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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After a (long) Break …A 40k TOURNAMENT!

So after our last post, celebrating the store’s first anniversary, I was waylaid by prepping for our participation at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo (which included getting a new website for the store up and running) …and then suddenly time got away from me and here I am updating the blog.

Two months later.

So….here we are; it’s time to get back  on the blogging horse. But first: a recap of the last two months.

Heavy Gear Blitz Logo

Heavy Gear Escalation League

The Heavy Gear league wound down, and was generally successful.

There were things I was scared were going to happen, and generally they did happen. The points escalation was set so that players’ armies would grow by 300 points every two weeks; there were some on the Dream Pod 9 forums that said such a rate was a bit too ambitious. And they proved out to be mostly right. After resetting the escalation to an easier-to-handle 200 points every three weeks, I was afraid that the league would go on longer than people could commit for  (as far as showing up every week for gaming). That fear also proved to be true, and the last few weeks of the league had less participation than the opening weeks.

All in all, the league was a huge success, and we grew our Heavy Gear player base by double or more–at the league’s conclusion, I’d say we have a player base of roughly ten committed players plus another five who are on their way to having full armies. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The Xenos Spring

!Tau Codex Cover

April and June saw Games Workshop acting convincingly as though they believed there exists in Warhammer 40,000 more than just Space Marines. We saw the re-release / revamp of the Tau in April –and were treated to a rather candid display of just how disconnected GW is: they had absolutely NO clue how Tau would be received, as evidenced by their inability to fill more than 40% of their orders for the new models. That’s right: they missed filling SIXTY PERCENT of all their Tau orders. Not only that, but it wasn’t until the first week of June that stores (such as mine) were able to restock any model of their choosing from the Tau range.

!eldar-codex-cover

The arrival of Eldar this June was definitely not the clusterf*ck that the Tau release was. What’s more, unlike the last time Eldar were revamped, this time around the book has actually managed to revitalize and energize the Eldar player base. Funny how not putting out a codex written primarily by the copy and paste buttons on the keyboard will do that. The net result of the Tau and Eldar releases has been a reinvigorated 40k community: six months ago every battle on every table had one (or both) sides comprised of Plague Marines and Aegis Defence Lines; and I’m glad to say that variety has made its appearance once more in the shop.

Which brings me to…

 

Warhammer40KLogo-big

THE JERICHO ANOMALY

At the extreme eastern galactic border of the Imperium lies the Jericho Reach—which was, long ago, a sector in the Imperium of man. Now, it is no more than a frontier rife with suffering due to the predation of chaos and a multitude of xenos sovereignties.

A sudden temporary rift on the warp has gifted a dark corner of this region a small planetoid. The event would have gone unnoticed had the planetoid (now labeled ‘Anomaly J2512’ ) not begun emitting a powerful psychic beacon upon entering realspace—more than a beacon; it was also a targeted signal, aimed at another system in the Jericho Reach.

All able factions and armies in the region have now begun scrambling expeditionary forces to ascertain the nature of the planetoid, Anomaly J2512, with equal goals of reconnaissance and plunder…

jericho anomaly

A Warhammer 40,000 Campaign Tournament

Date: Saturday, July 6.
Place: Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies (Unit #150, 10233 Elbow Drive SW)
Time: 08:00 – 18:30
Entry Fee: $20
Army List Due Date: Saturday,  June 29.

WARNING!!

This is not a standard tournament, and my use of the word “tournament” to describe this event is not quite accurate of what we’re aiming to do this coming weekend. The primary goal of this event is NOT the same as most competitive events –that is, to provide players with a controlled environment where they vie to build the best army possible and compete to decide which army performs best under controlled conditions. This event focuses less on being a competitive tournament and more on creating a collaborative opportunity for the participants to help shape an unfolding story.

This event requires players to build an 1800-point army list that will represent their army’s expeditionary force dropping down to the planetoid, Anomaly J2512. However, AT NO POINT will the players field all the models in their list in even one of the games. To represent the focus on recon that the armies would have in this situation, the forces players will be playing with in every battle will range from 650 points up to approximately 800 points. The 1800-point army list is essentially a menu of options so that players can modify their armies from one battle to the next and adjust their army to meet the challenges of the next mission.

