Archive for the ‘Minatures’ Category

Almost two and a half years ago, a little project named Kingdom Death: Monster hit Kickstarter. Now, nearly two years late, it has finally arrived at my doorstep. Is it late? Yes, very. Am I mad? Not in the least. The campaign went far beyond the wildest dreams of the people running it. How big? Well, it was originally scheduled to be a standard enthusiast board game box, 12″ by 12″ of plastic and cardboard. It ended up being twice that size because SO MUCH EXTRA GOODNESS got added thanks to the overwhelming support. Not only that, they spent the extra time adding more art and content as well. Suffice it to say, it is more than anyone expected when they chose to back the project.

Now, I have not dived into the rules just yet. It just showed up on September 21st. But, here are my unboxing pictures. Enjoy!

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The Box!

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First thing inside. Thank you…bakcers? Oops!

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The back of the Survivor box. I ❤ Poots indeed.

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And inside the Survivor box? Many models.

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The game in the box in the box in the plastic wrap. The flash reveals the glossy logo against the matte box.

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The box without plastic wrap. Can really see that beautiful cover art.

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The beautiful back art.

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First thing inside the box.

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The flat bits and chits.

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Tiles and counters.

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The board. Its a tri fold as long as the box! Its BIG.

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Under the board. So many cards and pads.

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Character and village sheets with dice.

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The instructions. Note that it is matte black. That yellow on the left is the spine. Its about 1/2″ thick!

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Showing off the glossy logo without flash.

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And the logo/text with a flash to see the glossy details.

Its an impressive box! Well worth the investment and the wait. Looking forward to digging into this MONSTER!

Kickstarter: Reactor Returns!

Posted: August 26, 2014 by Kane Blaireau in Kickstarter, Minatures, Role Playing Games

Long time no post, so lets get to it! Here is what I’m watching on Kickstarter right now.

Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King’s Quest (ends August 31st). Yet another new game from Mantic on Kickstarter? Yup. I know they get a lot of flack for doing this, but they really are a small fish trying to compete against the goliath of Games Workshop. This particular game is a modern take on the old GW HeroQuest. Looks spectacular! Definitely one to watch for if you like beer and pretzels dungeon crawling.

Designer & Dragons (ends September 9th). A retrospective of the RPG industry, newly revised by Evil Hat Production (Fate).

Battle Systems Fantasy Dungeon Terrain (ends September 21st). Cardboard fantasy terrain pre-printed on heavy card. I actually did a double take on this. VERY impressive looking card terrain. The texturing gives an amazing amount of depth. I’m already a fan of cardboard terrain and this looks to be a leap in quality.

There you have it! Hoping to have these more often, so please send me a link to things I should be watching.

 

Going over the PAX Prime schedule. Looks like a good show this year. Honestly see more of interest to me than last year. Here is a rundown of what I’m looking forward to

 

Friday

10:30 Storytime With Mikey Neumann-The PAX keynote brought to you by one of the guys behind Borderlands. Should be fun. Studio heads are always entertaining in their own neurotic way.

11:30 Building Inclusive Communities in Analog Gaming Spaces-Whats better than gaming with a few people? Gaming with a LOT of people. Panel discussing how to make sure everyone is welcome at the table.

12 Molding and Casting for Beginners-I’ve done a tiny amount of molding. I get the basics, but a better understanding is never a bad thing. Does overlap the previous panel, so may have to rely on Noccie for notes on that one.

4:30 Queer Visibility in Tabletop RPGs-All about that inclusivity thing again. How much should you notice and how much should it matter? Should be an enlightening panel.

5:30 Developing the Thornwatch-Been looking forward to this game since Mike announced it. The mechanics sound very intriguing. I’m a big fan of new gaming ideas.

8:30 Concerts-The Doubleclicks should be more reason than anyone needs to get in the door. The rest is just gravy!

