Fatigue, Summer or Something else?

Something a bit different from me today; not the usual match reports or painting table update.

There have been a couple of high profile KickStarters that have taken my interest, namely Guild Ball and DreadBall XTreme. I ran the rule over Guild Ball and decided that it wasn’t for me and I pledged $75 for DBX that I then increased to $100 when I saw that that level was the starting point for most of the stretch goals.

A couple of days ago though I cancelled the pledge altogether and I’m not regretting it one bit.

There are a few reasons that lead to me cancelling the pledge and at the time they all came from Mantic’s handling of DreadBall and the KickStarter campaign itself. I was getting fed up with new season teams being added to the KS and the value of pledge’s reaching $500,000 and in my mind the nature of the KS changing. I know they are still a small company but I couldn’t help feeling used by Mantic and when combined with my general apathy for DreadBall I decided to stay away. I like DreadBall, but don’t love it and it’s not my go-to game; it’s been completely overtaken by X-Wing as my second game to Blood Bowl.

It’s easy to take this cancelled pledge as a single event, but I think it’s actually part of my evolution in gaming and the hobby.

Before I got back into the hobby I was lucky to have money to spend on luxuries. Since my family’s life-changing events of the last few years and me getting back into the gaming world as a distraction, money – although not gone altogether – has been shall we say tighter. I’m able to give myself a little monthly spending budget which I mainly put towards hobby stuff, but the days of getting what I want, when I want have gone. Cancelling the pledge is partly due to me looking at the return that I’m going to get out of my pledge in terms not just of models and rules, but in game play and fun. I’m not going to play enough to justify the expenditure, especially on models that I’m not fond of anyway.

The 18 months or so back in the hobby, including a full summer and winter with a hobby cave, have allowed me to work out what games I play, how frequently and how consistently as well as how I work the other aspects of the hobby around my responsibilities as a father.

I’m a winter gamer. As soon as the sun comes out, the family and I want to be outside and in particular I want to be out in the hills running. It doesn’t stop me reading and listening or buying, but it does dampen my desire to paint and play when I consider other activities. I have to consider that over the next few months, I am going to play less, paint less and model less. It’s all about determining which projects I want to complete and then planning and preparing for those that I want to do at the end of the year.

I think too, that my focus is therefore on my real passion of Blood Bowl and my growing love of X-Wing. I’m a Star Wars child, so X-Wing will always have appeal to me and with new films coming out and my son reaching an age at which he can appreciate such things, it will stick with me for a long time.

Warhammer Fantasy and Epic are therefore always going to be sidelines for me. If I ever have to choose between those or one of the other two games to play then the other two will win. If I’ve got some money to spend then it probably won’t go towards these. Time to play games is a factor but the cost of building armies is prohibitive. I’ll still listen to podcasts and keep as up to date as I can on the community, but it’s never going to be my thing. I’ll still keep and paint up what I have as I like the models and with Epic in particular I like the connection to my childhood. Warhammer Fantasy too will always be of interest to me as I look to use and convert the models for use in Blood Bowl.

One struggle that I do have is that I want to go to tournaments and get involved in the community more. There are several reasons that I can’t get to tournaments at the moment, so I just need to suck it up. There’s no shame in it. There is a lot of focus on the tournament and competitive play world in podcasts and Twitter, but I think that that’s for a certain type of gamer only. There are hundreds of thousands of people that still enjoy the hobby and never play tournaments of have any desire to. I’d like to play as I’d get lots of games under my belt and more importantly I’d get to meet some of the people that I interact with on Twitter. I don’t help myself by reading Twitter, forums and listening to podcasts as much as I do. I find them all invaluable, but they do increase my desire to go and take part. As I said, I just need to forget this one for now.

Therefore, I think I’m evolving. I’m gaining perspective on where and when I want to focus my efforts and I’m happy with it.

We all have our daily lives and pressures to deal with, that constrict and define the shape of our hobby. We all have different things that we take out of the hobby too from painting, to modelling to playing. I’m just pleased to be well on the way to finding what the hobby means to me and how it plays a part in my life.

Ssshh! I have a secret…

…Don’t say this too loudly on the internet but I think I actually like the direction that Games Workshop are taking their main two games systems in.

Remember that this view is coming from the point of view of a hobby-focused gamer. I am not a tournament player and am in no way ‘hardcore’ and nor do I have any experience of how these games played over the last several years. In many ways I am probably the kind of new(ish) customer that GW wants to attract…but with the baggage of having played as when all this was new and shiny.

The internet wargaming forums are full of rage and hate about GW and any changes that they look to make. The recent slew of new supplements and formats for both gaming systems and the demise of the monthly White Dwarf have intensified the anger and comments. Of course these comments only represent a vocal minority of the GW customers, the hardcore who believe that they own the IP and path of the product.

‘People’ are saying that these games are now broken, that they are unplayable, that they won’t play again. But these are supplements. They don’t have to be used. They are optional. Yes, there are decisions that tournament organisers must now make, but there are so many tournaments being played all over the world, so many that if you don’t like a rules pack ┬áthat you don’t have to play it. The decision to attend is yours at the end of the day.

I think that these supplements help to extend the possibilities of the games for gamers either on their table at home or in their local gaming club. They extend the boundaries of the rule books and put imagination and story telling at the heart of the games. Why do armies and rules have to be balanced? Battles are fought with lopsided armies and different objectives for each force. Let’s play those games.

Given that these games are likely to be played outside of the tournament environment then there is more chance that proxies are used for some of the larger models now available just so that they can make the tabletop.

All in all I think that these changes are a good thing.

On to White Dwarf. Now nothing is confirmed, it is just on the rumour forums but the talk is that the January issue will be the last and that going forward there will be a new weekly magazine and then a larger monthly companion. We’ll wait and see how the content of each is divided but White Dwarf has not been a good publication for some time and despite a revamp it needs a new direction. If it allows GW to trickle releases out over the year, rather than once a month then I think that this can only be a good thing for players and the company.

Similarly if rules and addons can evolve over time and not be tied to new books every few years then I think this will benefit everyone. Even tournament players will benefit if rules can be fixed/corrected more frequently.

Let’s wait and see, but I for one don’t see doom and gloom. I see a company evolving and putting fun, collecting and narrative game play at the centre of the hobby.