Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Lizardmen project continues ...

So I have received more stuff from eBay for the Lizardmen project.  I have a few more lots with offers/bids on them right now so we'll see. 
What is in the picture there is 32 skink archers (the older models, which I happen to really like) along with  50 of the newer style saurus models (with shields and hand weapons) as well as a older style pewter stegadon and a pewter carnosaur. 
My hope is I can use some of the old saurus models mixed in with the new ones.  I really do like the new models though, they are pretty nice.  Again I have no real plan for color scheme, etc. just yet.  I'm sort of hoping to acquire more of the army still and then sort of see what I have to go with.
Given that this army might well see multiple versions of the rules.  Certainly we are going to be doing some 6th ed. games, but also who knows how 9th will turn out.  If all the rumors are true and they take the game back to a lower model count style, quicker playing game then it might draw me in.
So I'd like to end up with at least 2-3 units of saurus with hand weapons, then 2-3 with spears (so I could optionally run one big unit of either or both).  I haven't even looked into what the skink can take, nor have I started really working much on the rares and specials or characters.  I do have an old style slann mage priest still coming in the mail from the UK, which I am probably going to look into magnetizing so he can be mounted on an old stegadon or on a platform on his own within a unit, or even maybe on one of the newer stegadons, etc.
So I am in the very early stages of the project still.  I am poking around on the internet still for terrain ideas, etc.   

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are lead minis dangerous for children and is it ok to tell a parent how they should view/treat lead minis in their home?

As a mini gamer often the lead vs. non-lead debate makes me feel like a vegan at a cattle ranchers convention.  It is easy to offend some gamers by just mentioning "lead free."  On more than one occasion just asking if something has lead in it has gotten me dirty looks, and or embroiled nasty flame-rants, etc.

So in response to a discussion about this I've had in the past and recently online.  I thought I'd just make a blog post about it and sort of once and for all, just for my own catharsis, just talk about it a little bit.

First my take on lead is as follows.  Can you be an over protective parent and just get carried away with sanitizing your home and going nuts about stuff?  Of course.  I believe there is a balance.  The flip side to that is that I also believe it is a slippery slope to start saying that "well there is dangerous stuff all around us we just have to deal with it."  To me I end up asking, so the point is "best to ignore it all"? 

The answer to the question of whether or not one should have lead minis in their home is 100% an independent call.  It really all just depends on where and how they are stored and whether or not they have kids.  If one does not have kids, it is really a non-issue.  Far more dangerous things in the world to worry about.  Even if one has kids, I do agree that there are likely more dangerous things in the cleaning cabinet than lead minis. 

Ultimately I think this is always going to be a choice of the individual and I think that should be what the community viewpoint is.  I don't think people on either side should criticize.  Yet I see a lot of smugness out there.  I have seen endless comments dismissing the danger of lead as trivial.  I rarely see people bashing leadheads for owning their lead minis though, not saying it doesn't happen, but I think it is far less frequent than teasing about "don't eat the lead mini and you'll be ok" sorts of dismissive comments many wargamers make on the issue.

Have kids been harmed?

While as many as 20 million birds and animals die each year from lead exposure and the World Health Organization "estimated 143,000 deaths per year result from lead poisoning, with lead paint is a major contributor. Exposure contributes to 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year and 99 percent of children affected by high exposure to lead live in low- and middle-income countries." From LINK

Though to answer the question directly, how many kids in say the US, Canada and the UK die each year from eating minis.  Probably zero, maybe one every several years, those are just guesses as I couldn't find any info on that.  Given the somewhat high standards, lots of consumer protections and industries that don't want to get hit with class action suits I would think we in the post industrial world have it far better than our third world neighbors.  From what I have read I believe the vast majority of the lead poisoning deaths that occur are in the third world, central Africa, and in nations where there are little to no environmental, health, workplace safety and consumer protection regulation.  All that said it only takes trace amounts of lead in a small child's system to do irreparable, potentially very serious damage that will have a life long negative impact.
So there are not thousands of poor little kids eating classic 80s lead minis and dying every year.  I haven't heard anyone out there really making that claim though.
Anyway to get back to the discussion at hand.  Ok what is the deal with lead? Is it really dangerous to kids?  The quick and factually undeniable answer is YES.

You can go and do the research if you'd like on why lead is deemed toxic to children.  Here is a basic fact sheet on it LINK

Here is a National Safety Council piece on lead safety LINK

Here is a Centers for Disease Control info page on lead safety LINK

Here is a decent article from the Huffington Post on the topic (yes I know the Huff post is a left lefty publication, but I believe the article is soundly written without bias in terms of their stats, etc.).  LINK

There are many better sources out there and one can spend days and days reading up on it.  In general there is zero debate though that lead is extremely dangerous and harmful to children under the age of 12 for sure and most sources say that children as old as 18 (as long as they are still developing mentally and physically) can be adversely impacted. 

So are there any cases of harm befalling children from lead, I feel compelled to provide at least one.  But again that was not the nature of this post, I did not for the record seek to make any sort of negative statement on lead minis, etc. etc.

The question about whether or not children have been negatively impacted by lead minis is a complex one.  First you do not die from lead exposure, in order to cause death exposure has to be extreme.  There have been children who have died from lead poisoning though for sure. 

Here is at least a confirmed caste of a child dying from swallowing a "lead charm" which hmm ... what is a small lead mini after all.  Bear in mind that it looks like that charm had a high lead content like above 90% which for minis is somewhat rare.  I think most lead minis even back in the day were a mix and it seems like 60-70% lead I've heard was/is the norm for "lead" minis.

It is from the Minnesota department of Health, again a reputable site, LINK

Oddly enough that incident involved a heart shaped charm that had something to do with Reebok shoes and there was a multimillion dollar lawsuit a few years after the child's death over it. 
There have been many reported instances of adverse exposures and whatnot and stats on the overall lead exposure rates and the effect can be found readily. 

But finding cases of child lead poisoning from minis, I'd be surprised if one found any.  While I do not think you will find CNN or the local newspaper taking up stories about kids eating miniatures, I am certain that children have had harmful lead exposure from lead miniatures.  It is just a law of large numbers thing.  The reality too with lead is that again, people do not often die from it, adults get lead poisoning and then get treatment.  Kids if they don't get outright lead poisoning then they just get ADDHD, they have a lower IQ and a host of other permanent health issues.  So how and when is that going to be detected?  Who is going to be able to prove that 20 years ago that old grenadier mini the kid ate gave them a learning disability?  Again though one can have lead exposure as a kid and continue to live and probably 99.9999999999999999999% do without much detection or change.  If you have ADDHD as a kid, you can survive and even thrive, but your life is going to be more challenging.  If you take a 10 point hit to your IQ, same thing.

So the majority of issues from lead exposure are probably not even detected.  So who is to say how much of a problem it is or is not.  Clearly manufacturers that sell minis to children have either stopped producing with lead or labeled their products to warn parents not to let children (usually the label says "under 14") play with them.

Also I want to say again that I do not judge other parents who feel they can safely have lead minis in their home with kids around, I am quite positive that it can easily, safely can be done.  I happen to have FIVE children who are all under the age of nine and who are particularly adept at getting into pretty much everything.  There have been instances where my older children have gotten into something in a matter of just a few minutes and had the younger child end up with whatever it was they were into.

For me as a parent if there is a miniscule chance of any of that sort of negative thing happening to my kids I take notice.  At the end of the day the lead issue boils down to me having specific miniatures.  I will opt not to have those minis and just use other minis instead.  For me it is a no-brainer.  For others who feel they can safely secure things, etc. and keep them away from the kids, it also might be a no-brainer in the other direction.  I would not presume to judge them and I would  hope they would not judge me.   


I game for fun, it is a little hobby.  If there is a one in a million chance something could be permanently harmful to my children I do whatever I can to keep it out of their reach or just look for a safer alternative.  With lead the decision was easy.  It is non-essential to our life, I didn't have very much, I got rid of what I had and just don't bring more into the house.  My choice, not a blanket statement that every other mini gamer should follow my example.  Yet asking if there are lead free options I feel that is A-OK thing to do and I shouldn't have to endlessly justify that request to others.  Again I do not feel that I have the right to go around and ask people if they have kids and then if they say yes tell them they shouldn't have lead around.  I would feel like a jerk and I'd be totally in the wrong.  But I have never done that.  I've never gone somewhere and said "lead is bad and you are a bad person if you have lead minis" or "if you have lead minis as a parent you are a bad parent" ... seriously though I feel as though saying those things would get just the same response I get when I just ask "is there lead in that" or "hey does anyone know of a lead free option for this fig" ... etc.

I have owned lead figures in the past and might again in the future (when my children are much older than ages 3-9).  The reality for me is I do not honestly lament not being a lead collector very much anymore.  There are a few ranges out there with figures I'd like to own for sure that I have avoided but its not a major thing for me.  I did have to get rid of maybe 100 or so not very rare or valuable figures.  The biggest hit was getting rid of a couple of Flames of War armies at fire sale prices, but such is life. 

I am perfectly happy keeping my minis lead free pewter, plastic and resin.  It isn't that big of a deal honestly and I understand many out there dearly love lead minis.  I do too really.  So perhaps we should all just get along.  If I ask for a lead free option, it doesn't mean I'm saying lead is bad.  I just have another preference. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

My only big minis project for 2014!!

I am starting a new Oldhammer-ish army that I hope to get done by the fall of 2014. (I'm thinking for use in 5th and/or 6th edition WHFB games).  I have endless small side projects I'd like to get done but those come and go and some make it and many end up in my garage game stuff attic (only to be wonderfully "re-discovered" years later like that lot in the picture).

For said project, which I am hoping to turn that bit o' stuff up there int a really big very versatile army.  I'd like to use it mainly for 6th edition WHFB but I'm also hoping to have enough flexibility to use it for maybe Kings of War (proxies for another army) and who knows maybe 9th ed. WHFB (if it is good).  leftover from some acquisition off of ebay of a mixed WHFB lot about five or so years back (or more).  There is something like 20 rider-less pterodactyl models, two stegadons without the crew (but the howdah is there and all the other bits) and a couple of temple guard and of course the newer style slaan.

So on that note I am looking for some alternative lizardmen and after combing the internet (its really difficult even with a big brush) I have found not a hell of a lot. Oh yes some individual figs from Reaper, some blood bowl stuff that might be converted, things from companies like Privateer Press and whatnot. Overall though compared to some of the other ranges I am sad that there isn't a bit more out there.

I'm hoping to have this wrapped up by fall of 2014 ... including acquiring, assembling and painting the army AS WELL AS getting a decent amount of jungle and lizardmen terrain done up to go along with it all.

Honestly I've participated with the OSR stuff with RPGs and in my experience sadly elitism in some regard dominates much of that community (at least in places online, and in my experience in many local gaming communities).  Scorched earth version wars have left a bloody, divided landscape when it comes to the lands of D&D.  For years now the Pathfinder loyalists have disparaged the 3.5 only guys who laugh at the 4e fans, and from their craggy towers of old the OSR guys turn their noses up at everyone else.  Lets not even talk about the "indie" RPG fan, who know Vincent Baker personally ... ugh.  Why so much hate?  Its as bad as Apple vs. Android or Star Wars vs. Star Trek.

I guess we just like to point fingers at and feeling superior to "NOT LIKE US!!" Perhaps this is indeed just the human condition, hard wired into our lizard brain somewhere. 

The tragedy in this all though is the bottom line is we do this for fun.  So why don't we gamers rally around the commonality rather than the really insignificant difference?
So to turn the conversation to Oldhammer ...
Let me ask this; if people want to use current range models blended in with classic lead is that ok?  If a poor fella or a young kid just starting out in mini gaming wanders into the enclosures of Oldhammer ... and they don't have a vast collection of classic lead or the money to acquire it ... shall they be turned away?

The answer to that question, from what I'm seeing is ... NO THEY SHALL NOT!

The Oldhammer community seems very open, friendly and accepting of various versions, preferences, ideas and beliefs.  I see next to no elitism or "this is the BEST" sure people have opinions and preferences but I do not see any lines in the sand being drawn.  I don't see anyone defining Oldhammer as 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle ... ONLY.  I see a lot of flexibility.  I see people using brand new GW stuff, heck I see blogs out there where people are playing 6th ed 40K avidly as well as 6th ed WHFB. 

I really like what I see so far and hope that this is the direction Oldhammer continues to move forever.  It would be a true renaissance for mini gaming if that ends up being the case.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Using Dungeon World for Hackmaster ... hmmm

So I've been tinkering with the idea of using Dungeon World to run a Hackmaster game.  I know it is a crazy thing on so many levels.  A) Hackmaster equates to campy fun trope laden hack and slash ... in general and B) the rulesets are epic distances apart one is light and quick the other is intentional tongue and cheek too dense with insane amounts of extra stuff squished in ... all in the name of fun, nostalgia and hilarity (I believe Hackmaster was the Original Old School Revolution Game ... just my opinion).
Anway I don't even know how I'd start honestly.  I just have such fond memories of Hackmaster but no illusions that I'd probably ever get to play in or run a game of it ... EVER.  I just don't have the time to run it and I don't know anyone who is in the local gaming community who would have the time, interest and/or ability to pull it off the way I'd want to play.  So.  There you have it. 
My only thoughts are extracting some key elements and classic character classes from Hackmaster and then using the Hacklopedia of beasts to populate the game.  Requiring the PCs to "go to school" in order to level up, using in game coupons, etc.  Just little elements from the game. 
Who knows though, I think my first hack of DW is going to be a feudal Japan game so if I ever did this project it would probably be sometime next summer ... maybe.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New board games for a new year!

I picked up three new board games for the new year.  Euphoria, Terra Mystica and Sentinels of the Multiverse.

Euphoria --  I managed to pick up a deluxe Kickstarter copy of Euphoria, a game that I really wanted to snag on Kickstarter and just couldn't at the time and let it pass.  So when I saw it for sale at retail I jumped on it. 

The reviews have been decent on it and I just like the theme and the components look cool as well.  Pretty excited to play this soon!

Terra Mystica  -- A new offering from Zman games (maker of Agricola, etc.) that is in essence a worker placement game with apparently some cool new twists.  It has had some really good reviews and for whatever reason it caught my fancy so I decided to snag it.

Here is the Zman blurb on it . . .

"In the land of Terra Mystica dwell 14 different peoples in seven landscapes, and each group is bound to its own home environment, so to develop and grow, they must terraform neighboring landscapes into their home environments in competition with the other groups.
Terra Mystica is a game with very little luck that rewards strategic planning. Each player governs one of the 14 groups. With subtlety and craft, the player must attempt to rule as great an area as possible and to develop that group's skills. There are also four religious cults in which you can progress. To do all that, each group has special skills and abilities.
Taking turns, the players execute their actions on the resources they have at their disposal. Different buildings allow players to develop different resources. Dwellings allow for more workers. Trading houses allow players to make money. Strongholds unlock a group's special ability, and temples allow you to develop religion and your terraforming and seafaring skills. Buildings can be upgraded: Dwellings can be developed into trading houses; trading houses can be developed into strongholds or temples; one temple can be upgraded to become a sanctuary. Each group must also develop its terraforming skill and its skill with boats to use the rivers. The groups in question, along with their home landscape, are:
  • Desert (Fakirs, Nomads)
  • Plains (Halflings, Cultists)
  • Swamp (Alchemists, Darklings)
  • Lake (Mermaids, Swarmlings)
  • Forest (Witches, Auren)
  • Mountain (Dwarves, Engineers)
  • Wasteland (Giants, Chaos Magicians)
Proximity to other groups is a double-edged sword in Terra Mystica. Being close to other groups gives you extra power, but it also means that expanding is more difficult..."

Sentinels of the Multiverse --

Last but not least I grabbed Sentinels of the Multiverse, a generic superhero deck builder that has had pretty decent reviews.  I've not had a chance to play but heard from people it is a lot of fun.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dungeon World campaign ... flexibility, fate points and fun

So I have been running a weekly Dungeon World campaign since last summer (2nd week of August) and it has gone very well for the most part.  We have had our ups and downs like any RPG campaign but overall it is one of the most enjoyable games I've ever run and the players seem pretty happy with it. 

We have hit a point now though where I am beginning to wonder if A) the system was really meant to accommodate a game this long (20+ sessions) and B) just how long OUR game can last.  I mean I really have no idea if I'll still be running this next fall or if we will be done by March. 

The game is our own campaign setting, Dark Ages Europe with a heavy dose of D&D.  It is a fully sandbox style game where the players have a heavy amount of influence in the storyline, etc. and I have major plot points planned out and then just leave it to the party to decide where they are going and what they are doing.  I use the rules of the game to make my moves and plan my fronts with some of my own little modifications.  For us it has worked well.

My mods I don't even know if they are worth talking about, they are mostly based on my own group and how they play and how I like the pace of my game to flow.  In essence it is mostly about me loosely tracking their failures and then sort of keeping a running tally of that to govern my fronts.  Relying less on the DW rules for fronts and more just on my own hodge-podge system of tossing tiny plastic skulls into a cup and then sort of weighing my front advancement against their actions and how many failures they have had.

I have a mechanic which I call my "fate point" mechanic, stolen from FATE but with my own twists.  Essentially its a modified token-benefit system.  I give the players all three poker chips and those can be used primarily to escape an untimely death, but also for other things.  I do not allow them to be spent for extra dice or bonus dice, etc. though.  So for example the PC is dropped to zero hit points by the dark knight, I ask the player "do you have any fate points" and if they have three of their own (which is how much I give them at each major plot point they resolve, and they don't carry over) then they can spend them to save their character.  So in the case of the example, the dark knight slashes them, they fall.  The party thinks they are dead.  Then after the combat the party notices they are still breathing and they somehow survived.  Then it is just governed on the individual situation.  It might be a case where they have an ongoing condition for a few days, or whatever, just depends.

If the player does not have the required fate points then I have them leave the room.  I then conduct a blind totally anonymous poll of the party.  I ask them two questions:  could player character "x" possibly survive this and do you want them to live?  I pass out index cards with the two boxes and then they check them accordingly.  If the vote is unanimous in favor then I ask if anyone has a fate point donation.  If not then the death was final.  I ask the player to come back into the room and then give instructions accordingly.  So far I have only had to do this once.  Again if a player falls into a volcano, or has their head bitten off by a dragon or something crazy like that I would just adjudicate the death as normal.  I told all the players that from the get go.  To me I do this because DW is an old school game and very hack and slashy, so someone could easily lose a 8th or 9th level character to a bunch of goblins in theory.  So given that, I wanted to make sure that I didn't constantly have to fudge my rolls, etc.  This allows me to throw some tough encounters at the party and yet it allows them to keep their PCs alive if they practice smart gameplay.  This way I don't have to worry about random meaningless PC death.  Which could be a problem if one wanted to run a deep story driven game that didn't play out with every player losing 3 or 4 characters along the way.

The fate points can also be used as a narrative/story benefit.  I will let players use them to gain a social situation advantage, etc.  Mostly minor things.  But for example a player was once about to be discovered as a spy and they utilized three of their fate points (as well as some good ideas on their own part) to side step the discovery.  They were vulnerable to normal death after that though.

Overall we have had three PC deaths during the course of the campaign and out of 25 or so sessions I don't think that is bad.  I think it would be much higher if I was playing standard rules as written.  Perhaps more than a dozen PC deaths would have occurred, I can't say for sure though because maybe they'd have played even more conservatively. 

For me the fate point mechanic has worked very well, but I do not expect it would work that way with many games. 

Some other oddities of my game includes me letting the players have quite a bit of leeway on what they re doing.  I have run the game at times with six players which I wouldn't recommend, but it somehow worked.   One of my methods of dealing with that was to let players engage in more actions between themselves without me even being part of it.  Now they weren't off doing adventures with combat and NPC interactions, but they were talking in character, making plans, etc. while I would be adjudicating something with a specific player.  So it gave them things to do while I was busy helping specific players.

Thus out of that experience my players are now very ok with doing all sorts of RP on the side.  And still I will frequently be adjudicating something with a player and some of the other players will be at the other end of the table engaging in "in-character" conversation, etc.  For me that works ok and it helps them keep their character development and story flowing, etc. Some DMs would not like that though and I think for many groups it would probably be distracting.

I've done other things too like been liberal with custom moves, etc.  I have several players over level 10 and we've done our own custom "compendium" classes, and we also have players multi-classing after level 10, etc. 

So far this has really been running like an anti-3rd/4th ed. era D&D game.  Not as fiddly as 2nd ed. D&D and not as campy and player death generating as a 1st. ed. D&D game.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Games Workshop is immediately going out of business ...

That seems to be the silly viewpoint of many former fanboys turned haters out there in the blog-o-sphere/random net.

Due to a decline in revenue vs. Q3 in 2012, that is somewhere around 30%, which is significant ... the prediction of immediate closure of GW has been made.  Not really as far as I can see, but the silly gleeful ranting that is taking place is just that and  right here I have to say it TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE because I've been doing it off and on for years but I am just sort of past that now.  I see GW with some nostalgia and have moved on to a different kind of gaming.

Again I have been hating on GW for years now and spouted many of the same old rants every other gamer seems to have.  "Finecast," price of their product, lack of support, too much focus on power gaming BS codex creep stuff, FLIERS IN 40K!!, and generally what seems to be a lack of care for the customer (but that last one is just perception based on what I THINK THEY SHOULD DO really their customer service is decent and their models, other than finecast, are top notch).

So given that I can call myself a legitimate GW curmudgeon, former fanboy, former hater, now sort of just indifferent and completely out of the GW hobby, I think things are nowhere near as bleak as some are quickly decrying.  Yet GW perhaps is finally in a place where maybe with a new CEO (hopefully in 2014) and a danger of a further slide of profits, they might look to a new direction.  I highly doubt it though and my guess is they'll be back to making a reasonable profit by Q2 2014. 

Here is the bottom line for GW right now though (they are still paying a dividend!):

Tom Kirby, Chairman and Acting CEO of Games Workshop, said:

"Our costs are well under control and margins remain strong. Cash management is good and our capital expenditure continues as planned. Following the implementation of the structural changes just announced we expect to benefit from the more focussed selling operation across all channels against the background of a materially lower cost base."

Highlights: Six months to Six months to
1 December 2 December
2013 2012
Revenue £60.5m £67.5m
Revenue at constant currency* £59.8m £67.5m
Operating profit pre-royalties receivable £6.6m £10.6m
Royalties receivable £1.0m £0.4m
Operating profit £7.7m £11.0m
Pre-tax profit £7.7m £11.1m
Cash generated from operations £8.9m £12.0m
Basic earnings per share 17.7p 25.6p
Dividend per share declared in the period - 18p

Friday, January 10, 2014

GW is actually doing well financially ... despite the endless predition of their impending doom!

Games Workshop doing ok financially? Inconceivable!!
So to start I am not really a lover of all things GW anymore.  I have to be honest that I have been selling off large quantities of my once vast GW collection.  That said GW will always hold a special place in my heart.  Warhammer 40k was my first mini gaming experience and I entered gaming in general mainly through tabletop war gaming.  So I have an endless amount of nostalgia for GW stuff and many happy memories, etc.  I have also done my share of ranting and complaining.  Just this week with the announcement of the end of White Dwarf ... I was shocked and even angered a little bit.  White Dwarf has been in publication since 1977, HOW DARE they nuke such a venerable old warhorse of a magazine for NO reason.  TO what make a new magazine called "Warhammer Visions" (seriously??) ... huh?  Why??  See.  I can rant with the best of em.  But seriously GW is not about to go out of business in fact nothing could be further from the truth. 

Ok so I finally had a chance to look at GWs annual report for 2013 (LINK). Here is my executive executive summary of an already greatly abridge report.

In short. GW is doing fine. Actually quite arguably better than ever.

*Revenue is up, but only slightly at 134 million pounds vs. 131 in 2012.

*Pre-tax profit 21.4 million pounds up from 19.4

*Dividends have fallen to 58 pence down from 64 last year (this is an indicator of note, that isn't necessarily bad but it shows they aren't going super gang busters this year either otherwise it would have likely gone up).

*Royalties have taken a hit due to few video games in 2012. That said their TOTAL royalties is in a good year only around 3 million pounds and that INCLUDES all the FFG stuff, ALL video games, etc. So they never were making as much from that as many people think.

*Expansion continues, revenue from expansion hasn't been great but they seem to be rebounding in some markets (like Japan) and holding on in most markets. North America has actually been a bright spot, and Europe and the UK were somewhat stagnant this past year.

My overall assessment is that GW is in a solid position in the short term but still faces long term uncertainty. They are not leveraging their IP as strongly as they might and their costs are where they stand to make the most gains.

For GW their pricing model just really is nearly unique in the world of business, they operate in a market with no real direct competition. I agree with Kirby's assessment that in terms of competition they have little because their product quality is far superior to nearly any competitor of note. Substitute goods do exist, but their core audience is reluctant to use them. Certainly I think this has been changing, but as is demonstrated by GWs numbers that fact has not eroded away their base. They are still making decent profits and are far from being on the verge of financial collapse as one might think given the endless internet ranting.

I myself have done my fair share. But when you look at their numbers, GW isn't going anywhere anytime in the next year or two. Things change fast these days though so who knows what their long term perspective is.

On a side note has anyone ever looked at GWs real estate section on their website? Kinda cool LINK

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cool Ziterdes terrain

I finally took the plunge on this Ziterdes terrain set I've been eyeing for a long time.  It is the "Dwarven Kingdom 12030" set.  I believe it used to be a lower price and they have since raised the price on it.  I picked it up from Toad and Troll, brand new still shrink wrapped for the bargain price of $44.00 and shipping was only like $5.00 bucks.  I think it is 88 Euros now on the Ziterdes site.
At the $44.00 price it is totally worth it.  I plan to mainly use it for Songs of Blades and Heroes, but I have some LoTR stuff and one day I'd love to do the battle of Balin's tomb in it!!

Kung Fury

This looks hilarious ... I am honestly surprised we haven't seen more of this stuff hit kickstarter.

Here is the kickstarter 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Project golden age Warhammer 40,000! Can it ever happen again?

To answer the question about golden age anything.  It is impossible to reclaim the golden age isn't it?  At best you can create a new age, or perhaps grab a nice silver or bronze age (a bad mish-mosh of metaphor there but you get my meaning). 

So for my gaming group we have cycled through many phases over the past four years with mini gaming.  I've struggled to reclaim anything along the lines of what I once enjoyed in terms of mini gaming.  Board games and RPGs have flourished in my group, but mini gaming has been a tough proposition that has sputtered at best, and just been mostly a non-starter.
We are trying again with some easier, skirmish types of games.  We still have some things on the back burner which I am very optimistic about, such as Bolt Action! (in 20mm), Black Water Gulch/old west skirmish, etc.
My own background in mini gaming is mostly Games Workshop related.  I had a wonderful run with GW when I lived in Las Vegas.  About seven years of bliss and a few years of pretty good gaming all told.  A large gaming club/group comprised of working professional types who enjoyed the hobby at its highest levels.  Many members of the group would drive/fly to GTs and big events together.   We had some golden demon level painters in our midst, some math-hammer wizards (long before Bell of Lost Souls and all the associated stuff).  We had some all around great folks to practice the hobby with. Around 2007-2008-ish that all came to an end.  In 2009 I moved to the Ogden, Utah area and checked out the local hobby store scene and was disgusted with the types of players and the condition of the stores. Seriously not to be a snob, but I prefer to game with hobbyists who paint their armies and like the backstory, and themes of whatever given game system, etc.  I really cannot game with abusive/mean/selfish store troll types and that was all I really found here in public play.

I have sold some friends along the way, and actually feel guilty about it :(
So who knows ... a new golden age is highly unlikely given I have about 8 people living in the ADD-everyone has pads/phones and wastes too much time on Steam vs. 2002 when I had 40-60 people in a huge club with the support of several hobby stores in a time when no-one had the level of distraction we all suffer from now.  To top it off back then I was earning a nice six figure income and half the people I gamed with were high income earning professional types.  Today my gaming group is mostly college student/entry level professional type folks who have limited gaming budgets and my own gaming budget has been halved. 
So I had to put mini gaming on the back shelf and slowly I've found other like minded folks.  Well that quest has taken four years and we still aren't there yet.  But a few little rays of hope poke through the clouds here and there.  Sadly I've sold off pretty large swaths of my once incredible horde o' 40k stuff.  I had tens of thousands of dollars invested into the hobby, pretty much 3000 to 5000 points in every army and a few armies like nids and marines ran well over 10k points.  Of course most of it was in boxes, on sprue, etc.  but a fair hunk was painted.  But as the years passed and no games were to be found and the game of 40k changed.  I started unloading stuff on ebay.  I'm still doing it honestly as I just don't see any hope for 40K in our group at least 6th/7th edition 40k.  I've seen the kill team stuff and for many reasons that has never taken for our group and/or my own personal taste.  The systems never really balance well and it just doesn't feel like 40k.  I'd honestly rather play a better, alternative action, random initiative, true sci-fi skirmish game ... with 40k stuff ... but none seem to exist :(
I have vast amounts of Warhammer Fantasy that I will never sell as it is just too useful in other things, like for D&D, and all the awesome fantasy skirmish options that there are out there as well.  40K was harder to justify as there are really not as many uses for vast amounts of the stuff, it is kind of unique in terms of having other systems to choose from.  For our gaming group we have long since decided that if we want to play company/battalion level engagements in sci-fi we'd go at it in 15/10mm or smaller.  Big models just aren't very practical in 28mm for us anymore.  I don't have the big public spaces I used to have access to for massive apocalypse battles, etc.  So 40k just has on so many levels stopped making sense, from time to space to $$$ it is just not really viable for me personally nor for anyone in my gaming group. 
That said mini gaming is changing in positive ways for us.  Song of Blades and Heroes has really been a hit so far and I think it might be the game that revives mini gaming for us, along with Bolt Action! and maybe Alpha Strike.  After that who knows.  We have had some after gaming BS sessions about possibly bringing 3rd/4th edition era 40K back and on that note I am hanging onto a last couple beloved armies.  My orks and deathguard.  I have some odds and ends kicking around in boxes that will likely remain.  I am slowly going to start working on a project (probably later this spring/early summer) to get a board game style 3rd/4th ed. "demo-set" together and I'll run a game at our micro-con this summer.  It will be a game between orks and deathguard and the intention will be to see if it rekindles any strong feelings in the gaming group.  If so who knows maybe we'll start playing some occasional "oldhammer" if not my goal for next fall is to find a solid skirmish system that I can enjoy 40k-esq games in. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Song of blades and heroes .. terrain project .. etc.