This is an ideal tournament for players who, having played enough games of sixth edition are comfortable with the prospect of gaming outside the relative safety and comfort of the standard missions from the rulebook. Definitely, asking players to change their army list with each battle –and presenting them with scenarios that will demand it– will be asking players to understand their army, rather than simply understanding their army list. I think it’s also appealing to those who are starting a new army, seeing as how battles will be limited to 800 points or less.

 

TOURNAMENT ARMY LIST PARAMETERS

  • Force List Maximum: 1800 points
  • Maximum ONE flyer per 1800-point army
  • No Fortifications
  • No allies
  • All the battles during the day will be set at approximately 700-800 points.
  • No Unit can be worth more than 225 pts (dedicated transports do not count towards this point total; however the transport as well cannot be worth more than 225 points).
  • Maximum THREE HQ Choices following these guidelines:
    –You can have ONE Expeditionary Force Captain worth no more than 200 points.
    –You can have up to TWO Lieutenants worth no more than 150 points each.

What I Shouldn’t Have to Mention (Yet Can’t Believe it Must Still be Mentioned)

This is an event that celebrates both gaming and the hobby that is intrinsic to the Warhammer 40,000 game. As such, all models MUST be fully painted and on completed bases.

FULLY PAINTED:

Number 8, 1949. 1949 Oil, enamel, and aluminum paint on canvas 34 1/8 x 71 1/4 in (86.6 x 180.9 cm)

Number 8, 1949.
1949, Jackson Pollock.
Oil, enamel, and aluminum paint on canvas
34 1/8 x 71 1/4 in (86.6 x 180.9 cm)

Fully painted in a tournament setting means: the model is appropriately displaying three or more colours. Primer is NOT a colour. Models don’t have to be masterpieces; they just have to evidence some effort on its owner’s part. (…And by “appropriate” I mean your model’s paint job shouldn’t be doing its best impression of a Jackson Pollock.)

If you’re trying to prove your chops with abstract expressionism, this event is the wrong venue for doing so.

Go to university for that.

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COMPLETED BASES:

Completed bases simply means your models are not on bare, black plastic bases, nor are they on a basic base that has simply been painted over; models based this way cheapens whatever effort has been put into the models and robs from the magic created when two fully painted armies are on a gaming table with painted terrain. All I ask for basing is simple flocked bases –which is actually easier and less time-consuming to do than painting a model’s base.

PROXIES:

Proxies will NOT be allowed and all models must be What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. The only exception is on vehicles with secondary weapon upgrades where the upgraded weapon doesn’t come stock with the kit. (Though similar proxies can be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.) Because this is a tournament that allows players to switch their army list from battle to battle, I don’t have much sympathy  for players who feel they need to have their models be armed with weapons the miniature isn’t modeled with. I would suggest instead of arguing for a proxies, include another squad (or what not) in your master list that will do the job of the weapon option you want to proxy.

I consider home-built models dangerously close to proxy models. Anyone looking to use custom, built-from-scratch models in the tournament MUST take that up with the Tournament Organiser (IE: me) before the tournament list is due (IE: June 29).

Any proxies that aren’t approved beforehand that show up on tournament day risk being counted as casualties before the start of any game they are used in. You have been warned.

Why So Specific?

Why? Because most players put a ton of effort into their armies out of love for the hobby. To go to a hobby-based event without displaying honest effort to a similar degree as the others at the event displays a complete lack of respect for your fellow enthusiasts. Being a game with tons of variables, endless possibilities and myriad ways of understanding (and interpreting) its rules, respect for your opponent is paramount.

 

And Lastly…

The other way this tournament is different is that it will be used to kick off the store’s summer  campaign for Warhammer 40,000!

More info on that will be presented soon.

 

 

Heavy Gear League Journal: Weeks 3 through 6

Heavy-Gear-Logo

The store’s Heavy Gear league is in full force, and unfortunately one slow week followed by my personal life crowding into (paving over?) my blogging time has resulted in me not posting a league update for, what–FOUR weeks?? Ugh. Well without further ado, how things are in the league right now –and just in time for this week’s league night!

Week 3 Feb 22-23

HG week3a

Peace River Defence Force vs Colonial Expedition Force (Earth)

I was only able to pop in momentarily on this evening; and, due to it now being buried in the depths of time, I’m a little unsure of who showed up to play on that league night. I know it was a slower night for Heavy Gear gaming, but I’m pretty sure three or four people showed up and played a couple of games (even though there had been plenty of other miniatures games being played that night–solely of the historic variety: Victory at Sea, Black Powder and Flames of War). Geoff, Bradford, Adam(S) and Curtis were all gaming that night, but I have no clue who squared off against whom; I also seem to recall some  Saturday Heavy Gear gaming in this week between Bradford and Curtis.

Week 4 March 1-2

HG wk4

Adam’s fantastic-looking NuCoal squad!

This was the second week in a row that showing up for league night just wasn’t in the books for me. I managed to swing by the store to grab some paperwork; and I did my best to survey the turnout during the five minutes I was in the store. I think the highlight of this week –another slow week for turnout– was that the league had new members! Sean and Justin bought starter army boxes earlier in the week and both showed up this evening. A third person also joined the league, a second Justin (a friend of mine who, like me, almost started playing the game a few years ago but then got distracted by other things and never came back to Heavy Gear). So, while the only established league player showing up on this evening was Adam(S), he had a game against Justin(P) and showed off the mechanics to the other Justin and  Sean. The net result of this week was that the league’s roster grew by thirty percent!

Week 5 March 8-9

HG wk 5a

Southern Republic vs NuCoal

For the third week in a row, I was unable to do anything more than pop my head in the store–this time almost literally, as I stopped in to grab something before hitting the highway for a weekend excursion to Edmonton (to make use of my free passes to see the Star Wars Identities exhibit …and drink the nights away with old friends!). So, in the few moments I was in the store I checked out attendance for league night; and it was exceptional: we had seven people come out to play! Both Justins showed up as did Geoff, Curtis, Alem and Jimmy. Aric was also at the store with his Caprice force now fully constructed. By the sounds of it, the gaming was really good this week also, which was a fitting end to the 300-points stage of the league.

Week 6 March 15-16

HG wk6

Southern Republic versus Eastern Sun Emirates

This was the first week of 600-point armies –a week that I think Curtis, Alem and Bradford have all really been looking forward to (they all have more than 600 points fully painted). For me, family movie night with the Avengers meant I didn’t arrive at the store until it was too late to play, but I came nevertheless to see how the night had shaped up. Bradford, Alem, Adam(S), Sean and Curtis had all played games this night. From what I gathered, Curtis played twice that evening: against Bradford and Sean; Alem and Adam also squared off against each other.

It was a solid night of gaming –and really, I could have played that night too: the store ended up staying open late to allow the Magic the Gathering FNM night to finish properly. However, myself and Justin(P) managed to play a game at the 600-point level on Saturday! It ended up being pretty long: this was the first game I’ve played without someone more knowledgeable at hand, resulting in our 600-point game being fought over a couple of hours. Despite the game length and the undeniable loss on my part, the game against Justin(P)

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League Standings

HG League Week 6 standings

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Changes …Again (sort of)

Because Fridays have been working for league nights so well, and because Saturdays have been a better “standby” Heavy Gear day than Wednesday was, the store changed its March Nightly Gaming schedule and took Heavy Gear off of Wednesday evenings–no need to accidentally have someone drop by on a Wednesday and leave the store thinking that no one plays Heavy GEar …because our community all tends to show up on a different day of the week.

Also, whereas it’s pretty easy for four guys to agree to paint 300 points of Heavy Gear every two weeks; it’s an entirely different matter once triple the amount of people are involved. In the last league update post, I made changes to better accommodate everyone’s schedules: I decided that we’d be gaming at each the point level for a little longer than originally planned. I’ve adjusted things again but this time just the points levels for the last two thresholds in the league’s timeline. Instead of the next points limit increasing by 300 points and the one after by only 100 points; we’ve decided that the next two tiers will increase the points limits by 200 points each time. Our goal still remains 1,000 points of painted miniatures by the end of the league.

Below is the dates and points level for each period; none of the league’s other basic rules have changed.

Weeks 4, 5 & 6 – 600 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 6th to Sunday, March 24th.

Weeks 7, 8 & 9 – 800 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 27th to Sunday, April 14th.

Weeks 10 – 1000 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, April 17th to Sunday, April 28th.

HG wk4b

C.E.F. (Earth) Flails in a game between Curtis and Bradford.

HG wk5b

NuCoal (Adam S.) face off against Southern Republic Gears (Justin P.)

