Discussion in 'Traditional Non-Video Gaming Gaming' started by awdougherty, Jan 4, 2012.
The next battle will have more units I think so it'll make a better picture.
So my great boardgame catchup from 2012 has started, and this week I finally got to open and play Spartacus. I don't know what I can say here other than what has been said already, but it is an absolutely fantastic game.
It has everything I love in boardgaming. The scheme phase has just enough of a "screw your neighbor" feel that it makes actions actually hurt, but it isn't so overpowering that you feel shut down when it turns against you. The market phase has a hidden information section which is really well done. And you cap it off with a gladiator fight every round. There isn't anything in this game not to love.
If I had to come up with a complaint, the gladiator fight could be a little bit more strategic, as sometimes, especially in the early game, it felt like it was simply walk up to the other player and both guys start swinging. Some way of measuring facing would make speed matter much more, and make the actual fighting much more strategic. (maybe a -1 to your dice when you attack head on, a normal when you some in from the sides, and a +1 to your dice when you hit from the back?)
That said, I love it, I want to play it again, and it's my best game of 2012.
When I first played I thought the gladiator fights needed a bit of tweaking, but now I'm glad they did it the way they did. Any deeper modeling would just lead to a longer playing time, which is the last thing this game needs.
I'm surprised at how entertaining it is despite the lack of sophistication. I love it when two scrub gladiators fight, making betting a true crapshoot, but I also enjoy watching an elite gladiator loaded down with weapons go out there and just crush somebody for a sure victory (and some guaranteed cash).
I finally watched the show after playing this several times and now I'm even more impressed with the design. It could have been the throwaway design of the decade, but it's an obvious labor of love made by fans of the show who also happen to be boardgamers.
I've been vaguely avoiding Spartacus because I never watched the show. How dependent on the theme is it? Will I miss anything important if I pick it up and walk in cold?
Very, very little. I'd honestly say that it's a great gaming experience up there with BSG in that it has a theme that it ties into, but it transcends the theme and one needn't be a fan of the license to really enjoy the game.
$26 bucks and it's a unique theme and it's actually good? SOLD.
Yeah, that's an easy sale for me. Thanks!
Also I am in the process of convincing gaming friends to pick up Netrunner. It's going pretty well, though there's definitely a bit of a learning curve in the game. I think I'm going to end up picking up a second core set so I can put together additional semi-constructed decks for people to experiment with. Plus then it's less of a "yeah, the two of us are going to go off and play this, you guys have fun doing whatever" thing.
QFT. In fact, I'd argue it's better if you haven't watched the show because the show focuses on different things (gladiatorial boss battles (and much more complex/dramatic gladiator fights in general), Spartacus's main storyline, the drama of Crixus, etc.). Glaber doesn't have a ludus so having him as one of the houses doesn't make much thematic sense (though he has a lot of Guard-related abilities, which does make sense since he commands a lot of soldiers).
After watching the show I was astonished they didn't make a highly detailed gladiator combat game based on it instead of what we got, but I'm glad they went for something unexpected.
There. I have neatly threaded the "we have too many games already that we haven't played yet" needle by buying Spartacus as a birthday present for one of my gaming buddies.
Tonight in boardgaming with my son:
1. Last Night on Earth: Timber Peak. This is a standalone expansion for LNOE, which is a game that I think I would not love in a hardcore competitive sense, but which I do enjoy playing with him. As per usual, I was the zombies. It was one of those games where my position looks doomed and hopeless as the heroes keep advancing toward their goals -- but then it becomes apparent that they're not going to have enough time to achieve them all and win, and I wasn't doomed at all.
The expansion has some nice changes compared to the original -- they've cleaned up the rules a lot, the cards are better-balanced, there are some fun things with fires that can spread (a giant four square conflagration was one of the things that ended up really hurting the heroes, since it blocked off their best avenue of movement), there's an XP/upgrade thing that gives the heroes rewards for killing zombies (something which was otherwise basically pointless in most scenario) -- but fundamentally, it's the same game, and your opinion of LNOE will be your opinion of this, unless you were really on the fence.
