dry erase markers (with a bit of help from Mr. Sharpie and yellow highlighter) to color the edges of the boards. For the tree I simply used black as that blends well with the brown and looks like shadows of bark lines. For the spring/summer areas of the tree, green was used and yellow highlighter on the autumn area. As groovy as the tree is shaped, it was a little challenging to get into some of the nooks, but patience and a little "bending" remedied that.



Next for protection, I wanted to seal the edges to prevent them from fraying, but also give a protective coat for the faces of the pieces. For this I turned to a wonderful product called "Right Step" (https://jwetc.com/products) which is a clear varnish. It's "self levelling" so you put it on thin and brush strokes should disappear. I used a Satin finish (between matte and gloss) and turned out great. Downside I didn't plan for was the varnish dripped over the edge and puddled on the reverse side, creating some interesting textures on that side, but nothing too bad. Looking back, I'd rest them on dice or something to keep them lifted off the wax paper when drying.




In the end though, the effect worked perfectly. The edges are mostly colored and the tree components have a nice sheen to them and fit together smoothly.

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Mon Aug 6, 2018 4:59 pm
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Cleaning Tools for Math Trade Moderators

Kevin L. Kitchens
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(most of you will find this boring I understand. But if you ever run a math trade, you might find it useful. )

Cleaning Tools for Math Trade Moderators

I created a couple of tools that I use for running OLWLG math trades and moved them to a website so that other mods could use them if they so choose.

The site is here: http://mathtrade.onesuponagame.com/

and the tools are discussed in detail in these two threads.

First is a simple tool for reducing the list of trades down to a list of unique traders. This is normally done for trial runs during the wants period. [Math Trade Moderators] Math Trade Preliminary Results Cleaner

Second is a cleaner of the wants file so that it will blanklist any items you identify as problems. It also does arbitrage checking BEFORE the trade is run. [Math Trade Moderators] Math Trade Wants Cleaner Introduction

Hope you find them useful!
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Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:08 am
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Profanity in Boardgames: Even Sarge and Beetle Bailey Would be Shocked!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Recently became aware of Ignacy Trzewiczek's new game Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game and it seemed pretty darn interesting. Except for the app requirement, those things always stink. Not the apps themselves, but the requirement. Anyway, someone recently asked about the graphic content in the game and in reply, someone hinted that there was some profanity. I did a quick followup, because this looks pretty interesting and sure enough, it was confirmed that some of the characters use off color language.

Disappointing.

I work in the IT industry. I hear swearing all the time. Unfortunately. One guy thinks "F" is a verb, noun, adjective and adverb and daily uses it every other word in a sentence almost. Thank goodness for headphones.

So yeah, profanity is used in the world and yeah it's realistic.

Yada, yada, yada. Blah blah blah.

It's used routinely in books, movies, television... and now it's creeping into boardgames. But just because something is "realistic" doesn't make it right. There are all sorts of realistic content and themes in the world that writers, directors, producers and board game designers filter from their creations all the time. Why is the bar set so low for civilized writing and dialogue? So many good looking shows on Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu and oops, nope. TV-MA.

MA is supposed to stand for "mature audiences", but that's clearly tongue in cheek. "Mature" has nothing to do with profanity. In fact, getting your point across without gutter talk is more an indication of a mature person than otherwise. MA makes it sound like as you get older you're supposed to be able to responsibly "handle" foul language like you can driving a car. But the opposite of course is true. Now there is incessant potty mouth in the normal day to day events. I've been to ballgames where I've had to hush college kids who seem they cannot speak beyond grunting if they don't swear. I've sadly even seen many bloggers right here on BGG who use words formerly attributed to sailors in not only their content, but their titles. So right there on BGGs front page visitors are greeted to the worst we have to offer before the best.

People slip all the time of course, especially when stressed and in America it's pretty common. Doesn't make it right of course. I used to when I was a teen and twenty, but outgrew it. Still, I do, albeit rarely, slip up too However content producers made a deliberate choice to add it to their work. Yes, it makes it "realistic", but it's never "necessary". That movie, song, book, um game, whatever would be 100% as good (in my mind better) without it.

No one watches a Hitchcock thriller and decries the lack of swearing (or nudity for that matter). They just watch and see an excellent, well told story. No comedian is funny because of his (or her!) profanity. Until now, no one thought "man... Catan's great, but a little bit of cursing would make it so much better."



Back to games, the designers have choices. High road or low road. When the Kickstarter for This War of Mine: The Board Game was happening, I was worried the game's text would also include profanity. After all, on the very first screen of the video game version, there it was. I asked them specifically about this and fortunately (and wisely), the designers and publishers decided not to include that completely unnecessary angle to the game text. I've not heard a single person complain about it missing (and a quick search of the game's forum shows this as well: Look Ma! No 'Profanity'!).

Soon we'll need content stickers or warnings on games just to allow gamers to make informed choices. And the age rating along doesn't cover it. That could mean anything and just because someone is 14+, 17+ or whatever doesn't give the publisher the right to decide what content is acceptable or appreciated. So like movies began doing 15 or so years ago, content warnings will become necessary to warn of content that is unnecessary.

And while I don't care for apps required with games, at least in this case Portal Games had the option to include a filter (as video games did originally when this nonsense started creeping into that realm) so that you could turn on or off the misnamed "adult" content. Somehow that extra effort of being polite and civil faded away in video games and now you just get it shoved at you because, well, it's "realistic". Portal, apparently, did not choose to implement such an noble feature either.

