Here’s the deal folks; I don’t care which store you support. I don’t care how you support it. I just want you to get off your butts, go to your friendly local purveyor or all things geeky and put some dollars in their cash register. See, times are tough. In case you haven’t noticed it the economy isn’t doing so great. And it’s the small businesses that live in the margins that wind up feeling the bite in these times.

Why am I going off about this? Because it needs to be said. Without gaming stores the geek community is pretty well doomed.  Sure there’s online resources for board and card games. There’s MMORPGs (Mr. Gyggax says you’re welcome since you can’t spell MMORPG without RPG) and PDF versions of  a lot of gaming supplements. So. Bloody. What. Those things are not a community. They aren’t a bunch of people getting together for the mutual love of a hobby and sharing commonly enjoyed experiences. And that’s a major part of the geek life; the social connection. Without our gaming stores we really are just what most people outside the hobby think of us as; a bunch of socially backward misfits lurking at home pretending to be elves while real life goes on without us.

With the gaming store we’re a community. We are a bunch of people coming together and enjoying one another’s company. We look out for one another. We fundraise. We find out about each other’s lives. Hell, some of us meet our spouses at gaming stores! And then we go on to make little baby geeks who continue the whole magical cycle of nerdosity long into the future.

Now, I realize that quite often online retailers offer stuff at a more economical rate than the brick and mortar shops can. And as one of life’s perpetually broke people I can certainly respect the urge to get what you want less expensively elsewhere. But in doing that we screw our fellows. We take money from the guys who provide us with a public venue for our hobby. And that can be the death knell for a shop if it happens too often.

Most of these places are running on a pretty close margin. A bad month can mean bankruptcy. A good month can mean a few more months serving the community and providing a fun place to get together with your friends and check out all the latest cool stuff. Game store owners may seem rich folks but for the most part, they ain’t. They are working class folk getting by day to day and sweating the rent and the light bills just like you and I. Difference is, we don’t make our light bill we get some candles. They don’t and they can lose their livelihood.

So please, the next time you see a cool game online, don’t click the “buy it now” button. Pick up the phone and call your local emporium. Ask if they have it. If they do, ask if they can hold it til you get there. If you have the money to “buy it now” online then you have the money to “buy it now” from a guy with a family to feed. If they don’t have it, ask if you can order it. Offer to pay some or all of the price in advance. After all, they just went out cash to get the item. It’s only fair that you at least make the attempt to put the money in their hand  while you have it so they don’t eat the cost.

In the end we all win when the stores prosper. Game publishers have more incentive to keep producing the stuff we love. Comic book companies are able to stay in business, providing us with thrilling adventures  of spandexed derring-do. We have places to hang out with our friends. Conventions have places to advertise that a hotel is getting invaded by a thousand or more geeks, nerds and other assorted oddballs. And the guys who work surprisingly hard to keep us in good times when I absolutely guarantee you most of them could be making a boatload more money at something else get to keep doing their thing to our mutual benefit.

That’s all for now.  Y’all have a good one. And, as always, Keep It Fun.

Mech out

 

 

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My Day Of Weird

March 8, 2011

Today’s rather late post (thank you five am wakeup call grrrr) is not about gaming. Instead it’s about how my Sunday went, a series of event so off the wall I would honestly not have been surprised if, at some point, Wile E. Coyote, Suuuuuppppper Genius rolled up on me and asked if I’d seen a Roadrunner pass through recently. Read, enjoy and bear in mind that, apart from some anti-profanity editing this is how the day went with zero embellishment.

Cheers!

Right, so I start my day on the bus at 9am on my way to work. I find myself sitting in back next to a large, bearded man who proceeds to share the following information with me. He is a liver transplant patient. His new liver has 4% function remaining. His doctor needs to shut the fuck up and mind his own business about his drinking. (This punctuated by pulls off a fifth of apricot brandy. At 9am. On a Sunday. On the bus) Furthermore, he is only awake at this hour because he smoked the last of his meth (“Look, see, it totally effed my teeth”) and his dealer can only meet with him before 10am because that is when he is leaving to take his kids to Sunday School. I get off the bus, decide that the day can’t get any more fucking surreal. The universe takes this as a challenge.

Work is busy. I get a text. It is a woman I was once acquainted with. We stopped associating because she and her husband repeatedly brought me pornographic gifts at parties where my pre-teen niece was a guest and falsely accused one of my best friends of rape. The mentally deficient, white trash headcase idiot person wants me to write her husband a personal character refference!

I get on the bus to go home. I call to let my family know I’m inbound. I keep getting sent directly to voice mail because every time I try to call one of my wives that wife is calling me at the exact same moment. I finally get to the train station where they are going to meet me. I bang my head on a metal upright as I leave my seat, trip down the stairs leading from the very back of the bus to the front and bounce facefirst into the back door. Then I walk right the eff past not one, but two ticket machines that I’m looking for to reload my bus card so I can continue to get to work before spotting one. On the opposite side of the train platform not ten feet from where I got off the bus.