2. A Few Acres of Snow. I am officially the last person here to play this, right? My son really loved the game, and how the deck-building worked with the war game mechanics. I thought it was neat, but was less impressed. It definitely had that early game "okay, wait, what am I trying to do" confusion, and the end game "um, I guess I'll do this crap move to kill time" because my deck was so full of cards that weren't what I needed. Still, most of that is learning game stuff, so I don't hold it against the game terribly; and it's interesting, it plays fast (and would play much faster next time, as I have some idea what to try to do), I have some thoughts about what I did wrong that I could do better on next time, and I'm glad I played it.
I know there's that whole thing with whatever that broken strategy is; enh, I don't read strategy guides, which means it's not a big deal or me. Wallace has a note about it in the manual, and mentions that he'll be putting varied scenarios online, which'll mix the game up to prevent that kind of static optimization. That seems like a good plan to me, because it gets at my biggest problem with the game -- even without a broken strategy, I could see the game getting very samey in that Puerto Rico way, and being optimizeable, such that if you've played it 100 times (or read strategy guides), you can't even play with a guy who's only played it five times, because you keep refining your gameplay every time as you get closer to an optimal strategy.
As I've been mulling this over a bit more, another comparison has come up -- I've been obsessing over the ASL Starter Kits lately, and have even soloed a scenario. And so what comes to mind is, there's a lot of depth in the first scenario (Retaking Vierville) in ASLSK1. You could play it over and over again, and refine your strategies and get super-expert on it, and maybe eventually you'd come to the conclusion that it was unbalanced (the ROAR database shows that scenario at 135 American wins to 89 German wins, so that's not obviously crazy).
But that wouldn't mean that the game was broken! It would just mean that that scenario wasn't totally balanced, and you'd move on and play a different scenario. In fact, odds are you wouldn't even replay that scenario hundreds of times in the first place, because the game comes with a half-dozen different scenarios, and you can easily get more (there are another two dozen scenarios in the other ASLSK products, and lord knows how many hundreds in full ASL).
And so it seems weird to me that a $25 game like ASLSK1 comes with six fully-realized scenarios with lots of variation in the gameplay, where a $50 game like A Few Acres of Snow only comes with the one scenario, and it's somewhat broken anyway. I get that they're doing different things and all, but still -- if Wallace had released the game with a handful of scenarios where you start with different decks, in different situations, with different goals, not only would people have been slower to find the flaws in each scenario, but an individual scenario being broken would be less of a big deal.
It sounds from his designer's notes that he plans to do that unofficially on his website (if he's released any so far, I didn't see them at a quick google), but the more I think about it, the more I think that should have been in the box. The game as it stands is effectively a tech demo -- it's an interesting system, but it's only applied to one scenario, and it doesn't quite feel like the game is complete because of that.
 I have never done this before, playing a boardgame by myself; but it ended up being pretty fun.
Combat commander is my favorite board game. I mostly play it solo, but I love the narrative it unfolds for you.
It is less rules-heavy than ASL, has random events, and, while you can refine strategy for a certain scenario, those events make each play-through different. The game comes with twelve scenarios and a random scenario generator.
You might like it! I have to say I haven't tried any ASL, though.
Comparing ASL to AFAoS is apples to oranges. The former is a game system, and the latter is a game. The two pose entirely different design challenges since game systems are entirely dependent on scenarios and games (though often amenable to variants) must rely mainly on the best design possible within a fixed system. Would you dismiss games like Tigris & Euphrates, Dominant Species, Lords of Waterdeep, Goa, Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, etc. as fundamentally inferior to ASL because they don't include a bunch of different scenarios?
DISCLAIMER: I am an unapologetic AFAoS apologist because I was stunned by what Wallace did with the deck-building genre, and because I believe it is unfairly maligned by players-by-proxy who read the Halifax Hammer thread and declare it broken without ever breaking it themselves.
That said, I'm also convinced that Wallace's playtest group had some groupthink going on and/or didn't have extensive experience with deck-building games because AFAoS is ultimately ripe for exploitation by someone who aggressively culls their cards (something Dominion experts do without even thinking about it). There is no denying that Out4Blood (God rest his soul) found a dominant strategy and consistently crushed people with it, as his record attests. When you get to the level of play Out4Blood did, scenarios simply won't save AFAoS. It's just fundamentally flawed and Wallace should have gone back to the drawing board for the 2nd edition.
