Thursday, January 31, 2008
Middle Age Madness
My birthday has come and gone. I'm now 44 years old; officially middle-aged and damn proud of it. Okay, well I'm not really damn proud, but since I can't change the creeping advance of Father Time I might as well make light of it. My mind still feels young. My body... well not so much.
Dice and Games
I did get one really fun thing for my birthday -- a 2nd dice tower from VixenTor Games. I already had the Dungeon themed tower. The new one was the Phoenix model, very colorful and vibrant. My friend Wally and I used it while playing two games of Battle Cry last week. Unfortunately, I got spanked twice. Ouch! I'm not blaming the tower though. I just had crap luck all night. During the first game, Wally wiped out a completely fresh Confederate infantry unit (4 soldiers) by rolling 4 (yes 4!) kill symbols on his throw of 4 dice. That's a 6.25% chance of success. But wait, not only did he do it once, but he did it twice! Jeezus, Mary, and Joseph! We could probably play 20 more games of Battle Cry and that would never happen twice in the same game. I hung in there, but that enormously good luck swung the tide for him. During the second game, I did even worse. It was the card draws that hampered me that game -- the majority of my troops were stuck on the left flank all battle while I kept picking up Center and Right Flank cards! Oh well, it happens. I still like Battle Cry. Sometimes war is just a cruel and unfair mistress.
I also finished reading the Hobby Games: The 100 Best book. Man, what an excellent book and a truly fun read. I plan to do some separate blog posts in the future about stuff I discovered in this book. All I can say right now is this: if you like board games, go buy this book! It will open your eyes to many games you've never heard about, and is a celebration of the wide variety of games just itching to be played. I sincerely hope that editor James Lowder and the folks at Green Ronin are able to release a second volume sometime down the road. There are easily another 100 great games worth delving into. I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
It's hard to believe, but February starts tomorrow! Where did the first month of 2008 go? Zoom zoom, it's gone.
February brings a good bit of sadness with it for me and my family. I lost my Dad to cancer last Valentine's Day. The two of us were very close, and it's a pain that hasn't gone away. I'm sure that it never will. But he's no longer suffering and my faith assures me that he's in a much better place, so at least that's something.
I learned many things from my father's passing. One thing is that a little part of you dies as well. Some things that you previously found enormous joy in pursuing suddenly become a little less exciting. Not everything; just certain things -- especially those that you shared with the person who has passed on.
Another thing that I learned is that your faith will be tested. You begin to wonder if what you have believed in all of these years is still true to you. You wonder if this life is all there is. You talk to God a lot and become introspective. Eventually, you either reinforce what you previously believed or form new beliefs.
Thirdly, you gain a greater appreciation for the time you spent with that person. Your fondness for them does not diminish, it grows. You begin to fully realize that what's truly important in life is NOT your job, how much money you make, how big your house is or how luxurious your car is, how many gadgets you own, how sexy you look, whether your favorite team won or lost, or how deranged Britney Spears is. All that really matters is that you and those you most care about are healthy, happy and self-fulfilled, and doing their best to make society a better place for everyone (even if it's only in some very small way). It's quite amazing to me that even though my Dad is gone, he still hasn't stopped teaching me valuable lessons.
Anyway, I didn't mean to be Debbie Downer. Sorry for my diversion into my inner-self.
Cold Wars is Coming!
The first big game convention of the year, at least in my neck of the woods, is slowly sneaking up on us. Cold Wars 2008 is a miniatures wargaming convention held in Lancaster, PA every winter. I even recall driving to Cold Wars in the snow last year! This year's 3-day convention is being held on March 7 thru March 9. The theme of this year's convention is "the golden age of piracy". Gotta pre-reg soon and get me a T-shirt swabbies -- it looks devilishly cool! Arrrrrr!
HeroScape Still Alive & Kicking
A combination of hard-to-find sets of the Wave-7 expansion, extended delays in releasing Wave-8, and steep holiday discounting of the Swarm of the Marro master set had driven many doom & gloomers to predict the demise of HeroScape. Well, it just ain't so folks. One of my favorite tabletop games is here to stay, and it will be under the guidance of a new company, Wizards of the Coast (a subdivision of Hasbro). You can read all about it on the HeroScapers.com fan site.