 

Saturday

1:30 Orcs Must Die!-One of my favorite game series is getting a sequel. Can’t wait to see where its going.

3:30 Art of the DM-Seems like a semi-yearly panel. Always good to have more tricks in the DMing arsenal.

9 Retrogame Roadshow-I love old games. Seeing some of them go for absurd amounts of money should be fun!

 

Sunday

10 Game Industry Rumble-A bunch of game industry folks beat the heck out of each other in the classic N64 Wrestlemania 2000. Whats not to love?

12 Digitizing the Tabletop-All about playing tabletop games online. Been wanting to try my hand so this should be a welcome leg up.

3 Tetris-The creator of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov, talks about the game that defined a generation of handhelds.

6 A New Tabletop Gaming Canon-Tabletop gaming has been through drastic changes over the last decade. This panel looks at what games everyone should know going forward.

9 Collecting Games-Look at collecting games without getting ripped off. Definitely something on my radar.

 

Monday

10:30 The Art of the Table-More about GMing. Since that is my primary role most of the time, can’t have too many tricks up my sleeve.

1:30 Guilty Pleasures-Some games are terrible but you can’t help liking them. Should be fun hearing about what terrible games others play in the dark. I know I’ve got my own!

 

No guarantees I’ll make it to all of these, but I’ll be sure and write about the ones I do see. Hope to see you there!

 

Gaming on the Cheap

Posted: February 4, 2014 by Kane Blaireau in Kane, Minatures
Tags: , , ,

In my quest to game more, I’ve been discussing with a friend of mine miniature war games. We have bandied back and forth about a couple. The one recently that has stuck is Kings of War by Mantic Games. It is most similar to Warhammer Fantasy. Medium to large units of models clash on a large tabletop. The primary difference is that instead of removing models from your units, you keep track of overall unit cohesion. Works basically the same but you get to keep your models on the board longer. Makes for a much better visual.

As for what to play this game WITH, we discussed several options. First of course would be the official models. They are reasonably priced and quite attractive. Being long-time gamers, we both have fairly sizeable miniature collections, though, so that lead to option two; using our old Warhammer/other gaming models. This works JUST fine. The only issue with this is then you have the usual hassle of lugging around several pounds of plastic and metal to a gaming location. This lead us to option three: paper miniatures. You pay for a PDF file ($3 or so), print them (or get them printed at FedEx-Kinkos or similar), cut them and base them. They weigh next to nothing, fold flat, and if you need more, you print more! THIS option greatly appealed to both of us as both an easy to use, cheap and even visually exciting option!

Visually exciting? Paper cut-outs? Yes. Most assuredly. OneMonk miniatures is my personal favorite. These things like GREAT on the table. Is it the same as a 3D painted model? No, but I’m a terribly busy person and have very little time to paint. Paper models look WORLDS better than bare/primed plastic or metal. The colors really help the units stand out and look amazingly good in action.

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We are finishing up our army lists and planning to get a game in soon. I will be sure to take plenty of pictures and share them with you when we finally get around to Kings of War-Poorhammer edition!

Hey folks! Now that the holidays are over, more cool Kickstarters are starting to pop up again. Here are a few to keep an eye on.

Customizable 3D Printed Tabletop Miniatures! Made-to-order miniatures. This one has already blown by its funding goal and through a couple of stretch goals adding sci-fi  and mounts to the core of fantasy minis. They are a bit pricey, but for something that is basically print on demand, its hard to beat. Their really are no other options short of hiring a sculptor!

Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians! A tactical strategy game directed by the man behind Final Fantasy Tactics. Sounds promising, but not showing us much just yet. Definitely worth keeping an eye on if you like that sort of game, though.

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen! Fantasy MMO brought to you by a bunch of guys who broke away from SOE and were behind EQ, EQ2, SWG and on and on. Worth keeping an eye on if you liked any of those.

