Happy Birthday to us!

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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!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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!

March’s White Dwarf Reviewed

This would be Issue #398 if White Dwarf was still being numbered,

…and this issue –unlike the last two– arrived right on time!

As is the new reality with the White Dwarf, the figures shown on the cover denote what the current month’s issue focuses on. This month, it’s demons Daemons.

This issue is the second in a row for “the new ‘Dwarf” to come poly bagged despite there being no “extras” included with the issue.

White Dwarf 2013 March Front Cover

WHITE DWARF: MARCH 2013

Inside CoverThe White Dwarf Team.

Page 1: Opening Salvo: Jes Bickham’s editorial. Double-dip month! Daemons for 40k and for Fantasy! …plus they have some birthday celebration ideas in mind for next month’s issue –perhaps something extra to include with the magazine, thereby warranting poly bagging the future issue?

Pgs 2-3: Table of Contents:  Break down of this month’s issue.

Pgs 4-5: New Releases:  “Beyond the material realm, the Dark Gods plot…”

Pgs 6-7: New Releases:  Epic gate-fold pages shows off a giant Daemons army while the “magazine side” talks about the Plague Drones of Nurgle.

Pgs 8-10: New Releases:  The Burning Chariot of Tzeentch. Cool enough model….but probably not cool enough for it to sell.

Page 11: New Releases:  The new Herald of Tzeentch (on a chariot) makes me think it’s just a set of alternate pieces inside the Burning Chariot kit.
(…I really should have read this issue before going through with this page-by-page breakdown; I then wouldn’t wonder about such trivial matters.)

Pgs 12-13: New Releases:  The Blood Throne of Khorne comes ridden by a (new) herald. Okay, this one is totally an alternate build from the new Daemons of Khorne kit, which is:

Pgs 14-15: New Releases:  The Skull Cannon of Khorne. Two Bloodletters stand atop a Khorne-plywood sheet , manning their toothy version of a pirate ship deck gun, all done while cruising around on an awesome manga-motorcycle that’s driving backwards. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

Pgs 16-17: New Releases:  The new FINECAST(TM) Herald of Nurgle. After seeing the Heralds of Khorne and Tzeentch, it looks like Nurgle players are getting the short end of the stick with this release. Good.

Pgs 18-19: New Releases:  A second Herald model for Khorne! Does this mean the Khorne daemon rules are so spectacular that GW projects Khorne stocks going up enough that model sales will follow?

Page 20: New Releases:  The new Herald of Slaanesh. This looks to be an awesome plastic kit ….unless it’s in fact a FINECAST(TM) model, in which case this is GW completely NOT making a model that embraces the resin medium’s advantages over the plastic and metal mediums.

Page 21: New Releases:  Battleforce/Battalion box, the Battle Magic and Psychic Power decks for Daemons in Fantasy and 40k. Nothing to read here; move along, move along.

Pgs 22-27: New Releases:  The cover paintings to the Daemons Warhammer Army book and the 40k Codex, followed by two pages dedicated first to the fantasy book and then again to the 40k book.

Pgs 28-29: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Dwarf Warriors of Erebor. These are nowhere near as awesome as the Dwarf Grim Hammers from last month. I wish I could be more excited about the Hobbit range, but GW seems set on making the line bland and pricey: $40 for 12 single-piece plastic models? No thank you. Games Workshop, you can charge me the $44 for ten Space marines because I can build/pose and equip them as I see fit (and with bitz left over!); these Dwarves offer me none of that. I sometimes feel like GW is running with the Hobbit license just so that no other company can.

Pgs 30-31: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Warriors of Dale. I honestly don’t remember seeing any of these guys in the first Hobbit movie, but okay. These models I can at least respect, despite their price point and dollars-per-miniature ratio being the same as the Erebor Warriors kit. Plus I could use these for both player characters and NPCs in The One Ring role-playing game. (GW:  please take note of how Cubicle 7 properly handles a license for Lord of the Rings!)

Page 32: New Releases:  The Hobbit:  Dwarf Grim Hammer Captain. He doesn’t look as cool as the regular rank-and-file Grim Hammers …and, being made in FINECAST(TM), he also clocks in at half the price of the whole box of Grim Hammers. For one middle-of-the-road model. I say skip this one.

Page 33: New Releases:  The Hobbit: The Dwarf lord, Thror. Despite being set at the FINECAST(TM) price point of $25 for this single model, at least it’s cool enough to tempt me. He really is cool.

