Astonishingly-detailed foam Coliseum for Tabletop Gaming

On Tabletop Witchcraft, John builds an amazing gladiatorial coliseum that is one of the most impressive tabletop builds I've seen in a while. Read the rest

Kickstarting Sugar Heist, a delightful card game about stealing candy from babies

Sugar Heist is a fun-looking new card game from YouTube comedian/animator Alex Clark and TV writer Zach Craley (Heroes Reborn, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, and Spider-Man) with a simple goal: trade and steal cards so you can build up a giant stash of candy. "We guarantee that Sugar Heist is THE BEST way to bring together family and friends," the creators write, "so you can betray their trust and steal from them."

Here's the epic origin story behind this wacky game:

 Sugar Heist was inspired by Alex’s best friends, Zach and Kat, having twins. When they were born, Alex looked to his wife, Pam, and said: “It’s finally time for our own baby.”  Alex quickly clarified that he meant a tabletop game and thankfully Pam was still on board.

The four of us play games regularly and have always dreamed of making our own, but we also loved putting it off. It wasn’t until the twins were born that we decided to follow through.

Based on their birth, Alex immediately had an epiphany, "What if it’s a game where you collect candy and use it to lure children into your van."

[…]

Based on these convos we realized our idea was wildly inappropriate. While a game catering to that crowd might be a great way to roundup weirdos, To Catch a Predator-style, we knew we’d prefer to reach a wider audience.

We thought let’s do something “not creepy” — What if stealing candy from babies wasn’t always easy? What if these babies could defend themselves?

Read the rest

Relicblade launches campaign for new two-player starter set

It seems weird to be writing about something as frivolous as a game while the world is infected and on fire, but we do need a little distraction and joy to keep us sane, and for some of us, the gaming hobby offers just that.

Sean Sutter, the one-person game designing artistic juggernaut behind the fabulous fantasy narrative skirmish wargame, Relicblade just launched a Kickstarter for his latest product, a two-person starter set. Within 30 minutes, he had blown past his funding goal and is currently over $40,000. For those of us familiar with this game, this is no surprise at all. To know Relicblade is to love Relicblade.

While I am a huge, lifelong fan of the tabletop gaming hobby in general, I especially adore indie games that are basically the vision of one artist. Relicblade is such a wonder. Sean does nearly everything. He designs the games, writes and lays out the rulebooks, does all of the art, sculpts all of the miniatures. This would all be impressive enough, but the quality with which he does it all makes it even more impressive. His product line confidently stands next to the big dogs in the industry.

The latest campaign, called Storms of Kural, is a two-player starter set designed to provide everything needed to enter the world of Relicblade. There are two main pledge levels, one at $100 for the rulebook, minis, cards, and tokens, and one at $85 for people who already own the rulebook. Read the rest

Steve Jackson Games posts solo rules for their classic card game Illuminati

Fellow ancient nerds like myself likely have fond memories of Steve Jackson's now-classic game of global conspiracy and high-weirdness, Illuminati. I still have, and cherish, my copies of the original pocket box games, the reissues, and way too many of the New World Order collectable cards.

Now, Alex Yeager of SJ Games has posted a draft version of a set of rules for playing Illuminati solo. He describes it as a "game-play adjacent" experience. This means that it's not going to give you an experience equal to a full game of Illuminati against opponents, but it will (hopefully) be a satisfying session of Illuminati solitaire, and a way of enjoying the game even if you can't have mates around to play with.

Image: Cover art Read the rest

Brent from Goobertown Hobbies shares his biggest mini painting breathrough

In this helpful video, Brent of Goobertown Hobbies recreates one of his painting ah-ha moments when he first realized how to paint highlights on objects that don't have edges.

Everyone new to miniature painting knows the joys of finally figuring out how to successfully paint undercoats/shading, basecoats, and highlights. And then the next level of being able to do competent edge highlighting and other final highlighting.

But then there's the next level of things like painting dimensionality on large, smooth surfaces and surfaces that don't really have discernible edges. In the video, Brent shows his process for tackling this aspect of mini painting. He runs through it (using some shield-wielding Warhammer lizardmen) in a way that should make it easy for painters of any intermediate skill to master.

I love Brent's calm and quiet demeanor (he's been called the Bob Ross of mini painting) and his chill approach to what can seem a daunting process: "We might not end up with exactly what we had in mind, but we'll probably end up someplace cool." Read the rest

Download and use these 3D printed models of every D&D monster

Wizards of the Coast have already launched their "Stay at Home, Play at Home" free gaming resource for the Dungeons & Dragons system. But while you're getting your campaign in order — and if you already have access to a 3D-printer — you can take your remote gaming to the next level with these free printable models created by artist Miguel Zavala.

From Polygon:

Miguel Zavala’s art project consists of more than 1,900 digital files, and he has nearly 3,000 paying subscribers supporting his work on Patreon. Polygon talked with Zavala about his work, and how (for the most part) he’s been able to avoid the ire of D&D’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast.

Zavala says he studied 3D modeling in college, but after a stint in the advertising industry he left it all behind. That’s until five years ago, when his wife inspired him to make a hobby of creating digital models for his own 3D printer. After getting a good response on Reddit, he started taking commissions for custom figures. Eventually that income became enough to pay the rent, he quit his day job to work at 3D modeling full time.

“I’ve made almost 2,000 models so far” Zavala said, “covering all of the D&D books all the way up to [Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes]. It’s just been a hell of a ride.”

Again, the models are free, but you can also join Zavala's Patreon and support him in his work, which is a good and right thing to do. Read the rest

Wizards of the Coast's "Stay at Home, Play at Home" page of free D&D materials and resources

There has probably never been a better time to cajole your family members and far-flung friends into playing D&D. It's a great escape from the strange world we now find ourselves in and a perfect organized activity that involves planning, social interaction, cooperative story-telling, logic and math, creativity, and the imagination.

To make your shut-in days (weeks and months) a little bit more entertaining and fun, WotC has set up a "Stay at Home, Play at Home" section of their Dungeons & Dragons website. There you can find tons of free online tools to assist you in your games: how to play materials, free basic rules, campaigns, encounters, and even activities and coloring books for younger kids. They also have a resource section for ways to play D&D remotely.

(And yes, that's a dragon wearing an N95 mask on the logo. As I said, strange times.)

Image: Program logo Read the rest

Cassette-based D&D adventures and dungeon-delving soundtracks

I love the work that the Italian DIY ambient punk and dungeon drone label, Heimat Der Katastrophe, is doing. They release cassette tapes and digital albums via Bandcamp that are sonic-based old-school D&D adventures. Every cassette comes with a folded tray card with maps, dungeon and character descriptions, and background on the adventure depicted in the music and on the card. You can just listen and enjoy the music, or follow along with the action outlined in the adventure, or play an actual D&D adventure using the music and material provided.

HDK's latest offering is artist Kobold's "The village in the frozen mountains." The music is described as "short dungeon-pop compositions in a 16-bit style with magic melodies that will transport you straight to when you were young and carefree."

The limited edition cassettes sell out immediately. Today's release is already gone. But you can listen to the music free on Bandcamp or buy the digital album which comes with all of the adventure materials.

Image: Promo photo Read the rest

Creating realistic vegetation for a tabletop gaming board

Last month, I covered the unreal tabletop fantasy village that Real Terrain Hobbies and Goobertown Hobbies built using buildings from Tabletop World, two Croatian sculptors who pretty much make the best resin-cast fantasy buildings in the world.

Now, Neil of Real Terrain is building a gaming board and terrain features worthy of the Tabletop World buildings that he and Brent so meticulously painted.

Here are his first two videos documenting the process. The first is of him building the actual board, the second is him beginning to add paint, the ground cover, and vegetation. These videos are something of a masterclass in terrain making.

One thing that Neil shares in the second video is a great tip for all miniatures painters and terrain makers. As he begins to put the watered down paint onto his foam rock formations (in gray, brown, green, and black), he has to remind himself that it's going to look kind of awful, like it might not be working, before he's done. This is something that often frustrates and scares newbies. Often, basecoats and early layerings of paint can look bad and you can become fearful that you're on the wrong track. As you gain more experience painting and weathering, you realize that it takes time to build up your colors, and that, for things to look realistic, you need many different colors and sometimes some of those colors look wrong when first applied. Things in nature are not a single color. Your minis and terrain look best when they have a complex of color. Read the rest

The fantastic fantasy miniatures game, Frostgrave, is currently free!

Osprey Games has made the PDF version of their popular game, Frostgrave, free in a gesture of support for self-isolating gamers who might be interested in the award-winning skirmish-level fantasy miniatures game.

Frostgrave is normally a two-player game of wizards and their warbands duking it out over treasure and other spoils in the ruins of the frozen city of Frostgrave. But there have been some solo adventures in the Dark Alchemy supplement and the recent Perilous Dark supplement. As part of their shut-in bundle, Osprey is also giving away Dark Alchemy for free, along with the three solo scenarios from Perilous Dark. You use the code FGV2020 on check-out to get the free deal.

Frostgrave is one of my favorite tabletop miniature games and I can't say enough good things about it. I've never played solo, but I became tempted when Perilous Dark was released. Now that we're all trapped in our wizard's towers, under siege from tiny, glowing invisible monsters, it seems like a good time to give solo Frostgrave a roll. I've got an Explosive Rune spell with "COVID-19" written all over it.

Here's a bit more about the free PDF deal from Frostgrave's creator, Joseph McCullough.

Image: Cover art for Frostgrave: The Wizard's Conclave Read the rest

Hand of Glory offers modular, magnetic gaming miniatures

If you've ever tried to create swapable arms and weapons on gaming miniatures, using rare earth magnets, you know what a hassle it can be. Great idea, not fun to implement.

In 2018, a Kickstarter called Hand of Glory raised $156,000 to create a line of hot-swapable fantasy miniatures. With a collection of figures outfitted with rare earth magnet wrists and a line of weapons and other accessories, you could mix and match to create unique miniatures tailored to your game. Hand of Glory is back with another campaign to add more figures and tons more weapons and accessory options to the line.

The folks at Hand of Glory were kind enough to send me a sample box of minis and weapons. The minis are wonderfully sculpted and the weapons and other components are varied and characterful. Hand of Glory 2 introduces 11 new figures and over 100 new weapons and other items. Among the new additions are chain-based weapons and animal figures on chain leashes.

I have never played a game using magnetized minis, so I can't judge how fussy the process is of changing out parts on the fly, or how often things fall off. The magnets do seem strong, but I did notice that some of the bigger, heavier weapons sometimes pivot on the magnetic wrist as you move the figure and "go limp," not something you ever want your scary, intimidating weapon to do. But this is a minor quibble.

With so many people using miniatures in RPGs these days, and so many cool "miniature agnostic" fantasy skirmish games out there, these sort of modular, design-your-own minis make a lot of sense. Read the rest

A great, non-intimidating way to get started in miniature-based Dungeons & Dragons

A lot of roleplaying gamers who are used to playing in "theater of the mind" mode (with nothing more than pencil, paper, dice, and vivid imaginations) are often intimidated by the idea of switching over to miniatures and terrain-based gaming. The idea of acquiring and painting the minis, building a gaming board, and making a bunch of terrain and props can be an overwhelming prospect. All of this "dungeon crafting" really is a hobby unto itself for many of us [raises hand].

So, I really like these projects on Dungeon Craft. Basically, you build a stone floor on top of a lazy Susan using insulation foam and some simple walls, doors, and other dungeon furnishings (also out of foam). Your main tool is a gel pen that you use to simply draw/carve the stones into the foam.

You don't need to create a complete dungeons and all of the furnishings to do mini-based RPGs. All you need is this little, moveable theater-in-the-round stage that you can change up with each encounter you're looking to represent to your players.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Two well-known YouTube game crafters paint up an entire tabletop fantasy village in five days

"Two men, one highly detailed resin fantasy village, and five days to paint it."

If you're a fantasy tabletop gamer, you likely know about Tabletop World, two Croatian terrain makers whose resin-cast buildings are the gold standard in tabletop gaming. Read the rest

Crowdfunding an old school gaming zine as part of Kickstarter's Zine Quest 2 campaign

James Floyd Kelly runs the excellent Tabletop Engineer channel on YouTube and Bexim's Bazaar, a monthly tabletop gaming magazine (to which I often contribute a game-crafting column).

Like me, Jim was a lover of 80s roleplaying game fanzines. Unlike me, he's decided to use Kickstarter's Zine Quest 2 campaign as an excuse to try his hand at creating one of these homemade, old school zines. His zine, entitled Tavern Tales #1: Lair of the Battle Mage, will be a 32-page mini-adventure delivered in the format of the classic gaming zine (5.5" x 8" size).

To honor the fun and uniqueness and rarity of the handmade, old school fanzines that have survived from the 70s and 80s, no more than 300 physical copies of Tavern Tales #1: Lair of the Battle Mage will be printed and mailed to backers. I'm going old school -- I'll be printing them, folding them, stapling them, and mailing them. I've created the 300 limit because I can only print, assemble and ship so many in the month of October. (Yes, more of Niloshis' tales may make an appearance in future zines, but not this one. Read it, play it, and then tuck it away for someone to discover in a few decades or more.)

If you haven't checked out the Zine Quest 2 campaign, do! There is an embarrassment of retro-gaming riches here.

Image: Kickstarter Screengrab Read the rest

Why Star Breach is a sci-fi tabletop skirmish game you should be paying attention to

One of the coolest, most impressive games I was introduced to last year was Wild in the Streets, a free-rules punk, goth, and metal miniatures skirmisher from Slow Death Games. Slow Death has upped the ante on awesome with their latest project, Star Breach. Like WITS, this "multiverse" narrative-style skirmish game has free and simple downloadable rules [PDF] and is miniatures agnostic.

In this play-through video, Gaminggeek discusses his quest for the perfect sci-fi skirmish rules and explains why he thinks Star Breach fits the bill. He ends up giving the game a 9 out of 10.

I have yet to play the game, but I love the straightforward approach to the rules and the ability to play games within the worlds of 40K, Star Wars: Legion, Deadzone, Necromunda, Kill Team, etc, using an alternative rules set. Anyone familiar with these sci-fi universes will recognize "the Hive," "Legions of Mankind," "the Resistance," "the Dark Path," and other thinly-veiled versions of factions found in other popular sci-fi games.

Star Breach is currently on Kickstarter with a softcover rulebook and sets of special StarBreach dice. You can use regular d6 dice (it's a 2d6-based system), but the official dice are worth it. Read the rest

Black Magic Craft unboxes a full-color 3D-printed Hero Forge miniature

Jeremy of Black Magic Craft managed to get his hands on one of the prototype 3D printed full-color(!) miniatures that Hero Forge is currently offering in their Kickstarter campaign for Hero Forge 2.0.

As you can see from the video, the results are pretty impressive, as are the other miniature design and digital painting tools coming in Hero Forge 2.0. Given all of this gamery goodness, it is perhaps no surprise that Hero Forge's Kickstarter campaign has already racked up over $2 million, with 15 days still to go. Read the rest

My favorite new game, KnifeTank: The Shüffling, is now on Kickstarter

Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of getting to play a new game that quickly became my son's and my favorite over the holiday break (when we try to play lots of games together). It's my friend Doc Popular's KnifeTank and he was kind enough to send me a prototype copy.

When I got the game, I was excited, but with reservations. No offense to Doc, but I expected it to be light and gimmicky, something of a vanity project. What I wasn't expecting was a game I instantly wanted to play over and over again and invite my friends to come and play (which I did). KnifeTank can hold its own against anything coming out of a large commercial game company and I look forward to it enjoying a long and happy life, with many expansions and a worldwide, enthusiastic player community.

KnifeTank comes in a poker-type tuck box and includes everything you need to play. You get 30 action/movement cards, 8 tanks (4 two-sided cards), 4 health cards, and 5 damage cards. The box also contains a rule book and there are two rules summary cards. The game is for 2-4 players and rated ages 12 and up. Each game takes about 20-30 minutes to play. The goal of the game is get your tank from your table's edge to your opponent's edge or to eliminate your opponent(s) by reducing their health/hits to zero.

Those familiar with tabletop miniature games like Star Wars X-Wing and Gaslands will likely dig the movement mechanic here. Read the rest

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