Sunday, March 23, 2014

Top Tips: How NOT to Grow a Gaming Community

List of things to do if you want to stymie the development and growth of a gaming community!

     So you have a few friends, a willing store, and a day marked on the calendar for your game of choice.  That's great!  What are some things that YOU can do to make sure that this fledgling community never gets off the ground?  How can you make success impossible?  I have some wonderful tips that I can provide you that I've learned through my time traveling and experiencing gaming communities of various sorts.  These are sure-fire methods to repelling even the most enthusiastic and willing gamer.

Tip #1: Store Setup

     I have played in small comic book shops, small Games Workshop stores, large purpose-built war gaming stores, and even large Games Workshop Battle Bunkers (picture at the top of the article is one such bunker).  If you want to make sure that no new-comer will return, these are some must-haves in your location of choice (should that location be a store):

"Uh yeah we can move some of this an maybe squeeze a table in. We're dedicated to our gaming community."

  • As few gaming tables as possible - One table is always enough.  You definitely want to make sure that only two people can get a game in, and that those two people will be spectated by loud-talking gamers that will be sure to slow the game down by second-guessing every rule or decision made by the lucky two gamers that got the one table. 
So much evocative terrain here on Planet Plywoodia!
  • No terrain is best terrain - People love playing on a table filled with evocative terrain.  That's why you ditch it completely.  Line-of-sight blocking terrain should be the first to go.  If you absolutely must have terrain make sure it is flat uninspired area terrain made from foam.  A nice touch is if this foam terrain has been dragged around the parking lot to ensure that the blue/pink foam is visible from chips and chunks removed from the thin dry-brushed paint job.  Another plus this clearly very open terrain will provide is explained later.
"Meh... Gaming between the hours of 5pm and 6pm. Gotta avoid the Yu-Gi-Oh crowd."
  • Less is more when it comes to time to play - At 1500 points, with two veteran players, you can get through a game of 6th edition Warhammer 40K in about an hour and a half.  That means that three hours should be plenty of time for a newbie to mingle, talk, and then get tabled by a Win-At-All-Cost tourney list.  More on that later.
Tip #2: First impressions Last.  Bring your "A" Game

     By "A" I of course mean "Asshole."  Allow me to provide and example to explain.  Let us assume that you are a key member of this community that you're hoping to ram into the ground.  Upon arriving late to the three hour gaming window at the horrible location you find a new and willing victim gamer.  He or she says something like "I played back in the day, but I was hoping to get back in.  I thought I'd check out the local scene and get a game in."  Perfection! Or "I'm new to 40K. I just assembled and painted this army and I wanted to learn how to play." Even better! This victim gamer probably is far out of touch with the most recent tournament meta, and likely has forgotten some rules or never even knew them to begin with.  This is an excellent opportunity to make sure that no fun is had.  If you have brought multiple armies, choose the most over powered of those that focuses specifically on the biggest weakness of their army then get ready to club a baby seal.  Here are some finer tips on what to focus on when working on your "A" game:

  • WAAC isn't whack - Win At All Costs (WAAC) is the way to be.  Remember when people talk about "themed army lists" that "Winning" is a theme!  Be sure to bring the most relentless death-star heavy list you can.  If you noticed that this victim gamer doesn't have much in the way of anti-armor, be sure to bring plenty of armor 14.  What's that?  They're playing an army the relies on cover saves? Play Tau of course!  And remember Tip #1's "No terrain is best terrain" advice? Time to make sure the table completely favors your army is hinders or exposes the visitor's army.
  • It isn't cheating if you don't get caught - If this is a completely new player or possibly someone not familiar with the current edition, they likely don't know or remember the rules.  You can just neglect things that aren't favorable to you.  But what do you do if they think they remember a rule and it still isn't favorable to you?  That's easy.  There have been 6 versions of 40K, and somewhere in all those version is a way out.  Just remember the version of the rules that most favors you, and argue strongly that this is the way it should be.  If the visitor insists on looking it up, use your venerable veteran status as an excuse. "Oh man... so silly, I was just remembering 4th edition.  That happens when you've been playing as long as I have."  All is forgiven.  The chances are that this newbie will realize 
Tip #3: Be the stereotypes

     Gamer stereotypes come in many forms.  They only exist as stereotypes because they actually exist in real life.  There will be some that are completely familiar to you already, but don't limit yourself to just these well travel paths.  When attempting to repulse, confuse, or generally make people feel uncomfortable, you can't go wrong with choosing any of the following:

