Deadfellas – The Zombie Mobster Card Game

Deadfellas Zombie Mobster Card Game box cover with designersEver since picking up Deadfellas at Comic-Con back in 2012, I have brought the game with me to any sort of gaming or geeky event: Gen Con, Vegas Game Days, Wasteland Weekend, and various SCA Wars. It’s that good and is my backup go-to game for passing 10 or 15 minutes enjoyably. On a flight back from Gen Con I taught the guy next to me to play in under two minutes and soon enough horrible Italian-American accents were trading back and forth as we talked about whacking this mook or that one with cries of “Hey, I Know a Guy” and “Fuhgeddaboutit!Exile Game Studio has a real winner with the Kickstarter-funded Dead Fellas and at only $19.99 MSRP, it’s a pretty good value. For its solid game play, fast pace, simple mechanics, and cool style I give it a 9 out of 10 on BoardGameGeek.com .

Ease of Play

Cheerleader Uniform card art from Exile Game Studio's Deadfellas Zombie Mobster Card Game

Cheerleader Uniform: +2 to a Mook’s Strength

When game artist Brian Snoddy explained the game to me on video at Comic-Con 2012 in about three minutes, he really covered 95% of the game. You get three random undead mobsters called Mooks. Each has a point value represented by a bullet icon, ranging from one to three. Collect 10 points of Mooks by whacking them and you win. In order to whack your opponent’s Mook, you need to equip one of your own with a blue Vehicle card, a red Weapon card, and a yellow Disguise card. Each of these pieces of equipment has its own strength (from 1-3) at the top. Add those together with your Mook’s strength and if you equal or exceed your target’s strength you win, successfully Whacking him. As a small price, you have to Ditch a piece of evidence, one of the three Equipment cards.


Gameplay comes down to Mook and Equipment management. At the beginning of every turn you draw a card from the Equipment deck, which also contains Special cards. You can play as many of your cards as you are able to and then you need to decide whether you 1.) draw another Equipment card 2.) do a Whack action on an opponent or 3.) recruit a new Mook. Special cards like Fuhgeddaboutit! allow a player to cancel a Whack action or another Special card, like an opponent’s Boost card, which could potentially allow the opponent to steal a piece of your Equipment. Another Special card called Dying Wish allows a player to keep his Mook’s Equipment cards if his Mook gets whacked

With three or four players, the game gets even better with more targets to whack. Just make sure to play up the bravado, add a little antagonism, and a lot of accents, and you’ll be in for a good time. I strongly suggest narrating every Whack and attempted Whack, to create an atmosphere of vendetta after vendetta. Let ’em know that “Big Dump don’t like seeing Joey “Coco Pops” Cotroni in his Boosted Monster Truck, so Big Dump’s gonna Whack ‘im wit’ da Rolling Pin…”

Dead Fella’s Theme: Zombies, Mafia, and… Tutus

Tiny Bug-Eyed Zombie Bug Eyes from Deadfellas Card GameI’m an unlikely advocate for Dead Fellas because apparently unlike the majority of Western males, I’m not a fan of the mafia or Tony Soprano. You could say that I’m Team Elliot Ness even. I’m also not particularly fond of zombies, but Brian Snoddy blends the two themes humorously well in his art for the Mook cards. My favorite Mook has to be the diminutive Bobby “Bug Eyes” Deluca who barely clears three feet on the lineup chart which serves as each Mook’s background. Most of Deluca’s criminal peers have eyes falling out or missing, cuts, gashes, and the occasional squid or mutation. Because Dead Fellas is such a good game, I can say without any reservations that both organized crime fans and zombie fans will get a kick out of this game, though what they’ll make of the other half of the game’s theme is beyond me.

Card art illustration of Sock Monkey for Deadfellas Zombie Mobster Card Game

The Humble Sock Monkey

What I enjoy the most about Deadfellas’ theme though is the absurdity of the Equipment cards. I still get a chuckle when I announce that Pauly “Bed Head” Bonasera disguised in his Tutu and riding his Unicycle is going to whack “Bug Eyes” with the Egg Beater. I have even foregone a more powerful piece of Equipment just for the delight of using the less powerful Biplane, Maid Uniform Disguise, or Sock Monkey. Again, without any narration, the humorous imagery of these cards is lost.

Deadfellas’ Few Choices Are Another Hit

Deadfellas also goes to show just how powerful using only a few gameplay mechanics can be when combined with quality artwork and a fun theme. While Deadfellas can play with anyone young or old, the tactical choices in it are so limited that it’s a good game for gauging how strong a grasp other players’ have of the game itself and board gaming in general with the following in particular standing out:

1. Equipment Dispersal and Disposal
The first choice any player will have in Deadfellas is which of their Mooks to Equip. There is the temptation to possibly bolster weaker Mooks with Equipment to make them less susceptible to weak Whack attempts, but it’s hard to argue with stacking 3-Bullet Weapons, Vehicles, and Disguises on your most powerful Mook to try to get as close to 12 as possible. This doesn’t reveal much about the player, but what they choose to Ditch does.

A player can have a Disguise in his hand already and choose to Ditch the existing Disguise from the Mook who just capped someone. If that Mook survives the round, it’s a simple matter of equipping the new Disguise from hand and repeating the beatdown. This is an effective tactic, but one which I have seen a number of opponents neglect.

The Special card Fugazzi poses its own choices, both in how to pronounce it (Brian Snoddy insists that it’s Foo-gay-zee, while many English speakers go for Foo-gah-zee) and how to best utilize it. The card takes the place of a piece of Equipment, but is a fake, having zero strength. After successfully Whacking an opponent’s Mook do you ditch the zero-strength Fugazzi because it adds no strength to resist opponents’ Mooks or do you ditch something more powerful because the Fugazzi is versatile and allows you to possibly meet the three-Equipment variety condition for a Whack action more readily?

