Salute 2014

Salute 2014So tomorrow the big day will have finally arrived. And it cannot have come soon enough. These last few years I’ve pre-ordered my ticket as soon as possible. Not because I’m worried about missing out but because when I wake up the day after Salute I’m already looking forward to the next one.

For me Salute is the most important date in my wargaming calendar for the simple reason than it’s a room full of people, all passionate about ‘the hobby’ which has many facets to it that go far beyond genre, scale and metal vs resin vs plastic. For a day no one cares who plays what or how much crap we got painted from the year before. Or how much of the stuff we got from the year before we even still own. It’s a coming together of community behind the most inclusive and welcoming hobby there is. And then we walk, talk and breathe toys. And then we spend all of our money on all of the things.

It always tickles me that every year, and I include myself in this, there is a frantic burst of eBaying, Twitter bartering and the chucking of stuff on Amazon Marketplace in an effort to push the budget as far as possible. Because taking £100 isn’t enough. Oh no! £150, that’ll do. But if I sell this or that, or borrow from the savings and promise to put it back, I’ll have £200! And so on and so on. My budget this year is a little less than I’d have liked. The weight of home ownership has rested heavily these last few months. However, it has made me more focussed on what I want and what I need. The difference being that I don’t need the Praetors from Forge World but want them so I’m getting them anyway. But I do need a few bits to round off my X-Wing fleet until the next wave of stuff drops.

I also need to remember to take lunch money because walking around with a satchel or backpack all day is a pain in the arse.

Tomorrow is going to be a brilliant day. And not just because of the buying of all the things. Okay, a little bit that. But because it’s an opportunity to explore the parts of the hobby I haven’t seen, haven’t had the chance to look into or are totally new to me. It’s a chance to make new friends and get reacquainted with old ones and generally embrace this wonderful hobby of ours.

I’m really looking forward to the #warmongers Meet Up, as is the rest of the team. We’ll be meeting at 1pm outside the hall at which point we’ll find somewhere out-of-the-way and compare swag. The last couple of years it’s been a recessed section opposite the hall so we were nice and visible to any late comers.

Finally, we will have The Shell Case pin badges to give away to the first people who come and say hi to us on the day. We won’t be hard to miss, the entire team (apart from our beloved Ashley who is stuck on the other side of a very large bit of water) will be there in shirts. And just in case, they’ve got our names on them so you can tell us apart.

tscbadges

See you all tomorrow.

#ODAM 12 – The Structure Show

ODAMRoundel copyThis month’s installment of everyone’s favorite international podcast coalition sees us being unusually structured. With Jason our newly appointed content manager he tries, and fails, to stop the power going to his head. Ashley is preparing for Adepticon, Phil is babbling about some foreign gathering called Salute which is either a gaming convention or a gay nightclub, and we try to understand the latest bit of nonsense to come out of Nottingham. Nate also announces an important life event, which Jason and the boys promptly mock. Par for the course, really.

As always ODAM contains adult humour and language from the start.

Listen to Episode 12 here.

 

#TheVoxmanPledge 2014

In between recording podcasts and working in real life, I often get into lengthy conversations about miniature wargames on Twitter (My handle is @ATT64 if you wanna say hi). The other day I made an interesting comment (for once lol) and I would like to explain in further detail what I have planned.

“We live in a golden era of miniature games, go forth and play ‘em all!” (The Voxman Pledge)

It should come as no surprise to any avid miniature wargamer that there is an absolute colossal ton of games now available to buy. With dozens of successfully fundraised kickstarter projects and entrepreneurs looking to make a name for themselves in the industry, its an exciting time to collect miniature games. The competition between these new games is frantic and often brutal as the general population dictates the ultimate fate of these new projects. We have the power to change the landscape of miniature wargames for the better

Over the break, I thought about my relationship with the games I currently own and play:

Warhammer Fantasy: Empire | Skaven | Dark Elves

Warhammer 40,000: Tau | Orks

Warmachine: The Protectorate of Menoth | Convergence of Cyriss

Firestorm Armada: Terrans

Dust Warfare: Sino-Soviet Union (SSU)

I realized that my relationship with games has changed significantly over the years and the free time I have available to me is much more restricted. I started off playing massive battles of 40K with 4 childhood friends on a ping-pong tale, using cardboard boxes to create expanding cities. I eventually transitioned to playing Warhammer Fantasy, which allowed me to further design detailed ranked up miniatures in the form of my Empire Averland State troop focussed army and my 210 Skaven horde. Overtime I desired more variety in my gameplay and tired many things both in 40K and fantasy, but I always found that it felt the same regardless.

