Something is Coming to Melbourne and I'm Excited

By Ben Scerri

Or rather, something is coming back...

I had a rather interesting night last night - I crawled through the rain and much of Fitzroy to find myself at a little gaming bar that Melbournites will know, but potentially not love. You probably all love the idea behind it, but perhaps not the execution. I am talking, of course, about the Mana Bar.

Coming to Melbourne from Sydney, I was excited beyond belief that I could finally go to a Mana Bar, and experience the awesome that was games and drinks in one open and inviting space. I, like most, was very disappointed with what came about. I went a few times, but always had something to grumble about; it was to small, to cramped, uncomfortable, far away and expensive. Also, it was gimmicky - it wasn't somewhere I could see myself at during the day when I need a beer to think through a code problem, or where I could go in and have a chat to the staff, or, hell, just suggest to my friends without making it an 'outing'.

Nearly everyone I have asked about this has expressed identical problems, and this, in itself, is a problem. If it is a hassle to go, no one will go.

Luckily, though, those who run it currently are very aware of the situation.

So this brings me back to last night. I was called in, along side many fellow devs and the like, to act as a focus group for a new project being brewed upon the stove top of awesamity. It is to take the idea of a space where everyone can comfortably drink and play games (and for indie devs to showcase their games), like what the Mana Bar was supposed to be, but to get it right.
Like this, but with 100% less arm severing... Hopefully.
I can't express much about what is being planned, as it is all very hush hush, but I can say two things:

If this works, it will be HUGE for indie devs, gamers and the geek community in Melbourne, and,
it is going to need all of our support to get it going.

More can be found out at The Revenge of the Nerd, so go have a look.

This will not be the last I will mention of this topic.

Stay tuned for more!

*manages to keep a semi-tight lid on his excitement*

I Just Had a Dream

Greetings all,

Firstly, with a new posting surge comes a new layout. It looks much nicer in my opinion, but I would very much like to hear yours... Not to sure about the old background, to be honest.

Anyway, onto the randomness that was my dream (trust me, it is slightly relevant, and I do bring it back in the end). Currently, myself, my lovely companion, and three friends-of-somewhat-dubious-repute are looking to all move out of our current abodes and into a share house (probably around the Balwyn area) and here in much gaming will ensue (as well as, far more likely, a million hours of working time. Fun!). As everyone involved is in my gaming group, we've had a lot of contemplation over the amount of games that we could play/run/host/do, etc.
The dream wasn't this awesome, but it was close...
So, last night when I went to sleep, I dreamed a dream of us house searching. In this dream, we went to a friend's owned property which they were putting up for lease as they were moving somewhere smaller. The place was sparsely furnished (they were moving their wanted stuff and leaving behind their unwanted, etc). We went through and had a look - and liked it - and the rent was reasonable and all that jazz. However, what I found in the back room made the clincher.

Literally thousands of Warhammer models, in various states of paintedness, WFRP adventures, maps, model kits, boxes of paints, terrain features, a massive gaming table, and essentially a young life's worth of serious Warhammer collecting.

I spent the rest of my dream going through it all and dreaming up situations I could use it in. I remember vividly stating at one point "Oh, this Bone Dragon will do wonder for when my players come up against one".

[NOTE: Any players of mine reading this, please be assured that you're not going up against a Bone Dragon. I wouldn't be that mean. Oh wait... I would. But still, you're not!]

Anyway, this got me thinking upon waking up, about the possibilities of a gaming room, and collaborative gaming resources. Namely (even though they weren't much in the dream) RPG books/supplements. That is, of coarse, everything helping in purchase (usually expensive) RPG books so that the cost is individually low.

Is it cool to have a group chip in for supplements for a game they themselves are reaping the rewards of? After the game, who then owns it? Should the GM pay them out?

I'd love to hear some feed back on this one!

How to Breach the Gap: Introducing New People to Our Hobbies...

The task of bringing new people into a hobby is a daunting one, I’ll grant you, but it need not be as difficult as it seems. Over the years I have gotten many people interested in all of my various hobbies and I believe there are a few simple steps involved in converting someone to your niche.

Now, I want it to be plainly said up front, that this is going to be massively cross-genre. This blog is about roleplaying games, Magic: the Gathering, Warhammer, Conlanging and Games Design all at once, so I am going to be talking about how to generally bring people into a hobby. Sure, I’ll use specific examples along the way, but there is nothing stopping anyone from using those same techniques on another of the hobbies I just mentioned, or, frankly, anything else.

Further, I would like to say that this can sometimes be a long winded approach, but I guarantee you will make a nerd out of your target yet!

Step One: Attraction
First of all, you need to introduce your target to the hobby you wish to convert them to. And by ‘introduce’, I mean, ‘give them a tiny taste’. You want your target to see you enjoying this hobby. You don’t even essentially want to talk to them about it at this stage (for fear you will say too much and intimidate them). You just want them to see a glimpse of the fun that you have, which will hopefully make them think “Hey, that looks like fun”.

Then repeat. Then repeat. Do this enough times that the target asks you about the hobby. But make sure they see you doing other things as well... Nothing is more off putting to a new comer than a hobby that envelopes your life!

Step Two: Comparison
Now that you have them drawn in, you want to anchor the hobby onto something they already like. Hopefully your target will already be a nerd in some way. Do they like the Lord of the Rings? Well, Tolkein was a Conlanger! Do they like painting? Well, you get to paint cool models in Warhammer! Do they like poker? Well, MtG is like poker, but with a few extra rules to hype up the strategy!

As you can see, you don’t have to tell them the whole truth at this point. That is for later. Once they have a mental image of what the hobby will most likely be like, go to step three.

Step Three: Don’t Take it Seriously!
Again, nothing is more off putting that a hobby that takes over, and nothing is greater evidence of a take-over than a lack of humour. Be humorous about your hobby (but for the love of God, not about those who play the hobby!) and teach them in a fun and memorable way. For instance, draw a diagram of a MtG card with a silly picture on it (this is actually what I did with my girlfriend... Now she is sending waves of Blue/White Flying creatures at my Kamigawa Orochi swarms!!!). Make a few jokes about the Emperor (but make sure they won’t go over your target’s head! This is certainly not the time for jokes about the Credo Omnissiah, nor references to the Adeptus Custodes changing the Emperor’s nappy!)

You want the hobby to seem fun from the get go. You want to show your target how much fun they can have whilst not even participating in the hobby itself. Hopefully, they will start thinking “If talking about it is this much fun, how much fun will it be to participate?!”

Step Four: Confrontation
Here one must tread lightly. You are now ready to show the target the hobby. But you have to be careful. Go in to strong, and you might have sealed the casket for good. Go in to weak and they won’t see the point of going further...

This calls for some specifics:
Roleplaying Games: You want to run a small game for your target. Preferably a one-on-one, or if you are trying to bring a few people in at once, then only play with the new folk. No one more experienced should be in on this trial game! Do not use pre-generated characters for this, but walk someone through character generation. You as the GM should handle all of the maths, etc, but ask them “What do you want to do?” and then make the character that fits.
Magic: the Gathering: You should make new decks. Plain and simple. Sit down with your target and show them some cards you think are cool, and explain the basics of those cards. Tell them the basics of deck creation, and then let them assemble what they consider to be a strong deck. Try and make yours equally matched. You don’t necessarily want them to win, but you don’t want to steam-roll them. After deck creation is done, play a game and answer questions. Go easy on them, but again, don’t be afraid to beat them. They will know if you’re throwing in the towel, and they will not respect you nor the game for it.
Warhammer: You should show them a White Dwarf, or show them the Games Workshop website. Anything with perfectly painted miniatures in it to make them want to try. Then you should help them choose their first models and teach them to paint the basics. Be careful here, however. Their first paint job will likely be terrible, but do not sweat it. Let them have fun with their creative sides and they will love the hobby for it. Then, once they have a few guys painted, proxy the rest of their army and have a small game. As with the MtG advice, don’t go easy on them, but don’t crush them.
Conlanging: A very tough one. Show them a little of your language, and teach them a basic phrase, like “Hello” of some such. Then, introduce them to the concept of phonology slowly. Show them the silly stuff, like phonemes that are way outside their native language (non-plumonics are GREAT for this sort of stuff). Teach them about far out concepts in languages. If they are from a nom-acc language, then teach them erg-abs. If they have no case markings, then teach them about cases. Basically, show them what CAN be done in a language. Soon enough, they’ll be making their very own cipher of their native tongue with all the bits and pieces you’ve just told them about. This is good. They need to go through a few kitchen sinks to get to the gold. Be patient.
Games Design: Jump on a topic they LOVE to talk about and consider the possibilities of making a game about it. They love talking about climate change? Hell, talk about a climate change information game where you have to manage your resources or doom the planet and lose! (Don’t laugh, I had a very long conversation about this very game concept on a recent road trip...) Then ask them how they would do X in the game, and what about variable Y. Soon enough, you’ll have them throwing ideas around and ramping to write this stuff down. You’re almost there, my friend.

