Thoughts on the Dwarven Forge Castles Kickstarter

 Board Games, News and Info, RPG, Tabletop Gaming  Comments Off on Thoughts on the Dwarven Forge Castles Kickstarter
Mar 272016

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder System, What Is It?

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder System Kickstarter

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder System Kickstarter

As you may have heard, Dwarven Forge launched their long anticipated Castle Builder Kickstarter about three weeks ago. DF has been talking about this project and taking lots of community feedback for this system for at least a couple of years, possibly longer. What they’ve deployed for this Kickstarter is a truly massive and elaborate system that will eventually allow you to build some really impressive setups that’d be immersive and fun to play with whether you’re an avid fan of Dungeons & Dragons or any other fantasy RPG setting or a tabletop miniatures gamer.

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder system includes a multitude of options allowing you to build the castle of your gaming dreams with square and round towers, large walls that can be made double thick for a castle that looks truly massive and options like gate houses, drawbridges and more. There are “mountain cliff” sets that will allow you to perch your castle on top of a rocky crag or make sheer cliffs a feature of the castle.

In the last 24 hours or so they’ve let the cat out of the bag about castle dressing packs that will allow you to theme your castle with runic/druidic decorations or take a darker turn with necromancer themed accessories. There are also powered up options that include lighted accessories and even a powered drawbridge that raises and lowers via a small battery powered motor.

There are still about three days remaining in the Kickstarter so Dwarven Forge is still in the process of releasing more add on packs that expand and enhance the Castle Builder system and as the funding total increases (it’s currently sitting at close to 1.2 million dollars in pledges) there will be the inevitable stretch goals.

Some of the rumored expansions include more dressing packs and architectural accessories, a moat pack, themed miniatures, and ruined wall and tower sections to show damaged or abandoned areas. The DF staff have mentioned that they sculpted as many as 140 different pieces for the Dwarven Forge Castle Builder system and if that is indeed the case there is much that has not yet been revealed to backers. There as been some talk that some items will not appear during the actual Kickstarter and may become available for purchase after the Kickstarter ends during the Pledge Manager phase. (The Pledge Manager phase usually takes place a few weeks after the close of the Kickstarter and gives fans a chance to add additional funds for more add-ons! or sometimes allows late backers who missed the original KS to participate).

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder System, What I Like

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder system is up to the usual excellent standards that you’ve come to expect from Stefan Pokorny and company. The castle builder seems well thought out in terms of modularity and there is a great variety of pieces that will allow you to build just about anything you can imagine. The sculpts themselves are beautiful and the pieces go together well. There is also a lot of compatibility with last years Dwarven Forge City Builder system which I bought quite a bit of and really like for tabletop gaming in particular. Dwarven Forge Kickstarter projects have all been made out of a super durable, almost indestructible material they like to call “Dwarvenite”. It’s something that you can allows your kids to play with and not need to worry about it breaking. In this Castle Builder Kickstarter they are using ABS for some of the large long pieces, this also promises to be extremely durable.

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder Kickstarter has a variety of pledge levels, starting with a $20 “Add On Only” pledge that doesn’t include any of the castle set ups but does allow you to just purchase add on and accessory packs individually if you’d just like to add a few things to your other DF stuff. This is the first time they’ve had an add on pack on;y pledge and I think it’s a great idea. This was a popular request in previous DF Kickstarters so it’s nice to see them responding to customer feedback in a tangible way. There are various other pledge levels that will get you sections of a castle like a gatehouse and ramparts or a complete tower all the way up to a large keep pledge that includes enough pieces to construct a good sized square castle with 2 square corners, 2 round towers and a gatehouse. The combination of these options gives backers a great deal of choice and flexibility, but, that comes at a cost and a lot of complexity.

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder System, What I Don’t Like

I’m going to go right for the elephant in the room for this Kickstarter. It’s a very expensive project and there’s no other way to put that. Dwarven Forge tends to be expensive anyway but one of the benefits of the original Dwarven Forge Dungeon Tiles Kickstarter was that it had tremendous value for the money spent, particularly compared to what you needed to spend on their hand painted resin sets. This value for dollars spent has steadily gone down through each Kickstarter as they’ve increased in complexity. The Castle Builder system is also the fourth Dwarven Forge Kickstarter in four years and to be honest, last years was pretty spendy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begrudging Dwarven Forge for their pricing, they’re a business and I want them to be around for a long time so I understand that they have to charge what they have to charge to stay viable. My complaint is twofold (and to be fair I’m not really sure these are complaints, they’re really just my observations).

First, this is a huge project with a lot of complexity. I think they would have been better served by either breaking this into two smaller Kickstarters over a two year period OR waiting another year and showing off a lot of this stuff in action in order to build anticipation and demand and to give backers wallets a chance to recover from the last three years and last years City Builder Kickstarter in particular.

