Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Family Time Versus Hobby Time!

This is a rambling post about life and Warhammer, and how to have them both. Please bear with me, but it is something that has come up recently, and I know I am not the only one to have this going on.

I know a lot of us are a bit older than the crowd playing the current versions of Games Workshop's games across the world. Part of our movement is of course the nostalgia for when we were young and miniatures weighed enough to knock out your friend if you ever threw one! I also think we all are addicted to the old stuff because of the feel and emotion the old figures had compared to the current offerings. Luckily an ethos that seems to be making a comeback as highlighted on many of the blogs around our community.

But we are also, most of us, old enough to have significant others (normally read bosses!), children, and in some cases grandchildren. Of course, most of us have some large hobby dreams, projects and events that we are constantly planning out in our heads. And a lot of time, these two things can come into conflict. Many painting nights have been given up because of nightmares or a sick child, a wedding we don't really want to attend, etc. Even events have been missed. Since family is probably the most important thing in most of our lives, most often it is the hobby we enjoy that suffers. I am completely aware that gaming is not the only hobby that has this aspect, nor am I unfamiliar with the "Warhammer Widows" syndrome that occurs during most large conventions. Most often over here that means they let us go, and they go shopping. Trying to hide credit card receipts after these weekends is a time-honored American tradition it seems!

Finding the right mix between hobby and family can be a very difficult thing to do. Of course, some of us are lucky enough to find someone who plays stuff themselves (even if it is board games, not necessarily Warhammer), but others would be downright upset if their bosses invade their "Me" time. I've had girlfriends in the past who played, and girlfriends who completely hated my hobby. Luckily I now have someone who tolerates it, and even helps me out (with planning, making sure I have "me" time, and even basing figures for me in a rush for a tournament or large event like Adepticon - which is great for me!). But if I let gaming overtake too much of the family time, I am pulled up and set straight. So even with toleration, that mix of time can be narrow.

I have two older boys (17 and 15) and two younger girls (3.5 and almost 2), not to mention dogs and cats. Luckily one of the boys is definitely into the hobby, while one will play board games and other stuff. Of course, the girls are a bit young, though they both love painting pictures, and they are fascinated with Daddy's Toys, even if for now I kinda have to keep them away, or find broken figs everywhere! So I am hopeful they will join my step-boys and play stuff with their dad when they get old enough.

I tend to sleep very little, so I do get a lot of hobby time late at night after the girls have gone to bed (and quite often after the boys have as well). This works great in theory, but in reality it means I tend to get out the paints 2 times a week, and either play or read stuff a night or so more. Painting every night use to be quite easy, as I tended to in front of the tv every night when I got home - painting away and in general ignoring the tv (usually good movies playing - I suggest things you know by heart while you paint, so you are more listening than watching, things like Conan, LOTR, Harry Potter, Hoosiers, etc), but now I have dinners to prepare, diapers to change, pajamas to put on, and everything else. So evening time can get bad, especially given all the chores you have to do after the kids are to bed.

Sometimes you are just too tired to paint, especially since for me I have to actually get out the paints and figures as in our current home I don't have an area that kids (of some age) can not get to. I have a painting station set up, and an old mail order box with my current minis, so I have made that bearable now - I highly suggest it for anyone else who has to put things away from the little mitts and grubby paws of the little ones ;) .

As far as getting special time, it is just about planning, and recognizing that your plans will have to follow what is available. Gen Con this year falls when my girl is having her gymnastics reunion (her team won a state title and she was on the US Tumbling Team -  though for self preservation, I won't mention when), so for her this is a big deal. This means I miss Gen Con, even though I wanted to go and help Ronnie at Mantic with events. But this year I get Adepticon, one other tournament (current edition stuff) and one other big event. I will also get an occasional game in at home or at my local shop, but those are "evening or day events" and are much easier than 4-5 day events.

I firmly believe that your family is more important than your hobby, and of course, you have to take care of the important things first. Health, family and the bills all come first. But you still have to figure out your hobby time, or you just won't be happy. I wish I had a great guide, but the best thing I can think of is flexibility, communication (with the boss), and drive. You can still have some great dreams and hobby projects (and I'm not getting rid of any minis anytime soon). But have you curtailed what is the "dream" into what is possible? In fact Mr. Saturday recently had a blog about something similar - Time & Tide Wait For No Gamer.

So does anyone have the "golden ticket"? Best advice? Secret time traveling friends in a blue booth? Are you one of those unlucky single guys ;) ? How do you fight the good fight and still have your family?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The tales of my demise were.....mostly exaggerated!

Hello! It has been 6 long months since my last post. I am sorry for the long delay, but the rumors and tales of my demise are grossly exaggerated! In fact, I have had a few medical issues, the first being a LONG overdue surgery to fix my bad hip. I had 4 surgeries when I was younger (12-15) and they led to a massive amount of nurgle rot on my hip, and I required a full hip replacement.....at 42! The Orthopedic surgeon I was lucky enough to get has been doing this for over 30 years, and told my mom and fiance as he came out of the surgery "That is the worst one I have ever seen." There was so much rot, that they could not even dislocate my leg.....finally my fiance found out why I was limping and just how much pain I have been in for the last 3.5 years!
Mine was so much worse than this one.....

That was not the dangerous part of all of this, as while I was preparing for surgery, I was given a new drug and had a BAD reaction to it. Anytime I get hot or take a warm shower I would break out in hives, and this led to 4 visits to the emergency room, two of which required immediate shots to my neck and tongue to stop me from choking to death. I have never been allergic to anything that I have taken, and we now have placed it as the filler in the drug I was taking (so not even the drug itself!). In fact throughout Jan/Feb, every time you saw me on the facebook group I was later itching and taking meds to fight off the hives. I guess we should be more careful of those chemicals the drug companies buy from China, huh?

Planning and getting an event off while I had all of that going on was quite simply impossible. I did get quite a bit of hobby time in, and I'll have some shots, things and stuff in a bit. But travel, etc was just not going to happen. In fact, on my recent trip to Chicago, my arm went into crazy hives just due to the sun through the window! Luckily, one quick pill and I was good for the rest of the weekend, and I have not had a recurrence since!

So finally after months of this crap, I have now been able to climb out of the Old World forest, having, hopefully, conquered the nurgle rot, with renewed energy and vigor!

In fact my first foray out and about was to go to Adepticon, a very large tabletop show here in Chicago. It does not have an Oldhammer element, but is pretty much the largest Fantasy and 40k tourneys in the states, I believe. The Fantasy Team Tournament had 128 teams, the Championship was two days and had 146 signed up, and the biggest tourney is a 40k 4-man Team Tournament that routinely has over 100 teams (and this year I think had 120 (or 480 gamers!)).
Adepticon! you can find out more at www.Adepticon.org. Maybe this can be the site of a Midwest Oldhammer day in the future!

My high school friend moved to North Carolina, and Adepticon is our chance to get together and throw some dice in the team tournament and generally have fun playing Warhammer. Unfortunately he was given the dreaded ultimatum right before he left..."Go to Adepticon or stay married." Of course he stayed married, so I had a lot of time to run around and visit the con on Wednesday and Thursday. I was also able to spend a little time helping Ronnie from Mantic Games out, assembling his figure cases and running a Deadzone Big Game. I had a great time, though did miss my friend.

But once again, it proved to me one of the biggest reasons that I want a cool Oldhammer event in the US - almost all of the armies were so similar. I do not know about other areas, but here and especially in the bigger US events, it seems that you are constantly seeing the exact same army, even though you know the players are different. And that is not a slight on any of the players skills (except for that Dwarf army that was spray painted gold.......and didn't even have three colors - and good on Dave Witek for getting upset about that!), but more a reflection of the limited pallet of figures the wonderful age of plastics have given the hobby. Once again, some of the armies are gorgeous and beautiful, but unless you are up close, you can not even tell which ones are which. Most of the basing has even started to look the same for certain armies. Even cool converted armies are easy to identify and once again are in the main just really cool kitbash. The similarity of the armies have turned them more into tokens or play pieces instead of incredibly detailed statues. Sure, back in the day, we also had some armies that were similar (most Khorne armies tend to have a few things in common after all ;) ), but those seemed to have more passion. Maybe it is the careless way that everyone grabs the casualties in grab lots, moving 7-10 figures at one time, a big handful of plastic. I am not sure. But it is different.

I attended and did play in the Team and Championship tourneys. We used my friend's army in the Team one, but for the Championship I took an old school dark elf army (with the old wheeled Cauldron from the 90s), tons of metal models. I did use the new plastics for the Warlocks, and the Kharbidysis, but other than that my army was all metal (except the horses). Of course, my painting is not the most excellent in the world, and Blue in Vt's "Works in Progress" are probably many stages above what I tend to get done, but I did get some compliments on my army, just because it was different. Mainly because it was not the cookie cutter of all the other 26 Dark Elf armies! And a few liked my Hydra and Cauldron. I'll try to get some pics up here soon - even if it is not really old school elves. One thing, I removed my casualties ONE at a TIME!

But I was also able to get in touch with an old friend, so I may have some exciting news now that my health scare is behind me, and I am back out in the light!