Gaming Rip-Off – Minuteman Miniatures – Now Called Miniature You

This little saga started at GenCon 2018.  Minuteman Miniatures had a booth where you could get your head scanned and they would provide you custom miniatures with your head/face on them.  Great idea.  I, along with my son and grandson, started the process with our scans.  In December, I ordered our minis to the tune of around $100.00.

I mentally gave them a few months grace period because I presumed there was a backlog. Then I started to email them.  No response.  I called the owner, Michael Elices, and his voicemail box was full.  Not a good sign.  I kept sending emails, every two weeks to both Mike and their support address, but got no response.

Now, a friend of mine did get his miniature – eight months after he ordered it at Gen Con and it looked great.  So this company is not an entire scam.  I am hopeful still that they would refund my money or, better yet, produce the miniatures we ordered.  At this point I would have settled for a simple “we are working on it,” response.  Instead nothing but silence, which is not good.

They have rebranded themselves as Miniature You and are promising an app as of July of this year to allow you to scan your own face and order custom miniatures from them.  I would strongly advise you to not do so.  This company has 21 Better Business Bureau complaints filed against them, all unresolved.  While I am sure their intent is to provide a service to the gaming community, and yes, some people have gotten their miniatures – there are a lot of people out there that have not.   Anyone handing them money for product is doing so with a great deal of risk.

I fully support game companies, especially start-ups.  But for them to not deliver to so many customers, then spend money to create an app to get more money…without fulfilling their orders…well, that’s borderline criminal behavior.

I will be pursuing legal remedies shortly with them.  I wanted to warn gamers out there to beware of this company though.

Review of Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles Game

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Battlestar Galactica brings the little screen to the tabletop

Santa (actually Ares Games) dropped off this little gem just prior to Christmas and I have to admit, I was pretty geeked.  I saw the prototype game at GenCon this year and was looking forward to kicking some toaster-ass. Ares Games has delivered with Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles.

I was worried this was going to be a reskin of Wings of Glory – it is not.  First off the designers have captured the essence of what was saw on the TV screen with the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  When you play with the complete rules your ship must deal with kinetic energy and you can do those awesome maneuvers we saw, like rotating your ship while moving a different direction.  Fracking awesome!   This game does not portent to be a mathematically accurate simulation of space combat.  Instead it favors fun and playability, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

First off, you get two Vipers Mk II’s and two Cylon Raiders from the most recent TV series. Ares has committed that this will cover the old TV series as well, so I have to admit I am excited at that prospect.  The amount of stuff you get in the game is staggering – stands, pilot cards, maneuver cards, rulers, dice damage counters, talent cards, maneuver markers, asteroids, a scenario book and the plastic control panels (and more).  The control panels are neat – they allow you to track your speed, kinetic energy, and the rotation of your ship.

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The control panel

Like Wings of Glory (or Sails of Glory for that matter) you use cards to determine your maneuvers.  Firing is a matter of rolling dice to hit then drawing damage chips.  For the Quick Start Rules, this is about all you have to master – meaning you can unpack this game and be playing in, per my calculations, about 15 minutes.  The Quick Start Rules are enough to get you going but it is the Complete Rules that make this game purr.  Here you deal with kinetic energy you build up in your flight maneuvers and you also can rotate.  It took me a few test turns to fully get these rules down to where I understood them, but once I did I saw the brilliance of the design.  It turns this game from a simple fighter combat into a more complex tactical simulation – especially rotating.

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A steep banking curve maneuver card

The complete rules also change the damage your ship takes, using the damage counters.  It makes the games shorter when you start doing special damage to your enemies.   The Complete Rules makes movement more fluid, breaking it into multiple phases.  I found in my solo playtest that it shortened the game considerably.

The optional rules implement altitude changes, ala Ares Games peg elevation system, and introduces pilots and their talents.  So you can play Apollo right down to all of his skills.

The miniatures are exquisite and a little larger than I anticipated – a pleasant surprise.  I am sure in a matter of days there will be custom paint stuff out on the web for these but they are fully playable right out of the box and look awesome.

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The paint is incredible

So what is the downside to this game?  Well, the scale means we probably won’t be getting a miniature of the Galactica, Pegasus, or the fleet ships…my estimate is the Galactica would be over 18 feet long if built to scale (but would be awesome!).  I am not sure how well this game will work with large battles, but I am willing to give it a whirl!  I found you need some space for this game given some of the maneuvers you can do.  Also, the series did not introduce a lot of new ships, which means expansion of this game is going to be likely pilots, talents, etc.  I am looking forward to a Raptor mini though.

The upside of this game – it captures tactical space combat in a way that most game have struggled with for generations and does it with style and polish.  The game cards and rulebooks have the corners clipped off of them to give them the feel of paper materials we saw in the series.  It is that kind of attention to detail that makes this game sizzle and pop.

I give this a solid 10 out of 10 rating – definitely worth picking up and following.  I can’t wait for the “classic” Vipers and Raiders from the old TV series – and the chance to mix things up between the two eras.  Don’t flee from the Cylon tyranny – swing around and blast those toasters! By my command…

Review of Wild West Exodus – Miniatures Game

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For two GenCon’s now I have seen the exquisite displays for this game – so I broke down and played a quick demo and bought a copy of the rules.  I have to approach this review from two perspectives – one is the game – the other is the universe itself.  I don’t know much about Warcradle Studios, but I am impressed with aspects of this game system.

The game is solid as a miniatures tactical game.  My own little playtest at home taught me that if you have more than a dozen or so minis, it can get slow.  Otherwise, the flow is good.  Players use Activation Decks (of cards) to determine initiative which adds a bit of Old West flare to the game.  The Action Card deck uses a system of points (1-5) to activate miniatures.  There is an Adventure deck where a player draws a number of cards based on the size of the scenario and these can be used for Guts and Glory.  Glory improves your accumulation of victory points – where Guts is the other end of the spectrum or provides some unique quirks to the game such as interruption of another action.

From a game perspective, the minis have statistics that are very close to those for a RPG game (which the rules strangely lack).  You have Quick, Mind, Limit, Fight, Aim and Grit.  I won’t bore you with the details, but each factor into play.  I get the feeling that the designers were on the verge of doing a RPG, but opted for a minis game instead.

Fortune factors in as well – measured with poker chips.  You can spend Fortune on things like aiming, re-rolling failures, etc.  You’re limited with these but my own experience at GenCon taught me that these can change the course of a gunfight.  Other things that factor in are artifacts and magic portals…more on that stuff below.

The miniatures range for Wild West Exodus is outstanding and exquisite and one of the key draws for the game.  I picked up a couple of the minis and was impressed with their detail.  The ones I got were hard plastic.

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Overall, the game has solid mechanics and game flow.  The pace is pretty fast once you go over the basics.  The rules are, for the most part, straight-forward and easy to digest.  There’s a lot of diversity about weapons types and impacts that give the game a good flavor of play.  I love how they baked in the lingo of the old West into the rules for flavor.  Hats off to the designers for their writing.

The universe itself as “The Dystopian Age.”  Most alternate history games change one thing, like the South winning the American Civil War, then the universe is the result of things that happen after that.  I was expecting that.  Wild West Exodus does not follow this model.  Instead it changes dozens of things to craft a crossover between steampunk, Wild West historical, magic, and alien technology. More than half of the rules is dedicated to the background.  Some of the writing here is pure genius, where other parts are hard to follow.

What emerges from this background is nothing like the American Wild West – a dizzying blur of faint historical context and a dollop of incredible imagination. In the end, I like playing the game more than I do digging into the universe background on this set of rules. There were parts of the complex background that I did not like, but parts of it are brilliant.  There are no good or bad guys here, every faction has a dark side to it which I like.  There are a lot of factions to choose from.

The game itself is very good, the background is something you and your players will have to pick and choose from as to what you like.  Overall, I give this an eight out of ten, mostly because I have not warmed up to the background of the universe just yet.

Gaslands Weapons

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Lots of potential here

If you don’t know by now, I’m a fan of Gaslands (here’s my review).  I like the game because it is simple and my grandson Trenton likes playing it and modifying the vehicles out of his Hot Wheels/Matchbox connection.

When I took him to GenCon this year, I got a message from a friend at Iron Wind Metals inviting me to stop by for Gaslands weapons.  I was a little puzzled at the time, because Iron Wind is known for their BattleTech minis.  Gaslands?

I swung by.  As it turns out, Iron Wind had containers filled with turrets and weapons that were overruns from BattleTech.  Better yet, they were perfect for Gaslands weapons.

I picked up a bunch of them and am going to start outfitting some vehicles soon.  I thought I would share my haul (fairly representative of what they offer) along with a couple of primed vehicles for scale.  Hey, you never know where you will get your inspiration from!

Review: Star Wars Legion – The Miniatures

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Apologies in advance – I’m not a great photographer

When I saw a new Star Wars miniatures skirmish game I have to admit, I was a little giddy.  Adding to that, my grandson/gaming buddy, loves Star Wars.  I remember playing the old miniatures game and while fun, it was a pain to manage all of those cards with the minis if you did a larger battle.  I hoped this one would be better and, on the surface, it appears so.

For this review – I am going to focus on the miniatures.  My first proviso, I am not a great miniatures painter.  I am average, at best.

When I purchased the set, I noted that these were 35mm figures…as opposed to the 25mm figures from the old game.  Was this merely a ploy to make sure I couldn’t use the old minis in the new system?  Probably.  At the same time I wondered how the larger size would impact details.  As it turns out, it makes the details pop.  Even better, the larger size seems much more forgiving when you paint them.  Little mistakes (the ones only you notice) disappear on a larger miniature.

Assembly was great, well almost great.  For the Stormtroopers and Rebels, you can almost get by without gluing some of the arms to the miniature, some are that good of a fit. The figures are great to work with, with good facial distinctions and details.  I have to admit it, Fantasy Flight Games did a great job with these.

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These guys are looking for trouble

The only miniature I struggled with putting together was the speeder bikes.  The guide in the rules set simply didn’t help at all with putting on the parts.  I went to two videos to finally figure it out.  On one bike, I got the control vanes on backwards.  I’m refusing to correct it at this stage.  Even more frustrating, unlike other parts in the boxed set that fit together well, the vanes don’t.  One wobbly finger and you end up with a hot mess…trust me.  I hate those speeder bikes for that reason.  I’m sure better modelers fared much better than me.

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These minis are not quite model kits in complexity, but are pretty fast and easy to assemble (other than those blasted bikes.)

In terms of painting, be prepared.  There are a lot of videos on how to paint these minis.  In terms of color guides, I found no less than a dozen.  It makes sense with the Rebels, after all, these are ad hoc units so there is some variance.  Well brace yourself, there are a lot of options here which make it great for you as a painter/player.

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The large bases have groves for identifying firing angles.  You need these in game play.  It can make basing those figures tricky.  You can see how I did it.  I wasn’t overly pleased with the result, but it worked.

Stormtroopers are easier.  You have white and black, and a touch of dark gray.  I color coded the bases with the leaders so I can distinguish them on the field of battle.

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I used an airbrush for base coats, which saved time.  It allowed me to do some light camouflage on the RT walker that I liked too.  You will have to judge for yourself.

I purchased Strong Tone wash from Army Painter and this was my first experience with it.  You can judge for yourself.  I have come to love it.  With the Stormtroopers, I put it on and gently wiped the white surfaces so they popped a little more.  I am not a Strong Tone kind of guy when I paint.  It can make a dull mini pop, and isn’t that what you want?

You can see my results as an average painter.

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One of these days I will play the game and do a full-blown review of these minis in action.  Stay tuned!

Quick Unboxing of the Game of Thrones Kickstarter – A Song of Fire and Ice

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The box, stacked full of Red Wedding goodness

The best part of a Kickstarter is when the rewards arrive.  Today my CMON Kickstarter set for A Song of Fire and Ice arrived.  I have always wanted to take part in a CMON Kickstarter campaign because of their reputation, and I have to say, I am impressed so far.

