26 November 2014

Potpourri for $500- MM Sale, Work, Work, Work


Hey y'all, long time no talk. 

Ok, first of all, despite the fact that it's Wednesday, Miniature Market's Black Friday sale is now live! Click the link or hit either of their banner ads to access all the awesome discounts on your favorite gaming gear! 

Secondly, apologies for being so MIA lately. I've been called in to fix something that has my guys stumped at least one night a week for the past month, which coupled on top of the normal 55 or so hours I normally work, has really been putting a strain on things. As much as I love working on the Bikini, it does unfortunately have to take a backseat to family time and this other job that pays my bills and whatnot. 

With this week being a short week because of Thanksgiving, I'm hoping to free up some time and get back on track with writing for the Bikini next week. It's looking like we'll need to come in and work Saturday, but having Thursday and Friday off to try and get my sleep corrected is going to help. 

Those of y'all in the States, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Those of y'all elsewhere, well, you do the same too. Without the Thanksgiving, I mean. Or well, I guess there's nothing wrong being Thankful for the positive stuff in your life, right? So yeah, you guys do the same thing. 

Peace!


17 November 2014

Community Spotlight- South Jersey X-Wing Alliance


Ok, remember in the Fletcher Hills article how I said I'd hoped to run more articles about successful X-Wing communitites? Well, Brian Theurer of the South Jersey/ Philly Area X-Wing Miniatures Game Alliance took the bait and did an awesome write-up not only about his club, but also the steps he took to build it into what it is today. 

Also, Brian and the gang are organizing a charity tournament he asked if I would promote on here. Being the charitable sort, I predictably agreed. For those of y'all without the Facebooks, the skinny is this: it's a tournament on Saturday, 29 November 2014 at 11:00am at All the King's Men in Pitman, New Jersey. The entry fee is a new, unwrapped toy which will be donated to the Gloucester County Toys For Tots.  That's it! As if you needed any more reasons to participate, there's going to be some pretty sweet prizes too- one of those metal edged KR Multicase cases, X-Wing related tokens form Applied Perspective, and some stuff from Loot Crate, as well as some other good stuff. Not bad, huh? For the full lowdown, click on that link above. 

Wish you had a club that could organize cool events like this? Take it away Brian and tell us how it's done! 

Greetings!

Allow me to first give some background about my X-Wing career. I bought into the game shortly after Wave 1 was released. Unfortunately, my life was incredibly busy at the time and I never even had time to crack those bad boys open from their plastic clam-shell prisons. Despite that, I followed the online community closely and continued to buy ships as Wave 2 was released.

A few months before the release of Wave 3, life became less crazy and I decided it was time to start playing. I conned my best friend into going through a couple of demo games with me, and I was instantly hooked. Although gaming with my best buddy was great, we live just far enough away that it’s not really convenient to play regularly. I knew I had to find some other people to regularly get my pew-pew on.

I live in Southern New Jersey, roughly thirty minutes outside of Philadelphia. We have an excellent area for gaming, as we easily have a half dozen game stores in the immediate area. As I started asking around, I found out that X-Wing had spiked in popularity in the local area, but fizzled out shortly after the release of Wave 2.

As I spoke with store owners and players, it became apparent that there were relatively few attempts to network players across different venues. Everyone mostly kept to their own venue. I’ve seen local communities for other games fizzle out and die from this, as players shifted their focus to different games or moved away from the area.

I began to take steps to build a strong, networked X-Wing player base in the area. From my experience managing a karate school in my younger days, I knew it would be key to build a sense of community amongst the members. We seem to have stumbled into a formula that worked. Here are a few of the steps and strategies that have served our local group well.

1. Speak to local game store owners. If they don’t currently have an X-Wing game night, talk them into hosting one. Establish a consistent night/time and ensure that SOMEONE (preferably at least two people) will be there EVERY week. Be ready to offer demo games, and be willing to sit out to allow other people to play or try a demo game.

If at all possible, try to play in a highly visible part of the store. X-Wing is an extremely impressive game when you see it on the table. As you play, you WILL have people coming over to ask about it. Be ready and willing to let them jump in for a turn or two, especially when you’re still building up your player base.

