Monday, December 31, 2012

Pulp Figures Holiday Releases

Pulp Figures, the company I'll probably ordering my Samoans from, has released two new sets that appear to be tickling my fancy.

PSG 17 German Colonial Maxim Guns  $15.50
The pack comes with both a light and heavy Maxim.  The tripod on the light is separate so the figure could be modelled bracing it against a fence or tree, similar to a Lewis Gun.
PSS-10  The Volcano Queen  $15.50

Check out for more information.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Battlefront Limited Edition D&D Minis

Battlefront/Gale Force 9 has announced the expansion of their license to produce official D&D tokens and vinyl maps to now produce limited edition sets of resin miniatures.

The production runs limited to between 1500 and 2000 units and will range in price between $35 and $50.

I've noticed two basic camps on this issue. One is the obvious, "Squeeee! Me wants now!" group, and the other complains about the pricing and limited edition nature. It may come as a surprise, but I find the latter group to be complete idiots.

First off, the minis themselves:

And there's also a Purple Worm that I didn't post.

So let's look at the first box set, the Drow War Party.

  • They're 30mm+ figs in resin.
  • They're official D&D minis
  • They're freakin' Drow.
This is the only set where I think a run of 2,000 might be too low. Ten bucks a fig for limited edition quality resin isn't too far fetched. I see enough poorly sculpted metal going for much more.

Need I remind everyone that one of the most successful limited editions was the infamous Ral Partha Slave Auction. I had always thought that the run of 5,000 sold out, yet I discovered that Iron Wind Metals later re-released it around 2005, but only kept than run limited to the few hundred official certificates that weren't initially used. And shrink wrapped copies of the Partha run can still be found on certain store shelves today.

Yes, this is official D&D product, and these are not of an adult nature, but Battlefront is also limiting there release to only select stores across the country. I'm assuming that these are well established Battlefront direct retailers in good standing who are contractually forbidden from opening up the shipping packaging throwing every set on eBay for $100.

If you aren't interested in official minis or limited editions, don't buy the stuff! There are plenty of cheaper alternatives. If this is how Battlefront can maximize profits with the fewest licensing headaches, I can't fault then one bit. for more info.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Apathy of New Releases (January 2013)

Tis' the season for Game Trade Magazine to come out with a Hobbit Cover!

This month's solicitations still get us through the winter doldrums, but like the sun peeking through the clouds behind Gandalf, there is a ray of hope.  Easter is early this year, which means stores should expect an earlier uptick on sales and should plan accordingly.
Viscount's Must-Have List

CALL OF CTHULHU:  HOUSE OF R’LYEH   The House of R’lyeh contains five Call of Cthulhu scenarios that closely follow the events of H.P. Lovecraft stories [“The Art of Madness,” “The Crystal of Chaos,” “The Return of the Hound,” “The Jermyn Horror,” and “Nameless City, Nameless Terrors”]. Alternatively, the scenarios may be used to supplement classic Call of Cthulhu campaignssuch as The Shadows of Yog-Sothoth and The Fungi from Yuggoth.  Scheduled to ship in January 2013.
CHA 23127 ............................$28.95
Finally, something else to add to my wall o' Cthulhu.   I should pick up Terror from the Skies as well.

The Money is No Object List
The Imaginary Store List for the Pegleg Gnome

LOVE LETTER   - All of the eligible young men (and many of the not-so-young) seek to woo Princess
Annette of Tempest. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and you must rely on others to bring your romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first? Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction,
and luck for 2-4 suiters. Scheduled to ship in December 2012.  AEG 5104 ................................$9.99
A card game with a "girly" twist and it's under ten bucks?  Get that on the shelves now!

Ares Games
Designed to be used with the Wings of Glory air combat game system, each Airplane Pack comes complete with a fully painted and assembled airplane miniature, a special base with gaming stats, a variable altitude flying stand, and a specific deck of maneuver cards. Scheduled to ship in January 2013.
BF.110 C-4 (RADUSCH) AGS WGS202C ...............................................................$19.90
BF.110 C-4 (SCHUPP) AGS WGS202A...................................................................$19.90
BF.110 C-7 (CHRISTL) AGS WGS202B .................................................................$19.90
BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER MK.IF (BOYD) AGS WGS201A..................................$19.90
BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER MK.IF (HERRICK) AGS WGS201B ............................$19.90
BRISTOL BEAUFIGHTER MK.VIF (DAV OUD) AGS WGS201C..........................$19.90
FIAT CR-42 FALCO (GORRINI) AGS WGS110A ..................................................$13.90
FIAT CR-42 FALCO (GRESSLER) AGS WGS110C ...............................................$13.90
FIAT CR-42 FALCO (RINALDI) AGS WGS110B ..................................................$13.90
GLOSTER GLADIATOR MK.I (KROHN) AGS WGS109C ...................................$13.90
GLOSTER GLADIATOR MK.I (PATTLE) AGS WGS109B ....................................$13.90
GLOSTER SEA GLADIATOR (BURGES) AGS WGS109A ....................................$13.90
Suitable for both WW1 and WW2 gaming, Wings of Glory game mats are modular maps designed to provide players with the ultimate gaming surface for their aerial battles. Scheduled to ship in January 2013.
CITY AGS WGA502B ..............................................................................................$34.90
COAST AGS WGA502C ..........................................................................................$34.90
COUNTRYSIDE AGS WGA502A ...........................................................................$34.90

Depending on your store demographic, I'm certain some sort of Wings of Glory League/Campaign could fill in the time between now and the next best thing.

Atlas Games
ARS MAGICA: ANTAGONISTS Magi of the Order of Hermes often come to the attention of other inhabitants of Mythic Europe. Some see them as a threat, others as a target, still others as an opportunity.
They’re nothing but trouble. This sourcebook presents ten developed antagonists for use in your Ars Magica saga. Scheduled to ship in February 2013.  ATG 0303................................$29.95

Scheduled to ship in March 2013.    PSI CB76809............................$34.99

Scheduled to ship in March 2013.    PSI CB71112............................$34.99

DanVerssen Games
Play fast! Play smart! The timer is running, and the zombies are coming! Can you and your fellow survivors make it from the safe house, through the zombie-infested city, to the rescue helicopter before it flies off - and everybody perishes! Kill zombies to gain experience for upgrading your weapons cache, acquiring vital items, and purchasing skills that will help you ensure your mutual survival midst the undead hordes in this ghoulish, realtime card game of survival horror! Scheduled to ship in January 2013.
DV1 027 ................................$39.99
Sounds like a great concept!  Why didn't someone else come up with this concept earlier?  Why they did, only in boardgame form (with cards).  For $39.99 it better be far more awesome than Zombies!

Expeditious Retreat
TRAVELLER RPG: WORLDS APART Worlds Apart brings the excitement of the Traveller OGL rules into the realm of Fantasy, as players explore new worlds rooted in classic fantasy, searching for ealth in strange lands aboard their Vyager Ships. Scheduled to ship in January 2013.
IMP XRP9100 ..........................$25.00


Margaret Weiss
$39.99 for regular, $49.99 for premium cover

BOLT ACTION: ARMIES OF GREAT BRITAIN From early campaigns in Europe to the
deserts of North Africa and the jungles of the Far East, British forces faced the Axis threat. A supplement for Bolt Action, Armies of Great Britain allows players to build an army for Great Britain and the Commonwealth, with all the information needed to field such elite units as the Paras, Commandos, Chindits, and SAS alongside the steadfast ‘Tommy’. Scheduled to ship in March 2013.
OSP BTC003..................$24.95

MYTHS & LEGENDS: DRAGONSLAYERS With its fiery breath, scaly armor, and baleful, malevolent stare, the dragon became the ultimate symbol of evil and corruption in European folklore andmythology. Only heroes of uncommon valour, courageousness, and purity could hope to battle these monsters and
emerge victorious. This book retells the greatest legends of this select group ofwarriors, while examining the myth of the dragonslayer in a historical, mythological, and even theological context. Scheduled to ship in March 2013.  OSP MLD002..........................$17.95

MYTHS & LEGENDS: JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS The voyage of Jason and the Argonauts and their hunt for the Golden Fleece is one of the most enduringly popular of all of the Ancient Greek heroic myths. Accepting the quest in order to regain his kingdom, Jason assembled a legendary crew including many of Greece’s greatest heroes such as Hercules, Orpheus, Atalanta, Telamon, and the twins Castor
and Pollux. Dr. Neil Smith retells this classic myth, examining its origins, its history, and its continued popularity. Scheduled to  ship in March 2013. OSP MLD001..........................$17.95
Alright, I'd like to know where Osprey is going with this line, because I'm getting a vibe that these are akin to a Time-Life series, which is cool, but I don't know if decent writing and nostalgia will sell enough copies.





