The value of a good gaming group

I wrote this a few years ago after a particularly . . . interesting weekend. My firends from the group still meet, although not as often as we once did.

The Value of a Good Gaming Group

One thing that most of us in this hobby have had to deal with is the prejudiced opinion of outsiders that Gamers are reality challenged geeks that cannot function in the real world and that Gaming itself has no practical value. Although establishments such as eSports have changed ideals over the years, with players earning millions from just playing on their lol accounts in a competitive setting. Still, I will explain later on, the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina give a tremendous example of how these prejudicial statements are false.

Being part of a gaming group has all kinds of benefits. For example, when one of our members streams their gameplay, we can all get involved and give each other tips and advice. Coolest Gadgets review new gaming trends, such as cloud gaming, and we discuss these new trends and what impact it could have on our games. Cloud gaming is similar to streaming so our group is always interested in new technology that can improve our gaming strategies. Streaming has completely changed the way people play video games, but it is even more important than ever to think about your cybersecurity. To learn more about security measures you can take to enhance your gaming and streaming experience, take a look at this useful guide on the web safety advice site. Another benefit of our gaming group is that we get to share tips and tricks relating to all the latest gaming equipment and gadgets. For example, quite often we will use an article from a gaming website such as AdremGaming to spark a conversation about any new gaming computers or laptops.

My region has a facility designed to coordinate communications between the Incident Command System and health care providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, health departments and clinics. The facility is not routinely staffed but counts on a duty roster of volunteers from a variety of other organizations to make it operational. When I took the management position there in July of this year one of my biggest worries was how to staff the facility if those volunteers, all of whom have emergency management responsibilities at their full time jobs, are tasked elsewhere.

This was exactly the situation I found myself in on Saturday when the call came to activate the center on Sunday Sept 4th. To complicate matters it was also a holiday weekend and many other people were out of town.

Lacking any other resource I called upon my friends, men and women that make up a long standing gaming group. As with many gaming groups the people involved are a diverse lot, with educations ranging from high school to advanced degrees. None of them work in emergency response or have any background in professional emergency preparedness. Several are software engineers, another works for a publishing company, and my wife is a corporate travel agent. All of them came down and hit the ground running that Sunday morning.

Before I could even think of things, such as spreadsheets and databases, they began to appear on the center’s computer system. Within hours we had established a huge spreadsheet of medical professionals willing to staff our regional reception center. Transportation companies had been contacted for the use of vans, busses and even cabs to move evacuees to appropriate medical clinics or temporary housing. Messages flashed out over HEAR radio and the web bases EMSystem to hospitals in ten counties in two States. Hundreds of phone calls were facilitated. Resources were located and methods to ensure they got where they were needed were found.In the critical first hours only two other professionals and myself, were available to work in the center. If we had been without my gaming friends’ assistance I doubt the center would have reacted as quickly. Not a single phone call was dropped. No data was lost and no request for information or assistance went unanswered. All through Sunday and Monday these in people stood in and made the center fully operational for an extended period for the very first time. Incoming information was collected and rapidly evolving information streams were directed to a variety of facilities.

By stand down on Monday evening we had written and road validated directions to the reception center, built spreadsheets for transportation, durable medical equipment (such as wheel chairs and walkers) and other resources and the medical workers list had grown to several hundred persons. Over the rest of this week staffing has been done by a talented group of other people as well, since all my gaming friends are gainfully employed and cannot leave their day jobs for extended periods. Some have been able to come in for a morning or an afternoon shift. One came in and did sterling work setting up two new fax machines and other electronic equipment, a job he did with polished efficiency.

“Well begun, half done” is an old saying, but no less true for its age. The communications center was truly well begun and that laid a foundation for future success. We never got behind the events. Our decision loop was always positive, We could even look ahead and begin long range planning. If these concepts seem familiar to many it is because they are often used in gaming, and in all honesty many of the skills we used those first two days were ones learned in years of simulations and role playing. We acted as a team because for years we had role played as one. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and were able to seamlessly establish tasking to make best use of them. I’ve been in emergency response and planning for over fifteen years and worked in many Tactical Operation Centers, Incident Command Posts and Emergency Operations Centers. I would be hard pressed to find one that was as free of friction as ours was. Was this entirely due to our being gamers? Certainly it wasn’t. I have absolutely no doubt that being gamers gave them the skills to do the jobs we were tasked with and made us a team that got the job done.

Hundreds of people will benefit from the work my gaming group did and they will never know it was a bunch of “gaming geeks” that made it happen.


I spent the weekend at Archon in Collinsville, Illinois. This is the St Louis regional SF con. We had over 1900 in attendance. Tom Kidd was the artist guest of honor and he does some absolutely stunning artwork. In terms of Alternative History he does covers for most of the 143X series of novels in which Eric Flint has sent part of West Virginia back to the 30 years war. he also did the very steampunk-like cover for Fitzpatric’s War. He has a blog with many excellent links here http://kiddography.blogspot.com/.

