WAAC Hits the Presses

Wargamers All Against Cancer hit the Sheffield Live website today interviewing our very own Dave Wilkinson – aka @Docbungle. Aside from wargamers actually getting some good PR for a change (despite the journalist getting the name of the event consistently wrong) it’s so good to see everyone involved getting some well deserved recognition for their efforts, and the charity drive getting even more exposure.

I’m incredibly proud of Dave for how hard he’s worked and for how he’s tackled a very difficult and sad time. I can’t say I would act with half the strength, dignity and determination that he has and I’m lucky to call him a friend. I’m only sorry I couldn’t have been more involved – personal circumstances being what they were – but I hope, should the event repeat itself, I can help in the future.

Anyway, take a look at the video and if you’re feeling generous then bip over to Dave’s JustGiving page and donate some money. When the video was shot the total was over £3k, it’s now over £5k. Which really goes to show what a strong community we are.

 

Mark of War Live on Kickstarter

mow logoYou may have noticed the other a day a little post go up on this site by a chap going by the moniker of Gav Thorpe, talking about a project he’s involved with called Mark of War.

Well it’s live on Kickstarter and in need of your support. For the uninitiated it’s – in a nutshell – a tabletop wargame on your PC, Mac or mobile device. ‘What’s the point?’ I hear you ask. And you’d be forgiven for doing so because it is literally a tabletop wargame on your laptop, right down to the dudes being mounted on bases.

This may seem a bit odd but it actually has the stench of genius about it. Allow me to explain:

I’m blessed with 6 good friends, all of whom live locally to me, all of whom play the same games as me and are all, more or less, constantly up for getting together for a game. However wives, girlfriends, children, jobs, chores, the space-time continuum, amongst others, all transpire to see to it we all get together once a month if we’re lucky. Once a month for us to run three boards and have a chuckle. But at least we manage it. And we tend to see each other in smaller numbers more often than that for hobby nights if not games nights.

Now, thanks to Twitter and this site, I have friends a little further afield. Some as far as Canada and even Australia or even the Norther Wastes of Nottingham! Playing against those fine fellows gets trickier. Oceans have to be navigated, huge sums of money paid out on flights and hotels and that’s just to get me over there, we haven’t even factored in the exorbitant and nail-biting experience of checking an army of scale miniatures into the hold of a plane.

Mark of War allows tabletop wargamers the fun and frolics of playing a tabletop wargame anywhere in the world against anyone in the world. It’s not trying to replace the traditional wargaming experience but enhance it. It allows gamers to share an online wargaming experience which will only enhance their offline one as gamers will play more games. They’ll hone their tactics and, thanks to some very clever jiggery pokery, they’ll be able to customise their Mark of War armies which will only inspire gamers with physical projects.

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In the same way that films, books and TV shows inspire us, so too with Mark of War. It’ll give us ideas for our physical armies as well as adding to our experience as generals. And without the time and effort

But that’s not where it stops. The reason for Gav Thorpe once again gracing this site with his awesome presence is because he’s the man behind the world in which Mark of War is set. This means a rich and vibrant backdrop upon which virtual face will be kicked. It means immerse game play and a war that you actually care about winning. It’s the whole wargaming experience. They’re even using dice for crying out loud.

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Now there will be some who won’t be convinced. Who see this step in video gaming to be the final nail in the coffin of wargaming but that’s just not true. It’s the natural and obvious evolution from things like Vassal which I, personally, can’t stand. If I’m going to play a wargame over my computer I want it to look as rich and as lush as any gaming board I may build.

And whilst the screens are very much WIP, Mark of War is shaping up quite nicely. Whilst I did raise an eyebrow at red Orcs and yet more elves, I can’t fault the styling or the originality of the world that Gav has dreamt up.

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Coupled with the desire of Warpforged Games to keep the experience as authentic as possible it really could be something of a paradigm shift away from games like Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft and Vassal who attempt to recreate the magic of the wargaming board and the fluff but never quite managing either.

Mark of War will not only allow you fantasy fisty cuffs but army building and customisation as well. I’m not sure how that’s going to work – whether or not the models will be built in a modular way to allow for ‘swapping out’ limbs etc. It’s the only area that I can see Mark of War falling short of the real deal. But an elegant army editor should allow for some pretty awesome colour schemes rather than the crude tool featured in Dawn of War all those years ago.

Either way, this is a Kickstarter to watch – and to back if you have the coin. Gav Thorpe isn’t one to lend his efforts or support lightly and that’s good enough for me.

Ichiban Painting Kickstarter – The Closing Moments

The Games & Gear / Ichiban Painting Kickstarter has less than 45 minutes to go but we thought we’d give it one last hurrah to see if they can break the £90,000 mark.

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It’s hugely satisfying to see someone from our community benefit from the passion and devotion of that community in such a positive way. Having spoken to Hugo on and off during the campaign he’s been blown away by the support and faith people have shown in him and his product. He never imagined the project would approach 3000% of the intended target.

So if you have a few spare moments – for there are only moments left – and you fancy a shiny new set of brushes then go here.

If you need some convincing, check out my review of the brushes here.

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.

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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!