Leaving Summer Behind

So I really haven’t been very awesome keeping the blog up to date this year. There’s been a good deal of the standard reasons behind this happening (requires effort, haven’t set out a scheduled time slot just for bogging …too lazy, too tired, too much to do –you’ve heard them all before); however, there’s also been some pretty legitimate reasons as well—well, okay, one legitimate reason: we’ve updated the Imaginary Wars website–not only that, we’ve incorporated a blog page into the store’s website!

!blog moving day

This, of course, means I’ll soon be directing this blog’s traffic over towards the www.imaginarywars.com blog page–or at least I’ll be directing what little traffic still drops by (undoubtedly to see if I’ve yet kicked the habit of being lazy) over to the store’s website. And by soon, I mean this week (shock, gasp).

So that’s a bit of a big change; this blog has been a pretty big part of my life since starting it April of 2009. Sure, times like the last couple of months, it’s been not much of a factor, but for the most part it’s been a dominant part of my life. Now, in a way it feels like I’m shutting the thing down—which is silly, because I’m not. Mind you, I’m the guy who’s never been good at thinking any biggish change was anything but huge, scary, epochal change; so I guess wistful emotions cropping up when I decide to transfer my blog to a different address should come as no surprise. (What makes my wistfulness even more silly is that all the blog posts here have been moved over to the store’s website blog page.)

So, to wrap up: starting ASAP, this blog will be posting a link to the new blog address (still a WordPress site but one linked directly to the store’s website), and we’ll be moving forward from that point.

A Lazy Summer?  

Flooded areas: (to quote Donald Rumsfeld) "all parts north, south, east and west of the city.

Flooded areas: (to quote Donald Rumsfeld) “all parts north, south, east and west.”

So what else have I been doing with myself since my last post, back in the middle of June? Work mostly. Work and some holidaying. Holidaying and recovering from holidaying. Recovering and planning for the fall season.

Holidaying this year took the form of a camping road trip. With all of June’s flooding that had crippled Calgary (and indeed much of southern Alberta and all parts mountainous) , we decided to head away from the mountains visible from any higher vantage in the city and explore the eastern edge of the province.

The sheer size of the province made an impression on us: we traveled from Calgary, mid-way up the province to a lake that practically straddled the Alberta-Saskatchewan border (a six-hour drive), camped for a few days then drove down to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (which ended up being roughly a nine-hour drive) and camped for a few more days.

flatland & hills panorama

Milk River. Southern Alberta’s Sweetgrass Hills and prairies visible in the distance.

hoodoo campground panorama

Writing-on-Stone campground area, nestled in a small valley between hoodoos and Milk River.

hoodoo & family panorama

A brief rest while exploring all the myriad pathways laced amongst the hoodoos.

FSSF road pic

Other highlights included driving on the Veteran’s Memorial Highway (Hwy36) to the small town of Warner. There’s not much in Warner beyond the gas station, the main street (most its buildings vacant) and the town’s civic building. The civic building is Warner’s main attraction: a dinosaur museum and a settlers museum. The pride and joy of the museums: the fossilized dinosaur egg (with a nearly complete baby skeleton inside) and the section of the Settler’s museum dedicated to the First Special Services Force–The Devil’s Brigade (Warner sits on the junction of the Highway 36 and Highway 4; Hwy 4 was renamed in 1999 to commemorate it having been the route the Canadians joining 1st FSS used to get to Fort Harrison).

Hobby Laziness? Only Partly.

Speaking of World War II:  my summer activities that didn’t involve traipsing across the province included putting some more work into my mid-war Canadians. I finished painting up my first platoon and managed to get them on the Battlefront urban rubble bases (they are, after all, in Ortona!) and now I just need to paint those bases. And add snow.

No good shots yet exist of the whole platoon in one frame; and even though all the squads are now on rubble bases, no pictures yet exist, so these will have to suffice. Updated photos (hopefully) soon to come!

With the first platoon mostly finished, I also started on the second and third infantry platoons (platoon #2 is the photo below). But I’ve ground to a halt and have been derailed by a different Flames of War project.

Earliest photo

The local Flames of War club decided to do something a little different that got me inspired and motivated: themed gaming. The theme they chose was recon armies using modified Tank/Infantry Aces rules as the backdrop. Armies would be small: no more than 600 points. List structure is intentionally more loose: the 600-point armies must be made up almost entirely of reconnaissance platoons (with up to 150 points of non-recon platoons being allowed). Even better: all games will be played with different missions (which helps overcome the malaise that sets in after a lot of games have been played: when they all start to feel sort of the same).

No pictures yet, but I’ve started building a Late-War German Panzerspahkompanie (armoured cars & mechanized scout vehicles). I’ve opted to go the horde route and rather than take a few hard-hitting scout vehicles such as the Panzer II Luchs or the Puma armoured car, I decided to take a lot of lighter reconnaissance vehicles. We’ll see how things go.

