Pen and Lead At Gen Con Con 2019

Pen and Lead will be at Gen Con 2019 this year and Bob would love to say, “Hello” to anyone who will also be there!GCLogo

Bob is volunteering with Ares Games either doing events in the event hall or doing demos at the booth, #341.


If you are there, please send a message and let’s say, “Hello!”

via Gen Con LLC | Gen Con 2019


Review of Starlight Stage from Japanime Games

A Review of Starlight Stage by Japanime Games

A Review by Chris Page

[Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the publisher but I have received a promotional copy of the game for this review.]

Product Name: Starlight Stage
Publisher: Japanime Games
Mechanics: Card Game, Competitive, Set Collection
Cost: $24.99
Genre: Anime, Pop Culture, Music, Pop Idol
# of Players: 3-4
Time: 30-60 minutes
Ages: 10+
Designer: Hironatsu Yamada

Starlight Stage is a 3 to 4 player game (3-5 with the upcoming Shining Star expansion) for ages 10+ where you are recruiting idols for your talent agency. You win by having the most fame points at the end of the game. This is done by recruiting stronger idols to your agency and sending them out to do different types of work for you, called assignments, which range from a drama appearance (1 fame point) all the way to the Starlight Stage (the only nonidol 5 fame point card currently in the game).

The game is similar to a deck-building game where you draft cards to a pool with your resources in hand. However, instead of the cards going to your discard and then slowing filtering into your hand, only idols that you purchase go to the discard pile, the rest go face up in front of you, either granting you fame points in the case of the fame cards or granting you medallions, which they call achievements, in the case of some event cards. The currency, which they call talent, takes the form of musical notes (Music), hearts (Charm), and diamonds (Acting), while the achievements use the same symbols but look like they are on a coin.

There are three different pools of cards; Idols, Fame, and Events.

The idols are the cards that give you talents to use to buy and are the cards where you will spend both your talents and your medallions. You can only ever use 1 idol card at a time except to buy event cards where you can use multiple idol cards to buy a single card. Also, you can only ever buy a single card each time you take a turn.

To play, each player starts with 1 each of the 3 starting idols. On their turn, they must play an idol to do something if they have an idol in hand, otherwise, you are required to pass. There are 4 different assignments you can take each turn: Acquire an Event Card, Reinvent an Idol Card, Acquire a Fame Card, and lastly Take a Lesson. The first three actions are fairly simple to understand. The last action, while still simple, can change what you are able to do down the road. For the assignment Take a Lesson, you send an idol you have in hand to gain a token that is used just like a talent from an idol. The talent that you pick however does not have to be the same as the talent of the idol you used. This can allow you to play a starting idol which only has one talent on the card and then use your talent tokens to buy bigger cards that you normally wouldn’t be able to buy with a starting idol.

The group that I played the game with so I could write this review are anime fans so they really enjoyed the art on the cards. The game played simple enough that it would be easy to break out and teach a new player/players but still have enough strategy in how you play your cards and which actions you take that it wouldn’t be boring for returning players that have already played the game a couple of times. I look forward to seeing what the upcoming expansion will bring to the game besides the 5th player and hope that I can get the group to play this again soon.

Find the game at Japanime Games’ website here:

Starlight Stage

On Boardgame Geek here:

Review of SAS Interactive’s Carthage

Carthage Review

Carthage by SAS Interactive

A Review by Bob Nolan

[Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the publisher but I have received a promotional copy of the game for this review.]

Product Name: Carthage

Publisher: SAS Interactive

Mechanics: Boardgame, Competitive, Deck Building, Miniatures

Cost: $49.99, Amazon

Genre: Historical, Roman

# of Players: 1-5

Time: 30-60 minutes

Ages: 13+

Designer: Luke Sienen

Can you survive the Carthage theater and gain enough glory and survive the day? Find out in Carthage the miniatures board game from SAS Interactive.


Carthage, is, at its core, a deck-building game. The cards in your deck (and in hand) are action cards that allow your gladiator to move, attack, or gain favor to help defend against other actions on a hex-based map of a small arena. It’s a take-that game where players try to attack their opponent’s models while gathering glory to buy new cards. The winner is the player who has the last model standing.