I tried multiple small units, monsters, all cavalry armies and even using only one Hellpit Abomination (rebel). I discovered Warmachine around 2010 and even though I slowed down playing Fantasy, I still retained a deep love for that game. Now with regards to 40K, I really found that while I still appreciated the universe and the built-in complexities within the established codices. I didn’t like actually playing it. I am a firm believer that the fun focus of that game is around list construction (for tournaments or causal play) or potentially creating a thematic army. I just felt that the game was usually over in 30 minutes, but played out for 2 1/2 hours. Keep in mind that I don’t hate 40K by any means, I just realised it wasn’t the game for me.

I have played Warmachine for several years now, but for some reason I have been beginning to feel burnt out. Maybe, its the sole focus of the competitive scene or the sheer flood of new miniatures being added to the game, but for some reason I entered a hobby slump. Don’t get me wrong, if you phone me up and have an army I will play you! I love the game, but I guess I am tired of it’s one direction approach and needed some more variety. I played Dust Warfare and Firestorm with varying degrees of success, but with their scattered release schedules and rule hiccups. I have decided to wait and see.

Recently though, I have had a rather profound realization about my hobby. I want to try everything. That’s really it, I am tired of trying to be “The Tournament goer” or “The Hobbiest” or even “The Fluff Gamer”. I want to have fun, it’s really that simple. For so long, I have prided myself by bringing the best list I can make for a tournament or building an entire army around a narrative or trying to be a better painter/modeller. But where was the fun? When I played Blood Bowl, Dreadball and even to a lesser extent X-Wing, I realized that I had been so focussed on a particular aspect of this hobby that I ignored what makes a game fun and engaging.

I don’t have to own an entire complete range of miniatures or even be a hobby completest, I just want to have fun like I have always done playing miniature games.

So I say unto you fellow Wargamers and Warmongers, that I will try to play every and any game I can during 2014. I don’t have to own or buy every miniature, heck I don’t even have to be that good at playing the game. I just want to have the willingness to try to open my mind to other experiences that these new/old games are offering. At the very least I want to trim down my collections and gradually have a variety of miniatures from several game systems. Now of course, common sense and reality are also important here. I’m not throwing pots of money at every game system. At the heart of my goal is to at least try every game and if I like it, then perhaps collect a small amount for that game. Simple, nothing complicated.

So I ask you then? Are also going to take the Voxman Pledge? Are you going to investigate other games and explore what makes them fun and enjoyable?

If not? That’s ok too, because there’s always a variety of ways to have fun in this hobby, just promise yourself to try to have fun during 2014.

Cheers!

Adam, aka Mr Voxman

The Podcast Corner

2013 has been an exciting year for miniature wargame podcasts! The amount of shows that are available is simply staggering. Especially, once you realize that most of them bring their own unique flare and culture with them. I love the fact I can listen to 100 wargame podcasts and get a little something different each time. With that said though, I do notice a ton of problems and potential ways to improve, keep in mind I am equally as guilty and could take a taste of my own medicine…

1) Stereo-typically, typical.

An aspect of how people quickly decode incoming information from our environment, is by stereotyping. It might seem shallow, but everyone, everywhere in some manner does. It’s a natural process that allows us to quickly group important information from otherwise tons of useless data points. Where it goes wrong in most situations is when stereotyping is used as an excuse to label someone else, thereby turning that diverse person into a 2D character.

In the context of a podcast, the host’s will have certain bias or opinions that attract or repulse people from the show. After an audience has listened to a few shows they are able to move past the “first impression” stage and get to understand the host’s perspective by comparing it to their own. This is the ideal situation and for the most part it’s what I see on the majority shows.

Where does it go wrong though? Basically when the stereotype becomes the entire show. The host’s create a falsehood about who they are as people and default on “what’s the popular opinion this week”. There have been a few instances of fake people who think about themselves first before that of their own audience. When a poor man or woman listens to your show every week because it is the highlight of their day, show some respect, don’t lie to them about who you are as a person. Be yourself, that’s why we are listening after all.

2) Will be right back after 10 commercials.

