[Surprise Attack!] Pimpin’, Made Easy

Howdy pardners! It’s been a hectic few months for me, sorry for the absence. I’d like to say I’m back in the saddle and poised to viral-bomb your homeworld, but I’m about to leave town for a couple weeks of work, spend 4th of July at home (4th of July is a holiday roughly equivalent to your local ‘Emperor Day’ for all you not-Americans out there), then leave town for a couple more weeks of work. Then come back home for a shower followed by a week out of town.  Come back and do it yet again until the end of August. That’s a lot of time on the road, a villain’s work is never done. The good news is: The end of August is muthafuggin’ NOVA 2014 and I’ll be there signing autographs in my booth.

What do you mean “There’s no autograph booth” and “No one wants yours, anyways, you tosser”? Well I’m not entirely certain what that even means but I’ll see your Brit slang and raise you some ‘Murica: That’s wack. You’re missing a major business opportunity here, guys. Millions to be made on this, mark my words.

In the meantime, shout outs to all the authors who hold it down while the rest of us get sucker-punched with IRL bullcrap. Give them a hand!

Okay, okay.

Settle down!

Take your seats, please. First off in News that Matters: Mantic is giving away a sprue of terrain, no purchase required. Pretty neat. Limited to 500 499 people, so act fast and get some free scatter terrain (or enhance what you’ve got if you already picked up the Dead Zone terrain). Much love for that one, it’s not every day you see companies giving away free stuff.

I also have a confession to make: I’d like to say that I was working steadily and just too busy to blog, but it wouldn’t be completely truth-y. I did have a little downtime, but it came in sparse fragments and I filled it with two of my strongest vices: Growling out Electric Wizard with the subwoofer cranked while playing Bloons Tower Defense 5.

Because nothing says “Doom Metal” like cartoon monkeys popping cartoon ballons

My youngest kid likes to fall asleep sitting on my lap watching YouTube kids’ videos, and rather than slowly lose my mind one evening at a time, I split the browser and play me some free flash games in the other half of the monitor while he claps at puppet shows. Not so good for hobbying, but it counts as father/son bonding and its therapeutic in a way that popping bubble wrap only wishes it was.

I also maximized my at-work time by starting a subversive campaign against Young Blood, a kid I work with. I call him a kid because even though he swears he’s a married man who just turned twenty-two, I have yet to see a birth certificate to prove it.

Just one of these ‘Certificates of Live Birth’ which a crazy old man told me is a totally different thing and not semantic at all.  Sounds legit. 

Maybe it’s his unnaturally youthful face, maybe its the naivete that comes with being raised a Mormon in middle-of-nowhere Nevada, maybe it’s both, but Young Blood is the kind of guy who prompts comments like “Does your mom know you’re here?” when he sticks his head into my office. Maybe I’m responsible for 90% of those comments, maybe I’m not. Not important. What’s important is that Young Blood is a huge Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and Star Wars nerd, and he’s not ashamed to show it. One day he puts this up a picture of this in his cubicle:

Well, I don’t know about you but I smell blood in the water. During my interrogation into what sort of nerdery he espouses, Young Blood reveals all of the above, and also that he recently started doing a little fine-scale modeling of ships and planes. Really, now? I’ve been known to dabble in assembling and painting small things. From time to time. I even sell them on eBay once in a while, look this one got me $150. Maybe you’d like to talk shop?

From time to time. 

Not long after, him and I are heading to my place on a Tuesday afternoon to pick up some tools and do a little pro bono on-the-clock remodeling at work when I inquire, ever-so-subtly, that since we’re stopping by my house if maybe he would like to see the Nerd Lair in person and have a quick show and tell with some of the stuff I use? Maybe some of the models I’ve done?

He would. Excellent. This leads to him examining my hobby desk and Flames of War stuffs, but I divert him. “You know what really has my attention these days? This Infinity game. It’s awesome. You like manga?” He’s working on a computer science degree, of course he likes manga. I already know this before he answers. So we do a little more show and tell, then head back to work to drill holes in walls fight for freedom.