Step Five: Throw them in the Deep End!
They have the basics, now they are ready to swim with the pros. Go slowly, but steadily. Introduce them to communities of like-minded hobbyists. Pick your community correctly, however. Sure /tg/ might be great once you are a pro, but for a new comer it will seem like Mos Eisley! Nice, easy going communities are the best at this stage.

Have a few games, or discussions with other people. Make sure your new comer talks to others, but also be present to give them a safety net. If things get out of hand, diffuse the situation with a few jokes (but never at the new comers expense... At your own expense is probably the best way to go). Come up with a few stories of how terrible you were when you started. Even if the stories are exaggerated, make sure you were worse than the new comer. Subtly point out how far they’ve come.

Once they are confident enough to do things themselves, let them run wild. Stay reasonably close by. Don’t leave the store. Stay online on the IM if they need to talk. Go to the kitchen whilst they talk to your other friends. Let them explore their new world for themselves...

Congradulations, you are now the father/mother of a new nerd... Doesn’t it just feel FANTASTIC!? And trust me on this one; nothing feels as great as when RPG players you introduced to the hobby begin GMing for you. They grow up so fast! *cries*

Do you have any success stories with introducing people to your hobby? Any advice I have forgotten? Anything you would advise someone NOT to do? Leave your comments below! Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe on the right side of the page.

Games Day in All its GLORY! (Part 3 of the Daemon Cycle)

Hi ho, hi ho, the grand day was finally upon us.

We awoke bright and early (well, I did, several times, first at 3am, then at 5, then finally 7) and had showers and got all our stuff together. Afterwards, we discovered we had left the hotel room broken, beaten and scarred. But, hey, what are you supposed to do with a free hotel room?!

We walked down stairs and out the doors for a good ol' morning feed, and, after passing several closed establishments, we decided on Maccas. Yeah, I know. I wasn't too happy about it, but then we had little choice. We got a 'blue H' out of it, at least (I have no idea how the current Maccas scheme is 'I Spy' but, go figure).

Some disgusting food down the whole, and we were ready to go!

We went back to the room, brought all our trappings down and signed out at the desk. Moments later, Papa Scerri was arriving at the loading dock and we jumped in, on our way to the convention hall.

After a little stuffing around with trying to find where we were supposed to park (and watching another guy who clearly didn't know either) we got out and said our good-byes and joined the MASSIVE queue for Games Day! The line did not disappoint. Not too many costumes, but there were a few fine Commissars, and in honour of Dreadfleet coming out, a fair few pirates (and pirate wenches to accompany them). There was also a troupe of Goths which looked like the damn coolest Eldar Harlequins I had ever seen, but I somehow don't think they were actually in 'costume'. That just seemed to be what they usually looked like. Weird.

Anyway, the line started to trickle inside, and once actually inside the doors of the convention hall we saw how awesome the place truly was! It was like a giant steam-punk factory in there... (The place is used to exhibition old trains and engines, so it was filled with cool looking Mechanicus devices for our perusal!)

The line snaked around and we finally got to the doors where a charmingly voiced Irishman gave us our Skaven Warlords and took our tickets. We had been told to 'mention our names on the door' so we did so, and the guy called over his co-worker Gerrard. Gerrard was nice enough to show us around, and to lead us to the Q&A with the Black Library team, where in I was given a free copy of White Dwarf which the Perry twins, Phil Kelly and Anthony Reynolds signed... Oh yeah... AND GRAHAM MC-FUCKING-NEILL! YEAH! (I unfortunately didn't get Mathew Farrer's signature, as he was a tad busy, but that is ok. I can get it next time I am in Canberra :p)

I got to ask my question of Graham, and he was gracious enough to respond (but don't dare believe I will repeat the words of His Holiness, holiest McNeill!!!

