Sunday, February 17, 2008

Babble On My Wayward Son

I'm sure that everyone who blogs, whether for fun or profit, frequently faces that nagging question, "what the hell do I write about today?" Sometimes, there are a zillion different topics floating across your mindscape and it's really difficult to latch on to one that really suits the mood you're currently in. For instance, when I sat down tonight to write to my blog, I sifted through a myriad of jumbled topics including:
  • Recapturing Lost Enthusiasm -- New Ideas for Fantasy Baseball
  • The Overblown Steroids Debate in Baseball
  • NL Rookie of the Year Watch
  • Analysis Paralysis in Fantasy Baseball Drafting
  • Programming is NOT the same as Software Design
  • Computers and Tabletop Wargaming
  • 5 classic Wargaming Books worth adding to your collection
  • My Cold Wars 2008 Shopping Guide
  • Going Ape -- the Karmans have arrived for AT-43
  • Historical Wargaming Buzz -- Field of Glory and Wargames Factory minis
  • 90mm Wargaming
  • LITKO: The Holy Grail of wargaming accessories
  • Point Costing Systems: Is simpler better?
  • 10 cool board Wargames that I'm looking to purchase
  • Tournament Gaming vs. Gaming Just for Fun
  • How many games is too many?
  • The Best Gaming Podcasts
  • The Lack of Patience -- A Disturbing Trend in Hobby Gaming
  • The Top 20 Board Games I'm Dying to Play
  • Origins or Essen?
  • Finding the Time to Paint Miniatures
  • Creativity is Sorely Undervalued
I'm sure there's more than that floating around, but those are the things that easily rolled out of my brain. They would all make interesting blog posts, at least I think so.

I'm going to tuck these ideas away as potential future posts. For now, I'm not going to write about any of them. Sometimes, you just feel like babbling on about an assortment of things that don't really fit together as a cohesive whole. It's kind of a cross between Sanford & Son unloading the junk out of the back of Fred's pickup truck and a congressman engaging in a fillibuster (but without the politics). So anyway, off I go.....

Only 19 days until Cold Wars! I can't wait! I'm signed up for a full weekend pass and I renewed my HMGS East membership which expired at the end of 2007. This is the most exciting thing on my event-calendar horizon, and I'm saving up my discretionary dollars to buy some new toys at the wargaming convention. Which leads me into...

AT-43 or Confrontation? I picked up the AT-43 boxed starter set at the Fall In convention in November but haven't gotten the chance to play it yet. It was a big departure for me.

You see, I'm mainly a fantasy wargamer with a secondary affection for ancients/medievals, so the wargaming miniatures that I typically buy are trolls, orcs, reptilians, beastmen, elves, ghouls, knights, vikings, romans, spartans, crusaders, and the like. While sci-fi has always appealed to me, the cost and time of getting into it big-time scared me off. But I finally took the plunge when AT-43 was released by Rackham and became distributed by Fantasy Flight Games here in the states. The fact that the models come pre-painted really appeals to me because it's a huge time-saver; you can game right out of the box. Plus, it's a fast-play, skirmish level game, so the number of models you need to play a decent game isn't backbreaking and the rules aren't too difficult to learn. So AT-43 has become my Sci-Fi game of choice.

When I want a meatier, longer, more engrossing game, I'll play Sword of Severnia instead, the tabletop fantasy wargame that I'm developing for Rhino Software. Sword of Severnia is a card-driven, computer-assisted, mass-combat fantasy wargame which lets players use any models they have. So if you want to mix your nicely painted ancient/medieval historical minis with your figures from Warhammer, Hordes, HeroScape, WarGods, Erin, Hundred Kingdoms, Dwarf Wars, and Reaper Warlord, then you're completely free to do so. Use the minis you like and already own -- the whole wide world of wargaming miniatures is your oyster!

That's why I've got a dilemma. The new Confrontation pre-paints are softly calling to me. While I have no intention of actually playing that game itself, I can easily see myself buying the minis to add to my fantasy forces. The Wolfen are particularly cool and mesh nicely with a race that's included in Sword of Severnia. So do I buy the base Confrontation starter set just to get the models? Or do I buy some of the new Karmans (space apes) for AT-43, and wait until some expansion figure packs come out for Confrontation in a couple of months? Decisions decisions...

The other night, I finally listened to an episode of a new podcast called What Are You Working On? and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The show is basically a bunch of gaming friends sitting around talking about hobby games and sharing their insights and experiences. The guys seemed very relaxed and didn't take things too seriously (the emphasis was on fun, rather than the overanalyzed psychoanalysis crap that a few self-important podcasters sometimes put out). It was a fun listen and I'm looking forward to hearing another episode soon. Check it out.

On another note..... I need to start following through on one of my New Year's Resolutions: paint more figures. It's easier said than done, especially now that baseball season is almost upon us, which keeps me very busy both business-wise (I sell a somewhat sophisticated fantasy baseball program that I developed and run a stats service) and free time-wise (I'm the commissioner and statistician of a long-running rotisserie league). I think the only way to achieve this is to set aside 1 or 2 nights per week for painting/modelling. The fact that I need to get some new troops onto the table for upcoming sessions of Sword of Severnia should spur me on a bit. It wouldn't hurt to back away from the PC a little in the evenings -- more crafting and less reading is good for the right-side of my brain.

