Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Star Wars Returns to the Tabletop?

The rumors are rampant that a new gaming company has picked up the game rights to the Star Wars Saga.

Not much is known right now outside of some recent comments on the blog of Mongoose Publishing (aka Planet Mongoose).

Apparently, Mongoose had been pursuing the coveted Star Wars license but found out that LucasFilm LTD had already awarded it to another company.

Mongoose's head honcho, Matthew Sprange, wrote:

The interesting thing is why our negotiations ended - another company beat us to it. We are not going to reveal who this is (you have heard of them), as that is their fanfare to blow. However, I am sure many will find it intriguing that the licence covers card games, RPGs, and... miniatures. Now, the company concerned is not known for its miniatures lines, which will probably put paid to my dream of 28mm multipart/multipose Stormtroopers.

Of course, that was enough to ignite internet speculation. Leading the rumor mill is Fantasy Flight Games. A dark horse contender I heard mentioned was Osprey. Either could be interesting.

I enjoyed Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Miniatures Game, particularily in it's first couple years and was sad to see it go from the market place. I can't help but wonder who the new keeper of the Saga is and what sort of products we'll be seeing from them.

I would imagine we'll find out in early 2011 sometime. Perhaps around the time of the GAMA Trade Show in March? Time shall tell.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dead Game Syndrome

The Dead Game Syndrome.

Even if you haven't named know what it is. It's that effect that occurs when your favorite game is no longer produced and supported by the manufacturer. No more updates. No more expansions. No more organized play. No more product.

The game is dead.

When this happens it seems that the most common response in many wargaming circles is to move on to another game and hope this one experiences a longer lifespan. Moreso, players tend to dump their existing books and miniatures on eBay or elsewhere despite the fact that they loved the game prior to its cancellation. At the very least they box everything up and doom it to be forgotten in the back of their closet for the rest of time.

Rackham Entertainment's AT-43 has been my main game of choice since it's debut about four years back. I love the game. The rules are good, for the most part. The fluff and universe are fantastic and the miniatures are really well done...especially for pre-painted (which was another plus for me).

Rackham has been struggling for quite a few years now and had been bought out and reformed into Rackham Entertainment complete with new investors and management. There was hope that they'd pull out of their financial and creative troubles. They were hard at work on a new edition of the AT-43 ruleset. Things were, on the surface, looking up.

Alas, 'twas not to be. A couple weeks back Rackham announced they were in liquidation. Their assets are being sold off. Rackham is dead. AT-43 is dead.

A friend of mine with whom I regularly play asked me what my plans were. He was thinking of selling his stuff. I encouraged him to hold onto to enough to play the occassional game with. I plan on keeping my Karman army and my Cogs Army Box. I still enjoy the game and there is no reason why I can't keep playing the game with the wealth of material that I already own.

But, you know, I feel it, too. Knowing that there's nothing new coming does seem to take some of the excitement out of it. But, there's still plenty of games to be played with existing product. But, when a game appears that it's player base does as well.

Take Heroclix for example. Heroclix was very popular for 5 years until Topps unceremoniously shut down Wizkids back in 2008. Gaming stores around the country that held regular Heroclix events for nearly half a decade saw those players all but disappear (or, at least, start playing another game). After NECA purchased Wizkids in 2009 they faced something of an uphill battle re-engaging previous players and developing new players. Thankfully, it seems to be working.

I would love to hear the thoughts of other gamers on this issue. Being new, The Rural Gamer still has a fairly limited readership at this point. But, I would appreciate you sharing this article in any manner you can. Share the link via email, or on Facebook. Tweet about it. Talk about at your local gaming venue. However you do it, just please come back here and comment about it.

And maybe...just maybe...reach into the back of your closet, into that old, dead game graveyard and revist an old favorite or two this week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pragmatism Wins Out

OK. So. I changed my mind.

A little while back I wrote about choosing Wood Elves to be my first Warhammer Fantasy Battles army, and my reasons for doing so.

I had mentioned that a friend recommend I choose another army as Wood Elves had become somewhat difficult to play under the new 8th Edition rules. But, loving the theme and look of the Wood Elves, I was determined to stand my ground.