Project Nimbus! Open world mech shooter. Looks to have elements of the greats such as Zone of Enders and Virtual On. Only a few days left so go take a look!

Red Box Games Norse Warrior Miniatures! Tre Manor is one of the best miniature sculptors in the business today. Get some of his amazing work early by backing this one!

Earthdawn 4th Edition! I am a fan of Earthdawn and am VERY glad to see it coming back again. I’m not sure who is behind the new FASA, but looks like they have plenty of people convinced that they know what they are doing. Epic heroic fantasy with its own take on the genre.

The Mini Box – Simple Storage Solution! Affordable miniature storage. Glad to see an American company doing that as we don’t have many choices this side of the pond.

Last, but not least KUNG FURY! Just go watch the trailer on the Kickstarter. If that doesn’t convince you…I don’t have anything to say to you.

As always, if YOU know of a Kickstarter that everyone needs to hear about, let me know in the comments!

Hex Bugs

Posted: January 16, 2014 by Noccie in Life in a Box, Minatures, Noccie
Tags: , ,

In the Booty Box we recieved two Hex Bug Nanos were included. I’ve seen these toys in the store but had never really paid attention to them. I brought one down to my role playing group because there were going to be a couple kids there hanging out. I didn’t have time to fiddle with it. Bringing it down to game I pulled it out of the package and turned it on. I was like… ok it vibrates. Raight….. Placing it down on the table I was amazed and delighted.

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The particular RPM speed of the little motor inside really made the little robot move like a bug. They use some sort of latex or silcon for the legs. When the motor is on, the vibration causes the legs to move with a behavior type just like a cockroach or beetle. The robot doesn’t work on soft surfaces like carpet, hair, fabric couches, children and some paper. This is their first version of bugs. The new version actually climbs. I am curious enough I might go buy one.

This most basic version of their robotic bug glows in the dark and has no sensors that I can find. While playing with the toy it seemed at times to actually SENSE something in front of it and change direction before bumping into it. This was pretty random though. At other times it would run off the table or run into things repeatedly. We were amused with it when the kids were done playing with the bug. Here is a link to the video we posted to Facebook.

The company does have other creactions, like the robotic Larva. The Larva model senses the world around it and avoids collisions. The robotic crab can sense light and will move towards shadow. Several of their newer models actually react to sound, movement and touch. All of them seem to be designed to flip back over when stranded on their back. (Look out Replicants, they might make a turtle that walks through the desert.) I was impressed by their variety. They have ants, scarabs, beetles, the nanos, spiders, inch worm and larva. They also have a completely aquatic fish. The most affordable of the toys start at $5.00 and the remote controlled XL version of the spider and scarab go up to $40.00. Even on the higher end, these toys are very affordable.

The company has designed habitats for their robotic creations to traverse. The habitats can be built up with tracks running between them.

When I was a kid, robotic toys were not this interesting. You played with them for a while and then forgot about it. I had one toy that was three monkeys on a slide. The motor would help the monkeys climb a tree, they would do a flip and then slide down a curly slide. The pattern would repeat and I would go back to playing with My Little Ponies. It was a cool toy, more for display and rather old fashioned. We also had slightly robotic dogs and toys and pets but nothing this sophisticated. I could see a child becoming really attached to a Nano or other robot in the same way we did with our dolls or stuffed animals. They seem to have some sort of intelligence, even if it’s an illusion. Even if that intelligence is purely in our imaginations from trying to make sense of observed, relatable behaviors. The brillance behind this toy is that it plays on our need to anthropomorphize anything that moves and appears alive. How many people do you know that bought a Zuzu pet for their kids in the past five years? That was because it looked like a familiar small furry hamster that we assigned to an emotional place in our minds. These toys take that evolution a step farther. They have behaviors and can enteract on some level with the environment and with your child. The next few years will probably bring huge leaps in the field of robotics. It’s already amazing what they can do and how they can make us feel.