HG Week 4a

One of Curtis’s (many) C.E.F Hovertanks engaged in battle.

Heavy Gear League Journal: Week 2

Heavy-Gear-Logo

Week two of our Heavy Gear “Slow-Grow” league  has now gone by, and here is how the week behind us looked.

But First…Week One Late Additions

What I wasn’t expecting to happen last week did: mere hours after posting the Week One results on Sunday morning, some league members showed up and played some more games. Technically they count as “Week One” seeing as how the games were played on the weekend (I’ve decided each league “Week” begins on our regular Heavy Gear evening: Wednesday and continues on Friday through to Sunday …though Sundays are tricky as that’s one of our regular Warhammer 40,000 days). Anyway, because  Sundays aren’t an “official” league day, the few guys who showed for a few games didn’t get any raffle tickets but did earn league points for playing some more 300-point games (as was detailed in the post with the league’s basic rules).

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Week Two Overview

Friday’s league night saw us with six people playing –a drop from the first week; mind you, the number of people who showed up on Week One’s Friday night had a certain amount of guys who came to see what the turn out was, not so much to play games. This week’s number of players also took a small hit due to a couple of the league’s players showing up to play Flames of War as part of someone’s birthday celebrations. (But hey, if my store is a component to someone’s birthday festivities, I’m certainly not going to complain!) But all in all, it was a good second week.

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What also made it good was that, for the second week in a row, my wife was exceptionally understanding and gave me the green light to come to the store and game on a Friday night. To be clear, by mentioning this point, I’m NOT being passive-aggressive towards my wife about my “hobby time”; my wife works all day on Fridays and doesn’t get home until close to 6:00 –exactly the same time I try to be at the store in order to get a game or two in. So, yeah, anytime she agrees to take over my childcare obligations after her long day of work so I can go play with toy soldiers, I’m pretty extra appreciative.

I arrived at the store to see a North versus Black Talons game in progress, a game (I presume) finished up and a player waiting for an opponent to play against. And all this on top of a decent-sized Flames of War game going on and about twenty people at the store for Friday Night Magic. I think this is what made the gaming conventions of the past so cool: a room filled with bunch of like-minded people playing a variety of games (not just a room filled with everyone playing the same game), exposing everyone present to a myriad assortment of games and activities they might never have looked into on their own.

I think I remember hearing that Alem’s Northern army, in a rematch from last week, defeated Jimmy’s Black Talon force (if I’m wrong about that, I’m sure I’ll hear about it in pretty short order!); I played against Aric, who, still waiting for arrival of the Caprician models the store ordered for him a week ago, borrowed some Southern Gears and had his very first game of Heavy Gear. With Curtis’s help, he gave a pretty good showing against my Southern force; alas, my quantity defeated his quality in this battle (he fielded an improved-skill  Strike Cadre of veterans against my force of a standard-skill Strike Cadre and Sagittarius strider). By the sounds of it, Geoff’s Northern force also eked out a victory against Curtis’s Earth invasions force, making it overall a good night to hail from the North.

WEEK 2 STANDINGS

WEEK 2 STANDINGS

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League Basics…Amended

The response to the league has been more than a little favourable; we’ve even had some people decide to join the league from seeing the first night’s games in progress! Because of this (and because these new players are starting armies without the benefit of getting a head start on them before the “start” of the league), the newer league players are behind the eight ball to get small games in to better understand the rules before the army sizes grow –and shipping delays from Dream Pod 9 has exacerbated this: some players are still hoping to get their first 300 points assembled before the league’s battle level is increase is set to 600 points. This has led me to alter some of the league’s rules a little.

Despite some alterations, I don’t want to change the league’s basic tenets as I’m a huge fan of the goals its’ striving for:

1 – COMPLETE ARMIES
Each participant would have a fully painted, tournament-sized army Heavy Gear force of 1,000 points by the end of the league.

2 – RULE LITERACY
Each participant would know the game’s rules so that games would move along fairly fluidly IE: they would be well above having just a basic grasp of the rules and would be ready to play in a tournament environment (timed games etc).
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On the Dream Pod 9  forum talking about our league, there were suggestions that we shouldn’t require league games to be played with painted models. Though I’m altering some of the league’s framework, I don’t want to alter too much: which with gamers’ tendencies being what they are, can only be realistically accomplished if everyone to have fully painted forces by league’s end, and I think the only route to that goal is through requiring all games to be played with fully painted models (again, for clarification: “fully painted” being defined as 3 colours, no primer showing and bases textured). I think the only hiccups we’re experiencing are due to a few people (myself included) joining late –which is good!