But, then I got to thinking about it and decided to go with High Elves instead. For now.

There's a darn nice starter force for High Elves available in the recently released Island of Blood boxed set. I really wanted the smaller rulebook that's only available in that set (so I wouldn't have to lug around the family bible-sized 8th Edition Hardcover rulebook!), and the templates and dice are a nice bonus. Plus, I figure, I could sell off the Skaven half of the box thereby decreasing my financial output a bit. See? Pragmatism wins out.

Plus, I heard on the World's End Radio podcast that High Elves have amongst the most plastic kits in the WHFB range, and I just prefer plastic over metal.

So, I'm keeping things all in the family by going with another Elven army at least...and plan to pick up some Wood Elves units here and there until such time as we get a new Army Book for them and I can assemble a proper force. I don't feel like too much of a turncoat. I still think the look and fluff of the High Elves is pretty pickin' cool.

But, I gotta admit, I'm intimidated as heck at painting the High Elves. The detail in those models is crazy, and it's been a long time since I painted anything. But, I guess I'll just take it slow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Taking to the Seas Again...for the First Time

Way back in 2004, Wizkids released Pirates of the Spanish Main. It was billed as the worlds first Constructible Strategy Game. The game was sold primarily in packs, like trading cards, containing plasticard with punch out components that could be assembled into ships and sea monsters and the like. It was an extremely creative idea...which is something creator Jordan Weisman is known for.

The game was a modest hit for Wizkids, resulting in several expansions over the next 4 years including an officially licensed Pirates of the Caribbean expansion based on the blockbuster movies from Disney.

Somehow, despite my general pirates obsession (spurred by those same Pirates movies) I never picked up the game. Even during the time I had Alley Cat Games I never picked any up. I always thought the concept was cool, 'though.

Well, there's a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie coming out next summer called On Stranger Tides. I'm currently reading the 1988 novel by Tim Powers upon which the new movie is (loosely) based. So, the other day when my daughter and I were in Target and I happened to see some old Wizkids Pirates for insanely cheap, I picked them up.

I haven't played a game yet, or even really had the opportunity to read the rules, but I did sit at our dining room table with my daughter and put together a couple of ships and we had a great time doing that. I hope I can find a PDF of the most current rules online because, dang, the text on the included rulesheet is small for these aging eyes!

I'm hoping to track down the awesome gaming mat produced by Gale Force 9 for the game. It was really well done and adds, I feel, a lot to the experience of the game. They also made a couple of Island terrain sets. I love that kind of stuff.

So, hopefully soon I'll be having some adventures on the High Seas. I wonder if the new Wizkids has any plans to bring the game back. Next year, with the new movie, would be a smart time to do it.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wizkids Announcements

Alliance Game Distributors just held one of their Retailer Summits following the recent New York Comic Con. Generally we get a fair bit of news after one of these events, and this one is no different.

Wizkids had several announcements at the show.

The next Marvel Heroclix set has been announced: Giant-sized X-Men! When a comic book of that name was released back in 1975 it altered the comic book landscape forever. What impact will a Heroclix set of the same name have? Time will tell, but this promises to be an excellent set. Also this set will introduce the Super Booster. Each brick will consist of 8 regular booster packs and 1 Super Booster! According to Wizkids:

There are 8 different Super Boosters (all of which are blind and have unique content). We moved to a new configuration b/c we wanted a way to deliver “extreme” content without the “extreme” price increase. We think we struck the right balance.

As an example of what's in a Super Booster, check out this image of the upcoming Apocalypse figure! This thing is AMAZING! Be sure to go to and click on Apocalypse and view this bad boy in all it's hi-res glory. Fantastic! The Fastball Special clix is pretty darn sweet as well.
Also announced: Street Fighter Heroclix! Now, I've long been a fan of the Street Fighter property (Jean Claude Van Damme not withstanding) so this holds some interest for me, if for no other reason than to collect the figures. I'm curious how it'll play, but it is said to be compatible with Heroclix.

