Tuesday, April 26, 2016

State of Gaming Locally

So, been seeing a trend that I wonder is just not limited to here in the Valley of the Sun. From my little perspective, it seems that miniature gaming is on the down side of popularity. It seems that card and board games are on the upswing.

Let me explain why I think this is the case. At my local shop (Imperial Outpost) out of the ten or so game tables, you would see a plethora of miniature games being played. Everything from 40K & Fantasy to Flames of War and other miniature games. Heck it used to be hard to get a table due to all the miniature games being played. But in the last few years I have seen a decline in games being played in the shop.

Now, certain companies have not helped with this either by changing up their rules or discontinuing rules. Some companies have also raised prices to a level you would think you were getting solid gold figures instead of plastic and resin. And before you say it, there are many companies that have raised their prices, I can think of three companies that have product on my local shops walls that have suffered from price creep.

So I wonder if this has caused the miniature gaming community to look for alternate games? Has the miniature player base had enough? I don’t know, it is just that I am not seeing the same level of gaming activity like I did in the past.

Now part of the problem may be with games like X-Wing and Attack Wing, while these are miniature games, they really are not. Yes, you have miniature ships, but its more about the cards you have. I watched a local tournament recently, and I was shocked at just how many cards most players had. And listening to players talk about tactics, it was more about what equipment card you needed to make a certain ship be unbeatable. It was more about the cards that the miniatures.

And speaking of the miniatures, they are great and well painted. That may be one reason in regular miniature gaming. The ships are pre painted and ready to go out of the box. I overheard one young player (17 – 19 years old) say the reason he got into this games was that he could not paint, he sold off all his 40K stuff to get into X-Wing. In fact, one time when my buddy and I were playing the Spartan game Halo, we had many people walk up to the table and ask if the models came out of the box painted like X-Wing. You should have seen the looks we got when we said you had to assemble the models and paint them, it was like we threw a sunk at them.

Maybe that’s the problem in decline in miniature games, the time commitment to building and painting. I have noticed that the younger gamer (younger than this old 47-year-old man) that they do not have the attention span to commit to painting a whole army or project. Perhaps that is the allure of other games. Another store here in the valley had a ton of Magic players, while the store owner was a huge miniature gamer. He often told me that his customers had no money and little time to buy and paint miniatures. But man, they had money for the latest Magic card release and man they could shell out a ton of money for snacks!

Board games are at least trying to keep miniatures alive, you are seeing more board games that are coming with actual miniatures. Games like Zombicide and others have entered the market to take their place in the board game world. But these are really more board games than miniature games. Yeah, you can use your zombies in other games, but they were made for the board game.  A certain company has started to release special miniatures with these basic games, capitalizing on the board game phenomena. I guess you can blame them.

So I wonder if other folks are seeing this in their neck of the woods or is it me just going a little bit crazy (could be that!). Are you seeing more board and card games being played over miniatures? All I know is that I will keep doing what I enjoy and that collecting, painting and playing with miniatures.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

You want to play what?

Been thinking about this for a while, so I thought why not write something down, so here goes. Why do we gamers stop playing certain games? Lately I have been wanting to play some classic games like Blood Bowl, Legends of the Old West and Necromunda, but I am finding it hard to get some of my game buddies to play.

I have noticed that with Games Workshop games, once the game goes out of print, the interest is lost on these games. Now sometimes the game companies don’t help this, like releasing a new version of the rules and totally screwing up the game (can you say LotR and then the Hobbit?). Now I understand it is hard to get new players into an older version of the rules and its even tougher if the rules are gone all together. But what about the folks that kept these older games?

If you invested into a game and still have all your “stuff” for the game, why not play it still? I understand that there is only so much gaming time available to folks, heck I only really get one day to play games now because of family obligations. I also understand that with less gaming time, there are many newer games that need to be played, so the older games slowly take a back seat. My own gaming experience shows this, for a few years Flames of War took up all my gaming time, heck it was the most played game for me for three years running. Now I hardly ever play, partly due to my interest level being low on it and the other part is that I want to play other games.

Is that the case then, too many games and not enough time? Perhaps I answered my own question then. This past weekend I heard from a friend tell me he missed Lord of the Rings, I replied that we all did in the game group. But that’s the gist, we all still have armies and all the books, so why don’t we play it? Maybe it is a nostalgic thing as my good friend Rob told me, it’s as if we have moved on from certain games like you do in relationships, I don’t know.

Now as I mentioned earlier, the game companies don’t help with this. Take Warhammer Historical products. When GW closed this branch of the company, there seemed to be a mass exodus from playing their games, people said things like “It’s not supported” and “Can’t buy it anymore, won’t play it anymore” as if that was a reason for people to stop playing the games. Once again my personal experience is that I had a few WAB armies for the dark age period. I had all the dark age books so I was set and didn’t care if they released anymore books. But our group moved away from playing WAB 1 or 1.5. Same thing for Legends of the Old West, I have all the figures I need, have all the books and terrain, but once Warhammer Historical closed, people got rid of their stuff.  