Patch Products
And in the middle of this months GTM is a solicitation for a series of games to celebrate Clifford the Big Red Dog's 50th Anniversary.   Order according to your pre-school demographic.
A number of Reaper Bones are up for solicitation.  Can I just say how nice it is to see $1.99 minis again, no matter what material is being used?
Spartan Games:
The Dystopian Legion figures are officially solicited  Both Tankettes I mentioned previously are $37.00.
Steve Jackson GamesMUNCHKIN EASTER EGGS:  Munchkin Easter Eggs adds 15 new cards, compatible with all flavors of Munchkin games but designed to go with the original (and most popular!). Stuff ‘em into Easter baskets or shuffle the cards right into your Munchkin sets - and enjoy Easter all year round! Scheduled
to ship in March 2013. NOTE: This item is sold to retailers in full displays. Please contact your retailer for availability.
SJG 4233-D............................$49.50
SJG 4233-S ..............................$4.95

And really, except for my gripe that the Warlord Games products still have the "PI" (Please Inquire - the retailer pays a different [worse] wholesale rate than their normal products), there's not much else in the catalog.  A lot of "Offered Again" or in-stock items.   If you don't want little planes on your shelves, it looks like a good month to budget restocks for the Spring.  You can do so, you'll be doing inventory in January (right?) and February/March restocks won't hurt your 2012 taxes.

Friday, December 28, 2012

(Kickstarter) World of Synnibarr

After the deluge of miniatures Kickstarters this summer, it's nice to see role-playing attempting to traverse the wilderness.  RPGs are a tougher sell in a Kickstarter than miniatures.  The pledge doesn't just want their product with a few basic freebies and free shipping.  Oh no, they wanted their minis for nothing, and a few more for free.  With RPGs, the core product is more a labor of love, so offering additional side pledges and stretch makes the deadline for the initial project so much harder to complete.  It's so much easier to offer a pack of skeletons at a buck over cost or a band of bugbears for an extra $20, than a sourcebook, character creation software, or mission folio, and maintain an even level of quality.

Of course if you don't start with deluded notions, like FASA did with their Victorian Sci-Fi game, success is much easier.  Case in point with the World of Synnibarr Kickstarter.

Some of you just fainted, I'll give others a few moments to collect themselves from laughing hysterically.

At least in this part of Pennsylvania, Synnibarr was always a joke.  It was a monstrous book, full of multi-genre combinations that, at least at a casual glance, looked to be a stat-cruncher/munchkin's wet dream.  I swear there were bionic psychic laser dragons, or something similar to it.  It felt like GURPS gone bad, or it Rifts hadn't kept their multi-genre machinations in different regions of the world/dimensions. 

Oh, that book, it made a large print bible look like a program for a elementary school winter concert.  I know one copy sat on the shelf at Dreamscape during my reign.  I'm thinking I offered a few extra discounts on that one to move it out during one of the after Christmas sales.  Or perhaps, it's still lurking in the bins and boxes, waiting for a victim.

The worst insult to the game was Bogglecon game auctions.  I'm pretty sure Ron from Game Trader brought up a couple copies of it every con, and most copies were relegated to the $1 minimum bid.  I'm thinking over a copy or two has circulated in the current Mepacon auction cycle with similar results.

Anywho, the creator of the game is looking to republish the book, and has gone through a hefty ammount of playtesting and mathematical analysis.  If the words "mathematical analysis" hasn't made you go run off screaming, this might be a game for you.

The different pledge levels are allowing for different quality prints of the books, including pdf, and a few supplements of questionable size.  They may even be separate spinoffs from sections of the old book.  Of course the highest level bids involve Synnibarr convention/personal game offers (airfare extra). 

The stretch goals offer more weapons, more cybernetics, more blood magic spells, adding to the page count, but offset by the cheaper price per page of the larger job.

The good news for the hardcore fans (and there were at least 96 of them left), the basic kickstarter has funded itself.  It this can find an audience, I may had to take a good hard look at putting Burning Plastic through the same rigors.

Republishing the World of Synnibarr for Kickstarter info.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

(Cold Wars) The 2013 PEL is up!

Alright, time to come clean, the PEL has been up for a week.  It's just that I don't to make announcements during my 12 Days of Blogging, and the Mega Game was finalized on day 2.

For a full listing of the PEL, check them out here.

I've picked out a few "ViscountEric Preferred" games, with commentary.  Some of these games run more than once, so check out the PEL for even more options.

F-275 - Advance to Longueval, 14 July 1916
Fri. 10:00 AM, 4 hrs, 6 players GM: Phillip Gibbons with Joe Brimer and Ron Bingham and Battle
Barn of Williamsburg  Sponsor: U.S. Army Women's Museum at Fort Lee
WWI 25mm, Rules: Trench Wars modified for skirmish fighting
The advance starts in the early morning hours just after a quick, 5 minute barrage. The Germans are believed to only have a thin screen of troops in your sector. The 9th Scottish Div has assigned the 26th Bde the honor of leading the advance. Can elements of the 8th Black Watch and 10th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders takethe crossroads?
Gnome Wars was developed out of Trench Wars, so this should be an easy one to jump into.

F-307 - Duke Morrison and the Mounties
Fri. 10:00 AM, 3.5 hrs, 6 players  GM: Buck Surdu and HAWKS  Modern 28mm, Rules: GASLIGHT
Professor Nannini has developed an anti-gravity ray the Venusians and their gangster minions want. To convince the professor to share his invention, they have tied his daughter (also a physicist) to a log, which is inching toward a large saw blade. Nannini is the kind of girl wounded Marines crawl through broken glass and burning desert to catch a final glimpse of before they die. Duke Morrison and his companions, along with Sergeant Preston and a squad of Mounties, try to rescue the girl, defeat the gangsters, and break up the Venusian laboratory.
Venusians and Mounties?  THAT is what I've been waiting for to learn GASLIGHT!

F-336 - Fire in the Steppe: Raid at Hanacivka, 1676
Fri. 10:00 AM, 4 hrs, 6 players  GM: David Bonk and Triangle Simulation Society
Renaissance 28mm, Rules: C&GII Pike and Shot
Cossack, Russian and Turkish forces advancing towards Lvov aremet by a Polish/Tartar raiding party near the village of Hanacivka.
Not my normal thing, but this has got to look cool in 28mm.

F-266 - Gnome Wars: The Battle of the Bees
Fri. 11:00 AM, 4 hrs, 8 players
GM: Jim Stanton with Steven Stanton and Stout Gnomes   Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes! Fantasy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars
After securing the beach the combined force of Indian and British troops will attempt to drive the Germans from the rail station on the outskirts of Tanga. The Allies must approach Tanga through a wooded area that is the home to some African Killer Bees. Let's hope loud noises don't startle them.
One of the "normal" gnome games

F-168 - All the King's Men Demo Games
Fri. 1:00 PM, 1 hrs, 4 players GM: Ken Cliffe with Dave Hoyt
Sponsor: All the King's Men Toy Soldiers  American Civil War 54mm, Rules: All the King's Men
Join ATKM as we demo our own rules and debut our new line of ACW 54mm miniatures! This is not skirmish gaming! Everything  is provided. Just bring your memory of what got you into wargaming in the first place. Demos run at the ATKM booth in the dealer area. Just walk up and play; no tickets needed. It takes about an hour.
Ken just posted pics of his ACW, and they are Saaaa-WEEET!  If you don't have a spare hour to pick up a demo, rearrange your schedule.

