Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Circus is Coming!

Hi friends,
Like you, I have a loved one with an irrational fear of clowns, and I share your frustration over the lack of opportunities to use this for our amusement.  That's why I've created,
 A fun-filled extravaganza big-top of your very own, to populate with your favorite axe-wielding serial killers, diabolical vivisectionists, sadistic psychopaths and alcohol-dependent woodland creatures kidnapped from their homes and enslaved for public entertainment, watching... waiting... for their moment to STRIKE!!!
When fully assembled, the circus big-top consists of the roof and support frame as separate pieces, so that your victims players can venture indoors... IF THEY DARE.

Seriously folks, this is my first attempt at designing a cardstock model and it came out great on the third try, so with an 0-2 count I got a hit!  If I can put together some reasonable directions, and have sufficient positive feedback, I may make this available to the public somehow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Longest Running Project I've Ever Had

Actually, I think it was around 1998.  (Checks Google) Nope, had to be about January 2000.  Episode I came out in May of 1999, and while shopping an after Christmas sale at my local Target, I saw this on clearance for seven dollars:

Most importantly, it came with this one plastic figure.  About 35-40mm tall, close enough to my Warzone 28mm for a horrible groaner of a joke:

I bought it and later that afternoon presented it to my then seven year old daughter, who expressed little interest, but was polite enough to try to play the game with me.  Moments into actual game play, with all the brutal honesty children of that age are loved for, she said to me, "Daddy, this game is stupid.  Jar Jar Binks is stupid and I don't like him.  Can I have some chocolate milk?"

These words filled me with joy and inspiration, and I immediately said, "you're right, this game is just junk, let's make some chocolate milk", and I made glasses for each of us that we drank while ceremoniously throwing the game into the trash can outside.  Everything except that orange plastic symbol of everything wrong with George Lucas' decision to prioritize merchandise sales above making a great movie.  That went to the Mountain of Lead in preparation for what was to come.

Fast forward to Dragon Con 2000, the last one I attended.  Chris (Valpurgius) Seebacher and I were hosting our third Warzone demo and tournament; the 'gang' had grown to the point where we had ten tables in continuous use, only two were for demos. That JarJar figure had been painted and made cameo appearances in nearly every photo of tournaments and demos as everybody passed it to each other.  After the third and last round of the tournament, we presented swag as prizes at our "#1" table, which had been cleared of most of the terrain while Jar Jar stood alone in the center of the battlefield.  After the prizes were awarded we asked the group, "now, anybody who wants to can grab one squad and one individual to try and kill Jar Jar Binks".

I had figured this would get a few laughs and smart comments and that maybe two or three people would want to get in a quick pickup game.  The reaction was intense as some people actually ran to retrieve their miniatures before the table filled completely.  We ended up with 11 or 12 players crowding each other as they placed their units on the edge of a 4'X4' battlefield, and the smack talk was loud and proud.  Initiatives were rolled and the order of play sorted out; when I announced that JarJar would be taking his actions fourth in the order, the table went silent as every pair of eyes locked on me with the realization that killing JarJar was not going to be all that easy.

Units surged forward under command of the first three players and then I leaned in, rolled a d12 and scatter dice and read the results from my chart.  "Jar Jar runs from the advancing troops into a unit of battle droids, becomes tangled with one and it's blaster begins firing randomly", and measured Jar Jar's random movement, rolled the scatter dice again and placed a blast template which caught two figures and told the controlling player to make an armor save.  Evil grins developed on every player and the rest of the turn involved movement that was much more tactical than the first players, and then it was Chris Seebacher's turn.

I have to take an aside here to properly describe Chris Seebacher.  The guy is frighteningly intelligent, has a photographic memory and is a brilliant tactician, whether you're programming a computer, role-playing or fighting a battle, but the really scary part about Chris is his positively evil sense of humor.  I served five years in a Long Range Surveillance Company with Chris and wasn't the first person to call him by his well-earned nickname, "Blue Falcon".

Seebacher examined the tactical situation for only an instant before announcing, "I'm firing at Aimee's squad", and rolling to hit his neighbor's unit.

Shouts of, "oh, it's ON!" erupted from the group and for several game terms, everybody prioritized eliminating their competition over the actual game objective.  Eventually, the players, with only a tiny bit of assistance from JarJar, killed each other until there were only two players left, with only a few miniatures each, but every single player stayed, commented and cheered as if they were watching the Superbowl.  I don't remember who won, because I believe to this day that everybody walked away from the table, "winning", and the entire group went for pizzas in a cloud of nonstop laughter.

Here's some previews of my "new and improved" game of killing Jar Jar Binks.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Fort Frontenaut, 7 September 1638

“We are most honored that you grace us with your presence, Your Majesty and Your Holiness”.

Queen Anne and Cardinal Richelieu both smiled in the predawn twilight and the cardinal replied, “As we are grateful for your hospitality Captain d’Iberville.  We do plan on staying in Ville-Marie for an extended period; Her Majesty is still distraught over King Louis’ untimely demise and we pray that the autumn colors here sooth her wearied soul”.


“I pray this is the case, Your Holiness.  For now, I offer you what hospitality I may in this rugged place.  I’ve sent our best hunters in search of our afternoon repast; God willing, they shall return with some turkeys or an elk, which while subtly different from the fowl and venison of our homeland are quite tasty.”

The queen inclined her head and replied, “That sounds most wonderful, Governor.  For now, I need rest; we were unable to sleep during the journey here last night, and ask that I take my leave with my handmaid, Kaliyah.”

The Captain and Cardinal bowed slightly and then silently watched as the exotic Kobold led the queen to the captain’s quarters, temporarily surrendered to Her Highness during this impromptu visit.  Only after the handmaid had closed the door did Richelieu turn to the officer and speak.

“You know of course, that the queen’s allegiance to her brother may very well betray us.  Spain is also feeling the pressure as followers of the pagans exert their control over the continent.”

Raising an eyebrow, the d’Iberville leaned toward the cleric, “So the rumors are true?  The Norse have risen now that Gustav Adolph is dead?”

“Verily, the rumors are true”, replied the Cardinal.  “Even as the Celts reassert Britain over England and Brittany, the Baltic is aflame as the Swedes, Dutch and Finns reject Christ, falling to Satan’s false promises in the guise of a return of the Norse gods, and while many have fled to New Amsterdam, the Dutch have a taste for bloody vengeance against Spain for their years of oppression.”

“Perhaps then the Spanish will ally through ties of blood and common enemies?”

“If only it were so simple.  While the Spanish will ally with us for the immediate future, their holdings in Cuba and New Spain are neither large enough, laden with sufficient resources nor secure from the Dutch pagans for a promising future.  They covet westward expansion across the new world so that they might build strong defenses against Cromwell’s witches, and will likely attempt to absorb the French people here in America.”

“On my honor as an officer of the French crown, Your Holiness,  that shall not come to pass”, replied the captain.

Richelieu raised an eyebrow and cocked his head before speaking, “God shall be with us”.  

Meanwhile, at a ford across the Hudson river...

Episode 1