Components and Artwork

The artwork in the game is very thematic. Player cards have unique artwork on them and evoke a feeling of being in a gladiatorial arena. The cards also fit the theme and although nice, don’t distract you from gameplay. The artwork on the board is nice, and the hexes and other bits are easily distinguishable. As a color-blind gamer, I did find the red line two hexes in from the outside edge of the arena hard to find, although, that small issue didn’t bother me in the gameplay at all.


The components are nice and have a good tactile feel. You have cards in hand, you can buy cards, the cubes are nice as ways to track armor and glory. I find all the components of good quality. Although subjective, I didn’t grab any of the pieces and think there were shortcuts made in production.

The miniatures are made of plastic and come with colored hex bases so you can distinguish which character is yours in the arena. Although they won’t be winning any awards, they are detailed and interesting enough that the casual gamer should be satisfied while a more discerning hobbyist might find interest in painting their models.


The tokens used are good, thick, cut and punch out without ripping or tearing. The game board itself is durable and will stand enough use and normal wear and tear.

Game Play

Each player controls a gladiator that must survive the arena in order to win. Gladiators have their own decks of unique cards which are used to perform actions. However, the decks for each gladiator are the same. I think the designer lost a chance of interest at the point by not making each deck unique to the specific gladiator. Although all the decks are the same, the deckbuilding mechanic helps alleviate this issue to a small degree. I think, though, that it was a lost chance at making the game more interesting. Although there was this lost chance, players can choose to play with the unique equipment rules, which are unique to each gladiator. This does help, but, although it adds some depth to the game, adds an aspect that isn’t needed if the gladiators had their own unique decks.

The gladiators have their player boards that show armor, which is essentially their health, and the amount of glory they earned and spent. In addition, the player board has a spot for your deck and discard pile. Each gladiator starts at 20 armor, and once they lose all 20 points of armor, they are eliminated.

There are three main phases in Carthage:

  1. A theater phase
  2. An action phase
  3. Favor phase

In the theater phase, the top card of the theater deck is flipped and sets the mood,

the scene, or theme for the current phase. Some examples of the events on the theater card include “Bellows for Blood” which immediately grants all players +2 glory, “The Will of Hannibal” which says that the players with the most armor lose 2 armor. All theater cards affect players in the arena and can cause some surprisingly interesting situations to occur- Especially, if, in the middle of a game, one player has a lot of armor and has to lose some armor, or, a card causes characters to gain extra movement. The theater deck (event deck) has become a standard part of a lot of modern games and provides appropriate tension during the game.

The action phase is where players draw five cards from their respective decks and plan

which cards to play. These cards are important as they tell you what your gladiator can do- from moving, attacking, or gaining glory, you have to decide which cards to play and when. The first player will play their first card and move their miniature, doing damage or moving hexes, then the next player can play their first card, activating their miniature, and so on, until every player has played one card and activated their miniature. Every player gets a chance to play all five of their cards.

Although every player will play their five cards, you will not be able to use each card. Sometimes, you’ll have fewer cards with movement so you’ll have to keep your gladiator in one place while your opponents move around the arena. Timing is important so you have to plan your card in reaction to what other players play. The cards are supposed to mimic the actions your gladiator performs in the arena, but, you can’t always anticipate or react to your opponent’s exact moves.

The action cards make the game very tactical and strategy is key- Learn to use the right action card at the right time to destroy your opponent’s armor for the win.

In addition to moving, attacking, and gaining armor, the action cards can also gain you Favor. In phase 3, the Favor phase, you use the favor you earned in the Action phase to buy new cards to your deck. This is an opportunity to make your deck special and unique. As stated before, all of the decks for each gladiator are the same, but, the deckbuilding and purchase of cards will make the game more interesting and challenging, not only for you but for your opponent.

Game Design

The design feels as if the deck-building part was tacked on to an arena combat game. With only a few rounds before one of the gladiators is killed, the players do not have much time to modify their deck.

The game does play smoothly and it appears care was taken to get the gameplay right, the phases and stages flowing, and a feeling for gladiator combat.

The deckbuilding does not get in the way of the gladiator combat.