OK this is a bit harder to explain. Basically I am ok with sponsors and people who want to support your show. What an honour it is to have someone respect you; to the point where your show is considered valuable in the sponsor’s own eyes. The commercials on the Garagehammer podcast are simply brilliant and clever. They don’t take you out of the experience and help to build a sense of weight to the show.

Where a commercial or a badly placed music break can hurt a show is in the pacing. Typically, breaks should be thoughtful and not there for the sake of “just being there”. For instance, if I reviewed a 40K codex and broke it down by section (with a break between each) things can get really hectic in a hurry. Troops might take longer to discuss, so spend the time and then take the break, but if Heavy support and fast attack are shorter, please combine them. Here’s my general format for pacing.

Less than 1/2 hourr: it’s okay to have some funny breaks or commercials, have a gander! Example: Big Mek’s Garage Podcast

1 hour long show: No Breaks, keep it focused and to the point, you will find that time runs out rather quickly so try to use it as best you can. The type of topics discussed at this format require additional explanation and breaks just hamper the show as a whole when, compared to the other levels. Positive Example: Jadedgamercast

2 hours or more: Now this is the most difficult, because this really depends on the hosts for the most part. If you’re the kind of host that needs to take a moment to eat or go to the can, then feel free to add a break or 2. If your show has multiple hosts, a break might not be needed, because it gives the other hosts a moment to shine front and centre. Just be aware of the topics being discussed and try not to talk about one specific area for longer then 1 hour.

Three hours of “why Finecast is: (insert your own pun, reader)” is entertaining, but only for a max of 1 hour.

3) We are Competitive! Are you competitive?

Now this refers more to my own personal bias, after listening to 6 months worth of shows….Basically a lot of shows start-up out of the need and desire to express the competitive nature of the game that they love. It’s what drives tournament circuits and tactical discussions around the world. I am a competitive casual gamer. I LOVE taking my constructed army of badasses against your random net list, Come at me Bro!

But it’s also important to understand that there is a time and place for competitive behaviour (at a tournament or progression league). A thematic campaign or event that relies on goofy missions or the ability to purchase re-rolls with real cash (fundraisers like Foodmachine) in these situations a competitive player needs to “take a chill pill” and realize that it’s about why we are playing and not just about winning.

I find competitive tournament podcasts interesting and insightful. However, they can risk becoming unengaging if they rely too much on reading off a battle report or army list. All too often, the host never explains or highlights why a unit is useful (how it combos within a list) or describes what drove them to make the choices that they would eventually end up with. Why is a unit of 14 chaos warriors amazing? What does that unit hate to come across during a game. To become a better player there needs to be that sense of self-reflection, otherwise its pointless filler information. Same goes for battle reports, their needs to be a reason for us to get invested. Create theme around your list or name a funny model like “Gimpy the Hormagaunt” which has a unique history during game. Your telling us a story(battle report) make it interesting! This is usually why I find Blood Bowl Battle Reports generally more interesting (Frank the Crank, smashed into the opposing Orc line and actually ended up taking out the Strength 5 Captain Black Orc) and engaging versus a generic Warmachine battle report. For example: ” I moved forward, shot a bunch, I feated with the caster and won the game”.

GIVE US A REASON TO CARE!!! UNLESS! Exception to the rule, you keep it short and to the point. In that case, feel free to quickly cover the Battle report.

Like I have said previously, I don”t dislike competitive podcasts, the main issue that usually comes up is when there are multiple competitive shows that repeat the same information (same events as well). This is unavoidable, but going back to the beginning “Be Yourself and be original”. Put a unique spin on it! Try a Codex review drinking game or explain why an event is unique enough and worth the listener’s time.

Thanks for all the fish!!

I hope you have enjoyed and have taken something positive away from this article.

Cheers!

The Shell Case visits Colours 2013

Or rather, I, the dopey, head-in-the-clouds member of the Shellcase did*. Due to an invite to help demo a game of a buddy of mine**, I ended up at the Colours Wargaming Convention in Newbury.  I managed to grab a few pics with my camera phone, due to me forgetting to charge my actual camera before the event so they will be spotted throughout this post.

Cards on the table, I’m not really a con person. Being an awkward social misfit the idea of paying lots of money to walk around a large area and be sold things, all the while being surrounded by strangers, never quite gelled. My past experiences at the UK Games Day and Destination Star Trek London never really changed that opinion.