Maybe it has to do with the community, take Blood Bowl, it was a game that GW killed a few times but the community kept on going. They did not need GW to support it, they just kept playing. Heck once GW tried killing it, many other companies stepped up and kept making figures for the game. Blood Bowl still lives on and is still played all around the world. I find it funny that for a game has no support officially, there is ton of other companies supporting it. Heck one tournament back in the Midwest, had over 64 players show up to play, that’s amazing!

So where am I going with this? I guess what I am trying to say is keep playing the games you love and enjoy, you don’t need the companies support, just gather a few friends together and keep playing it if you enjoy it, maybe I am over thinking all of this, time to get back to painting my toys…

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Time flys!

Been a while I see, so time to catch folks up on what I have been doing.

Well, back in February, had a little event called Gathering in the Desert, which was a huge success, had a few new out of state folks, as well as some old friends return from out of state. Good mix of us locals and other than the campaign scoring, everything went off without a hitch. We will be doing GitD again next year and it seems the theme will be Normandy!

I painted up a bunch of terrain as well as figures for this years event and got my German DAK force up to snuff and feel really good about getting that done.

Oh been painting a lot of Gates of Antares armies for my local store for demos, just finished up the Algoryans and will be working on the Freeborn next. If your wondering about GoAT, its a new sci fi game from Warlord which the base mechanic is the Bolt Action system, but with a whole lot of other rules. My buddy Mike is really digging the game and I am interested in it, but have not been wowed by anything that has come out. I am still waiting for a cool army to get behind. Right now I have a Concord force, but they are just okay, they do not wow me. Don't get me wrong, it is a good game with lots of detail, just not excited about the figures like another game I picked up.

So what's the other game, well it is Infinity! I picked up the two player set at the end of last year. A few months ago I picked up the rules and started reading them. Rob also picked up a force for the game and we are going to slowly learn the game in baby steps. We had a very basic game a few weekends ago, to get some of the core rules down. It went very well and I am now eyeing more models to add to the Nomads.

Now the Infinity models & terrain have me super excited about the game,  much more than Gates. I will be picking up a few 4Ground buildings to build out a nice 4'x4' table. That's one thing that Infinity needs, lots of terrain.

This another game I am waiting for, Marvels Universe Miniature game from Knight Models. I have always wanted to do some Super Hero games, and with this game I can play the X-men. I am waiting for my local store to get the stuff in, which hopefully is this week. It also means that I will be running a few games of this at Phoenix Comic Con in June for our local shop. So I am pretty excited about this game as well.

Lastly, been on a nostalgic trip of late and been thinking about Blood Bowl. With GW announcing that the Specialist games are coming back & that Forge World showed new sculpts of BB figures. I have the itch to bust out and play Blood Bowl again. I have even been thinking of organizing a one day fun event for it. I have always wanted to do a BB event, I have been following events like Zlurpee bowl http://www.zlurpeebowl.com/wordpress_z/wordpress/ and other events. Maybe its time for me to do something about that, we shall see.

Anyway there you go, just a few things I am working on..


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Rockin out


Tonight I am doing a little rock work for terrain for Gathering in the Desert Operation Torch. I need a few rough ground sections for a few of the tables and here are a few. It's just Pink insulation foam cut out with a wire cutter and some of my super secret method of doing rocks.

Here is the other side before I do my "rock method" so you can see a difference.

Here you can see the right side done and the left side getting ready for the rock treatment.

So what is the super secret method you may be asking? Well its a simple rock out of my front yard, big secret huh? I just use a rock and press into the foam, basically just embossing the foam, that's it. Pretty simple really and the results are awesome.


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

DIY Palm Trees


With Gathering in the Desert fast approaching I needed to get on the ball to have a few more Palm trees for the tables. I have a few from Pegasus hobbies, but these are a bit expensive. So I remembered years ago doing a few Palm trees when I did model railroading. Back then I used feathers and pine tree branchs, but those were a pain and fell apart. I then saw an article on the web about using wire and self sticking labels. While this will work, it still was a bit high on the price. So I thought why not use floral wire and masking tape? I did a few years ago for my sons school project and thought I should see if I could do that again., so here is what I came up with.

Here is how I went about it, first I visited Michaels for floral wire, which is Panacea 22 gauge wire. Next I bought a roll of 1 1/2" masking tape.

I cut about 9-10 8" pieces of floral wire. The size is really up to you on how tall you want the trees to be. Then I cut about a 3" piece of tape and folded it over onto itself with the wire inside about an 1 1/2" inside the tape.

