Tag Archives: Projects

What I’m working on March 2017

I don’t think gamers (the miniatures kind) are ever happy enough in a stasis state. There’s always a next big thing, which is a blessing and a curse. I have my share of projects completed that I do go back to– Big Danged Boats, The Magi, White Line Fever. I also have my share of Next Big Things. Here are a few of them.

Most game systems design I do starts with an idea. The idea could be fully formed, or just sort of occur to me in increments– like “Pig wrestling is funny, but there’s hardly a game there”.. what if it’s part of a much bigger system? These two started out as notions.


The notion came to me when of ALL things, I was seeing the Melissa McCarthy movie about her being a Top Secret spy “handler” that guides her “field operative” (a treacherous Jude Law) via satellite transmission and helps him anticipate what the next big problem will be. The movie was (surprise!) pretty entertaining and very funny. More importantly, it got me thinking– that link between controller and field operative was kind of cool.. there might be a game in there. How to simulate this? Easy. Figures to be the field operative, and a player that doesn’t have a figure with access to map/floorplan/some idea of what’s next and what’s lurking around the corner. I see it as a complex, revealed gradually to the controller (via a small white board) who sits a distance apart from the players. The players and the controller have cellphones. The players transmit a picture of the hallway at miniature’s eye level, and the controller looks at what he/she sees, and directs them accordingly. Along the way the referee may insert encounters, traps, even competitive spy teams into the mix. Usually he gives the controller a short warning time, and he/she can communicate it to the team. The challenge is keeping the controller guessing and not supplying complete information, and not revealing the entire layout to the players all at once, they have to build it as they go.

As far as figures go, I’m looking for stuff that hearkens back to the 1960s and 70s, as this is firmly in the Cold War espionage time period. Fortunately I don’t need a lot of figures, that’s not really the challenge here. Mark Copplestone’s KISS KISS BANG BANG is a very good start.

Spies for Spy Run

My recent acquisitions.  A mix of spies, KGB men, and some evil geniuses for SPY RUN. Can you spot the thinly disguised versions of fictional characters?  Which ones do you notice here?

There are other good sources for figures– I don’t really want ultra modern militarized SWAT guys as agents, because that defeats the purpose and theme of the game immediately.  CROOKED DICE STUDIOS is also a strong contender as they favor that campy 60s Television spy thing.

Some Crooked Dice Frogmen encounter an evil genius Henchman. From the Crooked Dice website.

So really, you’ll need some villian major characters, some villain uber-elite characters, the spies and some henchmen. The later can be replaced and recycled as the game continues.

Here’s some cost-affordable henchmen goons I got by converting some HYDRA henchmen from HEROCLIX to non-clickie goons. I like the Hydra look, in general. It’s very campy.

Henchmen goons for .75 cents a stand! Yeah!

So that’s where I’m at with SPY RUN. The figures are pretty much the easiest part. Making the maze they navigate through will be much harder. I’m working on some ideas.


This is a weird idea that came to me, in all things, a dream. I was daydreaming about super fast people (like the Flash) running around a giant aerial maze. I woke up trying to figure out the mechanics of a super fast track race (kind of). My first cut, to build a sort of jigsaw track that suspends in the air, just seems too weird and ungainly. I think I have it down now, though.. you have to ask yourself “what’s this game REALLY about?” It’s not about running a maze, it’s about what happens to someone going ultra fast, how they turn, how the slow down, what happens if they gain too much momentum. I see it as a wave of air being pushed in front of the super-fast figure, which can do damage itself. Stopping when you are going that fast is certainly possible but what happens to the shoes you are wearing if you are going close to Mach 1 and you suddenly have to slow down? How do you make a 90 degree turn without hitting a wall? How do you avoid getting friction burns? The Flash makes it look so easy. I abandoned the maze idea, and now I’m going with a long course that wraps around several tables and over several environments, each with challenges. The runner shows speed by putting tokens behind him. He can cover an enormous amount of distance with three tokens, but if he wishes to turn or avoid danger he’ll have to slow down somehow, but taking damage in his shoes (then his feet). If there’s a runner ahead of him, he can draft (avoid wind resistance).

DASH! Participants

Since the game will seat 8 comfortably and require lots of tables, this will only ever be a late night con or camp game, but I could see having fun with this concept.