My usual reaction to cons

Yet, coming out of Colours, I want to go to other cons and I feel really refreshed in my enthusiasm of the wargaming hobby in a way I’ve never quite experienced before. So what makes Colours different?

The location for a start I guess. Colours is based at Newbury Racecourse. An odd location for sure, but one that works well, as it splits the event over 3 floors. The bottom floor is Traders alone. The middle floor is a mixture of demos games and a few traders and the top floor is an explosion of demo games and a small historical tournament.

The layout of the place means that it’s a large event, but it feels very inmate. People stop to chat and just talk. Traders run back and forth between competitors tables and compliment them on their banners or displays. It’s a very different feel to Games Day, where there’s always a feeling of separation between you and the people running it.

Colours is quite different to a lot of the other events in the UK, in that its dominated by historical gaming. Not that it stopped a lot of Fantasy and Science Fiction based wargames from popping up. But the absence of any GW or PP games did feel odd. In a very good, healthy way though. All the people who visited (make no mistake, A LOT of people came to Colours) were looking to expand the borders of their wargaming experience and knowledge.

So day one, I arrived nice and early and helped Marcin set up his demo table, whist checking out everyone around us. Between munching on bacon butties, to watch a slowly evolving tapestry change and grow from its foundations each day was something very enjoyable to my eyes.***

Whilst on breaks I got a chance to pop upstairs and see what was happening there. It was quite phenomenal really. Dominating one corner was Crucible, which must have been spread out on at least a 16 foot table, not to mention other games like the large-scale Napoleonic game.

Thats not me zooming it with the camera, thats real size!

I managed to play a game of Dead Mans Hand by Great Escape Games too. They had a great board set out for it and I marveled at the terrain by 4Ground and models that was all made by them, including dead horses, dogs and even a chicken!

A gang of desperadoes face down a sheriffs posse.

Thats just to give you a small idea of the variety there. I saw card games being played, a large-scale Indian warfare scenario and this beautiful table.

If you think thats impressive…

…check out the details!

There was a bring and buy over the weekend which let me grab some cheap stuff (Some Sov City Judges, a Dark Eldar Razorwing and the Hoards Rulebook for under £30 total). There was a charity raffle as well, which raised over £1000!

All in all, it just such a freeing experience, to know there was a large section of the community out there that were quite happy doing their own thing, free from larger companies machinations. It was a good weekend, where I experienced the wealth of gaming that’s out there outside the GW sphere, chatted with like-minded people and met an online friend for the first time. Then I introduced him to cider…

Oh and I met a cat.

Yes. Really.

I dunno about you, but I’ll be at Colours next year.

*I’m listening to a mixture of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie and Atari Teenage riot whilst typing this. You may start throwing insults of ‘Fucking Poser’ now.

**That will be another article all together, but for now, check out PMC 2640, it’s a good 15mm game.

***As I said, fucking poser.

In Reply…

Phil:

Sarah Cawkwell is one of my heroes. And this is just one of the many reasons why.

Originally posted on Sarah Cawkwell's Blog:

A recent news blog mentioned a ‘typically geeky’ hobby – that of war gaming and Warhammer in particular. No linkage, because he doesn’t need any more publicity. Also, I am on my phone and don’t have it to hand. So ner.

Anyhoo, the author of the piece asserted, confidently, that this was an exclusively male domain. That there was no place for women. A short-lived but ultimately satisfying Twitter request to my numerous female war gaming friends ensured that his perception was duly corrected by a brief deluge of Tweets. Despite saying he was happy to be corrected, he didn’t acknowledge this fact, of course. He did point out that he considers himself something of a geek anyway. It’s OK! He’s a guy! He’s allowed to be a bit geeky.

But to be fair, the whole thing runs deeper than a personal need to point out that he was wrong…

View original 695 more words

Maki Games on Kickstarter

I have very mixed feelings about Kicksarter, Indiegogo and crowd funding in general. Mantic and other established companies have been using it as a pre-order system and a cash camel for a while now which is choking off funding for other smaller companies and start-ups that deserve the money but get overshadowed by a ‘sure thing’.

However, there are a few kickstarters that do get noticed and do get the funding they deserve. One such endeavour is Maki Games and their modular scenery kickstarter.