On the subject of complexity, there is already an incredible array of pieces and options and they’re still holding stuff for the final run up to the end of the Kickstarter. I’ve been following the project pretty closely and watching their videos and livestreams and I still feel a little overwhelmed when I go look at all the pledges and options and then try to figure out what add-ons best go with what pledges. I imagine that someone coming to check out the project who hasn’t been following it as closely is probably at a loss to figure everything out and make a decision. It’s probably pretty confusing and some people are just going to pass on the entire thing because of that confusion. I think Dwarven Forge could have alleviated most of this by creating more video shorts explaining how the various pieces could work together rather than relying on spur of the moment livestreams.

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder System Sorcerer's Sanctum Pledge

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder System Sorcerer’s Sanctum Pledge

My other observation is the spend for this Kickstarter. In previous projects you could spend a few hundred dollars – I’m talking three or four hundred dollars here – and receive a reasonable amount of stuff that gave you lots of options and flexibility to create an interior layout for a dungeon or cavern. Last years City Builder was noticeably less wallet friendly but still seemed reasonable for the utility, particularly for gamers who might have multiple games they could use buildings and city structures with. As a gamer who plays RPG’s and tabletop wargames I thought the City Builder set was a great addition to my terrain collection.

The Dwarven Forge Castle Builder system is another beast entirely. They offer some nice basic packages and late in the campaign have offered up some “complete castle” pledges at varying price points that give you the exact stuff you need to build a specific layout, like a Sorcerer’s Sanctum ($585) pr the Royal Stronghold ($1950). (Those prices are for the prepainted versions, the unpainted versions are $460 and $1500 respectively and it’s worth mentioning that these special sets don’t include any stretch goals). These and the other “complete” offerings are all great options for folks looking to just show up and buy something ready to build without poring over the various pledges and add-ons and trying to figure how everything goes together.

The problem is that if you watch the promo videos and short video builds of various setups that Dwarven Forge has produced it quickly becomes apparent that even if you pop for the $2000 Royal Stronghold pledge you still won’t have near enough stuff to build those epic layouts shown in the promo videos. I’ve spent quite a bit over the first three Dwarven Forge Kickstarters, around $3500 between the three projects ($800 on Dungeon Tiles, $1200 on Caverns and $1600 on City Builder), and that figure is low because it doesn’t factor in items I’ve bought from their website or via the secondary market to add to my collection. The issue here is that in order to get enough of the Castle Builder stuff to even approach some of the layouts that Dwarven Forge have shown in their build videos I’ll have to spend more on this one Kickstarter than all previous Dwarven Forge Kickstarters combined. RPG’s and dungeoneering aren’t my only hobbies so it’s hard to justify blowing a huge chunk of my annual gaming budget on this one thing.

This isn’t just me complaining about this situation either, it’s reflected in the number of backers that have participated in each of the Dwarven Forge Kickstarters. There were 5398 backers for Dungeon Tiles, 3950 for Caverns, 2719 for City Builder and with just over three days to go for Castle Builder there are a paltry (by comparison) 1315 backers. That is a 50 percent drop in participants just from last year, and I believe it’s mostly due to a combination of backer fatigue (4 increasingly expensive Kickstarters, 4 years in a row) and the issues mentioned above. (I also think that as these Dwarven Forge projects get more and more specialized there are a number of drop outs due to the sets not being as generically useful e.g., the number of people who need a city or castle set for their RPG adventures is fewer compared to the basic dungeon building set).

So Now What? How About Something Completely Different?

The Makerbot Replicator Mini 3D Printer

The Makerbot Replicator Mini 3D Printer

At the end of the day, the Dwarven Forge Castle Builder system is still a functional work of art that’s imminently useful for RPG’ers and tabletop gamers. Issues aside, it’s a fantastic set that once again delivers in terms of artistry and flexibility. While I am currently pledged at the add-on only level and I may end up getting one of the smallest Castle Builder set ups, I won’t be dropping anything near what I’ve spent on previous Dwarven Forge Kickstarters. In fact, I’ve decided to try something completely different and recently purchased a Makerbot Replicator Mini 3D Printer. I’ll have more to say about this in the coming days but if you’re interested in seeing my 3d printed works in progress as I learn how to use the Makerbot Replicator Mini you can follow me over on my Twitter account @HolyCrapItsLate.

