Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Learned Something New This Weekend

I know that parts of my gaming experience are unique. Everyone's experiences are somewhat unique, if we're getting pedantic (and I'm known for my pedantry at times).

You know how I talk occasionally about publisher customer service?  Apparently I have a lot more experience with it than most folks.

This week, I acquired Kaosball. It's a fun game, so far, and I have Thoughts that will share here at some point. But I'm thinking about getting back into painting miniatures.

The game arrived on Monday, and it hit the table on Wednesday. I spent Tuesday reading and re-reading the rules and the FAQ and generally just getting ready to play on Wednesday.

We played a quick three-player game on Wednesday. Made a couple of rules mistakes - nothing big. Just little stuff. But we got through it and had a good time.

On Saturday, I pulled it out and started examining the figures to see what kind of task I was in for with the painting, and then I noticed that one of my Ringers was headless.  He wasn't a ringer that'd come out on Wednesday, and I hadn't even looked at the figures prior to that.

So I contacted CMoN customer care, and I assume they'll take good care of me. Because game publishers do that. It's a small industry and a small hobby and so negative word-of-mouth is especially damaging.

I mentioned it to a friend, and his comment was, "Again, Eric? It seems like almost every game you buy has an issue! I have more than 1500 games, and I've never needed to contact the publisher for support!"

Me? I apparently have The Luck. I have a number of games with damaged pieces. If the damage doesn't affect the gameplay, I'll often let it lie. But if it's missing pieces or something that impacts gameplay is damaged, I'll go to customer service.

How frequent is this an issue for me?

Here's what I can think of off the top of my head (and every time I start on this list, I think of another one):

1) Archipelago was missing one of its punch boards. I discovered this when I didn't appear to have a start tile. Ludically got one to me surprisingly quickly.
2) Room 25 was missing half of its countdown/number line/turn order tracker. In fact, I had duplicates of half of it. Matagot was very fast at sending the missing punchboard to me.
3) My copy of Star Trek: Attack Wing had an Enterprise with a malformed peg for sitting on the base. WizKids put me through a brief song-and-dance of sending unclear photos to demonstrate the issue, but they sent me the replacement ship.
4) My copy of Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deckbuilding Game was missing a card. One card out of six hundred. One of the "rare" cards for one of the characters. Had I not been sleeving them, I would never have discovered this card missing. Because I was one card short. Upper Deck sent me a replacement without a hassle.
5) My copy of Mutant Chronicles was missing a promo piece. I acquired the game at GenCon, and everyone who got it there was supposed to get a promo. Fantasy Flight sent the promo with zero hassle.
6) There was a known issue with some older copies of Cutthroat Caverns or one of its expansions - I honestly don't recall which. Somewhere in one of the print runs, the cards changed size, so the newer expansions weren't as compatible with one another as they should have been. But Smirk & Dagger made good on replacements, including a replacement box insert. When mine (weirdly) still didn't fit right, they sent me a second box insert. Curt Covert is good people.

These, by the way are just off the top of my head. I could probably spend some time in my collection and point out, "And this was missing its rulebook. And this was missing ..."

I have RPG books that are misprinted - one book is missing pages, one book has an upside-down cover, one book has repeated pages ...

In all cases, the publisher took care of me and gave me a replacement. All cases.

I even had a game that I purchased second-hand. It was missing pieces, and I contacted the publisher asking if there was a way I could buy them. I told him up front that I had purchased second-hand. He still sent them for free. And no, it wasn't a publisher I had worked with before. It wasn't someone I knew.

I have never had a publisher fail to take care of me when something I'd purchased was damaged or defective. I know there are laws in place to protect consumers from defective goods, but I have never gotten the impression that these were "forced" customer service issues. One publisher threw in a bunch of promos with their replacement shipment, for example. One RPG publisher sent me PDF codes for supplements in the e-mail when they were waiting for a fresh printing of my mis-printed book (because they had run out).

This is an industry where the people who are in the industry full time want to make it right.

Just one more thing to love about the hobby, I guess.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Box Inserts

This week, I have a new-found appreciation for the change wrought by a good box insert.

I mean ... I've known that a good insert makes a huge difference, but it was really driven home by several events over the last few weeks:

  1. I decided to try out the Broken Token inserts, including their 7 Wonders insert. I have all of the expansions and promos for this game and my cards are sleeved, and which means that the base game's insert is filled with fail. I can't fit the leaders and all of the Wonders and the Babel cards and tiles in there.
  2. I acquired Food Chain Magnate, which includes 300+ cards and no insert. Looking through my collection, I have a few games in this category, too.  Nations and Megacivilization both spring immediately to mind.  Having that many cards and no insert (or tuckboxes for the cards) is - honestly - unforgivable.

Here's what you need to know about me and handicrafts:

I'm clumsy and uncoordinated.  That's putting it mildly.  I can't even count the number of miniatures I have glued myself to while assembling them. The most notable self-gluing came while when I was 19, living in a dorm, and assembling a Locust battlemech, where I managed to glue both hands to the figure and my phone, and I managed to glue the phone to my ear at the same time.

So I looked at the Broken Token's roster, first, looking for a simple kit to start with. I settled on their box insert for Legendary Encounters, because I have Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deckbuilding Game (and I quite like it, for reasons I can't fully articulate - but that's another discussion for another time), and I'm dissatisfied with the "stock" insert (because I sleeve cards that get shuffled/used a lot). I ordered the insert and a bit of Gorilla Glue.  It took me about ten minutes to get the box together.

The instructions were clear, and I barely needed to use any glue on it (and I didn't glue myself to the box).  I can do this, I thought.  So I ordered the previously-mentioned insert for 7 Wonders.

It's several degrees of difficulty higher than the other one. It took me about an hour (not including time for the glue to dry) to get this one together. But it works. It holds all the bits - all of them. Sleeved cards, extra Wonders, Leaders, City Cards, and all. In the base game's box, which is now a bit sturdier than before.

Sadly, neither The Broken Token nor Go7Gaming make inserts for Nations or Megacivilization or Food Chain Magnate. So I did some digging and found several sites of DIYers who were doing game inserts out of foamcore. The Esoteric Order of Gamers even has some walkthrough posts with video showing how to use foamcore to make inserts.

I can do that, I thought. So I had my wife pick up a metal yardstick and some glue, and I grabbed a self-healing cut mat and my trusty X-Acto knife and then I ... proceeded to make a hash of it. The yardstick didn't have any kind of cork or non-slick backing. My X-Acto knife kept cutting at an angle because I wobbled. So I had curved and angle-cut foamcore, when I wanted crisp edges and straight lines. But - and this is the important part - I enjoyed the work. So, even though nothing usable came out of it, it was fun. It was something I want to do again.  Only with better tools. And it's the kind of thing where the more I do, the better I'll get.  You know: Practice Makes Better.

I don't do things half-way. It's just not me.  So I ordered this kit. I did my research, and it's highly-rated and should do what I need it to do. Now I just need to wait for it to arrive so I can ... waste a ton of foamcore trying to get things right.

I don't expect to turn out professional-quality inserts in No Time At All, but with a bit of practice and some time, I'm pretty sure I can get some pretty solid results in a reasonably short amount of time.

Provided I don't glue myself to the box.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Hitting the Table: Elysium

So last week, I told you I was going to talk about Elysium. And here I am to carry out that threat.

Elysium is a divine-themed tableau builder that uses the Greek pantheon as its inspiration. Where Deus is a light game, Elysium requires quite a bit of reading and juggling various abilities.

I'm afraid I don't have a bunch of awesome pictures of Elysium, because card games are oddly difficult for me to photograph. I'll supplement with pics from BoardGameGeek as needed.

