The ‘Verse Just Got a Whole Lot Smaller

Recently reacquired via a trade Firefly: The Game by GaleForce Nine and as I set it up for another solo play, I realized one of the reasons I’d parted with it before. It’s a table hog. There’s the large board (even without expansion boards), thirteen decks of cards, as well as your player area. Lots of space required.

Setup for one player with the original game board…

I have a pretty decent sized game table, but I would still need to get up and walk around the edges to review the cards in the various discard stacks , etc… I knew a better solution was possible.

I was able to find this image ( on BGG of the full gameboard with expansions. There were others, but this one had the highest resolution for printing. It loses some of the charm as the nebula background is replaced with just black, but for my purposes that was just fine.

Continue reading “The ‘Verse Just Got a Whole Lot Smaller”

Organization Procrastination

One thing I like to do to get familiar with a game is to organize the components. This is a gamble that sometimes fails if the game turns out to be a dud. But on my third ownership of Fields of Fire by GMT Games, I’m finally going to get it played.


So I picked up this first edition copy with the second edition upgrade kit and once I sifted out the now obsolete first edition stuff, I was left with a second edition makeover ready for punching.

And organizing.

Using my Modular tray design, I created custom sized boxes for the Americans, Asians, Germans and game counters. All fit nicely in the game box and now I can pull out just the ones I want.

The tray patterns are available over on Etsy (buy once, use forever):

Now on to the rulebook!

Blinging the Fallout… Tryin’ to Get the Game Out

Was and am not a hater of the other board game based on the Fallout IP, but when I saw the new Fallout: Wasteland Warfare published by Modiphius Entertainment included solo AI rules, my interest was piqued and I placed my order. Finally cracked it open yesterday the first thing I noticed was there are LOTS OF LITTLE COUNTERS. Wow… Tiny little things that make 1/2″ wargame counters seem a blessing (and I hate 1/2″ wargame counters!).

After punching (and peeling them as they sadly weren’t cleanly punched), I organized them into little piles to determine how best to organize them. Of course this meant I would make a four-module tray using my GMT compatible tray system along with custom printed lid with the game cover art.

Always need terrain in miniatures games and I’m fine with using household items or blocks, etc. to create obstacles. but I purchased some ready to print scenery from Drive-Thru-RPG. However, as these are set to 28mm scale and FWW is 32mm, I opened the PDF pages in Photoshop, scaled by 114%, then cherry picked the pieces I wanted (buildings 1-2) and re-laid them out on to a new document (to maximize components per page). Printed these on 110# white cardstock, scored, and cut them out. Assembly was easy enough, even for big fingers.

Took the base/ground images and scaled to be a full page and printed on 1/2-sheet mailing labels. Stuck each label to a piece of thick coated chipboard, then cut them out with a utility knife. Next I arranged the buildings onto the four bases so they could be placed on the gameboard in clusters.

They aren’t the bees knees when it comes to terrain pieces, but a step up from egg cartons for sure. And these days maybe cheaper.

The barriers and barrels were files available (or used to be) for free on Shapeways. These appear to be identical to ones being sold by Miniature Market (legally, don’t get me wrong), but perhaps theirs are better printed.

Can’t Keep a Good Man Down…

Of course, you can’t keep a good woman down either, but since I’m not a woman, using “or woman” or “person” would have been needlessly cumbersome…

Absence of Malice
Recently had an unplanned “break” from BGG thanks to the Secret Police once again not liking officially unapproved and unauthorized opinions being expressed (even when done so in polite but confident discussion). This is an area that needs to be addressed as I daresay in most cases the offender doesn’t realize they’ve touched a hidden third rail and just get suspended while the so-called “offensive” comment is left on the site. It’s a very odd way of handling things and not one conducive to constructive dialogue between differing parties… but that is a discussion for another time.

EDIT: It would appear “they” HAVE started removing unwelcome (by some) comments from the site. Hopefully in lieu and not in addition to suspension.

But I’m happy to say that in spite of not being able to post or comment on BGG for a spell, I made good use of my time, creating a few modifications for games.

Under a Blood Red Sky
First up, been loving Blood Red Skies but found that I wouldn’t have the time to paint the miniature planes and that in the end (as is most of the time with miniatures), they aren’t 100% necessary to the game. All measurement is from the round bases, which are about 1.5″ in diameter. So I ordered some 1.5″ wooden “coins” and then created 12 labels for each plane type. Made six level 3 and then two each of level 2, 4, and 5. All the coins got a 3 on one side and then another level on the other side. Sealed them with some RightStep Satin and started playing. They work great and less clutter makes it easier to play and measure.

The flight stands use an odd rock forward for “disadvantaged” and rock back for “advantaged” indicator. This not only looks silly, but causes planes to take up even more space on the table than necessary… which in a busy dogfight, can be a problem. To remedy this, I just use a green cube for advantaged, red for disadvantaged, and no cube for neutral. Another win.

Sowing the Gears of War
Gears of War: The Board Game is a bit of a mystery. Widely regarded as a great system and a respected IP, Fantasy Flight Games dropped the ball big time on supporting this game. Even with the IP license lost, the system deserves another sci-fi theme applied to it.

Be that as it may the community has geared up and created several missions and other mods for the game, including a collection of 24 new COGs created by user Alex Hajdasz. In order to make these more playable in-game without proxying other miniatures, I created a set of standees to go along with them.

You can get the COGs and the standees at the BGG file pages below:

Custom COG Pack Collection
alternate COG standees by ones upon a game

Shine On You Crazy Firefly
Another miniatures-replacement project I had in the wings and suddenly had a little time for was for Firefly Adventures: Brigands and Browncoats. Again, with no time to paint, had planned when I first got the game to add Standees. This was not only to make our intrepid heroes clearer on the board (in both casual and heroic states), but I was having a hard time matching the baddy miniatures to their respective stat cards. So while I was in the rhythm of making standees, put this set together as well.

At the very least it would allow people to quickly try out the game before they paint or while they paint…

You can find them here: Firefly Adventures Standees by ones upon a game

Watch Out! You Might Get What You’re After!


A housewarming party turned deadly last night, taking from our community two firefighters, a local game designer, a church volunteer, and Tammy Noblestein, the recently married daughter of Soloville’s Mayor Thompson.

The Soloville Fire Department responded quickly to the call in the 900 block of Roane Avenue, but by the time they arrived, the flames were quite intense. According to sources a sterno can on the buffet line dislodged and set a tablecloth ablaze and the fire spread from there. As the conflagration increased in intensity, the building collapsed, immediately killing two Soloville’s veteran first responders.

Fire Captain Jose Remiriz and FPS George E. Winters perished in the collapse. The third firefighter working the blaze had just exited the building carrying the fifth rescued guest to a waiting ambulance. The rescuer’s name has not yet been released.

In addition to Mrs. Noblestein, the other victims were Tash’a Mitchell and Paloma Vazquez. Mitchell, 29, was a designer of board games, including the most recent game of the year “Roll, Draw, Shuffle, and Cut”. Mrs. Vazquez, 43, worked at a nearby church, using her sewing skills to make blankets for the community.

The loss of these souls and their contributions to Soloville cannot be understated.

As mentioned, five persons attending the party were brought to safety by rescuers. These were:

Marcus Kelner, 22, Student
Gopi Kalluri, 28, Software Developer
Brad Lee Bradley, 34, Pediatrician
Neal Traversm 36, Musician
Esther Cohen, 27, Waitress

As the Mayor is taking time to deal with her direct personal loss in this tragedy, Assistant Mayor Ralph Waldeux issued this statement.

“We thank you for your prayers at this time for the victims of tonight’s fire, their families, and for the recovery of the survivors. As more information develops into the cause of this fire and its aftermath, we will let you know. Until then, no further comment.”


This was my first time to play Flash Point: Fire Rescue using the new Fire and Event decks from the Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Tragic Events expansion. Have to say: I LOVE THIS. Such an awesome and intense way of not only spreading the fire in a less fiddly way, but the event cards introduce new random elements to the game. Excellent!

It was also the first time I played using my own designed “Persons in Peril” deck for identifying the victims and rescued (details: The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and other Persons). I’ve used it before for Hostage Negotiator, but reworked it for use with Flash Point.

How I used it is as follows. I used blue cubes on the board for POI markers and then when “revealed” drew a real POI marker from a draw cup. Then if it was not a false alarm, when the victim was rescued or lost, I would draw a card from the Persons in Peril deck to see who they were. If they were rescued, I put them in a discard pile as normal. If they perished, I added them to the discard pile rotated 180 degrees. The POI marker went on the board as normal to keep up with the win/lose condition counts. The male/female/age/race, etc. on the POI counter had no bearing on the deck draw… each POI just represented a “human” (or dog/cat) victim. Special POI markers from the Tragic Events expansion were used if necessary by Event card.

Definitely made for a more immersive experience, IMO.

But I’m. An. Or. din. ary. Guy.

16 Pounds and Whaddya Get? A Bunch of Chips, A Bunch of Dice and All of ‘Em Fit!

Way back in November, I built my custom insert for Too Many Bones and in anticipation of the release of Too Many Bones: Undertow, hoped that it would all fit in the single box… (original post: Make Room for Undertow!)

And it did!

In this quick video tour of the box, I’ll show how it all fits nicely and with a couple of unexpected surprises thanks to Chip Theory Games.

Of course, it’s a big heavy box, over 15 pounds of goodness in there. Fortunately they built the box itself pretty strong. So no doubt it’s up to the challenge.

The New Zoo Revue

The new contents for Undertow are quite nice as well as the upgrades to the entire system that were made available to the backers.

The 3.0 Cards are much brighter and clearer and easier to read. Of course now I have obsolete 1.0 and 2.0 sets to deal with 🙂

Love the upgraded Gearloc, adventure, and battle mats with the edge stitching. They don’t take up any extra space and all of them fit in the box perfectly.

The Ally Pack includes six fun and thematic (albeit unnecessary) ally/companion chips to bling up the game.

Love that Undertow included two mini chip trays which added to the storage solution and were a providentially perfect fit for the space I already had for custom chip holders.

The new Gearloc dice are lovely as well, but the Undertow Attack and Defense dice are just slightly darker than the original game. But on a problem scale of 1-10, it’s a zero.

And of course, all 10 of my custom Gearloc boxes fit right where they belong…

Wonderful production. Setup now for a refresher game and then on to new adventures.

As for the Too Many Bones: 40 Days in Daelore and Too Many Bones: Age of Tyranny content, I’m fairly confident it will fit in as well.

Now if they should release even more new content…

Gearloc Dice Boxes available on Etsy

Boardly Go… and Take Up Less Space

The Final Frontier.

Table Space.
The Priceless Frontier.

File this under the more moderately helpful ideas. For me it works great as it makes the footprint of Star Trek: Frontiers a bit less and gives me a good spot to hold the Dummy AI player’s deck.

The provided tracker board is a bit large...
The provided tracker board is a bit large…

Seemed to me the Experience and Reputation board was just a little oversized for its function. Especially for solo play. Plus the OCD in me didn’t care for the inconsistent sizes of the spaces of the Experience track and the downright odd shape of the reputation track.

At first I designed this so each spot was the perfect size for the faction tokens. But in the end that reduced the board only about 2 inches in height and only slightly in width. Not a worthwhile reduction.

So I scrapped the idea.

For about four hours.

Then after a quick slingshot around the sun (no whales were harmed in the making of this sideboard), I revisited the project. Why did it need to host the faction tokens as markers? Especially for solo. So with a few quick calculations and a Photoshop resize step later, voila! A more compact 8×5″ (ish) side board that is the perfect size for using a cube on each track. Of added convenience is that this printed on a 1/2 sheet mailing label and thus I didn’t need to go outside to use spray adhesive to stick it to a mounting board. Colored the edges with a blue dry erase marker and all ready to go.

