Happy Birthday to us!

IW-oneYear

One year ago today, Imaginary Wars opened its doors for business.

What can I say? I’m exceptionally grateful to all the people who have helped and supported the store this past year. Without all the awesome people in the community around me, this store would never have come into being, never mind still being here one year later.

I was hoping to do a bit of a review of the store’s highlights over our first year, but I’ve ended up having all my time getting devoured by my getting ready for the upcoming Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, the International Table Top Day we ran in the store last weekend (to great success, I might add!), I’ve also been keeping abreast on our Heavy Gear League (which includes me having to paint up my own stuff –have I mentioned that my painting pace is …glacial?),  trying to post on this blog more regularly, and managing our promotions for Games Workshop’s  Tau releases as well as the new set for Magic the Gathering’s Ravnica block, Dragon’s Maze. On top of that, I’ve been running the store’s first year anniversary Facebook Contest …and finishing planning some sort of festivities for Saturday, April 6 when we’ll be officially ringing in our first year.

After re-reading that last paragraph, I’m left wondering what I’m doing still writing today’s post. However, I am exceptional at getting too caught up in taking care of things (or looking towards the next fire I might need to put out) that I quite regularly forget to mention and thank all the unsung individuals who help me out every day–my wife being first among them. There are plenty of others, but she’s the one who puts up with me (and the store) the most. There’s also my business partner and the family and friends who helped get the ball rolling and the store started, all of whom –just as with my wife– I cannot thank enough.

Anyways, I’ll end things here –but if you live in Calgary (or close enough by), come down to the store THIS Saturday, April 6 and celebrate our first year with us. OF COURSE there will be cake and refreshments and board gaming and maybe a few more things going on that day …like deals! I’ll be at the store ALL day.

If you don’t live in or near Calgary, just remember that **shameless plug** if you live in Alberta, shipping is free, with no minimum purchase amount!

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.

March!

Rather than risk boring everyone with my non-stop Heavy Gear updates, I thought I’d take the time to bore people in other ways –namely by highlighting the in-store gaming for this month!

Regular In-Store Gaming?

Over all my years in hobby retail, I’ve worked at stores that were role-playing games focused, comic-books focused, Warhammer Focused and board-games focused; over all this time, I’ve learned it’s the warm bodies in the store –the ones that aren’t employed there– that makes a store feel like it’s thriving …or at least like it’s not in its death throes. Hence, every games store that isn’t blessed with being a high foot-traffic location tries to have in-store gaming as much as possible just to feel like the place is a busy hub …and also to keep away the oppressive crushing silence that dominates an empty store during business hours.

March events 4 blog

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Gaming This Month

I was first going to give a synopsis of how gaming’s been going and then follow through with a run-down of what games are being played on which days. However, at the starting point of writing that, I realised I being fairly redundant …and then I looked at the games-nights flyer and saw that if I continued on that course I’d be triply redundant. Triple redundancy is a great thing in passenger planes …and the space program. For a blog: not so much. I’ve decided to simply scribe a few thoughts with each day’s gaming (the format of the flyer we hand out and display really limits how much we can say / advertise for each gaming night; some of the gaming days could stand some fleshing out).

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Infinity Mondays
Infinity has really surprised me: I’m of the view that any game where the one of the first things players say about it is “and you’ll never need more than a dozen models” is a game that is likely living on borrowed time. Infinity sure seems to be bucking that trend! My hobby plate is more than a little full, so I’ve side-stepped this sci-fi skirmish game, but it sure seems to scratch enough itches that the players who buy multiple factions are more the norm than the exception. For an upstart game, our nights are well attended; we do get some slow nights, but we get some quite busy ones too.

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Tuesday’s Warhammer Fantasy Battles
Warhammer nights for us are up and down. That said, we have a few regulars, one of which has been posting battle reports on Youtube regularly (quite a few of them done at Imaginary Wars too!). What’s interesting is that on more than a couple of occasions, we’ve some guys (relatively) new to Warhammer 40,000 show up on Tuesday evenings –mainly because their schedules can’t accommodate Thursday or Sunday gaming. Say what you will about Games Workshop, but the pervasiveness of 40k in the gaming world easily rivals Coca-Cola’s in the world abroad.

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Wednesday: Canadian Minis Night becomes Strange Aeons & Paint Club Night
With the Heavy Gear slow-grow league in full force …and being regularly attended on Fridays and (some) Saturdays, I felt having a Heavy Gear night in the middle of the week was risking players showing up to play on several days during the week without ever actually meeting other players.

