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

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Watch Out! You Might Get What You're After!

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HOME COLLAPSES CLAIMING THE LIVES OF FIVE
TWO FIREFIGHTERS, THREE CIVILIANS PERISH IN THE BLAZE
FIVE RESCUED FROM CERTAIN DEATH

A housewarming party turned deadly last night, taking from our community two firefighters, a local game designer, a church volunteer, and Tammy Noblestein, the recently married daughter of Soloville's Mayor Thompson.

The Soloville Fire Department responded quickly to the call in the 900 block of Roane Avenue, but by the time they arrived, the flames were quite intense. According to sources a sterno can on the buffet line dislodged and set a tablecloth ablaze and the fire spread from there. As the conflagration increased in intensity, the building collapsed, immediately killing two Soloville's veteran first responders.

Fire Captain Jose Remiriz and FPS George E. Winters perished in the collapse. The third firefighter working the blaze had just exited the building carrying the fifth rescued guest to a waiting ambulance. The rescuer's name has not yet been released.

In addition to Mrs. Noblestein, the other victims were Tash'a Mitchell and Paloma Vazquez. Mitchell, 29, was a designer of board games, including the most recent game of the year "Roll, Draw, Shuffle, and Cut". Mrs. Vazquez, 43, worked at a nearby church, using her sewing skills to make blankets for the community.

The loss of these souls and their contributions to Soloville cannot be understated.



As mentioned, five persons attending the party were brought to safety by rescuers. These were:

Marcus Kelner, 22, Student
Gopi Kalluri, 28, Software Developer
Brad Lee Bradley, 34, Pediatrician
Neal Traversm 36, Musician
Esther Cohen, 27, Waitress

As the Mayor is taking time to deal with her direct personal loss in this tragedy, Assistant Mayor Ralph Waldeux issued this statement.

"We thank you for your prayers at this time for the victims of tonight's fire, their families, and for the recovery of the survivors. As more information develops into the cause of this fire and its aftermath, we will let you know. Until then, no further comment."

---------------

This was my first time to play Flash Point: Fire Rescue using the new Fire and Event decks from the Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Tragic Events expansion. Have to say: I LOVE THIS. Such an awesome and intense way of not only spreading the fire in a less fiddly way, but the event cards introduce new random elements to the game. Excellent!

It was also the first time I played using my own designed "Persons in Peril" deck for identifying the victims and rescued (details: The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and other Persons). I've used it before for Hostage Negotiator, but reworked it for use with Flash Point.

How I used it is as follows. I used blue cubes on the board for POI markers and then when "revealed" drew a real POI marker from a draw cup. Then if it was not a false alarm, when the victim was rescued or lost, I would draw a card from the Persons in Peril deck to see who they were. If they were rescued, I put them in a discard pile as normal. If they perished, I added them to the discard pile rotated 180 degrees. The POI marker went on the board as normal to keep up with the win/lose condition counts. The male/female/age/race, etc. on the POI counter had no bearing on the deck draw... each POI just represented a "human" (or dog/cat) victim. Special POI markers from the Tragic Events expansion were used if necessary by Event card.

Definitely made for a more immersive experience, IMO.

But I'm. An. Or. din. ary. Guy.

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Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:55 am
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16 Pounds and Whaddya Get? A Bunch of Chips, A Bunch of Dice and All of 'Em Fit!

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Way back in November, I built my custom insert for Too Many Bones and in anticipation of the release of Too Many Bones: Undertow, hoped that it would all fit in the single box... (original post: Make Room for Undertow!)

And it did!

In this quick video tour of the box, I'll show how it all fits nicely and with a couple of unexpected surprises thanks to Chip Theory Games.



Of course, it's a big heavy box, over 15 pounds of goodness in there. Fortunately they built the box itself pretty strong. So no doubt it's up to the challenge.




The New Zoo Revue

The new contents for Undertow are quite nice as well as the upgrades to the entire system that were made available to the backers.

The 3.0 Cards are much brighter and clearer and easier to read. Of course now I have obsolete 1.0 and 2.0 sets to deal with




3.0 cards compared to the 2.0 (new = left, old = right)


Love the upgraded Gearloc, adventure, and battle mats with the edge stitching. They don't take up any extra space and all of them fit in the box perfectly.





The Ally Pack includes six fun and thematic (albeit unnecessary) ally/companion chips to bling up the game.



Love that Undertow included two mini chip trays which added to the storage solution and were a providentially perfect fit for the space I already had for custom chip holders.



The new Gearloc dice are lovely as well, but the Undertow Attack and Defense dice are just slightly darker than the original game. But on a problem scale of 1-10, it's a zero.