So our song of blades and heroes games have been going well.  As a group we are still in the noob stage to some extent but so far we've all had some fun, quick games and that has been very refreshing.  Nothing like getting in two full games of a mini game for a six person group, and then being able to do some BSing AND fire up a board game all in one night.  At least for our group that is saying something.
Anyway here are some pictures of my swamp docks project which is a work in progress.  I'm only about half way done on the docks themselves in terms of the amount of terrain I want after I get the rest built I'm going to touch it up more and weather it a little better.  Also  I'm still working on the pilings and I need to find the rest of the crates, barrels and boxes I have and get those all painted up. The next thing I'm going to be working on is trying to do up some swampy willow-ish trees. 


Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 recap and plans for 2014

So 2013 went by so fast, barely any time to get anything done with gaming that I had hoped to.  For me I just have way to much busy stuff going on in my life like endless school, work, family stuff, etc. etc.  and that always just gets in the way of my best plans for gaming!!

Well that is life eh?

At any rate I think 2013 was a decent year for gaming all in all, I managed to turn a corner with RPGs in our group and we have been enjoying a fun Dungeon World game that is verging on being our longest running game ever at 25 or so sessions with a solid shot at cracking the 50 session mark (maybe).   We have as a gaming group decided that big company gaming is behind us and almost all of us have sworn off Games Workshop current releases, 5th, 6th and 7th edition 40K (yes I hear a 7th ed will be out in 2014 ... who knows though).  At any rate my sell off has netted several thousand dollars so far, some of which was used to get more gaming stuff, I'm in on Bones II for example and have been acquiring cheap minis in large lots here and there where I can find them (mostly new minis from miniature market during their black Friday sale, as well as some of their mantic blowout stuff, etc.).

Towards the end of 2013 we embraced Song of Blades and Heroes and are looking to stuff like Alpha Strike as a potential game (as well Dropzone Commander).  20 MM Bolt Action is still something that will get fired up again and we have board games, etc. to keep gaming sessions filled with fun stuff.  On that note I have yet to bust out my two copies of Ogre and that is on the agenda for Jan/Feb-ish

For me my main ambition this year is to continue selling off my unused 40K stuff and focus on getting my Bones I minis out and painted for use with Song.  Also I have many terrain projects I'd like to fire up as well get back into casting terrain.  For song I'm working on getting bones and old mage knight figs done up for a quick and dirty undead warband ...

I'm going to be working on a Dungeonworld Feudal Japan hack and I plan to run that at my annual summer micro-con LARRYCON.  Speaking of LARRYCON it is in its fifth year! So we need to do up T-Shirts and whatnot this year for it, I have a feeling we'll be doing more mini gaming related stuff this year.

Beyond that we want to do some old west 28 MM skirmish this summer and probably some old west/weird west RPGing.  Also we have Deadzone to look forward to as well as a plunge into Alpha Strike with old MechWarrior clicky figures.

I have a ton of AT-43 apes that I am trying to figure out what to do with ... probably use them for Alpha Simian's in Deadzone (likely use the Marauder rules but I'm not sure yet) and I might see about utilizing them for a 4th edition 40K army project of some kind.


DW Campaign Map


A very crude map for the DW campaign.  I am a zero level Microsoft Paint artist as you can see :/