It looks like a fresh batch of Wave 7 (including those elusive and much-wanted Templar Knights on horseback) will be released sometime in April. We can also expect to see the Wave 8 expansion in midsummer, probably in conjunction with either the Origins or GenCon game conventions.
I love HeroScape and am glad it's sticking around. It has always seemed to be more popular with adult hobby gamers rather than young kids, so I think the move to Wizards makes sense from that perspective. Plus, Wizards really needed a non-collectible game to factor into their current product mix, and I think they'll push this game hard into hobby game stores, somewhere it has never been available before. That will only help more people gain exposure to the game. On the downside, I think the price for the game and its expansions will increase. Wizards has a more limited budget than mega-corp Hasbro, so that means you'll get less product at higher cost. I think the days of that Rise of the Valkyrie master set that was jam-packed with cool plastic goodness are now over. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. But I'm a minis whore, so I'll pay whatever they want to charge us (within reason of course!).
That's it for now. I'll promise to write more often. Cheers!
Friday, January 18, 2008
I'm not entirely sure what my wife is getting me for my birthday. I'm sure that I'll like whatever she gets me. I'm easy to please. Really, I am. I'll probably get cologne or something practical. Which is fine by me. But ya know, I would even be happy with 5 stupid gifts like these:
I don't really drink martinis. But if I had some cool little red cocktail demons to hook over the edge of my glass well you can bet your bippy that I would start drinking like Lindsay Lohan on a weekend bender. These little devils are just too cool.
Of course, the fantasy wargamer in me sees an immediate use for these little demons. They're 1.75 inches tall and only $10 bucks for a box of 50. Hmm, with a little paint they would make most excellent demon troops for my Sword of Severnia wargame. Brilliant! I must get some.
Fresh breath is always important. I mean seriously, is your wife going to kiss you if your breath smells like six week old bacon? I don't think so. So if you're going to wise up and get fresh breath, then why not make sure that your little mints contain GROG! Arrrr.... Now there's a mouth worth kissing me laddies!
And at 2 tins for $5 bucks, well, what self-respecting pirate shouldn't have these!
What's my favorite part of The Wizard of Oz? Besides the Wicked Witch screaming "I'm melting... aahhh", well it has to be the flying monkeys. They're the best henchmen in all of fantasydom. They are cute and irrationally frightening all at the same time.
Well for a mere $6 for a set of 4, these little monkeys can find a spot in your beautifully decorated home. Like the cocktail demons, I think they would make great fantasy wargame figures, or great pawns in a monkey themed board game. But then, I'm weird like that.
MARIE ANTOINETTE LOLLIPOPS
Off with her head! After a tiring day of software development, there's just nothing better than kicking back and ending the day with a lollipop. Well, I imagine it would be a great end to the day anyway. But man, how much better would it be if you were licking the pretty little head of French Revolution babe Marie Antoinette? And she's cherry flavored to boot.
Licking everyone's favorite decapitated French lass will cost you $28 for a box of 24 lollies. I know, I know, really only the upper-crust can afford that, but sometimes you need to indulge yourself once in awhile.
I consider myself a good Catholic boy. I go to mass every Sunday. I try to be a good example to others. I open and hold the door for little old ladies and everyone else. But I guess I don't read the bible or listen to the Pope enough. Frankly, I had no idea that St. Anthony was the patron saint of bacon. Really?
C'mon... Bacon... That is just TOO COOL for words. And some people say that religion is nonsense. To those people, I say "hope you don't choke on your bacon... sinner".
Hey Saint Tony, I'd like mine extra crispy! Yummm.
By the way, if you're interested in more cool products like this, then do yourself a favor and surf on over to Archie McPhee's. Maybe next birthday I'll luck out with some of these.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
By "simpler", I mean games that don't involve the extremely deep level of immersion that's part and parcel to being involved in a competitive fantasy baseball league or becoming a diehard miniatures wargame player.
Anyone who has played fantasy baseball in a serious league knows that it's something you play every day for about 7 months; prepping for the annual draft, reading daily box scores, watching games and SportsCenter highlights, and making trades and roster moves. In rotisserie baseball, there are tremendous highs and awful lows. The euphoria of winning a game that took 6 months to play is not matched in tabletop games. I cannot tell you the number of times that I've played such & such a board game or how many times I won or lost, but I can remember every single fantasy sports championship I've won in baseball, football, and hockey. Of course, the melancholy moments and frustration of limping through a bad season can also really take it's toll on you mentally. You then get 3-4 months off, only to see things start up all over again once the Super Bowl has ended. I've been doing this for 22 straight years now and it has become part of my life, just like showering, eating, and making the bed every morning.
Miniature wargaming is often a LIFE-LONG hobby. Buying and collecting miniatures, modelling terrain and painting your toy soldiers, collecting and studying wargame rules, playing games, and going to conventions is something hobbyists typically do over countless years. It's not a quick-fix hobby by any stretch of the imagination. It's like a fine wine; your love and appreciation of miniature gaming continually ferments and ripens over time. It's artsy fartsy and beautiful. It's educational, deep, and challenging. It's highly social. It's madly obsessive and fun. But it ain't fast and it ain't cheap.
So that brings me back to boardgames. I'm not exactly sure why I suddenly got the urge to play these games again. Perhaps it was turning 40 years old that did it. There's a time in everyone's life when they suddenly look back at what they've done and chew on it a bit. This often happens around mid-life for most people, so I suppose that I'm no different than the majority of folks. When figuring out where you want to go in life, sometimes it's good to take a fresh look at where you have been. You ponder what your career and relationships have been like. And so in terms of doing "fun stuff", I examined what I used to do for fun. For me, at least as a youth, that primarily consisted of playing sports, playing board games, and playing D&D.
At 44 years old, I'm too old and out-of-shape to play sports anymore. I'm not one of those older guys who thinks "yeah, I can get back into shape and hang with the young guys again and prove my great athleticism". I'll never run as fast as I did when I was 20, and I'll never recapture my earlier agility. Those days are long gone. And you know, I'm entirely cool with that. Acceptance is a freeing thing.
I also don't have the free time to play D&D anymore. Gone are those long summer days when I could create maps, NPCs, worlds, house-rules, and story arcs for my gaming group -- I was the Dungeon Master in those wonderful days. I've already got other immersive hobbies that eat up my time and money. So D&D, it was nice knowing you and you'll always have a fond place in my heart. But I have found another lover, and her name is board games.
There are several great things about board games. For starters, there are so darn many types of board games that there is literally something for everyone. There are fast-playing games and long-playing games. There are games with simple, easy-to-learn rules, and games with thick rulebooks that are tricky to learn but very rewarding to play. There are adventure games, wargames, sports games, abstracts, strategy games, dexterity games, card games, and games with miniatures. It's pretty hard not to bump into at least a few games that fit your particular interests.
Another fantastic thing about board games is the face-to-face social interaction they generate. When I was growing up, "playing a game" meant sitting down at the table with your friends or family and sharing a live, face-to-face experience together. But then the personal computer revolution came and everything changed. We became a more isolated society where gaming was done on a computer, often solo. It was just you and the machine. Face-to-face gaming began to shrink into the background, a vestige of the 1960's and 70's and a bygone era. But eventually, as always seems to happen, things that have gone out of fashion return to the forefront. Computer gaming expanded to include multi-player games played over the internet, and slowly, the social aspect of gaming returned. And then in the first-half of the 1990's, two games were released which re-ignited the tabletop gaming scene: Magic the Gathering, and The Settlers of Catan. People started to sit down again and play games together. Face-to-face gaming and the social aspect of gaming was reborn. And that growth hasn't stopped. That's a fantastic thing because in my opinion, there's nothing better than engaging in a few hours of chit-chat, friendly competition, and laughs with your close friends and family.
But perhaps the greatest thing that board games have going for them is their simplicity. And by that, I don't mean a lack of challenge or simplistic rules. What I mean is that compared to other types of gaming (such as fantasy sports, miniature wargaming, and video gaming), board games take much less time to play and generally cost less money.
With a board game, you plunk down your $25 to $50 to buy the game. You open the box, maybe punch out some cardboard counters, and spend a little time learning the rules. When the time to play rolls around, you open the box, take out the board and components, setup the game, cover the basic rules for those 1st-time players, and then spend 30 minutes to 3 hours playing the game until a winner is declared. And you can play that game over and over again, squeezing many hours of entertainment value out of something that didn't cost all that much to start with.
Contrast board games with miniature wargaming. With miniature gaming, you can easily spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars buying models and terrain. The costs run quite high if you buy professionally painted figures and fancy terrain. To save money, you can paint the models yourself. Many hobbyists really enjoy the "arts & crafts" aspects of miniatures gaming. But the trade-off in saving money is the big increase in time that you'll spend painting your tiny tin troops. And then of course, you'll need paints, brushes, glue, flock, and other assorted materials. Plus, miniature wargames are generally much more complex than most board games. It's not unusual for miniature wargame rulebooks to run for 60, 100, or even 200+ pages. It takes time to learn the rules. About the only thing that's not really expensive are the rulebooks themselves (most fall in the $20 to $40 range). Miniature wargaming is not just about playing games, it's about the entire HOBBY of researching, collecting, painting, learning, and gaming.
And what about video games? They're fairly cheap after all. Yes, but actually finishing a game can take many hours, spread over days, weeks, and even months. Heck, I have many adventure games that I've played but never finished. Such is the life of an adult with lots of things going on at once.
So I look at board games as a simple pleasure -- something I can pull out and play for a few hours, and then put back on my closet shelf until the next game session rolls around. I'm not under any time pressure to play by a certain deadline. I don't need to keep up with the day-to-day news of the world around me in order to win a game. I don't need to spend thousands of dollars to maintain my hobby addiction. There's very little pre-game prep required. And it's something that I can do with both casual gamers and more serious enthusiasts. It's a win-win on so many levels.
Sometimes, simple is good.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Below is the kickoff newsletter I sent out to my small group of gamer friends. I've slightly altered the format for blog-posting purposes. My hope is that anyone who is considering starting their own little private board gaming or wargaming group can glean some useful ideas from my efforts into organized gaming. So read on and enjoy!
Hello Swabbies... Arrrrrr
Consider this your first official SWABI email of 2008. I wanted to use this opportunity to discuss some key things about SWABI and explain where things are headed. Save this email for reference. It's a long one.
On with the show mateys!
At this stage, there are 5 official members of our little group: myself, Wally Wenklar, Kevin Sarnowski, Mayer Foner, and Kenny Alfery. These are the people that (1) have shown the most interest in regular gaming, and (2) are up for playing pretty much any type of game whether it's 2-player of Multi-player.
I will look to find other friends who might be interested in being part of SWABI. Feelers will be put out over the next few weeks and throughout the year.
I struck out contacting my old pal Allen Marshall via email, so I'm going to followup with a phone call to him soon (I was too busy to remember to do that over the holidays). I haven't talked to Allen in eons, so I really have no idea if he's into board games like he was when we were growing up. But he used to be an avid boardgamer and RPG player so it's worth a shot.
I'm not too sure if Geoff Kyper will be able to release himself from the evil clutches of his Pirate Wife long enough to get away for some occasional multi-player board gaming and grog guzzling on a Sat/Sun. Geoff has promised to make time for Sword of Severnia playtesting, but his wife might frown upon him doing anything beyond that -- he babysits his tiny tots a lot since his wife is always working lots of OT or odd hours at her psychology/social-worker practice.
I'll also touch base with Joe Foner. I'm guessing Joe will mostly be interested in playing multi-player game sessions along with his Dad.
Alton Whittle emailed me about a week ago to say that he cannot commit to anything right now. He might be a resource in an emergency for multi-player games in which Wally is playing, but I don't believe that we can count strongly on Alton.
I'm guessing that Hunter Wenklar would be interested in joining some multi-player game sessions on the weekends. I'll let Wally ask him what his status is.
I'm hoping that Mike Hughes' busy personal life (he's been remodelling his house for what seems like Forever) slows down somewhat and allows him to be involved in some multi-player games down the road. He had great fun playing HeroScape, and I can easily see him getting interested in some of my other battle games. Once his schedule frees up, I think he might be interested in this and I'll contact him about it.
I'm sure that I can get Anna (my wife) to join us in some multi-player games occasionally. She's not a diehard gamer, but she always has fun playing games. It takes a lot of coaxing to get her to play in an "all-boys club" and she likes to fill her free time cross-stitching or reading. IF only I could get Rob Sarrafian and his wife Sue to play, Anna would be gaming in a heartbeat!! She gets along great with those guys.
Anyway... I'll be trying to slowly increase the size of our SWABI group over time. That would greatly help my efforts at getting enough people together for multi-player games -- I'm not really worried about 2-player games since I only need 1 person to make Wargame Wednesdays happen.
I got mixed reviews on the idea of having folks pay a $10 seasonal fee. Nobody seems to have a problem kicking in money to cover the cost of drinks/snacks. But not everyone is interested in the seasonal prize giveaway (a lottery to win a free board game).
So I'll stick with a $1 Cover Charge to help cover the cost of drinks/snacks. If I do decide to do a prize giveaway in the future, it will probably be something that I'll do out of my own pocket and just for the hell of it.
I decided to create 2 Gamer Queues:
- The STERN = this is where I'm putting everyone who likes to play ANY TYPE OF GAME (2-player and multi-player, any genre). This queue currently includes Wally, Kevin, Mayer, and Kenny. Perhaps others will get added to this queue later, but for now, these four mateys are sitting pretty in the Stern. Watch the waves ye salty sea dogs!!! Arrrrr....
- The AFT = I know what you're thinking, "Aft kinda rhymes with Ass". Those scurvy pirates!! Arrrrr... All the casual and choosy gamers will be put in the back of the SWABI ship. I realize that some people just don't want to play 2-player wargames and solely prefer playing multi-player adventure, strategy, and card games. These multi-player ONLY gamers will reside in this second queue.
I'm going to start setting aside WEDNESDAY NIGHTS on my calendar and reserving them for tabletop gaming. Based on a survey I sent out many weeks ago, Wednesday Night was a decent gaming night for the majority of you. Since I'm unlikely to draw big crowds on a regular basis during the middle of the week, I've decided to limit Wednesday game sessions to 2-PLAYER games.
Since most of the 2-player games in my collection are wargames or strategy games, I've annointed these mid-week gaming sessions as WARGAME WEDNESDAYS. It's an easy name to remember, and since most of us really like wargames & strategy games, it's a perfect fit.
The first session will likely be slated for next Wednesday (JAN 16). I'll pick and announce a game soon.
To give you a good idea of the types of games that will be on the docket during the course of this year, here's a rundown of 2-player games that I currently own and most want to play (as well as some multi-player games that play well with 2 players):
- Battlelore -- card driven Fantasy wargame using regiments of 20mm minis
- Battle Cry -- card driven Civil War battles using regiments of 20mm minis
- HeroScape -- skirmish battles in Valhalla (fantasy, sci-fi, historical mix) using cool 28mm minis & plastic hex terrain
- Tide of Iron -- tactical World War II wargame using squads of 15mm tanks and infantry minis
- Wings of War -- card driven World War I aerial dogfighting game with pre-painted miniature planes
- Hammer of the Scots -- map-based, strategic block wargame based on Braveheart period (Scots/English Wars)
- Wizard Kings -- map-based, strategic block wargame using Fantasy armies (works with up to 7 players)
- Dungeon Twister -- strategy game involving getting 5 heroes out of a dungeon before your opponent does
- Lord of the Rings: Confrontation -- Stratego-like strategy game (Sauron's baddies vs. Frodo/Gandalf's good guys)
- Feudal -- classic Chess-like Medieval wargame (works with up to 6 players)
- AT 43 -- Sci-Fi skirmish battles using cool pre-painted 28mm minis and large mechs
- Doom -- Sci-Fi dungeon crawler based on Doom video game with miniature space marines & demons
- Starship Catan -- 2-player strategy variation of Settlers of Catan with Sci-Fi theme
- Chaos Marauders -- light card game about building battle lines for your army of Orcs
- Battleball -- light Futuristic Football game using 28mm miniatures
- Lionheart -- miniature-based Medieval battle game with faint Chess-like elements
- STIGA Table Hockey -- Rod Hockey dexterity game with 3D players
There are other multi-player games I have that work well with 2 players (Domaine, Dark Tower, Nexus Ops, etc.).
Although I truly love both Statis-Pro Baseball and Strat-O-Matic Hockey, the player cards that I have for those games are quite dated (circa 1970's & 80's). So that's why I didn't include them on the main list. I faintly recall that someone is producing and selling new cards for Statis Pro (which has been out of print for many years). So that might be something I would buy and play again if I could get new 2007 cards for it. Strat-O-Matic sells new player cards every year. But getting into these games again might prove to be a very slippery slope for me -- how can you resist playing these sports games without drafting your own fantasy teams and forming a league around it?!?!
SWASHBUCKLING SATURDAYS and SUNDAYS
I haven't settled on a nickname for these weekend gaming sessions yet, so this is what I'm going with for now. My plan is to reserve time over the weekends for MULTI PLAYER games. Time slots for these gaming sessions will vary according to my schedule. I'm going to try and mix things up a little since some people prefer afternoon gaming, while others like evenings best.
For now, the 3 most common time slots will be Saturday Afternoons (1 PM start), Sunday Afternoons (1 or 2 PM start), and Sunday Nights (6 or 7 PM start).
The first session will likely be slated for next weekend (JAN 19 or 20). I'll pick and announce a game soon.
What I'm going to do for weekend sessions is announce both a PLAN-A and PLAN-B. So what does that mean?
- PLAN-A will be a MULTI PLAYER game (3 people or more needed to play). That's the tabletop game that we'll play if we can get the minimum number of players.
- PLAN-B is the backup plan, and is a 2-PLAYER game. If only one person wants to play in a weekend session (and he/she also wants to play 2-player games with me), then I'll pull out the Plan-B game and we'll play that.
By the way, Kevin mentioned that he might like to do Saturday Morning sessions sometimes (with coffee & doughnuts). I could probably swing that on occasion, although I'm not generally a "morning person". Does anyone else like the idea of SAT Morning gaming sessions (say 9 AM to Noon)? If so, please drop me an email and let me know. If there's a demand for it, I will add that into the weekend scheduling mix.
As far as multi-player games go, here's are the key games in my collection that I'm hoping to get to the table:
- Pirate's Cove -- a Pirate themed adventure where you battle enemy pirate ships and steal treasure. Arrrrr!
- Shadows Over Camelot -- co-operative adventure game involving knights (set in King Arthur's Camelot)
- Talisman -- classic Fantasy quest game with lots of chaos, monsters, and surprises
- Prophecy -- a new Fantasy adventure game (reputedly a faster & more elegant variation of Talisman)
- Arkham Horror -- lengthy but immersive co-operative adventure game set in Call of Cthulhu world
- Cash 'N Guns -- party game where you play mobsters divvying up stolen loot, has cool Foam Guns you point at each other!
- Citadels -- classic, bloodthirsty card game of Medieval castle building
- Domaine -- elegant, area control strategy game with Medieval theme
- Acquire -- classic economic game from 3M about building/merging hotel chains
- Ticket to Ride -- very popular, fast-playing game about building railroad connections across the USA
- Through the Desert -- arabian themed, area control strategy game with cool pastel camels!
- Condottiere -- card based wargame centered around mercenaries in Renaissance Italy
- Carcassonne -- very popular, tile-laying game involves building and controlling roads, cloisters, towns, etc.
- Attack! -- grand-scale wargame set in World War I/II era, similar to Risk and Axis & Allies in some ways
- Cosmic Encounter -- classic Sci-Fi negotiation game (you play aliens using special powers to take over the galaxy)
- Monsters Menace America -- game of B-movie Giant Monster combat using miniature monsters
- Nexus Ops -- Sci-Fi wargame involving exploration, mining, and aliens
- Win, Place, & Show -- classic Horse Racing betting game
- Mystery of the Abbey -- Clue-like deduction game where you find the killer amongst monks in an abbey
- Saboteur -- light card game about Dwarven Miners digging for gold
- Guillotine -- humorous card game about chopping off heads during the French Revolution
- Slapshot -- humorous card game about Ice Hockey
- Monkeys On the Moon -- humorous card game about sending monkeys into space
- Apples to Apples -- popular, light party game of word association
- Rogue Trooper -- like a Sci-Fi version of Talisman, based on 1980's British comic
I've got many other games I could choose from as well, but they're not nearly as high on my radar as the above listed games. Of course this list could change, especially if I buy new games and sell off any old ones.
I will schedule game sessions and release an updated schedule VIA EMAIL each week (probably every FRI or SAT -- I just need to get into a routine of doing it).
My plan is to create a ROLLING 2-WEEK SCHEDULE. For instance, the first SWABI schedule would have game sessions listed for the weeks of JAN 14-20 and JAN 21-27.
The first week's sessions will be cast in stone as far as times and games to be played. Consider that I need to clear my schedule AND learn the rules (or refresh my memory) for the games we're going to play. So I really can't change everything on short notice. The second week's sessions will be more tentative, and times/games may change by the time the next schedule is published. So please be aware of that.
Due to vacations, trips to Philly, game conventions, Bears hockey games, SOS wargaming sessions, family events, overloaded work weeks, etc., there will be times where I can only fit 1 game session into the schedule. I'll do my best to stick to 2 sessions per week, but realize that sometimes that's just not going to be possible. I'm sure everyone understands that, but I just wanted to make a special point of it.
WHY 2 SESSIONS PER WEEK?
Although I'm scheduling 2 SWABI game sessions per week, I realize that it's Wishful Thinking to assume that 2 game sessions will occur every week for 52 weeks of the year. I fully understand that your free time and schedules vary, just like mine. There will be some weeks with 2 game sessions, other weeks with only 1 session, and weeks where no games are played at all. I fully expect this.
My decision to schedule 2 game sessions per week was simple. If there are 100 game sessions scheduled between now and the end of 2008, and only half of those actually come to pass, then I will still have participated in 50 game sessions for the year. And that my friends, would be a most excellent year indeed. A hell of a lot of Game Play and a hell of a lot of Fun will have occured during the year. Perhaps I'm an optimist, but I certainly think that 50 sessions is doable. And the potential for even greater numbers exists. But even if there's only 35 SWABI game sessions played, that's still pretty good and much better gaming output than most of us experience in a single year.
I suspect that in the early going, it will be easier for me to get Wargame Wednesdays going on a regular basis. I only need 1 other person to join me for a head-to-head game each week, and you swabbies seem to like those types of games. I had some measure of success hosting 2-player strategy games last year with Wally and Kevin, so I'm optimistic this will work out.
Getting multi-player gaming sessions to happen every weekend will be trickier. Experience has shown me that. It definitely can happen. I've hosted multi-player games before with several of you guys. But I suspect that getting a regular routine flowing for multi-player gaming will be a slower process that will require time to build up. The interest is definitely there. It's just a matter of getting 3 or more people together on the same DAY & same TIME. Finding a day and time slot that suits the majority of people will take some time to figure out. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to have additional gamers lurking in our AFT queue. The more people we have, the easier it will be to fill out multi-player sessions.
I need some leadtime before each gaming session to know: (1) whether or not anyone is coming to that session, (2) who and how many people want to play, (3) whether I should spend time studying the rules beforehand or not, and (4) whether I need to go get drinks/snacks for the session in case there's nothing already available in my house. I also need to know that if 3 people all want to play a 2-player wargame, that the first respondent in the Queue gets first dibs, and the other guys will need to be notified via email to know that the game is already full.
So that said, I need to have a system in place for RSVP-ing me. This is what I would like to go with:
- If you want to play in WED NIGHT game, please notify me via EMAIL or PHONE by 8 PM MONDAY evening.
- If you want to play in SAT or SUN game, please notify me via EMAIL or PHONE by 8 PM THURSDAY evening.
This gives me sufficient leadtime to do everything I need to do, including notifying everyone whether or not a given game session is already full and who DID or DID NOT get into that game this time. That's why I'm doing the QUEUE thing. If Wally gets into a 2-player game this week, then he moves to the back of the line, and everyone else has a better chance than him to get into next week's 2-player game. The queue allows me to give everyone a chance to participate, rather than just those people who always have a fast email trigger finger and respond first.
SWABI needs a personality. I like the pirate theme. It's silly and fun. And fun is what this is all about. If want to make up your own pirate name, go right ahead! Otherwise, I'll be making up pirate nicknames for everyone soon. If you need help thinking up a cool name, check out these two Pirate Name Generators (http://www.mess.be/pirate-names-male.php -OR- http://gangstaname.com/pirate_name.php).
Get ye naming yerself ye scurvy dogs!!!
That's the scoop for now. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.