Zombie Mobster Hugo The Hat Nitti playing card missing brain

No Brainer: “The Hat”

2. Target Selection and Elimination – One of the few other choices in the game is which Mooks to target. Most of the time, this is a no brainer (which is fortunate for Mooks like Hugo “The Hat” Nitti): always try to get as many points from each Whack as you can. The exception is targeting a weaker Mook who has Equipment cards on him just to kill him preemptively and waste your opponent’s Equipment cards.

3. End of Turn While there’s nothing tactical about ending a turn, it’s another good clue to just how attuned a player is to the game’s rules. As soon as your opponent’s drawn a second Equipment card or a new Mook or performed a Whack action, he or she’s done. That’s it. Because of this the game’s designers were being quite generous when they list game length at 30 minutes. Cut throat zombie mafiosa can get it down to 10-20 minutes easy.

All card images are copyright Exile Game Studios and used without permission for review purposes.

Card-Boards Wooden Card Holders

Ever since I first used a Card-Boards Card Holder at a friend’s house, I’ve been hooked on the devices and want to use them in every game that uses more than three playing cards. $15 gets you four of the attractive, smooth, wooden holders from Card-Boards, located in Orem, Utah. I sprung for eight of them because the Card Holders really are that useful. It may be hyperbole to claim that the boards revolutionize card games, but now that I have used them, I don’t want to go back to spending 15-90 minutes holding a hand of cards. Imagine playing Scrabble without the tray for your letter tiles and you’ll begin to understand the true worth of Card-Boards.

Cards from Guildhall Board Game from AEG held in wooden Card-Boards card holder

AEG’s Guildhall Cards are Easily Sorted Using a Card-Board

While Card-Boards.com owner David Hacking originally made his card holders for family games of Ticket to Ride, they are useful and usable for almost any card game where players need to hold a private hand of cards. Hacking’s now sold over 2,000 of the boards and it’s easy to see why. Measuring 10″ by 3.75″ wide by 0.75″ tall, a Card-Board has four slots cut into it. Each card holder holds about 16 standard playing cards without the cards overlapping one another. The slots are cut to a depth of approximately 3/8ths of an inch and will obscure that much of a playing card. As for quality, I imagine the wooden boards will last a lifetime and beyond. There are other companies besides Card-Boards making this style of wooden board, of course, but I found Card-Boards’s response to my order as well as the shipping to be lightning fast. If you’re playing with unprotected cards without plastic sleeves, the Card-Boards also help to prevent the transfer of sweat, oil, and Cheeto-dust to the cards that can happen with prolonged gripping. Your cards should also remain straighter because they’ll be free of the bending tendency that accompanies holding cards in a semi-circle.

Game of Thrones LCG Lannister cards in wooden Card-Boards holder

A Card-Board Card Holder Can Keep a Pride of Lions Ready for the Game of Thrones LCG

A Significant Downside and Two Minor Ones

The only real downside to the Card-Boards is obvious in that they require a flat surface to rest upon. In small cramped spaces or without a table available the Card-Boards will not be of much use. A minor downside of the card holders is that properly holding a hand of cards is an actual learned skill that is expected of most adult gamers. I may be making a mountain out of a molehill, but children do need to develop manual dexterity and hand and finger strength, besides the skill of not revealing one’s hand to other players. However as an adult, I’ll stick to a Card-Board when I can get away with it and avoid hand cramps. The only other problem the Card Board could pose is that it reveals your hand when other players get up from the table and walk around to answer the phone or get more chips and soda. In this respect, it’s also like a Scrabble tray but at the point where this becomes an issue, you’ve probably got bigger ones.

The Perfect Use for Card-Boards: Hanabi

R&R Games’ Hanabi is an addictive game of near-silent cooperation, the 2013 Spiel des Jahres Game of the Year Winner, and also the perfect way to use Card-Boards card holders. While I’ve played Hanabi a number of times, I’ve never done so by holding the cards in my hand. Instead we play using the Card-Boards. Each player’s hand of 5 cards is always perfectly visible and we have an easy time pointing out which card to discard or play. With a player’s cards tilting away from that player there is no danger of a player getting a glimpse at his own cards and the game becomes a purely mental and social exercise. The Card-Boards have the added advantage of allowing further organization based on the transmitted knowledge of what number or color cards are by using the other three rows. Now this may break the spirit of the game, but players could possibly do so already by trying to hold their cards in different places by using their ring or pinky fingers.

Game of Hanabi played using wooden Card-Boards card holders

Hanabi is Much Easier and More Enjoyable with Card-Boards Card Holders

Excellent for the Elderly and Others with Special Needs

As good as the Card-Boards are for a fairly healthy adult, they are even better for the elderly or others who suffer from arthritis. As such, the Card-Boards would make a great gift to a grandmother or grandfather. Children (or adults) with disabilities will also benefit from the Card-Boards. Simply by using a card holder, those with moderate to severe cerebral palsy or who are quadriplegic could still play most card games and retain the same level of secrecy that most card games demand. The dealer could deal cards directly into the Card-Board with the player giving instructions as to which cards to play or remove. “Play the middle card.” or “Discard the second card from my left.” could suffice for instructions.

The Fan Style of Card Holders: Not as Useful

When compared to the fan style of card holders, where cards are clipped or slid into a holder, the Card-Boards design comes out ahead since it has multiple rows, is more durable than plastic, is stylish, and is generally less expensive. Handheld fan-style holders can be just as hard for those with disabilities to hold as managing a hand of cards conventionally. Due to this, I would recommend Card-Boards to both teachers and parents because they allow every child to participate in educational games and activities. Any concerns a student may have about standing out from his or her peers by using a card holder will vanish once their peers realize just how many advantages a Card-Board has and just how comfortably one can play by using one. Every player will want one.