Get Your Zombie On With These Great Zombie Board Games Until The Walking Dead Comes Back

 Board Games, News and Info, Tabletop Gaming  Comments Off on Get Your Zombie On With These Great Zombie Board Games Until The Walking Dead Comes Back
Dec 042015

It is the long winter of our discontent – or at least our impatience – while we wait for the TV show The Walking Dead to return from its winter break. What’s a fan of the not quite dead to do? Allow me to suggest Zombie board games! We’re at a point in tabletop gaming that might be described as a golden age and for fans of the zombie genre that means you have lots of choices from very light and quick to play dice games to board games that feel like they’re right out of the pages of your favorite zombie comics, books or TV shows. I’ve put together a short list of some of my favorite zombified board games for you to check out and I hope you’ll find something here that you’ll be able to use to make the time in between episodes of The Walking Dead go a little faster and have fun while you’re waiting.

Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice - You're a zombie, eat brains, press your luck, don't get blasted! board games

Zombie Dice – You’re a zombie, eat brains, press your luck, don’t get blasted!

The simplest of Zombie games, Zombie Dice is most definitely a beer and pretzels game that even comes in a tube about the size of a beer can. There isn’t a lot of strategy here, you’re just rolling dice, looking to chow down on as many brains as you can before getting blasted. It’s a press your luck dice roller that is great as a warm up game or time filler between other larger games. Sometimes I break this out for people to keep busy while I’m setting up another game. Due to the fact that it’s so small you can throw it in your bag or back pack and break it out almost anywhere to help pass some time. It’s also really inexpensive at around $8 on Amazon. 2-5 players, about 15-20 minutes for your average play time.

Get your copy of Zombie Dice here!

Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter - survive the zombies, the weather and treachery from other bands of survivors

Dead of Winter – survive the zombies, the weather and treachery from other bands of survivors

Dead of Winter is a semi-cooperative game where players who are survivors of a zombie apocalypse will fight off zombies while dealing with other problems like trying to avoid getting bitten, the weather, and other players putting in the double cross. Each player gets their own group of survivors and there are loads of different and fun to play characters. It’s semi-cooperative due to the fact that while everyone is working on a common goal, each player also has their own secret objective which can have several different consequences for the other players. This means you have games where everyone, someone, or no one can win which keeps the game interesting and very dynamic. Dead of Winter is for 2-5 players and typically takes about 90 minutes to play. $44 on Amazon

Get your copy of Dead of Winter here!

City of Horror

In City of Horror you'll need your persuasion and negotiation skills to outlast the other survivors board game zombies

In City of Horror you’ll need your persuasion and negotiation skills to outlast the other survivors

City of Horror is unique for a Zombie game because it isn’t really about fighting the zombies. It’s a game that’s about negotiation, diplomacy and ultimately, betrayal. In a city overrun by the walking dead players try to survive in a variety of buildings until they can be rescued. Each player controls a small band of survivors and must strive to keep everyone alive through the zombie filled night. The catch is that there’s only so much space in the building which means some survivors will have to be thrown to the ravenous horde of zombies outside. The mechanism for this is voting by the remaining survivors which means there will be lots of pleading, haggling and double crosses as players try desperately to get their survivors rescued. Definitely a different sort of Zombie game. 3-6 players. 90 minute play time. $25 on Amazon.

Get your copy of City of Horror here!

Last Night on Earth

It's the Last Night on Earth, can your survivors outlast the zombies? board games

It’s the Last Night on Earth, can your survivors outlast the zombies?

Last Night on Earth is probably the granddaddy of zombie board games. This game has awesome production values that include photos of the characters in full costumes and make up and with props. It even comes with an audio soundtrack. It’s one I’ve had in my collection for awhile that still comes out semi-regularly. Last Night on Earth is another semi-cooperative zombie game but in this game some of the players control the survivors while others control the zombies. That makes it different from most other zombie board games where the zombies are typically mindless and follow pre-programmed behaviors. Naturally, since they’re controlled by players the zombies are a lot smarter and more of a challenge than what you’re used to seeing. Last Night on Earth has been around for awhile so there’s lots of expansions available for it as well. 2-6 players. 90 minute play time. About $40 on Amazon

Get your copy of Last Night on Earth Here!


Zombicide is you go to post apocalyptic zombie survival board game

Zombicide is you go to post apocalyptic zombie survival board game

Zombicide was one of the early board game successes on Kickstarter that probably lead to the explosion of crowd funded board games we’re currently enjoying. This is a very thematic, action packed fully cooperative post apocalyptic zombie survival game. There’s no diplomacy or negotiation or hidden agendas, it’s just all out carnage as players battle zombies and try to survive. Players must work together to accomplish the mission objectives or they all lose. Each player takes on the role of a survivor and survivors are all based on familiar tropes or well known pop culture icons. As the players battle the zombies, they gain new skills and become better at defeating them while Zombicide’s clever spawning mechanic means that the zombies also get tougher and appear in ever increasing hordes. There are mechanics that take in to account how much noise players make in determinng how the zombies behave, as well as lots of loot for players to find and use in their quest to defeat the zombies. If you’re looking for a zombie board game that really simulates what it’s like to battle zombies in the land of The Walking Dead, this is the one. This game is intense and to be honest it’s pretty challenging for the players to win. The game is mission based so there’s tons of replay-ability with just the main game. Additionally there is loads of flavorful add on content that includes different types of zombies, new survivors. new locations like Prison Outbreak, Toxic City Mall and Rue Morgue.