Maybe I Haven’t Been so Lazy…

I’ve also managed to progress more with my Heavy Gear collection. My first cadre is pretty much finished, needing only decals; and I’ve also got my Sagittarius strider to the same spot (though it still needs to be transplanted to its permanent base). I’ve even managed to hit the half-way mark on the second cadre for my Southern army!

Somewhere along the way I managed to stop posting progress shots of my ‘gears, so here’s some progression shots of my first cadre’s Black Mamba and a couple of shots of my Sagittarius strider.

Black Mamba

Base coat of Vallejo's Middlestone and Secret Weapon wash (can't remember the exact concoction of colurs in the wash though).

Stage 1: Base coat of Vallejo’s Middlestone and Secret Weapon wash (can’t remember the exact concoction of colours in the wash though).

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Stage 2: base coat cleaned up so only deeper shades and black lining is visible.

Stage 2: base coat cleaned up so only deeper shades and black lining is visible.

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Stage 3: Camoflage pattern started on lower leg (after which, I decided to use a sand colour with less green in it).

Stage 3: Camouflage pattern stippled on lower leg (after which, I decided to use a sand colour with less green in it).

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Stage 4: Camouflage complete and gun painted. Base is pretty much done.

Stage 4: Camouflage complete and gun painted. Base is pretty much done.

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Stage 5: Model essentially complete. Only unit markings and decals remain. (Base changed as well.)

Stage 5: the Black Mamba, essentially complete. Only unit markings and decals remain. (Somewhere along the way, his base was changed as well.)

Sagittarius

Sagittarius strider. (Striders are 'Gears with a crew compliment larger than one.)

Sagittarius strider at the same point of completion as the Black Mamba.

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The Sagittarius is spilling over the base it comes with. It will soon be on a 50mm sculpted resin base.

The Sagittarius is spilling over the base it comes with. It will soon be on a 50mm sculpted resin base.

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Revelation

I guess it’s not so much that the store has taken over my ability to still have a hobby life. And really, I did, find time to play some Warhammer last week, some Star Trek Attack Wing the week before and the Star Wars: X-Wing game the week before–all while staying caught up with of my “to read” pile of comic books!

This is my Empire army at 1000 points ...about to get thoroughly pantsed.

This is my Empire army at 1000 points …just before it got thoroughly pantsed.

It’s that I lack the discipline (energy?) to blog regularly about it that’s problematic. Or, hopefully, at least that was the case for the summer. With the store’s website a lot closer to what we want it to be (for now), I’m planning on blogging about the other store-related things that interest me, namely board games and comic books on top of miniatures, leagues and tournaments. I may even be able to get our new guy to write a sporadic blog post about Magic the Gathering.

But this is where I sign off, reminding anyone who still comes here that this will be the final blog post at this address. All future blog posts will occur at:

http://www.imaginarywars.com/blog/

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FLAMES OF WAR RANGER DAY: MARCH 30!

With the first anniversary of Imaginary Wars Games and Hobbies fast approaching (the first week in April, for those curious), the store’s plate of events is getting more and more full! Today’s post will be focusing on one of the lead-up events to our first-year anniversary:

Rangers Lead the Way GLOBALLY

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MARCH 30th

We’ll be having members from our local Flames of War club, Calgary REGIMENT [link] coming by to show people how to play Flames of War. They’ll be providing everything needed to play a small, fifteen-minute game! This is being done in conjunction with Battlefront miniatures as part of their Rangers program (where they send players to local stores and get them to introduce the game to new people), and I’m really excited to host a day dedicated to introductory gaming with Flames of War.

What I also like is that the members of The Calgary REGIMENT club also really pay attention to what makes miniatures games cool: the overall effect you achieve when playing solely with painted models and using scenic gaming boards. I’ve encountered very few individuals, tournaments –or stores even– that pay attention to the overall look of a miniatures gaming board like this club does. They strive for playable tables that look almost like dioramas depicting World War II European battlefields but use loose, movable terrain so as not to sacrifice re-playability for looks.

To get a sense of just how good a job they do, check out the post on their blog detailing the game set up to replay the Carentan battle following the D-Day landings in 1944. What was really cool was that the whole game was inspired by the Band of Brothers episode where Easy Company fought to take Carentan.

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ALSO ON MARCH 30th: INTERNATIONAL TABLE TOP DAY

I’ll be getting into this a bit more in another post (hopefully) in the next few days, but for now suffice it to say that coinciding with the Ranger Day for Flames of War, we’ll also be commemorating the International Table Top Day that was initiated by Wil Wheaton’s Youtube show, Tabletop.

