I’ve written about the Gaming Dad’s Lament in the past. As a parent, we both celebrate and mourn the passing of childhood. In fact, I recently posted something on Instagram about the boys growing up. I never give in to the “you’re going to miss this crowd” because honestly, most of it you don’t miss. That’s why when you become grandparents, you are happy to give the kids back at the end of the day. You get all of the good and very little of the bad.
However, I admit that every now and then, I do get a pang of the old times and wish for just one more day of playing Thomas the Tank Engine or watching endless episodes of Paw Patrol. In fact, I suffered just such a pang the other day when Aiden came down with a box of Heroclix that he sold on eBay. You may wonder why this hit so hard, seeing as how Heroclix has to be one of the least referenced games on the page.
Farewell Heroclix: Gaming Dad’s Lament?
Honestly, the sadness surprised me as well. I can count the number of times I played Heroclix on one hand and the number of times that I played Heroclix with the boys on one finger. Why such a strong emotional response, then, to losing them? I wish I knew.
As I wrote a few years ago in the article about the train show, forgive me my indulgence as I work through some emotions here. You are free to completely ignore this article until something more appropriate tickles your fancy. We are getting together on Saturday to play Commander, so expect that article sometime next week.
I suppose the sudden finality of it all hit me hard. As I said, we never played the game. But, to know that we never will brings a somber realization with it. But, and I need to focus on this, some positive came from that realization. Quinn just bought a new Pokemon deck with a gift card he got for Christmas. That inspired me to build a deck. Also, Aiden mentioned that he wanted to play Dicemasters again. When that game gets the heave ho, expect many more words about the passage of time.
Initially, I mourned the loss of our Heroclix. Much more than I ever worried about Skylanders getting sold or YuGiOh cards put into a binder and into the closet. We played both of those games far more than Heroclix. But, I got over it, shipped them, and just told Aiden that I found my Dicemasters teams. All that’s left is to actually build that Pokemon deck. How do you let go? I just hold on to what I still have.
Then again, now that I think about it, it was probably a year or longer.A� However, as you get older, time has this way of feeling like it is contracting.A� I can’t believe that I never considered it before, but a student in one of my classes pointed out that it is because for every year you get older, each year is less a percentage of your life overall.A� It’s so obvious, but I just never considered it before.A� Okay, what’s the point?
Well, some undefined amount of time ago, I got into miniatures.A� It started with a paint class that I signed up for at Modern Myths, but was only able to go to two of the lessons.A� Therefore, I only know how to prime and paint the base coat.A� I don’t know anything about dry brushing, washes, or other finishing techniques.A� I have been doing some research and talking with Kevin to get a better idea of how to do those things.
After taking the class, I found a deal on a two player battle box of Privateer Press Hordes miniatures.A� Initially, I had plans to paint the miniatures and, at least, display them until I could convince Chris or one of the boys to try the game with me.A� As happened too often in the recent past, life got in the way.
I’m 42 this year.A� I never believed in arbitrary age milestones.A� Sweet 16, at 18 you are an adult and can die in a stupid war, but then you aren’t mature enough to drink for another three years?A� However, anecdotal evidence points to the mid life crisis as an actual milestone.A� I can’t say that is definitely what I’m experiencing, but other than the fancy red sports car (that I can’t afford), I check off most of the other boxes.
The one major adjustment that I’ve noticed is that I changed my outlook on life.A� Because, you see, another stereotypical midlife crisis trope that I’ve experienced is that I’m gaining some perspective and reflecting back on my life.A� As a result, I made that change mentioned in the first sentence of this paragraph.A� I came to the realization a few days ago that I’ve been living my life lately according to the improv credo of “Yes, and…”
Instead of saying “No” or “Maybe I’ll get to that tomorrow”, I’ve been saying “Yes, and..”A� It has changed me in fundamental ways.A� Instead of saying, “No, I really like my holiday break”, even though it’s way too long and I get surly by the end, I said, “Sure, I’ll fill out sub forms for your district.”A� That has led to an extra 200 or so dollars so far and a possibly very good offer that just happened today.A� Instead of putting the boys off until “tomorrow”, I’ve been playing a variety of games andA� toys with them as well as almost starting the podcast up again soon.A� That has led to me being happier, not feeling as guilty, and getting some of my creative energy out.
