The party is almost upon us and here are some things we’ve confirmed so far:
Firstly: We’re child friendly! Well some of us are, and we hope the event will be too. See below for more details.
Secondly: Everythings free! All of it. We aren’t charging a penny for any of it. Not even for the cake. Not for the Magic events, the tables, the chairs, no entry fees, not stock to buy, no product there to sell. It’s our birthday and we want to celebrate, have fun and not be bothered about money for a day. We’re even closing the shop. The bar sadly is not free, though it is quite reasonably priced.
As for what’s happening this is a taste of what we’re planning:
Battletech: My ‘Mech mangling buddy Harlan will be joining us for the day to run a table with as much Battletech as we can fit on it. Well maybe not quite that much as the table is huge but quite a lot. We’ll have all our map sheets, old ’Mech sheets, new ’Mech sheets, old models and new rulebooks, including Alpha Strike so if you’ve been tempted before but couldn’t make it on a Tuesday then you should give it a bash. There will be a beginners game of light ’Mech Royal Rumble carnage as well as some bigger scenarios for the more intrepid of you.
Lego Swap Table: I’ve recently started collecting Lego Minifigs and like all collectors I have lots of copies of some and none of too many. Our in-house Lego expert Oliver will be on hand to help and we’ll be running a table for anyone and everyone to bring their swaps. All trades will be on a one for one basis to keep things simple and fun and we trust that people will be fair and honest.
Star Wars Pocket Model TCG: In a similar vein to Pirates of the Spanish Main, this is a blast from the past that turned up while I was clearing some of my boxes in that attic at home. Not content with a 10 foot long Death Star trench, I also have a tin full of these models, cards and even some rulebooks to tempt you with.
Kids are welcome and we even have stuff for them to do: While not every game is suited to those of a younger disposition and while we also may not always cater directly to their toy and game related needs we do appreciate it’s good to be able to bring them along and make them a part of it all too. There will be a box full of Lions to play with, pass the parcel and other party games through the day, a big tub of Lego to build with, some children’s board games from the old to the new, a travel cot for when its needed and other goodies. As always though, you should supervise your own children at all times.
Magic the Gathering: We’re running fun casual drafts and sealed deck tournaments all day, with events using a variety of our own specially created magic boosters. Not just our previously seen pauper packs and princely draft packs will be involved but we will also have new all foil booster packs. These will be randomly inserted into each pods selection of product and if you promise to play and have fun, we’ll promise to be more generous with the foils. There will also be a free Theros booster draft in the afternoon. Everyone who plays til the end of any fun event will be entered into a draw for one of the 8 places no matter where they rank in that event. Multiple events means multiple entries in the draw too. Registration for the first events opens at 11 on the day and we will not be taking pre-registrations. Pods of 8 will start as soon as they are full and events will run all day.
Star Wars RPG Demo’s: One of our regulars Chris Nutt will be running 2 demo games during the birthday. One game of Edge of Empire RPG and one of the new Age of Rebellion Beta by Fantasy Flight Games. Given how well these have both been received and Chris’s obvious enthusiasm for them, it’s worth grabbing a change to give one or both of them a bash. Registration on the day.
The Games Collection and Demo Games: We’ll be bringing along a choice selection from our demo games and I’ll also be bring the best and some of the more unique games from my collection. Some of what we’ll have there includes Settlers (obviously), 7 Wonders, Pandemic, Guillotine, Star Trek: Attack Wing, History of the World, Buntu Circus, Diplomacy (maybe not, its supposed to be a happy event) Antler Island, Snow Tails, Apples to Apples, Cash n Guns, the Battletech Trading Card Game and many more. Expect updates to the list as I pack on Saturday.
15 Cakes: So far I have 11 confirmed cakes. I hope to hear back about 2 more tomorrow. If you’d like to volunteer to bake a cake for us and save everyone from having to eat something I make then drop the shop and email. There will be rewards too. You don’t want to eat my cake. I can’t bake.
Star Wars X-Wing: a 10 foot trench. The wood arrived today and construction will begin on Friday. At ten feet long and almost 5 feet wide, this will be an awesome spectacle to see if nothing else. We’ll have all our mini’s along and we’re even going to open some more up for the day. Bring your own figures down or if you don’t have any borrow a few of ours. Rules for the scenario and trench run will be posted up when I finish writing them but it will be playable by people of all skill levels and this event will run all day.
Carcassonne: The grudge match at 5! There’s a story behind it but at 5 o’clock (all going to plan) Paul and I will need the Carcassonne set from the Demo games. We have a score to settle.
Pass the parcel: It was such a success at our 10th birthday party that we thought we’d have games of pass the parcel with prizes more catered to our older customers too.
Presents, prizes and random give-aways all day: 15 years is a long time to accumulate stuff and I’ve always had the luxury of a very large basement to use for storage. All day long there will be random prizes, freebies and presents comprising some of the good, the bad and the truly unique from the last 15 years, so even if you don’t come and play in an event you never know what you might walk away with.
Doors open on Sunday at 11am at the Victoria Park Hotel on Ferry Road on Sunday and will run until the evening and we hope to see you there.
Just look at it. This is only some of it. There will be more if its needed…
This week I’ll be building the parts for our big birthday Star Wars X-Wing game. The frame and actual trench are no problem. The scenery is though. That’s 40 square feet of play space just for the sides of the trench… So Lego comes to the rescue once again :D
Fancy helping contribute to the big game but not going to make it? Love Lego but don’t get an excuse to play with it very often? Do you just feel like playing with someone else’s bits for a change? Whatever the reason, this week is a grand excuse to indulge your building whims as we try to make enough gun turrets, radar dishes and anything else we can think of to fill the boards with. I’ve loved lego since I got my first set when I was about 3 and I’m constantly amazed by how many of my customers love it, had it and don’t anymore so I’m looking forward to indulging myself in lego for a week and I hope some of you will join me.
There will also be prizes awarded for the best pieces built in the shop this week :D
Why You Should Play BattleTech by Harlan McGlinchey
Part the first:
BattleTech! What a name. BattleTech is a bit of an oddity in gaming. While not being quite the household name that Games Workshop's Warhammer games are it is nonetheless a very well known franchise. It even got an animated show! And it wasn't entirely awful! Not many tabletop wargames can claim that. It seems to be a game that exists on many gamers peripheral vision. I have often heard it said of BattleTech that while one might be glad of its continued existence in gaming, one is probably not prepared to invest the effort to actually play it. I find this view rather compelling.
There are plenty of games I’m not interested in playing and would care little if they were to disappear but to enjoy the existence of something without actively taking part in it seems to suggest to me there is more going on here. This view would appear to say that by merely existing BattleTech enriches the landscape of gaming, as only giant robots from an 80’s vision of the far future can. Perhaps it is a reassuring presence on the gaming shop shelf, giving the hobby, in the same way early editions of Dungeons and Dragons can, a sense of time and of heritage; the bewildering array of rule and source books, the odd slightly wonky ‘Mech peering at you from the dusty yellowed confines of a neglected blister pack “He looks a decent sort, that wonky robot.” you think to yourself “One just doesn't have the time to get to know him.” However, as with a fascinating auld yin propping up a bar with wit and improbable stories, perhaps you should make time.
This very view of BattleTech is, of course, exactly why you should invest in BattleTech. You have to wonder just why this curious game has lasted as long as it has, clutching at the fringes of mainstream gaming (and it really has been precarious at times). It rather helps that BattleTech is about giant robots engaging in regular Pacific Rim smack-downs. I think all gamers can agree it is very hard for a giant robot to be a bad thing but there has to be more to it; BattleMechs haven’t always been the only robots smashing up the block but none can claim to have been doing it for as long.
