Prepping for Camp Nerdly 2016

I’m looking forward to Camp Nerdly again, coming up the second weekend in May. And, for the fourth year in a row, I’m thinking about what I can do in the kitchen. Camp Nerdly is an annual gaming event in the Prince William Forest Park, where close to 100 gamers gather in the woods to play tabletop board & card games along with storytelling games. It has become my favorite “volunteer” effort each year (I say “volunteer” because I spend more time planning and working in the kitchen to provide 4 hot meals throughout the weekend than I spend actually playing games).

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Here’s a shot of my truck after I unloaded food into the walk-in cooler in the main dining hall back on Friday afternoon, before everyone else arrived, back in 2014.

Every year I’ve had an assistant, along with a crew of volunteers to clean up after each meal. A tenet of the Camp Nerdly experience is every attendee signs up for a chore, so that registration costs can be kept to a minimum. And it is that extra help that has allowed me to enjoy some gaming during the weekend, at least. But this year, with 2 assistants willing to help, I think I can really power up the menu and possibly include a hot lunch on Saturday.

If you’re interested in a fun gaming con located in Northern Virginia in a relatively rustic setting which is also family friendy (there are still hot showers along with hot food, so it’s not exactly primitive camping), then I suggest you consider attending this year. Check out their website.

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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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Gaming, what’s it good for anyway?

Back in November a new game store opened in town. For years now, almost since my wife and I moved to this small, mostly rural county in central Virginia, I’ve joked about a gaming store opening up down the street from where we lived. The town had a bookstore when we first moved here, but then it closed. We have the usual assortment of retail stores, but nothing like a B&N and certainly nothing like a FLGS.

Until November. Since the store opened I have spent almost as much time there as I spend at work. I’ve started two regular weekly RPG campaigns, play X-Wing once a week, other miniature games when I can find a willing opponent, a card game my wife enjoys, and a variety of board games in between. Up until November I spent most of my hobby time thinking about gaming, writing and reading about games, maybe even painting some miniatures, but I rarely actually played a game more than once a month, and I was lucky if I managed to play a miniatures wargame even that often, mostly because the closest FLGS was almost an hour away, and making that sort of trip on a weekday after work just wasn’t practical. Fortunately, this new place in town is so close that my engine isn’t even warmed to operating temperature by the time I drive down there, and looking at a map of the town I realize that if I cut across the high school sports field and hopped a creek I could walk to the store in under ten minutes.

So, all this means my gaming tempo has increased exponentially. Instead of posting blog reports or pictures, I’ve just been simply playing one game after another, taking regular breaks to do mundane things like got to work and get a bit of sleep. Part of the reason I’ve spent so much time at the store in the past two months has been to run demo games and draw new players into the space, getting others excited about playing some awesome games. In a phrase, I have been trying to help build a gaming community. And it’s starting to pay off in real terms.

In the second part of this post I’ll go into more detail about what has been happening in my FLGS and why I think gaming has been good for something in my life and community.

To be continued….