Empire and Dreadball Coming – but not before the creation of a gaming club to fit them!

How long has it been since I last blogged?  How long?  Ok, so aside from holidays I have been a little busy, and ironically enough – with gaming and organising!  So busy that free time from gaming and organising really is not writing about it or reporting on it!  I have been on overload for about two months now – just ask my beautifuly and so very, very patient wife about it – and have truly been putting Trojan work into the establishment of a Games club in the school where I work.  It has taken off like you wouldn’t believe.

I began it as a single day video-gaming lunchtime activity for some interested kids during the winter months, but suggested that we build a community with it – broadened it to giving them a webpage and blog each, and a means of keeping track of scores and recording Tournament/League winners.  From here, we tried running it twice a week (losing one more lunch time, but what the feck, right?), which quickly spiraled out of control regarding both attendance and participation.  At this juncture, I proposed at the weekly team meeting (the students run it, I’m just facilitating and supervising for the school) – that we go unplugged for a fortnight and see what other games we could break into.  We had the following and interest, now was the time to focus our efforts on broadening the community. Lo and behold – doubt and dubious looks askance gave way to unbelievable delight as board, miniature and card games not only took hold, but sustainable hold over many of the lads involved.  Now the xbox is set to digital Thursday and every other day of the week is unplugged!

What is yet more interesting is that part of the appeal lies in the fact that many students don’t have the option of sitting down to game with family and friends anymore.  Not even ‘anymore’- it was never truly part of the current youth culture to begin with!  They play video-games, not boards or cards – and multiplayer to them usually means they’re alone and playing online, so the novelty of sitting opposite an opponent was relatively unique!  It piqued their interest enough to bring them in, and the inherent enjoyment led them to returning and establishing leagues and exhibition plays!  I got the school to give us something from the budget and cajoled a local art and hobby shop into spotting us a few bits and pieces towards the cause – including an old Realm of Battle gameboard, Big Red Rulebook and a few starter sets from GW.  I gave some of my own bits and pieces to flesh out options and painted models to go by, along with some multiples of paints I’ve had here from the older GW sets and terrain.  Gamer’s World in Dublin gave us some amazing deals on minis and Magic: The Gathering Cards too.   The biggest success story of the entire lot was West Wind’s Empire of the Dead, though.

empire

I invested in this series as soon as it hit Dublin in Gamer’s World.  I picked up the book for a review, and fell in love with the simple rules and fast skirmish play.  As a fan of Malifaux, but not finding opponents easy to come by or ready to play too often, I felt that this new offering from West Wind was worth a look, and my it certainly is!  I like the atmosphere of Victorian cyber-punkesque Zombie-London.  I enjoy the weaving in of the popular fictional characters based from this celebrated period of British history and most of all, I like fast skirmish gameplay that concludes for lunchtime league play for the lads.  I picked up a box of each faction for the school and set about copying and laminating markers and statlines.  (I’ll leave the formal review of the game for another post, as it really does deserve a thorough guide  before I endorse it for everyone!  Suffice to say that it is really appealing for a lot of reasons, but the game really does stand up to gamer scrutiny in the broader sense too)

That was before Christmas, now in January, I have ten students who’ve bought at least one faction each, and another two dozen looking to play with the school sets to break into the game.  In the middle of all this, I’m still awaiting Dreadball which was lost in transit before Christmas.  I have some very psyched  students already naming their various teams in anticipation of the league to come!

As a club, it is moving from strength to strength – we have the numbers growing by the week here, and the amazing Gamer’s World has generously given members a great discount towards purchases and we’re constantly exploring different systems.  The big challenge of how to moderate the growing number of interests is something I’ll need to focus on and soon, but for the moment everything is working out well for the lads, and I’m delighted for the corner of the school they’re making their own – run by them, for them.

So…it has been how long since I last posted?  Now you see!  Getting this thing under control and expanding it towards others is a pretty big task for me at the moment.  Games by and large have passed me by while I’ve been the platform for others to game these past weeks.  After four gaming days a week, lunchtimes lost and preparation of new systems for the following set of days, blogging about games doesn’t come as natural as I’d like!  I can’t sound like I’m belly-achingtoo loudly though, as I am a happy victim of success here, and hope to complain about a lot more in the term to come!

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Orc on Orc action…wait, let me rephrase…

So this week so another battle of Warhammer Fantasy – My own bright green thuderboyz versus a really well-rounded clan from Kilkenny!  This was another first for me – a game within the narrative of the Big Red Book – Bugman’s Ale chase!  While this scenario could easily have been terribly frustrating, it became one of the most fun games I’ve had in a while!

The loose premise, for those of you not familiar with the generic scenarios, is that there is a Dwarf Brewery/Tavern with the most saught-after Bugman’s brew ever made, and a loose number of barrels on the back of a driverless pony and cart fleeing (quite literally) every time a player’s model gets within an actionable distance of it.  Victory is points based on who holds what at the end of the game.  (There – I’ve spoken GW intellectual property without undermining potential purchases of the book!)

This has the potential for mayhem, and it in our game it truly delivered.  We limited ourselves to 700 points each, no war machines and more or less matched each other in troop choice.  The only terrain was a regular wood area and the brewery itself, modeled ably by a recently painted Warhammer Church.