Page 34: New Releases:  The Hobbit: Lindir of Rivendell. I really wish they hadn’t shown me the close-up of the model’s face –never since Shannon Doherty have eyes been so crookedly set on a face (and it’s only rubbing salt into the wound with GW’s caption of “”see the intricate details sculpted onto his face.”)

Page 35: New Releases:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hardcover rules manual. WTF??? THIS IS NOT NEW! I suspect that the sales of this are SO infernally dismal, that Games Workshop has been left wondering if they forgot to advertise its availability back when it came out before Christmas. No, GW, you didn’t forget to mention the existence of this rules manual; it’s just that people know when they’re getting hosed.
40k players take note!! Next time you’re going to grouse on about what a raw deal the 40k rulebook is at $90 for 432 full-colour pages; THIS is what getting hosed is: The Hobbit’s rulebook is $100 for 288 (full-colour) pages. But GW can’t figure out why it’s not selling, so they list it as a new release …again.

Pgs 36-37: New Releases:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Escape from Goblin Town starter box. OR PERHAPS the game hasn’t come out yet! OR PERHAPS I’ve gone back in time and am reliving the world as it was three months ago. …Or more realistically, the writing’s on the wall, and we have front-row seats to see just how well the Hobbit game is performing for Games Workshop. Despite my absolute love for all things genuinely Tolkien, and my persistent desire to want to like GW’s Hobbit range, I can’t.

Pgs 38-40: New Releases:  Black Library:  Death of Antagonis,  a novel about one of the 13th (“Cursed”) founding’s chapters, the Black Dragons. Remember back when White Dwarf published rules to make your very own game-legal Cursed Founding chapter with its own special traits / abilities? Probably not. But I digress; hot on the heels of the Path of the Renegade novel comes Path of the Incubus written by none other than Andy Chambers! …who always struck me as a rules writer, not a prose writer. Also out this month: keeping with the Daemons’ double-dipping theme in this month’s magazine, The Masque of Vyle is a second Eldar novel (okay–it’s a novella) out in March. Lastly, for Warhammer, comes Van Hortsmann and has the tag line “Egrimm van Horstmann is the most promising wizard the College of Light has ever seen, but he harbours a terrible secret.” I’m betting it’s that “Freaky Friday” mirror of his. Just sayin.

Page 41: New Releases: Digital Products:  Buy the White Dwarf issue you’re currently reading, the Daemons codex / Army Book –heck, even the 40k Psychic Powers are all available in digital format!

Pgs 42-43: New Releases: Forge World:  More Warhammer 30k models: Terminators for the Death Guard and the Sons of Horus that both look like space marines in Mk VII armour that have let themselves go a little bit. Rounding out the releases is the Vulkite Caliver upgrade pack….whatever those are.

Pgs 44-45: New Releases:  Licensed Games:  And by licensed, they mean iPad games. Warhammer Quest comes out in March for the iPad! Also coming down the tubes is the next battle pack for Warhammer Invasion by Fantasy Flight Games.

Pgs 46-47: New Releases Summary:  Full listing of this month’s extensive releases, complete with prices.

Pgs 48-49: Advert: GW Online Store. Surely, after the whole “we own every use of the words Space Marine” debacle, ‘Workshop has proved they firmly believe there’s no such a thing as bad P.R.
…Which makes me wonder why they don’t mention in this advertisement that Games Workshop Online carries items (such as the Death From the Skies supplement) that aren’t available from GW Hobby Centre Retail stores –and they won’t let independent stores order or carry.

Pgs 50-55: Army of the Month: Dave Roberts’ Lamenters Space Marine army. One day I will chart how many Marine armies (versus anything NON marine) get featured here.

Pgs 56-57: Standard Bearer:  Jervis tackles how to solve perplexing rules questions. He admits that designers don’t always know how their games will always play out …and then goes on about how normal and acceptable and just generally how good it is to just rely on a random dice roll to solve those tricksy rules dilemmas.
…Which makes me wonder if this solution hasn’t also been applied to other facets of Games Workshop’s business.

