Friday, September 30, 2016

2016 Gaming Year in Review

Like a weird government agency, I track my gaming progress from October of one year to September of the next.  Don't ask why, it's just the way I've done things since I started.  Too late to change now.

The Blog
If we don't take the crazed Italian, Russian, and Ukranian search bot explosions, it's still a good year.  Overall, we're looking at another 10-15% growth in page hits per post with a marginal increase in posts.

The Top Ten Blog Posts of the Last Twelve Months 
#1  Mandatory Holiday Swag Post 2015                    (Misc)
#2  Brigade Games 28mm Post Apoc                         (Kickstarter)
#3  Lost Temple of Kajagoogoo                                 (Pulp)
#4  Fall-In! 2015 AAR                                               (Conventions)
#5  Rescue from Kisi Rushwa                                    (Pulp)
#6  Teddy Bears in the Land of Gnomes                   (Gnome Wars)
#7  The Cthulhu Wars                                                (Review)
#8  Evolution Games, Wilkes-Barre                          (Review)
#8  Treasure of the Maja Millie                                 (Pulp)
#10  A Simple Trade                                                  (Pulp)

The Family Pulp Games and Reviews dominate the pageviews, although that one Gnome Wars article in the middle of the top ten makes me happy.  I'll try to get a few more out of the pipeline.

The Best Laid Plans that Didn't Pan Out
The Return of Hoyce:  Alas Hoyce and his beloved wife moved back to Boston as quickly as they had arrived in Pennsylvania.  I missed out on two of his AD&D sessions for Emeron, and despite putting in the effort to catch up with actual plays and updating character, the Return of the Burning Trogs for Hackmaster never panned out either.  I did get to have him jump into one session of Masks for CoC, however, his Egytian thug was no match for the Black Pharaoh.

Samoa:  My Americans got some use as Pulp figures, but nothing else.  My planned expenses to Pulp Figures for more figs never panned out either. 

We are in a new Golden Age for game stores in Wilkes-Barre.  Evolution Games, Tactical Advantage, and The Gaming Chateau all have their own niches.   It's nice to be able to go to a game store and actually find something  that interests me with pocket money.   Stores far too long considered CCGs to be their "candy aisle" purchase, only to complain when their non-CCG customers didn't buy a thing (then bought everything via Amazon).

Fall-In 2015!  -  Maja got to go to her first sleepover con with dear old Dad.  I'm five or six years away from being able to split up and do our own things, but for now I know I can get 15 or 20 minutes of going through the flea market while Maja plays in the HAWKS room.  G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T with Santa, Lego pirates, a gnome joust, and the discovery of Helluva Good French Onion flavored chips made it a great weekend.

Mepacon Spring 2016  -  My first full weekend (Friday-Sunday) RPG convention since... Origins in 96?  Picked up a pile of pulp/Cthulhu minis, some Rifts books that was quite fortuitous with the Savage Worlds Kickstarter.  Ran great games of Spirit of '77 and Kobolds Ate My Baby.  As an added benefit, Maja only tagged along for Saturday and had a blast at the kid's LARP, plus she won the kid's painting contest!

"The Weekend"  - Got to spend some time in Lancaster in July at the Continental Inn with my family, and a game convention broke out!  For a minis-based con, I sure played a lot of History of the World and Divine Right, but I had a great time, picked up a slew of items (some free!) and found a solid burger joint off the main drag. Upon a return trip, the burger joint delivered again.

Kickstarters- There were 18 different campaigns that I pledged to.  Some were a measly dollar, some didn't successfully fund, while others I cancelled due to finances or a drop in enthusiasm.   Of those, I pledged for actual physical product for a whopping 4 of them. 
Tales of the Caribbean  -  First significant delay from Golden Goblin Press, but it's at the printers.
No Mercy   -   Fun little game from Travis Hanson with phenomenal turnaround time.  Three months early!
Post-Apocalyptic Dwarf Bikers - models are awesome and I got extra stuff for my paltry pledge.
Rifts for Savage Worlds - With the delays for Tales of the Caribbean, and the downturn for our Cthulhu campaign, the pdf of the Savage Rifts Player's Book has been the greatest reward I received over the past year. 

