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Thunderbolt Apache Leader» Forums » General

Subject: Any Tips and Tricks to make setup easier? rss

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SLThomas
United Kingdom
London
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Background
So I got TAL recently and am fully satisfied with the purchase. A great game, with an excellent strategic element etc as you all know.

I've now run probably close to a dozen missions but usually only have a chance to run one mission at once, after which I have to pack up the game and setup again the next night due to relatively cramped living arrangements (thanks Central London).

My question is:
- What tips and tricks do you have to make setup easier?

Rant
I find that it is a major hassle setting everything up. In particular finding, sorting and re-placing all the individual battalion counters in the right range bands as well as finding all the unit counters (10 tanks in one battalion I mean c'mon!!) and then having to roll to place each one on the board. I enjoy to some extent arming the aircraft but really again sorting through the chits to find the right weapon is frustrating (particularly that they are double-sided and the two different LAUs for one are on different chits!)... and given my situation where I have to setup before and pack away after every mission I'd really love a better way to do this!

My Tips
I've found a few tips but in need of more:
- Once you are done for the night take a photo on your phone of your batallion range area for easy setup next time
- Make a damage chit draw box which can double as storage. Here (see pic) I've used a sturdy cologne box and covered in A-10 cutouts from Airforces Monthly
- Make the tuck boxes for the Batallion and Events & Special Condition Cards here. (see pic below). I printed onto plain A4 white paper which I then glued onto a piece of card (folder divider) before cutting and gluing/taping to shape. They are perfectly sized and very handy!
- I use a Stanley toolbox divider to split up my chits. However this is not a fully ideal solution as I quickly realised with the chit sub-categories (weapons, units etc) there is really further sub-division required! See pic below or larger version here


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James Dalley
United States
Plano
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Okay, I've been playing Leader games for about five years now. So this is what works for me.

I normally leave my game set-up until I'm done with the campaign, but since that isn't an option for you. What I normally do if I do have to pack it up. I take a picture of the board so I know where the pieces go then I put them in a bag so I don't have to search for them next time. I also put the battalion cards I'm using in the campaign in a separate bag.

I use two counter trays, similar to the ones you can buy on the DVG website, to sort out all the pieces. I can't imagine having to dig through your staneley toolbox divider. There really isn't anyway around that unless you get counter trays. You should be able to get them from your FLGS too.



I bag my cards so each type of battalion has its own bag.

I use two small drawstring bags, that I actually got from a couple headphone purchases years ago, to hold the pop-up tokens and damage tokens so I don't have to put those in a cup or anything to draw from.

My final trick is that I keep all my pilots and aircraft in a 3 ring binder with standard 3x3 baseball card sheets. I've done that with every leader game and that really makes it easier for me to compare the pilots for set up. (I actually have half of a bookshelf taken up right now with my three ring binders for the Leader games and a few other solo games that I use the binders for too.)

EDIT: Added picture of trays.
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Mark Beazer
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Orem
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I'm in the same boat, in terms of limited play space. Plus my princess of a cat is likely to rearrange anything I leave out for very long. (If I pay attention to something, she relocates where I'm looking so that I can adjustment my priorities to what is most important ... paying attention to the princess)

Photos are very helpful.

I do a lot of play information in spreadsheets and text documents on my computer, which is near my play area. So, I frequently only setup the terrain hexes on my table, with the aircraft and pilot cards (and sometimes not those). I track the ordnance assigned/spent on my computer, this is less hassle than fiddling with the weapons counters. I recently made an inventory of the weapons chits in the game, so that I could create my loadouts on the computer without exceeding the number of chits available for each weapon type.

I track the battalion locations on computer. Those only matter at the beginning and end of the day, otherwise there are just something to get messed up when the cat runs through.

I grab the cards I will need for the campaign (battalions, pilots and aircraft and put them in a particular baggie. The rest of those cards can stay in the box out of my way.

The mission and day event cards also stay in the box. I get the deck out when I need it, draw at random, and the return the deck to its baggie in the box. I return the used cards to the baggie upside down, so next time I get that deck out I can tell which side of the deck is cards that have already been drawn. No need for all those cards out in the way all the time.

I have some color coded (red and green) cloth bags which I use for storing and drawing the hit counters and the popups. Very quick to setup and tear down. On a good mission I don't use many of those, so they can stay off to the side or in the box until needed.



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Tom Builder
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I also usually only play one mission per real life day. In my opinion, the way the game resets between missions is one of the absolute most genius elements of the design. It allows you to have all the epic feeling of a long game while allowing you to play in short bursts. What a great idea.

Having said that, there is some non-trivial setup and book-keeping as a result of this design.

My ideas.
1. use the weapon selection worksheet here.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/96564/tal-weapon-selec...
I printed it out and had it laminated. It saves so much time with armament selection.
2. For battalion locations I don't take a picture I just make a note on the back of the logsheet with each band and the battalions that are there, with a cross mark for half strength.
3. I Keep the campaign gear separate. This means pilot and battalion chits along with aircraft and pilot and battalion cards . So I don't have to fish around for them at the start of every mission.
4. Finally, a Plano box with more compartments helps. I have like 19 compartments and even that is not enough. But it helps. For example, I have the enemy units sorted alphabetically into shared bins. So I have all the tanks and trucks combined into one compartment.