Deus isn't strongly tied to its theme. You could very easily peel the gods out of it and throw in a different theme - it's not sacrificing to Neptune, it's investing in your trade infrastructure, for example.  That won't work with Elysium, because every card in the game ties back to one of the deities in some way.

At the start of the game, players will have four pillars on their board, along with a bit of money and a few victory points. There are cards tied to eight different gods in the box. Choose five gods for your game (we usually pull bonus tokens out of a hat). This means that every game will likely feature cards you haven't seen before. Shuffle those five small decks together to form one deck for play. Turn a variable number of cards face-up (it depends on the number of players).

Players then proceed to draft cards. Or turn order markers (more on this in a bit).

In Deus, you needed to keep track of multiple resources in potentially sizable quantities. In Elysium, you have no quantities to keep track of. You only need to keep track of four pillars. You'll gain victory points and money (and possibly prestige, if Ares is in play).

Each card has a bunch of information on it.  Here are three cards from the Hades deck:

Photo by Brett J. Gilbert
http://boardgamegeek.com/image/2356837/elysium
In the upper left is the rank of the card and a symbol telling you which god's family these cards are from.  Ranks range from 1-3, and there will be five gods in each game. In the upper right is the pillar (or pillars) you need to have available in order to draft the card.  The left-center is a symbol that tells you when and how the card's ability is triggered.  Finally, in the "text box" has symbols that tell you what it does in both symbol form and in text.

Each round, each player will draft three cards and one turn order marker. When it's your turn to draft, you can also activate some of your cards (depending on their timing). To draft a card, just choose one in the available draft pool and place it above your player board (an area called your "Domain"). Then discard one of your pillars. Note here: If I draft the left-most character in the above picture, I need to have my yellow pillar available, but I can discard any pillar. I don't have to discard my yellow pillar, I just need to have it.  The turn order markers are similarly tied to pillar colors - you can only draft what you have.  

It's possible that you won't be able to draft because you only have your yellow pillar and all of the cards require blue or red. If this happens, you draft a "Citizen," which is the top card of the deck, drafted face-down. Citizens are kind of a mixed blessing.

The turn order markers that you'll draft also have three symbols on them. There is a gold coin representing money, a harp representing "transfers," and a laurel wreath representing victory points.  Once everyone has collected all four items that they're going to collect that turn, players move their turn order indicators around, and the new first player moves into their transfer phase.

To transfer, you pay money equal to a card's rank, and move it from above your player board to below it - an area called your "Elysium."  Cards in your Elysium can no longer use their special abilities, but cards in your Domain are worth no points at the end of the game.

Every time you transfer a card to your Elyisum, you also add it to a set called a "Legend."  There are two kinds of Legends - there are Level Legends and there are Family Legends. One of them is cards from different families but which have the same rank, and one of them is cards of the same family that are different ranks. The different sets are worth different amounts of points, depending on how full they are.  There are also bonus points available for the largest rank-based set and being the first to complete a 1-2-3 set of a single family.  You can use citizens in your sets, but they are worth -2 points at the end of play. It's not a huge number of points to lose, but losing a close game because you had too many citizens can be heart-breaking.

That's the gameplay in a (crazy-simplified) nutshell.  Here's the thing, though: This game is complex. There are five or six different times and ways that cards in your Domain can activate, ranging from "triggers as soon as you draft it and never again," to "tap to use, untap during the transfer phase" (they don't phrase it like that, mind you), to "always-on effect." Each of these has their own symbol in play.

Also, each set of God cards plays differently. Apollo, for example, gives you the Oracle (a preview of the top of the deck for the next drafting round) and cards that interact with the Oracle. Ares gives you another way to earn victory points at the end of the game. Hephaestus makes it easier to earn money. And so on and so forth.

Balancing your actions is tricky, too. Because you need to transfer cards to get points to win, but some cards are too valuable to transfer. And you also need to have enough transfers and the money to pay for those transfers ...

And the game runs for a total of five rounds. That's twenty turns per player. Players who know what they're doing can be done in half an hour (with four players), so it's fairly quickly-playing.

It's a surprisingly deep game. I won't say broken strategies don't exist, but I haven't found them, yet. 

I think that this is one of the deepest tableau-builders I own. 

7 Wonders is a fantastic game, but there's not a ton of depth there until you start adding expansions - and those tend to focus strategy more than add depth. Also in 7 Wonders, cards played are effectively dead - they don't do anything (with a small handful of exceptions). In Elysium, every single card in your tableau has the ability to do something. It's possible to have multiple cards trigger on a single draft, for example.

Deus has cards triggering later in play, but they trigger in a predictable order that doesn't change. When I build a blue card, I know that all of my previously-played blue cards are going to trigger in order, and I usually know exactly when I'm going to do each time. I also have a hand of cards that I can hold onto and play when I want to play them. And I've only played one game of Deus in which we didn't reshuffle the draw deck at least once. In Elysium, the draft mechanism means that I won't necessarily know what's going to be available each turn. I also don't know which characters will appear in a given turn, so it requires a greater degree of adaptation. And you won't go through the deck multiple times unless something's gone very weird.

I'm a huge fan of this game, but it's a game that I can't bring to the table with easily-frustrated players, and casual gamers won't do well. It's also worth noting that knowing what's in the various decks is powerful.

But with experienced gamers, I pull this one out as often as I can. It's really that good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hitting the Table: Deus

Last year at GenCon, Asmodee divided their (massive) demo team into three groups.  Each group was responsible for learning the rules to a specific list of games.

I was in Group Two. We had Barony and Starfighter and Metal Adventures and a few others.  One of the other groups had this little game called Deus, and I got there early one day and had the opportunity to play. I immediately regretted that it wasn't in my group.

The games we had were all excellent games - I know I've discussed Metal Adventures at least once before - I need to do so again, because my play at GenCon highlighted some things that I'd been missing and made it a game I need to play more. And I've discussed Barony here, too. Starfighter was the best game in the booth last year. I've said that a ton of times, and I stand by that statement. I should probably spend some time and write it up here.

But Deus was fun.

Last year, we had two tableau-building games in the booth with very similar themes: Deus and Elysium.  I'd worked on Elysium, and had received my copy well in advance of GenCon, but I hadn't seen Deus until the show. Despite the similar theme and the tableau-building mechanism, they are very different games that I would play with different groups of people.

Deus is the simpler of the two. Please remember that "simple" and "bad" are by no means synonyms, and anyone who tries to tell you that they are is wrong.

In Deus, you're placing buildings on the a shared board in an attempt to earn victory points.  Every time you place a building, you also trigger a series of card actions (depending on the number of those buildings you've played in the past).

You will re-fill your hand when you run out of cards or when you make an offering to the gods rather than constructing a building.



There are six types of building that can be constructed, each of which has its own "theme." Maritime buildings, for example, let you turn resources into money or victory points. Or let you purchase resources for money.  Each building has a cost to build that is listed in goods. There are four goods in the game - clay, stone, food, and timber.

When you construct a building, there are four steps involved:

  1. Pay the cost to the bank.  If you don't have the goods necessary, you can pay four money for each missing good.
  2. Move the wooden piece representing the building from your tableau to the board. It can go to any space you already control or to any adjacent space (with a few restrictions - for example, no space can hold two identical buildings and only maritime buildings can be placed in the water). If you don't have a building in your tableau, you can't play that type of building. You start with two in each column and three off-board.
  3. Place the card representing the building in your tableau. It'll go on top of a column of the same type of building, staggered so that you can read the action of the building.
  4. Start at the bottom of that column and trigger the action of each building in that column (including the one you just played).
Here is a tableau belonging to an opponent across the table:



The column with four buildings that is second from the left?  Those are military buildings.  This is a player who has pursued a fairly militaristic strategy. She's played four military buildings and has the fifth ready to play on the board.  The second from the right, there, is production buildings. She's only built one, but has moved all four to her board.

