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Diary: Kelvin’s Third-Party Add-Ons

Posted by kelvSYC on 5-6-2017

It’s been a year or so since I’ve last made a blog post here, and, spurred on by the fact that people have been wanting another public release of the Catan Scenario and Variant Guide (no, I have not done any new releases since R13 – for the last few years, I’ve either been half-heartedly rewriting it, or haven’t been involved in the community at all).  I’m actually going to start reworking all of the graphics in the guide, and likely going to finally figure out how to incrementally post updates to the guide as it happens, as I lack the will to release entire volumes all at once (and I’ve been out of the community for so long that there are going to be many gaps in the guide anyways).

But enough about the Guide and my other projects.  This post is going to be about augmenting the games that I have in my collection.  I’ve moved around a lot, and in the few years that I’ve been neglecting this blog, I’ve moved twice, and my board game collection still fills up my spare bedroom.  Worse of all is that a good chunk of the game boxes I have has been damaged from storage or wear (some are moulded over), so I’ve been getting replacement containers for them.  (Thankfully, game components are largely intact.)  And generally, when I have to do that, I tend to take them out for a spin and get familiar with them.  (I still have the ultimate crime of not being able to play with a steady audience, though, so a lot of it is mock games and maybe some hobby programming.)

Now, most games, you can’t complain about the components a whole lot.  Having said that, I’ve had to augment some of my games with a bunch of parts that are either homemade or otherwise not included with the game.  For example, my Catan set uses the Viking pieces, and because Das Buch sum Spielen doesn’t come with equal parts for all players, I’ve had to augment some components with either cardboard or acrylic pieces so that all six player colours have roughly the same pieces.

Many of you fellow board gamers will have similar stories.  For example, I have friends who are hardcore Scrabble players who will use ProTiles (http://www.protiles.net) instead of the tiles that come with the game simply because the tiles that come with the game have the letters etched into the tile, allowing you to feel out what letter a tile could be when you draw them.  Others may replace packs of paper money with a poker chip set (customized poker chips, no less) so that they get a more tactile feel of the currency that they are manipulating.

For me, the games that I’d most likely to be augmenting (outside from print-and-play games, as I’ve burned through 10 printer cartridges printing out fan-made Dominion expansions) is the collection of Axis & Allies clones in my collection – but most specifically the two games from Guild of Blades Publishing Group that I have in my collection (1483 series and The War to End All Wars).  The problem with that is that they are horrible games both in terms of the quality of the gameplay (seriously, it’s not a good idea to have a massively multiplayer board game with a board that’s measured in feet, especially if the action is fairly localized) as well as the quality of its components (30 pieces of red construction paper, taped together, to form the board, which is not in color, and takes up four poster rolls – not to mention that all of its pieces are in thousands of pieces of labelled tiddlywinks, for which the labels are off-center and the graphics come straight out of the 1980s despite the game being released in the early 2000s), and they’re largely a huge money pit since it turns out that you don’t actually have enough pieces to play the game if you get it, and have to spring for the “additional army packs”, making those games even more overpriced than they are already.  (Seriously, I’ve been inclined to throw out the game and cut my losses.)

Now, I’m probably going to be posting more on this in the coming months (hopefully).  Everything from how I augment my Catan experience to the Swiss cheese that is anything Guild of Blades.  Let’s hope I can commit to updating this a bit more often…

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