Monday, May 22, 2017

From the ground up

The desire for improvement in what you are passionate about is natural for people.   It manifests itself differently in different people.

When it comes to wargames, so will practice and practice, game after game, honing their playing skills against tougher and tougher opponents until their skills are top level.  Others will pour over the rules and build army lists, working with different combinations of units and artifacts to find the optimum list that fits how they play and win.  Still others spend hours at the painting table, building on natural ability with learned skills, from layering to NMM (Non-Metalic Metal - a style of painting that simulates metals and their reflections with non-metal based paints) until each and every miniature is a tiny work of art.

I have those same desires to improve.  Unfortunately what I tend to not have is much natural talent. I've been improving my painting skills, but I don't have the inborn talent required to truly get to the top rank.  I have no natural aptitude to look at unit statistics and make the toughest list - my natural tendency it to simply go balanced with a lot of different units, and I rarely find those really effective combinations.  And my skills as a player just aren't that great, and beyond that I don't have the time and dedication to play multiple games per week that it takes to truly get better.

It is often said that those who can; do.  And those who can't; teach.  (Those who can't teach; administrate).  I think I've found my niche, in teaching and supporting games.  My favorite of course is Kings of War.  Several years back I said I wanted to support competition in the wargames market (ok, specifically competition with GW).  It didn't take me very long to decide that I needed to do more than just buy other products, and instead actively support Mantic and Kings of War, so I started teaching the game and running events.

I started out with terrain I already had in my own collection, cut a few large sheets of felt, and just started to grow from there.  I have thought about what it would take to make portable game boards - but I don't have the place to store them, nor a way to transport 6'x4' boards.

However in the past few years, painted game boards have seemed to become a bit passe' - being replaced by the more flexible (pun intended) gaming mat.  There a PVC mats and cloth mats, but it seems to me that the most popular are the 'mouse pad' type mats - printed cloth with neoprene backing.  This means they won't slide around on you gaming table, and have enough weight to them to not roll back up.  They also cushion your dice a bit so that they don't bounce quite as much, and help to provide a tiny bit of sound insulation when lots of games are going on.

The most popular of these have been the F.A.T Mats - but those have now split into two separate companies.  Just the other day my first FLG Mat from Frontline Gaming arrived - the lava 1 mat. They had an introductory sale when they initially became available.  I figured a lava mat would be good to go with the volcanic terrain I had from TH Miniatures last kickstarter (which I wrote up here). I had to darken up the edges to match the mat a bit and make a couple of volcanic hills, but now I have a nice volcanic battlefield.

Vents are obstacles and large lava pools w/stalagmites are difficult terrain (i.e. like forests)
One of my local players (thanks Felix) told me about a local company that was creating mats using initial funding from kickstarter.  Hidden Forest Gaming actually ran a second kickstarter recently to replace the misprinted snow mats (and so I ordered a new grass mat on that kickstarter).  On their website they had a special deal on the misprinted snow mats, so I ordered a couple (always looking for a bargain).  Well for once luck was on my side, and their online system allowed me to ordered two of these when they only had one left - so they replaced it with a grass mat.  So adding some snow to a big rock (made out of paper mache' by my daughter many, many years ago), a building, and two new hills (plus the two ice walls I had, and some snow flocked pine trees I picked up really cheap after Christmas at Jo Anne Fabrics) I have a nice winter snow mat.

Brrrrr
When I ordered the mats from Hidden Forest, I also ordered some of their old 'forest' terrain pieces - these are thinner neoprene shapes with woods printed on them.  While I don't feel flat terrain looks good, these are great bases for woods once you add a few trees to them.  (I do have some winter woods coming with the mat I am getting from the kickstarter).  Unfortunately their 'older' pieces are quite a bit smaller than the bases I had been using for forests.

felt forests vs. mat forests
So it looks like I'll need to get some of their newer pieces (which have larger pieces - a 8", 7" and two smaller ones) and combine multiple of these to make a proper size.