To keep the painting schedule brisk enough while avoiding a break-neck pace, the points values for battles each week have been changed.

Below is our new league schedule:

300 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, Feb. 6th to Sunday, March 3rd.

600 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 6th to Sunday, March 24th.

900 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, March 27th to Sunday, April 14th.

1000 pt. Forces – Runs from Wednesday, April 17th to Sunday, April 28th.

Starting February 8th, the size of armies playing in the league will start at 300 points. Every THREE weeks, the points values of players’ armies will increase by 300 points –with the exception being the final stage of 1,000-point forces will go to the first weekend of May rather than for a full three weeks.

This new schedule extends the league’s length by one month –hopefully that isn’t too long, as leagues and campaigns that overextend themselves risk never running their full course to completion.

Works in Progress: –and More Than Just Heavy Gear!

Posted by Kyle.
Kyle avatar - fixed

Bear with me on this tangent.

Despite having worked in comic-book stores for many many (many) years, I never paid that much attention to the business side insofar as the publishers were concerned. Not until a couple of years ago, anyway. It was then that I realised that comics parallel new movies when they first hit the theaters: the more popular ones open up with HUGE numbers and then their ticket sales continuously decline the longer they remain in the theater.

Comic books are almost no different: the first issue sells a huge number of copies and then attrition takes its toll: month after month the number of issues sold continuously decreases. Where comics differ is that they can create moments where suddenly everyone starts buying the series again; this is done through changing creative teams or by creating a HUGE event (such as a death of a character) …or simply by just rebooting the series and starting at number one again. All this does is reset the cycle; attrition kicks back in almost always by the next issue.

My painting speed goes through a very similar cycle that comic-book subscriptions go through; I begin quite motivated and clipping along at a good speed, and within an hour of picking up my brush, I start slowing down; I start getting caught in the details. I then remind myself to speed up –and I’m good for another fifteen minutes …until I start slowing down again.This isn’t a bad thing; it just doesn’t produce fully painted miniatures very quickly. Anyways, this cycle will repeat for the full evening while I’m painting until I’ve either had enough (rarely happens) or until my eyes get too tired, and I make myself stop (happens fairly regularly) .

Though I make my ever-slowing painting speed sound like a hazard I face every time I sit down to paint for an evening, it isn’t; the real hazard for me is getting distracted. Just as when I write, distractions destroy my ability to get anything done –heck they destroy my ability to get anything started. Unlike (it would seem) …well, everybody, I can’t turn on a movie or a tv show and then sit down to paint with any hope of getting anything done. I need to shut myself away from the wife and kid and plug into my mp3 player if I want to make any progress in an evening. (I do manage to multitask a little by listening to some hobby-related podcasts like Jaded Gamercast and Clockwerk Warriors done by some of my friends….yes that was a shameless plug –go check them out!)

Sometimes, like last night, I get distracted in the good way and am suddenly inspired to paint some other models that have been languishing at my painting table, waiting for my attention. The models that I suddenly made huge progress last night were some cultists for Strange Aeons. These are models that I started almost two years ago …and I finally managed to get them almost done last night!

The "Clever Cleaver" Cultist

Cultist: “The Clever Cleaver”

Cultist: "Brother Bolt Action"

Cultist: “Brother Bolt Action”

I really like the cultist models for Strange Aeons; they’re not too fancy, but they do possess a ton of charm. And I only have weapon details and the hoods to do before they’re ready to be based and varnished, which should be easy…? Hopefully getting the last parts of these two models done won’t take another year. The undead mummy (below) was only base-coated (the now defunct GW colour) Graveyard Earth, and I got him done to the point that I now only need to finish his skin, weapon and a final ink glaze over the bandages.

Strange Aeons undead: Mummy. The skin has been base coated Shadow Grey and isn’t actually as blue as it looks here.

What made last night great was that I didn’t shirk the Heavy Gear models to work on the Strange Aeons ones; I made progress on both sets of miniatures! Here’s the progress I’ve made with my first Heavy Gear squad:

Sidewinder #1 with camo started (camo needs 2nd lighter layer)

Sidewinder #1 with camo started (camo needs 2nd lighter layer)

Strike Jager

Strike Jager (Lt Bazooka missing): first layer of Camo striping completed.

