Building Realmgates

I’ve had some help putting together some Realmgates to use as terrain pieces in our Age of Sigmar event coming up at the NOVA Open in a few weeks–I have a few different styles, but here is the result of the team effort toward a generic fantasy style.

RealmgatesI’m ready to prime them in the back yard and then give them the drybrush treatment, but the humidity hasn’t been cooperating. I’m hoping to get them primed tomorrow so I can paint them Friday evening during a painting hangout.

Age of Sigmar at the NOVA Open

Another organizer and myself have taken the lead on planning and executing a weekend of events featuring Warhammer Age of Sigmar at the NOVA Open, a local wargaming convention near Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia. I’ve been spending most of my free time reading articles, listening to podcasts, playing games, painting figures, and generally thinking about how to host an awesome event introducing players to the new Age of Sigmar miniatures game.

Website-Header-20151If you’re free the first weekend in September, and you can make it to Arlington, VA, and you have even a moderate interest in Age of Sigmar, then I suggest you consider registering for the weekend at the NOVA Open.

http://www.novaopen.com/?page_id=6670

I’ve had a good deal of practice organizing miniature wargaming events in the past few years, and I think I’m ready–with the exceptional support of the NOVA Open staff and my counterpart, Brian–to help feature an awesome wargaming event.

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.

Grilling & Gaming

The grill worked fine yesterday, when I tested it, but today I couldn’t get the gas flames above a flicker, so I ended up finishing the burgers and dogs in a pan on the range inside.  It didn’t seem to matter to the gamers, as they were reluctant to break away from a game of Arcana to eat anything.

tabletop232But eat they did, and after another game ended, many of the company disbanded, leaving myself and the representative from Team Green (everyone picked a color upon arrival and wore a sticker) to play 1775.  The Rebels began to make some serious gains, capturing and holding Boston and local environs while also consolidating the Carolinas and Maryland.  Unfortunately for all, a decisive victory could not be achieved by either side, and all of North America became French.

1775

Playing Imperial Assault

I recently picked up the new Imperial Assault box from Fantasy Flight Games.  In the past two weeks I’ve painted most of the figures and played several campaign sessions with a group of players, and last night I finally played a skirmish game against an opponent.  My short review:  this is a fast and engaging game system; with the extra rules and cards for a player vs. player miniatures tabletop game along with the more RPG oriented Descent-styled game, this may prove to be a brilliant means for introducing casual tabletop gamers to the strange hobby of miniature gaming, especially considering the popular Star Wars brand.  I’m going to run this at a teen gaming event at the library soon!

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Gaming History

Hosting games at the new place is helping get my hobby back on track since the local gaming store closed four months back.  The experience has been positive all around.  I’m reminded of my early days of gaming, when the experience was at home or going over to a friend’s house to game rather than meeting in a generic retail space.  I grew up in a rural area, and never visited anything like a game store, unless you count hanging out in the gaming aisle at Toys’R’Us.  There is something satisfying about hosting a game at home–preparing snacks and drinks to share with guests, feeling a sense of privacy at the table from public eyes, and truly making the tabletop experience a social activity.DSCF3294

So, with that in mind, I want to share what two friends each shared with me this week–items which reminded me of my early days of tabletop gaming.  The first was from a relatively new friend–we’ve played a lot of Edge of the Empire RPG sessions together, along with talking about Shadowrun, Mouse Guard, and other roleplaying games.  He gave me two boxes of lead figures which have been sitting in a box for at least 30 years, still with the original packaging foam intact.

These are the just like the lead figures I remember playing D&D with when I was in third grade, over at a friend’s house.  He didn’t know how to paint them, so we just used them out of the box, and he had maps drawn on construction paper.  I remember being intrigued by how I could use a sword tip of a figure to write on a piece of paper, just like a pencil at school.

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When I was older, I was still playing D&D in high school, and I remember playing in a friend’s attic with figures–he had all of them painted with enamel paints.  And they were ugly compared to what I see on the tabletop these days.  But we still had fun with them.

The other gift was an online link to a PDF of StarFrontiers-AlphaDawnBOX-01the old Star Frontiers game.  I may have started with D&D, but my favorite RPG in 4th grade was an epic science fiction opera with a range of aliens, huge starships, and wild adventure on a variety of worlds.  I played a shapeshifter, and during lunch breaks and on Friday afternoons when the kids caught up on their homework for the week were allowed to read or play quietly in the back of the classroom, I played Star Frontiers with a couple other boys.

Sure, everyone remembers Gamma World, and I played that during my Junior High years.  But Star Frontiers was more like Star Wars than the goofy post-apocalyptic setting of Gamma World.  I don’t remember any particular adventures, just a vague notion that we had our own starship and explored some maps printed on graph paper.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’m going to paint those lead figures–I like having something which reminds me of my youth, as they are.  And what young gamer would believe me if I told him they were lead under a layer of acrylic paint?  Just the same that I probably won’t run a session of Star Frontiers–I enjoy the dynamic of the Edge of the Empire system from Fantasy Flight Games, and I have a hard time bringing myself to roll an old fashioned d20, and forget about trying to track the progress of the PCs using graph paper.  Still, I appreciate those particular friends sharing these things with me.

Winter Conditions

Finally played a game of Muskets & Tomahawks in the new analog gaming room!  Taught the game to three gaming friends, so I may be able to get some traction for a regular campaign.  Which motivates me to paint more figures and work on more terrain.  The tabletop conditions reflected current weather outside–we didn’t get as much snow as some other parts of the country, but it certainly has been cool out with a bit of white stuff covering the ground.

M&T Friday

M&T is a refreshingly simple miniature gaming system, and the three guys playing it for the first time have played other games, but caught on very quickly.  And they all admitted to having fun with the game, despite doubts that playing a musket-era skirmish wargame without any cavalry could possibly be interesting.

Now it’s time to paint some canoes and add a river to the terrain options.

When Game Stores Close

I haven’t posted much lately because of moving house and a busy work schedule.  But as I was planning for our next local gaming event in January, I was surprised with news that my favorite FLGS is closing on Monday.  I still don’t know exactly how to describe how I feel.  For the past year, the gaming and comics store has been my special place between work and home.  When I need to meet friends and unwind with a game… I went to the gaming store.  When I needed to get out of the house… I went to the gaming store.  When I felt up to planning a community event focused on gaming… well, it has been a great year of a lot of gaming, and, more importantly, a lot of new acquaintances and even friends I wouldn’t have otherwise run into if not for running into them at the gaming store.

It was a good year, but at least now I feel we have developed a small community of gamers, and that community, I’m sure, will continue to grow despite the closing of our gamer’s haven.