Resource cards from Attika in wooden Card-Boards Card Holders

Even for Games with Fewer Cards Like Attika, the Card-Boards are Useful and Keep Hands Free

Knight Chills – Roleplaying with a Vengeance DVD

DVD cover of Knight Chills Roleplaying with a Vengeance with a knight's great helm in the foregroundIn 2000 at CineVegas I saw the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Its director was also its only star, playing over 40 roles as the screen cut from one camcorder shot to another. Sometimes he conversed with himself and other times he “acted” with a dummy. He also wore a gorilla suit. One by one viewers left the theater. Some swore in disgust. One newcomer came in and got up and left in less than a minute. It became an endurance contest as those of us who remained enjoyed a sort of camaraderie, occasionally looking over at one another with disbelieving looks, grateful to have something else to look at besides that dreadful, dreadful movie. Knight Chills from 2001 may not be as bad, but it is plain awful and ranks among the worst movies I have ever seen. In fact, on IMDB I give it 1 out of 10 stars.

The film centers around a group of roleplayers so unlike one another that my suspension of disbelief snapped within the first five minutes. We have one or two jocks who like to bully a fellow player when not getting drunk, a stoner and his girlfriend, another girl who is overweight and snarky, and the group’s GM, a high school teacher whose wife occasionally plays too. Then there is John, who is pretty intense. It takes over 40 minutes of painful exposition on screen before unlikeable nerd John finally gives in and crashes his car into a tree in an emo fit of rage, sorrow, and rejection. Naturally John mutters a spell-curse as any roleplayer would before he kills himself, “To the land of the shadow I will ride, turning from the cold earth, deep my love, my vengeance. Squire and steed, the quest will be fulfilled by the solstice of Yule; I cross the Veil.” Then his car explodes and he roars demonically in the flames.


If I seem a little apathetic about the nerd tragedy that is John, let me explain that I’m probably not being harsh enough. At the beginning of Knight Chills, when his mother or aunt mentions that Uncle Sal is dying, John storms out of the house and mutters “Sea hag!” under his breath. It comes out that he has lied to her about attending gaming for the night, since she’s religious and against his roleplaying. Maybe she’s still bothered too about John allegedly killing his younger brother (a rumor the GM’s wife is delighted to share). Besides this matter of murder, John constantly hits on the stoner/slacker Zac’s girlfriend, both calling her number 14 times without leaving a message and making overtures to her in person, creeping her out by kneeling and begging, “Please don’t leave, Jahandra. Let me warm you with my pledge of undying affection.” Her boyfriend, the stoner Zac, is played by DJ Perry. And it’s DJ Perry we have to thank for this piece of garbage, since he produced and helped write it. Its production values for normal scenes are actually not that bad (reminiscent of an X-Files episode) but the acting, along with the horrid script, is probably one of the reasons that Knight Chills belongs in the horror section.

That and the whole revenge theme and coming back from the Beyond. John unfortunately doesn’t stay dead and instead returns as the semi-mysterious Black Knight. Does he right wrongs in this new form? No, he continues the lame existence he already had and leaves red roses as an ominous foreshadowing before killing his fellow roleplayers who mocked him in life. Maybe they deserve it too; they also mock him at his own funeral, clowning around until they are shushed. Despite his purported knightly ideals in life, the Black Knight also kills off a random, innocent bystander girl. For a fuller plot summary with many more laughs than the actual Knight Chills, read Something Awful’s review.

Gaming in Knight Chills: “This is a game.”

For all of its many evils, Knight Chills does manage to capture some typical gaming moments in the two gaming sessions at the start of the film, however poorly lit they are. The group plays by candlelight, of course, as all true role-players do, in a basement with cobblestones painted onto the cinderblocks. Wooden shelves loaded with miniatures beckon over the GM’s shoulder. The GM even wears a special Renaissance hat in the second session. The players break down as follows:

  • John – Sir Jonathan Kallio, a Knight of the Rose, High Executioner, Protector of the Golden Flame of the Ancients, who wields a Sword of Righteousness
  • Zac – Morgan who wields a sword (and has the least amount of roleplaying time on screen)
  • Brooke – The enchantress Jahandra who uses “Dagger of Fire” and “Angelic Blast” spell abilities
  • Nancy – The ranger Shanara who uses enchanted arrows
  • Hanee – Teek, who has a Brooch of Illusion which grants invisibility. He also has a Crystal of Penetration.
  • Russell – Aristo the bard, who curiously wields a battle axe (unless he is referring to his guitar as his axe)
  • Laura – Catherine, a priestess, who stands ready with her herbs and magic, serving her “Ultimate God”

The players encounter goblins in the first session before confronting an ice demon with an “icy scourge” on a mountainside. Jack the GM (or Lord of Lore in the film’s fictional RPG) narrates with passion, but the real conflict at the table happens between players John and Hanee, whose characters come to blows after Hanee has Teek attempt to spook Sir Kallio’s horse. The action spills over into real life, despite warnings that “This is a game.” Hanee fumes outside the GM’s house, “I’m going to choke the piss out of that little geek.”

In the second session the characters are in a maze and take turns describing their characters’ actions. The GM pulls Hanee aside into a different room to describe what Teek sees as he scouts ahead. This is a nice touch and perhaps the first and only cinematic capture of roleplaying on the side of a group. The camera circles around the room as the group fights a demon. Throughout both gaming sessions there are sound effects and music, added to heighten the viewer’s tension. I’m on the fence about their inclusion, but since Knight Chills is so bad, it doesn’t really matter anyway. More interestingly, while they play with miniatures, there are also random Woodland Scenics trees on the tabletop in both scenes. I have to imagine that director Katherine Hicks or one of the set directors suggested adding them to create a more visually interesting tabletop, but they are odd and out of place.

