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.

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

World War Friday  …every Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 5, 2013: Reinforcements Doubles’ Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

Tournament Day

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

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

falaise pocket casualties

Battle remnants in the Falaise Pocket, 1944.

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

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

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US 3rd Armoured & 101st Airborne

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German Panzer Lehr & Panzerspah

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German Grenadier Company & StuG Battery

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British 50th Division

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British Tank Squadron & British Air Landing

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Romanian Infantry

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“A Fully Operational Battle Station”

Cheers!

June 9, 2012 marks (essentially) the second month of Imaginary Wars Gaming and Hobbies being open for business!

I decided back before opening the business that I would have a “soft” opening (that is, opening for business with little fan fare or hoopla) and then do some sort of grand opening event a little further down the road. This weekend is officially “a little further down the road” for the store, and we’re having a bit of a sale to celebrate! Obviously, because I’ll need to restock any I sell, the deals won’t be anything crazy like everything half price BUT there will be a store-wide deal and a few more product-specific deals–plus cake! And popcorn!

To make the whole weekend feel a little more event-ish, we decided to also showcase some of the games we specialise in AND we’re running a Warhammer 40,000 tournament in the store all day on the Sunday of the weekend.

While some of the product lines I was hoping to have in stock for the grand opening have not arrived for the weekend, one of my other goals for the weekend was to have the store’s points program (the “Imaginary Dollars Points Program”) up and running….which it is!

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Podcasting Follow Up

I just checked out the 11th Company Podcast site: the episode (#93) where I was interviewed on has been posted. It’s a joint interview, where, as I mentioned in last week’s Halloween post, Nathan, Teri and I all talk about how we conceptualised, organised and ran last year’s Massacre On Isstvan V tournament-ish event. Continue reading

Tournaments: Scenario & Tournament Design

Point 1: I was at a Warhammer / 40k tournament last weekend, and one of the participants I know (and who is planning on running a tournament in the not-too-far future) was asking how I felt about lending a hand with his tournament in some capacity or other.

Point 2: On Facebook, I ended up get bogged down in an internet argument lengthy debate with one of the JadedGamerCast’s regular commentors pundits who also follows their podcast, all regarding the place of randomness in the Warhammer games. I try not to engage in such stupidity as internet-fighting, but his comment on what a bad idea it was to make it possible that randomness in the game could still result in you losing, despite your “playing a perfect game” really set me off. That attitude just ignites me: for me, denying that random factors have a place in a battle or game is akin to denying that different troops from different nations/armies can be of different calibres of ability.

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14th Black Crusade: Week One of the Opening Salvo

So I just got home from Great White, and there were close to a dozen people ( ! ) there to play in the Week One of the 14th Black Crusade lead-up event (running in the store each week this month). A dozen people! I’m pretty pleased with that; also, everyone seemed pretty jazzed about the perks they got just for showing up to play. I think the re-roll tokens are going to be a hit.

Above, I’ve posted the Special Event cards that will be raffled off at Great White on their Thursday-40k nights (the tables open up for play at 4:30 and people start showing up between then and 5:30; gaming continues until the mall closes at 9pm). The way it’s working is: everyone gets a raffle ticket when they play a game (whether they’ve registered already for the tournament or not), and if they win their game they get a second raffle ticket.

Because 40k is being supported by Great White on both Thursday nights and Saturdays in June, raffle tickets will be handed out on both days, making each week’s draw for the Special Event card happen at the start of the next Thursday 40k-gaming night. Before any games begin that Thursday, a ticket will be pulled from the raffle pile and the winner gets that week’s Special Event card –provided he’s now registered in the tournament; if he isn’t yet registered, a new ticket will be drawn. All tickets drawn that night will be thrown out.

I’m in favour of handling the raffle this way as it doesn’t discourage people from registering later on; if some one has been playing in the lead up all month and finally registers in the last week, he’ll have all those tickets from the previous game already in the raffle box to ensure he still has an okay chance of winning a Special Event card. I’ve always liked formats that focus on being inclusive (rather than exclusive) and think handling the raffling of the special cards this way will encourage more people to participate.