Lots of extra missions, rule books and other free stuff can also be downloaded directly from the Guillotine Games Zombicide website. This is hands down the favorite zombie game of the various play groups and Meetups I participate in. Most people I’ve introduced Zombicide to are hooked about ½ way through their first play through. 1-6 players. Playtime varies based on mission but it can be anything from 30 minutes to 3 hours. About $60 on Amazon.

Get your copy of Zombicide here!

Check out all of the Zombide expansions and add-ons here

Visit the Guillotine Games website for free Zombicide downloadable content


There you have it, some of my favorite zombie flavored board games. While it’s not an exhaustive list of zombie board games, any or all of these should fulfill your zombie yearnings while you wait for the return of The Walking Dead. I have all of these games and they’re all great fun but if you’re only going to get one big zombie board game then I’d definitely recommend you pick up a copy of Zombicide. You can thank me later when you’re gritting your teeth and trying to desperately survive your own tabletop zombie apocalypse.

Holiday Gift Guide For Your Favorite Miniatures Hobbyist

 Geek Gifts, Hobby Tradecraft, Tabletop Gaming  Comments Off on Holiday Gift Guide For Your Favorite Miniatures Hobbyist
Dec 022015

We’ve made it through Thanksgiving week (in the US) and this, more than anything is the signal that we’ve officially started the holiday season. Since many of us will be thinking about what to get the hobbyist in our life (or maybe you need some ideas for your own Xmas wish list), I thought it would be a good time to run down a few items that would make excellent Christmas gifts for your favorite hobbyist. This post focuses on tools and hobbying accessories instead of actual games and miniatures. The first section is a selection of smaller items that would be perfect as stocking stuffers. The second section are physically larger gifts that you’ll probably end up putting under the tree. There are items at a variety of price points from under $20 to around the $100 range. In some cases I’ve also mentioned an item or two that pairs nicely with the main item in terms of utility.

Winsor Newton Series 7 Brushes & The Masters Brush Cleaner

The Winsor Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable paint brushes are an excellent brush for miniatures painters looking to level up

The Winsor Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable paint brushes are an excellent brush for miniatures painters looking to level up

The Winsor Newton Series 7 paint brushes are kind of the holy grail of paint brushes for miniatures painters. These brushes make a great gift for the miniatures painter that’s been painting for awhile and is ready to up their game with better tools. These also are great because, due to the fact that they cost quite a bit more than your standard hobby shop paint brush, a lot of hobbyists are hesitant to get these for themselves because it’s a bit of an investment and can also feel a little intimidating. The good news is that because these brushes are so high quality, you don’t need a ton of them. I recommend the #0 and the #2 Winsor Newton Series 7 paint brushes if you’re looking at getting a couple of these. Those two sizes cover a lot of range in terms of utility and usefulness.

If you're getting nice brushes like the Winsor Newton Series 7, invest in some brush cleaner as well. The Masters Brush Cleaner is an excellent product for the care and preserving of fine brushes

If you’re getting nice brushes like the Winsor Newton Series 7, invest in some brush cleaner as well. The Masters Brush Cleaner is an excellent product for the care and preserving of fine brushes

If you’re looking to add a little something to this then I’d also recommend adding a tub of The Masters Brush Cleaner to them. Proper cleaning and care will make these paint brushes last a long time, even longer than synthetics.

Wet Palette

The P3 Wet Palette, usually under $20 and perfect if you don't want to build one yourself.

The Privateer Press P3 Wet Palette, usually under $20 and perfect if you don’t want to build one yourself.

A wet palette is another really useful addition to the miniatures painters toolbox. It helps preserve paint by keeping the paint you’re working from drying out and helps you get to the proper consistency of paint for applying it to miniatures. It’s also really handy for blending and other effects. Privateer Press makes a handy wet palette that’s just right for miniatures painters. Consider adding in an extra pad of wet palette paper for the busy painter.