And, finally, we get to the point of this particular article.A� Instead of ignoring my miniatures due mostly to a fear of failure, I took the box that they were in out of the game room closet.A� I primed some more of the models and started talking to Kevin about the process again.A� That was mostly just to keep myself honest and engaged.A� I also sent a note to Chris for the same reason.
In both cases, it must have worked because I started to paint the little dragon dog dudes or whatever they are.A� Even though they are the smallest pieces, they have the least intricacies when it comes to design, so I hoped that might work in my favor.A� I don’t have the official paints licensed by either Privateer or the Warhammer company, so I had to kind of work around and figure out how to mix the paints that I had gotten for Aiden so that he could paint his Bob Ross masterpieces for the family Christmas gifts.
After my first attempt, I thought about how to improve on the color.A� I texted Kevin a couple of times and figured an easy way to mute the color would be to add some white to the blue before mixing in the pink.A� That still wasn’t quite working as well as I had hoped.A� It might have been because I left the dab of blue paint out on my easel and it thickened a bit.A� Also, some of you might be cringing at my technique and I don’t blame you.A� I went a bit heavy handed this time.A� I’m hoping to get some better brushes and a helping hand magnifying glass to refine my technique.A� I didn’t care at all about getting paint on the base because I’m hoping to do terrain effects there.A� I see those of you who weren’t cringing before are probably turning up your noses now.A� Hey, I’m not that bad!
To fix the thickened blue paint issue, I used a dab of paint thinner on the brush.A� That both served to lighten the color and make the paint go on less clumpy and preserve the detail of the miniature.A� A�It isn’t a perfect job by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I’m doing something with these models that have just been sitting around in a box for at least a year.A� I hope to keep working on them over the next few weeks and giving them a better look.A� I will share my process along with my failures that hopefully eventually lead to success.A� If not, laugh, cringe, and sigh along with me during the adventure.
Both Chris and Kevin have said that I’ve done a good job so far.A� I can’t tell if they are just being encouraging or actually mean it.A� However, they’ve both expressed interest in the hobby.A� Kevin said that he’d like to get back into it and Chris mentioned that he might give it a try.A� They are both more artistic than I am by a lot, so it will be interesting to see how much better theirs come out than mine if they do follow up.A� Also, who knows.A� Maybe we can actually get some games going, either in person with Chris or via Skype with either of them.A� All I know is that I’m having so much fun with this painting and even if they are only display pieces, at least I can show how much better I’m getting.A� I hope!
(Editor’s Note: A�We are back from our many adventures on Cape Cod and ready to get back into the business of bringing fun and interesting content.)
There are two games around here that we really enjoy, but often get pushed to the back burner due to my interest in other games. A�Most notably, Magic the Gathering takes all of my money and time and we don’t get a chance to play much else. A�One of those games, Dicemasters, has been given much more coverage recently due to my purchase of a gravity feed of the World’s Finest set and our rainbow draft of the set. A�The other game is Heroclix, and it might be one of my favorite games. A�Shame, then, that I don’t get to play it often.
Unlike Dicemasters, where my history is murky and forgotten, I remember exactly when and how I was introduced to Heroclix. A�I’m positive that I’ve told the story before, so I will give the abridged version here. A�We were in one of our favorite local gaming stores to pick up something Pokemon card related for Liam. A�While in the store, Aiden noticed the Heroclix and asked about them. A�I had wanted to get into miniature games for a while, so we picked up an Avengers starter set and played a few rounds with very limited rules.
To be fair, we are still playing with limited rules. A�However, we are much closer to playing the actual game than we were back then. A�There are still minor rules that we have changed or outright ignore. A�But, hey, we’re just playing around the kitchen table (sometimes literally), there’s no stakes to our games, and if we screw something up really badly, there’s always the option to take it back. A�So, what’s a little rules manipulation between friends and family?
At the same time that I purchased the World’s Finest Dicemasters gravity feed, I also bought a gravity feed of Wonder Woman Heroclix boosters. A�The idea was to play both games in June and report on them as part of a huge DC blowout in that month. A�But, it’s summer and the best laid plans and all that. A�The Heroclix lie, unopened, in the playroom. A�I know that it’s been promised before and there have been many false starts and I can’t say that this time won’t be different, but we have honestly gotten better about keeping a schedule and only really fell off the wagon for the month of July.