You’ll also notice that some of the cards have added benefits if played in the Rubicon Straits battle zone of the tournament; this is where the Sector passes come in to play. The Sector Passes help ensure that those with Special Event cards in Round One are able to play their cards in the system they’ve fought in all month (at Great White, the system is the Rubicon Straits). If too many people all play their Sector Pass on Round One, preference will be given first to those with Special Event cards, second to maximize on good-evil pairings, and third to maximize variety.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, everyone showing up to play in the lead-up games gets a Re-Roll token. And they get one each week they show up (and that’s the maximum per week: ONE). The Re-Roll token allows a player to re-roll (duh!) a single D6 roll during any game played during the lead-up event or during the tournament. I’ve decided to go with a ruling that a maximum of THREE tokens can be brought to the tournament –just in case any players end up playing at both Great White and the Games Workshop in Chinook mall (or GW & Myth, or …you get the point).

Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll touch on the grudge matches we’ll be allowing in Round One of the tournament, where players can opt to choose their opponent in the first round of the tournament. Also, the classic Saturday-night mixer at the tournament will be running a Battlefleet Gothic game that will have in-game repercussions on the tournament’s Sunday games. We’ll be providing a certain amount of stuff, so owning your own BFG stuff will NOT be a prerequisite to playing some ‘Gothic.

Until then….

Eye of Terror Tournament: A Taste of Round 1

For those who haven’t scoured the players pack, we’ll be doing some lead-up events in the weeks preceding the tournament weekend. Two Games Workshop locations: GW Chinook Mall in Calgary and GW Kingsway Garden Mall in Edmonton will be running lead-up games throughout June. Also, the independent retailers, Great White Entertainment and Myth Games (both in Calgary) will be doing likewise.

So what’s the deal with these lead-up games?

Sneak Attack!

All the games being played ahead of the tournament represent the initial skirmishes being fought before the hostilities fully erupt. These battles give those playing a pro-Chaos army (the tournament refers to these as the Forces of Destruction) a chance to get a head start in the campaign: all victories scored by these factions will lower the initial degree of Imperial control in a select few sectors. Which store you play your battles in determines which sector your victories will count toward:

GW Chinook will be handling all battles taking place in the Perilous Stair (first leg of the Arx Gap: one of the less stable paths out of the Eye of Terror).

GW Kingsway Garden Mall will be handling the hive world, Chima Lomas, in the Nemesis Tessera sector.

Great White and Myth Games will have their battles affect the Rubicon Straits, a treacherous causeway that leads to the naval yards of Bellis Corona …and ultimately Cadia.

Tournament Perks:

Players can also gain tournament perks simply by playing at participating stores during the lead-up events.

Sector Defence

With their determining the initial defence values of three systems in the Eye of Terror, players will earn one Sector Defence card that will allow them to begin the tournament in the battle zone belonging to the store they played at in the lead-up events.

(I’m not sure if I mentioned it already or not, but this tournament will also be different in that tables will be clumped together to represent a battle zone. The combined scores of ALL the tables in a battle zone will be used to determine how much of the defenders the Forces of Destruction have destroyed there that turn. Players will switch battle zones pretty much every round so as to ensure playing the greatest variety of opponents.)

Re-Roll Tokens

Each week a player games at one of the participating stores, they will gain a Re-Roll Token that can be used either in the lead-up event or be saved for the tournament weekend. A maximum of three tokens can be earned by one players.

Special Event Card

Lastly, the most exciting reason to participate in the lead-up games is for a chance to win a Special Event card playable in the first round of the tournament! Even though there are six cards, only ONE card can be won per week: going either to a Forces of Destruction player or to a Forces of the Imperium player. This means not only does getting a Special Event card from the lead-ups gain you a cool ability in the first round of the tournament, it also keeps your opponents from getting  one.

(True to the old Eye of Terror world-wide campaign GW ran back in 2003, this campaign will present opportunities for players to earn Special Event cards that can have dramatic effects on the campaign results each round. ALSO, some Special Event cards will enable players to take a special named character in their army for one round free of points cost…!)

I think the Special Event cards are going to be pretty neat. The way that [I’m hoping] they’ll help weave the campaign narrative together throughout all the rounds has me pretty excited. I’m also pretty excited about the way that players will earn Special Event cards: by fulfilling secondary objectives in battles –objectives that won’t be geared towards helping complete that round’s primary mission. I think the secondary objectives will create the feeling of “crazy” missions without forcing the missions themselves to become too crazy.