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Meet the Big Boys

Meet the Big Boys

Despite the aircon within the hotel at herculean capacity, the incredible heat combined with a high volume of male flesh and minimal use of deodorant meant that the Warhammer arena quickly became a no-go area on the Sunday. By this point we were sobering so while the rest of the lads sought refreshment in the bar I, armed with a bottle of water attended the ‘Meet the Big Boys’ event.

The Big Boys term referred to a few of the movers and shakers in within the board and RP gaming industry, representing Mayfair, AEG, Steve Jackson Games and Cubicle 7.
The whole event can be found on youtube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2WmH6Qicy0), but to summarise the overall indication by the Big Boys was that there has been strong growth in the table top gaming industry (led by the rise of games such as Settlers of Catan first in Europe then crossing to the US) over the past few years.


The main difference between this and the previous rise back in the 90’s dominated as it was by young males, this time round it appears that there is a much greater diversity of gamers. This has been ascribed to gaming ‘dads’. Basically people like us (hard core gamers) have somehow managed to procreate and used our evil influence on our spouses and daughters. I specifically used the word daughter because there were many more adolescent girls with their parents at the expo than there were lads. This came up in conversation a few times and in all cases those spoken to who had adolescent sons stated that they were more into online gaming though may with some coercion join in a table-top game. Daughters however are the new lads when it comes to social gaming around a table.

The point about social gaming was picked up by the Big Boys with comments about board games played by the whole family now becoming commonplace in homes.
I even asked a quick question regarding the effect Magic the Gathering had on the industry (44.08).
Curiously enough (though probably not in hindsight) the answer was exactly opposite to what I expected and caused me to re-evaluate a grudge against Magic the Gathering I have held for many years. Back when it first came out I had been working for KJC Games for a couple of years and things were going well. In my social life we were hard-core gamers and regularly purchasing gaming products. From my perspective, it looked like Magic dealt a crippling blow to gaming as our regular group simply stopped role-playing, board-gaming and in fact pretty much everything except playing Magic the Gathering. Once enthusiasm for Magic finally waned, a couple of years later, there were far fewer gamers about.

Looking back however I now believe that there was a fair amount of rose tint to my perception of the pre-Magic period. We were buying fewer gaming products within the group. Only one or two (regular GM’s) ever seemed to splash out on modules and we still represented the average age of gamers, i.e. fewer young people were getting involved.

It was however clear within our group that when Magic hit the scene, group members that never previously purchased gaming products suddenly became owners of huge Magic decks setting them back hundreds of pounds. The sales of the Magic pumped vast amounts into the gaming industry as cited by Larry (Mayfair); enabling companies (distributors and game shops) that would otherwise folded to keep going. This was very much the point made by Mark Wooten (AEG).

They made quite a fuss about the rise of independent publishers made possible by on-demand printing. One the surface they appeared to welcome these companies not as competition but as a means of simply spreading the word. Basically gamers will have a board-game collection which will span multiple companies and as such more choice does not necessarily mean that one company will suffer. I’m not sure that I quite agreed with this but I suppose while the market is growing, there is still plenty of space for new-blood and more choice is a good thing for the consumer.



Their ongoing point however is there is a growing awareness of table-top gaming. Walmart for example have been approaching Mayfair, something unprecedented in the history of niche appeal gaming. It is looking like games beyond Monopoly are starting to become mainstream. Can we expect to games like Settlers of Catan and The One Ring RPG in Tesco any day now? Probably not, though in a few years time around Christmas? Maybe.

I walked out of the event feeling quite optimistic about the future as our style of gaming has many parallels with board games as it confirmed much of what I have suspected for some time. The question is though, how best to ride this zeitgeist?

First of all I think that the IGN is helping and I will continue with these articles. I think that more work on the missions is needed to make getting into the game less of a challenge (missions and their development featured in the recent developers meeting). It is however mostly about generating momentum, which can only be achieved by getting noticed beyond our modest group such as a good review (and not written by KJC Games) on places like RTS Guru, RPG Now and Board Game Geek amongst others and articles on gaming sites (that people actually read).




 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Bravo for Freedom ***

Naplian Forces have attacked three human pirate outposts in the Morroglyph system. A spokesperson for Naplia HQ told the press that the plucky duct-tape loving free people would continue their war against slavers and pirates in their home periphery.