While it’s never shown on camera, John also works as a hobby shop clerk where a popular game called Pandemonium is played. When the GM confides that he can’t let his wife know about his spending habits, John is in disbelief, “No way! You can never spend too much on gaming stuff!” John has a point there.

The Redemption Found in Knight Chills

For a brief moment Knight Chills actually gets good. John has died and his funeral’s over. Jack the GM calls to his wife to come downstairs, asking if she’s touched anything. Miniatures have mysteriously been set up on the basement table on a “dungeon floor plan”, which the wife recognizes as the layout of their house! They go to check on their son and his rocking horse is rocking eerily, but he’s “fast asleep” in bed. Creepy! Sadly this doesn’t continue and rather than the survivors needing to roleplay or analyze miniatures to solve the mystery, the Black Knight slowly stalks and kills off his victims. The miniatures scene also features the best actor in the film, Tim Jeffrey, as the GM. His on-screen partner Laura, played by Laura Alexander, is the pits though. Ultimately roleplaying does play a part in dealing with the Black Knight at the climax of the film with the GM using his Ultimate GM Authority, “I command you to hold, for I, and I alone, am the Lord of the Lore. You have done well on your quest. All your enemies are vanquished and you’ve won the love of fair Jahandra with your courage and your bravery. I declare this campaign over. You may cross over now, into the Hall of Heroes where you may eat and drink and sing song until ye be summoned to action once again.” If only I got to make such speeches at the end of every adventure or campaign!

All Those Other Gaming Movies: Not So Bad

Apart from those few scenes, another redeeming quality that Knight Chills has is that it makes other bad movies about roleplaying look brilliant by comparison. I would gladly watch the bizarre Skullduggery over and over again rather than ever lay eyes on Knight Chills again. Geekin’ can be painful to watch, but at least it has some comedic moments. The fairly straight-laced Mazes and Monsters seems better and better every time I’ve watched Knight Chills. Maybe that guy Tom Hanks should have gotten an Oscar for his part.

And What Knight Chills Reveals About IMDB

Knight Chills also revealed something else. It has a number of accurate reviews on IMDB.com for a movie that is on the level of Transylvania 5000, Ishtar, and Batman & Robin; most reviewers try to warn other viewers about what a horrible movie it is and to avoid it at all costs. Their warnings:

  • “the dumbest movie ever made” – angelandthebeast
  • “the worst piece of crap I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of horrible B-movies)” – moovie_expert
  • “Whatever you do, do not waste your time or money on this one!!!!!” – bluebloodraven
  • “I had honestly thought I had seen the worst movies had to offer, until I saw Knight Chills I was wrong.” – JFerenczy

So it stands out when users give it 6, 7, 8 and even 10 stars. I’ll be the first to admit that my Perception can be quite low, but it has taken me all these years to recognize that IMDB can be a great haven for internet trolls, who can rate a bad movie positively just to enjoy their victims’ imagined anguish and grief. Further investigation also reveals that many of the positive reviews were done by reviewers who only have reviewed Knight Chills and no other movies. Knight Shills anyone? In all fairness, most of the negative reviewers from above had also only reviewed Knight Chills and no other movie on IMDB, but I tend to credit that to their humanity and overwhelming desire to save others’ time from the horror that is Knight Chills.

Consider, if you care to, the following review and note the reviewer’s IMDB username. Either it’s a perfect internet trolling or a bit of self-promotion from the film’s producer/writer/stoner.

imdb review with name djperry at top and 10 stars for film Knight Chills

DVD Bonus Features: The Dungeon

If you actually bother to watch Knight Chills despite warnings about how bad it is, at least reward yourself with the Dungeon Tour bonus feature. In it, one of the writers, Jeff Kennedy, takes the viewer on a tour of the basement room or “dungeon” used for the roleplaying sessions. Kennedy also explains that some of the film’s bizarre RPG persecution scenes were based on his own life as a teacher. Besides the aforementioned shelves of miniatures, there are also trophies that Kennedy’s gaming club collected from years of attending Gen Con and a giant Shivan Dragon M:TG card. Kennedy started the dungeon in 1989, but began gaming as a wargamer in the 1970s, and built his own custom, maplewood gaming table as well as an initiative tracker using wooden discs on a rod. Kennedy ends his tour by saying “Gaming inspired my partner DJ Perry and I to write and produce Knight Chills – and possibly Knight Chills – Part 2, we’ll see – and I hope it inspires you to do a bit more gaming. Some of the best times I’ve ever had have been around this table gaming.”

The Incredibly Useful Hugo’s Amazing Tape

Clear rolls of Hugo's Amazing Tape with words Patent ApprovedWhile Hugo’s Amazing Tape bills itself as “the most VERSATILE, DURABLE and STRONGEST HOLDING tape in the WORLD!“, I have found that it at least lives up to its name and is really quite amazing and incredibly useful. Packaging for it shows the tape wrapped around a wrist “to help relieve arthritis pain”, keeping pipes held together, wrapped around luggage, and keeping a book opened to a specific page, but it is the tape’s organizational use (and not these “miraculous” uses) that has most impressed me. The patented secret to the tape is that it lacks adhesive and only adheres to itself.


