Thursday, September 27, 2018

Painting Happened!

Welcome back! Fall is crazy busy with back to school and fall activities and such and I finally hit a point where I said I needed to regain a little sanity and time for myself, so I cleared off my painting space and looked what I had lined up the last time I had painted anything. And what did I find? Plague worms and a hero from the Descent: Trollfens expansion. 

Well, I have been eyeing the plague worms for a while now and wanted something alongs of the picture to the left here. Not quite as red of a worm, but I really liked the green ones with the orange undertone. I had something a little more pink and grey for the master in mind. 

I really like doing monsters like this, because you can get away with some less detailed work, while still ending up with something outstanding, if you know where you are trying to go.

I had already primed (in black gesso per my usual MO) the figures. For the normal worms, I wanted something of a bright orange "head" and a slightly less orange body. The green skin over the top would hide any glaring issues (I was pretty sure). I know that orange on black primer either looks like crap or take lots of coats, so I opted to basecoat with a tan. I already had a tan that I had mixed for my airbrush, but since I was only doing two models, I just brushed it on. Not perfect, but it didn't need to be for this exercise. For the master, I base coated a standard greycolor.

Next up, I coated the bodies in Bestigor Flesh and the heads with Fire Dragon Bright Orange. This looked ok, but I wanted to take it up just a notch, which meant giving them a nice wash. For this, I use Cassandora Yellow which is very orange - too orange as it turns out, I think the age of mine is showing and it needs to be thinned down. Turned out ok though - nice bright orange like I was looking for, though it retaught me a lesson I had forgotten. When using similar hues next to each other and then a strong wash, you are going to have trouble noticing the differences.

As you can see from the shot on the right, it just looks orange. Although it ended up being the color I wanted for the undertone, I needn't have wasted time using two shade. Oh well. For the master worm, I simply through on a black wash over the gray. I still hadn't a clue what I really wanted to do with the master except that I wanted the maw to be a pinkish color. I maybe should have just washed the grey primed worm with red, but I didn't. Oh well.

I took out the pink and painted in the maw of the master and then got a nice deep red out and set about dry brushing it. Except that I did a fantastically poor job of dry brushing and quickly realized I was using the wrong brush for the size and had far too much paint on the brush, so all I really did was rebase the mini with crimson red and pink. Change of plans I guess. See that first pic at the top? I was closing in on that. Well, ok then. I washed it again in black and decided I'd come back and dry brush it in grey with red undertones.

Back to the regular worms. With a different brush in hand and a much better technique (ie the proper amount of paint on the brush). I managed to cover the worms in a nice green shade. Though it is hard to tell, I eventually went back with a lighter green to add some additional depth to the coloring in some areas (which I would once again waste with a wash).

Ok, quick interlude here. I spend a small amount of time on Pinterest looking at paint jobs for figures (sometimes the ones I want to paint, sometimes just at technically really great minis). Though I like to shoot for my Descent minis to have some resemblance to the art from the publisher, if I stuck strictly to that, everything would be grey and brown. Seeing what others have done inspires me to try different schemes and in some cases helps me notice details I'd normally miss. In the case of the worms, I'd NEVER have figured out and orange undercoat with a green skin. Never. Instead, these were looking really good. Not an exact replica of the original inspiration, but it is easy to see what I was basing them on.

So now, the basics were done. What I needed was to start working the details. I spent a bunch of time looking at Warhammer models (because there are a lot of plague demons and other crap that have pustules on them). I pulled back out the Cassandora Yellow and put an appropriate size dot on each of the boils. Once that dried, I got out a bluish grey and  painted in the boils. Things were looking good.

The maw was still too orange to be left alone, so I decided that I needed a brown wash to bring out the details and darken the interior a good amount. I turned to my collection of Secret Weapon Washes (which I honestly don't love because I don't like they way they flow). In my brown washes, I have a great color - Baby Poop. Knowing how the SWW flow, I ended up with exactly the result I was looking for in the maw and then got inspired to thin the wash down with water and cover the rest of the worm - I wanted to tone down the brightness of the grey-blue boils and pull everything together a little. Thinned down, it was like a light coating of dirt over the whole figure - it was great. The boils still had the right color, the orange was still orange underneath, and the green skin was a nice putrid color. Just a few details in the maw to do.

For the master model... As I mentioned earlier, it ended up very red - actually almost purple. I dry brushed some gray, but inspired by this dragon model (if you are a painter, read this article, it is pretty interesting) and the artist's description of using purple and greens to create the different grays, I also dry brushed a light bit of green over the gray and finally felt like it was getting where I wanted it to be. The purplish undertone with gray-green looked pretty good (though I had really at this point lost the pink color I was trying for in the maw at the start).

I decided to go with green for the boils and liked the look enough of the green droplets that I decided to just use a little yellow on top rather than a different color as I had done with the boils on the regular worms.

Getting all that done on the models just left a couple of details to finish. Each worm's body parts are coming out of a "base" so I painted each of the rock bases and did a heavy wash on them. Each of the maws have a number of teeth that needed to be done (not just the ones on the edges, but also inside the maw. A surprising number of painted models I saw completely ignored the inner teeth - a simple detail that shouldn't be overlooked - a small number of small brush strokes added a lot to the detail of the model.

As I was finishing up the bases, I decided I wanted some of that pink back on the master, so I went and grabbed a bottle of pink and dry brushed the slightest amount around the maw.

So, while it has been a while since I painted, these worms were a good way to get back into the swing of things. I like monsters models like this - they allow for some playing with various techniques that I don't normally get to try and all the imperfections are not obvious at first glance (and of course, this kind of monster has no face to worry about). I don't know if this means there will be a steady stream of new stuff, but I do tend to get more painting done in the fall/winter, so we shall see.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Eldritch Horror - Session Report

Prelude: King in Yellow. Since I didn't have any Ancient One decided upon, I decide to play along and pull out Hastur for the AO. Besides, last time I played, there was a lot of foreshadowing that about the King in Yellow.
Starting team: Daisy Walker + Zoey Samaras (lead). Thanks to the prelude, they each spend a sanity to gain a clue, but Zoey (the lead) starts off with a blight (new condition from the Carcossa exp).
Setup: Expedition in Arkham, two gates (thanks KiY) - San Fran and Shanghai. Monsters seem to be nothing scary, but I need to kill the zombie in San Fran before the first reckoning or it becomes the epic Zombie Mob.
Mystery: I need 4 clues FROM Research Encounters to solve the mystery. Only one clue on the board. Guess I'll need to go to London and drum up some clues for the board.