Since I am staff for the convention I didn’t get to do any gaming myself but it seemed like a good time was being had there. I did notice a huge upswing in Steampunk costumes.


Ground Zero Games

Alright these guys don’t do any VSF (Yet, please oh please oh please). I bought a small number of their figures so I could do standard SF versus Bugs (there was a really cool book about this, which sadly has yet to be made into a film). I have some old Martian Metals Traveller grav vehicles so I figured with a few infantry guys I’d have a force that could fight the bugs using Dirt Side or something like that.

I have a large number of GZG 25mm figs that fit really well with Denizen and other true 25mm but decided I would pick up some of their 15mm as well.  Service was excellent and so are the figures. They have some flash that needs to be removed but for the most part are fairly effortless. I haven’t finished painting them yet, but even a coat of spray primer brings out good details. The animation is nice and there is a vast selction of equipment and poses.

Again if you are looking for “standard” futuristic Sci Fi in 15mm GZG should be your first stop.

I forgot the coolest thing. In the robots set is a drone from Silent Running! Excellent

M.Y. Miniatures

I ordered a number of miniatures from M.Y. Miniatures who offer some interesting lines of figures in 15mm. These include a large number of extinct animals, primitive tribesman and some fantasy elements. Some of the older figures are currently being re-sculpted. I’ll offer a quick review of their newer material.  The order arrived very quickly and service was excellent. Michael sent along a few extras which was extremely generous. Cost was reasonable and packing was good. One of the nicest pieces is a two pony wagon. The kit goes together well and the ponies look nice and shaggy. I haven’t painted this yet, but from the look of things this will be a nice kit and a useful addition. It will be good for any period from about 1700 on to WW2, depending upon who is placed in the seat. I was really looking forward to the Megatherium, or giant ground sloth. The figure is well cast, but seems a bit small-not as much mega as therium. On a personal note the pose of the animal reaching upwards with one of its huge forepaws doesn’t work for the use I had planned for it (as a mount for my Venusian Heavy shock cavalry). In terms of the animal and its lifestyle is a very good pose indeed. Another winner is their extinct Australian giant lizard. This could be a modern day Komodo Dragon. This figure is well animated and I particularly like the extended tongue as the beast tastes the air to seek its prey. The ground walking vultures are very nice and the cattle workmanlike and useful. I was also sent several additional figures for review, including some nice bears, a couple of sabre-tooth cats and an array of various pachyderms.

Another very cool item is the conning tower of a Japanese mini submarine. Just the thing for landing agents on teh American West coast!

Some of these are very nice and others appear to be some of the older castings, which aren’t up to M.Y.’s current standards. I look forward to doing business with M.Y. in the future.

Khurasan Miniatures

Khurasan is known for 15mm historicals but they have begun to branch out into other realms. This includes 28mm Sci Fi and various 15mm efforts. I picked up 15mm figs from their Mystri island WW1 era lost world setting, one of their historical lines and the 28mm Sci Fi setting.

From Mysteri Island I bought their three personality figures, a female big game hunter in pants with an elephant gun and pistols, her British companion and a Germanic type fellow with an eye patch and a pistol. All three are very well sculpted and cast. The lizard men come in an assortment of poses and a number of turtle shell shields were included. these glued on easily and the effect of a couple of dozen cherging headlong looks fearsome.

From the 28mm range I bought alien arachnids (go figure). These were a bit fiddley to put together but once I got the method down assembled fairly well. You will need to drill out the holes for inserting various parts onto the main body. Once assembled they look pretty nice (perhaps nice is not the right word). Download the instructions from the web site. It makes assembly much more simple.

Good service and good products with more on the way


Evil Gong Squidmen

In the HQC universe at least two alien races have been described. The most obvious are la seplurdi or “True Martians”. These intelligent creatures inhabit Mars (as could be guessed from their name). The Oonaliss on the other hand are a technologically advanced semi aquatic race. I’ve been toying with these guys for some time and have been torn between a froglike lineage and one from molusca. I ordered some East Riding Miniatures frogmen and some Evil Gong squidmen. The squids have arrived first and boy are they wonderful. The detail is nice and crisp, very little flash and they come in several poses. These are low tech land-squids with spears and clubs. they also have shields. The sculpting is good and the poses are animated like one would expect for such boneless creatures.

Obviously they have regressed from any starfaring days due to their long exile in the deadly seas of Venus. I look forward to painting these squidlets up, they should look really nice on the game table.

I will have to do charts and such for these strange creatures for The Sword and the Hive as soon as I get a chance.

I will post pictures there as soon as possible. Currently Evil Gong’s web page is down and undergoing revision. Their email address is still up on TMP http://theminiaturespage.com/man/evilgong/. David the Evil Brown responded very quickly to my email and the figs arrived from Australia very rapidly. I look forward to Evil Gong’s web page being re-erected and ordering more of these strange creatures.


