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A TI4 turn assistant

I just stumbled across a post on boardgamegeek from user Nitrik announcing a project that to build a game play assistant app for TI4.

According to Nitrik’s post, the web based app has the following features:

This website is a TI4 full turn assistant, to be used on a side screen of your game (computer, projector, TV, etc.).
It takes in charge:
– 3 to 8 players games
– Turn Phases
– Speaker token owner
– Strategy picks
– Trade Goods on unpicked Strategies
– Initiative call and action tracker
– Vote counters for Agenda
– Victory Points
– Inactivity warning (to keep the game flow) 
– global timer
– auto-save (in case of PC crash or accidental page closing) 

The aim of this tool is simply to make the life easier for players. Only one must handle the mouse (no keyboard needed).

Here’s a link to the thread so you can find out more.

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What are Progressive Edge Spots?

Being able to easily count how much money your opponents have from across the table is important in some games.

Some poker chips, like our GameChips, use a method known as Progressive Edge Spots, to make it easier to identify the value of a chip from across the table.

In addition to using one or more colors, progressive edge spots are usually a pattern that becomes more complex. In the example below, the low value chips using a single color edge spot design. For each digit of the denomination, an additional stripe or color is added. Therefore, the more colors\stripes that make up the edge spot, the higher the value.

The example below illustrates how this works.

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What happened to

Hi Folks,

Returning folks will notice that things look a little different now on the site. We’re in the process of making some changes. Don’t worry, we’ll still continue to host that great Twilight Imperium section that so many of you enjoy!  In the coming weeks, expect to see more changes.

Eventually, we’ll be moving our Ecommerce store over to this site – as currently it is a separate URL.

Thanks for your understanding during the changes.

ps. Each of the game resource pages can be accessed from the Strategy Guides menu above!



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The results are in!

A few weeks ago, I launched a survey to my mailing list of users.  Of the 2,479 invitations sent out, there were 655 responses – 512 were complete responses and 143 were partial.   Here’s a quick take on what was most interesting.


Let’s start with the Holy Crap observation – Look how many folks have more than 100 games!


More than half of those responded have more than 100 games.  No wonder the game hobby is expanding so quickly!   In the future, I’ll need to up the scale to find out just how deep the rabbit hole goes…

The next question was about how often people visit  About 60 % either daily or a few times a week.

Favorite Game Designer?  A word cloud to highlight the top responses.  Not too surprising, except I didn’t expect Steve Jackson to make the list.



Where do most folks who visit live?

and finally….the favorite board games of those who participated in the survey!

Thank you to all who took the time to participate in the survey.



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The most amazing collectors edition of a game..ever?


For those unfamiliar with the Small World Designer’s Edition (SWDE) – it’s a very special edition board game that originated from a Kickstarter project that was mostly focused on developing a enhanced version of the Small World app.  Within the write-up for the project, the details of the SWDE were revealed.

Kickstarter overview of SMDE

Unfortunately, many of those who would wanted this amazing edition probably weren’t aware of it.

When Days of Wonder announced that they would be selling the remainder of the print run that weren’t needed for Kickstarter backers, it was welcome news to many gamers who were pining for a copy.

XB1A6839On the day the games were made available, they sold out very quickly.  In about 5 minutes the remaining copies had been sold.  I was lucky enough to have completed the transaction before the supplies were depleted.

The secondary market for copies was quickly inundated with sellers looking to flip their recently acquired copies.  Asking prices of over $1000 were not uncommon.

Upon receiving my set, I was floored by the sheer size and weight of the wooden box.  I’m guessing that the War of the Ring Collectors edition might be similar, but since I haven’t had a chance to see one first hand, I’m not certain.

After seeing some posts on BGG about painting the resin figures, I was hesitant about applying my mediocre painting skills to these valuable miniatures. Luckily, I came across a post from a member who was offering up his painting skills for Small World.  (If you are looking for him, he goes by the BGG user name Benwax123).

After trading a few messages, I decided to take the plunge and have him paint my set.  I was hesitant, as sending off a valuable set of miniatures to someone whom I never met face to face, was a bit scary.  Given he had painted a number of sets prior to mine, I concluded that he was probably reliable – or else – someone on BGG I’m sure would have raised the concern on the thread.


I carefully packed up my miniatures.  I ordered some small bubble wrap bags from Amazon to help ensure their safe arrival.

I sent them out, and crossed my fingers for no damage.  A few days Benwax123 sent me over a note indicated they had arrived safe and sound.

