Friday, August 27, 2010

My Gaming Autobiography Phase II: The GW Years

*Disclaimer: If you are nauseated by all things GW then this segment may not be for you. For those who are not faint of heart read on there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I went to college in Santa Barbara CA (so did Jon) which is where the title of the blog comes from. There were all kinds of clubs that somehow played off of being Santa Barbarians, my favorite being the homebrew organization the Santa Beerbarians. Anyway, I went off to college hoping to have lots of time with people my own age that might possibly be interested in the same nerdy stuff as I was. This was true for the most part, but most of the nerdy activities revolved around playing video games and watching MXC. Every time I would go home for a break I would usually dig through my closet and find either my mage knight stuff or some old CCG cards and think I should bring them back with me to college and see if anyone is interested. Alas, I always chickened out and left them at home.

The summer before my Junior year I spent my evenings after work either playing WoW (Ding 60 n00bs time for some 10 man Strath runs!) or IMing with my then girlfriend now wife. When I was IMing I would browse around online trying to find something to entertain myself (besides listening attentively and lovingly to the detail’s of my girlfriend’s day). I looked up Mage Knight one night and for some reason wasn’t too interested in starting up again (I forget if it had been discontinued by then or not). Instead I found myself looking at the Games Workshop website and I realized that these must be the little metal figures that I had always looked at longingly and furtively in the game shop of my youth. I was still intimidated by the entry price and the thought of painting them but they just looked so cool. I also browsed around video game review sites and remembered hearing good things about this game Dawn of War. I made the connection that the video game was based on the 40k miniatures and decided I would go pick it up the next day.

For anyone who hasn’t played it, Dawn of War I is one of the best RTS games I have had the pleasure of playing. It’s strongly up there with Starcraft, Warcraft III, Red Alert and Age of Empires in my mind. Anyway, I had a lot of fun playing Dawn of War and back at college I got some of my friends in to it as well. I secretly hoped that by doing so I would be able to help them make a gradual transition to the minis game. I would still go to the GW site and look at minis and read articles, I even ordered some used Necrons and a codex on E-bay but never had the courage to paint them or tell anyone about them.

One night I found a series of articles on GW’s Lord of the Rings game. The articles were battle reports of a series of scenarios following the storyline of Fellowship of the Ring. There were scenarios where you could play as the Nazgul hunting down hobbits or the fellowship killing scores of goblins in Moria. The whole thing looked epic with amazing scenery, beautiful miniatures and a strong narrative backbone. Also, for some reason I figured the price of a Lord of the Rings army was much smaller than any other game so I figured I would give it a go. I went on ebay and found the original fellowship starter set with rules that were now defunct and a bunch of goblins, elves and gondorian miniatures and some scenery. I knew the rules were no good and most of the minis weren’t the best for an army but it was super cheap and I figured I could at least check it out without too much of an investment. The shipping was delayed and by the time the package came I was in the middle of finals and ready to head home. I opened the box and peeked at the minis then stuck them in my closet and headed home.

Over Christmas break I found out that GW was releasing a new starter set based on the Mines of Moria. It had the fellowship, goblins and a troll with a bunch of scenery and an updated rulebook. I went down to the game store of my youth and found they had it in stock. I also picked up some cheap paints, brushes and primer. I had so much fun with that starter set I couldn’t believe I hadn’t started with miniatures before. I remember the first goblin I ever painted. I was so proud that I had all the colors in the right spots and that it didn’t look like crap (It probably did, but what did I know). Getting over that initial hurdle was such a big deal. I could assemble and paint an army and rather than being a chore, I really enjoyed painting. I soon had the whole set painted up and was ready to go back to school, this time with my minis in hand ready to play with anyone who was interested.

Some of the first minis I ever painted:

I ended up playing a few games with some of my friends. One of them even picked up some Gondorians and another some Riders of Rohan while I went with Mordor. We played a bit and assembled and painted together but never got into it very heavily. Over lunch one day I found out that a casual friend had actually played a lot of 40k and fantasy in high school. He offered to run me through a game and I gladly accepted. I went down to his room later that afternoon and sat there for about an hour while he made up two lists one catachan and his space wolves. I had no idea what I was doing and the armies were huge but the minis were cool and I enjoyed rolling dice and getting pwnd by him. I could tell right away that there was a lot more depth to this game than the LoTR one and I decided to finally get involved. Rather than going with a standard starter army I decided that I wanted to do Witch Hunters with conscripted Imperial Guard, mostly because of this figure that I had converted to have a double barreled shotgun (My first conversion!)

Over the summer before my senior year I hung out with this friend a lot since we were both staying in Santa Barbara. We played a lot of Magic (also new to me) and I slowly built up my IG army. When school started again we got a couple more friends involved. I sold those Necrons I bought on ebay to Jon, another friend started Chaos and another Daemon Hunters. We had a great time figuring out the rules and playing when we could. I graduated in December and moved back home. My girlfriend and all my friends were still in school until May so I would drive up every weekend to hang out. (Yeah that’s right a 3 hour trip each way every weekend I was an awesome boyfriend like that). Around this time I also started looking at Warhammer Fantasy. The tactics seemed deeper and I liked the rank and file armies more than the squad based laz0rs of 40k. I picked up the skull pass set and some Orcs and Goblins and maybe played 2 games total. What’s odd is I think my fantasy army was larger and more fully painted than my 40k, but I hardly ever played it. I also dabbled in Battlefleet Gothic, which I still think is an awesome game if you ever get a chance to play it.

My Games Workshop Stuff:

This trend continued after college. Jon lived in Riverside and I was up visiting my then fiancĂ©e now wife in Corona every weekend. Jon would come out from Riverside and we would throw down on a table and play 4 hour games of 40k. I think I had more fun talking about the game, painting and seeing the models laid out than actually playing. By this time I was starting to get a little bored of 40k games. I knew I loved miniatures but I wasn’t having as much fun playing as I thought I should. It was then that fickle fate and her consort Google showed me a new way to game...

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