Model Growth

Building a model has plenty of things to teach the builder, especially when the builders are children. As part of Warhammer 40k armies have vehicles. Vehicles are two things, expensive and in many pieces. Thus, being a good parent I had each child earn the money to purchase their vehicles. Unexpectedly, they worked harder than I expected and earned the money in record time.

Expensive not out of the way, but covered by their diligent work.

Next up, many pieces.

Games Workshop models, all varities, have directions. The quality of the directions have changed over the years with the most recent directions being the best; high resolution images, multiple views, and easy to follow steps. Older instructions are bad. Just plain bad; low resolution images, single view, and often five of more steps giving with one illustration with no indication of what order the pieces are assembled.

Our children got kits with older instructions. I told them that I would be there to assist with the models expecting that I would be the one building the entire kit. A big reason I am pushing 40k on the kids are the numerous skills that they can learn, especially building models.

Patience, building a model takes patience. Rushing a build, as our son found out, can lead to some interesting problems, such as their not being enough space for the driver without breaking off some other parts.

Problem solving, reading and interpreting instructions is one thing, figuring out how pieces fit together another and when something goes wrong, see above, how you handle or solve the issue is another.

Creativity, they could build the kits as is or they could get creative. Our boy added parts from one kit to another and our girl worked out the look that appealed to her most.

Three skills I am more than happy for them to learn. Still I expected to end up building the models. Imagine my surprise when they built all of their kits with minimal assistance from me. Our boy learned the hard way that rush building leads to complications, such as the driver not fitting without some modification. He learned to interpret the instructions, such as when one image shows at least ten different parts going on the same piece at the same time. He learned how to problem solve when interpretation failed and he had to cut off a piece to get other pieces in place. Our girl watched her brother and decided not to rush the build. Good for her. She still had to learn to read the instructions. Interestingly enough she did not run into the same issues as he did.

When they finished I had offered suggestions and confirmed parts a few times, showed them how to use rubber bands to hold parts together, put decals on, and reinforce that they could indeed build their own vehicles. Now I have to deal with them on the tabletop. 🙂

Final Thoughts

No the blog is not coming to an end. This is about our thoughts about our back-to-back comic book convention experiences. Over all a great time.

All of us found unique items that appealed to them and most of us. The shopping while entertaining and took up most of our time was not where the great time came from though.

For Barb, meeting Wil Wheaton and spending quality time with all of us was here great time.

For the kids, again Wil Wheaton, missing a day of school, being away from home, and last but not least the stuff they bought with their own money. 

For me, family time, family time, and more family time. I got to watch the kids grow. Each of them was faced with one or more delimas, all money related, where they had to make a choice. Our boy spent 45 minutes weighing the pros and cons, eventually settling on the realization that “want” is not a good reason. As a result of his decision he got a great deal the next day.

Our girl, she went with “want,” but she’s younger. Watching her deal with spending money was insightful, as there is a process. Like I said, growth.

I met several new artists who I hope to talk to again. Met a famous artist whoover omelets. Saw Wil Wheaton’s head. And had a lot of fun.

As always there are the things we learned, such as hotel choice really matters, All Seaons in Kalkaska,great. While Comfort Inn in Wixom with the stains on the ceiling, bed, bathroom, and no forks, bad.

Sleep is mandatory.

Children need their own room, a thought for later.

Pace events better.

Know where local food nearby is located

Pack more snacks and food from home to reduce cost

Rest more

Talk to more people

VIP passes are a thing and may be worth the cost

Go with things in mind, cuts down on impulse purchases

Did I mention sleep?

Puddles and Whiskers will return tomorrow.

Games We Play: Food Can Wait, We Are Gaming

We are a gamer family, you know this, but I like to establish some credentials first. 🙂 While home we play big games. Games that take time and space to play. Such as Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Warhammer, and Forbidden Stars. Between big games we play smaller gamers. Games that take little time and space to play. Such as Get Bit, Roll For It, and Tiny Epic Galaxies or Kingdoms.