Sidewinder #2 basecoat done and now awaits first layer of Camo "striping."

Sidewinder #2 base coat done and now awaits first layer of Camo “striping.”

Black Mamba: camo done. Weapon mostly finished. Environment-proof covers around joints,danger stripes & other small details not finished.

Black Mamba: camo done, weapon mostly finished; environment-proof covers around joints,danger stripes & other small details not finished.

So that’s where things are at right now.I have a few more gears and strider parts soaking in citrus degreaser (I find that helps the primer adhere to the bare model much better). Hopefully, I can work on this batch of gears and the next batch in tandem to help speed things up.

Bitz and bitz getting "the soak."

Bitz and bitz getting “the soak.”

I’m definitely behind schedule, but I’ll keep plugging away: I hope to have my Naga and two gear squads completed for when the 600 point battles start getting played (which will be on the 22nd …mind you, I’ll be going out-of-town that weekend, so it sure seems like it’s going to be a challenge to get any gaming done more often than once every two weeks….sigh).

 

Heavy Gear League Journal: Week 1

Heavy-Gear-Logo

We just had our weekend of the store’s Heavy Gear “Slow-Grow” league, and response was phenomenal!

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Week One Overview

his past Friday (2013-02-08) was the first evening for the league, and we had NINE people show up! For the sake of transparency, it should be mentioned that two of the nine who showed up didn’t play but instead just watched some games. I’m also counting myself in that total –which is totally legit as I came to the store on my evening off and actually got a game in as well! (But I think the game I got in might be better fare for a post on its own …possibly part of a “work in progress” report?)

Sure, nine players sounds pretty small potatoes, but in a store that feels absolutely packed when there’s a dozen people playing  miniatures games in the store, nine people is pretty awesome –especially for a smaller game like Heavy Gear.

hg league night

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The Challenges Facing A Gaming League

The biggest challenge when running leagues is continued attendance: so many league and campaigns peter out just before or just after hitting their stride. More accurately, the challenge given the organiser lies in the balancing act of ensuring player participation while simultaneously not cultivating a culture that instills in players the feeling that winning is all that matters (unless of course the league’s goal is all about finding out which player is the toughest and meanest at playing with their action figures; if that’s the case, then the challenge is simply keeping everyone playing).

I’ve seen it time and time again throughout the years working with GW’s games: people who aren’t new to a system play in these start-up leagues alongside people who are new to the system; the established players make lists and play their games with a very much “business as usual” attitude …which tend to utterly destroy the new players’ armies and ultimately punish them for taking perceived sub-optimal troops in their lists and for making mistakes during games.

I’m a firm believer that the essence of games –and ALL play in general– is providing a safe place where one can make mistakes; this is where “fun” comes in: essentially, you’re not made to feel bad if something you attempt doesn’t play out as optimally as you hoped. That line of thought is a little idealistic, I know –of course to some people, I’m completely out to lunch and quite beyond being a simple idealist in thinking that games are strictly for fun.

Games are NOT Fun

Going back to the challenges faced by leagues, I have it in my head that if new players are forced to game in a way they don’t like playing, their desire to continue showing up for league play will diminish as the league goes on. I’ve seen it where the hardcore gamers inadvertently chase away all the “scrubs” just because the new players didn’t think being outclassed by their experienced opponents and getting utterly defeated week after week after week was very “fun.”

So that’s what I think I’m up against: I need the league to be engaging enough for players to keep coming back every week while also ensuring the league isn’t effectively telling the players that “only winning matters” …which is why I think granting points and recording official standings for winning or losing games is one of the worst ways to keep (most) new players involved in a league for its duration.

League Basics

A lot of this was already posted on the store’s Facebook page, the Calgary Gamers Forum and the Calgary REGIMENT‘s discussion forum back in January, but I’m including it here for the sake of completeness and having all the information in one spot. And really, with this league, I’m just running with a ball that’s already in play: the league was actually thought up and initiated by a few players who were just getting into Heavy Gear and thought that a “painted models only” league would be a great way to accomplish two goals by its end date:

1 – COMPLETE ARMIES
Each participant would have a fully painted, tournament-sized army Heavy Gear force of 1,000 points by the end of the league (March, 2013).