The tape is amazing for any application where rubber bands (or string) might normally be used, namely keeping cards and game components together. Unlike string, yarn, ribbons, or rubber bands, Hugo’s Amazing Tape shouldn’t bite into your bundled material, because it has a larger surface area. In the case of rubber bands, which become brittle over time and are sensitive to the cold, the tape is again a winner. Hugo’s Amazing Tape is transparent and comes in Clear, Blue, and Purple varieties. It is sold in 2 inch, 1 inch, and 0.5 inch width rolls measuring 50 yards long, but for most gamer purposes I strongly suggest the moderate 1 inch roll. Getting the tape is a little tricky, because despite its many craft uses, I have not seen the tape sold locally at Joann’s or Wal-Mart. Instead, you can buy a roll directly from Hugo’s, or find it in stock at boardsandbits.com or at Amazon.com, of course.

A few pieces of advice for when you get your own: Do write on the tape with a Permanent Marker if you want to. Sometimes finding the end can be hard and a dot, arrow, or star can help you find it. The company advises that items should be wrapped “at least twice” in the tape, but for playing cards, 1.5 to 2 inches of excess tape snugly wraps most decks in my experience. When I dropped a 45-card Game of Thrones LCG Lannister deck from a height of over 25 feet, it didn’t split the deck open (or harm any Joffreys) with only two extra inches. For owners of Summoner Wars or Omen and for further insight into Hugo’s Amazing Tape from boardgamegeek.com users, please read this warning about potential damage to cards from the tape. In my own limited experience with the tape, I have yet to see any hazards.

Card, Board, RPGs, and Miniature Games


Gamers caught between using rubber bands and dedicated card boxes to keep cards organized, should take a long look at Hugo’s Amazing Tape. Because the tape is broad and does not contract or constrict like elastic, it lacks the bite of a rubber band which can mar card edges. Thus the tape is useful for managing small and moderately-sized collections of cards. The choice for the CCG/LCG player then becomes whether to use Hugo’s Amazing Tape to keep a group of cards together or whether to store them in a cardboard or plastic deck box. Admittedly simply having cards taped together won’t protect them from a soda leak or other environmental hazards like a deck box might, but the tape has the advantage of not being confined to a set amount of cards, provided you were generous when you cut the tape the first time.

Board Gaming Uses

It’s this versatility of the tape that has seen it pressed into use by many board gamers who may only have sets of 5-10 cards to keep organized. Tired of your Guillotine decks getting mixed up? Do you hate how the Game of Thrones LCG Core Set has a tendency to spill the top cards of its four decks around? Hugo’s Amazing Tape is for you!

Almost invisible Hugo's Amazing Tape has been wrapped around Guillotine card deck to keep it organized. Colored arrow marks where tape ends

The Noble Deck and Action Deck for Guillotine Stay Separate with Hugo’s Amazing Tape

Games like Smash Up have dedicated card trays for their decks and Hugo’s Amazing Tape would be overkill on them, but even classics like Risk or Monopoly would benefit by having neat stacks of money, deeds, or army cards in the case of Risk. If you know any obsessive-compulsive types or anal-retentive neat freaks, you can probably get on their good side with a gift of the tape.

Stack of Game of Thrones LCG cards held together with Hugo's Amazing Tape

Game of Thrones LCG Cards Stay Neatly in Place Thanks to Hugo’s Amazing Tape

RPGs and Miniature Games

Of course, any other type of tabletop game that uses cards can benefit from the amazing tape. RPGs that use Fate decks like the TORG System or modern games like Pathfinder which has issued item decks can benefit from the use of Hugo’s Amazing Tape to keep cards organized. Likewise, you can keep your Warmachine and Hordes cards together and grouped into individual faction-specific bundles with the tape. While many prefer nine-card plastic binder sleeves for storage and to review unit capabilities, making a travel “deck” using Hugo’s Tape may be the way to go, especially for older systems like Confrontation or AT-43 that actually use the cards to determine unit activation order. Lastly Hugo’s Amazing Tape is invaluable if you’re a gamer with a broad collection of miniatures which came with ability cards. Now Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures (and Chainmail), Star Wars Miniatures, Heroclix, and Pirates of the Spanish Main Crew and Ship cards can all be easily separated for storage.

LARPing

Spools of thread with Hugo's Amazing Tape wrapped around them keeping threads confined

Thread is Neatly Wrapped Under a Layer of Hugo’s Amazing Tape

The most advertised use of Hugo’s Amazing Tape, as the back of the packing says, is “to prevent raveling and to keep dust and dirt off of” spools of embroidery thread. While I’ve not had too much experience with dirt and dust in my own brief attempts at stitching and sewing, I have had many spools unwind and get caught in or on something, which is always annoying, but never quite as bad as old audio cassettes. With this amazing tape however, I can easily put an end to any runaway threads. The tape could also be of use when assembling and gluing foam weapons to get an accurate dry fit without the possible tears to the foam from trying to temporarily use duct tape or any other adhesive tape. However for dry fitting weapons, I would probably just use rubber bands.

Most LARPs wouldn’t be complete without food and Hugo’s Amazing Tape could have a few culinary applications. I tested the claim that the tape is “Heat and Cold Resistant” by putting Guillotine cards wrapped in the tape in the freezer and several hours later the tape still functioned normally. To test its heat capacities, I wrapped some spaghetti in the tape and boiled it. Failing my Wisdom check, I ate a few bites of the spaghetti which came out perfectly. It was undercooked though closer to the center, where the stands had been forced together by the tape. Despite initially having a whitish residue from the whole wheat pasta, the tape retained its self-adhering properties and regained most of its clarity.

Leftmost picture of spaghetti with Hugo's Amazing Tape wrapped around, next picture raw spaghetti where tape was used, then Game of Thrones cards held together by the tape

The Tape Survived Boiling and Is Still Usable But Left Covered Areas of Spaghetti Raw

Modeling Uses

Hugo’s Amazing Tape may also be of minor use for some miniature modeling purposes. If a project requires extreme delicacy, involves broad surfaces, and the need for keeping multiple parts pressed together while glue or epoxy sets, Hugo’s Amazing Tape may be the perfect solution. For certain soft modeling materials like balsa wood, bass wood, or foam, Hugo’s Amazing Tape could be used to prevent telltale rubber band impressions.