Then we went Golden Daemon hunting. Armies on Parade was spectacular! (Pics at the bottom for those interested) And the mainstay competition was brilliant as well. There were a few notables, and those ones are those I chose to place at the bottom of this post. I can't remember exactly who won what with what, but I'll cover that specifically once the Golden Daemon results are posted sometime soon in White Dwarf.

We played two games all up, but the second was incomplete as we left it a little late. The first game was Me, Nemesis, Beard-Guy and Jackie (I say this because to me he looked like Jackie Chan... And I'm not being racist here... He seriously looked like Jackie Chan) playing Tyranids, against Angus (a kid who was like 6 years old or something, god bless him), Glasses-Man, Glasses-Man's Friend and I-Actually-Own-A-Monolith who played Necrons. (Note: I call him that because he seemed to like to remind us every few seconds that he actually indeed did own a Monolith, like it was some big achievement. He was maybe 13 years old and utterly annoying, who didn't know how to handle a Monolith because he advanced it towards a Carnifex and often forgot to shoot with it etc. Furthermore, the second we killed ANY Necrons, he said he wanted to leave the game, and then when the guy running it said that he wouldn't give him a Purity Seal (I'll explain later) if he didn't see the game through, he decided he didn't need to leave anymore.)

The game was pretty close. We got our arses handed to us by an early Monolith shot, where in almost all of our Warriors fell, and then (due to the foolishness of the armies maker, not us) we had to send our Hormagaunts (yes... We had Hormagaunts... Sigh) into die. We eventually took down enough of their forces, however, to be forced into a draw (because they refused to fight us on their last turn and fled, giving us equal victory points instead of a clean end!)

So Purity Seals were given out, and all were happy (except, hopefully I-Actually, who was taken away by his mum shortly before the game, thus denying him his Seal. BAHAHAHAHA!). Now is as good a time as any to explain the Seals. Basically, THQ showed up with a giant replica Space Marine Chainsword. Yeah. I know. And they were raffling it off. You won raffle tickets, 'Purity Seals', if you participated in events, voted, etc. They were giving them away in droves, and they had up to 10,000 of them (as they were 4 numbered, ranging from 0-9). Anyway, back to the story.

Then we had lunch. *Interlude music*

It actually wasn't half bad, but it did cost me my first- and second-born sons... Damn carni-folk!

Then we voted on Armies on Parade, and played our second game: Tau vs Dark Eldar. I was Tau. Never thought I'd see the day. We got a few hits in and barely lost a man, (taking out a squad of Reavers on the first turn, and so forth) but we didn't get to use out Hammerhead. Damn 'Shaken' and 'Stunned'! But then we were saved by the bell... Or should I say the drunken rasping of the Pirate MC?

Awards were awarded, claps were clapped, smiles were smiled and snaps were snapped... Those last ones were camera photo snaps... Forgive me, I seldom get to rhyme.

Then, after a misdraw, some young whipper-snapper got the Chainsword and I vowed bloody retribution on the heads of everyone present. But, you know, I'll get over it.

So, yeah, everything packed up and we were on our way home. Games Day was a success *big smile finish*!

And now those pictures I promised. I don't know how well they turned out, or how well they will turn out for you out there in blagosphere land, but here goes: (Forgive my shitty camera and my shitty photography skills!)

Welcome Back! ; On the Road to Games Day! (Post 1 of The Daemon Cycle)

Greetings my furry, translucent friends!

I would just like to take the time, at first, to apologise for my horrible upkeep of this blog. Several things have gotten in my way (life, for one, but also moving, no internet, being sick, yadda yadda yadda) but nothing is really an excuse for not blogging, bar that of sheer nothing to talk about. Which is sad, considering this is a gaming blog. (And therefore, nothing to talk about means I haven’t been doing any gaming.)


I have moved to Melbourne and reforged my gaming group, so all is underway! I have also refounded my love of Magic: the Gathering, and am going to start posting in regards to that (re)new(ed) love!

So, once again, I am terribly sorry for not posting, but I assure you I will be posting in the near future.