“Okay, on a 4+ we spend a lot of time crafting good rules that do proper justice to Tolkien’s works, then we really push the technology and see of what we can accomplish in the smaller 25mm scale with plastics and Finecast; on a 1 to 3 we’ll just shill the same old thing but mark the price up another 15-50% over the last edition’s products and act like it’s always been that way. [rolls] Hmmm , I rolled a 2; right, shill it with an inflated margin and damn the consequences, it is!” **

**I have no proof this conversation ever actually took place in a GW executive meeting.

Pgs 58-73: Battle Report – 40k:  Daemons of Chaos piloted by Adam Troke take issue with Matt Hutson’s Imperial Fists. I think I’m more concerned with how Daemons do when up against another sixth edition (or even a late-fifth edition) codex. But what I’m REALLY curious about is how stacked the odds are against the Daemons when they rook up against Grey Knights. However, this battle report tackles neither of those issues and instead goes after the vanilla marines. The Imperial Fists lose their battle as a result. In hindsight, I’m finding that I kind of wish they’d list the points values of the armies in the battle reports. 

Pgs 74-77: Blanchitsu:  John Blanche shows off some models that a fan sent him. The models look like Mr. Blanche himself did them –and the accompanying portraits of each model in the Inquisitor warband look even more like paintings done by John Blanche. I wonder: when John Blanche talks about playing games with the inquisitor warbands he paints up (or in this case gets sent by a fan), what game is he playing? The old Inquisitor game? I’m truly curious.

Pgs 78-79: Hall of Fame:  Urien Rakarth. I would argue that inducting models barely three years old into the “Hall of Fame” really makes the hall of fame feel not all that prestigious.

Pgs 80-95: Parade GroundUK Golden Demon, 2012 …part 3:  Despite the quality of the entries, having a third installment of Golden Daemons models makes me suspect that the magazine in general is starved for good content ideas. I’ll say nothing else negative here as the entries are truly inspiring (all except the Space Wolves ones…just because, well, Space Wolves).  The Nurglish Ettin on page 95 is absolutely breathtaking.

Pgs 96-101: Kit Bash:  The “secret ingredient” this month is Warhammer 40,000 Ork Fighta Bommers. And every model is awesome! I should go on at length about these, but the words will do the models no justice.

Pgs 102-109: Battleground:  Coverage of the best entries from the 2012 Armies on Parade competition at the UK Games Day …again. All four are superb. Three of the four are mostly yellow. A repeat of last month’s topic again leaves me thinking the ‘Dwarfers are stretching one article across multiple months in order to bide time. Only one Marine is showcased here, and it’s truly good to see some Tau!

Pgs 110-117: Paint Splatter:  How to go about painting up all your Daemons stuff. Warriors of Dale are then touched upon, before this segment then moves on to painting using a GW spray gun, featuring Matt Hutson’s yellow Imperial Fists.

Pgs 118-119: Jeremy Vetock:  A list of things Jeremy Vetock doesn’t like. Overall the article is pretty innocuous, in all senses of the word. I’m kinda’ holding out for Jeremy to hit his stride with this column. I mean, if Jervis brings game design (if you will) to the table, and John Blanche brings art design, what niche can Mr. Vetock fill? I know I’d like to see less “opinion of the minute” columns from him and maybe more about the various campaigns/leagues he’s run over the years –heck even if his column tackled designing satisfying campaigns every now and again, that would be pretty nice.

Page 120: Advert: “Follow us on Facebook….and Twitter!”

Pgs 121-124: Advert:  Games Workshop Hobby Centres! Also: GW Hobby Centre “birthday” celebrations & upcoming giant games at the Memphis battle bunker.

Page 125: Advert:  GW advertises that their products are carried by independent stores, and encourages YOU to encourage your local store to carry GW products.

Pgs 126-135: Advert:  Listings of GW Hobby Centres (worldwide) and GW Independent Stockists (North America).

Page 136: Advert:  White Dwarf suggests you consider having your White Dwarf magazines mailed to you every month. 

Pgs 137-151: This Month In…

-White Dwarf:  Details about “The Hobby Challenge” laid down by Matt Hutson: to paint up a new force and battle with it before next month’s White Dwarf. By the sounds of it a “force” is roughly a battleforce-box amount of models (more or less). All three games systems will be represented.

-The Design Studio:  John Blanche talks about the history of the chaos powers –from a codex point of view. Aly Morrison, Colin Grayson, Dave Thomas and Mike Anderson all talk a little about the daemons models they’ve sculpted for this month’s releases. Then John Michelbach talks about the map he made detailing the realm of chaos itself.

-Around the Studio:  Snapshots of some projects belonging to non-White Dwarf studio staff. The Nurgle-themed Chaos Marine army is the one that truly stands out.

-Forge World:  Shots of more 30k models, the Minotaurs chapter Sternguard, two half-finished orc character models and another new tile for the Realm of Battle board, this time Fantasy themed.

-Black Library:  Ben Counter talks about his new novel, Van Hortsmann.  Also snapshots of models inspired by some Black Library releases, all of them space marines.

Page 152: Parting Shot:  If last month’s parting shot picture of the Necron flyer could be seen as heralding the Death From the Skies 40k supplement, I really do wonder what a picture of Space Wolves on their Thunder Cats Cav fighting a Tyranid could possibly portent. Perhaps Workshop has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and is about to release a new Tyranid codex? Probably not.  Still….

Inside Back Cover: March Events Calendar:  I very much enjoy how this calendar also includes February 23rd –when the advance orders for all the early March releases first go up on GW’s website. Just seems kind of redundant to me.

Thoughts on the Issue

I don’t know what’s up with this issue. I think, for the most part,  I liked last month’s issue (especially the irony of Jervis Johnson speaking against the homogenisation of the hobby while working side-by-side those whose goal is to homogenise the Warhammer hobby!); and yet, this month’s ‘Dwarf has left me feeling, to be blunt, a bit pissed.


 

STREET BEEF

Beef #1: For the second month in a row, this issue came poly bagged –despite the utter lack of anything extra being included with the magazine to make poly bagging it a necessity.

Beef #2: The worrying possibility that I mentioned in last month’s Street Beef, that the White Dwarf can’t keep up the creativity momentum established in the new format’s first few books, sure looks like it’s coming closer to being actualised: not only is there no bonus content included with the magazine but 15% of this month’s book (the page count of the Golden Demon entries and the Armies on Parade spotlight) are, creativity-wise, the exact same as last month’s issue

Then there’s what has transpired in the last month: Games Workshop deciding that the term Space Marine has never existed prior to 1989 and the advent of Rogue Trader (I tell you, it’s a good thing Tolkien has such good, long-serving lawyers…otherwise Amazon might be considering yanking Tolkien’s books too!). BUT, too many people have written about this already, so I’m not going to say much more.

Lastly, there’s the GW’s handling of The Hobbit. I may not be the biggest Tolkien nerd, but I am a huge fan. I may not own everything ever made for gaming in Middle Earth, but I own more than my fair share: I’m closing in on having a complete collection of Iron Crown’s Middle Earth Role Playing system, I have everything except the starter box for Decipher’s Lord of the Rings RPG (based off the movies) and have everything so far for Cubicle 7’s The One Ring RPG. I also own several different board games based off of Tolkien’s books as well as the co-op Living Card Game being made by Fantasy Flight Games. As  far as GW’s products go, I didn’t bother with The Battle of Five Armies (I owned Warmaster already), but I’ve avidly collected GW’s Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and have actively played it for years; I’ve made my own campaign system for their Battle Companies free expansion For LotR SBG, and I still think that GW’s War of the Ring game is one of the best miniatures games GW has put out (it is not without its flaws, but it remains one of the more satisfying games to play that GW has made).

So when I start saying only bad things about GW’s The Hobbit game, it’s not because I’m a hater. And yet I was barely able to say one good thing about the Hobbit new releases in this issue. As a fan, I feel completely bent over the barrel by the stranglehold GW has on this game. The price-point of all the models is noticeably higher than the GW products many already consider “already too expensive;” the decent level of detail the models do possess is betrayed by their simplistic design (single cast, not multiple components and options that promote customisation) –which is only worsened by the fact that the quantity-of-product versus price-point ratio feels worse than anything else Games Workshop makes.

So I guess that boils down to my Beef really is with this issue: that White Dwarf has me actively disliking GW’s  Hobbit releases.
Me.
The guy who defends The Hobbit movies being done as a trilogy; the guy who still points out that the sixth edition of 40k and the eighth edition of Warhammer Fantasy both have the War of the Ring game to thank for having their mechanics reinvigorated; the guy who still really wants to play more games of GW’s War of the Ring; the guy who’s planning on getting back into playing/running/GMing a role-playing game (thanks  to The One Ring rpg) …or at the very least, to play more Middle Earth Quest and the Lord of the Rings living card game. Of all the hobbies I have been passionate about since my mid-teen years, it’s the Lord of the Rings I’ve liked the longest. It’s been one of my hobby mainstays for over twenty years now –I mean, I barely touch video games at all, and yet I’ve got a lifetime membership for Lord of the Rings Online.

And here’s White Dwarf, on Games Workshop’s behest, convincing me to hate it.

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).