As mentioned in the editor’s note, we are back from our many adventures on Cape Cod and I’m ready to commit to the web page again. A�I already recorded the test pilot for my new one man show, “Snap, *censored*, Pop Culture” and I’ve put together a schedule for the month of August that we should be able to follow without issue and that will let us keep updating on a regular basis. A�Again, I promise nothing, but it has to happen eventually, right?
If nothing else, I’m ready to crack into that box and see what goodies we got. A�I don’t know if we will do a draft or any such thing or just throw the new characters into the box and build some teams, but I have been wanting to play some miniatures. A�So, we will definitely play Heroclix this weekend and I’ll be back with a report of some of my favorite minis from the Wonder Woman set. A�Hope you all enjoyed the time off as much as we did and we’ll see you in full force next week!
(Editor’s Note: A�Not very long ago in a teeny, tiny galaxy very near…)
More specifically, about a year ago and right here in this town, my friend introduced me to the X-Wing miniatures game. A�Long time readers know that I’ve been trying to get into miniatures for a couple of years. A�I even went as far as taking a painting class to try to jump start the process. A�It got me to purchase some of the models and even prime them. A�Then, I got no farther. A�Maybe this is finally the year that I branch out into the world of Hordes/War Machine. A�I have been reading the magazine quite a lot lately.
I also finally purchased my own copy of the X-Wing miniatures game. A�So, I am currently at the point in the process where I play prepainted miniatures and try to find the time to paint some of my own. A�It remains to be seen if I ever take the next step, but I am anxious to do so. A�We currently have nothing planned for the webpage and podcasts for August, so there’s a chance to motivate me to get the models ready for then.
While my friend had models from the original trilogy, the set that I ordered from Amazon because it was on sale has models from The Force Awakens. A�That doesn’t make a difference unless I go crazy and decide that I want to collect the various models. A�I don’t anticipate that happening because I’m a cheap ass gamer.
The reason that it doesn’t ultimately matter which set I got is that both sets come with the same types of ship models. A�There are two tie fighters and one X-wing. A�The box also comes with attack/defense dice, tokens, movement cards, and a rule book. A�You know, everything you’d expect in the box. A�It also has a learn to play book and a mission book. A�The game is very noob friendly and has a ton right out of the box to keep you playing even without spending money on the expansion ships. A�That’s good because those can get expensive.
Before we move on to the actual gameplay, I have a humorous (at least to me) story about my unboxing of the game. A�I’ve already told you most of what’s in the box. A�As I took each piece out, I gave it the obligatory “cool” or “neat” and the appropriate amount of attention. A�Look over the models for a few minutes after putting the tokens off to the side. A�Set aside the directions to read after inspecting the models. A�Then, “Oh wait, what’s this?” A�A book containing many of the other Fantasy Flight games? A�That’s interesting.
Interesting? A�I’ll say. A�I spent more time thumbing through the catalog and mentally making a list than anything else, the instructions included. A�I even texted Chris how excited I was to look through the catalog. A�I felt like a poor kid going window shopping at Christmas.
Okay, so maybe the story wasn’t that humorous, but you have to admit that it’s a bit silly that I spent money on this game and the thing that excited me most was the prospect of spending more money. A�Score one for the capitalist pigs!
Now, we’ve covered my background with the game and what’s in the box. A�All we have left to discuss is the actual gameplay. A�As mentioned, I don’t have extensive experience playing miniature games. A�Therefore, I don’t have anything to directly compare to the experience. A�However, I have read the rules to Hordes several times over, so I can more or less give an indirect comparison for those who have played those games. A�That will hopefully give you enough information to decide if the game is for you.
It is my understanding that X-Wing is a simpler and more streamlined version of a miniature game. A�I’m not sure how true that is becaues both Warhammer and Hordes have been working to simplify their rules. A�Still, there are only 4 defined phases in X-Wing and each of them requires only one or maybe 2 actions to resolve. A�Even when compared to an easier Hordes or Warhammer, X-Wing seems to be the more straight forward rules set. A�I know that we were able to finish two games in a half an hour to 45 minutes. A�I don’t think you can complete even one of those other games, let alone two in that time frame. A�I’m not saying that’s good or bad. A�I’m just trying to give an idea of what to expect. A�If you only have time for a quick game, X-Wing is the obvious choice.