The grass mat works great with my existing terrain, including a couple of new buildings I picked up at Adepticon.
A nice pastoral battle field
Last October when Jon and I went to Chicago for Dragon Fall - they were selling the mats they had made for the convention (with their logo in the corner).  I picked up three of these for a great deal (which is what actually got me started with the mats).  The print on these is a mix between badlands and grass, showing both greenery and dirt.  This also fits quite well with my existing ruins and hills. Unfortunately I can't find any markings to indicate who actually manufactured these mats.
A rougher area for battle.
I've talked to some people who feel some of these may be inferior.  The Hidden Forest mats have square corners, which some say will not wear well (though it seems if the corners start to wear, it will be trivial to trim them to the rounded corners like the FLG Mats have).  All the mats seem to be the same thickness.
mat corners

mat edges
All the mats come with storage bags.  These have handles, and straps on the end to hang them (the Hidden Forest mat bags only have a strap at one end, but seem to be a bit heavier than the other bags)

Mats in bags
So I'm starting to improve my tournament and teaching tables - with the game mats and the forest bases that both replace felt pieces.

F.A.T. Mats are now sold by TableWar Designs, and while I don't have one of their mats yet, I did get their MicroMats system (via their kickstarter), and absolutely love the blue gradient mat (that perfectly fits as the background in my Foldio2 smart phone portable light box (which I talked about here).

My original goal was to be able to do 12 tables for tournaments - though our local gaming club (The Ohio War Kings) may need to have 20 tables for a GT we are hoping to put together for next spring. But progress is progress.

Because it is all fun and games . . . 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The best four days of gaming

I have found it interesting that so many miniature gamers seem to be completely unaware of the largest gaming convention in the world (I believe it passed Spiel at Essen in attendance last year).  Or maybe it is just those to play (or used to play) GW games - since until recently GW ignored it as well.

This year looks to be bigger than ever, as Gencon is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year, and plans for a huge number of events, including a concert by "They Might Be Giants".  Gencon is a HUGE event, with over 60,000 unique attendees (i.e. badges) (turnstile attendance was over 200,000 - so if you had a 4 day badge you count 4 times, while a 1 day badge just counts once.  This beat Spiel in Germany which had 174,000 turnstile attendance).

While I would, of course, love for everyone to come just because of our events, that it not realistic. The badge prices keep going up ($90 pre-registration for a 4 day badge ($120 at the door)), so if you only want to play in the Kings of War Tournament (and who doesn't?) it may not be worth the cost. So come for all four days (you can't truly see the entire exhibit hall in just one day, not if you want to actually stop and look at booths / talk to people / demo games.  So if you can, you need to go.  (Plus they do now have a 'Sunday Family Fun Pass' - which allows a family of 4 in on Sunday for only $45 - though it doesn't allow you to play in ticketed events (you can still browse the exhibit hall and play demo games though).


So enough of that - I'm not called that "Kings of War Guy" for nothing - I run LOTS of Kings of War events, and this year is no exception.

A lot of people are interested in the big tournament on Saturday.  Not only is it a lot of fun, but this year it counts as a Masters Qualifier for the Midwest region!  In the past this was a "Clash of Kings" event - but Mantic wants to use that title just for their championships (at Adepticon, and in the UK in October). So we have titled our tournament this year "Kings of Gencon"!  In addition, we want to make it a bit unique, so we have decided to go with an escalation format.

Kings of Gencon Tournament Packet

What that means is you will play four games, but each game will be bigger than the last.  So you will play games at 1000, 1500, 2000 and 2500 points.  One restriction is that once you add a unit to your army, you may not remove it, nor can you take a smaller size.  The unit can get bigger if you want, and you can change up Magical Artifacts as much as you want.  Allies and Living Legends are allowed, but each of your 4 lists must be legal (and of course allies and Living Legends follow the above restrictions).  There are 24 slots available so pre-registration is recommended.  Also, please send your 4 army lists to puggimer AT gmail.com by August 13th to receive 10 sportsmanship points. The tournament pack will be up soon here.  And if we can stay on schedule we will be done in time for you to attend the annual Mantic Night at the Colts Grille!