F-182 - Red Dawn: The Road to Los Alamos
Fri. 2:00 PM, 3 hrs, 6 players GM: Henry Kyle with John Currin  Modern 28mm, Rules: Force on Force
It is the dawn of World War III. Cuban and Nicaraguan forces, along with their Soviet masters, have crossed the border and are charging up I-25 for Los Alamos and its hi-tech labs. Their plan calls for scrounging fuel along the way, and the people of Desert Flats can derail the Commie timetable by denying the Reds the fuel in their town.
An Expansion of, dare I say, "Classic" Red Dawn!

F-238 - Zombie Cardio
Fri. 6:00 PM, 3 hrs, 8 players GM: Chad Miller and Woodbridge Area GamerS (WAGS)
Modern 20mm, Rules: Zombies!!!
Remember the 1st Rule of Zombie Land, Cardio. You want to make it out of Mid-Town safely, then you better Run, Kill and make it to the Chopper in time before it moves again. 6 Players can come and try their luck at running through Central Park. Pick up weapons and aids to get out of town, but you gotta know the
Rules from Zombieland in order to pick up the special cardio boost. Come kill some Zombies and test your luck at the apocalyptic die rolls.
I hope no pretentious Napoleonic player signs up for this accidentally.

F-291 - Clash near Regensburg - April 1945
Fri. 7:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players GM: Jim Mackey and HAWKS WWII 54mm, Rules: Battleground WW2
It is April 23, 1945, US forces are driving into Germany. Patton's 3rd Army is approaching Czechoslovakia. One approach to the Czech border is through the town of Regensburg. This town and road leading into it must first be taken. All this in 54mm!! Yes, it is true, bigger is better!!
54mm WW2 is just so frickin' sweet to watch, much less play.

F-175 - Wooden Wars Demo Games
Fri. 8:00 PM, 1 hrs, 4 players GM: Ken Cliffe with Dave Hoyt  Sponsor: All the King's Men Toy Soldiers
Napoleonic Wood Soldiers, Rules: Wooden Wars
ATKM debuts Wooden Wars! Command armies of sturdy wooden soldiers, cavalry and artillery on a floor battlefield. Win by knocking over the enemy army by shooting (tossing small rubber balls) and rolling dice, all in the spirit of HG Wells. No tickets needed. Just walk up and play throughout the session.
I've mentioned Wooden Wars here.  Awesome that ATKM has offered to help promote it.

F-265 - Gnome Wars: The Joust
Fri. 8:00 PM, 2 hrs, 30 players  GM: Jim Stanton with Steven Stanton and Stout Gnomes
Sponsor: Brigade Games, Prize: Gnomes! Fantasy 28mm, Rules: Gnome Wars
Come try to win the jousting tournament. Rules taught. Quick, easy, FUN!
The joust is back!  So making a custom mount for this bad boy.  If I get embarrassed in the first round, I will be jumping into Wooden Wars.

S-242 - Trench Wars: Treat Them Rough!
Sat. 9:00 AM, 3 hrs, 8 players GM: Steve Robinson and Woodbridge Area GamerS (WAGS)
Sponsor: Acheson Creations, Prize: None WWI 28mm, Rules: Modifed Trench Wars
Tommy is facing the formable Hindenburg line. Can the shear bravery of Tommy and the steel behemoths punch their way through Jerry’s defenses? Or, will a sea of wire entanglements, bunkers and non-ceasing hail of machinegun fire defeat Tommy’s juggernaut? Come and pick a side and taste once again the rotting, acidic smell of the western front. I know for sure that lead figures do not bleed, but allot will have to wait until the afternoon to be played with again.
Another early morning Trench Wars games.

S-395 - Rorke's Picnic
Sat. 12:00 PM, 2 hrs, 7 players  GM: Jim Reynolds with John Brennan and WNPG  Sponsor: Eureka USA, Prize: Bears  Colonial 28mm, Rules: Teddy Bear Picnic
It is picnic time for the 24th Bear Foot, but visitors have rudely interrupted. With the boys have their picnic or will the Zulu bears ruin tea time.
Eureka Bears,'nuff said, even if it is for kids.

S-145 - Battle of Tanga - German East Africa, 4 Nov. 1914
Sat. 1:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players GM: Mark Kinsey with Jonathan Yuengling
WWI 15mm, Rules: Too Fat Lardies - If the Lord Spares Us
The Battle of Tanga was an attempt by the British Commonwealth to invade the colony of German East Africa through an amphibious landing near the town of Tanga. Players will command 8,000 British Indian forces against 1,000 German Sharpshooters and Askari. But whose side are the African Killer Bees on?
Someone else running Tanga?In 15mm? Inconceivable!

S-214 - Gnome Wars: The Battle of the Bees
Sat. 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, 6 players
GM: Kevin Jacobi with Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes

S-215 - Gnome Wars: The Landing in East Africa
Sat. 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players
GM: Eric Jacobson with Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes

S-216 - Gnome Wars: Storming the Town of Tanga
Sat. 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, 8 players
GM: Steven Stanton with Jim Stanton and Stout Gnomes
The MEGA-GAME!  No Pre-Reg needed if you bring your own 300-320pt unit.  Last Cold Wars was a  blast, this should be even better.

S-204 - Wooden Warriors capture the Flag - sometime in 1815
Sat. 5:00 PM, 1 hrs, 8 players GM: Jeff Wiltrout and Potomac Wargamers  Sponsor: Skull and Crown Strategem INC.Napoleonic 80mm, Rules: Wooden Wars
Time to get the games off the table and back on the floor where it all began. 2 armies of Wooden Warriors battle it out on the floor capturing objectives and knocking down opponents. Thrown rubber balls are the objects of destruction here. Kids over 12 only accepted with a younger player.
EXTREMELY KID FRIENDLY. Not recommend for those with bad knees.
More Wooden Wars daring to go where few would venture:  the floors of the Lancaster Host!

S-209 - Haitian Slave Revolt
Sat. 7:00 PM, 3 hrs, 10 players  GM: Brian DeWitt Colonial 25mm, Rules: The Sword and The Flame
The Haitian Slave Revolt started in August 1791 with central leader Voodoo Priest Boukman. French forces loyal to the French Crown and Colonists battled back and forth with the Slave Army. In 1793 many French units were called back to Europe and the Slave Army took to the offense. Here Haitian national hero Toussaint L'Ouverture leads the way.
Great obscure, under appreciated action, a plus to use TSATF to play.

S-355 - Carnage and Glory: Russia 1920--"The Commissar's in Town"
Sat. 8:00 PM, 2 hrs, 12 players GM: Tom Cusa with Frank Luberti, Jr. and Connecticut Game Club
Sponsor: Carnage and Glory  Inter-War 28mm, Rules: Carnage and Glory II
Baron Waxtel's White Russians clash with Red Army forces under Comrade General Spiess. Regimental level game. Novices, children with adults, rules lawyers and GMs looking for revenge welcome. CGC members, family and friends always welcome.
The Russian Civil War always deserves some support, in my book.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

(Cold Wars) Gnome Wars Mega-Game Submitted!

After the 12 Days of Blogging, the holiday season, and wearing a fanny pack covered in mistletoe, it's time to catch up on the day to day affairs, starting with huge Gnome Wars news.

The Gnome Wars main event for Cold Wars 2013 will be another multi-table mega-game.  This time, the Stout Gnomes will tackle the 1914 East African Battle of Tanga.  The tables cover the amphibious assault, the jungle fighting, and the chaotic melee within the city itself.  And yes, troops should be able to move from table to table.

Saturday 2pm. Be there.  We'll have plenty of new surprises, in addition to the old surprises we regularly throw out. for more info.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

(Twelve Days) #12 A Merry Christmas is a Well Armed Christmas

From Gaming with the Gnomies, may you and yours have a blessed Christmas, and remember not to piss off Santa for next year.  That old arms dealer is upgrading his personal protection.