So, the games are quick. A�But, are they fun? A�Spoiler alert: A�yes. A�that spoiled conclusion should come as no surprise. A�I liked the game enough to play it twice and then order it for myself and the boys. A�Yes, this game is a ton of fun.
The strategy element comes in right from the beginning of the turn because you have to anticipate your opponent’s movement and try to plan accordingly. A�Usually the first few turns are getting a feel for what the other player wants to do and use that to build your own plan. A�It is a game of cat and mouse that captures the feeling of discovering an enemy and initiating battle very well.
Once the feeling out process is completed and you settle into the main game, it is time to put that hard earned intel to the test. A�For the most part, I did well. A�There were a couple of times, though, that I made the wrong move. A�Being so new at the game, though, I can’t say which were mistakes on my part or whether my friend outmaneuvered me. A�I’m going to play again with the boys and try to keep track of the games better and the next game report will be more complete.
Until then, rest assured that the game is quick. A�It is fun. A�It is easy to pick up and play. A�It doesn’t require a huge time or money commitment simply to get all of the models set up. A�In short, it is the perfect way to get started in the hobby or take a break from the more grindy games.
(Editor’s Note: A�We actually made it through this article without infringing on Stan Lee’s Excelsior copyright. A�It hasn’t yet had the intended effect of getting sued by the Generalissimo, so maybe we’ll just drop that and try to get famous the old fashioned way. A�Then again, the well behaved rarely make history, so… A�Excelsior, fellow Marvelites, and tally ho into the world of Herocilx!)
Imagine, if you will, a future in which the entire Marvel Universe was put into Ant Man’s shrinkerator, or injected with shrinking serum, or however it is that he is making himself so tiny in this iteration of the character. A�Then, suppose that you could freeze those tiny heroes in a pose that best captures their character. A�Finally, what if you could then make those mini super powered beings team up, fight, or do whatever you wanted them to do. A�How cool would that be? A�Maybe not cool at all for them, but really cool for us. A�Well, wonder no longer, because we live in that future!
The Gamer Bros and I talked about Heroclix in the latest episode of Noob and Sons. A�Chris and I talked about it on the main show, too. A�We’ve both written articles about our experiences in the game. A�When introduced to it, I never thought that this game would become one of my most played and discussed. A�But, the gaming gods work in mysterious ways.
When Chris and I played, we were both overwhelmed by the sheer number of rules and interactions. A�Now that I’ve researched other miniature games, I understand that rules and interactions are par for the course in the genre. A�Moreover, those who are interested in such games actually prefer having all of those rule. A�I don’t mind having all the rules. A�It is a trade off for having such a dynamic game environment.
However, one of the times that Chris and I tried to play was later at night and I just could not focus well enough to finish the game. A�Also, that rule set can be intimidating and scare off new players. A�That is the reason that I’m focusing so heavily on the rules in this article. A�I tried playing the game with Aiden when he was younger because he was the first to buy the figures. A�He had to play with a greatly reduced rules set just so that he could enjoy himself. A�Lesson learned, I suppose. A�these games are not for the weak.
Still, the games with Chris inspired me to play more. A�It was during Christmas break, so I only had the boys as partners. A�Even though they are both older, I don’t think that they have the patience for the actual rules. A�Heck, as we’ve seen, I barely have the patience sometimes.
I looked up ways to play more than two players. A�The version I found most intriguing was called “King of the Hill”. A�You mark off a 3 by 3 (or maybe 4 by 4) area in the middle of the map, designate 4 potential starting zones and the teas battle to be king of the hill. A�We awarded points based on the number of characters on the “hill” during our first game. A�That turned out to be neither fair nor representative because larger teams with more characters received a potential disproportionate number of points. A�In an attempt to fix that, we recorded the point values of the characters in the “hill”. A�The effect of this was actually two fold. A�First, it gave all teams access to the maximum number of points. A�Second, it added strategy to the games in that you wanted to target the higher value opponents and keep them off the “hill”.