Kings of War: How You Use It Tournament Packet

If you want to try something a bit different, on Friday we are having our "How You Use It" Kings of War tournament.  This is a 1000 pt tournament, but all the armies are pre-made and provided.  Each round you will not only have a different opponent, but will also be playing a different army!  So it tests your tactical and strategic skills a you try to win with four different armies (and they are definitely NOT optimal armies (in fact, they are my demo armies), and use NO magical artifacts). This looks to be a lot of fun.

Of course we are bring back our Mega-Battle on Thursday night.  If you get a ticket, then you get to use one of my demo armies in a huge battle.  However if you have your own 1000 pt army you want to use, bring it and 2 generic tickets and you will get in the game!  So there is no limit to the actual number of players we can have (if they bring their own forces).  Since you will be playing with several other players on your side - this is also a good opportunity to bring out some of the big monsters and heroes (no Living Legends - sorry) that you normally can't fit in regular games.  The scenario changes every year (and I haven't decided what it is going to be for this year yet!).

If you are just getting into Kings of War, well we are running 9 Kings of War: Learn to Play! sessions (with 12 seats for each).  So come and learn the rules, or if you are a veteran get in a light, fun game.

To top this off, Mantic is also running 3 Kings of War Big Games.  I believe these are Elves and Dwarfs v. Undead - with everything provided.


We are also going to be running 9 sessions of Warpath: Learn to Play!  So come and try out Mantic's new large scale sci-fi mass combat game with everything provided.

Mantic is also going to be running both Deadzone and Walking Dead scenarios all weekend (6 and 8 sessions respectively).

This year, Mantic has their own game HQ in Hall B - so look for the banners!  Event registration opens on May 28th.  You can check out all 38 events on the Gencon Event Finder .

And for planning purposes, here is a quick reference grid to everything by day

Day
Time
Event
8/17/2017
8:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
8:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
11:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
11:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
13:00
Deadzone: Cataclysm
8/17/2017
13:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers
8/17/2017
14:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
14:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
16:00
Deadzone: Cataclysm
8/17/2017
16:00
Kings of War Big Game
8/17/2017
16:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers
8/17/2017
17:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
17:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/17/2017
20:00
Kings of War Mega-Battle



8/18/2017
8:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/18/2017
8:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/18/2017
10:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers
8/18/2017
11:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/18/2017
11:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/18/2017
13:00
Deadzone: Cataclysm
8/18/2017
13:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers
8/18/2017
14:00
Kings of War Big Game
8/18/2017
14:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/18/2017
14:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/18/2017
16:00
Deadzone: Cataclysm
8/18/2017
16:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers
8/18/2017
17:00
Kings of War: How You Use It!
8/18/2017
20:00
Kings of War Big Game



8/19/2017
8:00
Kings of Gen Con : Kings of War Tournament
8/19/2017
10:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers
8/19/2017
13:00
Deadzone: Cataclysm
8/19/2017
13:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers
8/19/2017
16:00
Deadzone: Cataclysm
8/19/2017
16:00
The Walking Dead: All Out War - Unhappy Campers



8/20/2017
8:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/20/2017
8:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!
8/20/2017
11:00
Kings of War: Learn to Play!
8/20/2017
11:00
Warpath: Learn to Play!

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Monday, May 15, 2017

Where Gaming Begins

Once again it is time for Origins.  It isn't the biggest gaming convention, but it is a huge celebration of all things gaming for five days in Columbus Ohio from June 14th through the 18th.  And the Ohio War Kings will once again be there!  And we have more events than ever this year.


Of course we have Kings of War!  Not only are we doing our classic "Learn to Play Kings of War" eight times, but we have a few other events as well.  Once again we are having our Kings of War mega-battle - buy a ticket and you get to use one of my armies in this huge battle, or bring your own 1000 pt list (and 2 generics) and you will be guaranteed a spot in the game.  I'm still working on what kind of fun scenario we will be running (with the proliferation last year of Pokemon Go we did Manticon Go, but who knows what we will do this year).

For those who already know how to play, but want some more advanced ideas, we will also be having two "Kings of War: Advanced Tactics" seminars.  Learn how to use chaff properly, the intricacies of the "corkscrew charge" and other valuable pointers.

Or if you just want to smash your way to victory, we also will have two sessions of our "Kings of War:Monster Mash".  This is a last man - or monster - standing brawl with no holds barred.  Can you crush your way to victory, or be stomped underfoot?

If you are feeling a bit more competitive, on Friday night we will be having our first "How You Use It" tournament.  This is a 1000 point tournament where EVERYTHING is provided (you can bring your own dice if you want, or use what is there).  The players will be paired and change tables each game, but the armies stay put.  So here is a chance to play with four different armies to see who really is the best.

Don't forget we will be having our normal 2000 pt tournament again on Saturday!  This is a 'normal' tournament, and it is also a Master's qualifying event for the Midwest Region.  I expect to have several Adepticon champions in attendance  so bring your A game for this one.


If you prefer science fiction battles over fantasy, well this year we will be doing eight sessions of "Learn to Play : Warpath".  Come and try this new game - everything is provided.


If you want something on a bit of a smaller scale, we will also be featuring a new Deadzone: Contagion Quest scenario.  Take the role of a mercenary and see if you can grab the intel before the ravaging hordes of plague zombies can stop you.  But watch out, once you have it you are also a fair target for the other mercenaries who are also trying to get it!


Finally, if you are into the greatest sports game in the entire Galactic Co-Prosperity Sphere, we are bring back the Origenes Dreadball Tournament on Friday night!

So look for the Ohio War Kings banner (we hope to have a second brand new one as well) and come play some games or just stop by to say hi!


You can buy your badge and register for all our events at Origins Game Fair.  The cost of badges goes up after May 31st ( and some events sell out) so get your tickets soon.

Event #
Event Start
Date
Event
Start Time
Event Name
6149
6/14/17
4:00 PM
Dungeon Saga: Scenario Race
1743
6/14/17
4:00 PM
Learn to Play: Warpath
1744
6/14/17
7:00 PM
Deadzone: Contagion Quest
1745
6/14/17
7:00 PM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
1746
6/14/17
7:00 PM
Learn to Play: Warpath




1748
6/15/17
8:00 AM
Deadzone: Contagion Quest
1747
6/15/17
8:00 AM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
1751
6/15/17
11:00 AM
Deadzone: Contagion Quest
1749
6/15/17
11:00 AM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
1750
6/15/17
11:00 AM
Learn to Play: Warpath
6150
6/15/17
2:00 PM
Dungeon Saga: Scenario Race
1768
6/15/17
2:00 PM
Kings of War: Advanced Tactics
1769
6/15/17
2:00 PM
Kings of War: Monster Mash
1752
6/15/17
5:00 PM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
1753
6/15/17
5:00 PM
Learn to Play: Warpath
1754
6/15/17
8:00 PM
Kings of War Mega Battle




1757
6/16/17
8:00 AM
Deadzone: Contagion Quest
1755
6/16/17
8:00 AM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
1756
6/16/17
8:00 AM
Learn to Play: Warpath
1760
6/16/17
11:00 AM
Deadzone: Contagion Quest
1758
6/16/17
11:00 AM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
1759
6/16/17
11:00 AM
Learn to Play: Warpath
6151
6/16/17
2:00 PM
Dungeon Saga: Scenario Race
6152
6/16/17
2:00 PM
Dungeon Saga: Scenario Race
1770
6/16/17
2:00 PM
Kings of War: Advanced Tactics
1771
6/16/17
2:00 PM
Kings of War: Monster Mash
6154
6/16/17
4:00 PM
Dreadball Tournament
1343
6/16/17
4:00 PM
Kings of War: How You Use It




1762
6/17/17
8:00 AM
Deadzone: Contagion Quest
1761
6/17/17
8:00 AM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
1763
6/17/17
10:00 AM
Learn to Play: Warpath
1764
6/17/17
12:00 PM
Kings of War Tournament




1766
6/18/17
8:00 AM
Deadzone: Contagion Quest
1765
6/18/17
8:00 AM
Learn to Play: Kings of War
6153
6/18/17
11:00 AM
Dungeon Saga: Scenario Race
1767
6/18/17
11:00 AM
Learn to Play: Warpath

Because it is all fun and games . . .