On a nerdy level.. their body design reminds me of the Descepticons… robotos in disguise. The nerdy easter egg is the constellation Orion on the body. It’s easier to see when it glows in the dark.

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Kickstarter Reactor

Posted: December 30, 2013 by Kane Blaireau in Board games, Kane, Minatures

Hey folks! Not a whole lot to report on in the way of Kickstarter, but managed to dig up a couple that are worth a mention!

Mega Man the Board Game! A board game inspired by the Mega Man video game franchise. Since Capcom doesn’t seem to keen on giving us any more of those, this may just be the next best thing. This one is Going QUITE well already, so seems it will have some life for awhile.

3DForge Zombie Miniatures! What, more zombie miniatures? Yes. But, this time you can get zombies, survivors and TERRAIN! That last one is something that you don’t often see. Affordable “modern” style terrain is still pretty rare so for that reason alone I’m recommending this one. The minis themselves aren’t particularly covering any new ground, but look to be decent 3D sculpts. The higher tiers seem a good value.

Duel Fighters! Less than a week left on this one. Large scale miniature skirmish game and when I say skirmish, I mean one-on-one fighting. Looks to have some unique mechanics as well as offering terrain in a matching scale (often overlooked on odd-scale sets). Definitely on my short list! Highly recommend you go check them out.

As always, if you know of a project that is worth some extra attention, leave me a note below and I’ll be happy to take a look!

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Skylanders was made by adults for players 6 years of age and up. Then they throw in jokes that children born since 1990 probably wouldn’t get. Here is TerraFin. He’s a part of the earth faction in the game. They can control rocks, dirt and earthy things. That makes TerraFin a “land shark.”

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A land shark is a reference to a 1970’s Saturday Night Live skit. According to Wikipedia it’s also a term that used to be used for real-estate speculators, German Shepherds and a beer by Busch called “Land Shark Lager.” The Land Shark skit from SNL used to be pretty much the same each time but it was funny regardless.

The set up was a knock on the door. The land shark would try to gain entry by claiming to be a delivery person of some type, like a singing telegram. Here is a video link to one of the skits with Gilda.

I do like that some of the characters in the game, you wouldn’t normally associate with their element. They usually turn out to be some kind of in joke or pun though.

On the other side of the coin, Terrafin is a great character to play. He has two attacks. One is punching and the other he dives under the ground, swimming like a shark. When he pops back up he can slam the earth causing collateral damage to multiple targets around him. There was one part of his character I don’t like. He makes this one random comment “Where’s my five dollars?” He only makes it when he’s collecting money as treasure but it struck both me and Kane as a little offensive sounding. You have to hear it to know what we are talking about. I can see that some people are talking about this on the internet. Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive but until I heard that quip, I thought he was one of the best characters in the game. It just offended me the way that line comes off. It presents itself as racist. There really aren’t races in this game but outside of the context in the real world you brain picks up on the racist nature of this one voice acted comment. He is part of the brown, earth faction and he is hitting you up for money. The accent is a stereotyped black accent. It’s very upsetting.

According to Youtube he’s actually a very popular character. Maybe I am making to much of this one comment. If anything, they just weren’t thinking about it when they recorded it… I hope.

The original, first version of him comes with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure in a package with the Pirate Ship, a treasure chest and pirate swords. The pack gives you a new level to explore, a huge magical attack, a weapon and a hidden treasure.  The package is $24.99 at most places. Right now Toys R Us has a buy, get 40% off deal going. The price is worth it for the added content.

They do have another version of him that comes with GIANT METAL KNUCKLES. So, we will see what happens with the game and if we keep playing past Giants.

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Since it seems to be getting a BIG holiday push this year, its hard to avoid Skylanders. I have to admit I’ve been curious. I’m a miniature and toy nerd. I like video games. Whats not to like about this? A video game where your toys are on the screen? I recently found a copy of last years model, Skylanders Giants, on clearance at Target (now that the new SwapForce is out) for an insanely low price and decided to give it a go!