The other consideration when playing with the boys is the actual rules of the game. A�I already discussed this aspect a little bit. A�From movement to special powers, line of sight to push damage, the rules set of any miniature game is overwhelming. A�Heroclix, because it is geared to a younger audience is less so. A�Still, there is a ton of information to process each turn. A�We eliminated all special powers in the first game. A�Chris and I spent most of our time looking up the powers on our phones and computers, so that one step eliminated most of the idle time and made the game faster.
We played with powers in the second and third games. A�By then, though, I had played enough that I knew most of the powers and the rest only required a quick reference check to remind myself. A�The only thing left was to tackle the somewhat convoluted movement rules of the game. A�I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I don’t fully understand how actual movement is supposed to work each turn, so we simplified that, too.
Each character got one move or attack per turn. A�You could take “push” damage to give the option of a second action on any character. A�This method improved the flow of the game and kept the action at appropriate comic book levels. A�As I said, I don’t fully know the actual rules, so I’m not sure how different our version is from the official. A�I do know that it worked for me and the boys and Chris is open to trying them, too, the next time we play.
Now that we’ve worked out the things about the game that we didn’t like, it is a fun game. A�We have been busy and not able to play at all since the games at Christmas, but summer is coming and we will have more time. A�Who knows, as we play more, maybe we’ll go back to the actual rules of the game. A�Probably not, though, because I like our version.
Noob and Sons return triumphantly and spring back into the podcast with two of our favorite games.
The Digital Playground – We cover the whole range of Mario games and the various spinoffs. Jump into the action with us!
On the Tabletop – We join forces with Earth’s mightiest mini heroes with some ideas for those of you who want to get into miniature games. The conversation focused on Heroclix, but we talked briefly about other games, too.
Join us next time when we talk about Splatoon and Aiden’s new favorite card game, Yu Gi Oh.
Noob and Sons
[Noob and Sons] Episode 3 - Spring Back Into Gaming
(Editor’sA�Note: A�There are no mistakes. A�Just happy little accidents. A�Except that paint that I got on the base of the model. That’s a mistake.)
Over the last few years, mainly because of the web page and podcast, I have become interested in new games and even new types of games. A�Before starting the page, Chris and I mostly just played Magic the Gathering for our tabletop entertainment. A�Since then, though, we’ve branched out into Dicemasters and Heroclix as diversions. A�Heroclix, in particular, will be the focus of the next two articles.
Heroclix, as we’ve discussed, is a more cost efficient introduction into miniature games. A�I will talk more about it in my next article, either tomorrow or Wednesday. A�Today, I mention Heroclix because it has brought my interest in miniature games back to the front. A�I haven’t actually taken the leap into any of the games, but I did sign up for a learning how to paint miniatures class A�so that when I do finally take the plunge, I will have a quality army to present at games.
(Note: A�Image Missing. A�I looked for a picture of the unpainted model, but I can’t seem to find one. A�I found some terrible paint jobs. A�I’m not saying that I’m a professional by any stretch, but these ones looked bad. A�The best that I can do is my primed model from the first class shown below.)
As mentioned above, the first day was all about getting used to the process. A�We chose a miniature (either one that we owned or one that they provided), assembled it, and primed it. A�I looked over the models provided by the instructor and found one that required the least assembly and looked to be the easiest to paint since I’m a total noob and I just didn’t want to screw it up too badly.
To be honest, I wondered how we would spend an hour and a half doing just those steps, but the in between time allowed for questions and general chat among the class and the instructor. A�As I wrote on my Facebook, they are an eclectic bunch. A�One works at Old Sturbridge Village during the summer making pottery and another is a PhD student in polymer engineering at UMass. A�I learned about the different types of glue, paint, and models available and I am much more informed now when I go to make a purchase.
The second class was actual painting and I have to admit that I was very overwhelmed by the process. A�I even asked at one point, “Is anyone else paralyzed by choice?” after staring at my model for over 45 minutes. A�I looked at the paint choices. A�I searched online. A�I found nothing that helped until one of the other participants said something about looking at the model in pieces instead of a whole. A�Then, someone else suggested that I take a piece of the model with a large surface area. A�Both of those ideas got me on the right track. A�I grabbed one of the greens A�because I wanted to make him more of a wood elf than a high elf and I didn’t want to go crazy with the color scheme. A�I painted his cape that green color and was off to the races.
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