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So for now, gaming on Wednesdays will focus specifically on Strange Aeons. As has become tradition, Uncle Mike (the creator of Strange Aeons) shows up at the store on the first Wednesday of each month to run introductory games, show off new rules etc; and though our Wednesdays are attended by a smaller crowd, our Strange Aeons players show up every week …almost religiously. They are one of the store’s most solid groups, and anyone hoping to get into this more casual skirmish game (it’s almost a mash-up of X-Files, Call of  Cthulhu and Mordheim) could do no better than to come down to the store on Wednesdays.
(In other Strange Aeons news, it should be pointed out that a new scenario was just released for free on the Strange Aeons website!)

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Warhammer 40,000 OWNS Thursday Evenings
Once, we had this one disastrously slow Thursday evening (I think there was a blizzard or something to that effect) and only six people showed up to play 40k.  Not all nights are crazy-busy, but Thursday is one of the best nights of the week for guaranteeing players an opponent.

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Eclectic Fridays: More than FNM!
Where Thursdays are dominated by 40k, Fridays usually sees double the amount of players engaged in a broad assortment of different games. The tent-pole games are really Magic the Gathering’s Friday Night Magic and Flames of War, but we’ve added Heavy Gear to the repertoire (which is seeing success; I think we have 12 people active in the league right now!). That said, Friday Nights at Imaginary Wars have been no strangers most recently to Victory at Sea and previously Dystopian Wars, Black Powder and Firestorm Armada.

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Saturdays: Open Gaming and Events
Saturdays remain the domain of open, unscheduled gaming and special events. We’ve run more than a couple very successful tournaments on Saturdays; non-tournament events tend to fall on Saturdays as well and they’ve all been well received. I’ve been pondering making Saturdays our board game day…

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Sunday: 40k in the Afternoon
Proving that Warhammer 40,000 is the game ’round these parts, we have it running on Sundays as well –though on Sundays we also tend to see one or more Firestorm Armada games hit the tables as well. For me, Firestorm Armada scratches the itch that GW’s Battlefleet Gothic stopped being able to take care of years ago. Though games regularly take longer than standard 40k games, the rules are elegant enough that players rarely notice the time going by. Easy to learn, difficult to master, great game play and awesome models: all reasons to get into the game!

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Paint Club?
Paint club is our effort to provide space (and supplies) for players to meet up and paint their models. This is all done under the auspice that when people do creative work in concert with others, their productivity flourishes. Sometimes that productivity is evidenced by how much work is done, other times it’s in skills learned or ideas that would never have been struck  upon had others not been around to help germinate the initial thoughts and ideas.

Anyways, this is what I experienced in university …and (oddly enough) while working at Games Workshop. In fact, ask any ex-Red shirt who worked for GW –back when the Hobby Centres painted store armies– about how their painting improved during their tenure with the company. This is my hope with our painting club night (right now being directed towards Wednesday evenings).

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So there you have it:
that’s what a week of gaming at Imaginary Wars tends to look like. In the coming days, I’m hoping to do an update about our Heavy Gear Slow-Grow League, as well as announce some exciting events on the horizon for the store concerning Flames of War, Firestorm Armada …and possibly Warhammer 40,000 (and maybe Heavy Gear also).

Also, Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies: the store hits its first anniversary next month, and we’re going to do something special for that!

(Trying to) Get Back up on That (Painting) Horse

Posted by Kyle.
Kyle avatar - fixed

If you frequent the Imaginary Wars Facebook page,

you’ll likely have seen the post I made onJanuary 22nd:

HG in RL

Imaginary Wars is growing a Heavy Gear community and trying to get as many interested people to get started at roughly the same time! Here’s how it works:
The campaign will grow by 300 points every two weeks for a period of 6 weeks. League gaming days will be every Friday and Saturday each week: with gaming times being Fridays 5:00-9:00pm and Saturdays noon until 7:00pm (Saturdays tend to work better when players arrange ahead of time when to meet up). Our hope is to have the league culminate with a small tournament within a few weeks of the league’s sixth week.
Priority Levels of the forces playing (which determines what can and can’t be included in an army) will be level 1, 2 or 3 –players’ choice.
The BIG catch is that unpainted models will NOT be permitted–hence the two-week period for gaming / getting your next 300 points prepared & painted. (It needs to be pointed out that for *most* of the forces in the game, 300 points is about 5-10 models, and for some of the game’s forces…it is less.)
It should also be pointed out that help on deciding how to spend your 300 points is available at through the “Gear Garage” army-building program available for free from Dream Pod 9 (the makers of Heavy Gear: http://www.dp9.com/ ).
Further help will also be readily available from the staff at Imaginary Wars AND from any of the league players–we want to see this awesome game grow!