Modeling Information Added

Since I posted this originally I’ve done more work on the small walker. I want to use what I’ve done as a master for resin casting. Anyone out there with experience who wants to lend a hand will be most welcome! I’ve added three pages with information on some of my modeling efforts. They are all currently still in progress. I’m looking forward to finishing the Targee especially. She isn’t for gaming but for display and once she is finished I hope to thrill some sci fi convention goers with her. I was hoping to have her ready for Archon next month but that is pretty unlikely. By the grace of God next year!

Bug Miniatures-GFI Miniatures review

The Sword and the Hive is a set of miniatures rules and even when I role play I tend to have figures on the table. This means that miniatures are important to this setting. Many years ago Scott Flower and I developed a line of Bug figures when his company Game Tech was still up and running. We just felt that great big bugs would be fun to game with, what has now matured into HQC was just a few random thoughts in notebooks and posts to various lists. I did some of the design and kit bashed some masters. Scott re-sculpted them into usable miniatures and made RTV moulds. He also designed a few of the bugs from scratch. Together we produced about a dozen figures all told, but sadly we really never got them into commercial production. After years of looking round I finally was able to get the figs in production with Game Figures, Inc. Tom Dye has done a great job bring the minis out. I’ll review the figs now (this is not at all an unbiased review-let me say that right up front) First let’s cover the two Lancer’s a Minor one and a Media one. The minor comes in a pack of 4 for 9.95. It requires assembly but is very easy to put together. The Media lancer is a bit tougher to build but is far larger; you get three in a pack, again for 9.95. Both lancers look the part of scary rapidly moving critters. The Chopper and Shooter figs use the same basic structure and both have three models (requiring assembly) per pack. These miniatures tend to be a bit fragile when assembled, but can be restored quickly. I always bring a bit of super glue out to events for quick repairs. The Large and Small crabs are some of the best looking bugs. Scott designed the large crab from scratch. They both assembly easily. Just make certain you have a good surface on which to glue the tail of the large crab. Both paint up very well. The Mantis is based on the same idea as the smaller crab and is also easy to built. All of these come with three bugs in a pack for 9.95. Scott also deigned The Worker, a more generic fellow which has three models in the pack. These creatures have fore limbs designed for manipulation rather than hunting and killing. Finally there is the ant, which can be used as a small worker or a small trapper in the HQC universe. The figures are all workmanlike. They may not be up to the current state of the art standard for the industry but they look great on the game table and are priced reasonably. You can put together a scary looking horde without selling a kidney. We hope to put a flying bug out soon. The original wings were vac formed and that has been a problem in terms of scaling up. Look for the flying lancer soon. Game Figures also produces a giant scorpion, a giant beetle and another giant Bug in their fantasy lines. The giant Beetle makes a great Major Trapper if its head is cut and placed in a small resin crater. The giant scorpion can be a Super Major Crab or Crusher if the stinger is removed.

Languages and scripts

I’ve added two links, one to the created language Lojban, the second to an artificial writing system called 12480. Alien cultures need there own languages. The la seplurdi, the very strange aliens discovered on Mars needed a language they could use to communicate with humans. After some querries Michael from my list suggested the created language Lojban. I believe he also located the created numbering/script system 12480.

The aliens use a number of communications methods when passing information between themselves but use lojban when communicating with their human slaves. All languages on Mars and Venus are derived from Lojban. This doesn’t mean a lojban speaker will be fluent in a language from Venus. In the thousands of years since Venus was abandoned by the aliens languages have changed. Consider the roots of English four thousand yars ago and how it is spoken today and the problems should be in perspective.


Hive, Queen and Country Contest

On my yahoo group I occasionally run disastrously boring contests that generate some moderate amount of disinterest and usually have a single entry when all is said and done. One was for a VSF invention, which Don won (garnering an excellent set of steampunk goggles my wife made), the next for a scenario for a miniatures battle which Alan won and which will be part off The Sword and The Hive rule book as the free scenario, since he was kind enough to allow publication (and since it was more than good enough to see publications!)

OK, here is my new contest:

Go to your bookshelves, a library, a book shop or other place with lots of books. RANDOMLY select three books from three widely separated areas (both physically separated and in terms of subject matter). Take core ideas events or characters from those three books and develop something related to VSF, Steampunk or Hive, Queen and Country in Particular. This can be a character concept, a piece of artwork, a costume, and invention, a scenario or a fictional story.

The rules
Say what three books they were and where you found them-All on this list are considered gentlemen and ladies so there is a certainty that books will not be “cherry picked” to lead to a pre identified idea.
Say what three ideas you are using and which books they came from
Entries must be in to me by October 15th. The winner will announced no later than December 1st.
No other rules.

We will post the entries on the yahoo group and on the web page and will have a voter poll to determine the winner

The Prize:
A signed copy of The Sword and The Hive
I will assemble, paint and base a bike of hive creatures for your gaming pleasure
I will work to include the work in the next published HQC product in some fashion.