Round 1
Daisy: move to Rome + special action to acquire tome (fail). Agatha Christie has disappeared, Daisy's investigation spawns clues on gate Cities (which I have a couple of)!
Zoey (lead): special action to gain a task + move to London. Helps a bishop uncover agents in the church. His prayers heal and improve will!

Ancient Guardians - An article on the back of a newspaper catches your attention...
** Things go south fast. Reckoning causes Zoey to lose her cross and impairs influence and will. Added a gate in the Himalayas. Event spawned two more monsters - on the expedition site. One causes the lead investigator to become cursed (right after she got rid of the blight she started with).

Round 2
Zoey(lead): moves twice to a clue spot. Finds a painting that has a clue. Gains Debt to gain the clue (spent towards the Mystery).
Daisy: moves twice to Bombay (heading to gates). Wanders through a library and finds a tome artifact! (good for her specials).

Relics of Old ongoing rumor - must go to the current expedition and pass observation test to end rumor. Seems reasonable.

Round 3
Daisy (new lead): tries to use her artifact (failed) and moves to Himalayas. No strength, can't beat the cultist there :(
Zoey: Can't possibly fight the zombies while cursed - heads back to London. An archeaologist asks for help, but all she gets out of the deal is a haunted condition. Poor Zoey is not having a good game.

Lost Knowledge ongoing rumor - must defeat the Tick Tock men (who spawn in North Australia) or lose all clues on the board and any possesed clues. Sheesh. Like I wasn't clue poor enough...

Round 4
Daisy(lead): Successfully uses her artifact to improve her strength + gain focus token. Still can't beat the cultist.
Zoey: Move to Rome + gain focus token. Can't help Bast out and gains a disease. I think a reckoning is going to end her with all the crap in her life.

Rally the People - after the noise and violence is over, one of the shopkeepers peers out his window...
** Doom moved 2. A Byakhee ambushes Daisy. Zoey loses a bunch of sanity. Expedition moves to the pyramids. Zoey trades haunted for hallucinations, remains cursed, got rid of debt, and disease impaired her influence some more. New gate and cultist in Istanbul. Daisy gained an ally. I can't believe Zoey didn't go insane.

Round 5
(I suddenly realize you can't do any action twice (like moving) unless using a ticket - too bad my cheating hasn't helped me any.)
Daisy(lead): Her cat burglar ally tries to steal and fails (this is an action) + gains a focus. Finally beats the cultist. Gate: Lost Carcossa (how thematic). She closes the gate and saves a life back in the real world, gaining an ally (who ends up being a much needed bodyguard).
Zoey: Gains a focus token + moves to pyramids. Zoey manages to solve the Relics of Old rumor, which is nice, but not helpful really.

Hunter Becomes the Hunted - You keep replaying the struggle in your mind...
** Zoey is ambushed, thanks to a cultist, and goes insane. Akachi Onyele will take up her investigations. Daisy gains a blight and loses her cat burglar ally. New gate in London. The event itself does nothing to my investigators.

Round 6
Daisy: gains a focus token + moves to Tanguska to try for a clue. Defeats Colour Out of Space, but is close to going insane.
Akachi (new lead): Boat ticket + moves to Rome. There she implores the pharohs to watch over her and becomes blessed.

Eyes Everywhere - Now that you know what to look for, you see them all around...
** Doom advances 2 more. Reckoning: Monsters move doom 1 more. Akachi is ambushed but only loses a touch of sanity. Daisy gets another blight. Tick Tock Men rumor concludes and kills all the clues on the board. Daisy's blight wounds her and she can't continue. New gate in Tunguska. Finally, a Gnoph-Keh ambushes Akachi. Monterey Jack the Archiologist joined the team. He starts with a bullwhip and a treasure map (and a porn-stache). Totally an Indiana Jones rip off, except the mustache. Actually, he kind of looks like the Disney character with the same name.

Round 7
Akachi(lead): Grabs train ticket + moves to London. Akachi (despite being blessed) fails miserably at the gate and ends up injured.
Monterey: Grabs a focus token and sits tight. Monterey meets a recovering Daisy and collects her stuff and also retreats doom a little.

No Peace for the Fallen - You can feel the decay clinging to you...
** Doom charged right back. Cultist spawned in London. All the defeated investigators stuff goes back and they are gone. Akachi got cursed/lost blessed. At least Monterey got all of Daisy's stuff before this happened.

Round 8
Akachi(lead): Grabs focus + uses special to determine next gate. Through the gate she gains a madness condition, but closes the gate.
Monterey: Uses Daisy's Old Journal to advance the mystery one + tries (fails) to use the tome artifact. Successfully navigating the pyramids, he finds a relic and comes away unscathed. Completing the expedition, he finds another relic on the way out. This guy is awesome.

The Time Has Come - In the night sky, the planets and stars have aligned...
** Doom advances a couple ticks (at 2 now). New monster spawn in Antarctica (coincidentally, where the clue pops) sigh.

Round 9
Akachi(lead): rests in London and gets rid of her back injury + moves to Istanbul to hit the gate there. After beating the cultist, she goes through the gate, where mi-go scientists beam thoughts into her brain. She learns a spell.
Monterey: Also moves to Istanbul. Using an arcane insight spell, he gets Akachi a clue, but she loses sanity in the process. It costs Monterey a ton of clues (re-rolls), but he eventually closes the gate.

Omen of Good Fortune - You drop a penny into a particular mechanical device...
** Doom advances to 1. New Gate in Buenos Aires. The event lets me set the omen wherever I want, I set it in hopes of closing the red gate next turn (thus avoiding more doom).

Round 10
Monterey (new lead): Uses his artifact to increase Lore + trades some items to Akachi. Tries to use a clairvoyance spell, but doesn't pass the lore test, then in Istanbul he impresses someone with his lore (they are easily impressed apparently) and gains influence.
Akachi: Grabs a train ticket and moves to Shanghai. Akachi manages to close the gate, but becomes paranoid.

Cold Snap - Frostbite stings your ears and nose...
** Doom ran out anyway thanks to the monsters during the reckoning effects, so Hastur awakes. A gate opens in Arkham and eveybody gains hypothermia.

Round 11
Montery (lead): Gain a focus token + rests but can't shake the hypothermia condition. Successfully uses his Clairvoyance spell and gains the clue in Antarctica to solve the active mystery.
Akachi: Boat ticket + moves to Tokyo. She tries to enlist the Japanese navy, but is detained instead of getting help.