Each building also thematically ties to a different god. Maritime buildings tie back to Neptune, production to Ceres, science to Minerva, and so on. This becomes important when you can't (or don't want to) play any of the cards in your hand - you can sacrifice your hand to one of the gods.


Each god (or goddess) will refill your hand to five cards, but they also have an additional effect. Minerva, for example, gives you an extra card for each card you sacrifice. Neptune gives you gold for each card you sacrifice.  They also allow you to move one of your buildings from the supply to your tableau for later use. In fact, there is no way to win this game without sacrificing at least a few times.

Here's the catch, though: to sacrifice to Neptune, there needs to be a Neptune card in the sacrifice. So you're giving up potentially great cards to prep for future turns.

The board features five terrain types. Swamps, mountains, forests, fields, and barbarian villages. Barbarian villages start out with victory points that you can take from them, either through military action or by surrounding them on the board.

The game ends at the end of the round when one of two things happens - the last temple is placed on the board or the last barbarian village is conquered.  And then players add the VPs taken during the game together with VPs given by their temples, and the players with the most of each resource will gain VPs for that resource as well.  Highest score wins.

As I said: It's not a complicated game. It's simple enough that you can teach it fairly quickly, but there's enough going on that it maintains a fairly high replayability. There's not a ton of direct player interaction (a few military cards allow you to steal from nearby opponents), but there is a lot of jockeying for position on the main board.

Next week, I'm going to write about Elysium, and I'll probably throw in a few points of comparison in the process.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hitting the Table: Bolide

I'm not a sports guy. Like really really not a sports guy. I follow football (the American kind), but not actively. I don't really follow any other sports. There are days I couldn't even tell you what sports are currently in season.

Because I just don't care.

But I'm a sucker for sports-themed games.

Even when that sport isn't football.

I generally assume the Game Night crowd(s) are also sports-neutral folks. And - other than football - I'm usually correct.  But not always.

Side note: What is it about geeks and football? Is it because it's the sport that has the most visible strategic elements? Baseball has strategy - beyond "When on offense, hit the ball very hard. Run very fast." Soccer and hockey both have (surprisingly similar) strategies, as well.

I don't follow it, but I do enjoy watching Formula One racing. And there are a handful of excellent F1-themed games, too. Like Formula D, for example. Or Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix.

Or Bolide.

Bolide came out in 2005, and I ordered it from Phoenix pretty much as soon as I saw it existed. I struggled through the (awful) rulebook, and I did what I do: I brought it to game night.

We played it a few times, liked it okay, and put it away. Because the rule book was (and is) so bad that there were game elements we couldn't figure out. Like how to make a pit stop.

In a game about racing, rules for pit stops are critical to the strategy of the game. Since we couldn't figure the rules out, we missed out on a chunk of the available strategy, which made the game less-good.

A few weeks ago, I was in the garage, and I spotted my copy of the game.  I wonder if anyone ever fixed the rules, I thought to myself. Because I'll bet it has potential. I also wonder if I could figure the rules out. After all, I've spent the last decade, now, figuring out how to interpret translated rules text. A huge advantage over the 2005 me.

I still couldn't figure the rules for pit stops out, but someone on Boardgamegeek re-wrote the rules and made them available for download. And they are a huge improvement.

It got me itching to play again, so I packed it into the car, and we brought it to Game Night.

I'd expected to get two or three people interested.  I hadn't expected to have a seven-player race on my hands. We decided to play a simple game - one lap, so no pitting, no fuel concerns, and no tires. Just a simple "learn to play" lap.

And it was a ton of fun.

Bolide is an inertia-driven game.  Each player has two pieces - a car-shaped piece and an inertia marker pawn.  Each turn, your car must be placed within two spaces of the inertia pawn.  Then your pawn is moved based on how your car moved.  So if your car moved three spaces forward from its start space, then the pawn is placed three spaces ahead of the car.  If your car moved two forward and one to the left, then the pawn is placed two forward and one to the left.