But here's the thing: Out4Blood played dozens and dozens of games to find that winning strategy. And once he did and posted it for the world to see, people who tried it against him couldn't consistently pull it off. It's not some paint-by-numbers thing you memorize and then foist on people. It takes finesse, an expert's understanding of both decks, and the experience to know how to account for several variables that can crop up along the way. Out4Blood played hundreds of games of AFAoS in the end. How many do you think the average boardgamer gets through?
If AFAoS had not been on Yucata.de (where you can whip through several games per day), and the Halifax Hammer had never been published, I'm guessing there's a very small subset of gamers who ever would have discovered the strategy independently. I got in about twenty plays of the game before hearing about it and never came close to figuring it out, and even after listening to people talk about the basics of the strategy and trying it in a few games I didn't get very far with it.
So yeah, AFAoS is "broken." And scenarios won't fix that. And it doesn't matter all that much because the vast majority of boardgame players would get their money's worth out of the game even in its "broken" state. I know I did.
I'm not trying to dismiss games -- I'm trying to talk about a game style that I find personally unsatisfying, which is the game that tends to play out similarly every time, unless you deliberately do something different. I mentioned Puerto Rico; chess is another example of that. You get your opening, your opponent gets their opening, and you stick with them, and do the same things over and over unless one of you deliberately decides to do something different. So what I'm getting at with scenarios is, if you don't have highly variable/randomized starting positions, at least have scenarios that mix up things to a more limited degree.
And yes, AFAoS has its cards that are going to constrain your actions so you can't just mechanically do the exact same things every game; but your general approach can still be samey, and is probably going to converge to some groupthink consensus of the "best" moves. Which I don't like, but... well, being compared to Puerto Rico and chess isn't exactly a scathing criticism.
(And I do agree with you (as I tried to make clear) about the "broken"-ness of it, as something that matters only to a few percent of players. But it definitely is a game that I'd be hesitant to play with a random dude at a game meetup.)
I do like Combat Commander quite a bit. It's actually the first non-Commands & Colors wargame I played, and I've played it a pretty good amount with my son. What I'll say to you is that if you like CC, you should try out the ASL Starter Kits. The rules aren't any more complicated (in fact, they're arguably simpler -- ASLSK1 has a 12-page rulebook), a lot of the concepts are very similar, and I think that it actually plays better, with more interesting choices to make. And hey, ASLSK1 is $20 (or will be when it comes back in print; MMP is terrible at keeping games available), so it's cheap to try out.
(Reading this excellent "tutorial" post will give you a flavor of how the game plays. That there's so much tactical depth in a half-turn, four-unit, minimal-rules scenario is just amazing to me.)
This is a problem with the players, not with the game. Setting aside the Halifax Hammer, if AFAoS gets stale because it's playing out the same way every time it's because you've decided to not explore the design.
It reminds me of playing Super Street Fighter with my friends back before there were Internet strategy guides and Youtube tutorial videos. Someone would find a move that seemed broken, but there was always some counter that would completely dismantle it, and back and forth we'd go, declaring each dominant character broken until we fully grokked the game and how everything worked together. I can't imagine disliking that style of game on general principle, and wishing there were a bunch of starting variables (extra health, starting with your back turned, banned moves, etc.) to keep it interesting.
My problem with that kind of game, honestly, comes down to the part where you can only have fun playing it with people who are about as good as you are. You talk about playing SSF with your friends, and that's about how I played chess when I was a kid -- my friend and I played it against each other non-stop, and we kind of discovered things and improved at about the same rate (with a big discontinuity when he read a chess book, and started beating me consistently I until I read it too and learned about these arcane "forks" and "pins"). That's about how I played Puerto Rico, too -- the same four people, over and over over a period of months.
