Introduction: In case those folks that know me are fearing I’ve dropped off the side of the planet, I spent last week running a Gaming Camp for a local school for a week. This is a continuation of a project started by onetime HMGS President Del Stover, and the intent was to get children interested in “unplugged” gaming– something outside the realm of Internet, Xbox, PCs and Iphones. I’ve been doing this for about five years off and on. Game Camp is an activity that I really enjoy and it has influenced a few kids over the years, I’m reasonably certain.
I did not put on a camp last year; therefore, I was a little late getting into the catalog and that may have kept attendance low– I only had word of mouth and the website to spread the word with. I only had six kids this year, as opposed to 14 to 20 in years past. Even with small numbers, we had a great time and in many ways the camp was more efficient. In fact, I daresay I had a better time than usual as they were very easy to manage, with the help of my son Gar.
This year, I didn’t stress the format too much. I design a new game (at least one) every year and this year was no exception– OLYMPICA 6mm debuted as a 6mm-ish miniatures game, and there are more details on it in this post. I had a few arrangements fall through on me for this year so had to do some last minute scrambling to pick up supplies.
The format and structure of camp was similar to previous years in that I procured miniatures for the kids to paint (in this case, 3 boxes of Wargames Factory Storm troopers, 1 box of Warhammer Zombies and some leftovers and donated miniatures from Robert Peipenbrook, (for which they were very grateful). I was flat out of things by Friday, and I just told them to take it all home with them, which led to an orgy of procurement. I’m not a particularly gifted painter, but I can, kinda sorta, make things look like they should. So I went over some fundamentals and they really took to it. One person in particular, Gage, really did some nice work.
Day One: Really Big Gladiators versus the Undead Legion
I ran a quick game of OZ FLUXX during lunch, just to lighten spirits. It seemed to work!
Game idea: 54mm gladiators versus a seemingly endless wave of skeletal warriors, similar to Jason and the Argonauts (the good version)
Rules: Munera sine Milone
Minis: A mixture of Italieri, Pegasus, Marx, Alpha and a few other onesies and twosies.
I run Munera Sine Milone gladiator games using 54mm gladiator games on Monday, almost every year so far. There’s a good reason for this. It’s a great game that is phenomenally easy to pick up and kind of runs itself after a while. It gets the kids into the spirit of the thing nicely. This year, I added an undead horde of skeletons to vanquish, which they did rather handily, though I will make ’em tougher next time.
Gladiators versus the Skeleton Horde
Dwarf Gladiators get swarmed.
I got the vibe that they kind of dug it. This was our victor.
Day Two: OLYMPICA 6MM, The UN Attempts to defeat the Web of Compulsion on Mars
Game Idea: UN Raid on Nix Olympica Crater, targeting the “Web of Compulsion” generator and the near-hivemind cult of the “Webbies” on Mars.
Rules: Olympica6mm, written for the game.
Minis: almost 100% Mechwarrior Clickie miniatures from Whizkids, rebased, or kitbashed. I also bought a radar station for the web generator from Iron Cow.
This activity is discussed in depth in an earlier post. Suffice to say that it looked great and the kids picked up on the game fast enough, but I don’t think they grasped a few concepts easily, so may have to rewrite these. Check the other post for a draft of the rules.
Olympica 6mm setup
Olympica 6mm main battlefield
Olympica 6mm Closeup
Another long view
In general the kids felt that the game was good but the UN players felt like they couldn’t win. Which is weird because I felt the opposite when I played the webbie player back when this was a boardgame. I’m going to make certain adjustments in hit points and movement rates. I did feel like the UN player wasn’t advancing nearly as fast as he could. It’s a work in progress.
While I was setting OLYMPICA up, Gar ran ROADKILL RALLY (this was his first day helping me, Tuesday, and he loved lending a hand). The kids definitely loved this one, and why not? It has everything a kid would love– cartoony violence and a smug sense of humor.
Day Three: Finish Olympica, Set up and Play Uncharted Seas, Battle of the Steam Plume
Game Idea: Multiple Fleets compete to establish foothold on rich island owned by the Dragon Lords. Alas, there is a large active volcano blocking the harbor, which often erupts a little lava.
Rules: Uncharted Seas (commercial)
Minis: Uncharted Seas, various fleets (commercial)
Wednesday dawned and the kids wanted to finish OLYMPICA 6mm. I pulled another game out of the lineup, which was a rewrite of the old Lilliputtian game I had done several camps ago.
No muss, no fuss. We played OLYMPICA out to a Webbie victory, and then I got Gar to run my favorite boardgame of ALL time, COSMIC ENCOUNTERS (Fantasy Flight Version). Even running the short game with four planets, I was suprised how quickly the kids got through two games of CE.
Packing up Cosmic Encounters after two quick games
Oh well, they had fun and Gar does seem confident running this game. It’s a particular favorite of his.
Day Four: An entire day of Uncharted Seas, much to my surprise.
The setup for the Uncharted Seas game was a replay of The Battle of the Steam Plume, which I have run at Williamsburg Muster and Cold Wars. I just love having the Volcano.
The rest of Wednesday and ALL of Thursday was taken up with an Epic UNCHARTED SEAS game, which may require an epic narration, so suffice to say, I will break that one out into another post shortly. I was not surprised that the game went long, but was dumbfounded at how much they wanted to play after literally playing ALL DAY LONG on Thursday. We did play through to a conclusion. I ran a lackadaisical Orc fleet just to keep the far end of the board from stagnating, and it worked perfectly. Gar ran his current favorite fleet, the Shroud Mages, and the Humans, the Elves, the Dwarves and the Undead were also on the table. More on this later.
Undead and Shrouds get a horrendous critical hit in the last turn of the game…
A lesson in not counting your chickens before they are hatched. The tiny dwarf cruiser misses a ram, gets boarded, and in the ensuing fight to the death with Orc Boarders from the Pillager, manages to kill every last one of them to capture the prize.
The Humans try a Da Vinci boarding attack, from a balloon. It works admirably and they take a Dwarven battleship!
The Elves hold off attacking anyone until quite late.. earning the sobriquet, “The Pacifists” in this fight.
I promote Uncharted Seas as the centerpiece of the weak, and this game was no exception.. big, bright, colorful, with lovely big fantasy models that I have used for many sea fights. I love Uncharted Seas, and I made a fan out of some of the kids. One of them even went and ordered DYSTOPIAN WARS stuff from Miniatures Market based upon this game.
So Thursday’s stuff was packed up and Friday dawned as the last day of camp.
DAY 5: Hey, Hey, it’s Zombietown USA
Game idea: You’re running two SWAT team members in a group that just barely made it back to main camp, only to find it overrun by the undead.
Rules: Zombietown USA, written by camp members a few years ago but still great.
Minis: Mostly HorrorClix Zombies and SWAT team members.
I ran a game that was actually designed by my campers a few years ago and modded by me a little, HEY, HEY, IT’S ZOMBIETOWN USA. This is a dirt simple zombies versus a SWAT Team game, and it went really well.. for such a simple game, it may have been a favorite for many kids.
Zombie Mutants attack. All figures repurposed HORROR CLIX miniatures from Whizkids.
SWAT troopers shake off the zombie horde to run for it, not caring that running makes noise that attracts more zombies.
A hairy moment early in the game where the SWAT guys get surrounded.
Towards the end of the game, many silly things happened, including Garrett discovering a laser-wielding alien that nearly killed him, and Grenade thrown into the foundations of a very ricket building (FROM THE UPSTAIRS) and even more zombies showing up. Not quite a horde, but a lot.
We had to have a winner to close the game out, so we nominated Gage’s SWAT guy as a winner, zipping down the zip line to the helipad. SO long, Suckers! I’m outta here!
The Winner, mostly by decree as he had gotten the farthest to the chopper, was Gage.
And that was camp! We played a ton of games– Fluxx, Cosmic Encounter, The Resistance, and Roadkill Rally board and card games, and Miniatures games of Olympica 6mm, Really Big Gladiators, Uncharted Seas and Zombietown USA. Reaction to the camp was overwhelmingly positive. I had one kid say “This was hands down the best camp all Summer, PLEASE run it again next Summer”
That is very gratifying.
Couple of Paperless Gaming Notes: I didn’t print out Munera Sine Milone on Monday. We just ran the game from my Ipad E-Reader, and that worked just fine! Olympica, the same story. I did work from a rulebook for Uncharted Seas (it’s too complex not to) and used paper. I only worked from one printout to run Zombietown USA, but it was left over from last year.
I was amazed at how fast the week went. Things went off without a hitch. It was mostly a positive pleasant experience, with a touch of drama here and there. Boys will be boys. I’m glad I threw this this year and I hope I can do it again in 2013.
Farewell! Until Next Year!