If I've heard any complaints with Victory Force, it's that there figures are extremely large, even for 30mm. At worse case, consider these offspring of Buddy the Elf.

Monday, December 24, 2012

(Twelve Days) #11 Killer Snowmen and Mouslings

Ah, Christmas Eve, the high holy day for our family.  This year has been so hectic that absolutely nothing has been accomplished.  Our Christmas Eve feast is half constructed and will remain that way, the tree is up but barely decorated, as the cat and dog have already done a number on the lights, and Santa may make a late appearance tomorrow, between wrapping and the children refusing to sleep.

That being said, I've survived the 12 Days of Blogging with only one cop-out day (Day #9, and if you didn't get the joke, let me know, I'll fill you in), so today I say screw it and give you two pics of 28mm Snowmen minis:
Reaper #03296 Monstrous Snowmen  $11.49
And this bad boy just got released December 10th.  I present to you the new Mousling Holiday set.
Reaper #01436  Holiday Mouslings   $18.99
Great set for modeling/painting, although I find few gaming applications for it.  Perhaps a Snow Shaman and his child-like followers?   That would add a serious bit of toughness on the Native American tilt I put toward Eureka's Mice Warriors, at least three months out of the year.

God Jul!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

(Twelve Days) #10 Zombie Cakes for Fun and Profit

Just a random thought as the chaos builds at home...

I have a friend who went to Facebook asking for suggestions for their five years old's shotgun/zombie birthday cake.  Now, say what you will about the inappropriateness of a zombies for a five year old, but the concept hit me, why don't we see more gaming-supported cakes?

Seriously, if he were a bit older I would have had her buy a copy of Zombies!, plus a bag of the glow in the dark zombies.  The human figure could be on top of the cake, with a few candy pieces resembling air conditioning units.  The sides of the cake could be done in large black rectangles and the zombies surrounding the base.  Very Dawn of the Dead, and with the glow in the dark ones, you may want to mow down zombies rather than blow out candles.

Anyway, the cake the kid got is pretty cool:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

(Twelve Days) #9 No Killer, All Deck Filler

Second Magic post in a week, but also the gratuitous "This daily blogging stuff is a pain in the ass, here's some pics of kittens." post.  A slightly oldie but goodie.

I'd tap that, unless it was a Zephyr Falcon.

Friday, December 21, 2012

(Twelve Days) #8 Baconball

I never was a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan.  Don't get me wrong, I know it is one of the greatest comic strips in American history.  I love the snowmen and most of the daydreaming sequences.  I have the same problem with Calvin as I have with Lucy from Peanuts.

There are times when I want a better attitude beaten into both of them. Just once, I wanted Charlie Brown to kick the football... or ninja kick Lucy in the face. Charlie Brown is a bit of schmuck, but he's a dedicated and altruistic one. Lucy is just a sociopath.
When Calvin does something to irk me, it's because he's acting like an out of control football-pulling Lucy. His parents, however are not the Charlie Brown. Sure, they just grin and bear it when there's a snowman holocaust blocking their driveway, but very rarely do we see them act parental when he's more destructive. Calvin's free spirit and wild imagination is what makes the comic great. I think what gets me is the lack of even a parental nod of dissaproval for some of his more heinous offensives. There is a difference between "Boys being boys" and the out of control, partying like rock stars at a frat party six years we see more and more often these days.

Now that I've gotten my "get off my lawn" moment out of my system, I present for your consideration "Bacon and Hobbes".

"Bacon and Hobbes" was a four strip tribute piece to Calvin and Hobbes, produced by the guys at Twenty-six years later, Calvin is married to Suzie and has a little girl of his own, named Bacon. After a night where her stuffed animal couldn't scare away Donald Trump in her closet, Calvin breaks out a homicidal jungle cat from the closet, and the combination is nostalgic heaven.
Of the four strips, the one that closely resembles my home is #3, the one strip without an appearance by Hobbes.

Maybe it's just the dad in me, perhaps I can go into some deep philosophical/psychological discussion on Calvin's need for attention creating wild-eyed fantasies or some other crock, but my very first thought was, "Calvin is playing with his daughter, something his parents never did with him." 

We'll probably never see another one of these strips made, but I'm confident that in their alternate universe, little Bacon will turn out spectacular.

I like to toot my own horn here about my kids (it is my blog, afterall). Using my horrible daddy-biased analysis, they're imaginative, empathetic souls beyond their little years. Outside of bad (nap) timing, we can take them anywhere and do anything, including a week long cruise to the Bahamas this February.

That cartoon is why I do this blog.  I play with my kids, and sometimes they do play with my stuff.  Yes, sometimes we break out the milk pint ships and shoe box buildings and have a go with it, but I'm equally happy if they're playing with hundreds of dollars worth of miniatures and Miniature Building Authority accessories. In fact a mixture of the two is preferred. Respect for everyone's property is an important rule to learn. Most kids don't learn it until late.

After this past week, when everyone is yelling about gun control and mental health, most people are handwaving the most important lesson, because we've heard it all before.  Be their mommy and daddy, but be their parent as well.

Play with your kids:  It sounds so simple, but so often we have housework, schedules, post work unwinding, video games (..blogs..), and other things that push off spending time with our kids, with the expectations that we can catch up with them later.  That whole Cat's in the Cradle rule applies here, as does the "No matter how tough you are, if a child hands you a toy telephone, you take it and answer it."

Moreso than that, children need interaction with others, at play and elsewhere.  You're reinforcing socially acceptable ways to act, and can focus on positive aspects.  And make sure they interact with other people of all ages within that basic set of guidelines. 

It also allows you to discover what your child actually knows/picks up on.   Once children start speaking in grammatically correct, we forget that they're still absorbing knowledge in vast quantities.  It's much easier to pick up on bad habits or problems elsewhere at play, rather than at dinner, or worse yet, years down the road.

We're by no means perfect parents, both children are under four and can operate a smart phone like a phone, and we all watch way too much TV. But the fact that we do watch the cartoons with them, we can explain things that they don't understand, and, when we play with them, we might understand who they're pretending to be and what they're doing. Of course, I occasionally get a comment from my 3 1/2 year old, Maja, when we were playing house.

"Daddy, the house is on fire, and the Mommy needs a ride to Mexico."

I know we had just watch Hunchback of Notre Dame, and she was scared by the big fire.  That  I can work on.  Why Mommy needs to go to Mexico might require a bit of investigation. 

Finally, play with your kids today, because we all know that there's chance that you might never get the opportunity again.  A bit somber for this holiday season, but there are a number of families overwhelmed with sorrow who would make a deal with the devil just for a chance to be with their loved ones one more fleeting time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Twelve Days) #7 My Little Pony: Friendship is HotT

Despite my friend's years ago that I knew something about every game, there's still plenty of games I never even knew existed . Hordes of the Things (HotT) was one of those games. Released by WRG in the 90s as a fantasy version of DBA, it holds a solid following due to the simple rules and accommodating army construction.

Each army derives their forces from a wide variety of troop types. From mobs to knights, archers (shooters) to swordsmen, even flying units and unpredictable gods can make an appearance. The campaign rules work so well that people use them for historical games. And that's the biggest draw for many, you can have your 15 or 25mm Picts, Romans, and Persians fight against Elves, Dwarves, and ... err... anything you can imagine.

Ah, the rampaging hordes of My Little Ponies vs. Victorian Sci-Fi vs Vikings (the Viking's "god" was represented by a Thor action figure. Those kiwis know how to have a good time.
Wargaming New Zealand

If that doesn't work, let's try Imperial and Rebels forces.

And for those observant enough, those snow speeders raced behind the lines and would destroy AT-AT.
Bob's Miniature Wargaming for more in this.

Finally, I present a steady dwarf army vs a all-girl army of awesomeness. I think the combined ages of the combatants wouldn't let you buy tobacco products.

From one of my favorite blogs, Tim's Miniature Wargaming

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

(Twelve Days) #6 Magic: Gathering Nostalgia

In the last three plus years I've had this blog, I've covered most corners of the gaming world, save one.