Quite frankly, this stuff looks the absolute, gold-plated, diamond encrusted, tits. Aside from being staggeringly flexible using pinned panels, it looks utterly fantastic.

And I suspect, because it’s build using pinned/pegged plates, you don’t need to glue it which means you can sling it all in a shoe box at the end of the game. Of course it remains to be seen how durable those pins are and how easy they really are to store once they’re painted, but that’s what reviews are for. Impressions are that this stuff could be utterly awesome.

It’s also the first terrain system I’ve seen that allows for ‘indoor’ structures to be built and thus opens up a whole new way of playing games. It’s also going to give the Necromunda die hards a raging hard-on. If I’m honest, I think it’s going to give most gamers that play any kind of 28mm sci-fi wargame a raging hard-on.

The really cool thing is that three distinct styles are available whilst still being cross compatible. So, if you’re feeling cheeky, you could even build a structure with changing design aesthetic to represent the building’s expansion over time. This is, of course, way cool.

It’s a remarkably well-timed move on Maki’s part as Spartan have just released their staggeringly expensive HDF range (with no match 28mm models) and Mantic’s Deadzone game has a modular terrain system that appears to be entirely more fiddly and flimsy. To be honest the Maki range seems a far more impressive and diverse option.

If you haven’t taken a look at their kickstarter page I strongly urge you to do so. It has already been successfully funded but I genuinely feel that Maki brings something original to the wargaming world and so deserves as much support as the community can give it.

They have just 14 days left to raise some extra dosh so, bip over to their page, take a look at the awesome scenery, wipe the dribble from your chin and then pledge your support.

Charity Wargaming

M’comrade Rob, staunch #warmonger and loyal member of the Shell Case Alliance is being a rather splendid chap and playing wargames for charity. Not just any charity mind, but Multiple Sclerosis UK, a charity very close to my heart.

For those that haven’t heard of Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system. In MS, the coating around nerve fibres (called myelin) is damaged, causing a range of symptoms. Around 100,000 people in the UK have MS. It’s normally diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40, and affects almost three times as many women as men. Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the symptoms. We don’t know the cause and we haven’t yet found a cure, but research is progressing fast.

And Rob had this to say over on the Moss[op]:

Hello lovely #warmongers

Some of you already know that myself and my other half, Beth, are running the Virgin London Marathon for the fantastic Multiple Sclerosis UK. The training is going really well (even if my legs are screaming at me right now after our third 20 miler last night!) and we’re raring to go on April 21st.

MS-UK are a brilliant charity, very local to us and the work they do by giving support to those with MS is a brilliant example of the impact that well-organised, dedicated and bloody hard-working charitable organisations can have.
What am I doing?
Well, this is a question I often ask myself in a different context, but right here, right now I’m raising money for MS-UK, in support of my sponsorship for the London marathon, by having a charity wargaming marathon. That means 26.2 hours of non-stop gaming (!) starting at 12:30 on Sunday the 30th of March through to 2:20pm on Monday the 31st March.

Read more here.

The Dark Knight Ruleses

Batman-Arkham-City-logo-batman-arkham-city-14586841-640-352

When news broke that Knight Models were releasing a Batman Miniatures game I was very excited because I love Batman and have massively enjoyed playing the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games. My enthusiasm did wane somewhat as I saw the prices of the models but I suppose, as it’s a licensed product it’s to be expected. Then I had to wait and wait and wait for rules.

But basic rules are finally available to download completely free from the Knight Models website. Available for your crime fighting pleasure is a quick guide, scenarios, character sheets, and the rules. And can all be found here. I’ll be having a good read once I’ve cleared a couple of other reviews off the Shell Case desk and I may try to get my mits on a couple of models. For now go over to Knight Models and have a dribble.Batman: Arkham City

Lack of Pinterest

Some of you may have noticed a rather lovely winged P icon over on the right side of the blog. If you haven’t, it’s this…

TSC_Pinterest copyIf you haven’t you’d be entirely forgiven as I’ve been neglecting it of late and this is something I’d like to remedy. There is no shortage of lush and lovely wargaming art work and photography out there and I’d very much like The Shell Case Pinterest to become a big lovely image repository.

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With that in mind, if you see an awesome looking wargaming image like the one above then please email it to theshellcase@hotmail.co.uk or send me the link via the contact page. If I can get my act together sufficiently I’ll do prize draws for an image of the month.