Wonders of the World - the various things in the world are slowly making the investigators insane. Lead gained a relic but he also ended up delayed thanks to a monster spawn (a hunting Byakhee no less - interestingly a lot of the randomness has more or less stayed with the theme of King in Yellow)

Round 11
Monterey(lead): Was delayed, so did nothing. Fought the monster - no outcome, lost a health.
Akachi: was detained from last turn and couldn't get out of it. Her cruel captors couldn't drive her mad though.

We're All Going to Die - You anonymity was an illusion. The servants of the ancient one know exactly who you are. Insanity all around. The end.

Once again, I played with only investigators that I hadn't played with before. I was starting out all women, but Monterey and another guy came up, so I went with "fake Indiana Jones". If you can keep him at the expeditions, he is a relic generating machine.

I've been doing a better job of closing gates (I think in large part because the monsters I've pulled have been easier to deal with the last couple of games), but it hasn't made me more successful, partially because I keep having a string of good luck with one investigator while the other just takes all the lumps and doesn't do anything. By the time the bad luck one exists, things are spiraling out of control. It has been a while now since I enjoyed a victory over the forces of chaos.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Eldritch Horror - Return to the Horror

The storage saga continue!
With my two first parts completed, I pulled out the set of condition racks I've been using to check the fit. The good news is that the plan looks like it'll work - three racks fit perfectly in the space next to the character card box. The issue I'm seeing is that weird middle space (the green box above). My plan was for a box to have two rows of character standees and then just some extra space for stuff plus that space in the middle of the box.

Perfect fit first try
I did some quick measurements and sure enough, a smaller/shorter condition card rack would fit perfectly in that space AND I could still build a box that would hold two rows of character standees. I do a redesign on that box and get the size just right. I print it off and sure enough, it is a perfect fit. The plan is changed (for the better)! I measure the amount of character standees I have and it looks like I should have just over 2/3 of the space used, so some left over for more expansions.

The leftover space should accommodate a five slot short rack for the condition cards - my concern had been that I would be essentially out of slots with the three 11-slot racks. Because I've been doing all this playing around with parts, I get the itch to actually play, so I pull out the game and setup a solo two-investigator scenario. A couple of events get me re-thinking the condition cards. There are a couple of conditions (injuries, madness, etc) that should be lumped together rather than all separated, but the space in the 11-slot racks doesn't really allow that. I decide to design two different short racks. One with five spaces and another with only three. The three will be deeper and allow for groups of conditions.

While I'm staring at my box, I notice something else. The condition card racks were designed for a smaller box (duh), which isn't as tall, so there is a bit of space between the top of the cards and the top of the box. I do some measurements and there is about 15mm of space there. I'm pretty sure that I can fit some kind of player board there if I wanted, so I measure it out and head off to to work something up. If I make the boards 3.5mm thick, I can easily fit 4 of them in that space under the racks. My design comes together in short order, though I ended up with a few revisions after each round of work.

Turned out decently enough
After creating the whole board, I cut out a space for the cards, basically using the box I built for the cards as a guide for the size. That was easy. Next I want spaces for the ability tokens under the player card. Cutting six slots for those is easy, but I want to be able to get the token out easily so I want half the slot to be deeper so you can tip the little token. That took me a couple tries to get the way I wanted. The extra space on the left looked good for tracking sanity and health. As I was looking at the expansions, I realized that they also added resources, so I designed the board so that you can track all three. Rather than a spot for tickets and clues, I'm just going to put that stuff on the character sheet like I always do anyway.

With the character cards and character standees out of my artists box, I now have enough space that I can drop the Broken Token organizer into one of the rows/columns (whatever) and still have a ton of space for more cards. So far so good. One less thing separate from the other things.

When I finally get around to printing the longer condition rack, I realized after a bit of printing that I had been a little sloppy making the rack in and there is one slot that was a little jacked up. I decided to finish printing and hope I can clean up that slot. I fixed the model for the next print.

I printed the short three-slot rack and group the conditions and put those in. Interestingly, it saves me a ton of slots putting madness in a group and injuries in another. I decide to design a long rack with the wider spaces. I end up printing out another 11-slot rack and then the wide slot rack. Here's the results:

The goal was - make more space for expansions while reducing the number of places that stuff is stored. Mission accomplished. As you can see from this box, there is a lot of space for conditions. I may have to move the artifacts to the small rack so the four-card rack can accommodate more cards. I have a little room still for character standees. Lots of room for character cards. I even designed and now have a couple of player trays! If you are interested in printing this out for yourself, head on over to to get the files.

Based on the success of this design, I may just go back to the drawing board and think about a full sized box design. We shall see.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Eldritch Horror - Session Report

The prelude brought the Dunwich Horror into play to start the game and each investigator got a spell in return. Since the prelude didn't indicate a specific Ancient One, I randomly picked a card and got Nephren-Ka as the Ancient One. Nephren-Ka uses the Egypt side board, so I had to make some table space, but different is good. He has a TON of cards. Each time there is a reckoning, the investigators move towards the Bent Pyramid spot (on the side board) or lose sanity. I'm playing solo using two investigators, which my starting two are Skids O'Toole and Patrice Hathaway. I've never played with either (that I can recall).

Round 1
Skids O'Toole - focus + move to Amazon (current expedition spot). Skids encounters and defeated the Snake People monster. He joins the Expedition there - they failed looking for the lupuna tree which caused an impairment on observation. Expedition moved to pyramids.
Patrice Hathaway - boat ticket + move to Shanghai. Patrice woke up to Ghouls trying to devour her soul. She got them to stop and they asked her for help with their curse (she gained a task).

Spreading Sickness - When people see your jaundiced skin or hear your loud coughing fits, they avoid you like a leper...
** Must go to Bombay to help stop the sickness (or investigators will lose health at reckonings). This is a fairly easy one to do, just need a couple clues.

Round 2
Skids - focus token + move to city 7. In a graveyard, Skids listens to a spectre's story and regains lost sanity.
Patrice - boat ticket and move to Istanbul. Did some research and gained the clue there. Shuffled the expedition deck (stayed at Pyramids).

Twin Spawn of Cthulhu - A dark force hidden in the southern-most part of the world has turn the Twin Spawn of Cthulhu free...
** Have to kill off both twins or spend clues at reckonings to avoid going insane. This is a harder one in remote areas. It is also going to eat my clues which I need for mysteries. It is also a little funny that I have so many classic things - Cthulhu and the Dunwich Horror going on in the game.