2 – RULE LITERACY
Each participant would know the game’s rules so that games would move along fairly fluidly IE: they would be well above having just a basic grasp of the rules and would be ready to play in a tournament environment (timed games etc).
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I decided that the Heavy Gear League days should be both Fridays and Saturdays, with the hopes of better accommodating people’s’ schedules; and instead of armies increasing in size weekly, we agreed that starting with essentially one-squad armies and increasing the army size by roughly one squad every two weeks would set a brisk enough –yet relaxed enough– pace for players to paint up their models.

As was mentioned above, to ensure that everyone has tournament-sized armies that are fully painted by the end of the league, ALL league games must be played with fully painted and based models. (And for our purposes, fully painted means three colours and no primer showing; model bases must be textured. In the case of sculpted resin bases,  those bases must be be fully painted.)

Points Values

Starting February 8th, the size of armies playing in the league will start at 300 points. Every two weeks, the points values of players’ armies will increase as seen below:

300 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Feb. 8th to Saturday, Feb. 16th.

600 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Feb. 22nd to Saturday, Mar. 2nd.

900 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Mar. 8th to Saturday, Mar. 16th.

1000 pt. Forces – Runs from Friday, Mar. 22nd to Saturday, Mar. 30th.

Because the league has stricter-than normal parameters, I thought it would be appropriate to have prizes for those who commit to the Heavy Gear League. The prizes will be supplied by Imaginary Wars (thereby making it so there’s no entry fees involved with being in the league) and will be awarded for players’ participation.

There will be no tracking of player victories or awarding league standings based on army performance.

Every time players game on a league day (and of the appropriate points level for that week), they’ll earn a raffle ticket; at the end of March, the store will raffle off a few cool items as a way of thanking those who participated.

As a second level of prize, the store will give a points bonus for the store’s “Imaginary Dollars” points reward program to the top three players who play the most games during the league. (The total pool of points to be awarded will be determined by how many people are active in the league.) Obviously, to track who plays the most, we’ll need to have league standings –which, yes, I generally eschew, but these standings will be based strictly on the number of games people play each week.

As I saw with the last escalation league the store ran (for Warhammer 40,000), there were just over double the amount of small games played in the early weeks than there were larger games in the final weeks. I fully expect a similar dynamic to play out in this league –and it makes sense: smaller-sized armies means shorter games …means more games get played. In later stages, larger armies …longer games …fewer games get played. This dynamic works directly against fixing the challenge of keeping players involved through to the end. I mean, after several weeks of constant gaming, players need only show up once or twice just to spend that evening watching other players’ long games and unable to play their own game before deciding there’s little point in making the effort to show up.

To (hopefully) combat that, we’ll be doing two things:

1) players can play Heavy Gear on any day that they like (providing there’s a table free to play on, of course) –they’ll also likely have to arrange that game with another player on a non-league day rather than simply show up unannounced and expecting to get a game in.
2) players will be awarded more points per game as the size of the armies grows: this makes it so that the people who play many games early on will not have an unfair advantage against those who only play a game or two each week, the whole length of the league.

It should be noted that League Standing points will only be awarded for each full, four-turn game played at Imaginary Wars (so at home games totally don’t count) and they will only be awarded for games played at that week’s appropriate points level. Points will be awarded according to the points limit set for each period as such:

300 pt. Forces – 1 League Standing point per game played.

600 pt. Forces – 1.5 League Standing points per game played.

900 pt. Forces – 2 League Standing points per game played.

1000 pt. Forces – 2.5 League Standing points per game played.

With the first half of the first 300-point week now done, here’s how the League currently looks. Yeah, the standings look a tad meager right now; but these standings reflect only one night’s gaming so far; though it was a BUSY Friday night of gaming, there was plenty of room for players to get games in on Saturday. I think if our pool of players come down to the store across both days, a good deal of players will stand to earn more league points.

WEEK 1 STANDINGS

WEEK 1 STANDINGS

Because I was busy helping out the store on a busy night and then later on, getting in a game of my own with Heavy Gear, I really didn’t get many pictures of the League’s first night. However, I did get one photo from Friday night –and another photo from a game being played the next day (though only two people showed up for the League’s first Saturday of gaming).