Completely coincidentally, I used one of my free days the following weekend to get some games in with my nemesis Bart before he goes back to working weekend shifts, and invited the Young Blood along to “watch”. Just watch, I swear! It’s not my fault Bart and his roommate are bachelors who turned the house they share into a giant shrine to all things nerdy. It just happened that way.

Bart stretches his hammies before the big assault up Mount Beer Can. 

Minor segue: That night Bart and I found ourselves with our Lieutenants duelling from opposing rooftops. On one side of the board was my Mormaer LT with AP Heavy Machinegun, on his half was the badass Avatar. BS 13 on my Mormaer, but with the Avatar being in cover (-3 to hit), at long range (-3), and having an Optical Disruption Device (-6), I now needed to roll 1’s to hit. Hey, at least it would Critical if I did, so let’s just roll my four dice and maybe I’ll get lucky and take away one of his three wounds.

“FuUUuuUUUUuUCK YOoOOooU!!!!!!!!”

You could hear his howl of outrage from space. That has nothing to do with an article about demoing games, but it was one of those moments too good not to share with the blogosphere. Sorry, Bart!

Heh…no I’m not. You all know me better than that.

Back to the subject: It’s also not my fault I brought along some extra armies and happened to have a pre-printed entry-level list for Young Blood to try out when he asked if we had time for him to try it out. It just happened that way.

The next weekend, I head up to an FLGS to get some games in with Doremicom and MoblotHelm, and Young Blood just happens to take one of my extra armies, and just happens to be the fouth player we needed to launch an impromptu ITS. What a coincidence! Before he knew it, he had signed up for an ITS PIN, and when the day was done he walked out of there with his first minis ever. Caledonian Starter Pack, if you’re interested. That’s my boy.

And so it begins.  He also latched onto the X-Wing display post-haste, and I have a funny feeling he’s going to turn the tables on me and get me into that particular bit of awesome. I welcome it.

Not that all this was as easy as it sounds, no sir! We showed up to discover that Atomic Empire was hosting a M:TG tournament with nearly 200 players in attendence, and space was at a premium.

GAH! What the shit is this??? Madness, I say. Madness!

Fortunately, we persevered and managed to set up an 8×4 game table off to the side and got our dice on. Take that, card nerds! You won’t win that easy!

As we enter, Doremicom captures my ‘meh’ face while Young Blood folds space and time to move past a neo-hippy.

So let’s chalk that one up as a win. But there’s more: I’ve also been running demo games at Hit Point Hobbies, a much closer FLGS.

This has been full of lessons for me. On the plus side, the store owner has been very supportive of demo-ing and posts it on the store’s Facebook page. Live updates during my time there, and posts it on the store schedule if I can give him enough of a heads up.

Thanks, both people who liked this. 

The downside is that the local scene there is firmly entrenched in the morass that is 40K. Disgustingly so. During my last trip, a guy on the table next to me was “teaching” a newbie 40K by clubbing him to death with eight Necron flyers. A list which has earned the distinction of being “ultimate cheese” on nothing less than D4Chan, that bastion of grace and humanity. The excuse? It was “tough love”. Sure, okay.

But that’s the scene I have to work with. So, my successes there have been with bored friends hanging out watching their homies bash Unbound Bullshit against each other. Some are indifferent to this “new” game in their arena and just want to kill time rolling strange dice, some take to it with enthusiasm. My first time there I played someone over and over again for four hours, he loved it, we had great table talk about IRL stuff, he was eye-fucking the Infinity site on his phone midgame, we said our goodbyes and he only left because the store was closing up.

Then I face-palmed when I realized we had no way to get in touch. Completely spaced on that. I vowed not to let this happen again, and when I went home I whipped up a printable “players wanted” flyer to tape up in store windows and tack to bulletin boards.  Here it is, click and save if you’re so inclined. Obviously I don’t own any of the artwork, but I doubt Corvus Belli minds me tastefully using their graphics to flog their wares.

Yes, that is ‘Red Oktober’ font. Thanks for noticing.

Cut it in half down the middle so you have two, write your email or phone number in the blank strips, and cut up the black lines so players can tear off your contact info. It’s what’s been fueling the “babysitter for hire” and “cheap guitar lessons” industries for years. I don’t do the FaceSpace and I hate talking on the phone, so I use my email.

Young Blood indavertently taught me an important lesson on the value of advertising. Without his geeky posters at work, I wouldn’t have tricked shown him the savage world of tabletop gaming. In hindsight, I was reminded that the people most likely to get into a new game, or something totally new if they’ve never gamed before, are the people you already know. The guys you already have lunch with at work, or drink beers with on the weekend. Something I’ve touched on briefly once before. In my small office there’s at least two closet gamer nerds, plus a couple more in other parts of our building. I only know about them because we bump into each other at tournaments but they were quick to swear me to secrecy. We actually call it “Fight Club”, as in “Hey you gonna do Fight Club this weekend?” and if anyone asks, well, we tell them what the first two rules of Fight Club are and they wander off.

One guy refuses to discuss it, even in code, for fear that word will get out that he’s a nerd and it will ruin his professional reputation. That sucks, but I understand. But…it makes me wonder just how many more closet nerds are out there at my work, or how many stop by my office without me knowing it.

Time to find out.

So I’ve devised a cunning plan: We wear security badges to get access to our building and everyone has theirs on lanyards. Usually from favorite sports teams, my own is dedicated to the world’s best second-best hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks. Bless their hearts. Maybe it’s time for a change? I browsed eBay looking for one and after playing the wait-relist-wait-relist game to get the seller down from a ridiculous “collector’s edition!!!1!!! SUPER RARE” price, I came up with this handy fellow covered in the Imperial Eagle and Space Hulk logo. That’s some serious nerd bait! It means nothing to anyone not already in the know, but every tabletop gamer knows that damn two-headed eagle. They’ll lock on to it like a turbo laser, I do believe. Let’s see how it goes.

Yes, you will do nicely. 

Originally I was going to write something about “How To Demo Infinity: Bush Craft Style”, but I think I’ve gotten side-tracked into something else, something bigger and closer to my shriveled heart: How to spread this hobby. There’s already plenty of “Intro to Infinity” posts, Data Sphere just did a great one and a second part.  So did 2Screens. There’s plenty more than that out there, but my Google Fu is weak today and I’m short on patience: that’s what happens when you spend all day sitting in a thunderstorm the weatherman swore wouldn’t show up. Maybe one day I’ll dip into my personal way of cracking that nut, but for now I think reflecting on the bigger picture is more worth our time.

At this point you might be thinking “For a guy who’s bitching about not having any free time you sure did play a lot of games”. Well, yeah, but average all that stuff above across three months and suddenly it doesn’t seem like so much, does it Smartypants? I didn’t get any painting done, that’s for sure. Kinda ticked about that. I want to chain myself to my hobby table for a couple days and finish my Ariadnans off but I don’t see that happening before September. FML. Plenty of terrain to paint (and repair). Yeaaaaaah…that’ll happen come ‘never’. I’d love to take a fully-painted force to NOVA, and Certs has promised free back rubs* to whoever brings the best table. Lemme tell ya: my shoulders are sore right now. Just sayin’.

Oddly, the lack of nerdery was useful to me, kind of a mental cleanse as I flushed all the superfluous things and refocused on spending the free time I did have on what was most important to me, not what I just felt like doing at that moment. I developed a better understanding of something I feel is very crucial to all of us, something that gets overlooked a lot.

Whatever game we’re playing today isn’t all that important in the long run, what’s important is the hobby as a whole and making sure we’re bringing new people on board and growing our ranks. Linking us together. This isn’t something that’s easy to walk into blind. It’s Fight Club. So this was my contribution, I hope it helps.

Pimpin’ ain’t easy, but you can make it look that way.

Stay classy.


* I may have made this up.


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