It leads to a field that looks like this:

image-20160601_195127

In this photo, you can see that the yellow car is moving straight ahead, as is the green car. All of the other cars are starting to pull to the inside to make the curve. And most everyone is moving too fast.  In fact, if I remember correctly, Red and Yellow both had to use one of their (limited) sharp braking maneuvers to survive the turn.  Because it's possible shoot off the edge of the track.

It's not a fantastic game, but it's a fun game. And it's challenging. And it's a bit of a competitive math problem, because you're trying to find your ideal position for each turn on the track. There is a best line for every starting position, and some of these best line cross over or intercept one another.

When we played a few weeks ago, Green won. Green had started in seventh place, but planned his turns well. How far back was Green?

Bolide

You can see Green's pawn to the far left of this image from the curve before the Grande Bagarre pictured in the first image.  Green's car is even further back.

Something that's worth noting, here: the game is played not in the spaces on the board, but on the intersections. You can see that clearly in the second photo.  Blue and White are both very limited in where they can go from their current spots (and, if I remember correctly, one or both of them had to brake sharply a turn or two after this shot was taken).

I'm giving serious thought to trying to start a league.  I own six tracks for the game, and one game every two months with a prize at the end could be a ton of fun. And it's let me break out all the rules - four kinds of tires, built for speed vs better brakes, a full tank of gas vs half a tank (with a required pit) ...

But a one-lap race with inexperienced players took about two hours.  So time is a definite factor.

Hrm.  I need to think on this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Last Week

I missed posting last week. I'm not sure if you noticed - I sure did.

My update schedule going to be a bit spotty this summer.

I'm embroiled in a couple of major projects that are taking far more time than I want to give to them. But it's time that takes me away from writing and photography. And gaming.

I had to look at my priorities and figure out what was important - it's not the first time I've done this, and it won't be the last.

But this blog - much as I love writing it - is lower than some of the things that I need to get done. Especially as many of these things are temporary.

I'm going to try to build up a backlog of posts in my spare time, but I can't promise a post every week this summer.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the FLGS to which I give most of my gaming dollar may be closing. I don't know if I was clear enough that it may not be closing, too. There is a possible buyer in the picture, and I think he'd do a good job of it. But it'd still be a change.

I have a lot of thoughts about the FLGS and its role in the gaming community. Too many to throw down in a short post, and when I do get them down and organized, it's likely to ramble quite a bit off-topic and then back on as I tend to do.

Either way, my lovely and talented wife saw how hard I was taking even the potential loss of my local store, and took steps to help.

Last weekend, we went to Fantasium's Beer & Board Games. To check it out.

Fantasium is the closest game store to us geographically. We currently drive for about an hour to get to Phoenix (and it's well worth the drive and we won't be stopping as long as there is a Phoenix to support, thankyouverymuch). Fantasium is about ten minutes from the house. If that.

Fantasium, BTW, is where we get our graphic novel fix. They get that chunk of our comic book dollar not eaten by Comixology (and, if there were a way to give them a share of our Comixology dollar, we'd love to do that, too - shelf space is tight and gets a bit tighter with every book we buy).

Fantasium has open board gaming most of the afternoon on Saturdays, but at 7pm, they close down briefly and start charging a $5 cover. And it's 21+. That $5 cover gets you one serving of alcoholic beverage (they have a selection of ciders and hard root beers, not just beer). They have popcorn available for a small charge, too.

I'm a sucker for freshly-popped popcorn.

There were about a dozen folks there, and I watched people move from one table to another and introduce themselves between games. That's a good sign. I heard people at other tables teaching the rest of their table how to play some of the games, too.  That's another good sign.

They run until midnight - we left well before that point, but we had a good time (aided in no small part by the presence of friends who we brought with us).  The store has a small library of available games (including some good ones like Deus and Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt Skullzfyre), and some folks brought in their own games that they were hoping to play.