It looks a few weeks for my turn in the queue and Ben let me know that painting was starting. It was about one month from shipping to completion.

Here are some pictures showing the painted miniatures.



And another



And another


Very happy with how these came out and looking forward to it’s first play.




One of the coolest things about the designer edition is the heavy wooden tiles that are used for races tokens .  Think scrabble tiles.



Each race is packed in its own box, which has a flocked insert that is designed to fit the exact number of tiles needed for each race.   This is a nice extra touch that shows how much thought went into every aspect of the production of this special edition.

Also, the Race Banners and Special Power badges are created from think wooden stock.   The image below shows the standard edition compared to the Special Edition.



Another great element of the SWDE is the metal currency.  I was surprised to find all of the coins were individually wrapped.


This next image shows the regular edition currency along side the Designer Edition equivlents.


Since Victory Points are kept secret, the SWDE includes drawstring bags for each player to store their Victory Point coins.

Overall,  the Small World Designer’s Edition is an over-the-top amazing edition of an extremely popular game.  I imagine that over time the value on these sets will continue to rise, as it seems unlikely that a more impressive version of this game will be developed.  If you enjoy collectors edition games, this might be the best one out there.




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The best storage for games and accessories

If you collect games, you are probably acutely aware of the storage challenges that are inherent in this hobby. I’ve found some solutions that work well – at least for me.  I thought I’d write a quick post to share these with you.


Let’s start with the games storage.  Like many others will likely agree – Ikea Kallax series is ideal for games.  The are sturdy and perfectly sized for most games – except the really big boxes.




Another great storage solution is this handy toolbox from Home Depot. The beauty of this particular toolbox is that it features removable bins. It works perfectly for those premium-grade realistic resource tokens from Stonemaier Games.  When you are setting up to play, just take out the bins needed…perfect.


It’s a Husky 22″ Cantilever Professional Organizer.  Costs about 30 bucks at Home Depot. The only downside is  it is fairly heavy.






For chip storage – after trying may solutions – I’ve determined that chip carousels are the best choice.  I managed to find a few 500 chip models on eBay.  These are great, only drawback is that these particular ones don’t have a lid, so taking them out of the house would require caution.


Stay tuned – hoping to find a few more things to add to this list in the near future.  Feel free to add your ideas in the comments.


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Can you believe how big this version of Bruges is?

Giant Bruge

After playing a few ‘giant’ games at Origins last year, it became clear that playing a game on a large scale version was a lot of fun.  On the drive back to New York, it occurred to me in a moment of utter clarityGiant Bruges!  Immediately, the idea started to take hold, and I began brainstorming on how to upsize my favorite game of all time.

I thought it would be good to share my experience with this project, in the hopes that it might inspire others to transform their favorite game into a giant sized masterpiece of gaming goodness.

The project by making a list of all of the components, and jotting down notes about suitable large size replacements. Logically, determining how large the board should be is one of the first decisions to make as it guides many of the other decisions that will follow.

The Board

One of the considerations for board size is picking one that will fit on a table.   Using measurements from the table in my Game Room, I determined the largest board that would fit.

Once I knew roughly how big I wanted to make it, I started looking into how I might go about getting the game board printed and mounted.  After some research, I found a company called Print & Play Productions.  They specialize in game parts, custom prototypes, and print & play games.   I ended up ordering a 2 piece board.  Each 13″ x 9″ section would fold 4 times.  Resulting in an overall board size of 35 1\2″ by 49 1\2″.  The cost of the board was about 50 bucks.

The next step was to figure out how to transform the small board into the right size.  My initial attempt was to try to obtain a high resolution file from the publisher (Z-Man), but as I suspected that didn’t happen.  My fallback was to scan the board using a scanner.   In order to keep the graphics looking good when upscaled, I decided to scan at 600 dpi. Fair Warning – scanning at 600 DPI will produce some pretty big files.

Since the board would not fit on my small home scanner, I ended up scanning it twice and then merged the two images together using Photoshop.   While in Photoshop, I adjusted the size as needed to fit the board size available at the printing site.

Here’s a image showing the regular size board and my oversized version.





After finding a good solution for the game board, I decided to tackle replacing the workers component. In the box, these are just your basic meeples in the 5 colors used throughout Bruges (yellow, brown, blue, purple, and red).   I created a template to make these about 3″ tall.  I decided to make these about 5\8″ thick so that they will easily stand on their own. Eventually, I’d love to have someone paint the meeples with faces and clothes to make them look like different types of workers.  For now, they are simply spray painted with a coat of matte clear finish.  Lucky for me, my father is pretty handy with a scroll saw and the only cost was spray paint in the appropriate colors.