The Kid's Painting!  It's slow, it's painful, and they're at the point where their need for higher quality brushes conflicts with their maturity to take care of them.   I'm hoping when the Reaper Bones III Kickstarter finally arrives, a few snowflakes will allow us to dedicate some more time in the basement and the painting bench.  On top of all that, I did get the girls to a painting clinic sponsored by Evolution Games, and my triple paid entry won me a $50 gift certificate to a local painter.  He's methodical, but does solid work, so the infamous Legions of Steel/Planetstorm minis shall be done by him. 

My Own Painting
With a few flights of fancy distracting me my own 159 figures (plus the six the kids did) was  a solid effort.  Compared to a more focused assembly-line 166 back in the Samoa project days, I did a wider variety of figures, at the sacrifice of more brushes.   This year was dominated by finishing up every palm tree in my backlog, plus numerous other terrain pieces (58 in total).  I stayed true to the blog's name and actually finished another Swiss unit, plus a random assortment of two-man teams for the Mepacon Treasure Hunt game that didn't go off.   

The biggest surprise?  More than two dozen fantasy figures (non-mouse) out of the queue!

Masks of Nyarlathotep:  With the same relieved enthusiasm I had when I started this campaign three years ago, the granddaddy of CoC campaigns is done!  Fifteen marathon sessions, with two additional forays in play-by-email to keep it on the rails. Things are certainly not settled yet, and there's still a lot of tread on the tires when we return with three surviving investigators.

Spirit of '77:  I enjoyed running this Powered by the Apocalypse game, and should be picking up the other pdf downloads shortly.

Savage Showdown into Savage Worlds:   Starting with a fun little treasure hunt, the pulp Savage Saga of Maja Millie has been a rousing success at home.  The archeologist noted for her "no guns, but cannons don't count" rule has survived back-stabbers from every direction, saved some friends, and is moving to a more urban direction to close out the storyline before the end of 2016

Family Games:   If Dad can keep kids off of iPads and Netflix, I've got a good chance to play a slew of games.  C'mon, Maja got to learn Burning Plastic and Legions of Steel. That's my entire 90's of minis gaming!   We also accomplished athe Decathlon of Games, ten separate games from Connect Four to Car Wars the Card Game with track meet style points for placing.  Far better than the Game-A-Day concept I attempted last year... during the first month of school.  I may have gotten a tiny bit wiser since then.

2016 Gaming with the Gnomies Awards!
Best Kickstarter:  Post-Apoc Space Dwarf Bikers from Ramshackle Games.  No Mercy from Travis Hanson was way early and  had great artwork, but we probably won't get full use our of it until the Viking Penguin/Teddy Bear Pirate expansion comes out.  Savage Rifts is a boat load of information, but the downloads have been hit or miss from working, and the it's more the impatient other pledges bugging the hell out of me.  Not only were the Space Dwarf Bikers super early, but they sent extra stuff to me!!!  I'm not much for ordering outside the US, but Ramshackle's website is saved to my Favorites.

Worst Kickstarter:  While the RAFM CoC Minis Kickstarter would win the category "Worst Kickstarter Stuck in Canada, The Pyramid of the Lost King wins hands down.  Sixteen months late.  Sixth Edition might be available by the time this arrives at my door.

Best Game:  Savage Showdown brought a new level of excitement to Daddy-Daughter playdays.  The two-part adventure A Simple Trade and A Complicated Arrangement elicited the most fun from all involved.

Best RPG: Savage World Deluxe Explorers Edition.  It could have been Spirit of '77 or Savage Ritfts, but this actually appeared at the FLGS when they first started to the RPG selection.  Impulse buy, haven't looked back since.

Best Minis: For a blog the loves to focus on miniatures, this one is quite tough.  Nothing quite reached the "awesome" level of previous years: (ex:  Mousling boxed set, Battletech Intro Sets, Pulp Figures "Samoans."  My giant clearance sale order from Miniatures Market has sat fallow on the workbench, although I might get some use from it over the next few weeks.  The Windsword Accessories have been nice, but not great.   Even all the rulebooks I got for Christmas have largely been read but left unused.  After reviewing all my purchases and all my painting for the year, I'll give this to all three "Movember" figures offerered by Pulp Figures.  Not only are they awesome individual figures by Bob Murch, but the proceeds went to a good cause (Bob himself is good cause, but a charity he likes is better by default).

Best "Other" Purchase:   Cthulhu Mythos:  The United States' Battle Against the Mythos by Kenneth Hite is an Osprey Alternate History book that provides just enough info for me to grab the bull by the horns and flesh out a few historical scenarios.  If I only had the time to do so...

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