In the basic sense, my impression was correct. You put a toy on the Portal (included in the Starter Pack) and your character pops up in the game after a quick loading screen involving their catch phrase. You maneuver through well designed levels with your colorful characters fighting bad-guys with the unique abilities each character has. What I did NOT expect was the amount of depth that very slowly opens up as you make your way through the game.

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First off, your characters gain levels and you can buy them new skills as they level with coins earned in game. Not a new thing, but what makes it so amazing is that these upgrades are saved to the MINIATURE, not just your save game. This means that you can potentially bring YOUR copy of a character with you to a different console entirely. You can also switch characters out on the fly so you are never stuck with the character you started with and can even switch characters if the one you are using is low on health.

Second, the level layout. Their are all sorts of hidden areas and easter-eggs to come across. Many are locked behind gates requiring a character with a specific element to unlock. Others require careful exploration. Now, this does mean that you will NOT have access to every area of the game with just the models that are included with it, but all of these other areas ARE optional. The way things are laid out is simple enough for most kids (rated 10+, but probably safe a little younger) but with enough to keep an adult engaged for a good amount of time as well. I’m still trying to reach goals in the first level that I’m having trouble finding.

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One other thing I thought I would touch on is the quality of the models. I have seen pre-painted miniatures for tabletop gaming with less detailed paint jobs. These are seriously some of the better examples I have seen. They feel a step beyond toy quality for certain. I’ve honestly been debating finding a way to use them for tabletop gaming because they just looks REALLY cool!

I’m not far enough in for a full review by any means, but I thought having an adult perspective may be helpful for those of you thinking about gifting it to your kids or the kid-at-heart on your shopping list. Definitely recommend it to the toy/miniature enthusiasts and for those that appreciate exploration video games and even those that just enjoy interesting uses of technology.

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Lastly, let me just say its a very unique synergy that others have started to cash in on that may be the next step for video games. Free-to-play games that unlock content with a physical product are popping up a lot lately. Skylanders may not be free-to-play, but sometimes you get what you pay for. By no means do I feel that it was a wasted purchase and I would consider it a good buy even at full price.

Game Writing

Posted: November 4, 2013 by Kane Blaireau in Board games, Kane, Life in a Box, Minatures, Role Playing Games
Tags:

I am a bit of an amateur game-writer. I have a series of unfinished tabletop games ranging from board games, skirmishes, wargames to RPGs. I say amateur because none of them have ever been fully finished or published yet. I am hoping to change this soon, but let me just tell you about my process.

First, inspiration hits me from somewhere. This can be a song, movie, video game or another tabletop game. I usually make some mental notes of mechanics I would like to emulate from that source. When I feel like I have a complete idea, I will start writing down the core mechanics. After this point things start to fall apart.

My next step is trying to get friends and family to test it. This generally involves weeks of pestering to get a single play session done. Take notes and hope for feedback here and don’t get discouraged when their isn’t any. Update the rules as needed. After so many attempts and no further feedback, the game usually stagnates here.

How I have gotten around the stagnation recently is by seeking out another game writer locally who can help focus test the game. This is not always an option and only one that has happened with me recently. The other option is to test by yourself in between those few and far between sessions with your friends and family. Always ask questions of anyone who is playing or even ask yourself.

So then, is everything working as intended? If not, how do I fix that? Then fix it and test again. If something else breaks, tweak it and push it until something else breaks. Once everything is either working as intended and/or breaking where intended, it is ready! That is easier said than done, but game design is a series of iterations (or irritations) rather than one big inspirational leap. Sometimes that does happen, but not to me or anyone I know! I am at the last part on my current board game project, Gate Siege. If you would like more information, find me at Crushed Earth Productions on Facebook. I’d be more than happy to have more play testers since we are in the final stages of design of the core game and have begun discussing what to save for the expansion.