Round 3
Skids - boat ticket + move to San Fran. There is a gate here that Skids wants to close - through the gate Skids encounters his childhood self who screams at the stranger that appeared. His father tries to shoot him, but he wrestles the gun out of his hands and he barely gets away.
Patrice - focus token + move to Bombay. She helps the doctors cure the Spreading Sickness rumor by spending two clues.

All for Nothing - you wrap the towel around some ice and apply it to your injuries, hoping to reduce the swelling...
** Doom advances (so far nothing horrible in the Mythos cards). Reckoning effect moves Patrice from Bombay to the side board into Cairo. Skids moves out of San Fran.

Round 4
Skids - move back to San Fran to try the gate again and gains a focus. Yuggoth - Skids learns how to operate machinery to close the gate!
Patrice - takes lead investigator. Gains a focus + uses banishment spell to rid Sydney of newly spawned monster. In Cairo, she spies on the Brotherhood of the Beast and gains a clue.

Haunting Nightmares cause both investigators to lose sanity and gain a madness condition.

Round 5
Skids - move to Tokyo + "rests" to get rid of madness. In Tokyo, Skids is arrested and gains a detained condition.
Patrice - focus token + "rests" to get rid of madness. She finds a ritual to summon Anubis and end the Black Wind (mystery 1 solved).

Painful Memories wounds each investigator, but the trauma removed their impairments, so the wound was worth it.

The new mystery requires the investigators gain clues from the Egypt board and spend them to solve the mystery. Not so bad, but I am clue poor at the moment.

Round 6
Patrice - moves to Sahara Desert and rests. She is able to find a symbol on a skull and gains a clue (spent on the mystery).
Skids - Detained in Tokyo and can't talk his way out of it. Finally freed after days of questioning.

The End is Nigh - You've pushed everything to the breaking point...
*** Basically lose everything (1 of each kind of thing) and then 1 health and sanity. Skids goes insane. Harvey Walters joins the team as his replacement. That was a rough phase with two gates getting spawned - one due to the Dunwich Horror, two tough spawns and losing all the stuff.

Round 7
Patrice - move to Bent Pyramid + rest. Locusts swarm and she recognizes the attack was from the Brotherhood of the Beast - clue gained and spent.
Harvey - move to London and tries to use his tome (fail). Harvey is invited to look at the Necromicon and becomes delayed (but spawns two clues).

Heat Wave Singes the Globe - loss of health for Patrice and delayed for Harvey (he already was). And of course, more reckonings, gates and doom.

Round 8
Patrice - moves to Sahara and rests. Through the gate there, she meets an ancient Egyptian warrior that teaches her a chant to work against Nephren-Ka and she closes the gate.
Harvey - was delayed. He gets done with his research but is attacked by a Lloigor and succomns to his wounds. His friend Norman Withers (also from Arkham) joins the party.

The World Fights Back - normally a good event for investigators, but the Cthulhu mystery  expires and causes Patrice to go insane. Doom is down to 1, there are now 7 gates on the board. Tony Morgan joins the investigation team to replace Patrice.

Round 9
Tony - move + focus token. Sees the King in Yellow play and learns a ritual spell.
Norman - move + boat ticket. Meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyale and ends up spawning clues.

Silver Twilight Aid - also should be a good event, but the gates push the doom track and Nephren-Ka awakes. Now, three mysteries have to be solved AND we have to deal with the big bad himself. Not looking good. Each investigator grabs a clue from the aid.

Round 10
Norman - heads to Alexandria. He sees a blasphemous King in Yellow play (it was showing everywhere) and gains a glamour spell from parts of the play.
Tony - moves to South Africa + gains focus token. Plays poker and amazes everyone, gaining an ally.

Curse of Knowledge - investigators lost clues and Norman became cursed. I really needed those clues.

Round 11
Tony - moves to The Nile River + uses his special ability to gain some clues from his focus tokens. He tries to advance the mystery, but he is ambushed by a Spawn of Sebak and then a cultist and fails to advance the mystery.
Norman - tries to use his ritual and fails + grabs a focus. Despite his curse, Norman manages to spy on the Black Brotherhood and steals the Book of the Dead!

And the Mythos phase finishes off the game.

As per my normal M.O. I had too many gates on the board and ended up with too much doom. This time I wasn't avoiding the gates. The monsters that spawned were really not bad to deal with OR were placed somewhere other than the gate location, but I just couldn't seems to get lucky at the right times. I had a good bead on finishing the third mystery, but "ran out of time". Part of that was having to spend clues to fend of the stupid Cthulhu offspring. Even if I had wanted to fight them, they were way out of the way since I needed to be in Egypt focusing on mysteries there. The starting prelude also hurt - the stupid Dunwich horror spawned three extra gates on me. I finally played a game with only investigators I have never tried. None seemed special, but neither were they broken or worthless.

I did find it funny that there was so much other "lore" - Dunwich, Cthulhu, King in Yellow all got mentions despite not really being part of the main story. Good times!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Eldritch Horror - Oh the Horror

Eldritch Horror. Oh how I enjoy this game. This is one of the very few co-op games that I enjoy playing, in large part because of the story. Because of this, I have a fair bit of the expansions (and there is still a fair bit I don't have still). It quickly became apparent to me that the normal storage solution wasn't going to work. In fact, this is a regular question, complaint, or comment from the game's fans - storage is an issue. Even this review of one of the expansions pokes fun at the storage problem facing those brave enough to dive into the game.

My initial plan for storage (after my first big box expansion purchase) was that I took a large FFG box (BattleLore IIRC) and mixed it with the lid from the Mountains of Madness box. This gave me enough storage space that I could create a number of card trays out of foam core and still keep everything together. The result was really good if I say so myself. If I had stopped getting expansions at Mountains of Madness, then I could have lived with the solution. But the expansions kept on rolling out and I had literally maxed out all the space my solution had provided.

As I continued on acquiring more stuff for the game, the replacement plan was a wooden artists box and the Broken Token card system organizer. I kept the small rack I had built out of foam core for the non-condition small cards, but the other cards all moved. The standard cards went into the artist box along with the character cards. This box is a pretty good solution, as there is a space for the boards and manuals as well. Having moved on from foam core to 3D printing, I printed out a set of racks for the condition cards that fit into one of the small box expansions. A box from the Broken Token houses the dice and counters. I ordered a Cthulu rack for the large cards from Etsy and also printed off a bunch of gate stands for the board. The problem? I was out of space - again (I own two large box and three small box expansions currently).

Not only was I out of space, but everything is in 5 different places. The Cthulu rack doesn't fit in anything. All the 3D printed stuff is in a random USPS box I had sitting around, the condition cards are in one box and other stuff in the artist box. Plus the bits in the Broken Token Box. I'm not just at my limit, I'm a little over. The last expansion I got for Carcosa has a at least 9 new types of conditions, which meant the racks I have are no longer sufficient. I could do another set in a small box, but that's just one more box! Time to find a new solution.

So the goals of a new storage system:
* More space for future expansions (currently there are two more big box and one more small box expansion that I don't own). I have no illusions about FFG being done and while I'm not planning to acquire more at the moment, this project seemed like a fun distraction.
* Reduce the number of containers/places that everything exists.

3D printing has been my friend and frankly is better than foam core if for no other reason than you can get good storage systems that have thin walls - millimeters of thickness are starting to matter! So I planned to look for solutions others might have come up with. No luck. Nothing I find really works for what I want to do, so I decide to go a different route than I have before and design my own.

So here is round 1 of the my new design.

I start with an extra AH:TCG (FFG "medium" box size). I decide what I'd like to do is take the rack design from the small box (condition cards) and expand it a bit so there are more spaces. I can make them longer to accomidate the new types of cards. I also have stacks of small cards in my foam rack that I'd like to do something with so I can get rid of my foam core rack. My initial thought (since I'm not a design guru) is to take an existing rack design I've used before and re-size it for small cards. After about 3 tries with the math, I think I get it worked out and using Tinkercad (online) I come up with a model that should be correct and print a few test copies out. They are ok, but not great. First, I only have room for 3 in the box (based on my original concepts that I had sketched out on some paper), but more importantly, they won't hold the stacks well - the stacks are simply too big. The second issue (I realize too late) is that I'd have no room for more cards and no good way to deal with the cards in-game. I really need a single tier rack (like the foam core one I have been using) that takes up less space.

Back to the drawing board. Since the size (width) of the racks was right, I sort of use the basic layout as a template and start chopping it apart until I have a single open sided box. I don't want solid sides mostly because I want to minimize the printed material, so I cut out some holes in the sides and back. I then simply replicate the object and lay them on top of each other so that I'd have a single piece with 4 spaces. Now I had the rack I wanted that would hold the amount of cards I wanted.

In my planning, it appeared that I'd have space for some other things, including what appeared to be enough space for a box to hold the character cards (moving them from the artist's box should free up a lot of space). For this, I started from scratch and just built a pretty simple box and added a "bump" at the bottom to help get the cards out. A friend suggested a put a cutout on the side to make it easier to get the cards out and so I added that too. SOMEHOW I got it right the very first time. The box is exactly the right size (it could be a milimeter taller, so I changed the model, but I'm not going to print another just for that). Now I have two things that don't look like they fit in the box together at all. Well, I mean they do, but its hard to see where I go from here. Right? Well maybe. So I bring my stuff altogether and start planning for the next round. Just for grins, here is a rough idea of what I'm thinking:

So, stay tuned for round two, because the plan has already changed...

Hey! Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!

Friday, July 06, 2018

Game Bling - Arkham Horror: LCG

Well, it has been forever since I posted about 3D printing and "enhancing games" (or anything about anything really, but I digress). At any rate... let's talk about Arkham Horror: The Card Game. I mean sure, here is a game that is 98% cards (the other 2% being a handful of cardboard tokens), so there must lots this game needs in the way of 3D printed things and other enhancements.

Well as MAGOs know, there should be sleeving! That is a little obvious I think. Maybe you don't think so, but knowing that you'll be shuffling cards and then adding new cards as you progress, I think this is a game where being able to hide the wear on cards to keep from knowing new from old is a reasonable case for sleeving. Yeah, you can probably skip the location cards and such and really just keep it to the player deck cards, but whatever works for you.

Whether you choose to sleeve your cards or not, the next question is -  do you upgrade the cardboard tokens? Here you have a couple of different options,  depending on how much you want to spend. The Broken Token sells acrylic replacements, as does Covenant (and I'm sure there are others too). The Covenant ones are really nice and their player tray sort of sparked this post - I'll get to that in a minute. I already have a nice set of wooden tokens (for Eldritch Horror, but same tokens) from The Meeple Source that I can use, so I am sticking with those.

Of course, there are also the tokens for the draw bag/cup. The GeekCraftShop (again, and others I'm sure), sell custom bags that are both nice and thematic. I actually prefer a digital upgrade here. There is an app called the Arkham Bag (iOS and Google). As far as I know, the app is free on both systems. The Arkham Bag is literally an app that emulates the token cup, eliminating the need for the actual tokens in the convenience of your handheld device! The app is easy to use and while some may not like electronic intrusion, I don't mind in the least.

So, let us go back to the cards for a minute. You would think that a (mostly) card based game would  provide you with a large box and insert to hold everything (like say the Pathfinder Adventure Card games). Well, FFG went the route of smallish box (and the expansions in smaller boxes or blister packs) with no real insert. I could buy one or make one from foam core, but when it comes to making box inserts, 3D printing is the way to go (if you have access to a printer). It is a bit more time consuming than just heading over to [insert your favorite organizer seller] and buying laser cut wood organizers, but you can regularly find all kinds of designs and print them on your own - relatively cheaply from Thingiverse. I found this cool set of insert pieces that fit in the original box. The original design was not made to hold sleeved cards, so I simply widened the card boxes a little and shrunk the width of the middle bins by the same amount to accommodate my sleeved cards.

While searching Thingiverse, I also ran across this nice player tray. It isn't really necessary, but I like the look and idea of it (I need something like this more for Eldritch Horror, but that's a different story). The character card goes in the middle, the columns of squares to either side hold the little resource cubes and the outside hold the magnifying glasses (clues) - all 3D printed of course. The bottom (or top if you spin the tray) hold the health and sanity tokens you have. Maybe not as nice as the Covenant one that got me going on this today, but decent enough (and really a small amount of printing material and a couple hours of printing) that I don't mind not shelling out a ton of money.

And in the category of - I didn't know I needed that! Arrows. A buddy of mine pointed out that having some arrows to point between the locations would be nice to make it easier to figure out travel in the game. I found some, though when I started setting them up to print, I found them to be a bit large. I don't really want to spread out on the table that much. So I shrunk them down so that they were only about 70% as long and 80% as wide. Perfect.

For those that are curious about how to change the sizes - it is pretty trivial. Typically, the files you find for the various print items are some sort of shape file - what you would get from 3D modeling programs. In order to print on your printer, you have to run the shape file through some other program that turns each shape into a set of instructions for the printer so that it can print each layer of the object. Remember, 3D printing is like making a 3D object from toothpaste - you lay down a thin layer of material and after it has hardened, you can build the next layer on top of that and so on. The software I use for our 3D printer is called Slic3r (I guess because it turns the 3D objects into slices). After adding a shape object to the print area in the software, there are a number of options for rotating and resizing the objects. It really is that simple - all you have to do is pick the correct axis to stretch. For stretching boxes that hold non-sleeved cards, it is just a matter of adding about 2-3mm in width.  I simply got out a ruler and started doing some basic math. Easy Peasy.

And her is one more shot of the completed printed player board and the little resource cubes (crates) and magnifying glasses. Can't wait to play again.

Hey - that's it for this round of bling my game! Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Viticulture and Tuscany Review

The Punchboard Media Group has a "Big List of Games" that talks about games that we love and feel that others should play for one reason or another. Viticulture is one of the games that I nominated. As worker placement games go, it is one of my favorites and I really enjoy both the theme of the game and the huge number of ways that you can score points to win. I love that I can do something for a little bit and switch gears based on opportunities (or if I'm denied an opportunity). I like that I've enjoyed the game with differing numbers of players, as it seems to play well with just two players as well as four or more.

As an expansion of what I wrote for our Big List feature, I wanted to express what I enjoy about this game and present a review of Viticulture and its expansion Tuscany. And before I do that, I want to give thanks and a big shout out to all the folks that have taken time to post pictures of this game in one place or another - most of the pictures I use for on this blog have been previously posted by others. If you have ever found a picture that I've used and would prefer I remove it, I am more than happy to do so as I do not wish to upset anyone in any way.

In October of 2012, a fledgling game company out of St. Louis ran a Kickstarter for a game about making wine. Now, I like wine and games and this game sounded ok, so solely based on just that, I kickstarted the game. The game funded and was delivered in May 2013 with a single expansion called Arboriculture. This game was of course Viticulture, a worker placement game about running a wine business (not making wine per se). I was even fortunate enough to have the designer of the game teach it to me at The Geekway to the West a week or two before receiving my copy.

In April of 2014, a new and related project was funded on Kickstarter - Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture. Tuscany was to be a set of mini-expansions that could be played semi-legacy style (you didn't change the world, but you could slowly introduce the expansions in a semi-logical ordering). This was also the point at which you could order both the game and the expansion packed together in a large sleeve (that looked like a wooden crate) as the Collector's Edition. Generally speaking, when I speak of "Viticulture" I really mean Viticulture and Tuscany together, and not any of the "Essential Editions" that came out later with a subset of the expansions that I'll be discussing below.

First let me talk about the original base game - Viticulture (or as I've come to call it, "Vanilla Viticulture"). The vanilla version of the game is your basic worker placement game with a theme of running a wine business - you plant vines, harvested grapes, made wine, aged the wine, and sold it. Along the way, you'd build up the infrastructure of your winery so that you could give tours, receive visitors, and make a little cash to hire more workers, etc.

Players all start with the same resources and a start player is randomly determined. Players start each round of the game by picking that round's turn order. Choosing to go later in the order offered the players increasingly better "bonus" items for picking a spot. Each of the various actions that are available to be used by all player's workers during a year are limited, so not everyone will get to do everything they wanted to do in a given game round, thus turn order is fairly important.

Unfortunately, I feel that the vanilla game is flawed. Players are all trying to do very similar things in the early part of the game: get an additional worker (extra actions are important in worker placement games), plant vines (you can't get grapes if you don't plant), harvest grapes (you can't make wine without grapes), make wine (you can't fulfill orders and score without wine). The route to some of these things might vary slightly (you might need to first build a trellis to support a certain type of vine before you can plant that type) but really, players were essentially trying to do A+B+C or maybe A+B+D. Early turn order (which was picked by randomly choosing a start player) had a huge effect on the game. In a game with 3+ players, you can end up going last multiple turns in a row and immediately being behind the other players (engine-wise).

On top of that, you are coupled that with the dreaded "luck of the draw". You see, there are a lot of cards in the game: vines, visitors (two decks) and orders cards. Players can get frustrated by any number of bad draws (only drawing one color of grape vines (red or white) when you have orders for the other color), only getting orders for expensive late game wines like sparkling or high value wines, and/or drawing visitor cards that don not help an early game player. These are some of the slightly frustrating things that I found made this fun game a bit flawed. Don't get me wrong, a hyper-competitive game is ok, but when you stack that on random chance, you can immediately be in a position of trying to catch up the whole game through no fault of your own. Otherwise, Vanilla Viticulture was a competent enough game with a good blend of mechanics that tied logically enough to the theme.

Based on what I just wrote, it is hard to believe I love this game. Again, what you have to understand is - I don't love Vanilla Viticulture - I do love the Collector's version (or maybe I love Tuscany). Tuscany is a masterpiece of changes that turn an ok game into a more varied and more complex game that offers players an almost overwhelming number of ways to score points and an asymmetric starting position that doesn't force everyone to do the same thing. It also introduced the Grande Worker, which gives everyone a "once per round I'm going to get to do at least one thing I want"-worker. It isn't all perfect and there is a lot of stuff in Tuscany, but I'm going to walk through each of the modules and let you know what I think - not just a description of the module, but what I think they each add (or don't) to the game.

Before I do that, I want to address the folks that hate games where they have to get an expansion to "fix" the game. I get that, and so did the designer of the game. Thus the "Essential Editions" came to pass. If you just buy the Essential Edition of Viticulture, you are getting a fine worker placement game with most of the rough edges sanded off. But if you want a deeper, more varied game, then you also need Tuscany in all its glory.

And here is what Tuscany is all about.

Grande Worker - this isn't so much an expansion as it is a staple and fundamental change to the game that is now part of the base game (essential edition). As I just described above, this basically lets you place your worker on any action (regardless of availability for a worker on the action). You may not get a bonus, but you don't get hosed out of something you really really need to do.

