Thursday, October 07, 2010

What does it take???

So I have been wondering about a few things lately and figured I would post them here.

Now as most of you folks know, I love Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game by Games Workshop. I love it so much that for the last three years I have run Gathering in the Desert, an Independent Grand Tournament for LotRSBG. What I am wondering is what does it take to get more folks into this game?

LotRSBG was considered one of Games Workshops "Big Three" core games while the movies were out. Now that the movies have come and gone, there does not seem to be much buzz about this game anymore. In fact even GW is lack luster in promoting it themselves, this is of course has to do with sales of the game I am sure. So we really can't blame GW for the reason why sales are down or their lack of support.

So what is it? I have been wondering this since 2001 when the game came out. I have been a cheerleader for this game since day one here in the valley. Heck Drunkensamurai and I were both screaming it from the mountain tops about this game. But no one seemed to be listening. Sure there are a few people that heard us, but I would say out here in Phoenix we may only have about 16 players that play LotR.

It is even so bad that the folks that travel from outside of the state out number the locals. Out of the 24 people last year at GitD, we had only seven local players! And it doesn't seem to be any better anywhere else in the country. My good friend Brent Sinclair has to travel at least two hours to find anyone to play and he lives in the Chicago area!

So what is it? Is it the rules? I have heard people locally say that LotR is about rolling 6's. Well hell, isn't that any game that uses a six sided dice? Most people that I teach the game to fall in love with it. As I like to say, it is a easy game to learn, but hard to master. It is after all a skirmish game and is fairly complex in what it can do, so what is it with the rules??

Is it the miniatures? Hell most of them are sculpted by the Perry Twins and if you have to ask who they are then you do not play GW games. To boot the minis are mostly in plastic and compared to GW's other games, you get more figures for the buck! Also LotRSBG has a model cap of about 75 figures for most games. So that means you could buy three box sets and nearly have all the figures you need. And once again they are cheaper than other GW ranges.

Could it be the playing surface or area needed to play? Well hell, most games are fought on a 4'x4' table or smaller. Take a look at the LotR Journey books and some of the scenarios take place on a 18"x24" board! Maybe it is the amount of terrain needed as this is a skirmish game. And that's another thing, most people I see that do play LotR play on wide open tables like WHFB. Come on folks, load the tables up and have some fun.

Is it the cost? As I mentioned above, LotRSBG is the cheapest game that GW puts out. Now I do know that their has been price increases, but overall it is cheaper to play LotRSBG than it is to play 40K or WHFB.

So what is it and what does it take for people to notice this game? I fear that when GW discontinues this game, many people will be crying out for it to come back like Space Hulk, Blood Bowl and countless other games that have gone away.

So what am I trying to say here? Well it should be pretty simple, why don't you try playing LotRSBG. And if you had and liked it, than get out there and play it some more. Hell this Sunday I am headed out to my local store (Imperial Outpost Games here in Phoenix) to throw down a few games...


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Isengard Takes Shape!


Yesterday I started working on the new terrain modules for Gathering in the Desert 2011 and being inspired by a few of the tables I saw at the Mayhem in the Mountains event I came home wanting to build a Isengard table. Here is the board that gave me the inspiration to build a table for GitD 2011.

One thing that I have noticed while being a gamer and a builder of terrain is that terrain gets beaten up pretty badly. In fact I built a few terrain boards years ago for Imperial Outpost Games and it is starting to show it's age from constant use (sorry no pictures, just go to Imperial Outpost and take a look). So they have to be repaired pretty regularly.

The other thing that I have noticed is with 2'x4' modules is that they tend to move around while on the table. Players may bump them and they separate and models may move. I noticed this up in Parker at MitM.

So I set out to try to combat both of these problems with these new boards. Also these would be test boards for my Pirate town that I want to build (yes it is still planned!) So on Friday I went out to Home Depot & Lowes and picked up the necessary materials (4, 2'x4' MDF boards, 8 sheets of Dow Blue foam 2'x8'x1" and 8, 2"x2"x8' sticks of lumber). All in all it cost about $60.00 in materials.

I enlisted my good friend Mike Papa to help assemble these boards. Mike is in the wood working industry doing high end woodworking and he is precis about any woodworking. So early Saturday morning I met him at his shop so we could start construction. The first thing Mike said to me was "You bought the wrong size lumber!" As soon as he said that I knew what he was talking about, you see I wanted the sides to be 2" tall since I wanted to be able to carve into the foam and I bought 2"x2" which are more like a 1 3/4" tall! So before we started anything we went back to Lowes to return the lumber and pick up 8, 2"x4"X8". Now Mike had a plan, that we would cut down the 2"x4"s into the right size that we needed.

Now the process of cutting down and milling down the 2"x4"s took us about an hour or so. Once we had the right size and straight lumber we got to assembly pretty quickly. Remember when I said that Mike is precis about his woodworking, well he treated this like a piece of high end furniture. We trimmed and did a rough sanding on the boards and they are dead on straight and level, it almost a shame that I am going to make a mess of these when I texture the boards!

Anyway, here is a completed shot of 2 of the boards done and awaiting blue foam. So now I have four 2'x4' terrain modules for use.

Now as Mike and I were assembling these, I told him about the issues of the boards moving and what would he suggest. Mike said we could do two things, first we could use biscuits to keep the boards from moving, so he pulled out a biscuit cutter and we cut two slots for biscuits. Nice thing is that these fit nice and snug and keep the boards from moving.

And the second thing was to attach a few hasps to lock all the boards together. With the combination of the biscuits and the hasps, these boards do not move at all.

One thing I was concerned about was the weight and these things only weigh about 4lbs each. Once the foam goes in and the groundwork I am guessing that these are going to come in at around 6lbs each, which is not too bad. The one thing that I would do different is to go with Mike's suggestion and use poplar wood instead of the fir 2"x4"s, it is a much harder wood and takes paint rather well.

So there you have it, Isengard is taking shape (sort of anyway) for GitD 2011, next up will be the laying down of the foam and the carving, so stay tuned.