Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Space Race / Apollo Themed Game Collection

With all the excitement and celebrations surrounding the 50th anniversary of the moon landing I thought that I would share my collection of games related to the event. It is certainly not the largest or most comprehensive collection of games on this subject, but it is one I have been building since 1970. 

The newest game that I've added is Tranquility Base and its expansion Soviet Moon which arrived yesterday. This is a reprinting/update of Moonshot. The oldest game is Moon Flight which I received as a Christmas present in 1970. It was published by Avon, and the shampoo bottle became the die launcher.

My favorites are LiftOff! (my deluxe edition), and Leaving Earth.

There are others on my wish list that I hope to acquire when they are published or can track them down.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Deluxe AH Midway Files

Lately I have received several request for the graphic files for my deluxe version of Avalon Hill's Midway. 

So here are the links: 
Japanese Search Board
Japanese Aircraft
Japanese Screen
US Search Board
US Aircraft
US Screen
Midway Battleboard

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Apollo 11: The 50th Anniversary of Man's Moon Landing - My display at our local library

Several months ago I approached my local library to see if any of the departments would like to borrow some of my space history items for the upcoming anniversary of Apollo 11. Rather than borrow a few things they offered me the entire art exhibit hall for the month of July. While I have a large number of space related materials I do not have enough to fill 50 feet of display cases; so I agreed to use one of the small and medium spaces.

I spent the month of June finishing a few items that I have been postponing for a number of years and working on layout design and signage. Luckily over the years my daughter has given me some good ideas about museum displays, and the Smithsonian Institute has wonderful resources on the best way to do signage and labels for display cabinets.

My wife and I took most of the morning of July 1, transporting the the items and setting up the displays. Luckily it was a sunny day so I didn't need to worry about rain damaging the paper models. I think it turned out well and the library is so pleased with it they have asked me to keep it out through August.

Hopefully they will spark some interest in Apollo and the future of space travel among the people that view it; especially the kids that are attending the summer reading events in the rooms beside the displays. If I am lucky these will also result in opportunities this fall to speak to local schools, and scout groups; and possibly bring in some new cadets to the local Civil Air Patrol squadron.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

3D Aces of Valor Board For WW1 Aerial Combat Games

For those of you who have followed my blog you know how I love to pimp my games, and use games in an educational setting. During the centennial of WW1 I have been looking for a game to use with my Civil Air Patrol cadets' aerospace education classes. While there are many excellent games covering dog fighting (Canvas Eagles, Blue Max, Richtofen's War, Dawn Patrol for example), I wanted something more than just a combat game. As with my adaptation of London's Burning, I was looking for a game that would cover more history, allow the cadets to use leadership and teamwork skills, and engage the entire squadron. Luckily I discovered Berserker Games and Erik von Rossing's excellent Aces of Valor.  

As I have said in the past solo games are often easier to adapt to classroom use than many games designed for multi-players. I knew that Aces of Valor would serve the job perfectly; plus it is also lot of fun solo (I've been enjoying it for the past several months.) As a Print and Play game the price is also right. 

What Aces of Valor gives me is an excellent campaign setting for a WW1 squadron to fly a number of missions in. It does have a very good combat system for solo play, but what I want for my cadet is a way to manage a squadron, setting the stage for aerial battles using a Canvas Eagles type game.

Basically the plan is for the cadet squadron commander to choose the mission (from the Aces of Valor mission cards), and assign the pilots. The flight leader for the mission will move the squadron marker across the board, again using the Aces of Valor rules, and encountering events. Weather, flak, and damaged aircraft are handles very well with the Aces of Valor rules; but when the squadron encounters enemy aircraft or ground targets play will move to a large scale board. There each cadet who is part of the mission will handle their own aircraft using Canvas Eagle/Blue Max based rules. The system of play and rules has not been finalized yet, but it is getting close. The beauty of using Aces of Valor is that any air combat game can be used to handle the dog fighting phase: Wings of Glory could easily work.

While the games comes with perfectly usable components (in fact the graphics have recently undergone an upgrade), I wanted something more. So for the past few months I have been building a roughly 1/1000 scale version of the print & play board. 

The base is 1/4" MDF board with felt backing; with Cellfoam 88 glued on for hills and no-mans land. The entire surface was covered with glue and fine sand, then painted with craft paints followed with a little dry brushing (at that scale simple is best.) For most of the structures I used Brigade Models Small Scale Scenery line, (the ruins are Oddzial Osmy terrain - slightly larger scale, but still works). The railroads from Brigade Games are excellent. The oil depots are scratch built, and the hangers are really, really reduced paper miniatures from Fiddlers Green. The aircraft at the airfields are from Brigade Games Aeronef line, while the observation balloons came from Classic Airships at Shapeways. The AA batteries are made by Tumbling Dice; again 1/600 scale, but close enough. I finished the boards off by gluing Woodland Scenic's shrubs for forests. 

To mark the squadron's base and the mission targets I used Litko objective and HQ markers. The squadron marker to move over the board is a Litko Fleet Movement Stand with 6" legs. I painted 1/600 scale aircraft (Tumbling dice and PicoArmor) to match the 1/72 scale plane that will be used for the dog fights. 

Hopefully I will be able to take these boards to conventions in the future and link up with some air combat games so they get used more than a few times a year. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Deluxe QED's Blue VS Gray

Back in the late 1990's (I think it was 1999), I had the pleasure of meeting Evan Jones (the designer of Blue vs. Gray), and his partner from QED Games at Origins. They were there to demo and release Blue vs. Gray, and as the owner of an educational game store I was very intrigued. Blue vs. Gray was the perfect game to add to our Civil War games line-up with its wealth of history on every card and its focus on personalities, events, and grand strategy rather than combat. Over then next few years we sold many copies to schools and educators, as well as gamers. I also had the satisfaction of winning Blue vs. Gray Origins' tournament the following year; the final game being against a Civil War history professor from a college in Virginia. With the closing of our store the game sat on my shelf for a number of years until I started playing it with a fellow fan at the local game club. I realized it would benefit from a deluxe treatment.

So last year I pimped Blue vs. Gray out. It didn't really take as much work as some of my other games since it really is only two decks of cards. What it needed was a larger board rather than the one made out of cards. So I scanned the map cards and enlarged them to 10" X 13 1/2", mounted them on chip board, and lamented them. Now when a map card is drawn, a large card is placed down. I also made a version of the play mat from the GMT deluxe version of the game, and made new control makers on 1" wooden disks. It also needed a larger box. While the large cards are not quite as colorful as the original cards, the big map is very satisfying to play on.

You can get copies of the cards in a PDF file. Just have them printed on 11" X 17" stock. Map Cards.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Golden Age Air Racing & Civil Air Patrol

Last evening my Civil Air Patrol squadron had its weekly meeting. As the aerospace education officer it was my night to have the program. The plan had been to work on astronomy and celestial navigation, but it being Northeast Ohio the weather didn't cooperate, as usual. Luckily I had a back up lesson - air racing.

Air racing played an important roll in the development of the air plane, and since we are close to Cleveland, air racing is a part of our local history too. Naturally I thought a game would be a good addition to the lecture. Luckily I have a copy of Golden Age Air Racing by Dave Schueler from from the Air-Pirates Yahoo group. I had an idea that I would be using the game for a class in the future, but two weeks ago having realized that it would be a full moon and March, I had better have a fall back lesson ready.

So I raced to JoAnn Fabrics for a piece of green canvas for a play mat, slapped some paint on for background and used my 4" hex template for spaces. I found some paper pylon patterns and a Bendix tower at Fiddler's Green. The bleachers I modified from a paper model for slot car racing (I thought more era appropriate advertiser signs would look better). The stands for the planes are 2" hex tiles from Lowe's turned upside down for texture and painted with acrylics. The planes I designed from various 1930's air racer schematics I found and made them into approximately 1/144 scale 2.5D paper models. I also designed record sheets that would allow my cadets to learn the game quicker.

A big help and inspiration was from Kevin Smyth's Air Racing at Enfilade article on his A Gamer's Tale blog. He was also very helpful in answering my questions I had about his game.

It was a success. With the wind and snow pelting the hanger it was a fun evening of racing planes and learning about the history of air racing (I like to teach as the game is progressing.) I even had airplane trophies I had found at Oriental Trading Company that I relabeled for the winners. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Advanced Civilization

One of my long time gaming goals has been to make a deluxe version of Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization similar to my treatment of Victory in the Pacific and LiftOff!. I received the original Civilization as a Christmas present back in the early 1980's, and then got the western expansion board and commodity cards through the General.

Civilization has always been one of my favorite games, though I rarely get to play it due to time constraints. Over the years I have often been tempted to sign up for it at Origins, but the thought of a nine hour game until early in the morning lost its appeal years ago. Usually when we play it now it is over several weeks of game nights. (It helps to have a dedicated game room so the game can be left up.)

I knew I wanted a larger board in something other than day glow 1980's colors, and larger cards in better quality than the cheap punch-out paper civilization cards of the original game and the small commodity cards. I also wanted the board to be one piece rather than a original mounted board with the paper western expansion add-on.

As I began to start the design process I discovered a thread of posts on Board Game Geek by Evan Derrick on his redesigned Civilization project. Not only was he almost finished with it, but he is an actual artist/graphic designer. So rather than reinvent the wheel, so to speak, I made use of his excellent work. (You can find them on Board Game Geek in the Advanced Civilization files.) The only changes I made were to resize the Civilization cards to tarot-size rather than poker-size, and to enlarge his board to match the size of my other updated games.

My game group has really enjoyed playing Civilization; many of my game group's younger players for the first time. This past years we've had it out a number of times - more than we've played it over the past 20 years.