I can usually play a mission in about 45 minutes including set-up and tear-down. That is not too bad I think. If I play a second mission while everything is out, that only adds about a half hour.

I know sometimes people complain about setup time of various games and this is of course a legitimate complaint. I think the problem is worse for multi-player boardgames since then everyone is sitting around while one persons scrambles to get everything ready for the fun part. But for solitaire I feel the setup time is part of the game. For me one of the things that sets boardgames apart from video games is the rules enforcement and setup. I remember reading someone who referred to this aspect as contributing a positive feeling of ritual, which I think captures the idea quite well. Having said all that, I am still all for doing whatever possible to streamline setup time.
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jeff
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This would be crazy and I guess only if you had a bunch of disposable income but...You could copy everything onto magnet sheets (chits, tiles, board etc...) and play on a magnetic board hung on the wall. That way all you have to clean-up is the cards and paperwork.
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michal
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carrion wrote:
I'm in the same boat, in terms of limited play space. Plus my princess of a cat is likely to rearrange anything I leave out for very long. (If I pay attention to something, she relocates where I'm looking so that I can adjustment my priorities to what is most important ... paying attention to the princess)


You should try Schrodinger trick.
Put the cat into the box
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Mark Beazer
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Actually, she put herself in it .
She has excellent taste in boxes.


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SLThomas
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Well chaps... on one of my regular shopping runs to the insane Oxford St/Regent St/Covent Garden area of London I picked up these gems... Absolutely perfect for TAL chits. Enough wriggle room to get chits in and out of their dividers and perfect non-contamination storage when packed away.



Here you can see them neatly tucked in the box... And also a couple of extra containers I got - one perfectly fits all sleeved pilot cards and the other I am just using for pop up counters for now.



Chit boxes £1.50 ea
http://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?Sec=18&Sub=74&PID=2310

Card and chit buckets £1.95 ea
http://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?Sec=18&Sub=77&PID=2336
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phil d
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My scheme:

Ingredients
One Plano 23700 box
One three-ring binder
About fifty or so pages of 9-slot card protector sheets
Many, many small plastic bags

Campaign-Specific Chits and Cards
When I have to put the game away, I put most of the "campaign-specific" chits and cards in one plastic bag. Campaign-specific chits are the aircraft chits and the battalion chits that have been selected. Campaign-specific cards are: selected aircraft cards, selected pilot cards, selected battalion cards, the campaign card, the situation card, the current daily event card, and the daily events and mission cards not yet drawn.

The idea is that, when I'm setting up, I just grab the campaign-specific bag and pull everything out. Usually I store the current daily event on the top of the cards (so I remember what the proper orientation of the cards are) and store the battalion cards on the bottom of the cards (so I don't accidentally see the mission or daily events).

To reconstruct the sector map I just use a photo from my phone.

Other Chits
All chits not in the campaign-specific bag are in the Plano 23700 container, which has many small compartments. The wealth of chits in TAL means that the container can't individually sort all of the different types of chits. I keep each enemy type in its own section as well as each weapon. Pop-ups get a larger section that doubles as a cup to draw counters from. Ditto for red and yellow attack chits. I didn't have enough dividers to be able to give each type of damage a compartment, so damage counters are divided between severe (structure, engine, wounded) and less severe (bullet holes, controls, HUD, display, cannon, pylon). Stress counters are divided into a 1/2 compartment and a 3+ compartment. Aircraft are just sorted into three basic boxes: helicopters, fixed-wing, and scouts/drones. Battalions all go in a single box.


Mission, Situation, Pilot, and Plane Cards
Placed into 9-card sheet protectors and organized into a three ring binder. Binders are pretty much a necessity for all leader games. Binders help you make informed choices about what pilots to take on a mission at what skill level.

Of course, they're no good if you want to do random squadron selection, but I really don't usually go for that.

Battalion Cards
Sorted by type and placed in their own plastic baggies when between campaigns or otherwise not in use.

Terrain Hexes
Usually split between two baggies, one for the hexes used in the campaign, one for the hexes not being used.
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michal
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I don't know if this will be helpful but since the set-up is quite long I treat it as a part of a game and I enjoy it the same way as destroying enemy units or writing outcome on player log

Beside that tips above are great and it is hard to add anything more.
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Juha Kettunen
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I'm a little late in this thread, but yesterday Thunderbolt Apache Leader became my first game which got a "storage solution" treatment. Until then, I've just used baggies, but in this case, it just wasn't enough. Indeed, setup is much easier now.








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SLThomas
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Here's my final solution which I settled on that optimises usability with being able to fit everything neatly in the OEM box.

Image below showing everything fits in the original box - terrain hexes to the side for visibility but they sit easily on top.



Everything out of the box.



All weapons fit in one of the long pill containers, so using it kinda feels like your bag of tricks/armoury. And much easier to find the ordinance you want.
All Pilot cards neatly fit in one of the larger soap-container type boxes and I use the other for holding my in-progress campaign gear including aircraft, active pilots, unit chits etc. so I can pick-up where I left off easily. Damage and pop-up chits each have their own smaller holders that came with packs of business cards. Makes it easy to shuffle too.
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