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December 2013

The Daily D4

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I only managed to roll a one today, but I’ve got a pretty good game to discuss that I’ve been waiting to talk about for some time now.

Trollhalla

Trollhalla pits seafaring trolls against one another in a contest to see which of them can claim the most captives from scattered islands. Aboard their viking long ships the troll crews must contend with harsh weather, unruly goats, and of course other trolls who are every bit as eager to claim loot as they themselves are. During your turn you fill the long ships with trolls and roll colored dice to determine if any of the ships will set sail during that turn. The ships can only sail once they have been filled with trolls, so in the event that there’s still room at the oars a troll chief steps into to claim a share of the booty. You’ll also need to send some of your trolls out to scout so that you can safely sail ships along different courses.

Instead of collecting gold, jewels, or precious works of arts trolls are only interested in one thing. Prisoners. By collecting a blend of farmers, monks, noblemen, princesses, and cattle you increase your score bringing your trolls one step closer to victory. Each type of prisoner carries a different point value, and bonus points are awarded for collecting a set of each variety. However the islands are also home to goats, fierce enemies of the trolls who will knock other captives off of your boat when captured. Although the goats are worth points as well having one come aboard can reduce your score drastically.

Collecting weather cards allows you to blow ships off course, or sweep troll scouts off of the board forcing them to sail along a different path. You can also turn the ships before they set sail altering which of the trolls will collect which prisoners upon their arrival. It’s very entertaining to see someone realize that rather than the princess they were expecting they’ve captured an unruly billy goat.

A product of Z-Man Games Trollhalla has received several awards and if you’re looking for something truly unique to add to your collection this is a fantastic option. It’s a perfect blend of strategy and lighthearted fun that most people will enjoy.

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The Daily D4

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Gnome Tree Topper

Every year I buy a new decoration for our Christmas tree, and this year I finally found the perfect tree topper that has been eluding me for so long. At a glance you might think that it’s a Santa Clause decoration but it is in fact a gnome. Jade spotted this while we were shopping at Target and it seemed like the perfect addition to our tree. Gnomes seem like one of the Dungeons and Dragons races that are often ignored in favor of humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings.

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Star Wars Saga Edition: Threats of the Galaxy

While I was browsing through the used books at Phantom Games here in Pittsburgh I happened upon a copy of Threats of the Galaxy. Since the books have gone out of print they’re somewhat difficult to find, since I’ve been running campaigns using this system as play-by-posts for the last few years this book has been on my wish list for quite a while. Most of the source books explain the details of the eras during which a campaign could be set such as the Old Republic, the Clone Wars, the Dark Times, the Rebellion, or the Legacy era but Threats of the Galaxy is a bit different.

Rather than defining an era of the Star Wars universe Threats of the Galaxy presents a collection of iconic NPCs. Assassins, Dathomiri witches, bounty hunters, Corellian Sand Panthers, soldiers, Hutt gangsters, and droids all have their place within the pages. Aside from a useful array of NPCs there are several features that players could find quite interesting. The character traits necessary to make a Bith character are included, as well as several new talents and pieces of equipment.

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The Daily D4

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Warhammer: Dark Heresy

I listened in on a game of Warhammer: Dark Heresy a few of my friends were playing over Skype the other day and it got me interested in the system for the first time. Not that I’ve got anything against Warhammer that is. It just seems like a very dark universe and I’m usually drawn to settings that aren’t quite so grim. Set in the far future the game focuses on fighting off the horrors that lurk in the depths of space, battling heretics, and sheer terror. During the game I listened in on the party encountered a group of mercenaries who’d been hired to hound them, and a cult of tech priests. They also explained that space travel is essentially possible because the emperor, who is himself a lich bound to his throne, keeps ships from being torn apart by a blend of mental powers and sheer force of will. I’ve never played but I’d definitely gift it a shot, I thought that the assassin class seemed pretty interesting but there’s a lot of good ones.

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Mirage Heroclix

After taking part in another Heroclix tournament this Tuesday I’m sad to say my new team didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped. That’s just part of the game though, trying out different combinations to see what works together well. I did have one figure that really stood out though, Mirage of the New X-Men. For a mere 75 points she is a fantastic figure with a number of very useful abilities that change in a number of interesting ways as she progresses through her dial. Sidestep, blades/claws/fangs, willpower, mind control, incapacitate, probability control, incapacitate, and shape change are all present for at least one click. With a range of seven squares she makes for a very nice ranged attacker, while her ability to use stealth and smoke cloud as a free action helps to break up line of fire to your own units. Since she has so many keywords she’s also adaptable if you’re planning to build a theme team of some sort.