The store’s post included the picture above as well as the video below. Sure, sure; the mecha in the video don’t really mesh up with the mecha in the Heavy Gear universe, but still… a life-size fully functioning mecha is just too cool to not include in a post concerning Heavy Gear. Plus, the fact that the pilots sit in the chest of the machine sells me even further on the designing of the giant robot suit. 

I also like that the machine’s builders  gave it wheeled movement. Even though it’s not the “rollerblading” that Gears do as their secondary mode of transportation, the fact that the Kuratas is a wheeled vehicle just brings it that much closer to Heavy Gear.

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SO …with it being so long since I’ve mentioned Heavy Gear, why the sudden attraction to the game once again? First off, I’ve always liked the game and its setting…even despite my limited patience with anime and manga. Well, apart from a relatively short hiatus–the few years working for Games Workshop in the early 2,ooos and through to just before I opened Imaginary Wars–I’ve been championing Heavy Gear pretty much from when the game first hit the market.

I got into the game right from its initial entry in the market as a Roleplaying Game with decent tactical rules covering battles utilizing the gears, and I’ve been playing it / paying attention to it all the way up to its most recent version of Locked and Loaded. Given just how long I’ve liked and played this game, I would be remiss to not rise to the challenge of painting up 300 points of Gears every two weeks….especially because I’m of the opinion that painting up 300 points of models is not an insurmountable task (despite what some have said on the Dream Pod 9 forum’s thread concerning this topic).

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Am I Tempting Fate and Daring Myself to fail?

Quite likely I am.

God knows I’ve been too busy to get any real painting done since I started up Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies, but if I’m not kicking myself in the pants about this, who will? (That and it’s my New Years business resolution to involve myself more in the hobby.)

HG SouthernSidewinder01

HG Naga

I’ve liked the Southern Gears since I first played the game, the Naga Strider and Sidewinder Gear being my two favourites. While it was the Naga’s look that I liked from first blush, it was through the repeated tactical battles that endeared the Sidewinder to me: the thing is awesome.

So what am I going to paint up?

Well, this is the tricky part; I’m a bit of a Luddite and prefer printed material over reading pdfs on my smart phone. Because I have no real interest in an E-reader or tablet at the moment–my desktop rig and actual books generally serve me well enough. So I’m in a bit of a tight spot: Dream Pod 9 has completely revised the Southern Republic rules with their “Forged in Fire – Southern Field Guide” source book. It’s the new book for all armies of the south, and it’s a complete overhaul–built anew from the ground up to match the look, style and substance of the NuCoal source book (which is a good thing, a very very good thing). However, as far as I can tell and despite its December 2012 release date, it’s only been released for sale in pdf format so far. I’m still waiting for the book to come out in its print edition  …heck, as a retailer, I still waiting for DP9 to update their product order sheet: I’m still stuck using the October 19th update that lists all their November, December and January releases as “coming soon.” First world problems, I know.

Though not the end of the world, this does make my ability to construct a legal Southern army a tricky venture. In recognizing that, I’ll just make up my first 300 point squad (or two) using the Gear Garage application (available off the DP9 website–which is cool ….but NOT updated to include the new Forged in Fire source book–which is not cool) and hopefully when Forged in Fire is available in a low-tech format my army won’t be utterly illegal. Not content with playing  a simple Southern Republic army, I’ve also decided to make my army part of a specific country in the Southern Republic: the Eastern Sun Emirates. Though a little more complicated in composition, it’s my hope the way E.S.E. forces are comprised may actually mitigate some of the potential snags I might hit when my list makes the jump from the Locked & Loaded list to the Forged in Fire list.

So it boils down to me being forced to build an army with an out-of-date army book all while the newer book is almost visible on the horizon. Being an Eldar player, it’s a scenario I’ve gotten used to.