I played the game several times and although I did feel the deckbuilding aspect was tacked on, I recommend the game for those who like the verses of gladiator combat. The miniatures look good on the board, and the players in my group enjoyed the aesthetic, the gameplay, and the design.

To find this game on Kickstarter, visit:

To find this game on Board Game Geek, visit:

Or, click your way to the Carthage homepage here:

Sword and Sorcery Ancient Chronicles Preview

The Sword and Sorcery Facebook group has published an image of some of the new miniatures found in the ancient Chronicles sword & sorcery expansion.

Ancient Chronicles resin miniatures

What do you think, are they cool enough?

Click the image to be taken to the Facebook group.

Kickstarter Top-Grossing Trending- July 23rd, 2019


Tabletop Analytics Takes a look at the top-grossing Kickstarters in the gaming category each week. Currently, the top five are as follows:

  1. Trudvang Legends from Cool Mini or Not.  They have raised $743,420 of a 200,000 goal from 9,403 backers. Enter a rich fantasy world, based on Norse myths and sagas, where no gamemaster is needed to experience story-driven adventures!


2. Middara: Unintentional Malum from Succubus Publishing. This project is looking for $40,000 and are currently at $2,504, 548 with 11,314 backers. An epic adventure for 1-4 players set in a unique alternate world fantasy setting.


3. Game Toppers 2.0 from Game Toppers, LLC has raised $506,073 with 1,128 backers exceeding a $50,000 goal. Upgrading your gaming experience with Quality, Affordable, Portable Game Toppers with Thematic Game Mats &

4. Etherfields from Awaken Realms. Awaken Realms is at it again with 2,318,480 GBP easily beating a goal of 40,000 GBP, with 24,800 backers. Join first Dream Crawler – fresh co-operative Board Game experience with unique art and mysterious story waiting to be discovered.


5. Battletech: Clan Invasion, from Catalyst Games is the fifth top grossing project this week with $972,946 raised towards a $30,000 goal, and 4,718 people supporting the project. The Clan Invasion brought dozens of new ‘Mech designs to the Inner Sphere. Now, we’re bringing them to your tabletop as new miniatures!



MK Hobby Paint Rack Review

Today we introduce the first of our guest articles. Chris Bilewicz took time to review the MK hobby paint rack as he had a lot of Army Painter paints he needed to organize.

Note: This is not a paid review

MK Hobby Paint Rack by Chris Bilewicz

After recently purchasing the Ultimate paint set form Army Painter which included 124 paints, I wanted to arrange and store them neatly on my desk rather than just keeping them all in a box out of the way. My preference as a painter is to have all my paints visible and in front of me as I paint. I also try to lay out my paints in some sort of order where similar colours and tones go together. This allows me to not only pick my highlight colours for the stage I am painting quickly but it also saves me time not having to find a specific colour as I go. So with that in mind, I needed to get myself a paint rack!

My first solution (as with any) was to check on the internet to see what is out there and at what price. Luckily without too much time and effort exerted I came across a company on eBay called MK Hobby. They are a Polish company and have a large selection of paint racks on offer to choose from. For my purchase, I went for the (HDF) Paint bottles rack organiser that holds 135 paints. Originally I wasn’t a 100% sure on this purchase as the height of the rack was 40cm and I thought this may be quite imposing on my desk, as I have previously used a low lying wide organiser for a different paint range.

The product is made from laser-cut hardboard and the components which there are 26 of are around 4mm thick, needless to say, it is very sturdy! As it was laser cut, everything fit to perfection. I did use some glue whilst assembling it because I wanted the final product to be firm and hold all the paints with ease. I would recommend using some glue, as it was a little bit fiddly putting together some of the elements unless you have a helping hand from someone to hold parts whilst you are assembling. It took around 20 minutes to put together and the instructions were very useful and easy to follow which always helps!

Finally, the finish of the product is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and touch. The wood is very smooth and with no jagged edges what so ever. Even the MK logo at the bottom of the rack looks nice. You can store the dropper bottles both normally, or cap down – whichever your preference is. As another option, you could certainly also lay the rack on its back whilst painting and it still looks neat and tidy. The paints won’t fall out as they are in a diagonal position whilst being displayed on the rack.