On the Road to Games Day! (Part 1 of the Daemon Cycle)
(Just as a disclaimer: sorry about the overly epic title, I just thought it would be humorous...)

The road to Games Day Australia 2011 is a strange one that oddly takes us all the way back to July of 2009...


Anyway, in July 2009 I presented with some pretty strange symptoms, and, after a while of pain and such and such, I went to hospital. There, I was diagnosed and misdiagnosed and  diagnosed again. Eventually, by August I had a straightish answer (after several surgeries and so forth).

Anyway, turns out I had lymphoma.

Which sucked, but I got over it. Well, I didn’t really have a choice now, did I?!

So I was contacted by the Starlight Children’s Foundation (amazing people: they deserve your support!) who offered me a ‘Wish’. Now, what the hell did I want? I wanted not to be sick, or to see my friends again, or so many hundreds of things that they just couldn’t do... So I was a little in the dumps about all of that. Nothing happened, and the Wish drifted out of my mind.

I finally got out of hospital, went home, and was bored out of my brains. I couldn’t do much but watch TV and Stumble on my computer. So I did a lot of both, and developed a rather unhealthy love of the Lifestyle Food channel!

But then I remembered Warhammer, and I cracked out my paint set (meagre as it was, as I was never the richest of teenagers) and began painting my Goblins and Dwarfs that my most generous mother bought for me in the Skull Pass set to pass my days.

All was peachy.

Then I got a call about the Wish again, and, I had a thought: Warhammer. Specifically, Dark Heresy. I had always loved RPGs and if I got the books, perhaps I could play them with my friends once I got better!
So I asked for all the books, and they said “Anything else?” and I replied that if they couldn’t get the books, perhaps the Citadel Paint Range.

Well, time went on, we all moved, and I eventually wound up in Newcastle, where my brother, for my 19th birthday, gave me the Dark Heresy range of books. Core Rulebook, Creatures Anathema, Inquisitors Handbook, Radicals Handbook and Disciples of the Dark Gods...

I was chuffed! I loved my new books and promptly started a new group in Newcastle to play with them.
Then the Wish called again, and I said “Don’t worry about the books if you don’t already have them, as my brother bought them for me” and they were fine with all of that.

So, more time went on, I met the most fantastic girl in the world, fell in love, played some more Dark Heresy, painted some more Eldar, Dwarfs and Goblins, and just lived on.

Then my love moved to Melbourne and I started Uni. Both were good and bad, in different ways. My love moving was almost all bad: I couldn’t see her except for every couple of weeks when we’d fly to each other, and it was heart breaking to wake up alone without her every day. But there was some good in it: the feeling of seeing her and holding her for the first time in weeks, the magic of Melbourne, and finally the knowledge that we loved each other enough to keep going through all of that.

Uni was a little different: good in that I grew a lot closer to my good ol’ buddy, Mr. Fry, I learnt basic Latin and Ancient Greek, I made this blog, and played some Dark Heresy! It was bad in that I was shoved back into school work after a year and a half without having anything to do... That was jarring.

But anyway, tangents...

After my first semester, I moved to Melbourne to be with my loveliest love, and became much happier. Although, I lost my gaming group. Two months went by and I didn’t really do anything, which was really difficult because I wanted to game and to meet friends but I was scared. Then, I got the idea to email some people on the “DnD” list of a Melbourne shop called “Dungeon of Magic”. Well, lots of responses later, and I had crafted my RPG group and we are to start playing in the next two weeks!!!


I got a call back from Starlight saying that “My Wish package was ready”

What?! It is ready?! The... The Paint Set? I hadn’t been able to paint for months because of the move and everything, so I was very very excited.

“But we have added a few extra things in for you”

Oh? What could be extra? The Dark Heresy books? Maybe I could give them to my old group in Newcastle so they could play without me?

“We got you two free VIP tickets to Games Day Australia 2011, and a host of Dark Heresy books you don’t have, and free accommodation, and spending money.”


“Are you there?”

*flat lines*

“Did you just die?”

(Sorry, should have cleared that up) *metaphorical flat line*

“Oh good, he’s still alive”


So I invited my best friend, and we were all set to go to Games Day on October 1st... I MUST PREPARE!

(To be Continued...)