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Southern Republic: The Eastern Sun Emirates

I’ve chosen to play an Eastern Sun Emirates army. What does that mean? Well, in the words of Dream Pod 9:

heavy Gear ESE Logo

The Eastern Sun Emirates is an entire league governed by a feudal system based on noble titles handed down from an ancient starship crew that settled on Terra Nova after Earth withdrew its support to the colonies.
Each Eastern Sun Emirates Guard force is unique as it is part of, or possibly the entirety of, a particular Emir’s personal military force. Some Emirs spend massive amounts of their citizen’s taxes on grand armies, while others maintain modest forces of bodyguards, mercenaries, or police forces.
An Eastern Sun Emirates Guard force is generally the private army every Emir is obligated to build and maintain. As such, these forces can vary widely in size and composition. Some Emirs may focus on elite Gears to give them a powerful crushing fist to defeat opponents while others may equip forces of infantry and lighter gears to maintain peace and garrison territory. A unique aspect of this system is that each Emir is free to make arrangements with other governments of Terra Nova and may allow units from other factions into their domain or even buy non-native Gear models outright for their arsenal. ESE factions select a nation that have an ‘agreement’ with and can take a selection of special units from that nation.
In Heavy Gear Blitz, forces from the Easter Sun Emirates have three major rules that make them attractive to gamers. The first is the ‘Honour Guard’ rule that allows a specific Combat Group to be taken outside the normal Priority Level rules and makes a related type of combat group a core choice. Another rule allows an ESE force to take several older Heavy Gear models. While these units are not as powerful one-on-one as the more elite Gears, an ESE force can overwhelm opponents with numbers. The third rule represents the ESE’s unusual makeup as each Emir can have ties to other forces anywhere on Terra Nova. An ESE force selects another faction it has ties to and can take a limited selection from that faction. An ESE force might field Northern Grizzlies or Peace River Coyotes to represent the Emir’s political allies or just Gears bought at outrageous prices on the black market.

My Own Private Emirates Army

After playing around with Gear Garage a little, I’ve decided to skip choosing my Honour Guard just yet–not a big deal considering the “army I’m making is 300 points; I’d like to wrap my mind around this Eastern Suns Emirates force (not to mention re-acquaint myself with Heavy Gear again) before I commit to an Honour Guard….which is also not too big of a deal yet as I’m starting off with my force being Priority Level 3, meaning what my core choices are will have little bearing on my list right now. I have, however, decided to choose my Emir’s political ties: I’ve chosen to max out my modeling options and opt for ties with the C.N.C.S. (Confederated Northern City States–the “North”).

The first 300 points of my force don’t betray the dealings my Emir has with the North; I’ve opted for a General Purpose Gear squad and a Strider squad–which TOTALLY allows me to field the machines I’ve always wanted to! So at the first 300 points, this is what my force looks like:

HG First 300 pts

I think I like it–though I expect this force might struggle initially, seeing as how I’ve apparently decided I’d rather have a little of everything rather than going firmly one direction or another. Jack of all trades, master of none and all that. Still, we shall see. Now all that remains is to see what’s in my collection and get it built & painted within the next 11 days! I’ll post photos and works in progress as I get models bought, assembled and completed.

2012 in review

Well, running the Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies store has successfully kept me COMPLETELY busy throughout the Christmas season–so much so that I’ve managed to totally stop blogging (I even managed to miss doing my regular–and late as always–White Dwarf review for the December issue of Games Workshop’s magazine).  I’m not yet at the part where I start making New Year’s blogging / gaming / whatever resolutions (though, seeing as how it’s New Year’s Eve, now would be an entirely appropriate time for blogging resolutions for the new year!), but already I know I need to work on regular blog updates…I used to be pretty good at getting a post or two done each week.

Anyways,  the number monkeys at WordPress crunched my page stats for 2012 and formatted the report to be easily posted; so in an attempt to turn a new leaf, I’m posting that report in hopes it will jump-start me in 2013 to blogging regularly once more; without further ado, here’s the 2012 WordPress highlights report for the Imaginary Wars blog:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 66,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

In-Store Gaming This November

In my effort to be more active with my blog—and to also acknowledge that the blog is also an extension of the store—I’ve decided to post about this month’s in-store gaming information sheet (along with a bit of embellishment to make it read less like I’m simply going over the flyer day by day, bit by bit).

To have a bit of fun with the idea, I decided to also include the flyer from our first month of business (back in April of aught-twelve…heh) as a bit of a comparison between what I thought we’d have for gaming upon opening and where we’re currently at for in-store gaming.

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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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