That fog is "the smell"
  • Smelly Gamer - One of the most obvious ones is up first.  It doesn't matter if it is a lack of bathing/showering or filthy clothes that have been worn a heck of a lot more times than they've been washed, smell is the goal.  But don't just limit yourself to bad smells, try over-powering smells too!  Perhaps you do bath regularly AND you've washed your clothes.  It's not too late to drown yourself in some sort of Axe product that now makes you smell like all of the worlds' car fresheners vomited on you.  People certainly won't be back to bother you with enjoyable pick-up games ever again!
  • Obnoxious Gamer - We all know this character.  Vocal volume was set to eleven and the knob was glued down.  He/she is desperate for some attention so they leap at every chance to interject.  Obvious jokes are the BEST jokes, so make sure you point them out, frequently interrupting someone else's conversation to do so.  What is so great about Obnoxious Gamer is that you can actually be a really friendly guy, polite even, but you smother all others in your booming exultation such that you can make sure that no one will have a quiet and enjoyable conversation.  The great part is that no one will be likely to call you out if you're being polite simply because they'll be labeled the asshole! 
"I'll be playing Tau. Pip pip and tally ho!"
  • "Look How Unique I Am" Gamer - This one just ramps up the uncomfortable factor.  Essentially you need to dress or accessorize in a very attention grabbing manner.  You have to play this well because these days people have a pretty high tolerance for insane wardrobe choices (thanks Lady Gaga! Jeeeez!).  Gone are the days that you could just wear a kilt and weird everyone out.  You'll have to go further.  Dedication is key here, thus I recommend dressing all out in one of the following flavors: Renn Faire (the 'e' on the end adds authenticity. Extra points for wearing leather bracers all the time, and extra extra points for affecting an accent), Steam Punk (Top hats or bowlers are a must.  Extra points for goggles, even extra extra points if you insist of carrying a Nerf gun re-painted with a can of bronze spray paint), Alt-Alternate-Counter Culture (you were a hipster before hipsters weren't cool, must go further. Scarfs in summer are still a must)
Neck-beard implied
  • Fedora wearing Neck-beard Gamer - Hat and neck-beard are great but to seal the deal, all black is best.  So the hat is just and accessory to a bigger character role.  Neck-beards can spoil more fun than anything of the previous types.  Essentially, whatever someone likes, you hate.  Poo-poo all ideas of fun, argue about fluff, hate on all things at all times.  Snark about fluffy lists, complain about WAAC lists, blame GW for all problems in your gaming life.  You are the devil's advocate without the principles.  Hat and neck-beard optional, but shitty attitude is a must.
Imagine the thick smell of 10 year old cigarettes
  • Dirty Gamer - Smelly Gamer and Dirty Gamer are different, though sometimes manifested in one being.  Dirty Gamer arrives with a shoe box filled with the misfits of 40K.  No two models are primed or assembled the same way, and everything seems to be coated in a layer of dust or dirt.  Dirty Gamer tends to be a smoker, so his models might have quite a lot of tar on them.  If they aren't a smoker, they might live in a house filled with 20 smokers.  Why 20?  I can only assume it takes a large group of people, smoking in shifts around the clock in order to generate the fumigating cloud of disgustingness that covers these game pieces.  Dirty Gamer never has to worry about other people touching his stuff because the fear of tetanus is very real.
"Sup? I come here often."
  • Creeper Gamer - This is a bonus for all those people that maybe weren't off-put by all the previous stereotypes.  Creeper can be anyone of those listing, but in addition to their normal powers of dissuading a visitor from joining a community, this type games special abilities when confronting gamers of the opposite sex.  Creeper Gamer will make disturbingly obvious flirtatious jokes towards the opposite sex.  They do this is large quantities, and constantly.  Opposite sex + their hobby = uncontrollable horn-balls.  What is so remarkable about the Creeper is that they're so socially awkward and uncomfortable to be around, they make all genders freaked out.  No one wants to see the Creeper plying his/her trade (that's right, female creepers exist).

You're on your way to success failure!

     If you've deployed these tips, I'm sure you'll have people clamoring for the door in no time.  Obviously this editorial is heavily sarcastic, but I'm trying to express some of the pains I've experienced each time I've relocated and then searched for a solid 40K community.  I'll be sure to share some specific stories in the future.  All I know is that each time I've started the search anew, I run into the least pleasant elements of our community.  I've decided that more and more the people I'm searching for to get some games in with are all hiding at home.  They've got their circle of friends, all of them "normies" and they're pleased as punch to play in their own houses with nice tables, fun rules, narrative campaigns, and few distractions.

