Between having caught a cold, which has developed into a sinus infection, and also having a kid who has sustained a slight concussion thanks to a skateboarding accident, I have spent far too much time on the internet and on the couch over the past few weeks. Which after watching silly cat videos, reading Facebook posts, and reading up on certain topics of spiritual interest, my attentions turned to my hobby of board gaming and checking out the upcoming line of games that are due to release this year.
I've got to say, there really isn't anything on my radar as of yet. That isn't to say that I haven't gotten into some new games (which I have), but there isn't anything that I know of that I am super excited about. But what I am looking forward to are some EXPANSIONS that are coming out soon.
This brings me to a topic that, if you are new to the hobby, you probably know about, but may be unclear on. Expansions are things that you add to an existing game that you already have. Ticket to RIde for example has several different map packs that you can get to use with the "base" game that you already have. You use pieces and cards from the base game and the board and tickets from the expansion to play with using a different continent. Expansions can breathe fresh life into a game you are already familiar with.
Sometimes an expansion will simply give you "more of the same" stuff, simply giving you a greater variety of the mechanisms from the base game, but don't be surprised if things change up a bit. Usually, an expansion will add new rules, mechanisms, or even variants to the game play. This can have both positive and negative effects.
On the plus side, the expansion could add a level of depth that was needed in a game. Also, they say that variety is the spice of life and the same usually holds true in the board game world. Things may begin to get stale after a few dozen plays of a game and an expansion allows for reinvigorated excitement in regards to the game itself as a whole. Often times, it will round out the theme of a game as well, adding more characters, and specialization that gives each player a more unique way of approaching the challenges the game offers. Sometimes it simply adds the ability to have a 5th or 6th player into the mix, though that may not be a good thing.
On the down side, sometimes an expansion can just add too much to a game. It may take too long to finish now, or the rules become too fiddly to be an enjoyable experience. Thankfully though, many times you can pick and choose which parts of an expansion that you would like to use.
So, how do you decide on what to get? Different people do things differently. Many in the hobby are known as "completionists" those who are compelled to get every single last expansion and thing for every game they own. They buy these things without even a moment's consideration. Others, wait to play someone else's copy with the expansion to see how it effects gameplay before they buy it for themselves. And still others look to reviews online. Many reviewers get advanced copies and though you might not agree with their opinion, you can usually get a good sense of what it may or may not do for the base game before you get it. One such review site that I always suggest is Dicetower.com. Lot's of content and a great youtube channel to boot.
And what am I looking forward to? (in order of release date)
Well, here is the final product seconds before the clear coat finish. There 3 things I want to quickly write about to wrap this little tutorial up. First is "washing," and it's not what you think. Using a very watery black paint, apply over all places that have little cracks and crevasses, sort of like the spaceship and Dexter in this case. Now, I am the first to admit that I am not good at this step. I tend to not put enough pigment on, but this is an important step. If nothing else, but to give a little bit of realism to the pieces. Find a video on this technique on Youtube to see what I am talking about.
Secondly, finishing your figures with a clear coat spray will protect the paint for years to come (as long as they are handled normally, and not given to your cat as a plaything). Like the ongoing rule of thumb, several light coats and don't let it puddle. Now there is some debate as to gloss or semi-gloss. I am a gloss fan, but have used both with good results, so my recommendation, pick one and give it a whirl. Maybe even try it out on that test figure that someone commented about back in the first post.
Lastly, wait for the clear coat to dry before you dismount them from the poster tack and nail. Once you do, scrape off the bottom of any excess paint and primer with a utility knife. I do this to help ensure that no paint gets on my game boards (where it is almost impossible to get off).
That's it! I hope you've enjoyed this little walk through! Again, let me encourage you... for around $10, you too can give a whirl at painting a figure or three! It's a lot easier than you might expect and has a very calming effect... ***twitch, twitch, twitch
Have a look at my set up. The toothpicks are to get paint out of their little pots and on to the old Christmas Cookie lid which I use as a pallet (the container itself is great for paint storage). Notice the abundant amount of brushes on hand, a small thing of water and a paper towel. Alvin and Dexter stand ready for their first coats of paint. Now remember, a little paint goes a long way. I usually take out no more than a dime sized amount from the pot and put it on my pallet. This helps with a few things. The paint doesn't dry out inside the pot while I'm working with it. I don't accidentally put the wrong color into another pot. It allows for good color mixing, and if I mess up the color mix, I haven't messed up a whole bunch of paint.
The next general rule of thumb is to work from the innermost parts to the outer most. So taken in this order: skin then clothes then armor then vehicles they are in, etc. In this case we need to start with the buildings, since both the alien and the monster have the buildings IN their clutches.
Here you can see why it is important to work from the inside out. Getting to the clock tower portion of the building means working through Dexter's nether regions! If I were to have painted him first (like I wanted to) I would probably have gotten paint on or scraped paint off of that inner thigh of his in an attempt to paint the building. This is why it is also important to get comfortable tilting and spinning the figure to get the best angles for your brush. This will also show certain areas that you may have missed or forgotten about. Ideally, you want as much light as possible to help with that. Sometimes I even resort to using my phone's flashlight app to illuminate things in tough to see places.
As you can see here, using black primer does have some disadvantages. It does add shadow and depth, but it also means needing to paint lighter colors a few times to get the color right. And the same rule with primer applies here. Several thin coats are always better than one thick one- this will keep the detail intact. Let me also take this moment to talk about something I didn't photograph. Inevitably you will have some stray paint get somewhere you've already painted (say like red paint of your roof onto the yellow paint of the walls). The best way I have found to fix this is to not panic, but quickly grab one of those spare brushes, preferably a short tight brush, load it with water and then gently scrub the offending paint off. Don't scrub too hard, or you are liable to take off the paint under it that you want to keep. If you do it right, it will almost seem like the wayward paint is attracted to that new brush like a magnet.