Even if Phoenix stays open, I plan to attend Fantasium's gathering as often as possible. Because more community interaction is not a bad thing. More engagement with my people (gamers) is not a bad thing.

And, if the worst happens and Phoenix closes, it's nice to have another quality option available.

Next time, I'm going to talk about a couple of games that have hit the table lately. Or just one of them. I'm not sure, yet. I guess we'll find out together.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Hero Forge

A few years ago, I saw a Kickstarter project that I didn't back. It was an attempt at creating 28mm miniatures that could be customized to be your character, and then 3D printing them.

I thought it was a cool idea, but I just didn't believe it would be workable. And I was wrong.

Not too long after the Kickstarter ended, they launched their website - HeroForge.com. You use their site to design your mini from their menu of parts. Then you tell them which material you want it printed in, and they generate an .stl file and send it to Shapeways for printing and fulfillment.

In September, I ordered a couple of figures to check it out.  More accurately, I ordered the same figure in two different materials. And I liked what I got.  Then, in April, they made another material available (briefly).

The strong plastic is about $15, the high-detail is around $25, and the gray is around $27. Before shipping.

Here is what the figure looks like on their website:






So now I have the same figure in three different materials from the five available. Note: Orders for Gray Plastic are currently suspended due to the crazy delays they are experiencing. I haven't ordered steel or bronze (and - honestly - am unlikely to do so).

It looks like this:

IMGP0598 (2)
High-Detail Plastic, Strong Plastic, Gray Plastic - in that order.


And I rather like it.

Notice, for example, that my figure is left-handed? Try to find a left-handed figure from Ral Partha or Games Workshop or Iron Wind or anyone, really.  It's crazy-hard to do because it's something that just does not occur to them.

I was impressed enough with the high-detail at the time to order figures for the players in the three games I'm currently involved with. That's a total, now, of 22 figures that we've ordered.  20 of them were high-detail plastic.

... and then the dropsies started.

See, that high-detail plastic?  It's brittle.  Like crazy-brittle. As in "drop it from two inches above the table and watch it break." Almost half of the high-detail figures we have ordered have broken. Once they re-release the gray plastic, we're going to be replacing the high-detail figures we bought, one and two at a time.  Breaking and then re-gluing does make them stronger. But when your Ranger is dropped on the floor and you can't find his bow to re-glue it ...

Their materials page lists three stats for each material. Durability, Detail, and Paintability. And I'm not 100% sure I agree with their listed numbers.

Durability, they give the high-detail plastic a one (out of five).  That is not inaccurate. Not even a little.

The strong plastic and the gray plastic have the same durability rating, and I can vouch for the surprising durability of the strong plastic - I accidentally set my (full) Risk Legacy box on top of the strong plastic figure a few weeks ago with zero damage.

Detail, they give the strong plastic a one. And - again - I can't disagree with this number.

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Look how coarse that figure is.  It'd be good for mooks, but it's not a good look for PCs.

But go back to that pic with the three figures.  They rate the gray plastic as being higher-detail than the high-detail plastic.  And it might be, but I suspect that it's a trick of visibility, because the high-detail plastic is translucent. Light shines through it.

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But the black plastic?  This pic is a hair over-exposed, and the figure hasn't been washed, yet. Much less primed. But wow.

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All in all, though, I'm very satisfied.

It's worth noting that 3D printing minis is suddenly A Thing. Hero Forge has some competition.

For example, DriveThruRPG has a selection of 3D printer files now, for example. But they're not custom. And I lack the skills to customize them (but there are people who don't lack those skills).  Just download the file and send that to Shapeways for printing ... it's a bit cheaper than Hero Forge's setup (but, again, isn't nearly as easy to customize).

If you're thinking about ordering from Hero Forge, I will strongly recommend that you wait until the gray plastic becomes available again, though. Totally worth the extra $2. They currently estimate several weeks before they can re-launch.