The real hilarity came after we had set up for a serious race to the brewery andall but one single unit each failed the animosity test!  Orcs are really a gambler’s army at the heart of it, but these rolls were beating the odds and making mincemeat of our own forces before we’d made it eight inches from deployment!  We both ran straight for the alehouse – Kilkenny with his single unit of boyz with his black orc boss, and me with my black orc regiment.  When the animosity rolls allowed it, we both commited a unit of fast cav to net the pony – my spider riders versus his wolves, and began a “to-me-to-you” back and forth with the weakest units on the board mauling each other, then pursuing again!  The fight that occurred in front of the alehouse was just as interesting, as the forces that actually joined battle were severely diminished by their own squabbling on the way – I only made headway to get to the building first as I had been forced to charge and failed to meet anyone!
While I can claim to win the game by so small a margin as to make it ridiculous – I have to say it was a real cluster-f***, but one that we both loved every minute of playing!  The early and familiar recognition of the orc animosity soon gave way to hilarity and genuine disbelief as they continued to screw-up and maul one another.  We ended up, in such a low-scoring game, doing much more damage to ourselves than to the other – so much so that we spent a good deal of our time simply trying to catch that cart to see what our own forces would end up doing!

What did I take from this little game?  Fun – plain and simple.  I do think that a rematch would play differently – we had a hard time outfitting 700 points and keeping things legal – but it certainly made for an enjoyable run.  Real problem – or cause of the zany antics was due to army choices – Orcs by two.  I could not see this game being too pleasing for the orc player if he were to roll as we did against any other army.  The mayhem wasn’t helped by the size of the table as a result of these race choices either.  We should have reduced the area not just on the basis of points, but also because of the races here again – we just had too much ground to mess up!  I would definitely recommend this scenario to people, but only if you’ve really measured the possibilites of each force a little more carefully before launch!

On another note – there is incredibe support going for the Mantic Dreadball Kickstarter since my last post – I’d post a link to the various podcasts, models, rules and announement, but it’d be much more informative for anyone interested in this exciting new project to check it out at the source – Dreadball Kickstarter website.  As of the time of writing, they have accumulated $233,109 of a $20,000 goal!  The feedback and comments are overwhelming in their support, and Mantic’s own management of this tremendous runaway success is truly admirable.  I also think that it is great that they are listening to the fans in order to direct their product line – my own request (echoed by hundreds-or was I an echo too?) was for Grey Aliens themed players – and they’ve only gone and announced it for the next stretch goal!  Overall – I am glad to back this product and company, even if I am dubious of many kickstarter enterprises in general.  They really have gone above and beyond in fan-interaction, and are producing a game for the people as much as it is from the people – well worth a check if you haven’t been there already!

 

Ok, that’s it for this week – have a long week ahead here in work, but hope to get a more involving game that this one in over the next few days – but to be honest, if it is half as fun, I will still consider it a success!  Take care, all!

Dreadball Fever

Hey all!  Have been on a further hiatus as we’re back to work here and the starting weeks are always a busy run.  I have played a couple of games since last post, including a 3 way battle royale of Warhammer Fantasy which worked out well for my Greenskins – my shaman mounted wyvern finally paid off- and a return to Lord of the Rings Mines of Moria – but most of my last week has been focused on the behemoth of a Kickstarter that is Mantic’s Dreadball.

I was first drawn to Dreadball from a post by Quirkworthy on his wordpress blog.  I followed his link to the Kickstarter website and was bowled over by the fresh concept of a sport-based miniatures game.  I know that Bloodbowl has been around since the year dot, and comparisons cannot be avoided, but in fairness, it is a system that GW haven’t done a lot to promote in recent years – really it doesn’t fit neatly in with their business model to keep selling to an already established customer base.  If you have the Bloodbowl set, you’re not buying more Bloodbowl in general, but if you have a box of Clan-rats, you might be back for more Skaven sooner than you think!  Dreadball is remarkably dissimilar to Bloodbowl when you get down to the details, and from the early reports – looks to play more directly and possibly faster.  I am a growing fan of Mantic – having recently purchased their 2-player battleset and regretted not knowing about their previous kickstarter until it was too late – but this time I jumped in early.  Their reward system in the stretch goals has seen me increase my pledge three times – I’m now at the “Striker!” level and might avail of some extras, as I am really looking forward to their model sculpts and what appears to be their own genuine excitement for their product – it is refreshing to see a company glowing with pride and gratitude for their own pet.  They are in constant dialogue with their fan and customer base in the comments section of the site, and are actively reacting to public requests to form the game around an already ecstatic community.  I know that is a lot of pressure for a company, but I cannot fault their response in how they are handling their public and support.

I am not an employee of Mantic or an advertiser, but a genuine fan that wants to see the one-off games like this flourish.  I gather that there will be great support for this product from Mantic in the building of their product line – the already super-successful Kickstart has shown that there is an interest in supporting a company willing to make a product for a public salivating for this system.  I don’t think that they are reinventing the wheel, but am looking forward to the type of alloys and threads they are garnishing it with!  I think that the game looks set to be fun and well-thought out, and I am happy to back something that I believe deserves some grass roots support to encourage further development.

For anyone interested in supporting this venture, check out the project on the Kickstarter page, or the Dreadball Website here.