Do this to all your floral wire. I then cut out a leaf shape as seen below. The shape is up to you but I like the way this one looks.

I then cut the frowns into the leaf. I just cut until I hit the wire inside. Do this on all the leafs.

Now you will have all your leafs all cut out and ready to go.

Now I gather all the leaves up and twist them together, twisting them keeps them together along with the tape for the trunk.

I then cut about and 8-10" piece of tape of the roll and cut it into 1/8" strips. These are used for the trunk when you start wrapping it. I start at the top and work my way down.

I wrap on a angle and vary how much is showing. This represents the growth of the trunk. Keep wrapping until you get to the bottom.

Once wrapped, you can now start to unfurl the leaves, think of a Christmas tree. I generally put a bend in the leaves at this time.

And there you go, a masking colored tree. Next is painting. I had a buddy ask why not use green tape for the leaves? Well I like the fact that you can see the tape sometimes after painting and it looks like the leaves are starting to dry out and die like a real tree.

Painting is very simple on these trees, I used Rust Olleum Camo greens, one dark and one light.

I first spray the dark green on, covering the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Once this dries I then do a light spray of the lighter green from the top only. I generally hold the can further away so I "dust" the leaves. You can go a step further and dry brush some lighter colors if you want, but I like the effect that the two colors give the tree.

Next is painting the trunks, which is simple. I use Americana Mississippi Mud as the base. Paint the whole trunk this color.

Once this dries I then do a simple dry brush of Americana Fawn color to pull out the trunk detail. You can now see the trunk "growth" rings from the tape.

And that's it! The trees are now ready to "plant". 

So there you go, cheap and easy day Palm trees. Total cost is roughly $10.00 for the paint, wire and tape. Now these do take some time, about 5 minutes or so, but it's great if you have a couple of friends helping out and doing assembly line style.


Monday, January 04, 2016

Dirty Dozen


Been working on some terrain today, getting ready for Gathering in the Desert Operation Torch. Here is a quick picture of one of the tables. This board will be used in a scenario called Dirty Dozen, which I will keep under wraps until the event.
The newest part is the board base, which is MDF and sprayed with textured paint. Once that dried I painted over it with a dark brown followed by a dry brush of desert sand color. pretty simple really and a quick board for this scenario is complete. You may notice that the board is sitting on my regular game table which is 4'x6'. This board is a lot smaller and this will work out great for the scenario as well as games of Pulp Alley.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

New Possibilities


2016 is upon us and what better time to lay out my plans for some of my hobbies and games. So let's take a look at what I want to do.

Saga, I have two armies on deck for painting and Mike and I will be running Ragnarok again. Also my local store would like Mike and I to run some regular demos for the game. Our goal is to get some traction under the game and see if we can build a bigger community for the game. 

Beyond the Gates of Antares, picked up this game late in 2015 and I am committed to building a Concord army. Once again the local store would like me and Mike to run some demos for this, we already have painted up the demo set and in the next few weeks we will start with demos.

Batman the Miniature game, this is something I have been eyeing for some time. A mutual author helped with the edits for the second edition. The Models are cool and the game is a skirmish game. Also there is a Marvel game in the works. So we will see what happens.

Black Powder, well I hope to get more of my ACW done this year as well as get my 15mm AWI painted and hopefully onto the table. I am also interested in possibly doing some ECW in 28mm, but we will see.

Infinity, I picked this game up in 2015, but only gpt as far as assembling half the models. I would like to get the starter set all assembled and painted and get this to the table. Recently Rob has expressed interest and I know Mike is also interested. In fact Infinity has a very good following here in Phoenix. 

Bolt Action, in just over a month, Gathering in the Desert will take place so Bolt Action will be back on the table. I did get my Perry DAK painted up for the event as well as terrain. So this will be a success for sure. After the event we will see how Bolt goes after the event.

Flames of War, in just a few weeks I will be playing in Shifting Sands 2016 which is a early war event. I only had to paint up a few infantry stands and I am ready to go. As for what lays ahead, we will see in 2016 where FoW .

Pulp Alley, so I fore see Pulp Alley being back this year. In fact in 2015 I got the Tales of the Golden Monkey on DVD and there are a ton of ideas for games in that show. So Pulp Alley will be back on the table in 2016.

Conventions, so for many years I have traveled to Chicago for Adepticon. It is starting to get rather expensive to travel and it's not getting easier to travel now a days. Last year Mike and I attended Rincon down in Tucson. It was a great little convention and we will be going back down in 2016. The reality is I would rather support events here in AZ rather then traveling to other places to play games.

Model Railroading, well I ordered the last bit of track right before the end of the year, so my layout will be getting track all laid this year. I have been working on the rolling stock and generally getting ready to lay track. This is a long term project so as long as I get track laid it will be a success.

So there you go, a few of the plans I have for 2016, we will see how it goes throughout the year.