And that is fun and it is a really great experience if you're playing against the same group of people and discovering it all together. But if you're going to game meetups, or playing with different groups of friends, that style of game just falls apart. And there's a certain extent to which that's inevitable for any game that has a skill element -- you're probably not going to win at even Dominion if you're playing against someone who's played it a lot more than you -- but I think there's just a different feel to these single-start, low-luck games, where you don't just have a good sense of the game's principles and core elements, you actually have a mapped-out strategy.
(And I should add that I may be totally off-base with AFAoS; the card-driven randomness may be enough to steer you into totally different games all by itself. It doesn't feel to me like it would, but I've only played once, right?)
That tutorial is great. Thanks for linking it.
I've always avoided ASL because I know I would be sucked into its gravity well never to return, and also because there are just so many great tactical WWII alternatives that are lower-complexity while still incorporating tanks and such. I really like Conflict of Heroes (especially since it's available on the PC), and have BoB: Screaming Eagles and Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division to try out. FF has some particularly intriguing design elements I can't wait to experience, neatly summarized here.
But now I really want to get the first two ASL starter kits, and will blame you when they destroy my life.
EDIT: Oh, wait a sec--I see they're getting ready to print ASK Starter Kit 4: The Pacific, so I guess I'm going to wait for that as I love that theatre and am already overloaded with East Front and West Front stuff.
I agree with all of this. Since I tend to play with the same group all the time and rarely go to meetups or play online I prefer skill-based games.
Both card investment and map development allow for some wildly different games. Sometimes you can catch the other player off guard by going long in Native Americans and raiding him to death, and other times he just stops you cold. Things can get interesting if the British player decides to start building cities out west, or if the French player manages to expand rapidly in that direction. Or the French can cut right for the heart of the British colonies, knocking their opponent back on his heels if he doesn't counter properly. I really like the options that the core principle of "lots of choices, but you can only make a few per turn" opens up, and I wish he would fully explore it in a game that doesn't have to hew closely to actual history. He said he was making a space game using the system, which would be perfect (as would a fantasy version), but I'm guessing the blowback from AFAoS has spurred him towards other projects.
I bought the starter kits as a prophylactic -- "I'll play these, and I won't even consider the full game until after I've played through all of them, and then we'll see" -- but then it turns out that MMP is so bad at keeping stuff in print that I ended up thinking "Well, I'll probably want this ASL stuff eventually, and it might not be available then, right?" and buying it anyway. But I'm still unsure about whether I'll ever want to move to the full ASL. I've read enough to see how it adds some extra tactical and narrative dimensions (with things like concealment, where you can't tell what units your opponent has, and some of their stacks might be totally dummy stacks with no units in them at all), but I also wonder if the ASLSK system isn't hitting an 80/20 point.
The nice thing is, apparently a lot of people have ended up buying into the ASLSK system without necessarily intending to go full ASL. So in addition to what they have out today (Starter Kit 1, which is infantry-only; Starter Kit 2, which adds big guns and elevation; Starter Kit 3, which adds tanks and vehicles; and Expansion Pack 1, which has all those things and just more scenarios and maps -- all of them are totally standalone products), they're planning Decision at Elst, which will be a campaign game where the scenarios interlock (and which will also add off-board artillery); and then a Starter Kit 4 for the Pacific.
(FWIW, the first two starter kits are actually out of print right now; they should be reprinted "soon" but MMP's "soon" has a way of stretching on. Each of the games is standalone, though, so you could buy SK3 or EP1 and start with that -- the plus side is that it'd have all the tanks in it, too; the minus side is that it'd have the 24-page rulebook that has all the rules for tanks and guns and stuff, and the scenarios in it aren't as simplified as those in SK1. Still, some people have learned to play via full ASL, so it's not like it'd be obviously impossible...)
No way, man. Pacific or bust!
One warning is that it probably won't be out for years and years. Here's a blog post from MMP about the Elst campaign game, where they say that they're in "final playtesting" and making "final edits"... in August 2010. And the game isn't even available for preorder yet. The Pacific thing seems to be earlier along than that was then...
(Of course, if you want full ASL, they're almost ready to print Rising Sun, which'll be the new unified Pacific module for that. Of course you'd also need the rulebook and Beyond Valor, and some of the scenarios would need the long-out-of-print Yanks, and apparently some of the full ASL PTO rules are complex even for ASL, so yeah, probably not. But why do I want it anyway?)
