Friday, November 21, 2014

Top 5 Board Games for this Holiday Season

It’s that time of the year again where you don’t know what to get for your friends and loved ones. Let me help you out with some gift ideas that wont break the bank and easy to introduce to newer board gamers.

1. Tokaido 

You’re a traveler, traveling from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto. How many mental pictures will you take of the beautiful scenery? How many other travelers and peddlers will you meet? How many hot springs will soak your tired body? Tokaido is a simple game of enjoying life as you travel through the board. You win the game by earning the most points and enjoying all the activities life gives you while traveling earn you points.

Tokaido is one of the best games to introduce someone to the newer style of board games and should be part of your collection. The board is beautiful and the color that strikes out of this game is stunning. The simplicity of the game is what strikes me, which proofs that you don’t need a complicated mechanic to enjoy a game with your friends.
Price: around $40
Playtime: 30 – 45 minutes
Players: 5 max
Replayability: High
Expansion: Crossroads

2. Takenoko

Takenoko takes you back in time as you become one of the gardeners for the Emperor who just received gifts from China. Your job is to maintain his Bamboo garden and baby sits the pet Panda. Yes! This game has a tiny little panda piece that moves around the board. As the gardener, you would have “mission” cards that earn you points when you finish them up. The missions are simple: expand the garden, grow more bamboo, or feed the Panda. Gardener with the most points wins.

My wife loves this game and the cute factor bumps Takenoko up in her “Top 5” games. Easy to teach to new board gamers and another must have on your collection
Price: around $40
Playtime: 30 – 45 mins
Players: 4 max
Replayability: High
Expansion: not at this point

3. Arcadia Quest

Arcadia Quest puts you up against 3 other players controlling 3 Heroes each fulfilling quests to save Arcadia from Lord Fang. Simple activation mechanics with enough chaos on the board to keep you entertained for weeks! The campaign system is where the game shines and if you pledged on their Kickstarter, there are more than 30 Heroes you can pick from (each with their own abilities). Your Heroes get to keep the loot they find but also the death curses they acquire from dying. The miniatures look stunning as CoolMiniorNot have ramped up their design team to make sure that Arcadia Quest is on par or even better than some of the other chibi-style miniature board games out there.

Arcadia Quest is probably the only game that both the wife and I enjoy playing because we’re competing against each other as we try to out-loot each other. I absolutely love painting the miniatures and cannot wait until we get our hands on the Beyond the Grave expansion.
Price: around $80 for the core game
Playtime: 1 – 2 hours
Players: 4 max
Replayability: High
Expansion: Beyond the Grave expansion and character packs are coming out soon

4. Smash Up

Want to see what happens when Ninja Robots go up against Zombie Pirates? As the name implies, Smash Up is a card game that mix-and-matches different genres together and pit them in a 4 player (sometimes we played with 5, but no more than 5 as it gets crowded) battle royale. Each player chooses 2 themed decks of 20 cards and smash them up together to form a 40-cards deck. There are 2 different card types: Minions and Actions. Each player can play 1 action and 1 minion during their turn but there are cards that give them abilities to play extra minions/actions. Using those minions/actions, each player tries to break Bases to earn points. Player who earns 15 points first wins the game.

This game is my wife’s absolute favorite! After playing this for a while, you would already have a preference of combos and decks to suit your play style. But with new expansions coming out twice a year, you’d be sure to play this over and over! Smash Up is also a good introduction game to those who are new to card mechanics.
Price: around $30 for the base game, $20 for the expansions
Playtime: 30 mins – 1 hour
Players: 4 max (we played with 5 sometimes)
Replayability: High
Expansions: Awesome Level 9000, Science Fiction Double Feature, Obligatory Cthulhu, Monster Mash, Big Geeky Box, and their latest announced Pretty Pretty

5. King of Tokyo

Giant Monsters and Mecha Robots battle over the city to see who deserves the title King of Tokyo! Simple dice pool mechanics with awesome graphics of the monsters to boot, King of Tokyo has been a favorite of mine for a while now. Players roll a pool of dice (they get 2 rerolls) and pick whatever combinations that serves them best for that turn. They can buy Powers with the energy cubes they collected or attack other monsters. The last monster standing or the one that acquire 20 victory points is the new King of Tokyo.

Think Yahtzee with giant monsters. This game is meant to be played fast and chaotic as players try to kill each other’s monsters and become the King of Tokyo. I love the simplicity of the mechanic and it was really easy to get into but hard to master (the dice god hates me!)
Price: around $30
Playtime: 30 – 45 mins
Players: 6 max
Replayability: Med-High
Expansions: Power Up and Halloween Expansions, and they also have King of New York

As you probably have noticed, I tend to veer towards simple games than can be played under 1 hour and can easily be taught to new players. These games practically started my new gaming group and all of them are addicted to board games now. I wish you guys a safe and warm Holiday Season and keep on gaming!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Amazon Associate Store is up!

Just keeping my blog features updated. The Amazon Associate Store is now up! Please make sure you check out what's in stock!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions as a Professional Miniature Painter

Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions as a Professional Miniature Painter

Throughout the years as a hobbyist, I've met a lot of people who aren't in the hobby and saw what I was doing either when they visit my house or look at my Facebook feed. I've gotten a lot of questions regarding the hobby and here's the top ten questions I've gotten from them.

You paint what?!