Threat markers

The game includes a bunch of pie wedge shaped threat markers.   If during the game a player receives the 3rd marker of one type (completing the pie), the threat triggers and the player suffers the negative consequence.  In Bruge, there are 5 different types of threats. Figuring out how to represent these in my giant version was difficult.  I wanted to maintain consistency with the colors of the threats, but find something more fun to represent them.   For consistency, I wanted to find replacement items that were in the 2-3 inch size if possible.

Let’s start with Plague which seemed to be the easiest.  Since this component has a picture of a rat, I did some shopping online for small plastic rats.  These were pretty easy to find.   The trade-off is that the plastic rats are black, but the actual threat marker is brown.  A small trade-off that I decided I would accept.  Cost: $13


The next threat marker was a bit more complicated to decide on.  What item would be good to represent a flood?  I pondered this for a while, and eventually decided on small watering cans.  I found these at a site that specializes in wedding favors.   They were blue in color, so that would work pretty well.    Cost: $11


For the Raid markers (lose all your guilders), I found something that would work perfectly – an Angry Mob Playset – but unfortunately it is no longer being produced and the prices were more than I was willing to spend.  Eventually I ended up picking up some pirates.  I found these were available from Toobs.   They even happened to have a yellow(ish) base, so they would work well. Cost: $21


The fire markers were also a challenge. I spent time searching for miniature campfire figures, torches, and other things. Not having luck, I landed on cutting these out of wood. Lucky for me my father is a pro with his scroll saw, so making these was not a big effort.  My first attempt was to create them about 1\2″ thick, but they didn’t stand up very well.  To address this problem, I decided to make them thinner and include a slotted base to hold them upright.  This worked very well.  A bit of hot glue in the bottom of the base did the trick. Cost:  The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.


After finding success with the fire threat markers, I decided to use the same approach for the Intrique threat markers.  With some image searching on the web, I found a good drawing of a hand holding a dagger.   Again, created a slotted based to hold the 1/4″ thick cutout. Cost:  The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.


Canal Tokens:

Since the canal tokens must fit in specific spaces on the board, I measured the spaces on the board, and found that these should be 1″ x 2″ .  To replace these components, my approach was to custom create wooden tokens, but I decided to use a router to add a wave-like design on the top. Cost:  The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.


Score\Influence track markers

The player markers used on the score track & influence track were a pretty simple decision.  I upsized these using the markers that came in the box, just scaled them to fit appropriately on the larger game board. Cost:  The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.


Money (guilders)

There really wasn’t much of a decision to make on this one – I decided to use GameChips.  Maybe in the future, I’ll work on getting custom chips made to match the color and designs of the guilders, but for now I’m more than happy to use these.


Majority markers

For the Majority markers, I wanted something very visible from across the table.  I landed on making wooden cutouts to represent each of the majorities (influence, people, and canals).  The cutouts fit into a slotted wooden holder.


Giant Dice

When I went to Origin’s 2015, I found some giant sized dice to use.  Cost: ~50.00



Statue Tokens: 

My initial concept for Statue tokens was to order trophies engraved with the value of points awarded.   While I still think I may eventually take this direction, but in the short term,  I once again ended up solving this component with a scroll saw.  I found a nice silhouette of an oscar statue to use.   Cost:  The only cost involved was some spray paint from the Home Depot.




What about the cards?

Bruges uses cards as a main element of game play. I had considered making larger card versions, but ultimately, it came down to playability. Holding, shuffling, and having room to place the cards on the table were the main reason I decided to stick with using the cards that came with the game. At some point, perhaps I’ll try making some jumbo cards to see if it would improve or detract from the game play.

The Wrap up:

The first play of the new set occurred at Origin’s 2015.  It look about a full year from idea to completion of the set.  With all expenses factored in, I believe the cost of making this set was about $165, and a fair amount of labor. If you are thinking about making an upsized version of your game, it’s a fun project that needs a fair amount of planning especially if you are picking a game with many different components.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them below!


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Great games in disguise

Did you ever see or hear about a game that and think that the game has no appeal, but after playing it, you found it to be a great game?

I was recently listening to an episode of the Secret Cabal Podcast recently, and one of the hosts explained how he had avoided Concordia for a long time.  After playing it, he realized how great the game was.

I have felt the same about many games over the years, so I thought I’d make a list. Feel free to let me know about others that you encountered that ended up being a great game despite your initial judgment.


concordia box
Concordia – So many gamers have probably backed away from this one just due to the box art. The artwork does this fine game injustice.  With a geek rating of 7.84 (at the time of this writing), the game is very highly rated.

coal baron
Coal Baron – “has players sending meeple miners underground to dig tunnels and acquire coal, which comes in four levels of quality and which is used to fulfill contracts.”   Oh my – that doesn’t sound good.  Luckily the game play is much better than it’s there.  The theme of running a mining operation wasn’t one that I would have expected to like, but after a few plays I found this game to be a great medium weight euro with a strong worker placement mechanic.

 goaGOA  – ” a strategy game of auctions and resource management, is set at the start of the 16th century: beautiful beaches, a mild climate, and one of the most important trading centers in the world. Competing companies deal in spices, send ships and colonists into the world, and invest money. Are you on top or at the bottom? It depends on how you invest your profits. Will you make your ships more efficient? Enhance your plantations? Recruit more colonists? Only a steady hand in business will help.”  If that’s not bad enough, the box art is very bland too.   As it turns out, the game is actually a great auction game.

Agricola – “In Agricola, you’re a farmer in a wooden shack with your spouse and little else. Onagicola a turn, you get to take only two actions, one for you and one for the spouse, from all the possibilities you’ll find on a farm: collecting clay, wood, or stone; building fences; and so on“.   Surprising, the theme absolutely works for this game, and eventually you’ll find yourself proud of how you scrapped by and built a fine little farm.   Agricola is one of the top rated board games on BGG.   As a gamer, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

endeavorEndeavor by Z-Man Games is a game that looks bland based on the board design and components.  When one of my gaming group set the game up to play, I thought to myself here comes another dry euro – I was pleasantly surprised to find such a great game.   This one is currently out of print, so might be hard to find, but worth a play if you have the chance.

hoity toityHoity Toity – possibly the worst named game of this list.  I’m guessing it was somehow a translation issue.   Hoity Toity is a fairly simple game about set collecting sets of old ‘junk’ that you players will be showing off.   If you can get past the unfortunate name, the game is pretty fun, especially with larger player counts.
It’s a game designed by Klaus Teuber of “Settlers of Catan” fame.

The next great game in disguise is my favorite game, Bruges.  When a friend picked this up a brugesOrigin’s a few years back, I took one look at the dour looking folks on the box and thought “Oh No…this looks awful”.  After a play or two, I realized that this was such an amazing game.  In fact, I’m hoping to visit the city of Bruges at some point based on how much I have enjoyed this game.
The moral of the story, is look beyond the art and components before throwing a game aside.
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8 of the Worst Gaming Kickstarters…EVER

kickstarter-logo-k-colorInspired by a recent thread that I found on the ‘geek.  I started compiling a list of the worst Kickstarters.   I’ve mostly limited this to Kickstarters that have videos, as that increases the entertainment value, but there are many horrific projects that don’t even take the time to post a video.

Before we start – these projects are so awful that you’ll probably hate yourself for even looking at them.  You have been warned.

First up is one called “Get in The Chase” – apparently looking for $250,000 dollars, but only finding 3 backers chipping in a total of 7 dollars towards this disaster of a project.

#2 on this list of the bottom of the Kickstarter barrel is one named Heaven.  Needing $46,500 but finding only 4 backers and $381 dollars.  The video is 40 seconds long and must be seen to be believed.  I’m still trying to remove this from my memory.

#3 is called “The ‘Planet Kit‘ and it’s very deserving of a spot on this list. Falling far short of it’s goal of $88,000.

#4 must have been inspired by the Jump to Conclusions mat, this one is called “The Push“.  This one only found a single backer willing to support it.

#5 was cancelled – “20th Century @ War” –   it feel short of it’s target of 1.745 million dollars to make a massive 3′ x 7′ game.

#6 – “Pegasus : The Next Generation In Abstract Strategy Games” – found 14 backers, but the $38 dollars pledged fell far short of the 300k needed to produce this.   The music in the video will make you press the stop button long before you reach the end of this.

#7 – “Let’s Go Crabbing” – Looking for 35k, backed by 5 backers for $81.    The video is cringeworthy.

#8 – “CENTERPIECE small box holds a full sized board game” – Might be my favorite video – WTF is happening in this one… surprisingly it found $615 of funding.