Archive for the ‘Spartacus boardgame’ Tag

The Lord of the Rings Strategy Game: Part Two   1 comment

An Unexpected Journey

So my positive experiences with the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game led me to start buying more figures so that I could try out more of the scenarios from the first Journeybook, The Fellowship of the Ring.

This in turn led me to start making terrain.  Although I’m a Graphic Designer, I had not attempted to make original structures for a game since way back in 1987-88 when I made two Hockey arenas to pimp out the boardgame, Strat-o-Matic Hockey.  They have been long since destroyed and I only recently found a photo of one of them:

Hockey Arena

That project was a lot of fun because I was trying to add a personal touch to my drafted team from Strato.  I then made a domed stadium (with open and closing roof) for a friend’s birthday but unfortunately I have no record of it.  This was my first taste of adding chrome to a boardgame.  Back then, my buddy and I also went to the local Radio Shack and bought wire, buttons, a buzzer, and a beacon light to pimp out my stand up Coleco Rod Hockey game.  I made the tower out of foamboard and hung the beacon from it.  The wiring and buttons allowed us each to trigger the buzzer and beacon whenever we scored.

Back to the Journeybooks. Each Journeybook comes with diagrams and instructions on making the various distinctive terrain pieces that adorn the playing areas for each scenario.   I found this encouraging for me to start to build structures again.  Sure, I could have bought a lot of this stuff, but cumulatively, the cost of making your own terrain is far less expensive than buying it, and some pieces are not available for purchase. Was I nervous about making terrain from scratch?  Yup!  There is a startup cost involved as well as a high cost in time commitment.  That and I still disliked painting.  Overall, there was this feeling of dread as I had no guarantee that the end result would look “decent”.  Online sources of “inspiration” usually contain pictures of awesome work done by experienced miniature gamers.  Although I’ve dabbled in it, I am far from being an expert.  Even so, I would hate to waste my time on something that didn’t look “table ready”.

Why go to the trouble then?  Is using the appropriate terrain pieces even necessary?  Well no, but here’s the “rub”.  Virtually any appropriately sized object can be used as terrain.  Even basic cut shapes. In fact, the rules for miniature games don’t ever require….”miniatures”.  Every miniature game can be played with plastic bases and either stand-up or flat cardboard chits on top.  (a simple “height” rating can be adopted for line of sight if using flat chits)    As long as the bases are relevant, you can even proxy entire armies with any like-sized miniatures or cardboard cutouts that you already have.  As long as you have access to the rules, you do not ever have to purchase or paint a miniature/terrain piece and you can still enjoy the tactics, the throwing of dice and the various combos between unit types.

So, would I ever seriously entertain this cost-effective way of playing miniatures games?  Absolutely not. Why?  Because of the main reason why I like playing miniature games. Aside from the rulebook, miniature gaming is all chrome. Miniature gamers spend all sorts of time and money on unnecessary details that offer nothing in terms of rules implementation and tactics.  However, chrome is everything when it comes to mood, and theme and personality.  It’s all about a game that “looks” good.  A game that catches your eye when you walk by a gaming table. A game that you have personalized in some way and is faithful to its subject matter.  Much like pimping boardgames!

I happen to think that chrome can be every bit as important as a ruleset.  Where else can you showcase your enjoyment of a hobby if not in the ability to add your own stamp to it?  My Orcs will look the way I want them to and even if I follow a colour scheme, they were hand painted by me!  My cliffs will be shaped the way I made them.  Every cut.  Every brush.  Every success and every mistake.

So the Fellowship of the Ring Journeybook has diagrams and suggestions to make rocks, walkways, stairs, rivers, Amon Sul, Amon Hen, Buckleberry Ferry…etc.  So I took the plunge and I made all of them!  🙂

Terrain built following the steps from the Fellowship of the Ring Journeybook.

Terrain built following the steps from the Fellowship of the Ring Journeybook.

I hadn’t had this much fun doing “crafts” since my  Hockey arena days.  I should clarify.  I have certainly enjoyed pimping out boardgames over the past 6 years or so.  But little of that involved making original pieces.  That side of the hobby involves painting figures, cannibalizing parts for use with a game and/or redesigning and printing out custom chits or boards.  Creative?  yes, but it’s still not quite the same thing as actually making something from scratch.

Now following diagrams in the Journeybooks is not an example of making something from scratch either.  What the Journeybooks did for me was help me get my feet wet again.  When I made the Hockey arenas, I did not plan them out.  I made them “on the fly” and I certainly didn’t paint them.  By making the “Fellowship” pieces, I became more confident to try something original. It taught me some of the skills I would need  to start making my own plans for a mod.  This time, I chose the boardgame Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery.  As it is also 28mm in scale, the Gladiatorial arena could be used as terrain as well!

Here is a record of the building process; from planning to completion.

Spartacus arena stage1 Spartacus arena stage2 Spartacus arena stage3a Spartacus arena stage4

Unexpected feedback!

On, I was asked by GaleForce9 for permission to use pics of my arena on the Facebook page for the Spartacus game.  I agreed of course, and they sent me a nice letter of thanks (Gratitude!) as well as the complete set of promo cards for the game.

I was also invited to submit my arena pics to the 29th Monthly Pimp My Boardgame Contest and at this very early stage, it seems to be doing well.

So in a sense, I’ve come full circle.  From Hockey Arena to Gladiatorial Arena.  A byproduct of gaming that remains exciting for me and my interest in both Miniatures and Boardgames!