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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).




 
News
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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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RAGNAROK BECKONS

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Assault on End Game

The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.

The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

 
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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

 
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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklanmania

Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.

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Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble

However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:

“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”

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Doomsday On Pause

At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.

 
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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space

As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.

Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.

Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.

Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease

Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.

What they found will shock you!

 
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  Star Date: 220.45.1

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Perfidion Reached

Long speculated by theoretical Stellar Cartographers, Perfidion Reach finally opened in the last few weeks. Immediately, the Detinus Republic boldly staked a claim on the first accessible system, Hellcadium. Only time will tell the true value of this strategic move but their much-taunted bureaucracy may have finally proved its worth.

Early reports from scans of the system reveal a wildly fluctuating ISR field. Rumours suggest that at least one ship was destroyed as it was forced into an asteroid belt chasing a stable jump field attempting to exit the system. Casual travellers are warned away from the system at this time for their own safety. Leave it to skilled explorers and navigation officers.

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Mathematical model of Hellcadium ISR Field.

We spoke to Captain Zakiyah Ummahi via subspace link. Zakiyah led the first DEN expedition into the Perfidion Reach. "Spirits remain high but this is largely down to the extended R&R we were all forced to take immediately prior to jumping into this hole. Initial scouting reports show at least one planet with plenty of forests and grasslands which might help if we're going to be stuck here for Folkvar knows how long waiting for this damned ISR field to stabilise."

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Valhalla Stargate Reopens

Dewiek engineers and scientists have finally managed to re-enable Stargate Valgrind this week and the protective Exclusion Zone is to be lifted. If DEN investigators discovered who caused the gate to malfunction, or why, they were not willing to share it with us. Military sources, however, have announced a project to provide a significant boost to the already formidable defence platform in the stargate’s orbit.

 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

Empire - DEN action grinds to a halt

After months of tension relations between the Empire and the Dewiek Nation, which rose to several large scale fleet actions ending in the DEN losing over 60 Direwolf warships in Solo, things appear to have moved from antagonistic to unfriendly. With the Solo system being a particular issue an agreement has been reached between the Wolf Mother of the DEN and Xavier Fox of the GTT. Since this things have become very quiet, not just because the shooting has stopped, but also because my reporters have been on their summer holidays.
 
News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----



(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )

Host: Naambta!
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.

This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...

(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )

... it is time for a word from our sponsor.
 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     

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    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