The Gathering

Carboard Crack.

I know a certain percentage of the reader populace will bemoan the mere mention of the game. It's a game for the rich, even with its more modern tournament settings. It's addicting. It took away players from my group, and it killed roleplaying, especially "real" D&D. I spent enough years deveoping counter-arguments that I can agree with all those points and defend the game in the same breath.

But I won't. It's the twelve days, and I'm feeling nostaligic.

I'm one of those "get of my lawn" old timers. A starter and a couple of boosters of Beta started me off, and we moved onto Unlimited. With most board/card games I hit a wall understanding the tiny rulebook in the starter, and it took a community effort to get the first few games off the ground. Even then we got it wrong. As Arabian Nights hit the shelves, we still considered creature damage permanent and we hadn't figured out the concept of customizable decks. We still played with everything, which was aided by the fact that they still put land in the booster packs. My first group of Magic players was just like high school: Charles (who had a much feared Shivan Dragon), George (Guardian Beast and Ali from Cairo), and myself (Howling Mines/Black Vises and lots of Ironroot Treefolk!).

I completely missed Antiquities, Legends, and the first wave of The Dark. It wasn't until I got a job at New Frontiers in Phillipsburg, New Jersey that I started up again. 90%+ of consistant business was Magic, but the tournament setting was family friendly compared to stores with similar sales. The no risk, low reward concept of free tournaments for small prizes kept most of the dicks away and at worst it was high spirited friendly competition. It was here that I developed my love for the red/green Kird Ape deck, and spread the gospel. It was easy. Back in the day, common cards weren't a dime a dozen (you only got one for a dime), but for six dollars and some playing experience you could put together a competitive red/green deck that you could build on. I remember finalizing my deck. It wasn't the Taigas that were hard to come by, or the Chain Lightnings. Heck, the only hard part of obtaining the lone Berserk was trading for it, there were plenty floating around. The worst part were the Bloodlusts, which were strictly Legends cards until Chronicles. Getting four of those was tougher than getting the entire deck black border.

Yeah, for those in the know following along at home, 4 Beta Taigas. Wasn't a big deal back in the day.

Moving from New Frontiers to Dreamscape Comics, I got to meet Crazy Larry and the (usually) Tuesday night Magic group. Some of the players went to the bigger tourneys, but Tuesday nights were fun nights, or else you learned that quick. Ten player melees, junk card drafts, and it was where the Grandaddy Treefolk deck was born

4x Ironroot Treefolk
4x Argothian Treefolk
4x Yavimaya Ancients
4x Llanowar Elves
4x "Ice Age" Elves
4x Wild Growths
4x Elvish Spirit Guides
4x Hurricanes
2x Desert Twisters
1x Berserk
1x Natural Selection
1x Fast Bond
1x Mox Emerald
4x Iff-Biff Efreets
4x Streams of Life
4x Howling Mines
4x Millstones
1x Feldon's Cane
4x Giant Growths
4x Scryb Sprites

And enough land to make it work. I would regularly throw in/take out different cards just to spice things up, but one thing was clear: in a group game, anyone who dissed the treefolk only did it once.

I prided myself on not building tournament ready decks (any idiot with the internet now can do it, check out a local tournament), I was more intrigued by building expanded theme decks, story decks would be a better definition. I know with the Wizard School deck, all the wizards, enchantresses and sorcerors/ess hung out at the school and every card played had to have a bad high school theme to it (hanging out around the fountain of youth, etc). I know some of my friends tired of them easy, but I wanted to actually use my cards, not just the 100 or so that everybody else put in every single deck.

Since those fateful days 15 years ago, I've dabbled in and out of it, sold just about every card, and even gave my wife's cousin Michael a heckua Christmas present a few years back with my Kird Ape deck. When the girls are old enough I may teach them the game (it's still better than Pokemon, yes that's still out too..), but there is a kinder/gentler Treefolk deck sitting in my closet, alongside my kickass Battletech CCG speed deck and my "Chaos Locksmith" tournament killer INWO deck.

Very shortly I could beat college grads with that deck who weren't even born when I bought my first pack of cards.

Magic might finally have bona fide grognards. Which just pisses off the anti-Magic people even more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

(Twelve Days) #5 - My Biggest Success as a Player (RPG)

Last year I covered my biggest failure as a GM. This year I figured to do a complete 180 and do my biggest success as a player.

This is definitely tougher than last year. Last time I had to qualify failure within a large body of work. This time it is a sparse series of choices.

Pastuphan: My GURPS Humanx alien raccoon who could barely make it through the first adventure (based off a Chip 'n Dale Rescue Ranger episode I might add) to fighting off swarms of Verm in the final adventure.

Prego of Lyon: a mutant human with lion like features (and photosynthetic skin) in Gamma World 4th edition. How our group got through Famine in Far-go I'd beyond me.

Valerius and Yuri the Healing Guy from a Basic D&D game. They both got to fifth level!

E.B. Borgstrom and Banjo Joe, my two Call of Cthulhu characters who survived, and didn't do much, mind you.

Cephas: My stock AD&D Elf Bowman who has had many a Christmas adventure, when we're not running Toon reject elves?

Believe it or not, unless I take a stretch and start including my Rifts Cyber-Knight, a Werewolf from a one-shot World of Darkness session, a Star Trek: Next Gen dude, a radio operator from Recon, or numerous forgetable super hero one shots, there's not much else to work with. And I can't begin to include convention PCs, like William of Arinka and Marino Hernandez, Star Wars tramp freighter captain. I primarily GM, and have been doing so for nearly 25 years.

That being said, here's my top 3

#3 - Gary the Flying Guy: Gary was my character given to me for my very first game of TWERPS (The World's Easiest Role Playing Game.) He was the helicopter pilot during a zombie apocalypse (It was '94, we were always ahead of the curve). His strength was 4 and he got +1 to all piloting rolls. That's it. It was such a revelation to play such a basic and simple character. Plus it involved more quick thinking that die rolls for the group to survive. I don't remember if the Kermitnator made an appearance (Yes, the Kermitnator, a cyborg amphibian from the future), but such a rules light approach stuck with me ever since. Ironically, I have most of the TWERPS books at my desk at work today. Great material to develop the Gnomish Space Marines.

#2 - Sabeth Joachim: Outside of GMing RPGA stores, I rarely got a chance to be a playing for a in-store session. That whole running a business, dealing with customer, etc. just got in the way. The one time I did was a 2nd Edition AD&D run by Mike Dalcin. Like most harried store campaigns, it was an eclectic mixture of newbies, junior high munchkins, and slackers with nothing better to do on a Thursday night. Of course, this means that my character was thrust into a leadership role, barking order, soothing egos, and trying not to get slaughtered before we left the town on the first quest. Sabeth was probably the most "average" character stat-wise, a simple fighter in a crowd of handbooks, kit, and sub-classes. The difference with her was with my years of tactical GM experience, I took 1% of that and kept her out of trouble. I also realized that the regular attendees had two issues: 1. They were more ravenous with magic items "they could use" than a regular group and 2. We had no thief. Sabeth solved both issues herself. Despite being one of the more dominant (and surprisingly effective) characters, she would defer magic items like armor and weapons to appease the others. She faired quite well enough with studded leather, a minor dex bonus, and penchant for avoiding combat. However, she did take an extra share at the bottom, which meant all-class scrolls, miscellaneous potions, and a ring of invisibility fell into her lap. She became the party pseudo theif/scout and somehow did not die, despite all the traps, pits, and poisoned needles thrown at us.

#1 - The Naked Roast Nazi: First, a shout out to Todd in Pen Argyl, PA! Second, yes, you read the name right. Todd was a regular miniatures customer at Griffon Game. I think he may have been the main person responsible for the expansion of the Reaper line. With the store closing, we struck up a conversation and I was invited into his home game. It was a big honor, as I believe he had been playing with the same crew for somewhere around a decade and had just finished up a five year weekly campaign. With a hybrid 1st/2nd Edition game with cherry picked parts of all the fantasy heartbreakers thrown in for good measure, I figured I'd start with a concept character, and if he died, I'd go more in depth into the system with the next one. With DM approval, I went with a Halfling Wizard with some cooking non-weapon proficiencies. Todd's response? "Hey, why not?"