Porcelain Paint Palettes & Bowls

The Darice Oblong Porcelain Paint Palette is a solid addition to your paint station

The Darice Oblong Porcelain Paint Palette is a solid addition to your paint station

Every good miniatures painter knows that you shouldn’t paint directly from the paint pot for several reasons including paints drying out, the potential for accidental paint spills, and getting too much paint on your brush or up in the metal ferrule that holds the bristles in place. For these reasons it’s nice to have a couple of palettes around your painting desk. You can get some super cheap plastic or tin palettes and these are perfectly serviceable. However if you’d like to have something a little nicer and that feels more solid, a ceramic palette or nesting ceramic bowls are a nice upgrade. I personally use this Darice 10 Well Oblong Porcelain Paint Palette and these large porcelain stacking bowls. These things are solid and have some heft to them so they don’t slide around and can’t be accidentally knocked over which keeps the messes down. They are prefect for when I need a larger amount of paint out for a bigger project and they’re also great for oil washes and custom paint mixes. Since they’re porcelain, they don’t stain and are very easy to clean even when you have let paint dry on them.

PaintWater/Not Paint Water Coffee Mugs

Get a set of these handy Paint Water/Not Paint Water coffee mugs to keep yourself from accidentally imbibing your paint water

Get a set of these handy Paint Water/Not Paint Water coffee mugs to keep yourself from accidentally imbibing your paint water

Most painters keep a mug of water on their paint station for thinning paints and cleaning their brushes when changing colors or types of paint. Some of us drink coffee or adult beverages out of another mug while we’re working. A coffe mug that’s got “Not Paint Water” printed on the side is a fun gift for a painter and it’ll keep them from getting a mouthful of dirty water when they’re “in the zone” and focused on their painting. You can find these on Amazon sometimes but why not check out Etsy, there are several sellers there who make mugs with custom messages on them and it’s always cool to support small businesses doing hand made items.

Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station

iwata airbrush cleaning station

The Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station is a really useful airbrushing accessory and includes a built in airbrush stand

The Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station is a handy little thing to have that allows you to empty paint and cleaning fluid from your airbrush into a sealed container. It cuts down on messes and potential spills and actually holds quite a bit of liquid safely until you’re ready to empty it. The Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station also doubles as an airbrush stand due to the way the handle is engineered.

Elmers X-Acto Knife Set in Zippered Case

This Elmers X-Acto Knife Set has a great variety of blades and handles and comes in a handy and portable zippered case

This Elmers X-Acto Knife Set has a great variety of blades and handles and comes in a handy and portable zippered case

One thing a miniatures hobbyist always needs is a supply of sharp knives for trimming and cleaning model kits as well as doing customization and kitbashing. This handy Elmers X-Acto Knife set has a variety of handles and blades suitable for different jobs and everything comes in a nice zippered nylon case for storage or for throwing in your bag for emergency repairs on game day.

Cordless Dremel

The Dremel 7700 moto tool is cordless, rechargeable and has plenty of power for typical miniature hobby tasks

The Dremel 7700 moto tool is cordless, rechargeable and has plenty of power for typical miniature hobby tasks

The Dremel is a really handy motorized mini tool that can be used for all sorts of jobs like cutting, drilling, polishing and sanding. A rechargeable cordless Dremel is even handier as it’s more compact and can be taken with you in a portable tool kit. Even though it’s powered by a rechargeable battery it’s got enough power for most of the typical miniatures hobbyist and scenery jobs. There are a couple of choices here, the Dremel 7300 Mini Mite which is a smaller desktop version or the more powerful Dremel 7700 moto tool that has a bigger motor and battery. Both are excellent choices for miniature and model building. Throw in a Dremel accessory kit to go along with it and you’ve got a winning combination.

Donegan OptiVISOR and Light

Donegan OptiiVISOR with replaceable lenses

The Donegan OptiiVISOR with replaceable lenses that can be quickly changed for different levels of magnification

The Donegan OptiVISORis a headset with magnifying lenses that’s completely hands free and can be worn over prescription glasses if needed. The lenses can be changed out to increase or decrease the amount of magnification as needed. These are great for working on those models with tiny accessories or for getting the detail right when painting miniatures. These especially useful for those older hobbyists who need a little help seeing the tiniest details on their projects.

The OptiVISOR LED Light Attachment

The Donegan compatible OptiVISOR LED Light Attachment

Consider adding the OptiVISOR LED light kit which uses LEDs to flood the area you’re working on with bright light.


Iwata HP-C Plus Airbrush

The Iwata HP-C Plus Airbrush is a solid, high quality dependable workhorse that will take you a long way

Lots of miniatures hobbyists are making the jump to airbrushing these days. There are tons of choices and options for airbrushes, too many to list here but if you’re interested in learning the basics I have an article on the basics of airbrushes that you can check out here. Two excellent airbrush choices for the beginner are the Iwata HP-C Plus and the Badger Sotar 2020. Both of these are reasonably priced relative to the overall costs of getting into airbrushing and there’s a ton of information and video online about these models for the new airbrush user. Consider adding an airbrush compressor to go with this gift, more information about that below.

