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
 Thumb up

I Scream! You Scream! We All Scream for Silent Death!

Kevin L. Kitchens
United States
flag msg tools
Snowflakes Melt
Snowflakes Melt
FILE LINK TO COUNTERS: Silent Death Ship, Missile, and Torpedo Counters by Ones Upon a Game

A few months ago, I'd never heard of the game Silent Death: The Next Millennium Deluxe Edition. I saw it pop up in an auction, did some quick research, and jumped at the chance to own and play this classic from 1995. Space combat, spaceship miniatures, solid reputation. This was going to be fun. I loved playing Deep Space Navigator back in high school and this seemed like a natural progression from that, with a little bit of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game for fun.

The game arrived and like most, went directly to the "to be played" (aka "Shelf of Shame") pile where First-In-Last-Out is typically the motto. Until last week. Then I got it out and started examining the contents. The bad news was that some of the ships did not survive their 22 year old journey to my door. Tips of stands were broken, some ships were super glued in place. One of the more fragile designs was in two pieces ("Monster Wrecks In Spaaaaaace!").

But the good news was that there were actually nearly TWO sets of ships (normally there are four each of twelve designs) in the box. So separating the wheat from the chaff, there was still an almost complete set of intact ships as well as more than enough stands and even sprues of unpunched missiles and torpedoes.

However, as I set up the map to play the first tutorial scenario, I realized what a table hog this would be. Well, perhaps not a "hog" but a very large pig. The paper maps were 2x3' each and could be setup in 4x3' or 6x2' depending on the scenario. Twelve square feet no matter what. The ships and stands were also a little fragile, which gave me pause. I thought of running on a single map, but quickly realized the movement range of the ships would be nothing on a single 2x3' area and I'd quickly run off the edge. I would also need a means of marking ship "A" from ship "B" (similar to the numbered tokens in X-Wing).

So to that end, I decided I'd "upgrade" the game and make counters to use instead of the miniatures and create my own smaller map.

The Map

The map was easiest. In Photoshop I made a a hex grid of 1" tall hexes (vs. the 1.5" ones on the included maps). I made sure I had the same number of hexes in the playfield as the original (24x18). Not wanting a simple black background, I snagged a couple of NASA nebula images and a starfield pattern and layered those behind the grid (so that each fell within it's own "1/2" map) since the two halves can be joined on long or short edges.

The two map sections.

The Counters

Over the past year or two, I've become pretty adept at using Photoshop and data to generate cards, counters, etc. Once you get the hang of it it's pretty simply really. And saves a ton of time!

Having just used this technique to create the cards for my Bible Books: Match project it was the obvious solution to make the counters.

Fortunately, since they are replacing miniatures and each ship can have different values based on pilot skills, the counters did not need much information, so I designed them minimalistic with only a ship name, ship image, and squadron identifier (A-D in two sets, white and gold). I made these 3/4" in size (to fit the hex map).

For the missiles and torpedoes, I did the same technique but went with a 5/8" slightly smaller size and added the optional speed rule value to each level of torpedo.

An Excel spreadsheet cannot create graphics, so I had to create the ship images myself using a mixture of photography and digital painting in Photoshop (more on that process: Digitally Painting Miniatures).

The 12 Ship Designs

In Printing, Everyone Can Hear You Scream!

Printing the map though turned out to be a much larger (pun!) problem than I imagined. I have a large format printer that will do up to 13x19 A3+ prints. My plan was to print each 24x15.5" map in two 12x15.5" sections and then piece them together. Simple right?

Nope... I turned on the printer to be informed that I needed to replace three of the ink tanks. No biggie, I'd preordered some extra ink and loaded them up. But then the printer insisted the "Grey" tank was not inserted in the right slot. So I double and triple and quadruple checked (OCD is YAY!) and sure enough it WAS correctly inserted. But the third party ink tank did not have the correct chip programmed so the printer would not proceed with anything!


Then I remembered by regular Canon 5400 printer can print up to legal sized paper, so after some digital slicing of each map image into four 7.75x15" pieces and physical slicing of my 13x19" paper into 8.5x13" pieces (legal is 8.5x14") I was able to get the map sections to print.


Point, Counterpoint. Counterpoint. Counterpoint.

First up, I wanted these to have a very nice finish to them, so I assumed (wrongly I now know) that photo paper would be the best to print them. But photo paper is meant to show photos well, not the fine detail of lettering. The highest quality setting actually produces the worst results for fine details of such small images. But I finally got something to look somewhat decent and simply dismissed my printer as unable to produce 3/4" counters with any level of sharpness.

I'd once seen a video on using peel and stick floor tile to create single-sided counters for games. Normally I make double sided ones, but this would be the perfect application of this method. Or so I thought.

I got a nice thickness tile from Home Depot and while the counter sheet stuck cleanly as expected... cutting the counters out proved to be quite the chore. I think this method works better with thinner vinyl tiles not the thicker, more sturdy ones. To cut them out, I had to score the lines twice using a metal ruler, then "snap" them backwards, then slice again to separate the strip from the sheet. This snapping did not always produce the cleanest of edges and I was not happy with how they turned out.

Using peel and stick tile for backing. Note the cork removed from the back of my metal ruler (that's sticky!)

So with bad printing and bad counters I was resolved to just be content with using them myself and never sharing with anyone. (and as wordy as this post is, I'm sure some of you wish I'd stuck to that!).

But the next morning I was determined to try again.

And I did. This time I would forgo the option in my printer to print as a photo and just print as a document on photo paper. Perhaps the printer is doing something different in photo mode. Nope. Turns out the photo paper is the issue for not holding the fine detail.

So next I tried the document setting on cardstock. YES! Much finer detail (I should have known this, but I wanted that sheen of the photo paper!). So while it was sharp and reasonably bright, the colors on the ships just didn't "pop" as I wanted them to. Drat, drat, double drat. But I'd make do and add some clear coat finish to them and maybe brighten them up.

I decoupaged them to a sheet of thick chipboard and then to add a layer of protection and the aforementioned brightness, I covered them with another coat of gloss Mod Podge. Not too bright. Inkjet ink is water based. Mod Podge is water based. Smear central.


Tough. I'm using them anyway.


Couldn't let that stand. I finally remembered I had some "brochure paper" I'd picked up many years ago at an estate sale. When I say "some" I mean one sheet. Printed the counters again on this and NICE! Crisp edges, bright colors. This was the solution. Third time's the charm.

Not wanting to get smeared again in my media, this time I planned ahead and sprayed them with a coat of Krylon acrylic. Unfortunately it was a Satin finish and that killed all the brightness, but fortunately not the color.

So finally after all this comedy of errors, I have a set of 96 nicely mounted ship counters to play Silent Death with. The missile/torpedo counters are still from the smeared cardstock batch, but so be it (I'm sure I'll fix it all later). And after two basic missions, I have to say this game is a gem. There is a lot to love in it. A lot seemed to be adopted for X-Wing as well, including the pilots firing in skill order, etc.

The cool thing is that you don't need to find and buy the boxed edition and pay an arm and a leg for it. You can buy the $9.00 rulebook PDF currently at DriveThruRPG (, add your own miniatures (or counters), and hex map and some dice and you're good to go.

I'll get these countersheets and maps made available soon and add the links.

FILE LINK TO COUNTERS: Silent Death Ship, Missile, and Torpedo Counters by Ones Upon a Game

As always, thanks for reading this far! Hope you learned something (as I did).
Twitter Facebook
Subscribe sub options Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:03 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}