Near the end of her dial she gains the special ability Brightwind. As a Valkyrie Dani’s magical winged horse Brightwind has carried her into battle on more than one occasion. After she’d taken the high ground in my match and peppered my opponents Magik with arrows she took a final bit of damage and gained Brightwind. On her next turn I pushed her and sent her soaring down to finish Magik off with a lucky roll of blades/claw/fangs.

If Mirage has any weakness it is her lack of defensive power. Simply put she can be taken off of the board before she brings her abilities into play if some has a savage enough attacker on the field.

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Gaming Arts and Crafts Corner

Ever since I started playing Heroclix again at my friendly local gaming store I’ve been adding more and more of the figures to my collection with each passing week. Back in college my roommate introduced me to the game, but until recently I hadn’t player for quite some time. After a couple of sealed tournaments and buying a few boosters on my own I’ve got more than sixty new figures who are quickly piling up on my desk. Part of the appeal of Heroclix is that the figures make a nice display piece, but I don’t want to be forced to have them all scattered around my house. I have a nice carrying case for my Dungeons and Dragons miniatures, but the bases of of the Heroclix are to large to fit into the foam inside of it. The simplest solution would of course be to cut the foam to shape but I’d still fill the case up and find myself being forced to buy a new one every few months if I did that.

It seems as though most players go out and buy plastic containers that they then use to store their figures. In fact I still have an old plastic tub of older figures upstairs. Hardware stores and craft stores have plastic containers with dividers built into them readily available for a fair price, but those don’t appeal to me for a couple of reasons. They’re all pretty simple looking so if you want to make them look a bit nicer all you can do is put stickers on them or find some other more creative way to decorate them. There’s also the risk of damaging your figures. Even with the dividers there just isn’t enough room in most of them to house every one of your figures, so they end up jammed together rattling around like the Juggernaut in an office complex. Inevitably this will damage some of them, it might bend a delicate feature or snap off a limb, both of which could prove very upsetting if it’s one of your favorites.

In an attempt to create something more pleasing to the eye that will provide better protection I broke out my arts and crafts supplies yesterday so I could set to work. For the initial attempt I decided to try and make a container for the Kaine figure which was included in the Amazing Spider-Man set. Kaine has always been an interesting character from the Spider-Man family and I had a clear picture of what I wanted his container to look like. I glued five pieces of cardboard together into a box shape, then I pasted some images of Kaine onto the outside to cover up the plain cardboard. The final result was very pleasing to the eye and I think I’ve ended up with something that’s pretty unique. Most of the images I chose were from “The Face of Kaine” issue, that’s always been one of my favorite story lines for the character. We finally see what Kaine has been hiding beneath that mask for so many years, and it contains what is hands down my favorite interaction between Peter Parker and Kaine that has ever appeared in any comic to date.

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Here’s an image of the finished container alongside of the Kaine figure itself just to give you an idea of the scale size.

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I apologize for the blurriness of this image, I kept trying to get a better one but I couldn’t manage it. This is the underside of the base. I didn’t want to leave it blank so I put a picture of Kaine’s face on it instead.

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This is a word bubble from the same issue I used for most of these images. I really liked it because it explains the character’s motivations and state of mind so well with just a few words that I couldn’t resist having it on the box. You can also see the original Scarlet Spider swinging onto the scene. These two characters had so many ties to one another I though he deserved a small place, especially given Kaine’s recent adventures.

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Running along the of this side you’ll see Kaine’s face while the rest is given over to his cape and the title of my favorite Kaine issue. It was a cool font, and I think it’s a good throwback to when so much of Kaine’s past was a complete mystery.

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A rear shot that gives us a clear shot of Kaine as he unmasks for the first time ever!

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Kaine’s costume/armor is cool, it’s god this look of corrupted webbing that makes it really interesting visually. I finished this side with a nice shot of his armor and a bold declaration by Kaine.

SO there you have it my first finished container, which Kaine is now resting in peacefully. I’ve already got several more blank boxes already finished, but I haven’t printed out any comic panels for them yet since my printer decided to run out of ink. When I finish them I may post more images.

