Introducing Miniature Wargaming with Age of Sigmar

I reluctantly bought into Warhammer Fantasy Battles about 18 months ago–a new Friendly Local Gaming Store had opened in my little town, and despite offering a wide range of awesome board and card games for sale, when it came to miniature games they only carried Games Workshop products.  I intended to help support the store as well as provide demo games to attract new players to the relatively narrow spectrum of miniature wargaming.  After all, I had been wishing aloud to my wife, during the preceding five years of living in this town, that a small gaming store would indeed open… someday.  So I was ready to do everything I could to support the place and help make it thrive, starting with buying not one but two boxes of Island of Blood to put together, paint, and run demo games. My post about the new FLGS opening.

And knowing how popular 40K was among the wargaming crowd, I was determined not to stand by and allow the store to be overrun by ridiculous tanks and space marines wearing impossible shoulder armor.  I would help build a community of players with miniature figures representing ridiculous fantasy heroes and dragons with wings unsuitable for flight.

A few months later, after organizing a league for both 40k and Fantasy players, buying into 4 distinct fantasy armies (High Elves, Wood Elves, Tomb Kings, and–my personal favorite–Skaven), I helped organize and host a Fantasy tournament in the store: 10171751_10202022518669181_5688554864991838588_nThe friendly folks behind the NOVA Open convention were a key part of that event, and I was damn impressed when I attended my first serious Fantasy tournament in September.  (Click photos for link to relevant posts.) nova

After the event, I focused my efforts on painting the figures I had and organizing games among players.  After moving into a larger home, I was able to designate the basement for gaming, and began hosting regular games in the place I called “Aaron’s Analog Game Room.”  My wife made a cute sign for me as a Christmas gift, combining my interest in old typewriters with tabletop gaming. Game Room Door wideMy wife, by the way (and she is, after all, the reason behind my motivation to write this post), was curious about my Freehobby of painting tiny toy soldiers, but when I tried to introduce her to a game of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, she felt overwhelmed by the time I described the Magic Phase.  On the other hand, when I organized a mini open games day, she played some 40K and loved it.  I was frustrated that my preferred game of choice was deemed too unnecessarily complicated not to mention far too long to set up and play.

But now Age of Sigmar is out.  After downloading the free PDF of rules (finally Games Workshop has followed the trend so many other miniature wargaming companies have set in recent years), I asked my wife to try playing a game with me.  She’s definitely a gamer–she played chess when we met, and she grew to enjoy several of my favorite board games, and she developed a keen interest in collectible card games.  But Warhammer was just not her thing.  I asked her just to play for only 20 minutes.  “Only 20 minutes?”  I promised.  But 45 minutes later she asked me to put more models on the table after she had destroyed my Skaven forces, and I obliged and we effectively played a second game.

All this to say… what?  Warhammer Age of Sigmar has been condemned by many longtime fans of the old Warhammer world, and I can understand their fear of change and a sense of loss.  I try to remember the way I felt when I discovered my favorite FLGS unexpectedly closed, and I can at least sympathize with the heartache and even anger at the bussinessmen responsible for making changes for sake of profit without any regard for the community it affects.

But now, with a straightforward and easy-to-teach miniature wargame, I’m so much a more a fan of Age of Sigmar than I ever felt for Warhammer Fantasy Battles 8th Ed.  Sure, it’s still not my favorite tabletop game, but it’s relatively easy to introduce miniature gaming to new players, and I sincerely hope this new game release helps revitalize the fantasy element in miniature wargaming.  Because I can’t go back to playing only historical wargames.

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Miniature Wargaming Free Demo Day

I finally got around to organizing and running a free demo game day to showcase a variety of miniature games with some of my gaming friends at my friendly local gaming store.  I’ve participated in several of these sort of events, organized by Shades in the greater D.C. area at different stores  ( http://minimayhem-theblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Demo%20Day ), but this is the first time I took on the mantle of leadership and rallied the troops, so to speak, to show off some games in my home town.

FreeI started with a mission statement:  my goal was to create an event open to the public and invite anyone to step up and try a game.  Then I presented the store owners with a proposal, which was accepted, arranged for a date, and recruited some gamers to present their favorite games.  Finally, with several players agreeing to bring in their own painted miniatures and allow members of the public to handle those figures and ask questions about the respective games, I created a poster and started promotion.

astoreWe had game masters to set up and run demo games for 6 different miniature games including Dystopian Wars, Warhammer 40K, Hell Dorado, X-Wing, Flames of War, and Relic Knights.

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Setting up a table near the front of the store with a variety of examples of miniature wargaming, I included a basic setup for a game of BattleLore which served as a good introductory game to introduce basic concepts of wargaming to interested but inexperienced gamers.

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One of the veteran gamers in my local wargaming community brought in his scratchbuilt table to demonstrate a game of Hell Dorado with 2 sets of beautiful miniatures he has painted over the course of the past year.

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I had time to run a basic naval game of Dystopian Wars using 2 painted fleets of ship models.

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As expected, X-Wing was the most popular game, and we set it up in the back corner so players would pass the other games on display.  Some of the local Flames of War players brought in their tank models to show off.

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We had plenty of walk-in costumers coming in to pick up comic books I invited to try a game, but most passed on the opportunity.  All the same, having the games set up in the store at least triggered some interest and prompted some costumers to at least check out some of the painted miniatures.

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Special thanks to our volunteers–we couldn’t have run so many different miniature games without our experienced game masters.

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Warhammer Fantasy Culpeper Event

We hosted our first big miniatures event at the new FLGS on Saturday, June 14th.

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Some of the pre-registered players didn’t make it, but we still had 16 players, a great even number of participants for a tournament.  Our Tournament Organizer, Ben, presented a great set of guidelines, everyone was early, and the first round of games started on time by 11 am.  We had started the morning with trouble finding the key and swapping some tables, but I brought coffee and Matt brought donuts from Knackals, so all was destined to turn out.  Unfortunately, I had some other obligations cropping up to limit my participation–not unexpected–but I took as many pictures as I could when I was present.

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There were some great models on the table we hadn’t seen before because we had players driving a couple hours to join us.  And during the lunch break there was a painting contest by peers, and some of the displays looked great.

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And, of course, games were played.

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More Warhammer

Experimenting with some color schemes, I’m close to settling on a final set of colors for my new Wood Elf Fantasy army.  I still need to drybrush with some lighter colors for full effect, but I’m pleased with my palette.  I’m leaning more toward painting each figure’s hair a Celtic red rather than the Nordic blonde.  I’m still on the fence about the TreeMan–I like the contrast between the green and magenta I’m using on the infantry, but I’m tempted so much by my favorite shade of yellow.

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I’ve been helping with some logistics to set up for the first big Warhammer event in the Culpeper FLGS, coming up in just over a week now.  One of the local guys put together a graphic for the event, and another local player is going to help me set up tables in the space the night before.  The store sponsoring the event is not charging entry fees, but they’re putting up some decent prizes–the victor will win entry to the GT at the NOVA Open event coming up in a couple months.  There will also be some door prizes.

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I won’t get the chance to directly participate in the event, due to obligations at work, but I’m glad to help out and hopefully make it a worthwhile experience for the players.  But this coming weekend is packed with a game of Triumph & Treachery with several of my favorite opponents, and then some terrain building, painting, and practice games with the local Fantasy players at the store.