Other things: still collecting figures for VIKING LOOTERS, SAGA and FROSTGRAVE and my pulp spaceman game, which will probably be executed using the 7TV rules.  My collection has grown.

Pulp Spaceman game, probably using 7TV

More pulp spacemen and aliens

Frostgrave figures, can you guess the source of these?

Chinese Hopping vampires for Frostgrave

More Henchmen for Frostgrave

Thieves for Frostgrave



I’ve also kept my hand in in a constrained space by starting to paint up 1:2400 pre-dreadnought fleets. I’m just about done for the battle of Yalu (China vs. Japan 1894) and am going to start on the Battle of Santiago De Cuba (US vs Spain) next.

The plucky but doomed Beiyang Fleet, China, 1894

So as you can see I’ve been busy over the Winter, and hope to get at least the naval stuff on a table somewhere soon.

Until next time!

Quick and Easy Star Maps for X-Wing Miniatures

We’re running the Game Camp for Kids this week. On Tuesday, we’re running a multiplayer game of X-Wing Miniatures and we will need a larger space to play than usual. Now, I could send off to a special map making company like CorSec engineering, etc. or I could make something quick and cheap by myself. I opted for the latter, being on a budget this year.


3 Yards black felt 11.00
1 can white primer (rustoleum) for 3.50
Pale Blue, White, Yellow and Red acrylic paint (already had it)

Place your felt on the ground and spread out flat. Using the white primer, Gently spray the black felt with white primer paint, but not up close. Hold the can at an angle from about 2-3 feet off the ground so the paint turns into a fine mist. The effect you’ll get will be a sort of cloudy white background, much like a starry galaxy background. Don’t overdo it or you’ll just get “Grey”. Let this dry. Felt absorbs paint very quickly, so it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Clouds on, just starting to spatter on pale blue stars

Then, in this order, mix separate batches of a watery paint from pale blue, then yellow, then white, then red. Consistency should be opaque, with lots of paint dissolved in the water. Using a flat brush, dip your brush in enough to get it wet with the watered paint. In a circular flipping motion, spatter the cloth with first pale blue, then yellow, then white, then a LITTLE bit of red. Go very liberal with the white and pale blue.

misternizz's StarMapMaking album on Photobucket

SLIDESHOW on photobucket

The end result isn’t QUITE as good as a professionally made star map, but it definitely looks exactly like what I want it to look like, is big enough for a table full of kids, and best of all, cost me lest than 15 bucks. Not bad, eh?

Kickstarter: The Short, Sharp Shock of Reality

By happenstance I came across this great graphic via Mashable yesterday, and it really sang to me.  You’ll have to blow it up to see it all (links to the graphic itself, just click on it).  Why is this interesting?  Kickstarter has become a viable publishing alternative to traditional, professional routes in the last 3 years– especially for niche hobby items like boardgames and computers games (two endeavors that were never anticipated by the founders of Kickstarter, who envisioned it would be an effective way of crowdfunding film, video and book projects).  Nevertheless Kickstarter was something of a success story for two games, ALIEN FRONTIERS (2010)  and OGRE SIX (2012), plus, possibly, some smaller projects like OH MY GOD, I’VE GOT AN AXE IN MY HEAD! (2012).   All of these were funded projects (in OGRE SIX’s case, overfunded by a wide measure).  What isn’t mentioned is just how many of these projects don’t make it, or even come close.  And if they DO make it, how long will it take between funding and delivery?  That’s where this chart comes in.

KICKSTARTER STATISTICS. Click graphic to embiggen. Image copyright Jeanne Pi and Ethan Mahlick 2012

Some interesting reality in that graphic. It derives from Kickstarter’s own statistics (which they are somewhat reticent about revealing, see reference 4 below, in “Related”) and this article.

Interesting factoids to take away: 44% of projects succeed. By inference, that means 56% of them fail. 9 out of 10 failed projects ever reach 30% of their funding goals. 97% of failed projects even make 50%! Only 25% of projects deliver on time. That’s not a rate of return I’d bet my future on, but that’s the beauty of crowdfunding– it’s not your money. From the empirical evidence, the smaller projects with more connected producers are the ones that tend to succeed, which is why we see a lot of board game Kickstarters, I think.


  1. Why Kickstarter is ripe for Scams
  2. Nearly half of all Kickstarter projects fail
  3. Kickstarter Failures revealed!  What can you learn from Kickstarter Failures?
  4. Kickstarter hides failure