TableTopDay_logo

However, before I can post more details, I’ll need to take care of some coordinating with the people who have already volunteered to help make the day a success. Until then, for a better idea of what kinds of games we’ll be hosting that day, I’d recommend watching any of the episodes of tabletop on their Youtube channel. If you’ve seen any of their episodes, you’ll already know what kind of board games the show tends to showcase; if you haven’t I’ve included the episode where Wil Wheaton shows off the 2003 Game of the Year winner, Alhambra.

Flames of War Events at Imaginary Wars!

One of my New Years resolutions was to be more active on the blog–which should come easy to me: I was posting on the blog regularly for about a year (and only a little less regularly for about two years  before that). Though my blogging habit was fully disrupted by my opening the Imaginary Wars store, I’ve been running the store for long enough now that it should be feasible for me to be blogging more regularly. The operative word being “should.”

Anyways, I’m sure we’ll see if there’s a gap–and how much of one there is–between my theory of being able to blog regularly and my ability to blog regularly! Following that line of thought, the store just hosted a Flames of War tournament a few weekends back; and though I was first planning to do just a quick-ish blog post about that tournament, I then realised I haven’t made much mention about all the Flames of War activity that’s been going on in the store since summer.

FOW-logo-landscape
It’s been since early summer that the Flames of War involvement in the store has been increasing–in no small part due to a local club, The Calgary R.E.G.I.M.E.N.T. (Reclaiming Esthetic Gaming In Miniature ‘N’ Tabletops). The REGIMENT’s  members have been showing up to game at the store most Friday evenings, and since autumn they’ve done a bit more than just show up for Friday-night pick-up games. This fall we began to host bigger in-store events: a giant day-long tank battle on the American Thanksgiving weekend–in line with all the other Tanksgiving events (despite our being in Canada); and of course the aforementioned tournament that prompted today’s blog post, the Flames of War doubles tournament held on Saturday January 5, 2013.

World War Friday  …every Friday

Every Friday evening, some of the guys from the REGIMENT come down–usually to play Flames of War, but regular fare for them also include Dystopian Wars, Firestorm Armada and (most recently) Heavy Gear (though some mention has been made as well about  Saga and Victory at Sea).
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Tanksgiving!

With many of the club members becoming regulars every Friday night, it took no convincing for me to leap at their request at having the store host one of their Flames of War events. Due to the time of year, we agreed to have Tanksgiving as the store’s first Flames of War event on the last Saturday of November. For those not in the know, Tanksgiving is simply a large bring ‘n ‘battle event where players all bring tank-only armies and is staged the weekend following American Thanksgiving (in case the name wasn’t a complete giveaway). To the best of my knowledge, the event was originally thought up for Flames of War but quickly cross-pollinated and soon also became a holiday staple at GW Hobby Centres and Warhammer 40,000. (The first time I heard of Tanksgiving in the Games Workshop capacity was around 2004.)

Looking down the table: Tanksgiving at Imaginary Wars, 2012.

Looking down the table: Tanksgiving at Imaginary Wars, 2012.

Though originally intended to be a giant tank battle between two sides, it was decided that the Tanksgiving battle at Imaginary Wars would be a little different:

  • First off, more than just tanks-only armies would be permitted in the game; anything except air support and platoons that required foot-based models was allowed in the battle (so no towed guns or infantry forces of any kind…but recce forces and ).
  • Also, rather than the game be a large battle between two forces, each lined up across the table from the other, it was decided (but kept secret from the players until sprung) that the forces would be arranged in a checkerboard pattern: each player in the game would have the enemy in front of him as well as in his flank.
  • Lastly, rather than make it simply a “kill the most tanks to win” kind of game, objectives were placed running along the table center and not only awarded victory points if captured but also came with special rules to be used in-game! When captured, the objective marker would then be turned over to reveal what special rules were now in play. Some markers granted re-rolls, some called in a strafing run (that risked indiscriminately shooting friend and foe alike), some were revealed to be 8.8cm Flak 36 usable by any side in the game.

2012 Tanksgiving 01 2012 Tanksgiving 03All in all, a pretty fun time was had that day and I was astounded to have sixteen people show up for the event–a couple even drove three hours from Edmonton to attend! For a bring ‘n’ battle event!

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January 5, 2013: Reinforcements Doubles’ Tournament

As a follow-up to Tanksgiving, we hosted another event being run by the REGIMENT club: a Flames of War tournament! No strangers to standard Flames of War tournaments, they decided to do something a little different this time around: run a tournament geared to be a bit more casual.

To help facilitate that, it was decided to let  the players know that custom missions would be used in every round of the tournament (which can sometimes help curb super-competitive list building), and it was also decided to design the tournament as a doubles’ tournament–which, on average, tends to bring out the less-competitive tendencies in players. Not only that, the club (who also have some members amongst their ranks who are Battlefront Rangers) thought it would be cool to try to coax people who may have recently bought the new 3rd Edition “Open Fire” starter box to get in on the action.

If you’ve watched the HBO series, “Band of Brothers,” you might remember some of the filmed interviews of the veterans talking about how, following the action in Normandy,  they had their ranks replenished afterwards by recruits, fresh out of the training camps. (Phrases like “green” and “they didn’t know any better” would have been heard during these interviews.) This was essentially the core idea behind the tournament.

To further emulate the whole idea of reinforcements–fresh, well-supplied but inexperienced–it was decided that teams comprised of both a new player and an established player would receive a points bonus to their allowed army total: instead of a standard 1,000 points per player on each team, the “reinforcement” player would be allowed to bring an 1,100 point force and the “veteran” player would be allowed to field a 1,050 point force. Essentially, what the teaming-up of a new and old player would lose (tactical knowledge) would be somewhat off-set by fresh, well-supplied troops!

I loved the idea and thought it was a great way to encourage new players to leave their comfort zones and get into bigger games sooner rather than later! More details about how the tournament was set up and to be played out can be seen at the REGIMENT’s blog here and here; the custom missions they used can be looked at here.

Tournament Day

The day, though long, went off without a hitch–which is always nice with tournaments! I was too busy running the store on a decently-busy Saturday to watch many games, but I did manage to shoot a quick walk through during the tournament’s first round (apologies in advance for my shaky camera-phone cinematography).

When the day was done I could tell the tournament was an absolute success: we had 16 people attend the tournament (with just under half of the attendees qualifying as “rookies” to Flames of War, having been playing FoW for less than a year), we had four out-of-town attendees who made the three-hour drive from Edmonton to play in this tournament and, most importantly, everyone had a great day of gaming!

falaise pocket casualties

Battle remnants in the Falaise Pocket, 1944.

I was reminded just how diligent I have to be with getting photos: between the scramble of all players between each round and my having to run the store, it was exceedingly difficult for me to get half-way decent photos of each player’s army in a state where they were at least somewhat on display–rather than during mid-game …or lumped together as a clump of casualties reminiscent of the Falaise Pocket.

Anyways, what follows are some photos I managed to get of each team’s force. Some ended up being out of focus or in poor enough lighting / with poor enough backgrounds that the models didn’t show up very well…which sucks because I really wanted to show off each team’s force and give credit for each painted force. Ah well; another day, Highlander.

Reinforcements_08

US 3rd Armoured & 101st Airborne

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German Panzer Lehr & Panzerspah

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German Grenadier Company & StuG Battery

Reinforcements_06

British 50th Division

Reinforcements_01

British Tank Squadron & British Air Landing

Reinforcements_04

Romanian Infantry

Quick(ish) Update(s)

I’ve just survived the scramble of putting together the store’s second Warhammer 40,000 tournament: the “Welcome to Sixth Edition” tournament. And I’m now trying to get other work done…that’s already supposed to be finished by now (like doing the store’s comic order for everything coming out two months from now).

And I still have more scrambles looming on the horizon:

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One Month and Six Days: Imaginary Wars Store!

I was over at the BaneLegions site the just yesterday and realised that:

(a) the link to us that listing us as a retailer carrying their excellent models leads people not to our website but instead to my hobby blog;

(b) the last post on my hobby blog is all about how Imaginary Wars is not yet open for business; and

(c) I haven’t posted a blog update in over a month! (So much for my goal of trying to post every week!)

 So I decided to rectify what I can.

“Rectifying” includes having a picture of Krull, on this post as it’s easily the most awesome of all the BaneLegions models!

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Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men.

Christmas dinner served up amidst the firefight during the Battle of Ortona, 1943.

I wasn’t sure what to write for a Christmas blog entry—or if I even really needed to do one—but a documentary link cropped up on my Facebook feed on Christmas Eve, (coming from the Canadian Virtual Military Museum) and got me thinking about Christmases past and how the turmoil back then makes the present-day holiday season feel downright peaceful in comparison.

Sadly, the CBC archives won’t let me imbed the videos onto this update, so I’m left no choice but to simply link to the documentary in the archives.

Return to Ortona (link)

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I Blame World War II

It was just two days ago that I was so filled with hope and thought getting two miniatures painted up (possibly three) was going to be but minimal effort.

Sigh.

I barely touched the miniatures I planned on getting done for Strange Aeons’ Brushoff 2011 competition. What’s worse: they weren’t even ambitious entries. They only required that I put some paint to models that were to have a two-colour paint scheme (plus some detail colours on things like their weapons). Had there been any real stakes riding on this entry, I’d be more disappointed with myself.

The two models are on different bases because the entry had to be the contents of 1 pack, and the sitting model I''ll be having based on piece from another Strange Aeons pack.

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