Miniatures... I paint miniatures/figurines/toy soldiers, or whatever you want to call them. Specifically I paint miniatures that are parts of some sort of a war game (i.e. Malifaux, Warhammer, Warmachine, etc). They range from 15mm (roughly 1/2 of an inch) to 75mm (around 3 inches) tall. Most are made for those games, but some are made for display purposes only like this one from Scale 75 for example:

How big did you say they were?

The smallest I've seen/painted are 6mm scale (Epic size) up to a 75mm scale (this is roughly 1/6 of an average human size). Scale does not equal to their size, but it is more the ratio to the average human size. For example, I've seen/painted a 28mm scale dragon that was 5-inches in size. That means if the average human being is 5'7", the dragon would have been around 5 times the size of that human in real life.

I've seen "40 Year Old Virgin", are those the miniatures you're talking about?

Not in particular. The movie portrays a loner who paints historical models and builds dioramas out of them. The concept of the "painting" part of the hobby is the same (minus the magnifying glass for me because anything in front of my eyes bothers me when I paint), but I actually use some of the models to play with. The games are like playing chess with uberly advanced rule-set (compared to chess) minus the checkered board. We use dice and/or playing cards and other tools (i.e. measuring tapes to measure distance, aquarium pebbles as counters, etc).

And there are a lot of other people that do this?

I go to a particular annual convention in Chicago, IL called Adepticon where around 5,000 like-minded people are there to either play in a tournament, compete in the Crystal Brush painting competition (main prize is $10k), check out new releases, take painting classes, and many more activities. Adepticon is more miniature-centric, but there are other conventions that hosts miniature games like Gencon (50,000 people), some part of San Diego Comicon (300,000 people), and more.

Wait, you said painting competitions?

Yes, painting competitions. Painting competition rules varies depending on the events/hosts/judges, but there are universal painting etiquettes that people should follow. The one I most frequent is the Crystal Brush that hosts over $10,000 in prizes, but there are other local/non-local competitions out there. The smallest being painting competitions being held at a local game stores with probably 10 people participating, all the way to Crystal Brush where there were hundreds of entries this year from people all around the world.

What do you get from winning these said competitions?

Prizes (money or more models), ego boost, contracts/jobs with game companies (not video game), being featured in magazines that are distributed globally/locally.


If you've seen a board game box that has some miniature game pieces as part of their packaging, you notice some of them are painted. Or if you've visited websites that show the painted samples of the products they are selling (in case you didn't know, these miniatures usually comes unassembled and unpainted), someone had to paint those models. Those people who did those amazing paint jobs are called Studio Painters.
Another position is called Commissioned Painters. These are the "brush-for-hire" painters that paints other people's models (because they have their own reasons for not being able to paint their own models) for a price.

How much are these so-called painters are getting paid?

That depends, painters are artists, and their rate varies. Contracted Studio Painters usually are paid in salary/hourly like a normal worker in an office. While Commission Painters are paid either hourly or per project. I've heard some Commission Painters making $650 for a single 32mm model (at a $25/hour rate). Some of the cheaper Commission painters will paint your models at $5 per model regardless on how long it would take them to finish. For my rates, please feel free to contact me at virtualonmars at gmail dot com.

How long does it take for you to paint the models?

That depends, if it is for a commission, I try to paint it as fast as possible so that my $/hour rate goes higher. For example, I quotted a guy $250 for a single model, and if I paint it in 10 hours, that means my rate is $25/hour. If I'm painting models that are just for gaming purposes (the lingo is "table-top standard" which means good enough to look at from 3 feet away), then each model can take from 2 - 10 hours. But if I'm painting for a compeitition or "display standard", that range from 25 hours to 100+ hours. It takes a lot of patience and dedications to paint these models, and the models aren't cheap.

Do you wear glasses when you paint?

No. Anything in front of my eyes are very distracting when I paint. This includes, but not limited to, magnifying glasses, a pair of glasses (I actually wear glasses when I drive at night), magnifying glasses attached to a visor, etc. I'd imagine later on when I get older and when my eyes are getting worse, I would probably have to start wearing a pair of glasses, but as of for now, the only thing I need is my Ottlite desk lamp, my brush, some paints and my model.

I hope you guys find this little article interesting, and thank you for reading my little blog!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Painting Ork Boyz Tutorial

Haven't done a painting tutorial in a while, and I'm anticipating on GW's June release of the new Orks

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Adepticon 2014

Ever wonder what a 20lbs worth of con loot looks like?

Yup! That time of the year again folks! ADEPTICON 2014 & Crystal Brush 2014
Had a blast, met lots of awesome people old and new and here's my VLOGs :

And here are my entries for this year's Crystal Brush (First entry got me a Silver on Historical Single!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

100th Video Celebration and a Giveaway!

I am so happy that I finally got to my 100th publicly released video on YouTube! It has been a crazy one and a half year! I'm also giving away some stuff from Firebucket Games as a token of appreciation to my subscribers all these years.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Firebucket Games Resin Bases and T-5 Kickstarter

Got a care package from Firebucket Games the other day and was pretty impressed with the quality of their products. I am very fond of the HDF terrain pieces that are on Kickstarter in particular. It seems like everyone is going with HDF/MDF terrains that can be laser cutted since it is a lot cheaper to produce and with laser cutting, you get that same precision details every single time (granted that the cost of the laser machine is excluded and the laser doesn't blow out). Those precision cut terrains done by Firebucket Games are perfect for sci-fi games such as Infinity (what I think they had in mind while designing the terrains), Deadzone, Necromunda, Pulp city, and more.

Link to Firebucket Games site:

Link to Firebucket Games T-5 Kickstarter:

Here's a video of my review: