Sunday, December 26, 2010

I Love Specialist Games

In an attempt to keep busy during the surplus of family time that I've had over the past week or so I dug out a bunch of board games we had lying around. I'm not a hardcore boardgamer and only really have the classics - Risk, Monopoly, Clue. But when I was going through our collection I stumbled on a game from a few years ago that I'd never tried before, Milton Bradley's Battle Ball. It was easy to pick up, and while the rules are very poorly written, my family and friends spent a few quality hours playing it.

I was having a particularly enjoyable game with one of my other friends that I play 40k with, who asked if it was anything like Blood Bowl. I admitted that I knew very little of Blood Bowl, but we were having such a good time with the poorly constructed Battle Ball game that it only stood to reason that such a game with a solid set of rules would be even more fun. I spent the next couple of days researching anything I could find on Blood Bowl, which, for someone with an internet connection, is quite a lot! I started with the reference page on Games Workshop and read their competition rulebook which had me interested but didn't seem very accessible for a new player.

On a whim I googled "Blood Bowl Podcast" and found an absolutely fantastic show called "3 Die Block." They have an episode from October of 2009 for beginning Blood Bowl players that details everything about the game in an easy to understand format where one of the hosts assumes the roll of a Blood Bowl novice, and asks questions about the game mechanics that the other host then answers. It was a really great show that made it feel like I was personally being taught how to play by a couple of local veterans.

There are two problems with Blood Bowl, as with any specialist game: old miniatures, and the need for a thriving community. The miniatures problem is easily tackled with all the new GW plastic ranges (I'm planning on converting up a team of Orcs). When it comes to the 2nd problem, I'm in a very lucky position. Evan and I live thirty minutes from the LA Battle Bunker which provides awesome support for the specialist games ranges!

I've taken advantage of this community support by playing Epic 40,000. Epic is such a fantastic game! I'm the type of person who has every episode of Battle Plan recorded on their DVR, and reads memoirs of Guderian, Patton, and Rommel. The application of tactics are what got me into wargaming in the first place, and Epic truly gives the experience of strategically commanding an army.

Epic Troops

Super Heavy Detachment

The Crown Jewel of my Epic IG

Epic Aircraft. I also use these for Forgeworld's Aeronautica Game.

The other thing I like about Specialist Games is the involvement of the community. For both Epic, and Blood Bowl, there are a variety of community collaborated "Living Rulebooks" which keep the 20+ year old games up to date, and it is up to the community to design terrain, convert better looking minis, and generally maintain everything about the game. I feel like these games belong to the community, where the bigger games like 40k and Fantasy belong to GW.

A Piece of Epic Terrain I made from Sacrificing an Ork Great Gargant.

This is why I love the Specialist Games ranges, and why in the new year I want to make them a bigger part of my hobby experience. Along with the Chaos Challenge, my primary hobby focus for the new year will be constructing a Blood Bowl team or two, designing and building a custom Orky pitch, and participating more often in the local Specialist Games community.

What are some of your new years hobby resolutions?


  1. I plan on doing more original work with my conversions, most of my projects to date have been vanilla stock builds, or simply converting wargear options.

    I think my first big project is going to be War from Darksiders, but I have a few other projects that are in the works.

  2. I really like your idea for War. I also feel the need to do more conversions, almost my entire chaos army is stock with a few minor conversions here and there but I think more focused themes make things much more interesting. Good luck with your conversions in the new year. I'll be watching!