Summary of Hugo’s Amazing Tape for Gamers

Obviously I have become a huge fan of this amazing product. To recap, Hugo’s Amazing Tape is reusable, non-adhesive, and offers great utility and has a strong grip with little to no bite. While I would always prefer a lower cost, 50 yards for around $11.99 won’t break any banks. Now to test some of those bolder packaging claims!

Prepainted AT-43 Bunker

Back in 2007 when AT-43 was an up-and-coming game system with many new releases and still sold at full retail, Rackham released a plastic prepainted AT-43 Bunker. Fortunately I snatched one up from a friendly local game store, because an AT-43 Bunker is now incredibly hard to find. Mixed up in the legacy of the bunker and its accessory walls is perhaps a clue to the demise of Rackham as a company. When a product is incredibly popular and sells out, God forbid you should produce more. Perhaps even raise the price because demand is so high? Sacrebleu, non! So along with the AT-43 plastic shipping containers that so many 28-30mm war gamers covet, Rackham has provided another wondrous plastic relic for shoppers to quest after.

Prepainted AT-43 Bunker with Karman Apes Attacking and Red Blok Defenders

The AT-43 Bunker Was Ahead of Its Time for Value and Makes a Great Objective to Fight Over

The AT-43 Plastic Bunker Itself

What a steal! While I slightly remember a price closer to $29.95, the toydirectory.com lists an MSRP of only $25 in 2007 for a prepainted building with a removable roof and fully painted interior. The mottled grey bunker stands about 6 centimeters (2.75 inches) tall with its gunnery slits starting at 3 centimeters up from the outside base. The interior floor is only a millimeter or two thick, so it does not dramatically affect line of sight to and from models on either side. Because it is trapezoidal in design, the bunker has an odd footprint, but it is roughly 14cm x 16cm. The bunker’s double-edged sword is its integrated wall sections for attaching AT-43 walls. They’re perfect for gamers who already have AT-43 walls and wish to use them, but a little unsightly should you wish to use the bunker sans walls.

AT-43 miniatures posed next to prepainted grey bunker which has a nub where the wall attaches

Without Walls the AT-43 Bunker May Be Unsightly to Some Due to the Nublike Wall Connector

Interior Dimensions and Removable Door

Closeup of prepainted AT-43 bunker with 22 Warhammer 40K figures crammed into it

22 Warhammer 40K Figures Take Shelter in the Spacious Bunker

Because the bunker’s walls are so realistically thick (9mm), the rusted metal interior floor space is a bit smaller, but still fully painted and textured. The floor is divided into 3.5 centimeter squares, while the walls are the same mottled grey, dark concrete color as the exteriors. Standing room is spacious with the bunker able to hold an astonishing 22 figures on round 25mm bases! As for AT-43 models themselves, the bunker can take 14 infantry figures on the 30mm bases and 7 of the larger 40mm bases used by Karmans and Kolossus units (or 8, if you don’t mind a tiny amount of base-overlapping).

Close up view of AT-43 Bunker's Rusted Steel Interior

An Interior View of the AT-43 Bunker Without Too Many Miniatures Blocking the View: Roomy

While the door doesn’t retract into the roof or slide into a wall, it can be removed, which is a great touch, though it does require lifting the roof off. It has the same design front and back. Most gamers will probably keep the door off for convenience, but its inclusion is useful for any game that simulates breaching charges or the need to hack into the door’s control panel, which features a green button on its black console. Another green button and a red one below the console might represent whether the door’s locking mechanism is engaged, though with this little detail the painting is a tad overenthusiastic as the orangish red has splashed over onto the door’s steel brackets on my bunker.

Rust wash is visible on steel bunker door as well as paint splash below control panel

Painting is Just a Little Sloppy on the Bunker’s Control Panel, But Detailed Wash on Rivets

The Bunker Roof

Models wishing to take position on the roof will lack protective cover on the roughly 4″ x 5″ relatively flat surface. Enterprising players could solve this with the addition of some sand bag sections. The roof is broken up by what would appear to be three round drain or ventilation covers in the corners as well as a central metal panel with textured bolts affixing it to the top of the bunker. The panel is further detailed by three concentric circles which diminish the building’s otherwise grim demeanor with their curves, instead softening the piece. While the purpose of the concentric rings is puzzling, they have received a nice rust wash along the bottoms which is a magnificent level of detail on a prepainted piece of terrain. The three round drains or vents are similarly lightly rusted and seem to be removable. This poses the same hazard as many of the AT-43 vehicles though, in that while a Strider may have a hatch that can be opened or removed, doing so will often break the brittle piece of plastic.

Concentric circles are visible along with drain or ventilation spouts on top of AT-43 Bunker

The Bunker As Seen from Above With Concentric Circles and Rust Wash

Accessories and Final Thoughts

The AT-43 Bunker also came with two High Defensive walls. Twice as tall as the normal walls, they measure in at 5 centimeters tall and were not included in any of the other later AT-43 sets. On each side of the bottom of the tall barriers black and yellow warning stripes have been painted. These high barriers block Line of Sight to infantry as well as Kolossus models and Karmans. Meanwhile Striders in AT-43 or most vehicles in Warhammer 40K will be able to claim partial cover if hiding behind the walls. The high walls are a nice touch and a welcome addition to the set, but entirely unnecessary for the original $25 price tag.