The campaign was definitely sandbox, mid-risk, low sandbox to be exact. We wandered around the wilderness, following rumors of treasure. My little wizard (his name lost in the epochs of time) found little use with a sling, a dagger, and a staff that usually doubled as the spit for whatever we were killed for food. It wasn't much, but life was good.

At some point, we had killed a bear, or boar, and had set up the spit to roast it. We had set camp at the edge of a lake and he rest of the party wandered off to see what they could see, gather herbs, etc, leaving me with the food... and the laundry. When the roast was done I stripped down to nothing and bathed myself and our spare clothes at the same time.

The absolute perfect time for three goblins to smell our food and wander into camp.

Waist deep in the water (and still naked) I ran out to grab the only nearby weapon... my staff/spit. Trying to scare them off, I screamed for help and swung the roast beast meancingly.

And rolled a nat 20.

One goblin out for the count, I shimmied the food off my weapon and went after goblin #2. Hit. Dead.

As the party began to return, they saw the halfling, naughty bits exposed, beating the third goblin with what was a moment previous, a cooking implement.

The halfling's name wasn't used from then on out, just Naked Roast Nazi. In this world we assumed it meant "Brave Halfling Warrior" rather than nude fascist chef.

Almost as funny, until the time that work got the best of me and I had to drop out, the halfling could only hit if he was in some state of disrobement. Fully geared up, he could hit a lake if he was droppred into the center of it.

...and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Monday, December 17, 2012

(Twelve Days) #4 Comics and Comments

Working at comic/game stores for six years, I did get the occasional question, "So, what DO you read?"

The answer was scant even in the height of my pull list. Let's grab a Faygo, pull up a chair, and let me ramble on about comics for a change.

Early childhood comic reading focused on what was on TV (even in syndication). Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Fantastic Four might show up, but the patriotic kid in me always reached for Captain America. I would rather have 25 cents for a video game than a comic back then. My Marvel domination was only offset by copies of GI Combat and Sgt Rock.

Going into middle school, I tried to break records by checking out an oversized book of classic Superman comics every chance i had. It contained multiple retelling of his origins, from Action #1 to those in the late sixties.

When I did get my own job, a combination of a newspaper route and cutting lawns, I ventured over to the comic rack at the local Rea & Derrick Drug Store. It was Post-Crisis, and the number ones were rolling off the presses. I snagged up a copay of Shazam! A New Beginning with my seventy-five cents and off I went. I was too young for the 70's relaunch, or the cheesy Saturday morning TV show, but somehow I had picked up on Billy Batson, the Wizard, and the base mythology of the character. It was my first exposure to retconning, as the mini-series was particularly dark and modern versus the basic storyline from the 1940's. I hit a retcon whiplash when I started picking up Justice League with issue #3 and DeMatteis and Giffen turned up the hokey-ness of the character up to 11.

I followed Justice League on and off through the mid-20's, until the news agency decided not to stock it anymore. I was going to revert back to sports, reading actual books, not being able to talk to girls, and dabbling in RPGs if not for two important events.

First, I picked up a copy of Sandman #7 from the local Waldenbooks. It looked weird, dark, and if the cashier behind the counter didn't mind giving a young boy a comic with a "Mature Readers Only" label, I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip by. Issue #7 was "Sound and Fury", the last issue of the Preludes and Nocturnes storyline. I picked up pretty quickly what was gong on (like any well written comic should be able to do), but the words and the imagery were plenty disturbing. Even Martian Manhunter was creepy nd ominous in his cameo appearance, and I liked the version that munched Oreos.

I was hooked... and that was even before the first appearance of Death (to me at least) in Issue #8.

The second major development was Dreamscape Comics Easton location opening two blocks from my house (and two doors down from the drug store). A pull list is a beautiful thing, but Dreamscape's discount kicked in at four monthly titles, and outside of three months where I read the new X-Men and X-Force, I only had two titles: Sandman and Hellblazer.

When I worked at New Frontiers, their comic situation was so dire that it was easier to keep my tiny pull list at Dreamscape. I did pick up at occasional crossover/miniseries/issue of interest at work, but nothing worth noting.

When I finally got a job at Dreamscape, my pull list expanded and contracted like an accordian player at a Death Metal Polka Festival. My list grew with independents (Strangers in Paradise, Stray Bullets), in support of cheap/entry level books (Over the Edge... and Under a Buck, The Untold Tales of Spider-man), and the usual mini-series of the month. Soon I realized I worked at a comic book shop, so the marginal things I wanted to read could be read right off the shelp. Yes, I know that is blasphemy is some corners. I called it work-related research.

Hellblazer and Sandman dropped by the wayside from disinterest, and a new crop of super-hero funny books got added. Astro-City, Sandman Mystery Theatre, Starman, and, of course, Power of Shazam! With all four, there was a dedication to continuity, even if it was coming from a more mature angle like Sandman Mystery, or creating it's own with Astro City. I also went back to supporting some more "fun" books, like Army Ants, Knights of the Dinner Table, and Bust-a-Nut Comix (That last one was all funny talking animals, nothing else. You people are sick!)

I had survived the Death of Superman, the Fall of Batman, the glut of X-Men, the insanity of Image #1s, and Heroes Reborn, and I emerged relatively unscathed financially and psychologically. I also discovered that a surprsing group of educated customers are sheer suckers for any half-ass gimmick.  Alright, bought into Kingdom, but I sought help afterwards and felt fine.

When I moved onto Griffon Games... and college, expenses were slashed, and outside of our our little rack at the store, I finished my runs of Power of Shazam, Sandman Mystery, and Starman, and settled into the various incarnations of the Justice Society of America... and the various comics Kenzer & Co produced beyond KoDT.

After Griffon Games, when I moved out into the workforce, I kept my sparse pull list of KoDT and JSA. Despite even moving out to the hinterlands of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, I still managed to find time once a month to drive down to Williamsport and my books. It's even more amusing to note that when I moved to the Wilkes-Barre area after I married my wife, that a drive to the comic book shore (Essential Comics) took just as long.

I spent a few years muddling through Essential Comics, before they were sold and liquidated, and The Unknown in Scranton, before they dissolved into the unknown. Even my sole remaining JSA suffered from the cruelness of what felt like 16 page story arcs. I did partake in the great 52 experiment, but after seeing DC wipe that out as well. Eradicating decades of work for a temporary increase in sales that will force you into more gimmicks 6-12 months down the line. Between that and poor artwork, it holds no interest. Plus the nearest shop with decent hours is now over an hour by highway. I'm essentially done with comics. I have picked up some of the Mouse Guard hardcovers for my daughter, and a random KoDT from time to time, but I think that period of my life is done.

Unless of course, they relaunch things again, with my favorite buddy team looking like this:

Call it Earth-DC, Earth-52, Earth-69, I'm there.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

(Twelve Days) #3 An Ode to Dave

Getting this one in just under the wire.  This year is going to be tough.

Last year I sent some heartfelt appreciation for my friend Charles, who got me hooked on role-playing. This year I'm kicking the nostalgia meter up to 11 and cover the man who got me into wargaming: Dave Baxter.

When I was a kid our neighborhood could be best described as heavily aging. Most neighbors had been living in the same houses for 25+ years at the time. Kids were not a large commodity. I luckily fell in with a bunch if the sandlot football/baseball group by junior high, but the majority of the kids early on were not exactly good apples, at least in the eyes of my mom.

Dave was different. He was four years older and our moms were good friends. He was also the only kid in the neighborhood whose parents actively encouraged them to play with their toys. I do not kid when I say one if the other kids in the neighborhood still has his 70s Star Wars toys with the boxes. He was forbidden from taking them out of the playroom, much less outside. Parents have always been strange.

Dave and I started with the two staples of red blooded American makes: War and Army Men. As a five year we ran down the streets with weaponry, me with a plastic M-16 without a stupid orange cap, and David with a classic wood/metal Garand. No one died, police were never involved, life went one.