I get in the car. We go book shopping. We stop at Walgreens. I tell the clerk my story and ask how his day went. He responds , totally straight faced “Oh, it was great! My dad took me to Sunday School!”

The moral of the story is twofold. First; With surreal shit like this being my boring-assed day to day I have no need to do drugs. Second: Never indicate that you think your day can’t get any more fucked up and weird. The universe will take it as a challenge.

***************************************************************************************************************

Interesting little post script. I am, as some of you may know, a savage, screaming Pepsi addict and have been since Buddah rode a Big Wheel. My preferred poison is Pepsi Throwback, the stuff with the cane sugar rather than that ick-tastic corn syrup drek. I’m always on the lookout for more of it since it’s not very common any more. Tonight, my beloved Wife #3 picks me up at the train station, this time without me bouncing into, off of or down anything that might bruise me and we stop at the local Tom Thumb. There we find a stack of Pepsi Throwback 12 packs shoulder high to me. Seventeen of em to be precise. I know because I counted. A phone call is made. Questions are asked of She Who Handles The Bills. Numbers are thrown around. Confirmation is requested and received. The two Middle Eastern clerks are looking at me with a distinct air of “What the eff?”. Finally, I thank SWHTB, hang up, carry one 12 pack to the counter and explain I’ll be taking it and all sixteen of it’s little friends with me.

There is some confusion. More questions are asked. More confirmation is given. The nice men generously lend me a cart and let me go out the back door of the store because loading 17 12 packs of pop by hand would be a bit of a chore. Several minutes are spent dragging a shopping cart loaded down with 2,448 (12 cans times 12 ounces times 17) ounces of pop or roughly TWENTY GALLONS OF PEPSI through the snow to the car. The car is loaded, the cart is returned. The guys shake my hand and go back to their conversation in Arabic which I can tell by the laughter includes some variant on “Can you believe that guy? You know nobody’s gonna believe this right?” is at least partly about me. I get home a happy little addict with a three month supply of my drug of choice.

The moral of the post script? We are all, at some point a character in somebody’s Day of Weird. It all comes down to timing and perspective.

Cheers all! And keep it fun!

Mech out.

 

 

 

Lunch Money Review

March 2, 2011

 

Let’s be honest with ourselves shall we? Deep down inside, most of us suspect that those sweet, innocent looking girls in their Catholic school uniforms are actually agents of evil and mayhem. And we’re right.  The folks at Atlas games quicked to this little fact fifteen years ago and have been making money hand over fist ever since.

Lunch Money, and it’s sequel Beer Money are a pair of fun, fast little games by the folks at Atlas that have been around for some considerable time now. The concept is pretty straightforward. Catholic school is a hotbed of frustration, repression and mixed messages. You and your friends are fed up and decide to let off some steam. Speciffically, you decide to let it off by beating one another into a semi-comatose state.

 You start out with a hand of five cards and fifteen health points. You end the game either victorious or out cold. Play goes around the table from person to person playing attacks and defenses as in most fighting card games. The range of attacks and the damage they do is pretty broad. A simple slap can ding you for two points while certain combos can rock you for seven, taking half your health in a single attack.

 

Weapons are a factor as well. Because let’s face it; what right thinking member of a tool-using species hits someone with their bare hand when there’s a pipe, hammer or handy chunk of concrete laying around. The key difference between weapon attacks, apart from their damage is what happens after you play them. With a normal attack, say a Pimp Slap or Hail Mary, you discard the attack card after you play it. Play a Knife or a Chain (preferably upside the skull of another player) and it goes back in your hand for reuse on your next turn. Unless, that is, your opponent has a Disarm card. In which case the attack fails, you lose the weapon and you are now unarmed against someone with every reason to be cranky with you . Lucky lucky lucky you!

 

Naturally, as with any good fighting card game there are ways to heal as well as hurt. Wouldn’t want the suffering to end too soon now would we? First Aid cards can be played on your turn. Each one heals two points of lost health and you can play as many as you like at a time.

 The only real complaint I have about this game is the relative complexity of the rules. Most fighting games are simple, streamlined affairs without a lot of gray area in what happens when you play particular cards. The rules for Lunch Money

http://www.atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/LMRules.pdf

 tend to be a bit more convoluted. Players both new and old will frequently find themselves referring back to them in an effort to understand exactly what is supposed to happen or under what conditions a card or combination of cards can be played.

  Despite that little wrinkle, this is a solid piece of work. To my knowledge it’s one of the first brawler-type card games and it has stood the test of time for a reason. Fast paced, fun, possessed of a good core concept and terrific, creepy artwork, Lunch Money has every right to the longevity it has achieved.  Pirce and portability are also factors. At $19.95 for a single core game and $9.95 for an expansion Lunch Money is priced for most budgets. Plus it’s small enough to fit in your coat pocket. Toss in a handful of D20’s to track your Health points and you’ve got a solid, fun, go anywhere gaming experience that’s going to appeal to a broad range of potential players.

 So grab your rosary, say your prayers and make your peace with your dear and fluffy lord. And as always, keep it fun.

Mech out!