Speaking of painting, I'm considering taking some of my unpainted lead and sending it to Sri Lanka to get painted by Fernando Miniatures. Their stuff looks gorgeous, they've gotten great reviews from the wargaming community at large (especially over at TMP), and their prices are extremely reasonable. I have never used a painting service before, which is amazing considering I've been collecting minis for over 25 years. I'm going to talk with the guys in my wargaming group during Cold Wars to see if we can gather some models to ship there.

Moving into the board game arena, I got to play Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (the Deluxe version) with my friend Kevin last night. What a truly excellent game! It's an easy game to learn and plays very fast (games last only 30-40 mins), but the strategic options are deep, the theme is nicely melded into the mechanics, and the variants and extra components provided with the game give it tremendous replayability. The best thing that you can say about any game is that you're really looking forward to playing it again, and that certainly holds true for this classic by Dr. Reiner Knizia.

A handful of recently released board games are on my radar including Age of Gods, Last Night on Earth, Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage, Cutthroat Caverns, Kingsburg, Neuroshima Hex, and the updated edition of Colossal Arena. When I say recent, I mean in the last 6 months or so. I'm not an overtly crazed boardgame geek that has to buy every new game within weeks of its release. Heck, there are a few games that I bought at Origins 2005 that I have yet to get to the table. Such is life when you're a 40-year old with multiple interests and run your own business. Still, I'm on the measured path to increasing the number of boardgames that I play per year and that, coupled with my desire to purge some older titles that I don't forsee playing again, leads me to seek out new games. I'll talk about these games in more detail soon, but if you want to find out more about them go to BoardGameGeek, or check out the following websites providing video reviews of tabletop games:

Time for some shout outs to a couple of gaming-related companies that have provided excellent service to me lately. Way to go Litko Aerosystems, your custom acrylic tokens are very cool, your prices for high quality laser-cut wargaming bases are excellent, and your customer service is superior. I just can't recommend Litko highly enough. They have become THE place that I go first for wargaming accessories.

Secondly, here's a hearty shout out to Neil of The For two Christmases in a row, Neil has delivered on large orders made by my wife somewhat late in the holiday season. Anna raves about how nice he is to deal with, and I'll second that having met him in-person during Fall In in Gettysburg, PA last November. Great guy, great selection of games, great prices, and great service. There's nothing else to say other than buy from the War Store and you won't be disappointed.

Speaking of war, the venerable game of Warhammer is now 25 years old this year. Say what you want about Games Workshop and its less-than-popular business practices and often head-scratching decisions (see the recent hacksaw that they took to Black Industries if you need recent proof), but Warhammer has a fond place in my heart. It is the game that really got me into wargaming and it has done much to bolster the wargaming industry for many years. There are, in my opinion, much better game systems out there from a game-play and mechanics perspective, but nobody offers the combination of (1) wide-scope of high quality models, (2) lavishly illustrated books, and (3) rich & colorful background world that Warhammer offers. Even if I don't play Warhammer any more (I'm focused on my own self-produced game), I still buy the beautiful models and am constantly inspired by their fantastic production values and the neverending source of ideas they bring to the wargaming community. People love to bash GW, and rightly so at times, but I'm happy they're still around and making cool toys for us older boys!

On a down note, not everything fun lives forever. It seems that Ragnarok magazine is in its death throes, as there hasn't been a new issue for close to a year. I'm a previous subscriber, but let my subscription lapse because of the long delays between issue releases and content that really didn't appeal to me as much as I would have liked. I would have liked to have seen Ragnarok be the fantasy/sci-fi equivalent of Battlegames, my current favorite wargaming magazine with a heavy slant towards historicals and only a smattering of fantasy, but with plenty of generic, broad-brush articles that appeal to a wide range of wargamers. Perhaps the promised new magazine from Polymancer Studios will fit the bill, but they're currently recovering from a hacker-attack that devastated their company website and thus have other concerns at the moment aside from getting a new magazine off the ground.

Last year saw the end of Wargames Journal, an oustanding print magazine that had a great mix of historical and fantasy/sci-fi topics, plus gorgeous eye candy. It had a fantastic start, but petered out for whatever reason. It's a damn shame. I was willing to pony up over $100 US for a 1-year subscription, so obviously, I thought very highly of it. I got a portion of my money back on the subscription that I had signed up for. The folks at WJ said they were moving back to their original online, PDF magazine format, but that was a longtime ago and their website is basically AWOL at this point. I'm hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

In the world of podcasts, it looks like both the All About Miniatures and Solo Wargaming Show have taken an extended (perhaps permanent) hiatus. I hope the hosts of these two fine shows return with new episodes in the future, because there is a real need for quality podcasts related to miniatures. The only minis-based show that really shines in that regard is the terrific Meeples & Miniatures show by Neil Shuck, but perhaps the What Are You Working On podcast that I mentioned earlier will help fill the void as well.

And that's the babble for now. I'll hopefully return with some 1-topic articles in the future. Maybe I need some frozen orange juice so I can concentrate better? Eww... I know, it's an oldie and a baddie!


No comments: