Monday, June 27, 2011

The Windmills of Wargaming in Northern Utah

I'm fighting the blahs ... the blue bitchings ... the wailing Wally's ... in terms of gaming.  Lately I've felt pretty owned by all the stuff going on with two of my favorite games. Warhammer 40,000 and Dungeons and Dragons.  But really the more that I have talked to others and thought about whats going on I'm seeing this as a great opportunity to get into some other games I might not otherwise try.  To take a break and take a chill pill and just smell the roses and enjoy my time here with my family and friends.

See about two years ago I moved away from Las Vegas up to northern Utah.  I moved from an area where I knew dozens and dozens of fellow gamers (who I'd gamed with for years).  Was a member of a big 40K oriented war gaming club. Beyond that I had a well established pattern of traveling down to So. Cal and Arizona for gaming cons, tourneys (Gencon So. Cal and Gamesdays back in the old days), etc.  But that all came to a screeching halt for the most part (I still make trips to Vegas now and again and down to So. Cal ... but its just a couple times a year).  So I have spent the last two years trying to find fellow gamers up here and it hasn't been easy.  Utah (at least where I'm at) is a much more insular place where gamers band togther in little garage groups and don't get out into the broader "community" much.  Game stores thus dominate the "public" gaming options and there are literally zero game clubs to speak of.  I have for two years attempted, along with the dozen people in my home gaming group, to build a game club.  But its just not gone anywhere.  I helped build a club in Las Vegas that in its heyday had over fifty active members and over a hundred on the dues paying membership roster.  Sadly that club due to most of the founding members moving and the ravages of the recession has died ... but that was after I left Las Vegas so that didn't directly impact me.  Anyway though we've been trying and trying to build an independent gaming community in our area and its been rough.

That said though I have a great home gaming group that I really enjoy gaming with.  So my approach with what games I look to possibly add to the mix, etc. has changed.  The GW stuff will always, always have a special place in my heart.  GW brought me into gaming again as an adult around 1998 or so and mini war gaming was my first gaming love (again as an adult, as a kid I was brought in with Red Box D&D).  But that just hasn't taken off in my home game group.  About six of the twelve to fifteen people who are in our gaming group are GW fans and have a desire to maybe play.  Some of them have armies that they can never bring themselves to paint (not blaming them, its tough finding the time and energy to paint in some cases nearly 200 mins) and the costs for just something that is going to be very casual is a deterrent for several of them.  I've tried team painting nights and paint challenges, suggested house leagues, campaigns etc. We tried Necromunda and Mordheim and they just didn't click ... in the case of Necromunda its so alien to the 40K of today people were turned off.  Mordheim was tough because of the warbands some people wanted to play were imbalanced and not "official." We tried some various skirmish rules for 40K and they just didn't click with the group.  So essentially due to lack of numbers of committed players they have fizzled.  Another big deal with my group is the lack of actual willingness to play longer duration games.  The big reason that is is that our group has a strong tendency towards BS tangents (for RPGs the GMs work hard to keep people on track .. but with a GM-less system there is no such restraint).   So a game of 40K can easily take 4 hours (for a 1500 point game ... sad but that is just an ongoing problem with this gorup). So with the big storms raging in the GW community these days, the lack of quality public play options in my area and just the realities of my own overall GW gaming prospects here in northern Utah I've put GW on the back, back burner ... maybe I'll make an attempt to return when 6th ed hits for 40K.  I'd love to do 8th ed WHFB but that just seems like an even more daunting prospect than 40k.

For D&D see the last post I made.  We all had some fun with 4e but for a variety of reasons the group has soured on WoTC and 4e for now.  So we have moved off into other directions with RPGs.  RPGs are not a worry for me I know our group will continue to have an ongoing game or two of something ... they are easy to put together and fun and there is no end of good systems out there to suit our fancy of the day. 
But what I have been looking for now is simply a different approach for myself in terms of mini gaming especially.  I am buying all four starter sets for Dystopian Wars (land and sea), I'm buying all the starter boxes for Warmachine and Hordes, I'm looking at some 15 MM sci-fi options, etc. I'm going to buy the stuff, paint it up and run the games like a board games.  I have all the terrain completely finished for all of those possibilities so my group can use my stuff and we'll cycle through.  If people want to go out and buy their own stuff and paint it up ... awesome ... but if not ... we will have fun mini gaming.  I know my group would be A-OK with this.  Its sad that I have to resort to this, but really with all the distractions of the internet, video games, and just fast paced modern living ... people just seem to have less and less time for mini gaming.  By the way this all might sound INSANE to some of you but bear in mind I have five kids who are young (the oldest is 7) and they are all budding little gamers.  So having a big selection of mini games, etc. all painted with core rules that I can eventually play with them is something I've been thinking about for a long time as well.  So this does effectively kill to birds with one stone for me and therefore makes more sense than it might if I was just a single guy with no kids trying to get gaming going.

I'm a little worried that I'm attempting to bite off more than I can chew here ... but I feel like this is the surest path to keeping mini gaming alive for myself.  In the past I've partaken in many, many crazy mini game related projects and had some huge successes and huge failures.  But just a few of the things I have been able to pull off in terms of similar commitments have been: painted a dozen 40K armies to a decent standard.  I've worked on huge game club projects from a full 40 player tourney setup (tabletops, terrain, etc.) to big club game table projects for Gamesday (back when we still had them down in LA), etc. So I'm confident I can pull this off if I can just master my own laziness and keep myself motivated.  I just need to get a fire burning and keep it going.  So my hope is that within two weeks I have my Dystopian Wars minis in hand and then once that project is in I'll start in on Warmachine.


Mike Howell said...

Sounds like a rough time. Finding decent opponents (and by decent I mean "fun") is the eternal challenge, even when there are lots of gamers in the area. (Maybe try Even with a decent number of gamers around here getting a game can be difficult, especially when I am unwilling to abandon my family to play. That relegates me to late nights (9pm-) or very infrequent days.

Take a look at Malifaux too. Very easy entry point, and wonderful models. My kids have a Neverborn crew they are painting.

The Lord of Excess said...

Ya I tried meetup and in my area its pretty sparse ... a couple defunct groups on it. Also the pen and paper RPG website, nearby gamers, etc. I managed to find a dozen decent people to game with but its a mixed bag as far as interests go. Over half the group are pretty much exclusively RPG/occasional board game types. The other 5 or so people are open to minis. So I don't have much to work with sadly :(.

As for Malifaux ... absolutely I've been intrigued with that game for awhile. Their new cardstock terrain sets look amazing!! Great idea! But that is an option on the table after Dystopian that might be an easier sell to my players than Warma-hordes too.