Curtis with his CEF (Earth) force facing off against Alem's Northern Gears.

Curtis with his CEF (Earth) force facing off against Alem’s Northern Gears.

A close up of Bradford's Peace River Defence Force as they run up against (and over) Curtis's Earth army.

A close up of Bradford’s Peace River Defence Force as they run up against (and over) Curtis’s Earth army.

Same Problem, Different Details

Posted by Kyle.
Kyle avatar - fixed

The store’s Dream Pod 9 order arrived early!

In it, a pleasant surprise: the new Heavy Gear Southern Field Guide, “Forged in Fire” …which was both good and bad.

Forged in Fire cover

It’s funny: in my last Heavy-Gear post I mentioned how I was awaiting the print version of the new source book (as well as the updated order form for the store: it seemed silly to be doing orders at the end of January with an order form last updated in October). It would seem I tempted fate enough so that both my complaints were taken care of; the fates also served me up a plate of “be careful what you wish for.” 

The Fates definitely were channeling a lot of bitch goddess: what they gave with one hand, they took with the other: I now have my Southern Field Guide in hand …but it looks like the list I made using the Gear Garage application is completely not doable with the updated way the field guide builds squads: Long Fang Nagas no longer get the severe points drop I was taking advantage of in my previous list, I’m unsure how to include Sidewinders into my force now without presumably making my army a Southern Milicia army (the Milicia uses outdated ‘gears …which the Sidewinder counts as in the game) and it looks like my ability to take a Black Mamba in a GP squad has evapourated as well.

This is what I was scared of happening: getting started in a new army list only to have an update show up that requires me to stop using the models I have started on and begin all over again …that’s how I’ve felt about my Empire army back when they got their 7th Edition book (I haven’t even given them a serious look-over with the Warhammer 8th Edition Army books).

So it’s back to the drawing board for me.

I think making a Strike squad will solve all of my issues, save the Strider–but that’s okay, seeing as how I still haven’t finished the models I started last week; the Naga would just be another thing waiting on my plate. So with only a couple of gears to paint up instead of a full squad and a strider, I think I’ll be trying to make it out for the first night of the Imaginary Wars “Slow Grow” Heavy Gear league this Friday.

Because players’ armies only grow by 300 points (of fully painted models) every two weeks, I should be able to get my gears to a good point for Friday…hopefully. I’m not too stressed about that though; because I knew I wasn’t going to get the Naga and Iguana models I planned on fielding until two days before the first night’s gaming, it was never my intention to show up on the first night. And now I’ll be doing my best to be there on Friday …tomorrow.

Anyways, below is some work-in-progress shots of what I have so far.

My favourite 'Gear: the Sidewinder!

My favourite ‘Gear: the Sidewinder!

The Sidewinder seen from its left side.

The Sidewinder seen from its left side.

Black Mamba with Paratroop Rifle Upgrade

Black Mamba with Paratroop Rifle Upgrade

Strike Jager from front (with Lt. Bazooka not glued on).

Strike Jager from front (the Lt. Bazooka isn’t glued on yet).

Jager_02

Strike Jager from right side (weapon still missing).

Starting the Camouflage

I also just got started working on the camo layer and am using the Black Mamba as my guinea pig for it.

Black Mamba from the side before camo pattern started.

Black Mamba from the side before starting any camo colour.

Sandy-coloured camo on left leg.

Sandy-coloured camo on left leg.

I’m not sure how much I like it so far–yes, yes I’m aware what little camo that’s there is far too subtle.

To be fair, this is just the start of the camo pattern (and only on one leg at that), but I already know if I don’t make some colour changes, I’ll be disappointed in the end paint job. I suspect my main problem right now stems from basing the model in Vallejo’s “Middlestone” colour–which is a very greeny ochre / ochre-y green–and then deciding to go with Vallejo’s “Green Ochre” for the lighter colour layer; it’s what’s making it so hard to see a definite camo pattern right now.

Perhaps I’ll go to a whiter sandy colour…and then add some dark brown bits. I’m trying to emulate a camouflage pattern designed for arid areas that still retain hardy vegetation: what I basically picture most of the Heavy Gear planet, Terra Nova, as having (until one gets closer to its poles, that is). 

Anyways, that’s where I’m at so far. Here’s hoping I progress in leaps and bounds before Friday!

….Which is, y’know, tomorrow.