Plastic AT-43 bunker reveals figures inside while others are hidden behind tall wall sections

At 5 cm. Tall, the Tall Walls Conceal Infantry and Provide Vehicles Protection and Cover

Indeed, very few products offer as much value as the AT-43 Bunker, so if you find one for sale, you should probably add it to your collection. That or contact Craven Games, because I would love to get a second and a third myself.

Crokinole – The One Flick You Must See

Black and Red Crokinole Discs on Board

Crokinole: Played by Flicking Wooden Discs Towards Board’s Center

If you’re familiar with the game of crokinole, then odds are that you’re either a hardcore board gamer or a grey-haired white guy from rural Canada as the documentary Crokinole reveals. The epicenter of the crokinole world would seem to be Tavistock, Canada, and it’s there that much of the 2006 documentary takes place, at the 2004 World Crokinole Championship. But what is crokinole? Crokinole is a board game that involves flicking wooden discs towards the center of a round board and knocking your opponents’ discs out into a gutter akin to shuffleboard or its indoor version, table shuffleboard, occasionally encountered at bars in America. It’s a pleasant enough game, involving skill and coordination, and can be quite satisfying, especially when a 20 is scored, the game’s equivalent to a bullseye. Crokinole is also a rather obscure game, with the game’s name unknown to modern computer spell checkers and college-educated professionals alike, so for it to be the subject of a documentary is fascinating in its own right.

Once you’ve understood the basic flicking mechanic of crokinole, the claims of the documentary to be “THE ONE FLICK YOU MUST SEE” will make more sense and seem a good deal less boastful. Crokinole opens by quoting from the 1897 Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery:

We went over to the party but I can’t say I really enjoyed myself. Alf doesn’t dance – thinks it the unpardonable sin, I believe – and I didn’t like to leave him alone among the strangers with nothing to amuse him. So I didn’t dance much either but played croquinole most of the evening and was bored to the point of tears. I love dancing and I loathe croquinole.

Cover of Crokinole the one flick you must see with sunglassed player in blue shirtFrom that high point, the film slowly and pleasantly meanders. Crokinole lacks the narrative punch of other documentaries about competitive pastimes like Spellbound or Word Wars, but like them though, Crokinole is the authoritative documentary on its subject. While slow, the documentarians have covered all of their bases with the film, which captures multiple viewpoints on competitive crokinole. It’s also well-scored by the Earl Jones Trio. The film’s greatest strength though is its excellent tongue-in-cheek marketing, with the back cover stating “Those who have the adequate endurance to remain in a plastic chair for hours will excel, while those who cannot withstand the rigorous demands of a stationary position will falter.” This attitude towards crokinole seems to be widely shared by its Canadian players and the residents of Tavistock who all have a dry humor about the game and its championship tournament. “How could you miss it?” laughs one resident. A World Crokinole Championship referee sheepishly jokes about his neon safety vest, while another resident smiles and says of crokinole, “I wouldn’t say it’s nail-biting action like other sports, but yeah, it’s alright.” Gillies Lake Productions takes it further on the DVD cover and preemptively forewarns the would-be viewer with a quote from Bob Mader that “… It’s a long long grind.” Yes, yes, it is. While that statement isn’t misleading, the cover of the DVD is. On the copy I watched, the cover is dominated by the concentrating sunglassed Paul Stewart, an American player from Texas. It’s a decent image, but Stewart is in less than 2 of the movie’s 79 minutes. Most of the players are a great deal older and it would be more accurate to think of Crokinole as the Grumpy Old Men of gaming movies.

The Demographics of Crokinole

Fortunately for the viewer, the crokinole players that Crokinole introduces are all charming and congenial. They are also a very homogenous group, all white and predominately male. Two middle-aged or older women are also shown as part of the World Crokinole Committee. If Crokinole is sounding more and more like Cocoon, that’s not far off (though to be accurate, younger female players can be seen in the background of the World Championship footage). Brothers Jason and Raymond Bierling from “up country” are notable for both their red-hair and being “quite young” (someone thinks they are in their mid-20s) and while they appear in Crokinole, they are not the focus of the film. Nor is the similarly-aged, long-haired and bearded Birch Kuch from the Yukon who briefly makes an appearance in the championship.

Grey-haired and with glasses Joe Fulop concentrates over a crokinole board at the 2004 World Crokinole Championship

Three Time World Crokinole Singles Champion Joe Fulop © Bill Gladding / Tavistock Gazette

The Champions

Instead, filmmakers Joshua and Jonathan Steckley focus on four subjects. Farmer Dan Shantz is a previous winner of the 2001 Doubles Crokinole Championship and got a lot of practice as a child when he was ill and housebound, playing each of his fingers against the others. Unfortunately Shantz doesn’t tell us whether his pinky beat out his index finger, but his anecdote speaks volumes about the amount of solo practice championship crokinole requires. Grandfather Bob Mader may or may not be a farmer, but he lives in or near a village, and won $500 for his third place finish in a World Crokinole Championship. Mader played for Canada in the 1962 World Ice Hockey Championships, but sustained a knee injury in the championship game against the USA. The film jacket humorously advises in the rating section that Crokinole contains Canadian accents, but Mader’s speech like many of the others who appear in the film is also quaint and charming. Ringing a bell on his home’s porch, Mader reminisces, “Give it a dingle, that was dinnertime.” Joe Fulop is a part-time teacher, golf enthusiast, and the 2001 & 2002 Crokinole Singles World Champion. Someone says of Fulop, “That’s what he has for breakfast: crokinole. For dinner: crokinole.” It’s probably accurate on some days, because Fulop does play a lot of crokinole against himself. One of the challenges facing Fulop is his escalating Parkinson’s disease. He manages some humor about it. When asked whether it’s the worst disease for a crokinole player, Fulop’s eyes twinkle as he responds, “Well, cancer’s worse.” Al Fuhr is the fourth subject and most athletic, playing on two baseball teams when not fishing or flicking crokinole discs. Comparing himself to the single Fulop, Fuhr points out about himself that he leads an active lifestyle, a lifestyle slightly crimped because of an accident involving a 500-pound shed door which fell on his head.