Obviously carrying around dozens of these containers isn’t practical so I’m also planning to convert this larger box into a storage unit for the smaller containers. It’s also going to get the artistic treatment so that it isn’t plain and boring looking.

Just in case any of you would like to make some of your own I provided a list of the materials I used to make mine and step by step instructions. It’s a very simple process and it only takes about an hour, a lot of that time is spent waiting for the glue to dry so that your cardboard will hold together. The gaming community is filled with so many talented people I’m sure many of you will be able to improve on my simple method, but I’m still proud of it and happy with the final results.

Pleased be warned that this project does require you to use sharp tools so be careful while you are doing so. If any younger readers want to give this a try you should ask your parents to help you out with the actual cutting.

Time: Approximately 30-45 Minutes per container

Tools and Materials
1) Scissors.
2) X-acto knife.
3) Elmer’s Glue, or any other sort of glue I find Elmer’s worked very well though.
4) Cardboard, I used some I had around the house from a couple of packages that were delivered.
5) A ruler.
6) Comic book panel printouts, choose your favorites images of the character you’re making the container for.
7) A cutting mat, or any stable flat surface you can cut against without damaging it.

Instructions

1) If necessary your scissors cut the cardboard your are planning to work with until you can lay it flat on your cutting surface.

1) Using your X-Acto knife rim the edges of your cardboard along a straight line so that you are working with a straight edge. You don’t need to worry about measuring it at this point in the process but cutting a larger piece will leave you with more material to work with.

2) Using your X-Acto knife cut out a square of card board measuring 2 inches wide by 2 inches long, this will be used as the base for your container. If you are making a base for a larger figure you may want to increase the size, I’ve most of mine on this size though and so far they’ve all fit.

3) Using the knife cut out four pieces of cardboard measuring 2 inches wide by four inches tall. These will be used to make the sides of your container.

4) Trace a thin line of glue along one of the exterior edges of the bottom of your container, and the interior bottom edge of one of your walls. Rub the glue with your finger, this makes the glue a bit stickier and will result in it getting a firmer hold once it has dried. Press the wall and the base together and hold them for one to two minutes, just long enough for the glue to begin to stick. Once dry set this piece down and allow it to continue drying for approximately ten minutes. If you;re working on multiple cases this is a great time to cut more cardboard or begin gluing your next piece.

5) Once the glue has dried completely glue your remaining sides to the base of your container, again holding each of them and allowing the glue to dry for several minutes before gluing the next side into place.

6) Once you have your base and all of the sides glued into place start cutting the comic panels you’ve chosen to decorate it into the proper shape. You may want to use a single image on each side, or you could do a collage of images all over the sides. This is a chance to express your creativity and do something really unique.

7) Once you’ve cut your images into the proper size and shape start gluing them onto the walls and base of your container. You may want to glue one side at a time, just to allow the glue to have an opportunity to dry.

8) By this time you should have your finished container, deposit your figure inside and enjoy!

As today is National Dice Rolling Day I hope everyone will give their favorites a quick roll in honor of the holiday. Have a great day everyone!

The Daily D4

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I rolled a one today, but I have something good to talk about so I hope everyone will still enjoy this.

Forbidden Desert

I’ve played Forbidden Island quite a few times and it’s one of my favorite games for a couple of reasons. It’s relatively simply, has an extraordinarily high replay value, and it’s the sort of game that pretty much anyone can enjoy. Cooperative games are great because so many games pit you and your friends against one another it’s nice to have the chance to work together for a change. Forbidden Desert is a sort of sequel to Forbidden Island, and it shares many of its predecessors positive traits. This time your explorers find themselves stranded in a desert that’s plagued by sandstorms. In order to escape before the sands rise high enough to bury them alive they must assemble the parts of an ancient flying machine that will carry them to safety. Forbidden Desert adds extra items to help the players, underground ruins to explore, and the danger of dehydration. While the explorers are wandering in the desert they’ll need to keep a close eye on their canteens if they want to survive. Since Forbidden Desert is a bit more complex than Forbidden Island it does lose some of the simplicity that I loved about the original game, but this is still a wonderful addition to any collection.

 

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Episode 16: There is Currently a Flood Warning in Effect for Forbidden Island

The Out of Character podcast is back with a new episode, this time we played one of my favorite games, Forbidden Island. Listen in as we race across a rapidly sinking island trying to collect treasures before the whole area vanishes beneath the waves.

http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/133802-episode-16-there-is-currently-a-flood-warning-in-effect-on-forbidden-island

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