New smaller board leaves much more room on the table.
Cubes can be used in lieu of the faction markers.

Again, your mileage may vary if the board is right for you. Should work fine with multiplayer as well with cubes of different colors.


We’ve Got to Have Some Storage on the New Frontier

Getting it all in the box…

Been too long since I played the excellent Star Trek: Frontiers and not at all since acquiring the Star Trek: Frontiers – The Return of Khan expansion.

Read my Review of Star Trek: Frontiers

But as I was getting it all set up and incorporating the Khan expansion updates and upgrades, I realized better organization was in order. It’s also been too long since I had #FunWithFoamCore, so set off to building a replacement insert. While the plastic trays are nice enough, you cannot combine the components and as usual, they take up more space than necessary. Would love to see how many straws we could recover from the amount of plastic in these oversized organizers.

Continue reading “We’ve Got to Have Some Storage on the New Frontier”

Make Room for Undertow!

With the Kickstarter for Too Many Bones: Undertow well funded and well into the stretch goal pool, it was time to become serious about storage space for my existing Too Many Bones and expansions.

As you may have seen, I’ve already solved the space issue with each Gearloc’s dice set (Too Many Bones. Too Little Space.) — now for sale on the BGG Marketplace! (shameless plug). But I also wanted to find a way to not only store the TMB materials, but fit the Undertow components as well. To that end I decided to (gasp!) chunk the trays designed by Chip Theory Games and create my own insert to hold it all (hopefully!)

First step in any insert is of course the base or floor. You CAN just do walls and use the box bottom itself, but that results in a flimsy construction. Sure you lose 5mm of height in the box, but the stability it worth the price. The box is square at 358mm, so I cut the floor from a single piece of foam core (black looks better than white). Another tip is to always measure in millimeters. It’s easier to be more accurate and you don’t have to worry about fractions of inches. This left about 81mm of clearance to the top of the box bottom, so I cut four strips at 81x358mm and assembled the walls (two of which would need to be trimmed another 10mm or so where they butt up to the two other walls). I secure these with white glue and dressmaker’s pins (SHARP!). Some like to remove them when the glue sets, but I always leave them in. They are cheap enough to buy and they act like rebar to help the structural integrity.

Dry fit into the box just to check…

After a dry fit in the box, it was time to start divvying up the space. Largest need of course would be the area to hold the battle mat, Gearloc mats, reference sheets, and rulebook. I laid these down in the new box and marked when walls should go to define that space. With the foam core eating up 5mm each wall, I had to get as close as I could to leave space in the other areas.

As I would no longer be using the trays to hold Gearloc dice, I repurposed two of those to hold the other dice in the game. I put the Attack and Defense dice in one and the rest in the other. Since the lids for those double as dice holders as well, I could still put Gearloc dice in the lids during gameplay. However, the remaining areas were not going to be large enough to hold those, so they would need to sit atop the stack of mats and reference cards in the main section.

My dice boxes easily fit into the area to the right of the main section. In fact, I can easily fit 14(!) of them in that section. With Undertow bringing the count to 10, there is still room for either four more or other materials.

The four section solution.

I subdivided the back section into a small compartment to hold cards and a longer section for all the chips. Unfortunately that idea did not pan out. After creating a bottom layer for extra chips, the plan was a removable top layer to hold six stacks of chips. That layer would double as an on-table chip tray. But after getting the first layer completely built and installed (without glue at least), it became evident a second layer of chips would not fit heightwise!

So another solution would need to be found. So I slept on it. And then I brought a knife to a foam fight!

I determined how much space I would need for a single layer of chips to span the whole box (eight stacks) and the cut down the back section to accommodate it. This left me a 30mm bottom layer (just perfect to still hold all the cards). Now I just had to construct the chip holders (again).

I’d originally planned to make two four-stack chip trays from foamcore that would nestle into the open slot. However, I decided that it might work better to use 2mm chipboard and give me a little more space. Also these might prove a little more sturdy if folded vs. pinned and glued since the chips are so weighty. So I designed and cut a template (purple below) and traced to chipboard which I cut by hand. I scored the fold lines and started to assemble. After the first was complete I realized that they would work better as four two-stack holders as the weight distributed better. Also the chipboard doesn’t fold “neatly” even when scored, so the non-scored side frays just a bit. For the chip areas it was on the backside, so no biggie but for the wall between the two trays it got a bit ugly. So I cut the template in two and made two separate trays and surgically separated the first one. For each I made a sturdy cardstock divider to separate the two rows as well.

The end result was four trays that sit in the back section and hold about 25 chips in each, giving a total capacity of 200 chips. These can be lifted out and used on the table as needed.

So now to bring it all together. I added a “lifter” into the bottom of the main section to help, well, lift the items out of the depths and make them easier to grab. This was simply a piece of vinyl-leather material I glued down to the bottom (just on about the last three inches or so). The mats, etc. sit on top of this and then by pulling on the lifter, it raises them up slightly.

As I mentioned the Gearloc dice boxes fit into the right section, the cards in the back and the four chip trays on top of that.

But there was one thing left. The base game comes with clear cover to sit across the bottom tray. This sports the CTG name and has a finger hole for easy lifting. I decided to take that cover and trim it down so it would fit atop the books etc. in my main section. Now it can provide an extra layer of protection for the mats with the clear dice trays sitting on top of them.

TMB + Three expansions with room for more!

In all I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out. The chipboard might have been able to be a little thinner, but it would not have given me an extra row of chips, so it is what it is. I have some extra space in the chip trays, but may still have to get creative when Undertow is released. The Tyrant, Gearloc, and Lane chips could easily be stored in separate bags under the chips or in the Gearloc section. This would leave room for the new baddie chips to come. There should be plenty of room for the three new mats, though I suppose I won’t be able to fit 14 there should the need arise. But for now with the known coming content, I think this offers a workable solution to keep everything in a single box. I hate tossing the nice trays from CTG, but that’s how the bone breaks, I suppose.

BONUS! The foam from the base game that contained the dice trays can be reused to cut stoppers for the chip trays (to keep them from sliding around).

Too Many Bones. Too Little Space.

Gearloc Box Template: HERE

First off let me be clear, the packaging of Too Many Bones is pretty darn good. Chip Theory Games has produced a perfect blend of function and storage that should be the role model to all game publishers (well, maybe not Academy Games, Inc., they do a great job too).

Each Gearloc (the characters in the game), comes with a tray to hold their 21 dice. The clear plastic trays not only store the dice in the box, but they go straight to the table to keep the dice organized before players add them to the character mat for in-game use. The lids for the trays double as additional table trays as well. It’s a very ingenious design.


There are currently seven characters available with three more coming in the Too Many Bones: Undertow “standalone” expansion. Even with doubling up characters two to a tray (and removing the initiative dice to a separate container), five of those trays will be hard to combine into the main game box (along with all the other chips, mats, and player cards).

So to reduce the amount of storage required in the box (and make room for expansion content), I created these “Gearloc Dice Boxes” to hold each character separate. Each box is designed to easily hold a character’s 21 dice in three rows of seven and includes a snug lid. They take up less than half the space of current trays and are suitable to go straight from the box to the table. I still plan to keep the provided dice storage trays for on-table use, but with more content on the way, making more room in the box can never hurt.

I chose to cut mine on color coordinated cardstock (with black divider inserts), but also made labels with each character’s name, image, and a matching color ring in case you want to use basic white. The files are available here:

Gearloc Box Template: HERE

Each box template prints on a single sheet of cardstock. Cut the solid lines, score the dotted lines. You get three divider sections from a single sheet, so a little paper savings there. I use the same techniques I’ve used for creating other boxes, so this video  will help if you cannot figure out the basic assembly.

Make no bones about it, these boxes are superior to the TMB ones in only one way — they take less space. The included ones are excellent and if you have no issues with storing the game, then by all means, you should keep on as is. However, if you’re looking for a way to fit more in less space, I hope you like this solution.

As always, thanks for reading.