2. Be ready to “sell” the game to potential players. A lot of people have the perception that “miniatures game” means “expensive, complicated, and time consuming.” Stress the facts that you can started fairly cheaply, the rules are easy to learn (but have a lot of nuances as you start to master them), and that games are typically done in about an hour. Above all, tell them that the ships come pre-painted and look amazing out of the package.

3. Use social networking, especially Facebook, to your advantage. Create a Facebook Group for your community to interact and arrange games. To maximize the chances of new players finding you, include the words “X-Wing,” “Miniatures,” and the name of your region. For example, the name of our group is “South Jersey/Philly Area X-Wing Miniatures Game Alliance.” We’ve had a number of our players tell us the found us by typing “X-Wing South Jersey” or “X-Wing Philly” into the Facebook search bar.

There may also be general tabletop gaming Facebook Groups active in your local area. Seek them out and start posting about your game night. As much as possible, try to include pictures of games in action. When people see that you have an active group that is meeting consistently, they will want to take part.

Meetup is another spectacular resource for recruiting new players. If you live in a populated area, there’s a strong chance that there is a local group of gamers organizing meetups. It does cost money to create a new Meetup group, but it’s likely that an existing one will suit your purposes. Start creating event pages for your weekly gamining night. You WILL have a lot of people flake out on you and not show up, but we’ve found some of our strongest members by pulling them in from Meetup.

There may also be local “Geek” Facebook Groups or Meetups in your area that aren’t specifically focused on gaming. X-Wing has a low barrier to entry, and tabletop gaming is becoming more popular and well-known, so you might pick up a few players in those avenues as well.

4. Promote your group and gaming nights using online forums, including:

The X-Wing FFG Organized Play board:
http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/forum/292-x-wing-organized-play/

The AFewManeuvers Tournaments and Other Get-Togethers board:
http://www.afewmaneuvers.com/forum/12-x-wing-tournaments-and-other-get-togethers/

The Organized Play forum on BoardGameGeek:
http://boardgamegeek.com/forum/1444767/star-wars-x-wing-miniatures-game/organized-play

Try to post updates every few weeks to bump the thread up to the top, to increase the chances of people finding it. You can do this by posting pictures or game reports.

5. Always encourage players or potential players to join your local X-Wing group. The more people you have active there, the larger audience you’ll have when posting about game nights or tournaments.

6. As much as possible, try to have your game nights and tournaments be player-led, rather than led by a store owner/manager. First of all, X-Wing is not going to be their primary money maker. Games like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh will be what keep their doors open. Offer to handle organizing game nights and events so that store employees can focus their attention on the other games.

The benefit for the store is that you’re bringing potential players in the door who might not have otherwise decided to visit. Even if they only buy a soda or some snacks, those are sales that wouldn’t have happened without X-Wing bringing new people in the doors. Every little bit helps.

The more important benefit is that it will give you some degree of control over scheduling. If you have multiple stores in the area, you don’t want them running game nights and tournaments over top of each other. Unlike the other active game systems in the area, our X-Wing players freely travel across to different game nights and tournaments. We don’t have that almost-tribal mentality that has led to the communities for other games to fizzle out and die over the years.

The main tenets to remember are:
1. Always be promoting. Using social media and the forums frequently will increase the chances of someone finding your group. Every person that joins your group brings potential connections that did not exist before they joined.

2. Be consistent. If you schedule a game night, make sure someone is there EVERY week. You’ll have people who see you play for months, but won’t decide to make the plunge until the dozenth time.

If you’d like to see our local community, you can join our Facebook Group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sjxwingalliance

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or toss me a message at mightyspacepopeATgmailDOTcom.

Good luck and may the Force be with you!

Thanks again, Brian! And hey, for those of y'all who are new to the game or are just looking for a club to join, a little reading between the lines ought to generate some leads for you. 

Peace!

14 November 2014

VT and YT Are Shipping!

Sean just messaged me with the info that the VT-49 and YT-2400 are finally shipping to retailers! 


Can I be the first to say, "It's about damn time!"? 



10 November 2014

Winners of the Deep Space Scenery Contest Revealed!


Hey, so, sorry. I'd hoped to do this last week, but work has been a real pain in the ass again. 

Anyway- thanks to everyone who entered the contest. We got some really awesome and inspiring entries! I kinda wondered if there was much of a scene for building X-Wing terrain, but it looks like at least some of y'all aren't afraid of busting out the plasticard and foam cutter. 

We're not giving out first, second, and third in this thing- just three winners. That being said, I was really hoping that somebody would do up an orbital platform like from X-Wing and TIE Fighter and knew if they did a solid job, they'd definitely be a winner in my book. 

I wasn't disappointed! 


That beauty is courtesy of one Jason Breitzman! Good stuff, huh? 




Not only that, he made cards for it too! Complete with flavor text! How awesome is that? 




The next winner I'll admit it- I was biased by advertising. Congratulations to Chris Chivers of Gloucestershire!




Chris made up some rules for his scenery too! 

Background:
The TBF space defence platform dates back to the first Sith War against Exar Kun's Sith Empire. Though effective in their time, they were left abandoned by the Republic after the later wars against the Sith.
This platform orbiting Toprawa has been taken over as a makeshift home by smugglers and traders over the years, who have repaired the guns in case they need to defend themselves from pirate raiders.
The current occupant is a frequent patron of The Bikini Bar planetside (He’s gotten a few droids to affix a banner of flimsi advertising his favourite hangout to passing freighters), and has a considerable stock of their finest ales on station with him. In the event of combat occurring near his station, he will wildly fire at the nearest target. Whilst the station’s guns are powerful, his aim is affected by the copious amounts of alcohol!

Rules.
Attack: 2 (360o Turret)
Agility: 0
Hull: 12
Shield: 2

The TBF must fire at the nearest ship to the central dome of the station at the start of the end phase. Due to the gunner's drunkenness, he never receives a bonus dice for being at range 1, though the defender receives one if they are at range 3. In addition, each uncancelled 'hit' or 'critical hit' is doubled, due to the high power of the guns.


This last winner really impressed me with how technical and professional everything looks. Give it up for TC of York!



TC did a little write-up to go along with his entry. 

It's aimed at being an Imperial refueling and rearming platform that can be clamped onto a suitable asteroid. Hopefully you can make out the legs holding it onto the rock underneath the platform. There have also been some excavations into the rock too, as some bits of machinery and pipes are sticking out of the rock.


The landing platform (where the 41 is) fits a TIE bomber, or Defender for loading up on supplies.

The platform has two turbo laser turrets and you can hopefully see the firing arcs on the base card.


I thought that was pretty cool too.

I just really think that's solid. 

Thanks again to everyone who entered and to Miniature Market for sponsoring another awesome contest! Another tough time of picking the winning entries! I'll be posting up a gallery of all entrants in the next couple of days in the Arts and (Space)Crafts section. 

Winners- I'll be sending along your mailing info to Miniature Market. I'll notify you when/ if I get any kind of shipping/ tracking info.

28 October 2014

Community Spotlight- Fletcher Hills Presbyterian


Recently I wrote an article for BoLS regarding some ideas I had about starting up or growing an existing X-Wing club. This was in no small part in response to an email I received from a Bikini Aficionado named +Nate Murray.

I'd always kind of intended for TheMetalBikini.com to be something of a repository of collected knowledge and whatnot regarding X-Wing. As it grew though, in some ways, it became a community for the community-less, of which the irony is not lost on me: the Bikini's origins lie not only in trying to get Sean and BC up to speed to play, but also because I'd hoped to build a site to grow my local scene by giving the players around here a resource to hopefully get better, faster. 

Anyway, after y'all started showing up in rather unexpected numbers, I always thought it'd be cool to try and touch on some of the clubs and cool events and stuff that everyone was up to in an effort to publicize them to the larger X-Wing community as a whole. 

I largely became sidetracked away from that idea, as I'm wont to do. 

Anyway, I'd kinda forgotten about the whole community aspect until Nate emailed me a couple of weeks ago about his club. I read his email, checked out his pics, and was thoroughly impressed with what he'd accomplished, so I thought I'd share it with y'all before we dive into the Wave 4 pilot card breakdowns. 

And hey- if you've got a club that's doing something cool with the game, take some pics and send me some info and I'll feature you too. It's fun to talk about this stuff online, but it's even better to take some cool idea and bring it to the table of your own club, amirite? Surely we're not all just dogfighting at our FLGS... 

Enjoy!



The other day, I was driving in my car with one of the high school students I mentor from our church youth group. This student had recently had made many poor choices that could have had lifelong consequences. During this conversation, he noticed the briefcase that contained my X-Wing Miniatures collection. He asked me what I kept in it, and I replied “Oh that’s my x wing stuff.” His eyes lit up and said, “X wing?”

I said, “You like Star Wars right?” He said “What sane person on this planet does not?” I briefly explained about the game and his immediate reply was, “When are you going to teach me this game?”



A few days later before youth group, we met up for our regular coffee and chatting session. While we were drinking coffee, I introduced him to X-Wing Miniatures. We played four TIE fighters vs. two X-Wings. He loved it…and then it began.

This particular student was at a very pivotal cross road in his life. He lives in a very broken home; his mother has very little income, and also had a brand new baby brother in the picture. His grades had been dropping and he recently gotten involved with troubled youths. In an attempt to steer him in a positive direction, I meet with the student regularly to provide a stable male figure in his life. I had been having difficulty finding common ground with him, but through X-Wing Miniatures I was able to connect to him.

Over the past five years I have served as a mentor and volunteer for my church. These students do not have strong father figures or parental guidance in their lives. By investing many hours into the lives of students I think I’m making a positive impact in the lives of our youth.Some of my biggest passions are Star Wars, playing games, and mentoring at-risk youth. All of my life, I have loved Star Wars I wanted to be Han Solo and Chewy, and flying the Falcon. After my Brother introduced this game to me, my dream finally came to fruition. After this, it was all downhill from there and I began to purchase any and all X-Wing Miniature’s I could.

Now I am proud to say that my collection rivals my brothers and I have at least one of every ship. 



However, after I taught the high school student to play he told his friends. He reached out to me and asked if I would teach his friends. The very next Thursday my gracious wife let me host a small get together with these students. It was pretty epic and they all got the X-Wing bug. So the next Thursday rolled around and more wanted to play. My little apartment was getting too crowed so we had to move our weekly sessions to a bigger space. Two months later, we have around ten students who attend on a regular basis. Many of whom have very broken homes and sad life stories. I know at least one of the kids is living in a foster home.
It all started out with my love of games and my passion for kids. Now I am using X-Wing as a spring board to get kids off the streets and to invest in their lives. Each week I get the privilege of taking at least one of them home and we spent quality time discussing what’s really going on in their lives and just listen to their amazing stories. Kids have some pretty cool thing to tell you if you just take the time to listen and it can change your life, because I know it has changed mine. Hopefully I am making a positive influence by simply playing games and talking.

Now to the purpose if this letter: My collection is over thirty ships but I only have around one of each ship. Currently, I am not in the financial situation to purchase more. Unfortunately, last Thursday we had five students show and I had to create a draft for the students to pick ships because I only have a limited supply. It really broke my heart to see some of the students even create 100 point squads on the nternet and print it out and then realize that I don’t have enough ships to fulfill these wish lists.



Everyone always wants the Falcon and the Shuttle, but I only have one of each. I want to ask if there was anyone out there who would be interested in selling some ships they no longer use at a discount or even sponsoring some ships to our little club. I’d even appreciate some new components like bases and stands. My very first 2 poor little tie fighters are about ready to be retired because they just barely fit into their stands. I’m sure you all are aware of how rough kids are on things, and it does not bother me at all. I’d give all my entire collection to see these kids succeed in life.
My aim is to have some spare core kits to give to each of the kids that come on a regular basis so they can start playing themselves and potentially bring other students to our game sessions in the future. They keep telling me they are going to get some ships and I know that most of their parents are struggling just to put food on the table.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this letter. It’s my proud honor to say that through fellowship and friendship the X-Wing Miniatures games is changing lives for the better. Thank you for such a fun product that has helped me build bridges with at-risk students, and hopefully enhance their lives.
Sincerely,

Nate Murray

Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church Youth Volunteer
(And huge star wars nerd)


How awesome is that, right? Good on ya, Nate. I hope you get some new ships, pal!