My own personal rant zone

I set up this place so I can mostly talk about Tabletop Gaming...but occasionally some other stuff too...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Least we forget...

20 years ago today, 7 people gave their lives up in the pursuit of Space Exploration. Have a quick read through this article linked below. It is worth a few moments of your time, on a day where we should bow our heads and thank these people for their sacrifice.

7 Myths about the Challenger Explosion

In the end, these brave souls made their way to the heavens...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Time to reflect...

Ya know, I don't say things like this enough, but it is sure a good time to be a gamer. I realized this the other afternoon as I was forcing myself to sit and look at my free time. I am one of those people that has FAR more interests than time, and occasionally I just like to sit and think about where my free time is going, and if I am using it in a way that makes me happy. Yeah, I was doing that thing again where I had WAY too much to do, little time to do it, so hence...i was doing none of it. So, I think I am down to focusing on the following hobbies in my (sad little) life:

1. Painting and building more minis. I have been doing this since I was a kid, and when I don't make it an obligation to myself, I have a blast. I am not bad at it, but am such a perfectionist, that I am SUPER slow. I am working to get over that, get some paint on the minis, and get some games in.

2. Reading more RPGs. I hate rules. I really do. I am always the jackass at the game who is a great role-player, but gets totally stymied once actual mechanics get involved. If I could get myself in a place to actually enjoy reading RPGs (even the rules parts of them), I think I would enjoy that aspect of gaming even more. So, that's on the list.

3. Work on Photography again. I have an awesome Digital SLR...I need to use it more...

So, I started this off by saying that this is a great time to be a gamer...then went on this rant about free time. Why? Because there is SO much out there right now. On the short list of minis games, if I had time for them all, I would be playing: Infinity, Warmachine (and the upcoming Hordes), Battletech and Starship Troopers. I currently have some of that on my painting table at home, and am trying my hardest not to have some of all of it there. Each of those games really hits me in different places. I wanna play them all! I can't think of another time in my gaming "career" that there have been that many good options...
In terms of damn. I am in an every other week game, and we are jumping into the Iron Kingdoms. But heck, look at all the variety now: Dogs in the Vineyard, Iron Heros, Mountain WItch, Mutants and Masterminds. The inner unwashed geek in me just wants to throw a hallelujah out!

And that list only scratches the surface...what a GREAT time to be a gamer. I don't think I say stuff like that enough...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In the "Where the hell have you been" category...

So, I just had the opportunity to play Fantasy Flight's Wings of War: Famous Aces. Boy is that a good time. In a nut shell, you take control of one of the more famous WWI type aircraft and go head to head against your opponent for some dog fighting goodness. You have cards which dictate your movement and you choose 3 cards per turn in advance. Then you keep them hidden as you both reveal each one similtaniously, one-by-one. Coming into range with each other forces the draw of one or two damage cards depending on how far away you are from each other. Your damage is also kept hidden from your opponent to keep 'em guessing. You keep spiraling in your dance of death until one of you shoots the other down. (Or manage to shoot each other down at the same time like happened last night).

It's a damn solid beer and pretzels game with little basis in reality (much to the chargin of my good friend - "The eh-Steve." A hint of his inner grognard jumped out last night, which was hillarious.) It takes no time to learn, and is just good, plain fun.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fleeing the WizKids Tyranny, the latest CCG, Galatica...

Ok, I am a little surprised at myself. For as much as I wanna like CCGs, I just don't. I don't like the deck building components, and the amount of study to know all the cards. I get creamed by subtle rules that I am just not ready to put into memory. Then comes the BSG CCG, and it looks like they have thrown a political component in there, and got me interested. I like political games. I don't get the chance to play them often, but I like 'em all the same. If they can really get in there that works...I may have to give it a shot. Wizkids has done nothing but surprise me this last year...and maybe they are gonna again?

Have a glance at the card here

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 sure sounds interesting.

OK, I just came across a discussion on:

The Godlike RPG GM Screen

Seems like Arc Dream doesn't have enough cash on hand to get this thing printed, so they are asking people to pay up front in a no risk environment. Have a glance at the link for the actual deal.
So, I know Hex and Counter wargames have done something like this for years, but it is the technology involved that intrigues me. Not only that it makes it so easy to "put your money where your mouth is" but that if not enough other people do harm no extra paperwork. Refunding money need not be done by the publisher.
So what if this got popular enough? Say someone who owned the rights to your favorite game was willing to bring some never to be published supplements for it, proposed this kind of offer to you. Would you do it? Of course this same product could be a brand new game, from a place like The Forge.

I can think of a few games, or miniatures I would jump at the chance.


So, in response to the new iLife '06 product suite, I told my friend Brian that "If Apple can make mediacasting even easier,
they keep winning." He thought I should blog and claim the I am. If you see it anywhere else, I am suing.


Steven Spielberg is quaking in his boots....

Or maybe he is WoWing in his boots...


So with the rampant paranoia in the gaming industry about World of Warcraft being all 4 horsemen of the apocalypse wrapped up in one sweet MMORPG package, I got to thinking. If it is indeed the end of tabletop gaming as we know it...maybe it applies in other arenas of life as well. Like the movie industry. I mean, come on, we are all reading about how much it tanked last year...maybe it was because of all those crazy kids _making their own movies with WoW_.

The Internet is for Porn (SFW Video, kinda NSFW Lyrics). If the link doesnt work, just type "The Internet is for Porn" into the search field, and look for the World of Warcraft dudes...

With this, I remove my tounge from my cheek and head off to wait for the MWSF announcements....

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Thought begets hate, hate begets pain, pain begets war, war begets heresy.... our greatest enemy is thought"

Me thinks the fine folks at Games Workshop have been drinking their own koolaid for far too long now. Have a glance at the below link:

Games Workshop warns on profit as Ring cycle ends

Hmmm. So people in the industry (not GW people) have been seeing this coming all last year. It's my humble opinion that GW went way, way too deep into the Lord of the Rings product line. Probably sounded like a great idea a few years back, when you couldn't huck a cow pie without hitting some LoTR branded product. Now...woo boy, they are hating it. Now, I am clear that a bunch of the things I mention below were forced by the license agreement they were "forced" into, so there ya go. The LoTR minis game had some serious fundamental flaws from the get-go:

- The minis were smaller than all the other standard GW games.
Customers who might have bought into the game to use the figures for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, didn't. Lost a nice source of additional sales due to scale.
- Independent retailers were sold the line on a "Short Discount"
Wether GW would like to believe it or not, indy retailers are a good thing for them. They help grow their brand and mind-share, and increase their range of people they can touch. By offering the game at a discount smaller than they offer for their other standard lines, many chose not to bring it in.
- The game should have followed a more "traditional army format" rather than a battle of good vs. evil.
Allowing people to play whatever good guys against whatever bad-guys you could muster sure may have seemed like a GREAT the end, it allowed people (mainly kids picked up this game it seems) to cheery pick the "cool minis" and ignore the core units for the game. If they had done codexes, similar to the ones they do for 40k and Fantasy, I think they would have sold oodles more minis in the end.

I think the main thing that really ended up hurting GW the most was the abandonment of the rotating third game, that they had done for years prior to LoTR. One of my business partners handed me this theory, and I think he is right on. So, every year or so, back in the day, GW would have two main games (Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battle) and a third game. Games in the past were Mighty Empires, Man-O-War, Talisman, Battlefleet Gothic, Epic, and the list goes on. They would push 40k for a while, then maybe Fantasy...then boom, they would lay down another game. This would not only throw some cash in the coffers by having all this new product on the market, it would essentially distract the hardcore GW consumers from their main two games, allowing them to take a break for a while. Then, as that third game wound down, GW would get aggressive with new releases for their core games...old would become new again, thus exciting.
Fast forward to today where all those "third games" are gone. They live in the specialist games category, but really seem to be gathering a bunch of dust in terms of mind-share. They only have their core two games, and LoTR as the third, and sadly, the third is really targeting a different base of customers.
Now we combine this with the fact that GW is faced with some of it's strongest competition in it's history. Veterans are leaving in droves for games like Flames of War (15mm WWII), Warmachine (steam powered fantasy), and the two Rackham games. So not only do they have competition, they are no longer innovating. For next year, we are going to see things like revisions to the Tau Army and Redos on the Eldar line (for the how many-eth time?) People are just getting bored. Tie this all together with being one of the most expensive games to play at a tournament level...bad times.

It is this retail store owners humble opinion that unless they revaluate their business model, these losses will not jump back into the black anytime soon.

Maybe the third time is the charm?

So, yeah.

This is the third time I have tried to keep a blog. The other two times failed mainly do to an overwhelming feeling that if I wasn't posting al the time, I was doing a "bad job." Well, screw that. I am committed to only say what I gotta say, when I gotta say it. I also think I have more to talk about now-a-days, so hopefully that will make it all that much easier.
I am thinking a short introduction is in order. I am Chris Hanrahan. I am a husband to a lovely wife, father to two great kids, owner of a fantastic game store in Oakland, Ca called Endgame, and a gaming fool. I also do a gaming podcast with the fine folks over at Ogrecave on a semiregular basis.

As you can see by the profusion of gaming mentions, a lot of my life revolves around gaming in some aspect or another. Being a retailer in the "industry," I find myself thinking about and talking about gaming more along business lines than the mechanics or rules side of things. It seems we go into that a bunch on the Podcast as well. Many of the posts you see here will be along those lines as well.

I am also a HomeTheatre and Mac nut, so that will creep in here as well. If I was able to cruise more aboard fabulous ocean liners, that would be here as well...but that's only done every year or two, so you are safe there.

Anyway...that's the intro. For better or for worse, let's try and kick this pig off, and make it stick...this time.