Share your pain

     If you've had a run-in with these communities that seem to chase away new comers, please share your story with me.  Leave a comment, or email us.  If you are an existing critical member of a community (you know who you are) tell us what you might do to counter-act those negative influences that might creep into your group.  Until next time: keep the dice rolling!    

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ork Blitza-Bommer Completed!

Here's the Finished Product!

     I completed the base this evening.  Unless I decide to add some flocking or grass tufts (which I'm likely to do).  The painting, at the very least, is totally complete.  I kept the base simple, but focused on some weathered accents in the abandoned oil drum, and rusted bucket.  I really enjoyed mucking up these two items, especially the barrel.

I Love Rust and Such

     I used some very simple techniques and the outcome was terrific.  Here's a quick step-by-step:

  1.  I based coated the barrel with the old Knarloc Green which is now called Loren Forest (Citadel paint).  
  2. Then applied the transfers like this: a gloss coat, put down the two transfers, applied micro-sol, let it dry, then applied matte coat to seal the transfers in.
  3. Once the matte coat was dry, I took a sponge and some Knarloc Green (Loren Forest), and dabbed it over the transfers to "rough them up" a bit.
  4. Applied a wash of Agrax Earthshade across the whole barrel.  I made sure to reapply to recesses that would have a larger collection of dirt, rust, and oil.
  5. I then used the new technical paint Typhus Corrosion.  I applied it very heavily to the bottom of the barrel, and along the underside to show that it might have been slapped around in the mud just a bit when it was hurriedly left by the Imperials.  Typhus Corrosion leaves a grit, which would be vital to the next step.
  6. I dabbed Vallejo Pigment (or weathering powder) Dark Red Ochre (sic) around the bottom of the barrel were the Typhon Corrosion was thickest.  Once applied fully, I took a clean brush loaded with white mineral spirits and carefully tapped over the powder.  The mineral spirits really flow of the brush and quickly run across the model.  I do this to "pull" the pigments onto the model.
  7. Once the mineral spirits have dried (this is a pretty quick process) I now very carefully dabbed matte finish over the rusted areas, and then eventually brushed over the entire barrel.

Oil Spill

     Another really easy effect is the look of some leaked oil onto the mud.  It's a bit hard to see in the picture, but shows up well in person, but essentially all I did was apply a pool of black wash to the earth near the lid.  Once dried I then coated the same area with a gloss coat.  This looks like oil soaking into the ground, but still a little fresh.

Secret Weapons Miniatures Base Review

     This base from Secret Weapons Miniatures is quite nice.  Though it doesn't scream out with detailed features, it fits perfectly with the rest of the army.  I pictured my Orks on a dreary wasteland, harsh and unforgiving, but with plenty of space to speed about.  I liked the subtle tire tracks through the dirt, and the very simple rocks.  The most important feature for me was that there would still be space for me to attach my flight stand and most all of the Secret Weapons line of bases seem to be very reasonable in the amount of room you have to actually mount a model.  I have a number of other bases that I've purchased from them and all bases arrived nearly completely flash free and with a low amount of mold release on them.  This means they are quickly cleaned up and ready for models.  My one possible complaint would be that the edges sometimes need a bit of filing to get absolutely smooth.  This is really a very minor complaint and honestly if you're in this hobby you're probably more than willing to spend a few minutes filing or sanding to make sure everything is just so.

     A quick word on how I put the flight stand and base together: In order to attach the stand, I traced out the stand before I painted, and carefully carved out a very shallow smooth footprint for it to make solid contact with the base.  I then pinned it in as a final measure.  I'm still going to be awfully careful with this flight stand, as it certainly isn't the most aggressive way to attach it to a base.

Thanks for Stopping By!

     I appreciate everyone that comes by to view my work.  Any feedback is appreciated and I'll be happy to answer any questions.  I'll just leave you with some more pictures of my completed project, enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Boom Bombs for da Blitza-Bommer!