For games to last the test of time I believe they need something beyond good, or even aggressive, marketing. They need soul. They need heart. BattleTech's, like all good games, comes from the stories you create with it. Think of your gaming stories. The anecdotes we tell to convey just how amazing a certain game was and how fantastic this hobby is. There are stories we tell years after the event because they still entertain us, stories we use to connect with old friends and imbue new ones with enthusiasm for our favourite games. Stories are a hugely important part of life, the hobby at large and, of course, these stories are just as important in wargames.
Think of your wargaming stories. How many of those stories are "Remember when that grunt survived longer than he should have." or “Remember when my space troopers shot that monster and I rolled all those 6’s.”? There’s nothing wrong with these, such moments of daft improbability create interesting tactical choices and ratchet up the tension in a game but in all my years of wargaming (since I was 6) they tend to all sound pretty similar. Sure, BattleTech has those moments too but it also has moments where you shoot the head off a ‘Mech, tear its arm off then beat its friends with the oily end. It has moments where out of sheer desperation you drive a tank off a cliff to crush the ‘Mech stood below. Moments when after your ‘Mech has been pummelled and fallen to the ground, the enemy moves in for the kill and you fire your jump jets at it, like some sort of robot death fart, melting its legs and leading to a robot cripple death match as you both flail around on the ground next to each other. Moments when your opponents cries of joy at hitting your ‘Mech’s ammunition bin turn to wails of anguish as they realise their ‘Mech gets caught in the blast. Perhaps importantly all these things are driven by player choice. The dice provide some unpredictability but you chose to beat a robot to death with its own limb or to wrestle a tank turret. Even when you fail it still builds on the story and there are pretty much always consequences; player choice and game mechanics meshing to paint a picture of ridiculous feudalistic robot warfare.
It’s a funny game. One of the funniest I've ever played. Every game seems to turn up some sort of noteworthy event and every game makes me laugh. I laugh when I’m winning. I laugh when I’m losing. At the same time it manages to be a very atmospheric game. The ‘Mechs feel like lumbering armoured behemoths, they feel like they could lay waste to a city. Campaign play increases the scope of your narrative and has you managing your pilots, watching MechWarrior Jimmy work his way up the ranks and the techs cobbling repairs together for his ‘Mech. Gamers have been making stories with BattleTech for more than twenty five years and I plan to tell many more of my own. Perhaps you should too, it’s easier than you probably think it is and I’ll be explaining just how easy and looking into the mechanics of the game for the next part.
I'd say I remember it well but it was 15 years ago and some bits are getting a bit hazy...
Firstly though, thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible through the last 15 years and to all the friends I've made. I've worked in all kinds of jobs in the past and running a games shop, while never easy, is always rewarding in a way that few other jobs are, so thank you everyone.
In case you don't know, we opened in the basement of Flip Inc. on South Bridge. We had 2 sets of shelves with about 20 books and a couple of boxes of doomtown. I think we even had some dice left over after Shevy bought her lot for Shadowrun. That was third edition. That was also a long time ago in a basement that seems so far far away these days.
Anyway, rather than reminisce here all day, I'd rather you came down to the shop, said hello and reminisced with me or just enjoy the chat. I'll be here til 6ish today There will hopefully be cake at some point, lego minifigs for the kids, random prizes, freebies and to incentivise you even more if you're still not sure, we're having a 15% in-store discount all day today. Wooo! Birthday discounts for all!
You could also say hello to our newest Lion, Schwarz-Noir P.I. who I should have mentioned a while ago but I'm very bad at the internet. Thats why I don't do facebook, as I'm sure some of you are aware. Anyway, with many thanks, he was added to the pride by Chris and Roz Furness with more than a little constructive advice from little Sakura :) Crocheted, stuffed and stitched together by their own hand, he has taken pride of place by the till. You may have seen him. Email me at the shop with the story of why he now has the grey streak in his hair and the best one I receive before 15:15 on the 15th of October wins a 15% discount voucher and a special prize pack...