Airbrush Compressor

The Master Airbrush Single Piston Airbrush Compressor with Tank as sold on Amazon. All of this for only $89 plus shipping!

The Master Airbrush Single Piston Airbrush Compressor with Tank as sold on Amazon. All of this for only $89 shipped!

A great item to go along with a new airbrush is a small airbrush compressor. These can be very expensive but you really do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy compressor. The Master Airbrush TC20-T airbrush compressor is a great little compressor and comes in under $100 delivered from Amazon. These usually include a braided hose which means you have what you need to get started airbrushing. The hose that’s included with these is standardized for Iwata fittings so if you don’t have an Iwata airbrush pick up one of these airbrush adapter kits which covers about 99 percent of airbrushes commonly used.

Airbrush Spray Booth

airbrush spay booth

This portable airbrush spray booth will keep your airbrushing environment clean

The last major piece of the airbrushing puzzle is optional but nice to have if your hobbyist is spraying indoors. This Master Airbrush portable airbrush spray booth has a fan that draws in the overspray and air and filters it keeping any stray paint from getting out of hand and helps with odor control. The kit includes parts to exhaust the filtered air out a nearby window or vent. Strictly optional but this will probably keep everyone else in the house happy and it’s also under $100 delivered if you buy it on Amazon.

Army Painter Mega Hobby Set & Mega Paint Set 2

The Army Painter Mega Hobby Set is great for someone who's just getting started in the miniatures hobby

The Army Painter Mega Hobby Set is great for someone who’s just getting started in the miniatures hobby

This gift idea is really for those that are brand new to the hobby and just getting started. The Army Painter Mega Hobby Set is your one stop shop for the beginning miniatures hobbyist. It’s conveniently packaged all together and has a great assortment of hobby tools like knives, clippers, files and tweezers. It also includes glues, a basic selection of Army Painter brand paints and paint brushes, a can of spray primer and is rounded out with a nice assortment of basing materials to finish off your miniatures like a pro. It even includes a 24 page booklet with lots of information to help you get started and dive right in to the miniatures hobby.

The Army Painter Mega Paint Set 2 is a great addition to the Mega Hobby Set and gives you an additional 42 paints, washes and more

The Army Painter Mega Paint Set 2 is a great addition to the Mega Hobby Set and gives you an additional 42 paints, washes and more/army-painter-mega-paint-set-2

If you’re looking to expand this set, consider the Army Painter Mega Paint Set II which contains an additional 42 paints and includes washes and shades and some additional brushes.

Weathering Pigments from Vallejo & Secret Weapon Miniatures

Weathering Pigment sets from Vallejo and Secret Weapon Miniatures will allow you to add that extra bit of realism to your miniatures and models

Weathering Pigment sets from Vallejo and Secret Weapon Miniatures will allow you to add that extra bit of realism to your miniatures and models

This gift idea is for those hobbyists that are looking to add that extra level of realism to their miniatures. Weathering pigments are fine colored powders that are usually used to add color to paint medium. In this format they are literally just the pigment powder, usually in a small jar or tub and are applied with a brush or sponge to add different effects to a model in order to make it look worn and dirty or greasy or even rusty. These can be purchased individually but are also sold in sets of compatible shades around a theme like “Desert Sand and Mud” or “Rust and Oil” etc. I use weathering pigments from both Vallejo and Secret Weapon Miniatures. I like them both but recently have been leaning more towards the Secret Weapon Miniatures brand as I like their color selection and variety better. They also sell pre-selected sets of pigments and for a really nice gift Secret Weapon Miniatures have a set called “The Works” which includes all twenty three of the shades they offer in one complete package at a discount price of about 15% off the regular price if purchased separately. (It’s also a great time to buy Secret Weapon Miniatures products as many of their products are currently on sale at up to 25% off normal prices for their annual Black Friday sale which lasts until December 4th).

The  Wrap Up (See What I Did There?)

The perfect holiday gift for a miniatures hobbyist?

The perfect holiday gift for a miniatures hobbyist?

It’s a wrap! These are just a few ideas that I think many miniatures hobbyists would be pretty happy to receive in their stocking or find under the tree on Christmas morning. Whether you’re filling the role of Santa this year or need to give some not so subtle hints to someone about possible gift ideas for yourself this list should help make someone a little extra happy when it comes time to unwrap presents. If you were making a list along this theme what else would you suggest? Please add your ideas in the comment section below!