Boom Bombs

     Before you are the two "Boom Bombs" for the Blitza-Bommer that I've been working on.  I didn't spend a heap load of time on them since they're both mostly concealed by the actual flyer.  Magnets were added so that I can remove them during play as the bombs are obviously one use only.   I did take it as an opportunity to try out a few techniques while painting these:

  • Steel Wool to dab on paint to make scratches - This seemed simple enough but steel wool outside of using it wet to get rust and hard grime off of things is a real mess.  The steel wool is loaded with flakes of a dried cleaning agent.  I had to spend some time trying to shake all these bits out of the wool because I had no idea what this agent would do to the paint.  If you can find steel wool without this additive, choose that.  The effect I was hoping to get was a less grouped chipping pattern than the sponge.  I was a little disappointed, to be honest.  Perhaps I just need a bit more practice.  In the end I went back to the tried and true sponge.
  • Bit more complex checkers and jaggies - I followed my simple technique of using a fine pencil to very lightly trace out my checkers but I also used a design template that I had laying about.  This template has circular holes of varied sizes, so I placed the nose of the bomb in the circles to make the sketch marks that went around the nose.  This was fairly successful but needed a bit of adjustment.  I then did one reference circle on the white and orange bomb nose, and used the rivets around the nose cone to space my jaggies.  Pretty simple really.
  • Typhus Corrosion GW Technical Paint - I recently picked up a pot of Typhus Corrosion and Blood for the Blood God and I was itching to try the Corrosion out.  The effect is fairly subtle here only because I noticed how strong it can be.  Though it resembles a wash to a degree, it is much more opaque.  Fair warning there.  I found that if I applied it, then quickly washed my brush and went back with just a little water on the brush, I was able to smear the paint to blend the effect and this allowed for a bit more translucent look.  I really enjoyed the paint but with great paint comes great responsibility.  Test before slathering it all over your Rhinos or what have you.
  • Striped cables - I painted the cables on the bombs yellow and black striped.  I've seen this style done quite often so I wanted to see how much of a pain it might be.  I based with a light orange, then layered on some yellow.  Once this had dried, I just took straight black and eye-balled it from there.  I was careful to try and make the stripes look even.  Working around a thin element like a wire on a model can get you into a bit of trouble if you start getting sloppy with the brush control.  That said, I found this look to be easy to achieve with moderate accuracy.  Might have to use this on some future Ork models.
     Other than that, this was a pretty straight forward bit of fun.  One thing I would like to add: never under-estimate the blending effect that a full matte coat can provide.  When I was done with all the weathering, and before I applied the matte coat, these things looked a bit more like a hot mess.  All the different washes and the technical paint had left various levels of gloss across the models.  By applying a quick matte coat, all that was gone and the effects were blended together.  Should you want some weathering to be glossy (like oil drips and such) it might be best to either apply those after your sealing coat, or apply just a bit of gloss coat in those areas after the matte coat has been applied and dried.

     Just the base left to go.  Here is a little preview:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ork Bommer Almost Complete

Ork Bommer Almost Complete

     The Ork Bommer, which has been languishing about for years now, is nearing completion.  I have been using this model as a test bed for some weathering techniques I had read about.  Essentially the plane itself is all finished up.  I have the two over-sized bombs to paint up, and a fancy resin base from Secret Weapons Miniatures to do.  I need to go pick up some appropriate flock for the base, and figure out what colors I'm going to use there.  The bombs actually present a bigger challenge in the style department.  I could see doing them up in a really rusty dilapidated manner, or painted and decorated in a lovingly Orky style.  I thought about painting one up as Bullet Bill from the old Super Mario games, but I fear that's a little obvious and it's crossing the streams a bit.

Weathering Techniques I Tried

     One of the biggest experiments on this model was using oil paints.  I have long read about them, heard many a story about how it can add another dimension to your painting.  I was a bit intimidated about using something that wasn't water based, and took so long to dry.  After reading through Forge World's Model Masterclass book, I finally felt as though I was armed with enough information to proceed.

     For the first technique, I used the oil paint to shade panel lines and add a look of rust here and there.  Essentially I started small here.  I didn't use the one oil paint I choose in huge quantities.  First I selected Burnt Umber as the color, thinned it with mineral spirits and began using it to shade some of the metallic paints, and panel lines.  The first thing I noticed was how translucent the paint was.  This meant that, applying it as thin as I was, I could control the effect by adding layers after letting each layer dry to build up an effect.  With the paint thinned and the long drying time of the oil paint, this allows you to "push" the paint around quite a lot.  You can easily go back with just a brush loaded with just a bit of the mineral spirits and easily remove the paint if you don't like the look.

     The second technique was using a mixture of the oil paint with a rust weathering powder flicked on to the model using a brush and a toothpick.  The second step was to airbrush mineral spirits over the spots to soften them, then use a brush to streak the spots.  I'm not absolutely certain that I did this properly.  I didn't see the spots softening quite as much as I expected.  The streaking worked like a charm, so I'll certainly use that in the future.

Here are some more shots...