I'm about half way finished painting the 205 pieces for War of the Ring and I thought it would be good for me to quickly paint something else over the weekend. I also wanted to take the opportunity to encourage you out there, Mr. or Mrs. Neverpaintedanythingbeforeandkindofscaredtotry, that for very little investment ($10 or so), you can probably pull off something pretty good. Pictured above are Alvin and Dexter, an expansion well worth getting for the game Ticket to Ride. Here you see them how they come... interesting, but blah. This is where the list of STUFF you will need, comes in. For the beginner I suggest, a shoe box (used for storage and as a workbench), several nails with flat heads on them, some poster tack stuff that you used as a kid (sort of like thick silly puddy found in the tape and glue isle), a can of primer (though I'm partial to Krylon Camouflage Black, as long as it is flat black it should work fine), a cheap craft acryilic paint set, some small beginner brushes (the smaller the better), and a can of clear gloss lacquer.
Now follow along- board game piece is smashed carefully into a small wad of poster tack (preferably completely under the base of the piece) which is mashed on top of nail head with the nail pushed through the shoe box top. Once you have all your pieces mounted like this (as pictured above), check the humidity outside! Anything over 65% is too humid. Once the weather is nice and dry, take the box top with the mounted figures and head outside with your primer. The box top acts not only as a holder for the pieces, but also as a shield for your hand as you pitch and move the whole thing to get at hard to spray places.
Once you are nowhere near a vehicle, the house, the dog, or cement, CHECK FOR THE BREEZE! You don't want to be covered with this stuff either. Toss a few blades of grass into the air and stand upwind. Now the golden rule to priming: spraying several thin coats is always better than just pouring it on. If it begins to look wet, just get your finger off the trigger for a few seconds. Too much too fast, and you will lose details. Here you see Alvin and Dexter with their first coat. And you can still see the details of the buildings and such. Make sure to get into sneaky areas like mouths, spaceship seats, tunnels, in between legs, etc. Keep doing this while twisting and turning the nails from under the box top to get better angles, until the pieces are completely coated.
Here we are back inside after 3, maybe 4, thin coats. You can see the rivets on the spaceship still, and though my photo doesn't show it very well, the scaly skin is still crisp and full of detail. You probably could start painting in about 15-30 minutes, but a tip I have for you is to wait overnight. This will give it a chance to completely dry and give you a chance to figure out things like color schemes and finding tricky spots to remember to paint (like deep inside the mouth of Dexter).
Next time, Painting! Part 2 Here!
After several reviews on Facebook, I thought it would be fun to write about my favorite hobby- Board Gaming. You may have seen some games on your last trip to Target or Barnes & Noble that didn't seem like the games you grew up with. Sure the old standards like Monopoly and Risk are still out there, but right now you can find way more games than you could ever play in a year on the shelves of a hobby store. And take heed, these ain't your grandmama's games! Up front you should know a little bit about them (and the people who play them) before you agree to play something you've never heard of before.
First off, know that the game you are sitting down to could cost anything from $40 to $100. The average price is about $55-$60 for a board game. Often times, owners will upgrade their games driving up their monetary and emotional value. Cards may have plastic "sleeves" to protect them, pieces may have been upgraded with custom painting or even swapped out all together for better pieces, there may be ultra rare promotional bits that weren't distributed widely. Even the box condition is important to hobbyists, so be careful when examining the box or helping to clean things up. And it always shows good manners to ask the owner of the game about what to do with any snacks or drinks you may have (where to put them- use a coaster if they are anywhere close to the game, make sure you aren't eating cheetos or doritos etc). How gamers react to others handling their games is a pretty wide spectrum. You could see every reaction from not caring one iota about the game or its bits, to those who would seemingly have you where a containment suit while playing their precious board game.
Secondly, find out how long a "learning game" will take. Many of these games have a play time that is well over an hour. Most hobbyists don't even bat an eyelash at the thought of sitting down to a game that will last TWO hours. A "learning game" will usually tack on a 50% longer playing time than one where everyone is pretty familiar with the game "mechanics." Leaving before a game ends is not be considered sinful by most, but it is generally regarded as poor form. Though this is easily forgiven when playing only one other person, consider the time and keep this in mind before sitting down with a group of people.
Thirdly, there are all sorts of games types. If the first game you try out doesn't seem to peak your interest, try something else! There are dice rolling games, deck building games, place workers for resources games, competitive games, cooperative games, short games, long games, games whose theme is rich and encompassing, games whose theme isn't all that strong but the game is still fun, light easy games, party games, heavy games (deep and complex), the list goes on and on. Don't be discouraged by the first time or two where people are talking about things that seem alien to you. They may use terminology that sounds foreign (and may even be a foreign language). You may even notice that somethings come simple to many veteran gamers who sit down to a game for the first time. Like anything else, these things will seem easy to you too, in time (many games have "mechanics" that are similar to other games on the market and experience helps those veteran players flatten the learning curve of a new game).
Lastly (for now), many gamers are always on the look out for other gamers. If you don't have a store that caters directly to the board gaming community (try a Google or Yelp search, you may be surprised), try asking at your local comic shops. Many host specific nights when we all come out and meet new folks and try new/old games that we own. That's the one thing I love about this hobby. The meeting of new people and the willingness to share what we have with one another. It's also a great way to meet people who wouldn't normally be involved in your established social circles.
So don't be too afraid to talk with new folks, strike up a conversation, ask questions, request to play this or that (whatever looks interesting), and build genuine relationships along the way.
Jason's Board Game Reviews, Suggestions, Tips, and Stuff.
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