Eight Tabletop Games That Make Great Holiday Gifts

 Board Games, Geek Gifts, News and Info, Tabletop Gaming  Comments Off on Eight Tabletop Games That Make Great Holiday Gifts
Nov 202015

We haven’t even made it to Thanksgiving yet and already we’re being bombarded with commercials about Christmas and there are huge holiday themed displays almost everywhere you shop. Since we’re just about to ramp up to level 9000 on the Christmas-O-Meter I thought this would be a good time to share some tabletop game suggestions. The theme for this post will be easy to play tabletop games that are fun and will (mostly) actually fit in a Christmas stocking if you’re looking for a few good stocking stuffers. Most of these games will also be budget friendly, coming in at $20 or less. These games are available at your local game store or on Amazon. I’ve included the Amazon price for each game at the time of this writing.

Love Letter

Love Letter, card game, tabletop, boardgame,, board game, game night

Love Letter is a fast, fun, easy to learn card game

Love Letter is a card game of risk, deduction and bluffing with just 16 cards. A game takes about 15 minutes to play and players must earn favor points with the princess. The cards represent the princesses suitors and members of the royal court. Each card has a different effect. Players play multiple rounds and the first player to 4 favor points wins the game. This is a great warm up game or filler game when you have a few minutes. Don’t be fooled by the fact that there’s only 16 cards, Love Letter is fun and full of strategy. 2-4 players. Price: $9

Get Bit

get bit. card game, board game, boardgame, tabletop, game night, family game

Get Bit! Robots! Sharks! Oh my!

You’re a robot! You’re in the water! A giant robot eating shark is chasing you! Get bit is a fun card game that uses bluffing and deduction to determine who…wait for it…gets bit. Players place their robots in a line and then use the cards to determine the line order each round. Last robot in line loses a limb, and you actually get to pull an arm or a leg off of your little robot avatar. The goal is to be at the front of the line at the end of the game when there are only two players left. Get Bit is simple to learn and fun to play. Games take a few minutes and in spite of its simplicity you’ll want to play it over and over. 2-6 players. Price: $16

Forbidden Island

forbidden island. card game, board game, boardgames, game night, family game, tabeltop

Forbidden Island turns you into a team of Indiana Jones style adventurers

Forbidden Island is a cooperative game where the players are trying to retrieve treasure from ancient ruins on a sinking island. Players must work as a team to collect the treasures and escape the island before it sinks entirely. This is a cooperative game so that means all players are playing against the game and must work together to win. This game has great components and the board is made up of randomly placed tiles so it’s different every time you play. This is a great family game and even young kids can grasp it with the help of adults. (Forbidden Island is the one game on this list that may not actually fit in a Christmas stocking) 2-4 players. Price: $16

Exploding Kittens

exploding kittens, card game, board game. game night, tabletop, family game

Exploding Kittens a game of kitten powered Russian roulette

Exploding Kittens has a great little promo video that explains everything:

Exploding Kittens: A card game for people who like kittens and explosions and laser beams….and sometimes goats. This is a fun little party game that takes about 10 minutes to figure out. Players take turns drawing and playing cards trying to avoid exploding, which knocks you out of the game, while using the cards to manipulate the other players and hopefully exploding them. 2-5 players and you can expand it for up to 9 players by adding a second deck. Price: $20

Machi Koro

Machi Koro, board game, card game, dice game, tabletop, family game, game night

In Machi Koro – you’re the Mayor trying to out-Mayor the other local cities

Machi Koro is a neat little game where each player is the mayor of their own city. Players compete to grow their city by building public works, food factories, entertainment and more, while trying to prevent their rival mayors from doing the same. This is a great fast paced game that is easy to learn and plays in about 20 minutes. Dice and cards. 2-4 players. Price: $20

Sushi Go

card game. board game, sushi go, tabletop, family game

Sushi Go,, choose wisely and become the Sushi Master!

Sushi Go is a fast playing card game where players try and assemble the best combination of sushi dishes as cards come out. Points are scored over multiple rounds by collecting the most maki rolls or making full sets of sashimi. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins and is declared the Sushi Master. Sushi Go uses drafting, hand management, and collecting strategies. Great artwork and a great game for family game night with kids and adults. 2-5 players. Price: $11


guillotine, card game, tabletop, board game, game night

Guillotine is the revolutionary card game where you win by getting ahead

Guillotine is a light hearted game that takes place during the French Revolution. Billed as “the revolutionary card game where you win by getting a head”. Players are guillotine operators who are competing for the best nobles – or at least their heads – over the course of three rounds. If you want to be the best guillotine operator that means you’re going to have to amass the best “trophies”. Guillotine is a card game for 2.5 players that uses hand management and play action cards to manipulate the order of the line so you collect the most valuable nobles. Price: $12

Hey That’s My Fish!

hey that's my fidh, tabletop, board game, game night, family game

Hey That’s My Fish – can your penguins outfish the other penguins before the ice melts?

