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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 *****

*** Stellar Empire Re-United ***

Celebrations were held across the vast territories of the Stellar Empire as the two-halves represented by the governments of the Imperials and Caliphate determined to unite. This followed almost inevitably from the assassination of the Caliph, a crime that has gone mysteriously unresolved. The old Caliphate ministers were ‘retired’ and at first it seemed the Imperials had managed what had alluded them for decades.

However, just as orders to claim systems for the IMP went in some places, conflicting orders to claim for the CIA came from Laton. In other systems, it seems overwhelming civilian support lies with the defunct CAL government and there are a number of CIV and CAL bases that seem to have not heeded the CIA nor IMP orders. With all the Caliphate's armaments now in the CIA’s hand and no political leadership in the old government, it seems inevitable that the civilians will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

A muted and cautious response from the rest of the galaxy was only to be expected given the formation of a new unrivalled superpower. The chilling effect on public discourse as the Imperial war machine taps into the substantial, if stunted, economies of the former Caliphate will surely be felt for years to come. Does this mark the 'end of history' as we know it?

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * KAS v IMP/GTT v FLZ * DEN v MRC * FOCed by IMP * BHD v DEN * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Imperials Declare War Against Flagritz ***

A declaration of war came last week after an unsatisfactory reply to Imperial ultimatums that the FLZ accept resolution of the previous war. J. Jones issued the following proclamation, "We hope this reminder will prompt them to rethink the status they removed them selves from and come back to more peaceful co-existence.” Doublegood, Viceroy, doublegood!

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * Species Guide * FEL Barter With GIants * High Times &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Orion Spur Special Edition ***

Explorers of the galaxy rejoiced as knowledge of a new periphery became common knowledge, revealing charts to forty star systems. The Orion Spur is connected to the massive Coreward Arm with rumours that the locals of the Monument system at the heart of this new periphery may have been responsible for the collapse of the HarCorp civilisation.

We have in-depth analysis and information about the new periphery inside this special issue of the SSS.

Also inside this issue of the SSS: * Naplian Liberation Front Reality Show * FLZ v FEL * Mercs in Graydown * DOM Scare Stories * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Hoedown in Graydown ***

Wimbles in the Graydown system have come under repeated attacks by mercenaries. The Wimbles having already lost two outposts have had their ships come under attack by boarders. The Wimbles are pointing a hairy finger at the GTT whilst the DEN are itching to get their paws in.

Pleasantly rotund Wolf Lord Lyceum reported the destruction of one mercenary ship, a Corsair class explorer called "Eye of the Chosen" which had earlier dropped off ground forces flying the banner of "God Hates Wimbles.” Which God and why he or she hates Wimbles has yet to be revealed. We suspect its corporation-loving Mammon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Sargasso Update * Wakerians * Naplian Liberation Front * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Breaking News: Caliph Samuel Assassinated ***

The nominal head of the Caliphate, Samuel has been murdered in broad daylight at the starbase CAL Sidon in the Fortress system. The allegedly mad zealot was on his way to meet representatives of various civilian factions when a shadowy figure *cough*CIA agent*cough* shot him dead.

The CIA issued the following statement to the SSS with a customary nudge and a wink: "In these difficult times, as we come to terms with the loss of Samuel, we are taking things one day at a time.

"Samuel was not only our Caliph, but our leader during the Second Civil War which laid the foundations for the Confederacy after he left the Human Empire and settled in the Darkfold. It is truly a sad day and one that will be marked in history as one of many great leaders who were cut down in their prime.

"We will strive now to look to the future, whilst remembering our past”

Speculation is rife that this is the first step towards a unification of the two-halves of the Stellar Empire. Others are more hopeful this is a return to the Confederacy or the mark of greater separation with the Imperial bloc. Time will tell what nebulous motives the shadowy puppet-master Laton turned out to have had and which alien faction will be blamed for the Caliph’s murder.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * HEX / FET Invade Sargasso * Magnus v Nevets Fight! * Dewiek Black Hole Disaster * FLZ Correction * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** STOP PRESS: Felini Victory ***

In an unexpected development, the FEL have scored a decisive victory against the FLZ. Destroying or maiming some 20 Flagritz Baseships in the Onwards system.

What is more remarkable than the victory was there was no subsequent comment by Crazy Uncle Flagritz. We might need to have a lie down now.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * DEN and FEL * Valhalla Fighting Pits * RIP smacked * &etc


 
***** Christmas Special Edition *****

*** Ho Ho Ho ***

Welcome to the SSS Christmas Special Edition! We the Editors have put together a nostalgic pudding treat intended to delight and tickle even the scroogiest megacorp executive. So gather your cubs, squidlets and larvae for some silliness and song. Time to catch up with some classics from years gone by, raise your glasses and drink your gluttony and shame away!

Wishing you all a merry Christmas free from Krampus Jones's invading armies!

The Editors


 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Claws Out in Valhalla ***

In a bold rebuke of Crazy Uncle Flagritz’s attacks in the Avalon system, the cunning Felini Nevets ordered a hit on a FLZ outpost in the Valhalla system. Claiming miscommunication with his warships, the mischevious Avatar cocked a snook at the washed-out Dewiek warrior in charge of the system whilst claiming an important victory in the often one-sided conflict against the FLZ.

This isn’t the first time the foxy Feline has masked daring-do in the shroud of incompetence. It remains to be seen whether this turns out as disastrously as the time when the FEL had to pay the costs of a war started by Prince-turned-meklan LiQuan.

Meower-in-chief Chamiah apologised for the incident in a public address laced with snickering subtext and unconcealed laughter when she got to the bit about the unfortunate loss of “5 FLZ Warships in Onwards.”

A second incident in Valhalla was reported the next day with mardy Magnus complaining he wasn’t getting his claws in on the action. Could this be the pithy ploy that puts the cat on the mat?

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Merc-y Wimbles * Valhalla Fighting Pits Get Weird * Profile of Lyceum Amaguk * &etc


 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Nun on the Run ***

Alleged cosplayer Carmilla D’Morenta got the vicars in the Brotherhood all hot and bothered when she made a run for it. Possibly tired of being tied up by the reverends and denied the love that dare not howl its name. With a sizeable, almost unbelievable, bounty on her head, the barking sister took refuge with the Dewiek Elder Nation.

In possibly the shortest chase in history, the BHD managed to strike a blow for oppressed collars everywhere when they squared off with the naughty doggy-wannabe at the Valhalla stargate. The cheeky chaplains blew their hyperdrive at close range and both the BHD and DEN flagged ships were reported to be lost in space.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * DEN Ban BHD * Ulian * FLZ in Avalon * Valhalla Fighting Pits * Interview with Carmilla * And more


 

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