I will not be prying open every box yet, but wanted to give you a glimpse of the game components that are out – especially with Gen Con right around the corner.  I will be painting minis through Christmas, that much is for sure, but so far I was wowed with what I received.

I won’t bore you with text, but let you savor over the photos.  More to come as I begin painting.

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All good men…most don’t make it through Season 4 in the series
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A view of the back of the box
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Kind of looking forward to doing the Battle of the Bastards at some point
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Sure, they look tough…then a dragon comes in and they get crispy.
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I will have to learn to paint horses…

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The Half-Man! 
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The big box starter set.  
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The back of the big box
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The box of the bonus minis, alternate sculpts,etc.  Gotta love that iron throne from the novels.  
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Talk about a big impressive mini.  I can’t wait to pit these forces against the Imperial Stormtroopers I painted last weekend.  Oh, that would be SO wrong…

Obviously more to come.  Enjoy!

#CMON

 

Review of Gaslands – Post-Apocalyptic Vehicular Combat Miniatures Game

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I am an old school gamer and played Car Wars back in the day.  Car Wars more or less faded into obscurity over the years, but the demand for a car combat game was still out there.  Osprey Publishing has answered this call with Gaslands, a Matchbox meets Mad Max cars shooting and crashing game.  (That’s not the official title, but humor me.)

A few things about the game.  One, the background is irrelevant and the book doesn’t bore us with a lot here.  Let’s be honest, we just want to drive and blow things up.  The things we can’t blow up, we want to drive into.  Fortunately, that is the core premise of Gaslands.

Gaslands, as a game, is what Wings of Glory is to WWI aviation combat.  If you are looking for a fast game that is easy to learn, without complex rules, then Gaslands is great.  What I really like is that the game is designed for you to take Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars and modify them for gameplay.  My grandson is eight and he enjoys this game – so the concepts are pretty simple to master.

I will say that the writing is not perfect with Gaslands.  There are some important concepts that are vague in how they are presented and require re-reading sometimes to make sure you fully get them.  On flipping, for example, I can’t tell for sure by the way it written if your vehicle is out of play if it flips or if it is pulling off some Dukes of Hazzard maneuver.  The lack of an index makes it tricky at times to find what you are looking for.

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My grandson’s performance car drifts in front of my heavily armed truck. 

Movement is done via templates.  You roll dice, optionally, when you perform maneuvers. The results can be that you skid, slide, or have the ability to up or downshift.  Weapons range from pistols to rocket launchers and oil slicks.  If you pick a particularly aggressive template, you can pick up hazard tokens.  The dice rolls are in your favor, you can shed hazard tokens.

Combat and collisions are straight forward resolved with dice rolling.  This isn’t about tracking each dent and scratch location on your car, this is about wrecking them.

The gameplay centers around hazard tokens.  When you gather six or more, you can lose control of your vehicle, even flip.  The more reckless and fast you drive, the more you accumulate. Driving recklessly, if done creatively, is the key to many games of Gaslands.  Skidding, for example, is a great way to shift your vehicle into a better positon.

The rules allow for big rigs, crews, and general chaos.  There is plenty of room here for adding in your own RPG elements and expanding the rules for driving and shooting skills.  Gaslands, as it stands is a good fast game that can be blown out any way you desire.

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Time to raid your kids toybox for minis.  

You don’t need the customer dice, tokens, or templates – but they do help (especially the dice).  Shapeways has the dice if you want them 3D printed, or you can order them from the Gaslands website – https://gaslands.com/   I got the whole kit and kaboodle for around $50 US, a tad pricy for what you get – but still a pretty low entry point for the game.  Not sure you want to jump in with both feet?  You can order the book alone (which has copy-able templates, tokens, etc.) for around $15.00.  YouTube has some videos which helped with my interpretation of some of the more challenging rules.

My rating on this is four and a half out of five stars.  Pick it out and raid your kids old cars to trick out some rides.