Mamas and Papas - no, not the group from the 60s, but another essential expansion. Yes, this expansion is also one that has been included in the Viticulture Essential edition. What this simple module does is vary the starting resources for each player. Each player gets a momma card and a papa card. One card gives you a couple of items and the other gives you an item and the option to take a bonus OR some cash. This changes the start of the game dramatically as nobody starts with the same needs for the early rounds of the game. Nobody should play Viticulture without using this module.

Properties (I believe the name has been changed to fields in the newer editions) - the purpose of this module was to solve the early game cash flow issue. Early in the game, money is not only hard to acquire, it is hard to acquire in quantities that make a difference. This module solves that by offering you the action to sell parcels of your land. The land has to be empty and once sold you cannot use the parcel unless you buy it back. It costs you actions and a potential plot of land for growing grapes, but the ability to trade off some land for cash to buy a structure or worker is more important in the early game and this module dramatically speeds up the early portion of the game. We always play with this expansion and it works exactly as it is supposed to.

Patronage - Each player gets a card that is two parts. Part 1 - sell any one wine token of value 5 or more and get 3 pts (you have to take a "fulfill an order" action to do so). The other portion is a unique goal for each player that can score you 2 additional points at the end of the game. You must do the first part to be eligible for the second. I am not a huge fan of this particular expansion for the following reason. The 2pt end-goal is strategic and I don't find Viticulture to be a strategic game, I find it more tactical, so by specifically adding 2pts to one specific goal, it makes your play more limiting (or, it rewards someone that happens to be tactically in a position to fulfill the result - ie. if you are lucky, the goal matches what has been available to you). And yeah, there is some luck. Anyone that has played Viticulture knows that this game has an "end game rush" - when one player edges up far enough to the end game trigger, it is very likely that the game will end within a turn. That last turn ends up being a mad scramble to get as many points as you can. The goal on this card (being only 2 points) typically isn't a focus in the scramble, but you may end up with the points out of pure luck as everyone else sells everything they have to score some points.

The other issue I have with this module is that it forces a player to get a medium cellar (needed to get wine of the right value) and make at least one wine of enough value to activate the card. I've played games where I've been able to effectively ignore making wine by scooping up a lot of points in all the actions other players are ignoring as they focus on wine. I don't think this unbalances the game, but it does "encourage" all the players down that one main path - which was a main complaint I had about Vanilla Viticulture, so we typically skip adding this module.

Advanced Visitors and New Visistors - I'm lumping these card expansions all together. We use ALL the visitor cards all the time. The additional cards level out the unevenness of the cards from the original game and make it more likely that any given card draw isn't a dud. You can still get cards that don't help you of course, but the likelyhood is lower with a better mix. Additionally, there are so many ways to get cards with the other expansions in the mix, it is simply easier to just shuffle everything together rather than worrying about trying to pull something out or only use one set or another.

Extended Board - this is something of a major overhaul to the game and a really good one. A whole new board replaces the original. A good portion of it is familiar, but there are a lot of little changes that really expanded the game. For familiar actions, some of the bonuses have changed or moved (thus, depending on the number of players, bonuses may or may not be present or might be different than the original board). I have found all of these changes are great and when you are getting blocked on certain actions, there always seems to be something productive you can do instead. This all sounds like a lot of changes, but I don't think that teaching a new player the game with this board is unreasonable by any means and I think this board really opens up the game for the better.

* Four Seasons: the game board is now divided into four different seasons of actions. These groupings make the flow of the game more interesting by breaking up the action groupings into similar items and makes the changes in the wake-up chart work really well.
* Different wake-up chart: this change goes hand in hand with the different seasons. At the start of the game, a random players picks wakeup position (as before). After that, the person that first runs out of workers/actions at the end of year picks up all their workers (making those spots available) and then gets to pick their wakeup position for the next year (if you take the last position, you are required to take position #1 the following year). This change makes a big difference in your planning and for players with less workers than their opponents, it give you an opportunity to aggressively plan for the next year. Having less actions (or less actions during the important scoring action during the last season) means getting to make an election for turn order before other players. Additionally, there are seasonal bonuses for your position (ie after each season you get a specific type of card or bonus rather than a single bonus for that wake-up slot). The new wake-up chart is far more interesting as the seasonal bonuses makes choosing your turn order much more interesting of a choice.
* The grey card - this new icon appears in a couple different places and just means that players have their choice in selecting a card or cards (ie you can pick any color card when you see a grey card).
* Influence Map - there is now an action on the board that lets you place influence (each player gets a number of influence/star tokens) onto a mini map of Italy. Each region on the mini-map gives the player a bonus (some coins, a card, etc) immediately and then at the end of the game the player that has the most influence in each area scores points. Yep, they added an area control mini-game to Viticulture/Tuscany.
* Trade Action - this new space replaces the sell grapes action with an action that lets players trade 2 cards, 3 coins, 1 VP, or 1 grape for any of those items. Have 2 worthless cards? Trade them for new ones. Need 3 coins and don't need that silly 1 grape sitting there aging? This action helps to open the game up some more (and in the case of cards, is another way to mitigate bad draws).
* Sell Wine Action - there is now a space that simply lets you sell a single wine token for points. You can get more points for blush and sparkling than red and white of course. This action space helps out players that can produce certain types of wine, but just can't seem to get the right order cards (or keep missing out on the action to fulfill orders).
* Victory Point track change - the game end is now 25 (instead of 20) points and the track goes beyond that. With the plethora of new point scoring options, you won't notice games being any longer.

Honestly, the influence portion of the map might be the most dramatic change, with the way that you choose turn order the second biggest change. If you are teaching the game to a new player, using this board shouldn't make learning the game any harder as the new player wouldn't be unlearning anything and the different option aren't hard to understand, they are just different than the original game. Yes, there are lots of little choices/things to do, but that is mostly true in any worker placement game. I really enjoy the new board and don't see us ever going back to playing without it.