Disappointing.

I blame Canada.

Yes, I know I'm old fashioned. Yes, I know 99.999999% will be cursing at this post as you read it. And that's fine. But if no one says anything, then nothing gets said.

And sometimes, like now. It needs to be.

And all without a single curse word.

Thanks for reading.
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Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:09 pm
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Azul Wins the 2018 Spiel de Jahres -- and plays solo too!

Kevin L. Kitchens
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First off, big congratulations to designer Michael Kiesling and his team for winning the 2018 Spiel de Jahres! Coincidentally, I just played my first two games of this with my wife yesterday and while we both had some ??? in our thought bubbles during the rule-reading, once we played it all clicked and we had a great time with it.

I'd originally considered this soley for solo play using the SoloPlay variant (link) designed by solo play maestro GameRulesForOne, but kept putting it off. Then my wife saw it mentioned in a non-gaming blog and showed it to me and I thought "oh yeah" and now we can play it together too .

Very fun game. Beautifully produced and definitely with this honor, going to be an evergreen must-have game for all. And the solo rules (which I've not yet tried, but now intend to) open the game to an even wider audience.

Once again, congratulations!
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Mon Jul 23, 2018 4:54 pm
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I'm Headed for the Salt Lands, Won't You Please Direct My Way

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Setting up to learn and play Saltlands and of course wanted to find a solution to the bits without resorting to sorting in baggies.



Four of my 4x3" boxes (1x35mm, 2x24mm, 1x16mm), lids, and a few dividers took care of the tiles, standees (more games should have these in lieu -- or at least in addition -- to miniatures!), and um, oops... the miniatures. A trio of deck boxes for the cards and some labels and it was good to go. Not happy with the deck boxes though as I used a tan color for the theme, but it was thinner cardstock than normal. Since I don't have those cards sleeved they are also a little large, the cards move around more and it's gonna spell disaster I think. So plan to just replace the card boxes with those cool magic bands that don't damage the cards.



These are the same storage boxes I showed for Street Masters a few weeks ago (Taking it to the Street (Masters)) and the plans for them are on BGG now as well. Boxes are same dimensions length and width and different heights for different needs. So box lids are universal.

CARD BOXES: https://www.etsy.com/listing/674877597/sleeved-card-tuckboxe...
STORAGE BOXES: https://www.etsy.com/listing/674875029/game-component-storag...
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Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:36 pm
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Heroes of Normandy Now Locked and Loaded

Kevin L. Kitchens
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One of the biggest issues with the previous edition of Lock 'n Load Tactical: Heroes of Normandy by Lock 'n Load Publishing, LLC. was that the box was too shallow to hold the GMT trays required to organize the counters properly.


Stack overflow error!
Fortunately, the rerelease came with a nicer 3" deep box (Unboxing (second edition)), ready to handle counter trays! Sorted and organized with dividers, the counters would need about 64-66 GMT tray sections to hold them. At 20 per tray, this equates to THREE full GMT trays and a good bit of a fourth! Even the new box couldn't handle FOUR of those trays! Not mention the need to pull them all out to find the right counters each game.

Fortunatelier, between the first and second release I'd designed the modular GMT tray replacements (which of course you've seen here many times, but the applications are plentiful!). So I adapted them to HoN just as I've done with Combat Commander: Europe (link), Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles (link), Great War Commander (link), and even Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats (link) and Renegade (link).

Normandy uses every single variant of the boxes that I have. A 4-module tray for the Americans, a 3-module tray for the German Wehrmacht, 2-module versions for the British and in-game counters, a single module for the German Fallschirmjäger, and even the 2x3 special for the SS Troops (they of course were always a bit odd).




Wanting to try something a little different for labeling the boxes, I used the "Print and Cut" feature of my Zing Orbit (https://knkusa.com/product/zing-orbit-15in/) to "print" the lid patterns to a PDF. Then using Photoshop, I imported the image and then laid out the box artwork to fit the space that would become the box lid. I'd hoped to print on the sides as well, but the folding method I use made the edges white. I could have printed on the back first, but that was getting a little ridiculous. When I was done, I printed the box art onto the cardstock along with the print and cut registration marks. Then ran it through the cutter and when all was said and done, the lid was cut and the artwork was where I wanted it to be. It's a lot of work and I'll probably stick to labels in general, but it's good to know the process is there if I want to use it.

So in the end, while I made six different trays, they still take up less space in the box than four GMT trays. And when I play (after I manage to get a copy of the 5.0 rule book!), I only need to get out the trays for the forces being used and the counters are neatly organized.




Modular templates: https://www.etsy.com/listing/674867207/modular-game-storage-...
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Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:42 pm
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Coming Soon(?) - Core Worlds: Empires

Kevin L. Kitchens
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So on twitter, I shared my tuckbox solution (Stacking the Decks and Tucking them In) as implemented for Core Worlds by Andrew Parks. Stronghold Games saw it and was kind enough to not only retweet it... but drop this little nugget of information:



That's right... a boardgame adaptation of Core Worlds is in the works and while not "officially" announced (I'm thinking GenCon?) it has now been unofficially announced on the chirping bird and now this blog.

EDIT: It seems like a lot of readers of this would love if a solo AI were added... perhaps even by Morten Monrad Pedersenwhistle
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Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:14 pm
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