I'm with Baker in that I've avoided ASL for fear of my wallet.
But the publishing model annoys me, too. The starter kits seem decent in terms of rules, but the full rulebook is insanely big. Annoyingly so, though I've never touched it.
There are a lot of squad level games that are interesting to me, like Lock and Load, a free one whose name I frequently forget, and then platoon level games, too. I don't feel a void in not playing ASL. But if I ever make it to the local war game meet up, that might change....
Regarding the publishing model, it's sort of interesting. Because on the one hand, the way ASL is published is absolutely nutso. Every game was published with the assumption that the players were "following along" in the series as they were published, and owned everything prior, and so there was no thought at all to managing dependencies. If the designers of the sixth module wanted to use a map from the fourth module for a scenario, even if they used nothing at all else from module 4, they'd go ahead and do it.
So you end up with a system where if you buy like Module 10, there's some random number of scenarios you won't be able to play depending on what else you own, and it's basically impossible to even figure out what that is without spending a half hour researching on lists of dependencies that third parties have put together; MMP doesn't even seem to care.
And that might not be such a big deal... if all the modules were in print, and you could just buy them in order as intended. But they're not, and the way MMP operates they'll probably never all be in print at once. If you were to redo the ASL system from scratch, this'd probably be the first thing you fixed, rationalizing the dependencies so that there were 1-2 core modules, and then no other dependencies past that in the other modules; and scenarios that would have broader dependencies could be published as Scenario Packs or whatever, with their dependencies clearly labeled.
So that's one hand. But on the other hand, the way the ASLSKs are published, with no dependencies at all, is kind of inefficient, too. Do you really need all the status markers reprinted in every single game? Do you really need four whole sets of the German infantry counters? It certainly makes it more convenient when things are out of print, but honestly, quit letting the super-core modules go out of print, guys.
The starter kits are very decent. The full rulebook... I really am of two minds about it. On the one hand, it's legitimately nuts, because c'mon. On the other hand, part of that is just because they're taking all the special rules that would normally be scenario-specific and including them in the rulebook, and you don't really need those unless you're playing the scenarios that need them. After playing through just the first few SK1 scenarios, the rulebook is already much less impenetrable to me.
(And plus, it's well-organized and has a good index, which means that you can quickly find what you're looking for when you need to find it. I've actually looked some things up in the full rulebook when I wasn't 100% clear what the SK1 rulebook was saying, and it's very usable even that way.)
So really, who knows. I am skeptical on principle, and I think that even with the mitigating factors it's probably still semi-indefensible, but I'm not quite as willing to make a snap judgment as I would have been before.
Yeah, I know the feeling. Baker mentioned Fighting Formations, which is also sitting on my shelf. I didn't give Conflict of Heroes much of a chance (it really just didn't grab me, feeling very mechanical and soulless, while also being kind of complicated compared to CC:E), I've avoided the L'n'L games because I can't stand their garish graphic design and yeah, no shortage here.
But on the other hand... I know that I am very prone to the whole "cult of the new" thing; I always want to try out the new and exciting games that I've heard so much about, and that breadth comes at the expense of getting deep into any one game. I do a lot of "sight-reading" plays of games, and it's very rare for me to play any game more than a handful of times.
So I've actually been trying to consciously get a bit deeper into some games, and ASL -- a game that's still going strong like 25 years after its release, and which is almost inarguably the most historically important game of its kind -- seems like a good place to go deep, because it's clear that the depth is there to reward the effort.
(My biggest problem in this regard is that I'm having a hard time selling my son in it. Like all teenagers, he is a monster gamer at heart, and he wants the gigantic and epic -- the ASL rulebook appeals to him, but the small, playable, one-board, dozen-squad scenarios don't interest him. He would love a scenario that put like four boards together, with hundreds of units simulating a major action. We would NEVER EVER EVER finish playing that scenario, because he doesn't have the attention span for that at all, but it'd get him to the table.)
Speaking of Spartacus, which I'm pretty sure someone did, this showed up in this month's Pimp My Game geeklist on BGG.