Another couple games I'm really looking forward to: Star Trek: Expeditions (a Euro-styled co-operative game designed by master game designer Reiner Knizia) and the starship combat game Star Trek: Fleet Captains. As someone who's always wanted to get into Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander, but has been somewhat put off by clunky rules or too-much emphasis on power allocation over blowing Klingons out of the stars...I am really stoked for Fleet Captains. I saw some of the prototype miniatures for this at Gen!

It is so good to have Wizkids back...and, in this gamer's opinion, better than ever!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And...We're Back!

My apologies for the lack of updates this past week. I've been dealing with a rash of computer troubles lately. Both my exterior hard drive, and the drive in my desktop iMac died on me. Not only that but in between those events, I dropped my iPhone and cracked the screen.

Not fun.

I got my iMac back today from the fine folk at MacMobile in Columbus, Ohio and am in the process of catching up and getting back up to speed. Watch for regular updates soon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Monstrous Dilemma

I grew up watching monster movies. KTVU Channel 2 out of Oakland, California would show a Godzilla movie just about every Saturday afternoon back in the early 70s. I loved 'em. Couldn't get enough. I loved Godzilla and all the Toho Studios monsters like Ghidorah and Rodan. I loved King Kong. I even loved more obscure giant monsters such as Reptilicus (a Danish/American film) and Gorgo (British).

So, a few years back when Privateer Press announced Monsterpocalypse I was stoked! A giant monsters miniatures game? And, pre-painted to boot? I was there! The monsters looked awesome, and the game featured some of the best pre-paints in the industry. Really good stuff.

But, again, finding players has proven elusive.

Monsterpocalypse came out in 2008, if memory serves. And here we are in 2010 and I can't find players in my area. There was a glimmer of hope about a year ago. A former customer of mine was really into the game and wanted to play. But, he had a very erratic work schedule and we were never able to meet up for a game. And now he seems to have disappeared.

20 some odd years ago Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. I think we need a new book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Games. Monsterpocalypse is a good game. The rules are solid. The theme is fantastic. The miniatures are amazing. It's fun to play. These are all good things. But, the game has struggled to find a player base. At least in Ohio. And, certainly in Central Ohio.

Privateer Press
has been pretty silent about the games future lately. There was no news at Gen Con this past August. There are the two-player Starter Boxes due in October, but those feature miniatures from the original "Rise" release. But, hopefully, they can attract new players to the game (and is, maybe, how the game should have been marketed from the beginning). There is also a big-budget movie on the horizon with Tim Burton attached to direct. I suspect that the movie has something to do with Privateers period of silence regarding this property.

Is it the collectible nature of the game that's proven a hindrance? I don't know. Heroclix seems to be doing well after it's death at Topps and resurrection at NECA.

I don't know.

What I do know is this game deserves to be doing better than it is. It really is a good game. There are those gamers that assume that if a game is of the collectible variety then it has been "dumbed down for the kiddies. While that may be true with some games, I don't feel that is the case with Monsterpocalypse. There is plenty of depth and strategy to be had.

If you have any interest in giant monsters, you really should do yourself a favor and check out Monsterpocalypse. You'll be glad you did. And, if you're in the Central Ohio region, by all means, let me know!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Play's The Thing

This past week a friend emailed me to make me aware that my recent decision to play Wood Elves in Warhammer 8th Edition (aka Rockethammer, according to the guys at World's End Radio) might end up being frustrating for me as they're a difficult army to play under the new rules.

Now, I certainly appreciate his comments and insight and did take them under consideration. But, ultimately, I decided to stick with my Wood Elves.

I read up on all the various armies available in the Warhammer World. The reason I chose Wood Elves as my Warhammer army has little to nothing to do how competitive a force they are, but it was all about the fluff and look of the army for me.

Living out in the country as I do, I am surrounded by woods. We have a small farm. Not much. Some egg laying chickens. Some meat chickens. A couple of pigs. But, it's enough that I feel more in touch with the land than I do anymore with the grocery store. Story-wise this puts the Wood Elves right up my alley. I look out the window as I type this and see a wonderfully old, tall two acre patch of woods between our land and the neighbors. Across the street from us is countless acres more. I can imagine the Wood Elves right at home out there.

My friend's comments made me aware that, over the years, I've developed a style of game play that I was scarcely aware of. In miniatures games where you must comprise your forces, I tend to play thematically rather than strategically.

In Heroclix, I play characters that work together more from their comic book history as opposed to figures whose abilities compose a deadly combination.

In AT-43 I play the Karmans because I really dig their look (I mean, c'mon, great white gorillas in power armor? Awesome!).

In Monsterpocalype my factions of choice are Terrasaurs and Empire of the Apes. What can I say? I grew up on a steady diet of Godzilla and King Kong.

Do I have a winning track record? Nope. Not at all! Do I still manage to have fun playing? Absolutely. And that, for me, is the most important thing. I'm not a tournament player. I play for the fun of it. And, every once in awhile I manage to pull out a win.

And that's just fine with me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Never Say Never

I don't think you can be a gamer, and not be at least tangentially aware of Warhammer. The venerable miniatures game from Games Workshop is something of a lightning rod in the gaming community. It seems like one of those games you either love it, or you hate it. And, sometimes, those feelings have little to do with the game itself and more to do with your feelings about the company behind the game.

I remember seeing Warhammer products on the shelves of D&J Hobbies in Campbell, California back in the 80s (the game debuted in 1983) and loving the over the top artwork adorning the packaging and books. It was a stark contrast to the other fantasy game artwork at the time, especially what was coming out of TSR, makers of Dungeons & Dragons. But, I never bought it, or played it.

Even in the last few years when I had my store, I had zero interest in the game, nor it's futuristic sibling, Warhammer 40K. My indifference was mostly due to my disinterest in modeling and painting, which are a huge part of the Warhammer hobby. I thought the models were cool. I picked up the odd issue of White Dwarf magazine here or there. But, that's about as far as it went.

That is, until word of the Warhammer Fantasy Battles 8th Edition rules came out. Suddenly, the game had piqued my interest. Of course, it helps tremendously that my buddy Dan, with whom I play AT-43, also plays Warhammer fantasy..thereby overcoming the massive hurdle of finding someone with whom to play!

Then, that massive, gorgeous tome came out. Locally, The Guardtower had a fantastic deal on the rulebook that I just couldn't pass up! As I began to read the book, my enthusiasm for the world of Warhammer began to grow, and I began thinking about which army I would begin to (slowly) put together.

I settled on the Wood Elves. I figured that was a suitable army for a rural gamer!

So, first the first time in years I am looking forward to breaking out the paint and glue and brushes and building me some miniatures. It'll likely be a slow process, as I don't have a lot of time and/or money to spare on an army right now.

So, here I am excited about a game I swore that I'd never play. Just goes to show you: never say never.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Greatest Challenge

Finding a fun game to play is never a problem.

Finding people to play that game with? Now, that can be a different issue entirely...especially if you are not fortunately enough to live close to a FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) with an active gaming community.

That has been my greatest challenge since moving out to rural Delaware County two years ago, finding players. I've got my monthly AT-43 night at Guardtower with my friend, Dan, sure. And, we've been mixing it up a little lately trying out some other games apart from AT-43. But, the Guardtower is an hour and 1/2 round trip! That's almost the same amount of time I have to actually game!

I know that this is a challenge that is not unique to myself. And, I know it's not even simply a by product of living in the sticks. There's plenty of gamers, or potential gamers, who don't have a game store in their town or anywhere within a couple hours drive of where they live. It makes it tough to find players.

I've found myself envious of the gaming club system they have in Europe, and wish there was something similiar here. With the Internet, gamers don't necessarily need a FLGS to keep up with the latest gaming prouduct ('though there is no substitute for being able to pick up, handle and touch a product before making that purchase)...but, here in America, the local game store also provides the opportunity to meet other players.

So, what is the solution for the rural gamer?

I don't know. I'm working on that. As I mentioned, we have a store in town (Hobby Central) but they don't have a website or any way to announce upcoming games or look for players. That makes it tough. Not impossible, mind you. But, tough.

I'm determined to find a way to crack this nut...

Monday, September 6, 2010

AT-43: Rise and Rise Again...

My current game of choice is Rackham Entertainment's AT-43.

I was first attracted to AT-43 by it's look and the fact that all the miniatures came pre-painted. Not being much of a painter myself, the minis were painted at least as well as I could have painted them, and, in some cases, better. I really dig the fluff for AT-43, as well.

I have found the rules to be solid, for the most part. Sure, there's some fiddly stuff in there and some poorly translated bits that present some challenges. But, I've found those to be in the minority.

Back when I was running Alley Cat Games, AT-43 did really well for us. We ran games each Thursday evening and had 10-15 players at it's height. Those were fun times! A few of us still play, but most of those players have scattered and gone to other games now.

Sadly, the game has struggled to catch on with the general miniatures gaming community at large for a variety of reasons. Some hardcore gamers, due to its pre-painted nature, thought of the game more as toys than a real wargame. Others couldn't get past the translation issues or didn't care for the rules. It's an army-based sci fi miniatures game which put it in direct competition with Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K behemoth. Then there were the product delays, the near bankruptcy of the company and subsequent purchase and restructuring into what is now Rackham Entertainment. To say this game has had a bumpy history is something of an understatement.

But, here we are in 2010. AT-43 is 4 years old, and is considered "dead" by many in the gaming community - gamers and retailers alike (the a passionate and faitful remnant remains). But, it is about to rise again with AT-43 v2.0!

That's right. AT-43 2.0 rules are coming out late this year from Rackham Entertainment. Towards the end of the last cycle of product releases from Rackham was a series of Army Boxes, which contained a 2000 point, ready-to-go army. It was a great concept. From what I've read thus far, the 2.0 rules (which is more of a streamlining and clarification than a wholesale overhaul) will be based around the Army Box concept, allowing for expansions.

As an AT-43 fan, I'm very excited about the 2.0 rules. I hope this time Rackham is able to catch lightning in a bottle and the game can find the audience that it deserves.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Rural Gamer - an introduction

Hi there. My name is Jeff Cope, aka The Rural Gamer.

I've been gaming, in one form or another since being introduced to Dungeons & Dragons in my freshmen year of high school way back in 1979. I played D&D for several years, dabbled in Gamma World and RuneQuest (the original & best Chaosium version, btw) and eventually found my way to GDW's Traveller. For any San Jose folks who may be reading this, back then I used to get all my gaming supplies at either The Game Table or D&J Hobbies in Campbell. The Game Table is, sadly, long gone...but I believe D&J is still around.

After awhile I grew tired of RPGs and moved into tabletop wargaming, but this wasn't until I had moved from San Jose, CA to Columbus, OH at the tail end of 1999.

After getting married and having a kid, I found I had little time for painting miniatures, and moved primarily into pre-painted games such as Heroclix and AT-43.

In September of 2007 I opened Alley Cat Games & Comics in Dublin, OH and, regrettably, had to close it up in October 2008. I'm proud of our 13 short months in business. Statistically, 80% of new businesses close in the first twelve months. So, I'm happy that we at least beat that statistic.

Two years ago we bought an 1890 farmhouse outside of Delaware, OH and have been slowly rennovating it. It became, as these things tend to do, a far larger job that we ever anticipated. This year we really embraced country life and are now raising chickens (some for eggs, some for eatin') and pigs.

Moving out to the rural parts of Central Ohio has been great. This city boy has been growing in appreciation for the land, and cultivating our own vegetables and animals. But, from the gaming perspective, it's put a bit of a crimp in things.

There is a gaming store in town called Hobby Central. They carry some games (mostly Heroclix and Warhammer with a smattering of a few other things) along with comics, model kits and trains. But, it's been a challenge to get games going there as the shop isn't online. So, it's difficult to find out when games are running.

So, part of the purpose of this blog is to chronicle my attempts to find and develop the gaming community in my area. But, there's also be gaming news, interviews, reviews and more.

Stay tuned, and tell your friends to join the ride!