Bald-headed crokinole player Al Fuhr concentrates during World Crokinole Championships

Crokinole Subject Al Fuhr Concentrating During the WCC © Bill Gladding / Tavistock Gazette

Mr. Crokinole and Other Crokinole Personalities

Besides the four players, the documentary focuses on Wayne Kelly, or as he is more famously known, Mr. Crokinole. Kelly runs crokinole.com and has spent a good deal of time documenting the game’s history, including the origins of the name crokinole, a difficult task given that he consulted “28 to 30” dictionaries and encyclopedias which lacked any mention of the Canadian board game. As an expert on the subject, Kelly provides the real backbone to the documentary and as one might expect, the documentary is also sold on crokinole.com. His inclusion in the documentary would seem to be mandatory. He authored The Crokinole Book which sold out of its first printing of 5,000 copies within the first year of publishing it in 1988, has had over 3,000 different crokinole and carom boards pass through his hands, and sells 5-8 crokinole boards each day.

The other subject that Crokinole frequently cuts back and forth to is Willard Martin as he constructs a crokinole board out of particle board in his workshop. Despite his hopes (and Mr. Crokinole’s) that various flubs will be edited out, they are instead preserved for the viewer to enjoy. Want to watch Martin clean his urethane brush? Joshua and Jonathan Steckley have also captured that. While most of his moments on camera could have been edited out, Willard Martin’s nostalgia as he recalls listening to the radio with his father as a child is quite touching and well worth including. Besides identifying him as Willard Martin though, the directors fail to point out Martin’s significance to crokinole. A quick Google search reveals that Willard Martin is indeed a second-generation crokinole board maker, selling his WILLARD boards through crokinolegame.ca. So great is his skill at board making that his boards have been used at the World Crokinole Championships.

The World Crokinole Committee

The World Crokinole Championships are hosted and organized by the World Crokinole Committee, as one might expect. It’s here, in showing the committee at work, that some of Crokinole’s most heated and dramatic moments can be found. Watch as a number of crokinole board storage boxes fall over! Listen as the committee discusses the “pro-cess” for paperwork. Board 46 is missing! Someone may have taken one of the boards to get some illegal practice in! Sadly, the investigation into the missing board is stopped once it is located. It’s because of scenes like this, the Canadian accents, and the film’s many other ironies that Crokinole also feels like an extended episode of Kids in the Hall from time to time and occasionally made me wonder whether Crokinole is a mockumentary or not. If it is, the humor is so slight and its treatment of its subjects so gentle that it barely registers as such, besides being non-fictional.

No Slam Dunks in Crokinole: The Crokinole World Championship

Just like children and beginners getting strikes in bowling, it is quite possible for newbies to get a 20 in crokinole. Scoring a 20 while also knocking your opponent’s piece into the gutter is even fancier, but there’s no equivalent to slam dunking in crokinole. There’s nothing the “masters” of the game can do that a player at home cannot. Because of this much of the World Crokinole Championship is uninspiring to watch. For about five minutes in Crokinole though, the flicking is fast and furious as 20 after 20 is scored by Joe Fulop and Al Fuhr in the semi-finals. It only escalates from there in the championship as stony-faced Joe Fulop battles the much younger Brian Cook. “The third time is the sweetest,” Fulop says after his victory.

Cameraman films the 2004 World Crokinole Championship between Brian Cook and Joe Fulop as neon-vest wearing referee watches

2004 World Crokinole Championship: Cook vs. Fulop © Bill Gladding / Tavistock Gazette

Strategy in Crokinole?

While the champion and runner-up certainly exhibit great skill, a different moment in Crokinole had me shaking my head. When asked about Al Fuhr and how his crokinole playing compares to his baseball playing, his baseball coach Tom Myers, says “He’s extremely competitive, regardless of which he’s playing and strategic. I mean, crokinole, he’s thinking three plays ahead and in the ball diamond, he’s the same. He’s thinking two or three batters ahead, where I should be putting it on the plate. So [he’s] strategic in both too.” Now unless I’m missing something huge about the game of crokinole, it seems that the goal and strategy never vary: score as many points as you can and prevent your opponent from doing so. Just like picking up a split spare in bowling or playing darts, playing well requires finesse and a lot of practice, but there is no change in strategy.

The Whole Crokinole… Almost

Board level view of Crokinole guards

Crokinole Posts Make the Game Harder But No Change in Strategy

Despite the Steckleys’ thoroughness in documenting the many foibles of crokinole and mining the game’s depths for any humor, the directors missed the easy laugh that is “the one-cheek rule”, instead only covering it in the DVD’s special features. According to the one-cheek rule, crokinole players must keep one butt cheek on the chair at all times. This restricts players’ movements while at the same time preventing any tables from getting flipped. As a reaction to the one-cheek rule, crokinole is sometimes played on a rotating Lazy Susan to aid players in getting that perfect shot. The directors do include crokinole played with cue sticks (which is also a part of the World Crokinole Championships), but it would have been interesting to see or hear about any violations of the one-cheek rule or players’ opinions on rotating crokinole boards. They also include such crokinole slang as a “doogie”, which should never be confused with the “dougie” dance. A doogie is a 20 in the regional slang of Tavistock, Ontario. There is more humor as doogie is misidentified as the German word for twenty (zwanzig).

Photos of Joe Fulop, Al Fuhr, and Championship Match between Brian Cook and Joe Fulop © Bill Gladding / Tavistock Gazette and used with permission and many thanks.