I think he's gonna win.
I still haven't been able to convince anyone to play Spartacus.
I did get my first couple of games of X-Wing in, and it does seem like my experiences followed in line with those of everyone else in thread. Very difficult to win from the box set as the Rebels. Even having downed the Obsidian Squad pilot first, the one-on-one with the remaining TIE fighter became a comedy of die rolls and maneuverability whiffs. It's a pretty cool little game, but apart from picking up the A-Wing and Slave I because of my personal obsession with them, I'm not sure I'll really get much mileage out of it. It's nice and lightweight but the pricing of 'expansions' borders on absurdity and I never really felt like I was making too many tactical choices. Just trying to maneuver and fire over and over is kinda blah.
But whatever, it was only three games.
I still haven't played AFoS yet. Spartacus looks pretty neat, and it's now on my wishlist, but like many others, I have too many underplayed and completely unplayed games so I'm not ordering it any time soon.
The way to play ASL is to have an active local community. While I can't find shit in the way of local guys to play any other wargame with, there's a very active ASL community, including an annual tournament that draws from the surrounding states. So a lot of these guys have been playing forever and have everything. Multiple times. With highly elaborate storage systems. I haven't played in a few years, but when I did, I never punched my copy of Beyond Valor because it was never necessary. I could play weekly for the rest of my life here and never need anything but my rulebook.
However, I am a big fan of the ASLSK and that's probably what I've played the most. A Qt3 lurker and I played quite a few games via VASL, and that really worked quite well.
Dammit, now I want to play again. Who's up for some VASL?
Nope, I haven't been able to find it in stores, and I don't buy games online because a lack of games is not a problem I have. I'm planning to pick it up once the reprint comes in.
I own it, but like most 2p games, it goes unplayed.
Multiplayer games handle different levels of player skill fairly well, but competitive 2 player games often only work reasonably well if you find someone who's not only interested but also close to your skill level. Which generally means you need to find one with a fairly substantial following (e.g. Chess, Blood Bowl).
Typically you've got to stick with them a bit to get much out of them as well, as the good ones are also trickier to learn than your average euro style pick up and play. And so yeah, mostly unplayed.
There are awesome games (Sekigahara comes to mind) that I'd love to play but don't get simply because I know it'd only collect dust. :-(
Don't take to heart all of the ominous statements about ASL being overwhelming. Yes, it is big. But as others have mentioned, most of the rulebook is effectively modular, in that you only need to look things up when you use that particular vehicle type, etc. For example, there are subsections for motorcycles, cavalry, and human wave attacks. You decidedly don't need to know the first two except for a quick look up when you play a scenario using motorcycles or cavalry. You don't need to know the last one unless you are playing the Soviets, and even then, they are rarely used so you are probably not out much if you don't know the rules that well or use them. There is a lot of stuff like that.
I learned ASL myself from reading the rulebook (though it helps that I kind of enjoy that type of thing). I do not think it is insurmountable at all. I also do not think it needs to be a lifestyle game. My wife and I play every few months, and in fact just set up a mostly infantry scenario last night (a fight over the Borodino train station).
It is fair to say that if you go into full blown ASL, you will not get in cheap, unless you buy a used set from someone. The rulebook and Beyond Valor alone (the most basic prerequisites to play) are something like $200 now I think. You are essentially looking at $60-100 for each additional module after that, if you can even find them. As others have mentioned, MMP's distribution scheme really does a horrible disservice to the game.
Some years ago, I got a dice tower from VixenTor Games (since out of business), and it was pretty nifty. However, it did have some flaws; the construction was moderately flimsy, it was decorated with semi-cheesy stickers, it was table-dominatingly large, and it was awkwardly large for storage.
So I was looking at these again recently, and found Unique Dice Towers, which was apparently started via a Kickstarter, and makes custom dice towers.
They're small (about as tall as a pop can), the panels are joined with an [insert woodworking term here] joint that locks them together better than a straight glue-job would, they fold up really nice for storage, and they're highly customizable, with different woods (I got walnut, which looks nice), different front pattern (fire dragon), back pattern (flame), and colored plexiglass (smoke).
Downsides? I don't know if it'll work with some oversized dice. Dropping a handful of D&D dice down it at once worked fine; I'm thinking of like the stickered dice, like Runebound's movement dice. It's not padded with neoprene like the old one was (though it's sturdy and small enough not to be super-rattly, so that's not a big negative). It is made of that laser-cut wood, not some hand-carved hardwood. And it's not super-cheap.
But overall, I really like it.
Good lord, those are pricey.
I've been tempted to make a dice tower recently. I can't imagine it'll cost more than $10 for the pieces, even with the neoprene/foam sheets.
Pricey and small. I prefer a bigger dice tower, larger landing area, and padding.
I make my own out 4' hardwood boards. You can pick anything from cheap poplar to expensive oak, stain it or paint it however you like (or just leave it plain), and line the inside with one of those cheap thin sheets of foam available at hobby/craft stores. You need a miter saw or miter box and some glue, but they come out looking nice and working great with minimal effort and expense.
I also made a dice rolling set out of a burnished bronze tumbler and tray from the bathroom section of Target. I glued foam on the inside of the tumbler and bottom of the tray and it works just as well as a dice cup/dice tray but looks 100 times classier. I use it more than the dice tower now.
Small is a feature for me. I was specifically looking for something I could put next to me that wouldn't dominate a table so much. (And I am zero percent crafty, so haha miter saw, sure, I'll just attach the pieces with UNICORN HOOF GLUE.)
I am always envious of people with like those really sweet hand-carved wooden Dominion cases and what-not. If I were crafty, making game accessories would be the first thing I'd do.
I just bought this dice tower for fun as I was interested in how 3d printing came out:
Definitely small, and looks a lot cheaper than it costs, but I really like it it's actually perfect for what I want. I didn't want it to make much of a statement, just stand there and roll the dice..
Baker - do you have some dice tower plans? I just got a table saw for X-mas and I still need to use my router for something fun. That might be a nice little starter project.
I didn't use plans. All I have are hand tools and a cheap miter box so I had to keep it simple:
Get a 4' 1x4 (or a thinner board if you can find it. 1x4's that are straight as arrows are easy to find and dirt cheap).
Cut 4 6" or 8" sections depending on how tall you want the tower to be. If you have a decent miter saw you can cut the edge of each section so you can make a box. I didn't bother because if you don't it makes assembling the interior a lot easier.
Get some decent wood glue and glue three of the sections together (you're gluing the sides to the edges of the back instead of the interior surface of the back, if that makes sense. A nice clamp or two are obviously handy here.
If you didn't miter it you now you have three sides of a rectangular box that's as wide on the inside as the board you started with. Use the miter saw/box to cut more sections from the board to use as angled steps inside the box. Glue thin foam to the top, and glue three or four steps into the box, making sure to leave enough space for big dice to make it through the gaps. You may need to adjust the angle of the bottom ramp to slow down or speed up exiting dice, so be sure to put the front piece of the box on without gluing it (it should wedge in there perfectly) and do some tests before gluing everything.
You will have enough board left over to make a landing pad. You can make it the same height as the tower if you want the tower to nest in there. Another option is to make it twice as long as the tower so you can put a tower on both ends for use by two players, and both towers will nest. Whatever the case, cover the base with foam or felt, and cut sections from a 1x2 to glue around it the same way you glued the tower together.
You can finish the bottom of the tower by measuring the interior and cutting a piece to match and glue in there. The width will already be perfect if you didn't miter the tower.
If you don't care about how the inside of the tower looks, you can do all this without mitering anything. You can glue angled foam blocks on the inside to serve as steps, or do what I did on one of my crap towers and staple foam sheets to the interior so they curve outward and the dice bounce nicely off of them.
If you want to paint/stain it, obviously that adds some extra steps. Here's my crappy one (which is my only one now, as I gave a few others away after making the dice tray):
I know its way early in development, and all we have is a general description and a picture of the board/cards, but...
Firefly: The Game!
By Gale Force 9, creators of the amazing Spartacus game.
I know this could end up being really crappy, but maybe lightning can strike twice in a row on a tv inspired property?
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