Hey That’s My Fish is a great little family game that works equally well with adults or children. In Hey That’s My Fish players control hungry penguins on an Antarctic ice floe trying to collect the most fish. Competing players try to block you and the ice floe continuously gets smaller as you play. Players try to win by collecting the most fish by the end of the game. This is a great little game with nice artwork and a lot of tactical depth for a small game. For 2 – 4 players. Price: $15

8 Tabletop Games That Are Easy to Learn and Fun to Play!

This is by no means an exhaustive list but these are some of my favorite small, easy to learn and play tabletop games. These games all make great gifts and they all really will fit in a Christmas stocking with the possible exception of Forbidden Island which is a bit bigger. The best thing is that you can be playing any of them within a few minutes of opening them as they won’t require hours of assembly or rules reading in order to start having fun!

Review: Wall Mount Nail Polish/Hobby Paint Rack

 Hobby Tradecraft, News and Info, Tabletop Gaming  Comments Off on Review: Wall Mount Nail Polish/Hobby Paint Rack
Nov 192015

Something that seems to come up quite a bit in hobby forums and social media is the subject of paint storage. Pretty frequently I see people asking how other hobbyists store their hobby paints or if someone can recommend a pre-made hobby paint rack or storage unit.

Hobby Paint Storage Racks Can Be Pricey

You can spend a lot of money on a storage rack. There are some very nice desktop racks available that are made from laser cut MDF or Plexiglas. Most of these are made up of modular sections that you can set up to fit into your work area. Additionally most of these offer optional tool racks and drawer units so you can design the perfect setup for your hobby workstation. I happen to own one of these from an outfit called Back 2 Base-ix based in Australia. (Note that at the time of this writing, the Back 2 Base-ix website appears to be offline. If you want to get in contact with them you might try their Facebook Page)

hobby paint rack, wall mount nail polish rack

The Back 2 Base-ix hobby paint rack is nice and allows you to customize your set up, but it’s pricey

This is a great setup and I love it but there are some caveats to a hobby paint rack like this. First off, it’s expensive. There’s no other way to state this. My setup as shown cost $250 – and that was with free shipping. I bought their pre-selected package and added the tool rack and another large straight section.

Aside from the price, the other thing to keep in mind is that this paint rack takes up a lot of real estate on the desk top. I have a fairly large desk that I got from Ikea, so for me in my current work space it’s not much of a concern. If you have a small desk or cramped work area then you’re going to want to carefully consider whether you have room for something this big. Lastly, if I wanted to expand this, the fact that they’re in Australia and ship from there means that the shipping cost for one or two pieces is absurdly prohibitively expensive.  (They don’t have any US based companies who stock this product line, I asked via their FB page and got a definitive no on that subject.)

Another Solution: The Nail Polish Rack Re-purposed As a Hobby Paint Rack

hobby paint rack, wall mount nail polish rack

The wall mounted nail polish rack – now filled with hobby paints and other supplies

Like many of you, I have lots of hobby paint. Eventually I outgrew the desktop rack and was looking for another solution that would take up less space and be a little more budget friendly. After considering a few different ideas and searching the interwebs I stumbled across a pretty great solution that is ready made, easily sourced and budget friendly. This solution was the acrylic nail polish wall rack.

The nail polish wall rack is ideal for our needs. While it’s made for nail polish, it turns out that many of those bottles are actually pretty wide due to their square shape or having a wider base than top. These racks are built to accommodate about 90 of the nail polish bottles which means you can store at least that many of the dropper bottle paint pots.

Additionally, this rack accommodates most if not all of the paints that miniature and model building hobbyists typically use. I store Vallejo, Reaper, Games Workshop, Tamiya, AK/MiG, Minitaire and more in the rack. They all fit. There’s plenty of room for these paint pots and plenty of height between each shelf. The paint rack can be leaned up against the wall but also comes pre-drilled with holes at the corners so that you can mount it on the wall above or next to your hobby desk.

Where Can I Get A Nail Polish Wall Rack To Use As A Hobby Paint Rack?

These racks are available on Amazon and are very hobby budget friendly, currently at under $35 shipped. This is a great solution for storing your paint. It allows you to have the paint with the labels out where you can see them and it doesn’t take up much desk space if you need to just lean it against the wall instead of mounting it with screws. I do want to caution you that if you decide to mount it to the wall, be gentle when tightening the screws. It is made from plastic and if you just power the screws in with a drill/driver you’re likely to crack or break the plastic around the mounting holes. Other than that potential issue, this paint rack is perfect for storing all of your hobby paints and I definitely recommend it.

Get your own nail polish/hobby paint rack at Amazon here