The army men were far more involved. Depending on who "hosted" (scheduled playdates months in advance? Pshaw!. Our moms figured out who had more to do that day and the other one took the two of us.) changed our grade school level tactics. My house had some nice flower bed warfare and large open areas for the opposong horde to be gunned down. Dave had a sand pit dug right out the ground, so when I came over, big red wagon of forces in tow, he already had a complex system of trenches dug in. He also had a Navarone playset which kicked some serious ass.

Ultimately we moved onto Star Wars/GI Joe/Generic Jim. Death Star playsets, Cobra Hydrofoils, and generic helicopters going across the vast expanses of lawn.

HG Wells eat your heart out.

As much as others cite an appreciation of history, or years of modeling developing into historical wargaming, for me it was toy soldiers in all shapes and sizes.

Like all good things, this ended with a whimper rather than a bang. With the age gap, Dave was always in an different school. Despite an interest in the military that led both of us to join the Reserves, we went our separate ways. I would see him at Dreamscape from time to time (he's a big Batman fan), but despite still living a few doors down from my Mom's, I haven't seen him in years.

Short and sweet, thanks Dave, for playing with the little kid down the street.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

(Twelve Days) #2 Snowball Wars

This deviates from my no gaming news ban for the Twelve Days, but I have promoted holdiay related product in the past.

Okum Arts Games has made Snowball Wars available through Wargame Vault. 

"Snowball Wars is a minigame complete with full rules, figures, terrain, bases, game tiles, and game cards.  All files are 300dpi and include front and back views."

Buy some cardstock, make sure your color printer is ready to go, and break out the glue, it's going to be a party.   And one of the advantages to pdf games like this is that you can print out as little or as much as you want.  The terrain is cute, the kids adorable, and the snowmen just deranged enough to have some fun with all ages.

And it's FIVE bucks.  The weather forecast next week is ranging from drizzle to Superstorm II: Blizzard Boogaloo.  If you are going to get snowed in, at least this version of a snowball fight is warmer and drier. for more info.

Friday, December 14, 2012

(Twelve Days) #1 March of the Wooden Soldiers: The Wargame

I've previously done a post about gaming the movie Wizard of Oz with minis. With this being the first holiday post, I'd like to cover the movie that initiates the holiday season, March of the Wooden Soldiers.

For a few generations within the greater NYC tri-state area and beyond, the tradition was the Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by March of the Wooden Soldiers (originally Babes in Toyland for you moviephile purists). The Laurel and Hardy classic does stand the test of time, as I showed it to my 3 1/2 year old daughter Maja this past month. Even after all these years of the physical comedy, I caught some more high brow grown up humor in the first half hour. Not "adult" humor per se, but something most kids these days won't get.

Let's take a moment and assume that Silas Barnaby has regrouped from his ignominious defeat and has better organized the Bogeymen for a long term war.

Stan, Ollie, and Tom-Tom:  Our heroes should come from a decent Robin Hood line.  Stan should be holding a staff cut down to look more like his pee-wee stick:
Ollie is a Little John figure and Tom-Tom is any of the merry men.

Bo-Peep:  A shepherdess is surprisingly difficult to find, I'll resort to a tougher, wiser version with Tinley from  Reaper Minis:
A little putty and that's a fancy Shepherd's Crook
Villagers and the village:  Regular townsfolk are easily replicated by any bulk peasant set.  Building wise, since most of the structures are single story, there are dozens of providers.  I'd suggest Miniatures Building Authority for larger/classier buildings.  For the giant shoe, I suggest some imagination at your local thrift store.

The Three Little Pigs:  The pigs do have a heroic effort in fighting, but the closest thing I can find are some grotesque looking anthromorphic hogs.  If we have to go that route, lets turn the little piggies a bit more brutish and use some classic pig snout orcs from Architects of War.
When Pork Goes Bad
Cat and Mouse:  Some of the heroes of the first battle, a human sized 25mm house cat just ain't in most catalogs.  Reaper has a number of catgirls, but the closest one is Cheetah Girl.

The Mouse can be one of the Eureka Warrior Mice.  The ears are perfect in a Disney mouse sort of way. The toy zeppelin used for the bombing run may need to be scratch built, but it should be in 1/285th.

The toughest part of assembling a game looks to be the bad guys.

Silas Barnaby:  An old dude in a pilgrim hat with a cane.  Unfortunately the Warhammer Witch Hunters are  younger, caneless, and packing more heat than my favorite part in Split Second.   I found one lonely pic of a good choice online and am wondering if anyone knows where this is from?

The Bogeymen:  I really thought these would be easier to discover. They're beastmen, submen, or wildmen, but nothing even remotely similar are available. Even if there are a figure here or there, these need to be done en masse, so this might be a good time to break out those goblin, hobgoblin, or even bugbear armies.

And as I typed the previous sentence, a quick search for bugbears nets this result from somewhere on
Not perfect, but they will do.
Again anyone who can id these will win my appreciation.

Finally, the Wooden Soldiers are the easiest of the bunch.  The Eureka Miniatures Toy Town line up not only covers them, but multiple headgear and cavalry.

Edit:  (5/7/2015)  Acheson Creations has just released a Shoe House that's 6 inches high and 6 inches long and should be a great fixture on a Toyland Battlefield.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fluxx iOS App Now Available

One more post before the 12 Days of Blogging commences tomorrow, but it's a big one.

Looney Labs, producers of such great games as Pyramids, Chrononauts, and multiple versions of Fluxx, have announced a very important addition to the family.  As of today, December 13th, the iOS (Apple product) version of the Fluxx app is available for sale.

You can play solo, or link up with three other players.  And it's only $2.99!

Don't fret Android users, that version is still in development and coming soon.

Christmas Gnome Deal at Brigade Games

Jim "The Gnome Guy" Stanton posted one of Brigade Games' specials that's well worth reposting here:

  • 4 Foot Regiments (16 figures per unit)
  • 2 Cavalry Regiments (10 figures per unit)
  • 2 special characters (Santa, Wizard, Witch, and extra medic, etc.
A $318 value for only $250!  Not a bad deal if you just want to go balls to the wall gnomes for Christmas!

Check out Brigade Games for this and other special deals.

Monday, December 10, 2012

(Gnome Wars) Runaway Princess? No! Princess! Runaway!

I had planned a fun game afternoon with the girls Thanksgiving weekend, but as always, something happened. This weekend we finally time to have an afternoon with Daddy.  

First we spent Saturday with construction paper, crayons, and shoe boxes, to put together some play buildings to match the milk carton ships we had made earlier.  Who needs Miniature Building Authority when I can teach Maja how to draw the all important windowpane? 

After some glue this morning, we set up, complete with a few Fisher Price Little People Disney Princesses.  Word to those who very worried about scale creep:  the morbidly obese princesses are not meant to be 30mm representations.  As any little girl can tell you, they are larger than life.

BACKGROUND:  This summer we played a game introducing the Chicka Zulu.  To continue that theme we added a "Princess Safari."  While the gnomes of Rorke's Drift were getting slaughtered, the Disney princesses were enjoying a week of roughing it in the African savanna. When runners reached the camp with news of the violence, Cinderella and Rapunzel decided best to return to the port and sail home early.  Belle, with her books and strange entourage, decided to finish observing some wildlife and leave later.  That decision proved deadly to the camp staff as the Chicka Zulu descended upon the camp with wild abandon, killer all the remaining porters.  Belle narrowly escaped, with the help of her publicist and personal assistant.  

Some of the princesses become bigger divas than others.

Cinderella and Rapunzel waiting to leave.  The frog guarded Lady in Waiting ... er... waits for Belle.
Belle and her entourage running to the port, Raiders of the Lost Ark style
RULES:  Standard Gnome Wars rules apply to the gnomes. Belle's group moved six inches max per turn (those ball gowns are a bitch to run in.)  Each stand of Chicka Zulu rolled 2d6 for the number of inches moved and rolled d6 per chick in melee.