Special Workers - ok, this is another module that has a lot of moving parts, but I think is very worthwhile to use. Don't let the variety of special workers overwhelm you - they add a little extra variety to each game, but not an overwhelming amount. When you play with the specialized workers you only select two (at random) to make available to players. They cost an additional Lira (regardless of how you acquire the worker) to acquire. Players still have a cap at 6 total workers, so you aren't going to flood the game with actions. The special workers can be used as a normal worker if you can't use their special power. Here is a quick description of the various workers and my thoughts:
* Farmer - when you place the farmer on an action, you can gain any of the bonuses for that action - regardless of player count and whether the farmer was placed on a bonus space. This is a nice worker that can speed things along in the game (the faster you get stuff or actions, the faster the game goes).
* Mafioso - when placed on a non-bonus action space, you can take the action twice (within the rules - so you can't harvest the same field twice in a year). This can be useful for a few of the actions (like giving a tour, trading, making wine, or fullfilling orders). Not a bad option, but not as useful as some others.
* Chef - the chef can bump any other non-chef worker off a spot (and back to that player) to take an action. This worker also speeds that game along by allowing multipler players (or even the same player) the ability to take an action on top of what the Grande worker gives you. Returning a worker means players will get more actions, which in turn can mean a bit faster game play.
* Innkeeper - when you place the Innkeeper, you can pay 1 Lira to another player on the same  action space to steal a random card from that player (not applicable in a 2-player game). I mostly play 2-player games, so we haven't used this worker, but I don't know that this is an overly useful change up to the game except to increase conflict.
* Professore - when you place the professore, you can retrieve a previously placed normal worker, from that same season, back to your available pool. This worker is really great for speeding the game along as it frees up a used space (making any possible bonus available again) and effectively increases your worker pool.
* Soldato - when the Soldato is on an action, other players must pay you 1 Lira to use that same action. On the flip side, another player can use that action (if they pay) even if there are no available spaces. This worker can help speed the game up by allowing players to use an action that doesn't have available slots. It is likely that the money is only an issue in the early game, so reasonably, this shouldn't be slowing players down much. Not as interesting as some other special workers, but can speed the game up by making actions available that wouldn't be there otherwise.
* Politico - when you place the politico, you may pay 1 Lira to gain the bonus on that space again. This one is really a fairly limited use kind of worker and while it has a couple of interesting placements, overall is one of the least interesting of the bunch.
* Oracle - When you place this worker and draw cards, you can draw an extra card of the same type and discard one of the ones you drew. Effectively, this is a card draw luck reducer. I find with all the other options that are available on the Tuscany expansion game board that this worker is one of the least interesting of the group. It doesn't hurt to take them, but a lot of the other workers are more interesting to play with.
* Merchant - If you place the merchant after all the other players have passed in a season, you can draw a card of any type. Pretty limited appeal and use. In a two player game, we have a lot more opportunities for this worker's use, but overall it is not all that interesting unless you are going for a visitor heavy strategy.
* Traveller - You may place the traveler on any open space in a previous season (regardless of availability of the actions spaces) and immediately take the action. This is a fantastic worker that can help open up the game. Well worth getting and playing with.
* Messenger - a little like the inverse of the traveller. With the messenger, you can place the worker in an action in a future season. When you get to that season, your first action is to take the messenger's action. This lets you "reserve" a spot you need down the road and helps to solidify what you can do. Another worthwhile special worker.

Overall, I like the special workers. They add a little variety to the game and generally speed the game up. Some are less interesting than others, but the little extra ability adds another nice consideration to the tactical gameplay.

Structures - this expansion module is a new deck of cards that are special structures that players can build. Each player can have up to two structures built and there is a money cost like other structures. All the special structures give players a point when built. Some of these provide a new actions, some provide an ongoing bonus, and the third kind provide a residual of some sort (not money) at the end of each year. These are great additional options for the players as new ways to approach the game. We don't always build them, but we always play with the structures deck so we have the option. Even the structures that seem unbalanced have not ended up being so in our plays - for example, one structure let a player acquire a worker for free (plus they got a coin) AND that worker could be used the same year. It sounds really overpowered, except for the 6 worker limit AND I simply had to adjust and build out my worker force immediately. The building cost 7 lira to build, so while there was definitely an advantage, it wasn't as overwhelming as I though (and in fact, I won that game).

The final three expansions are labeled "Tier Three" and are not meant to be added to the game together (ie, you only play with one of the three in addition to any other expansion modules you want to use).

Mafia - meh. For me, this was the least interesting of all the expansions of any tier. Each player gets a card that represents a gift (the cards are unique and numbered 1-9). The cards are attached to the Grande worker and when you place your Grande in the same place as another Grande worker, you and that other player swap cards. If you place your Grande where there is no other Grande, you can swap your card for a random new card. At the end of the game, the player with the best gift gets 2 points and the player with the worst gift loses a point. Sorry, this is just a bit random and not at all interesting. And for two-players (which is again, what I mostly play), its just silly.

Arboriculture - This module adds a new player board that lets players also grow tomatoes, olives and/or apples. The arbor cards can be drawn anytime you'd draw a vine card (including during setup). Arbor cards are planted in the same land plots as vines, though they don't count towards the field's value. When you harvest a field for grapes, you also harvest any arbor item as well. There is also a morale track and whenever you place your Grande worker, you move down on the track. if you hit the bottom of the track, you lose a point. If you push the moral track to the top, you gain a point. You move moral up by discarding any number of glass tokens (from anywhere you have them) and moving the track one space up for each discarded. So why is this module cool? Well, it was the first expansion ever made for Viticulture, which makes it a little cool just for that. But history aside, the extras allow players to make extra points selling tomato sauce and olive oil and if you are going to have a ton of grapes and an apple tree (or two), you can also have an easy way to create points for yourself by hitting the top of the moral track each year. Not game breaking, but a good set of new options for players (and really, ignoring the board completely is only a small 1 point penalty).

Formaggio - this module is on the flip side of the Arboriculture player board and like Arboriculture, is another way to score some points. For this expansion, players are going to make cheese which they can sell alongside their wines. You have to be smart about it, because a cheese that ages too much just goes bad and is lost. But not to worry, there are spaces that let you control the aging of the cheese and your ability to sell it with your wine. However, in order to get these abilities, you have to use your precious influence (the same stars you'd use on the mini map for area control). While less interesting in a two-player game, this module should open up the influence game a bit in when you play with 3+.

Lastly, there is an inclusion of Viticulture Automa, which is a solo variant. I am not overly excited about playing solo efficiency games, so I have not bothered to explore (nor do I really plan to), the solo portion of the expansion.

And there you have it. If that seems like a lot, it both is and it isn't. The rules for the game and the expansions are not overly complicated and while there might be a lot of options for a new player, after a play or two, your choices are generally easy enough to grasp. With all the paths to scoring points and the ability to change gears when things are quite working out, I have found Viticulture + Tuscany to be my favorite worker placement game and one that I'd play almost anytime at any player count.

Hey! Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!