Overall I could not be happier with this purchase and I do recommend it and the company highly. Not only has it sorted my storage solution for all of my paints but it does make my painting area look professional again.

You can find MK Hobby on Facebook and Ebay or email them. Links are below

Email: mkhobby.poland AT gmail DOT com

ICv2: Tabletop Game Kickstarters Still Growing

ICv2 is reporting here ICv2: Tabletop Game Kickstarters Still Growing that more dollars were raised in the first half of 2019 than any previous year. Although, 2019 barely beats out 2018 so far.


2018 was a year of records, so we will see how that goes for 2019, including most money raised, the number of funded projects and more $500,000 projects were funded.

At some point, the Tabletop industry has to reach market saturation. However, I feel the market still has a few years left before that time comes. What are your thoughts?

Wreck and Ruin Kickstarter Review

Wreck and Ruin: Vehicular Violence in a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland Kickstarter Review

Wreck and Ruin: Vehicular Violence in a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland by Dream Big Games

A Review by Bob Nolan

[Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the publisher nor have I received any compensation for this review]

Product Name: Wreck and Ruin: Vehicular Violence in a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland
Publisher: Dream Big Games
Product Type: Boardgame, Competitive, Action Point
Cost: Kickstarter base pledge: $60
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic
# of Players: 2-4
Time: 40-80 minutes
Ages: 14+

Do you have what it takes to outmaneuver and outgun your opponents in this post-apocalyptic vehicle combat boardgame?

Wreck and Ruin is a competitive game where players control one of four factions of wasteland warriors to claim objectives and gather salvage tokens to win, while gathering salvage cards to change your battlefield strategy. Each player has an allotted amount of action points to maneuver, shoot, ram, and wreck your way to victory. In Wreck and Ruin, the action is brisk, and if you lose one of your vehicles, they can be easily repaired or return to the game next round to continue the mayhem.

Wreck and Ruin is currently on Kickstarter with a goal of $13,252, and within their first day are over 67% funded and the Kickstarter will end on Thursday, June 28, 2018.

Components and Artwork
As a preview copy, the components in this copy are not final. However, the vehicles were detailed enough for a boardgame and the components (cards, tokens, map tiles, etc) did the job of allowing us to play the game. During play there was zero confusion about the components. Since the review covers a review copy, I can’t comment on the quality of the components in final production.

The artwork is well-done and fits the theme of the game- technology that’s been lost in the wastelands, weapons, wreckage, and more. The map tiles are detailed enough to easily see the spaces your vehicles belong in and provide varied terrain since they are double sided. Artwork in the rulebook is nice and helps bring you into the game. I’d like to see more artwork throughout the rulebook, but space is at a premium and adding artwork adds to your pages. I hope the final rulebook, when the game is produced, included more visuals.

One interesting concept with the miniatures is that each one has spots drilled into them for damage tokens, called flame pegs, that are inserted into the vehicles to represent damage. I found the components in this regard unique and prove a dynamic way to visually represent damage on each vehicle.

Game Play
In Wreck and Ruin, players use five action points to move their models across the map tiles to reach objectives. Each faction has the same vehicles: A two wheeled scout, a buggy, a wrecker which has high armor and a ram, and the big rig. A little variety would be nice, but, for the base game having the same vehicles allows balanced play without adding complexity to the game.

The main goal of Wreck and Ruin is the raid objectives on the map tiles to gain salvage tokens. Gaining salvage tokens requires a vehicle to stay on top of an objective without taking damage- This, of course, is where the vehicular combat comes in to play. Having to sit on an objective means players are going to target your vehicle to prevent them from gaining salvage sites, and in turn, gaining additional salvage cards, which are special abilities that can be used on your turn.

Each vehicle has specific stats and skills, but, the stats are the same across each faction. Each vehicle has the following stats: size, move, attack, armour, damage points, and special skills.