The port was defended by three forces.  First, a small section of British Marines would hold the main entrance to the port.  A larger unit of Swiss gnome would try to save Belle's group.  Finally, the wizard of the land would provide pinpoint firepower where needed.  He didn't want any backlash from the fairy godmothers, in case things went wrong.  

British Marines guard the port.  Maja set up the three figures on the building for decoration.
Marines, Wizard, and Swiss.  The chickens were an earlier casualty of  Millie (age 2) destroying a stand

THE GAME:  The Chicka Zulu moved first and another display of the"Feet of the Chicken"  the units close to Belle rolled slow movement,while the flanks raced around.   The Marines were unable to provide support without hitting the princess!  The Swiss spread out and did significant damage to the closest Chicka Zulu unit.
"'No photo ops until after the battle, Daddy."
 Belle's group kept one step ahead of the poor rolling Chicka Zulu.   Maja decided the one faster unit would charge the marines, giving them something to shoot.  Despite devastating volley fire, the remaining Chicka Zulu reached the marines, and had to be slaughtered to the feather in melee.  The lone pink unit was given the specific order of making it to the "castle" building and take a nap.  They executed those orders perfectly.
Military Advisor Millie and her Trix witness the desperate chase.
 The Swiss rifles lined up, but took multiple volleys and the help of the wizard to eliminate just one stand.  The Chicka Zulu, focused on their target, inflicted a few casualties as they met the Swiss line, but essentially ran over them to chase the princess.
The few melee gnomes allowed the entourage to pass and would have the same result with the crazed chickens.
Belle runs past the last line of defense.
With one more turn and a weary 3 1/2 year old, Belle barely made it to the Lady in Waiting.  Her staff was not so lucky.  Their primary target eluding their grasp, the Chicka Zulu pecked at the personal assistant and publicist until driven away by Swiss and British.
Oh the Little People Humanity!
All in all, a success for a Game Day with Daddy, everyone had fun, I got a chance to better pack the gnomes, and only one mini took damage (the random swordsman on the roof that was there for show only.)  

I also realized that Maja was Millie's current age when she first played with the random box of "no-nos" (gnomes).Guess I'm breaking out that box later this week and teaching Millie terms like "orc" and "beholder."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dystopian Legions Tanks and Gnome Wars

One line that has given me trouble in my Apathy of New Releases column I write monthly has been Dystopian Wars from Spartan Games. I love the Victorian Sci-Fi element and the massive scale of the battles that can be fought on the dining room table. I just have the same trepidation most small and some medium-sized stores have with stocking a new minis game, "Is this game going to tank in my area, making me lose x amount that I've already invested in it?". I'd sooner invest in this one, than, say, Heavy Gear, but the minis aren't cheap, even if you want a bare inventory

The good news for Spartan is that not every game store is as cautious as I would be, the game is a lesser hit, and has allowed them to expand into Dystopian Legions, a 28mm skirmish version. I finally got to see some pictures on one of the wargaming groups I follow on Facebook, and I daresay I like them. Not enough to buy some infantry, but the tanks struck the right chord.

Of the four nationalities with pics only the British and Prussians have tanks. The Japanese have some steam powered hoverbike and the Americans have a steam bike with a giant tank tread, but both would be cumbersome modifications to bring them into Gnome Wars. The tanks look perfect. Just steam punk-y enough to fit it.

Upon further inspection, I discovered that they should further emphasize the word tankette on the packaging. Each vehicle is meant to be operated by a single man and stand smaller than a single figure! They're more Russian tractor tank than a Mark V.    At a price of $35.00 for two per box, they still seem like a tempting purchase to putt around the battlefield, even if the gnome inside would have to take off their hat.

The Perfect Gaming Store

I was going to do a post about some of the new blogs I've started reading in the last year, but an interesting post popped up on one of them, so I'll do this piecemeal

As a gnome guy, I obviously follow Jim 'The Gnome Guy" Stanton's twin blogs, Gnome Wars and The Stout Smurf.  His friends back home in Connecticut are hardcore 40k guys and prodigious bloggers Fritz 40K and Jawaballs.  I'm not much of a 40k guy, but their usual analysis of troop types, army construction, and tournament play are written in such a way that a guy who hasn't played since 2nd Edition was new can follow it.  Plus they get big kudos for their WarTV experiment.

In the link to Jawaballs' blog above he gives his opinion of the perfect store, and plenty of people chimed in as how to fine tune it.  As a prominent 40k player he does a fine job giving this fantasy all ideals of a 40k catering store, and a load of headaches for the store owner and "other" gamers.

As a man who still has a standing offer to open up a game store anywhere in Eastern PA, let's see if I can do this eloquently.

Games Workshop's target demographic for their core products is under 16, ergo Jawaballs and his crew are quality old guard players at the store, welcoming the noobs in, giving them a standard of excellence, both in play and behavior.   The noobs mom's and dad's with the credit cards are far keener on spending retail for the item than the guys who were once noobs many moons ago and wised up after college loans, mortgages, and wives.  I keep the noobs coming in and cultivating previous crops, I develop a solid customer base.

That being said, a heavy discount program is suicide to all but the stores with the highest volumes to begin with.  Throw me a 10% special order discount to ease the pain of not having it stock, and a 20-25% for big event pre-orders, and I'll be faithful customer.  I hated "Magic Semi-Pro Player," the guy who uses your facilities, only beats up on kids in tournaments, and bragged about getting a box of the latest cards from some website for a buck over my cost.   e wouldn't even budge when you offered ten bucks over cost to pre-order the new set. Sorry, I want a store, not a front for the mob's money laundering deals.  And unless GW is on one of it's store-friendly quarters with retailers, the retail discount structure with great discounts equates to a $5 profit on a land raider or an over budget order to keep those precious empty spots of the shelf refilled.

Not that I've said that, what's on ViscountEric's perfect store list?

  • Location, location: easy to find, easy to park.  Dreamscape Comics old Easton, PA location was a leasing nightmare, but logistically perfect.  Right off US 22 in a small shopping center, with the storefront facing the other main road (PA 248).  There were more than 100,000 people within five miles of the store, and two high schools less than a five minute walk.  Despite no gaming space, stingy discounts, and sword fights with poster tubes breaking out when a certain individual worked Saturdays, the store not only performed well, increase its inventory, and turn a profit, but completely supported the second store location.  
  • "An Immense and Diverse Selection":   This can go overboard quickly (see: Dreamscape Comics, Bethlehem, PA) but a well stocked core inventory allows development of new lines without worrying if the latest rpg or minis line is going to prevent the utilities from being paid.  I'm amazed that stores only do the extremes when it comes to inventory.  They either  never have a sale, thus keeping that copy of Spell Law III a permanent fixture on the shelf, or they blow out the inventory at such ridiculously low prices that they're making pennies on the dollar, even if they paid an employee for the time to sell the items on eBay.  If I walk into your store and I see just D&D/Pathfinder/Warhammer/Warmachine and tables, I'm walking the hell out.  Show me you actually look at the monthly solicitations from your distributor rather than asking for 2 of every WotC product,  and I'll stick around and talk to you.   Speaking of which...
  • Staff:  The heck with being friendly and knowledgeable to me, I may (and sometimes do) know more about things than you do.  Staff handling of women, both gamer and mom's with gaming kids is almost as critical as making sure the Jim, your resident GURPS guru, comes in wearing deodorant and not his hot pink camo jogging shorts with the hole in the crotch.  If you can convince a parent to bring their child back to the store, you have more time to convert the child. 
  • Game Store - The Flamethrower:  I want a store with lots of in store promotion.   I follow The Encounter in Allentown, PA's Facebook page, and besides sales, I normally only see promotions for Cash Magic tournaments.  That's great, but I see more promotions of different products attracting different gamers from Pop's Culture Shoppe in tiny Wellsboro, PA.  Playing/promoting different games attracts different crowds, and word of mouth/social media expands better than just playing boring old Magic... again.

Get those puppies down, and be local? I'll be a customer for life.  The rest of it is just seasoning to taste.

And by Crom, no freakin' XBoxes in the store... ever.  Forever-ever. Amen.