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

.

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).

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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!)

.

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.

.

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.

.

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…

.

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!

.

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).

.

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!

Advertisements

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).
.

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!

.

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

Reinforcements_07

German Panzer Lehr & Panzerspah

Reinforcements_05

German Grenadier Company & StuG Battery

Reinforcements_06

British 50th Division

Reinforcements_01

British Tank Squadron & British Air Landing

Reinforcements_04

Romanian Infantry

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.

Continue reading

White Dwarf #384 Late Review

Okay, so first off, I’m only doing a White Dwarf review this late in the schedule because I wrote most of it up within the first couple days following its release–and then store set-up tasks went into overdrive, forcing me to abandon most things in my life except the items I’m eBaying to help keep food on the table (as it were) until the new store is set up…and running…and giving me a pay cheque.

Plus there’s all the stuff that comes with being a parent…suffice it to say that when “something’s gotta’ give”  hobby time and blog duties will likely always be the first to suffer when being a parent and opening a business are on the table.

That said, I have a friend who’s giving me some help with the formative part of the store  and it just so happens that I’ve gotten him into Flames of War. Anyway, he and I have had several late-evening bull-pit sessions where we’ve talked about elements of the new store,  setting up the  new business…and the rules in playing Flames of War. Needless to say, a lot of good ideas have been developed–and we’ve also begun to learn how Flames of War works! At the moment, my mid-war Loyal Eddies (Canadian Infantry) are undefeated in their struggles against the Hun….not that we’ve been playing proper missions or anything like that. (At first I was terrified of his Tiger…up until the thing got into the sites of my 17-pounder anti-tank guns!)

Continue reading

Reconciling War Gaming

Tread softly here! Go reverently and slow!
Yea, let your soul go down upon its knees,
And with bowed head and heart abased strive hard
To grasp the future gain in this sore loss!
For not one foot of this dank sod but drank
Its surfeit of the blood of gallant men.
Who, for their faith, their hope,—for Life and Liberty,
Here made the sacrifice,—here gave their lives.
And gave right willingly—for you and me.

From this vast altar—pile the souls of men
Sped up to God in countless multitudes:
On this grim cratered ridge they gave their all.
And, giving, won
The peace of Heaven and Immortality.
Our hearts go out to them in boundless gratitude:
If ours—then God’s: for His vast charity
All sees, all knows, all comprehends—save bounds.
He has repaid their sacrifice:—and we—?
God help us if we fail to pay our debt
In fullest full and unstintingly!

John Oxenham (1852-1941)

-Dedication stone at the entrance to the Newfoundland Memorial Park on the Somme battlefield near Beaumont Hamel, France. Continue reading

The After-Summer-Break Report Card

So, at the start of summer, I posted about how my games-store job had evapourated, and I was now unemployed—giving me ample opportunity to catch up on my hobbies! With September now in full swing, it’s time to take stock, compare my follow-through to my statements and see how I fared.

I already know it’s going to be a disappointing “report card” because no sooner did I get a lot of free time that my wife took a temporary position at her job—which then offered her full-time hours to get her trained in the job more quickly. I went from believing I’d have one to three hours of exclusive “me” time almost every day to becoming the stay-at-home dad—and learned how precious little “me” time there is for a stay-at-home parent with a three-year old in the house (and I might add, one who can sense it: the moment your attention is not focused on her exclusively). Continue reading