Our boy, after watching Tabletop Star Realms episode, wanted a deck of his own to take to school. Awesome, he wants to teach his friends how to play and start his own gamer group. Fully behind this and secretly hoping traveling games would travel with us, I got him his own deck.

And that deck went to school the next day. My only guidelines, no playing class, no variant rules (he likes to make his own rules that ensure his victory and everyone elses dislike of his variant rule), and if you get the deck taken away from you at school you are on your own for getting a new deck.

Each day a new game report, mostly interrupted games-lunch ended, recess ended, the wind started, and so on. He is getting his friends involved. At home we already play Star Realms, so all this did was increase the frequency of games. Surprsing to me, he began to bring Star Realms with him everywhere we go. Now, I have tried prior to this to bring games and have had no luck engaging people, which is why I expected the same result.

I was wrong and I am glad to be wrong. Provided someone is sitting across from him he pulls out Star Realms and a game ensues. And because of these experiences we have started to amass knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of gaming at a restaurant.

For games like Star Realms, two sides with a central row of cards, figure out a way to layout the game to take up less space, in this case the explorer cards which are always available are stacked underneath the draw deck, still visible and easy to draw. In addition, loss the authority life counter cards, they take up too much space, a napkin and a pen more efficient and space saving.

Learn how dining works. This is more for the kids playing than the adults. Waitstaff have a rhythm, some are good, some are bad, most fall between that. They want to greet, take your drinks, bring you drinks, take order, bring food, and check out how things are going. Adults know this. Kids may know this, but when deep in a game could care less.

Thus, games have to wait until they know what they want to order. Thankfully ours have learned how to order. Games need to proceed quicker than at home. Nothing irritates waitstaff like having to wait for a game to finish or clear out before food can be served. Of course, if the waitstaff has already demonstrated they are screw ups, an extra minute of holding plates wont hurt them.

Be prepared to explain to the waitstaff they game. Some waitstaff has genuinely been interested in the game. Just don’t let you overeager children explain, take the time as an adult to learn the game (you should be a gamer) and explain to the waitstaff. Service goes up when the waitstaff are also gamers.

I’m sure we will learn more as gaming continues. 🙂

Learning By Living

In an effort to convince myself that I am really am on the mend, I spent the day out with the family. A beautiful day of driving to and fro observing the colors and wildlife, although are cows and horses wildlife? For this purpose, as we drove past, yes they can.

I think I have mentioned how having a home, not an apartment, is a constant learning experience for us. I am hoping that by the second go-around with the seasons we will be ready, for example having gone through one winter here I know the following:

  • Get the windows sealed in October
  • Purchase at least 150 pounds of salt before the first snow fall, we have a HUGE driveway
  • Purchase a snow blower, but allow the snow to compact a bit before blowing the driveway
  • Purchase a third shovel, because three people shoveling is much faster
  • Put at least 70 pounds of sand in the trunk of the car for the ice rink that the driveway can become

We moved in at the very tail end of summer last year, thus have no frame of reference. All I know from last year is mow the lawn in stages to avoid collapsing from exhaustion. However, since the warm-up began we have learned the following:

  • We should purchase some form of riding lawn mower, not because we are lazy, but because almost 2 acres is a lot and instead of having to mow for a month and a half or so, going to have to mow for at least four months
  • A hose is a necessity
  • A second rake is a necessity
  • Lots of charcoal for grilling, lots
  • Opening one window does nothing to improve the internal temperature, however opening a second window on the opposite side creates optimal air flow, fans are not a necessity
  • Outdoors is fun when you don’t have to share your backdoors with neighbors less than twenty feet away, thus lawn furniture is a must

I know we are missing out on several other things, I watch the neighbors do “stuff” and I know we are not doing what they are doing, so I wonder what do they know that we don’t know…I guess we will find out over the next few months.

So while we learn we continue to enjoy our time here, the kids attempted to fly kites, mostly running around dragging kites, and we cooked out. Both of these things are activities we have not had an opportunity to do or see and both, especially the kids playing outside, make us smile…even if the kites crashed into trees, were drug along the ground, or in one bizarre case ended up wrapped around one child’s neck…don’t ask us how and we were watching.

Armageddon Sick Warhammer Pre-Work

Today is Saturday, I did not have to check my phone. Thus I am getting better. In fact I would like to say I refuse to acknowledge that I am indeed sick, but the body racking coughs and sinus pressure remind me by the minute that I am indeed sick. However, I refuse to lie in bed any more. Two days was more than enough for me.

The upside to this attitude, I am doing things. The downside, plenty of naps. Sick sucks.

Normally, I would be writing about the games we played, as you may have guessed sick means no games. Sorry. We are bummed too. That being said I have read the rules to Shadow War Armageddon, the successor to Necromunda.

Warhammer 40k has a problem, to much pre-work to do to play. Yes, I am aware that you can play right out of the box; just spend a few hours assembling figures, reading the rules, and play on a flat tabletop. If you have ever played Warhammer 40k then you know how boring this is and how disinterested people get; not everyone wants to play space marines or orks or chaos or whatever other race is facing off against space marines.

To get people interested and keep their interest they need to see what a game can be, that means pre-work. In our case and I will guess most gaming groups case, one person learns the rules to teach the others, assembles and paints miniatures for two sides to fight, and assembles and paints some terrain to fight over. Hopefully, and in our case it worked, everyone gets interested.

Great now everyone in interested…except…that’s right they don’t have their own pieces. If you are lucky, and we got lucky twice, people want to use the starter armies, I happen to like space marines and our boy likes orks. While everyone else is looking for their armies there is teaching them how to assemble with a minimal amount of injury and paint their armies. This is work. The job is to make it not feel like work, too many people abandon Warhammeresque games due to the work. Thankfully, I seem to hit the right mark as everyone is still working on their armies.

However, while they are assembling and painting they are not playing. What to do? Find games that allow them to use smaller groups of figures to play while they work on their armies. Kill Team was supposed to be the first attempt, but most people were still figuring out what they wanted to play.

Thankfully, at the right moment, Shadow War Armageddon came along. Using three to ten figures (on average) everyone can play a game that uses figures from their army, thus maintaining interest in 40k. Now this is where getting sick comes in, the plan was to start playing this weekend…I’m sick no games (I do not infect friends and family if I can avoid it).

So while I recuperate, they build their Shadow War Kill Teams, which they can use in their Warhammer 40k armies. Lots of pre-work, but when the work is done the fun looks and plays great.

Gaming, Painting, Grilling Oh My!

I’m waiting for a wash to dry, otherwise I would be relaxing and recharging the batteries some more. This weekend is all about relaxing, enjoying company of friends and family, and taking the time to enjoy life. Toss in learning how to use a grill and paint. 🙂

Without a doubt the biggest thing this weekend has been not writing anything at all. I’m a big fan of taking time off from writing, not weeks, just a couple of days in a row. Cease thinking about the characters and their issues and focus on me…and my issues. Biggest issue I run into is rushing a story to the “end” instead of taking the time to allow the story to grow. This is funny to me because as a GM (Gamemaster) for over 20 years rushing a story only leads to a bad game. Yet, it has only been in the last few years that I put the connection between running a game and writing a story together.

The need to slow down is one of the reasons our weekends are usually game filled, the other reason is games are fun. This weekend was less games and more prep for future games. We did play Rise of the Goblins and while we won the scenario the die rolls pointed to a disaster if we kept playing. Which is why we put Rise of the Goblins up and played a lot of Roll For It. I know, irony, the dice in one game say bad things ahead (lots of 1’s rolled) and pick up a game that is ONLY die rolling.

Yesterday, nice transition, was all about figuring out how to get a fire to do more than flare up and die out before the food was on the grill. I love our old grill, but without the ability to move the fire away from the food burning happened more often than not. The new grill gives me control, but new is also a learning experience. So far, grill 1.5 to me .5. The food was great, the process a pain in the butt.

In and around grilling, painting. There are four people assembling, painting, or pointing (scoring) Warhammer 40K armies out at anyone time. Crazy at times when all four are painting and assembling at one time. There is a certain rhythm like a well oiled machine when people can pass around paint, glue, offer advice, assist with assembling, and pass tools. When that rhythm hits, everyone can do what they want at the table without interruption. When the rhythm is off, a lot of sighing, groaning, and cursing; not at each other but miniatures that refuse to cooperate. Yes, miniatures can refuse to cooperate; glue won’t adhere, paint rubs off, or the dreaded miniature makes a break for it by breaking when it slams into the floor. Miniatures should not try to escape.

Overall, a good weekend of relaxing and doing “stuff.” Tomorrow back to writing, Puddles and Whiskers have hammered my brain all weekend, so they get to come out and play. 🙂

500 And 1 Words At A Time: How Painting & Writing Are NOT Similar

Not so long ago, in historical not blogging terms, I wrote about how, for me, painting miniatures and writing are similar. Then I spent a lot of time demonstrating that using Puddles and Whiskers, recently finishing the Wash and Dry Brush phase of writing.

This weekend, as my paint covered fingers can attest to was spent painting miniatures and playing games. And as this weekend moved along, even though I was avoiding actively writing (not that it stopped me from writing), I kept seeing where writing and painting are similar and dissimilar.

Similar was obvious to me, the unpainted miniature the idea, the base coat the initial draft, the first layers the rough drafts, washes and dry brushes the edits and revisions, and finally the detail work or finishing the story. Sure there are missing details from that list, such as the trimming and assembly which come at various stages of working a miniature, which is at time analogous to editing and assembling the story.

So how are they dissimilar? Injury comes to mind first and foremost.

However, as exciting as injury sounds, teaching was the biggest area. Our boy and girl both like playing miniature games. I however, am tired of assembling and painting their miniatures. To me part of playing a game like Warhammer 40k is investing in the game. There are not too many games where you invest more than money; they invest time, reading, math, creativity, organization, and more. I want them to get invested. Thus, I am trying to teach them how to assemble, paint, and take care of their miniatures.

I have found teaching writing is easier than teaching painting. Why? Mainly because I do not have to teach how to write from scratch. Schools teach basic writing, language, spelling, and the rest. When people come to me to learn, what they want is guidance and assurance. Later comes wanting editing. 🙂 Same thing with our kids, the school is doing the majority of the work, I encourage, read their works, encourage some more, and guide them until they move on to another story.

School is not teaching the basics of painting. I have to teach them how to hold a miniature to minimize skin oil contact or to avoid rubbing paint off or reach a difficult angle with a brush. I have to teach them how to use a brush, dip the tip, not dunk the whole brush. Brush strokes to create thin layers of paint to keep not obscure details. Recognizing details on a miniature. Choosing colors. Applying washes. Dry brushing. And the concept that like writing, a miniature is only finished when you say so, but at anytime you can go back.

As part of teaching, comes injury and mess. Mess is easy to deal with, spilled paint cleans up, even when the accident is half a pot of brown wash on a yellow shirt or painting a miniature on the table and over brushing leaving a clean spot on the table when the miniature is moved. Injury is less easy to deal with.

Thankfully, super glue only bonds skin for a short bit, speaking of which teaching them how to safely use super glue and xacto knives is a must. The first time it happens is disconcerting for them, but they realize that super glued skin does not hurt and fixing the issue does not hurt, just takes time. Cutting one-self with an xacto is a whole other lesson.

I told them both that cutting themselves with an xacto would happen and it would not hurt as long as the blade was sharp and I keep sharp blades. They did not believe me or Barb, they listened to my injury stories and ignore them. Yesterday, our boy sliced a finger open good. Instead of freaking out, he calmly announced he cut his finger, took it to the bathroom where we bandaged the cut up, and he commented that like I said, it happened and did not hurt.