To spend action points, you need to decide which vehicle to activate and what actions you will use. Each action point can be used to move, ram, or attack. Spending an action point to move

When moving, you can move, you gain all of the movement noted- moving each space reduces one movement and turning in a hex reduces one movement. The attack stat shows how many dice you roll. During an attack, you are looking to equal or roll higher the target’s armour value. A hit means your opponent places a flame peg onto the vehicle to represent damage. Of course, there are modifiers, such as an attack from the rear hex of a vehicle gains you additional bonuses. Movement and placement of your vehicles is very important and makes the tactics of the game play interesting. Ramming makes the game even more interesting. The bigger the vehicle, the harder it hits! When ramming an equal sized or smaller vehicle, not only do you get to damage it, but you get to push it too! Use this to clear enemies off sites and get you onto them. Ramming uses the armour stat as well as the vehicle’s size to determine the winner.

During a player’s turn salvage cards can be used. These cards are one-use buffs and attacks that help your faction or messes with an opponent’s faction vehicles. Players are expected to search for and draw a lot of these cards to make game-play even more unique and dynamic.

To aid in the replayability and to change up strategy, each round a new event card is drawn to change the environment, make attacks harder or easier, and generally mess with the vehicles on the board. Each event is resolved at the beginning of every player’s turn. So, a lightning storm will happen four times in a single round in a four-player game, then a new event is drawn for the following round. In addition to the event cards, each faction has a single faction card that is quite powerful. Choosing when to use it adds to the depth and strategy of the game.

Each vehicle has its own unique ability. A buggy can repair, a scout can take pot-shots, a wrecker can do the ram action more easily, and the big rig can repair itself as well as push smaller vehicles around.

During gameplay, expect your vehicles to take a lot of damage. They can be repaired and if destroyed, can return to the game by spending action points. The expectation when you first play is to save your vehicles so they last throughout the game, but, as you play, you understand the vehicles are meant to take damage, get repaired, or return to the game.

Beyond that, there are various rules for spinning out of control when wrecked, pushing your engine to the limits for additional movement, and terrain comes into play to make the game even more interesting. Furthermore, when an objective is scored, a new objective immediately and randomly pops onto the map- you’ll never know where the next objective is going to be.

Vehicles have arcs and you must attack something in the front arc of the vehicle, and if you are directly behind a target, you add +1 to the dice when rolling.

Game Design
The game design is clever and gives a nod to the genre of post-apocalyptic vehicle combat in movies such as Mad Max or other games like Car Wars. Wreck and Ruin does NOT try to emulate car wars. The game moves from player to player in quick succession, and, in my three player game with all new players, our game lasted about 90 minutes looking up rules and becoming familiar with the game. There were certain aspects of the rulebook that we found frustrating, but I consider that normal for a first time playing a new game. We came to the game cold without doing any rules reading before the game.

I believe that rules are easy enough to grasp in that each faction has the same vehicles and you will learn the stats and special abilities of each vehicle rather quickly. The action point system means each player can do the same things as well as the same amount of things. You do become familiar with the game after watching your opponents turns and then going through your own turn.

The game catches the vehicle combat genre well, and the various tech upgrades and buffs from the salvage cards can create a fun narrative. The game length is varied based on the number of players- more players means more rounds. The winner is the player with the most salvage sites (objectives) collected at the end of the final round. If there is a tie, the winner is then decided by the player with the least damage points.

With a little bit of polish and watching players new to the game play, the rules can be clarified a little bit more to make coming to the game as a new player easier and allows the rules to be learned even quicker than they already do.

A three-player game set up ready to play.

Wreck and Ruin provides non-stop action as you and your opponents move, ram, and fire at other vehicles while collecting salvage tokens to win. You’ll find yourself making vehicle noises as you push your vehicles around on the map- something your inner-child will find fun and entertaining.

If you find the genre of post-apocalyptic vehicular mayhem fun and interesting as well as enjoy the head to head competitive play of a light miniature game , then I suggest you back and help get this game funded. If you prefer more passive play and less competition, then Wreck and Ruin probably isn’t the right game for you.

One of my opponents, Matt, had this to say about the game:

“[Wreck and Ruin is] A spectacular game of smash and grab with vehicles, a quick easy rule set with visually appealing maps and models.

To find this game on Kickstarter, click the image below:

Or, click your way to the Wreck and Ruin homepage and / or Facebook page here:

Update: Keep in mind my preview copy is before the final production components. Rules and materials will be upgraded to production standards and game play / design / and rules will be updated as errors and any confusing word structure is found.