And of course, all 10 of my custom Gearloc boxes fit right where they belong...



Wonderful production. Setup now for a refresher game and then on to new adventures.



As for the Too Many Bones: 40 Days in Daelore and Too Many Bones: Age of Tyranny content, I'm fairly confident it will fit in as well.

Now if they should release even more new content...

Gearloc Dice Boxes available on Etsy and the BGG Store

BGG: https://boardgamegeek.com/geekmarket/user/klkitchens
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/623948481/too-many-bones-gearlo...
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Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:42 pm
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Boardly Go... and Take Up Less Space

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Space.
The Final Frontier.

Table Space.
The Priceless Frontier.

File this under the more moderately helpful ideas. For me it works great as it makes the footprint of Star Trek: Frontiers a bit less and gives me a good spot to hold the Dummy AI player's deck.

Seemed to me the Experience and Reputation board was just a little oversized for its function. Especially for solo play. Plus the OCD in me didn't care for the inconsistent sizes of the spaces of the Experience track and the downright odd shape of the reputation track.

At first I designed this so each spot was the perfect size for the faction tokens. But in the end that reduced the board only about 2 inches in height and only slightly in width. Not a worthwhile reduction.

So I scrapped the idea.

For about four hours.

Then after a quick slingshot around the sun (no whales were harmed in the making of this sideboard), I revisited the project. Why did it need to host the faction tokens as markers? Especially for solo. So with a few quick calculations and a Photoshop resize step later, voila! A more compact 8x5" (ish) side board that is the perfect size for using a cube on each track. Of added convenience is that this printed on a 1/2 sheet mailing label and thus I didn't need to go outside to use spray adhesive to stick it to a mounting board. Colored the edges with a blue dry erase marker and all ready to go.




Again, your mileage may vary if the board is right for you. Should work fine with multiplayer as well with cubes of different colors.

FILE: Compact Experience and Reputation Track Board by ones upon a game
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Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:58 pm
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We've Got to Have Some Storage on the New Frontier

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Been too long since I played the excellent Star Trek: Frontiers and not at all since acquiring the Star Trek: Frontiers – The Return of Khan expansion.

Review of ST:F Nothing Compares 2U - A Ones Upon a Game Review

But as I was getting it all set up and incorporating the Khan expansion updates and upgrades, I realized better organization was in order. It's also been too long since I had #FunWithFoamCore, so set off to building a replacement insert. While the plastic trays are nice enough, you cannot combine the components and as usual, they take up more space than necessary. Would love to see how many straws we could recover from the amount of plastic in these oversized organizers.

So this one is really nothing fancy. Cannot make it the full size of the box, since they went with a hinged lid design and the flaps tuck inside the box, but no worries there. Made a section to hold the space tiles and added a couple of small strips of foam core on the bottom to give the tiles a lift to ease their removal. Same with the slot for Khan's ship. The Borg cubes are a perfect height and made their garage slots with just vertical walls (had to cut notches though to ease removal. Khan's ship stands shorter than the Borg, so simply stacked and glued four small squares of foam core together to lift it up to a better height.


Parking garage for enemy wessels; cards safely banded together and tucked in the extra storage slots; Used my generic boxes (5x16mm, 1x35mm) to hold the faction tokens and the player ships.


After that, I was pretty much done with the foam. I'd thought of really getting specific where things go and boxing stuff in, but like with my Too Many Bones insert, keeping it more versatile with smaller boxes holding component groups seemed to make more sense. Especially with a deeper box. (Still waiting for my KS copy of Too Many Bones: Undertow to ship to see if my plan of it ALL fitting in one box comes to fruition -- Make Room for Undertow!)

One of the things that bothered me when playing the game before were the stacks of encounter counters. ST:F takes up a lot of space and if you midjudge and have to shift things around, it's a minor nuisance (#FinalFrontierProblems) repositioning the stacks. So for the last few days I'd been working out in my head a solution to keep the stacks organized, but also stored neatly.



This is what I came up with... a small counter rack, made from a single sheet of cardstock, that has dividers to hold four stacks of counters for the game, although other games would work as well. ST:F comes with eight stacks and Khan adds a ninth one. I wanted to leave room for future expansions, so went with a four stack unit, so with three of these, there is room for three more stacks in the future.

And with the addition of a sleeve, the whole rack can be stored, keeping the counters neatly sorted and ready to go (except for the pre-game shuffle).



So now, finally, that Tribble is off my back and I can boldly go... where I went before, but want to go again...

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Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:44 pm
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Solo Gaming: A Niche Worth Scratching

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Not sure I've ever made it through a FULL 14 3+ hour episode of The Secret Cabal podcast, but had a little extra driving the last couple of days and managed to stay interested and resume play each time I got in the car. I do like their show in general, apart from occasional -- thankfully rare -- profanity and affected inflections in their speech (are they all Monster Truck announcers in real life?). However, I just usually listen to any podcasts in smaller chunks of time and move on to something else the next session.

I was listening to their latest episode mainly because of the post-GenCon information and their review of The Reckoners, but as I said, I made it to the end of this one and near the conclusion they do a short answer type session dealing with questions from listeners...

The first question (http://traffic.libsyn.com/thesecretcabalgamingpodcast/165Sec... at the 03:11:00 mark) concerned solo gaming and solo variants becoming a trend in Kickstarters and board gaming in general. I found their answers interesting and a little misinformed.

Especially calling soloists a "niche" market.

It shouldn't bother me that we're a niche market. Of course we are.

niche - denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.

So then, by definition...

* all of BGG is a "niche" of the boardgaming community.
* Fans of Gloomhaven or Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 are a "niche" market.
* Those who like playing two player are a "niche" group as well.
* Same with three or four or five.

"Niche" here is being used to minimize the impact of solo gaming. And while they didn't mean it as an insult exactly, from their perspective (as co-dependent "gaming is made to be social" players), solo gaming is a insignificant speck in the gaming community and of very limited value.

Of course this is completely wrong.

For companies, soloists are a perfect "niche" target market. Many times on the Secret Cabal, you'll hear one or more of the team state they would like to play a certain game, but would not buy it. This makes sense if someone in your group buys it, you get to try it and move on. If the average group size is three, a publisher could potentially sell to every third gamer. For soloists however, if you want to play it, then short of borrowing it from someone else, you have to have your own copy. Therefore, more gamers in the "niche" have to buy it.

Of course those who solo game are not exclusively solo either. Each gamer should make their own choices of how they play games. Solo. In groups. Some combination of the two. But solo gaming is no longer a negative identification at all. And it is growing as seen by the wisdom of many companies now to include solo variants, wonderful and intelligent AI and Automa, and of course cooperative games (not semi-coop or common goal games) which are always soloable.

As for some "niche" numbers, let's look at some data for a couple of podcast guilds here on BGG (as of this post).

The The Secret Cabal, created on September 23, 2011 has 4,674 members. Very nice.

The 1 Player guild, nearly seven months YOUNGER, created on April 12, 2012, has 9,724 or over twice as many members. And at last check it was the second largest guild in all of BGG, just falling short of the The Dice Tower which has 10,334 members (and of course has been around nearly five years longer!).

On the 1-Player Guild, there were 30 threads that were last active on August 15 or later. For the Secret Cabal, that number was FOUR (Dice Tower guild was eight by comparison).

Solo gaming is real. Solo gamers are active. And Soloists are definitely one of the more significant "niches" of the BGG and boardgaming communities.
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Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:47 pm
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"Everdell Road"

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A tribute to a famous album cover by another group of little critters...

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Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:32 pm
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(woo hoo, woo hoo) a Black Rat and a 2D Tree

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Those of you playing the wonderful Everdell solo, may find this file useful. It's the solo steps for running Rugwort (the rattie baddie) through an entire game. Nothing fancy, but easier than flipping through the book and missing a step.

FILE: Everdell Solo Reference by ones upon a game


2D or not 2D, That is the Question

Now I love the 3D tree that comes in both the standard and collector's edition of Everdell. Since I love paper crafting, I find the design and function of the tree to be excellent. The draw deck is held tucked in the trunk, the special event cards are in the lower bough, and your seasonal worker increases rest in the upper bough until it's their time to shine.

However, as I mentioned before I added a protective varnish on the tree to keep it safe during the setup and takedown. But as I disassembled the tree to put it away after my last session, I thought how much time this takes and how, playing solo, I've already been impressed by it. I don't need to see it on the board every game. Others have also noted that with repeated use, the tree will wear out.



So off to Photoshop I went. Being careful this time not to use ANY of Starling Games (II) artwork (the photo background is even mine), I created this side board for Everdell, that will fit at the top of the board and provides space for the special events and waiting workers. Printed mine on white 110# cardstock and then spray glued to a piece of artwork mounting board. I rough cut initially and cut the mounting board a little larger. Then when the glue was set, trimmed down to the final size. A few coats of varnish to protect and voila! An alternative board for quick setup and take down.

I'll still use the 3D tree if I ever introduce the game to other players. The wow factor will draw them in. But here's a functional little board that will suffice for my solo sessions in the future. You may need to shift the basic events around a little, or move this board off the main board.



As for the cards, I will just use one of my cut and fold card shoes to keep the deck in line.

FILE: Tree Side Board by ones upon a game
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Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:42 am
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I am a Trademark Infringer!

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As a software developer, I am very conscious of piracy laws for software, music, movies, etc... When I made for add-on storage crates to be used for Everdell by Starling Games (II), it truly never occurred to me that adding the tiny logo for "flavor" was a violation, but I guess I should have. Fortunately, Starling politely notified me of my villainous oversight and requested as trademark holder that I remove their logo from the pattern.

I guess it's easy to get so caught up in the community spirit of boardgaming that one can misstep without realizing it. The issue was probably more that I was charging a nominal fee for the pattern and that's certainly fair.

So to that end, I have updated the template pattern to a generic "FRAGILE" cargo script on the lid and as a bonus included a larger version of the crate as well.

Coincidentally just yesterday someone had requested a more generic pattern to use with other games, so this worked out well overall.

You can find the pattern here if you're interested.
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Wed Aug 8, 2018 2:47 pm
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Everdell: Resource Storage Crates and Tree Surgery

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UPDATE: Starling Games contacted me and didn't like my use of the name and logo on the crates themselves, so I have re-editto remoe the logo. Fortunately someone else was interested in them without branding already so it might work out for the best all the same.

First off, have to say, Everdell is an absolute gem (or resin?) of a game. Designed by James A. Wilson, published by Starling Games (II) and beautifully illustrated by Andrew Bosley, Everdell is a breath of fresh air. Quick to play, easy rules, but medium complexity, the game will thrill soloists, groups, and families alike.

Resource Storage Crates

One thing I noticed during my playing the game though was the piles of resources (twigs, resin, pebbles, and berries) that sit in designated spots on the board tend to roll and shift around as fat fingers try to pick one up. I wanted a solution to this problem that would be thematic as well as provide storage for the resources in the game box.



You've probably noticed by now that I like to design custom boxes for various games (like for Too Many Bones and others)... but I've never delved into designing a box with full graphics. Thinking on the theme, I decided on a shipping crate motif that would look good on the board, keeping the resources in place as well as have a lid so they could go right into the game box.




This pattern is available now on Etsy for $2.49. You get two full crates from a single sheet of 65# or 110# cardstock, so you only need to print two copies. Full instructions with photos included.


Tree Surgery

Surgery of more the cosmetic variety. The Evertree included with the game is quite lovely. Made of five pieces of coated chipboard, it adds a wonderful 3D element to the game and thematically your little critters are waiting in the tree to help in later seasons (a turtle up the tree???).

However, being chipboard, I was worried the assembly/disassembly would eventually create too much wear and softness on the pieces. Also, being chipboard, it has the ugly raw edges for such a beautiful component.

First thing, I used dry erase markers (with a bit of help from Mr. Sharpie and yellow highlighter) to color the edges of the boards. For the tree I simply used black as that blends well with the brown and looks like shadows of bark lines. For the spring/summer areas of the tree, green was used and yellow highlighter on the autumn area. As groovy as the tree is shaped, it was a little challenging to get into some of the nooks, but patience and a little "bending" remedied that.



Next for protection, I wanted to seal the edges to prevent them from fraying, but also give a protective coat for the faces of the pieces. For this I turned to a wonderful product called "Right Step" (https://jwetc.com/products) which is a clear varnish. It's "self levelling" so you put it on thin and brush strokes should disappear. I used a Satin finish (between matte and gloss) and turned out great. Downside I didn't plan for was the varnish dripped over the edge and puddled on the reverse side, creating some interesting textures on that side, but nothing too bad. Looking back, I'd rest them on dice or something to keep them lifted off the wax paper when drying.




In the end though, the effect worked perfectly. The edges are mostly colored and the tree components have a nice sheen to them and fit together smoothly.

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Mon Aug 6, 2018 4:59 pm
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Cleaning Tools for Math Trade Moderators

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(most of you will find this boring I understand. But if you ever run a math trade, you might find it useful. )

Cleaning Tools for Math Trade Moderators

I created a couple of tools that I use for running OLWLG math trades and moved them to a website so that other mods could use them if they so choose.

The site is here: http://mathtrade.onesuponagame.com/

and the tools are discussed in detail in these two threads.

First is a simple tool for reducing the list of trades down to a list of unique traders. This is normally done for trial runs during the wants period. [Math Trade Moderators] Math Trade Preliminary Results Cleaner

Second is a cleaner of the wants file so that it will blanklist any items you identify as problems. It also does arbitrage checking BEFORE the trade is run. [Math Trade Moderators] Math Trade Wants Cleaner Introduction

Hope you find them useful!
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Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:08 am
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