One salty Naplian libertarian told the SSS, “The people of the Naplian Home Periphery are sick and tired of human criminals coming here just because their homeworld is an overcrowded hell. It’s time for them to go back home.”

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Igor of Fang and Horns * Admiral Loves Dick Turpin * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

.What is It?
..a wOrmhOle?.
…No.. worse..
….the KANG singularity!…
…..It pulls us IN…..
……lOOks sO familiar……
…….yet so strange…….
……..what is……..
………that?……..

*** Flagritz Liberalise Economy ***

In good news for all the galaxy the Flagritzi have vowed to liberate all slaves across their Empire. Furthermore, the hectapods have given up eating other sentient species; taking up a strict diet of veganism and soy chai lattes. Sales of turtle neck sweaters and Forbidden Fruit laptops have skyrocketed.

The news was cautiously welcomed by the benevolent Felini Tyranny who looked forward to reducing the War phase of their daily Nap-Lick-Nap-War-Nap-Eat-Sleep cycle to a perfunctory forty winks.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Baron Womble * A Short History of the DPP * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Empire Strikes: Solo ***

A massive fleet of some 1600 warships, including large numbers of super-heavy capital 300 and 400 hullers, attacked the DEN in the Solo system, catching them with their metaphorical pants down. The DEN gate platform and some two hundred DEN freighters were subject to antimatter missiles amongst other high tech ordinance.

Jack the lad, Viceroy of the Empire, claimed a victory for freedom and the Imperial (right of) way leaving the sullen Dewiek unusually unresponsive.

With DOM platforms firing on CIA ships, will the IMP now demand the DOM add them to the Do Not Fire lists as well? And what exactly is the nature of the DOM and DEN alliance in light of the sustained attack from the Empire? And will the DEN’s alien friends stand idly by as the Empire fleet camps in the vital gate system of Solo? How will the DEN retaliate for this action or are they ready to roll over and have their bellies rubbed?

All this remains unknown. All that is certain is the “feel good” factor across the DTR has increased, with citizens reassured that for some time yet, they may continue in their slumber with the easy assurance that their number is not coming up anytime soon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * New BHD Guy * DOM Statement * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** To Ur Is Dewiek ***

Dewiek forces had a hefty smackdown against the mysterious living ships known as the T’Cath (TCA). Seven adult TCA 400 hull capital ships, each firing eight of their notorious plasma cannons, were killed by a DEN and DOM fleet of some 700 ships.

Of the minimal losses suffered by the DEN / DOM, one-eyed Magnus and Nevets Motnhap of the FEL were amongst the dead.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Caribbean Congo Continues * Ur Witness Report * * Hive Briefing * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** The Long Quiet Season ***

Listen…
There’s no sound of anger or of annoyance,
There’re neither cruisers racing on the jump lanes
Nor there jump lanes for them to race on,
There’re neither monks chanting on the battlegrounds
Nor bells calling us to the True One.
There’s neither the lightning cracking of the sky
Nor the persistent Naplians pattering on my roof.
There’s no Dewiek arm in arm to admire the magnificent view
There’re no war drums to feed Human ears
Nor Hive sirens to steal the boredom away
There’s no unfamiliar wing creeping underneath the Falconian sun
Nor floods to enshroud the Aquaphid grounds
The land lies lonely out here
On this lazy summer’s day
There’s no pollution to poison the airs of Inversion
Nor forests to give them life
All I hear is the hushing sound of the wind
Assisting the sand to fall into beautiful undulations.

Whilst we’ve been away: * Operation Giantslayer * Naplian Liberation * Back in the DTTR * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Falconians Saved ***

The Imperials have cunningly saved the Falconian Republic from being consumed by the Dewiek Elder Nation and at no small cost to the DEN either. Whilst the new pro tem Consul crowed about the “victory”, all former FCN systems besides Acropolis have been taken over by the two warring Empires - Human and Flagritz.

Was it all worth it? For the IMP / GTT it clearly was, for the movement of a few hundred thousand troops is surely nothing to the cost they endured trying to and failing to knock the DEN out of Solo after the fact. The FCN now plucked off most of their navy and wider assets are a tiny nothing of their former self. The DEN may have resorted to some dirty namecalling but can the costs endured to save an enfeebled FCN have really been worth it? Time will tell.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * INDignation * FELicitous Caribbean * Nah Plan for Naplia * Mercs Trouble DEN * &etc

 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic