Today I want to talk about the future of the hobby and what we can do to keep it bright!
Hobby time and game time are a coveted time when you have a family and work to schedule around. I have talked about it before but it has been on my mind a lot again, especially since most recently I have been failing to juggle the chaos of life and not getting in the hobby time I want.
Summertime was all set to be relaxing and quiet with lots of time to work on models–I have a Wood Elf army commission I am working on as well as my own Empire–and game but here we are in August and my hobby is suffering from abandonment. I do have a good excuse and it fits right along with my topic for today: there are extra kids in my house.
3 are mine, the others were here for an extended vacation
“Mommy can I paint with you?”
“Mommy when can I get my own army?”
“Mommy do you have time that we can battle?”
“Mommy when can I paint?”
“Auntie are those my most favorite horsies? Can we play with them?”
These questions are repeated quite often in my home (for men substitute “Mommy” with “Daddy” or “Uncle”).
Unfortunately most recently my answer has been
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“no its too hard to do while your brother/cousin is up”
“it’s too hot today”
“no mommy is trying to get ready for the tournament”
If I were running a tally I am sure I said no at least 14 times this week, crushing the hopes of my young kids and likely influencing their desire to be in the hobby or at least how they will view it in their lives. Not only at the moment am I influencing my own kids with the hobby but their cousins as well. Much of this came to mind the other day when we had friends call and ask if they could come by for a game of Warhammer.
My niece and nephew had been seeing models all through our house (several display cabinets) but that night was their first time seeing a game table set up with terrain and armies, their eyes got big and wide and in a rush of words exclaimed how cool my castles were and how the eyes on my tower were glowing and look at how big the giant was standing next to the little guy (the little guy being an Ogre). It reminded me of something: kids are the future of our hobby.
They Are the Future
I remember working as a red shirt and my focus back then was on both ensuring new players–no matter their age–enjoyed themselves and existing players (vets) continued to play. If you recall over the last few years that focus seems to have shifted somewhat so that the focus was more on new players and less on vets. I did disagree with that shift but I also understand that new players (no matter their age) need more attention as they get started, more reasons to keep coming out and more reasons to keep that momentum–many vets tend to be able to self-motivate. Kids need that push and attention even more so.
Kids are our future and the future of our hobby. It is my belief that if we don’t teach them then it is our own fault that our hobby is lacking in opponents or that the “younger generations” show no interest in it and that it has no future.
One day I will die, it is inevitable, and even if I have not lost interest in the rolling the dice before that it means I will stop playing Fantasy when I do. If I have not taught someone else about my passion for and love of the hobby and the game then how can I expect them to keep the tradition going?
Success By 6
If you are a parent you may already be familiar with the phrase “Success By 6” and with the programs available as part of that program (here’s a link in case you aren’t). Studies have shown that something like 90% of the mind is developed by the age 6.
My daughter was only a few months old when we brought her to her first tournament (this one happens to be 40K but many others were Fantasy)
By the age 6 my kids have seen hundreds of Fantasy games, thousands of models and learned that in order to play fantasy themselves they need to learn to read and do math. By the age 6 my kids were in kindergarten learning to read, and used the Fantasy rulebook and army books as a way to do it.
There is no reason yours can’t do the same.
My oldest son, RJ, took army books when learning to write and copied out entire sections from them: rules, stat lines, fluff and anything else that was on those pages. When he started he had no idea what the words said, but he learned and now he knows that Warpfire is AWESOME!!! and that his Rat Ogres get to stomp Infantry but not Cavalry. In Grade 1 we were told he was reading and writing at a higher level than most of the other kids in his grade–I don’t think the same would be true if he had simply been reading “See Spot Run” or “Barnyard Dance” (both great kids books by the way). He also now has a passion for Fantasy novels and reads Black Library books (mostly the ones about Skaven).
We also spent time reading the rules with him and discussing them so that he could learn the words and their meanings. He amazes me when we play with the little rules he remembers.
By 6 RJ owned enough models and had painted most of them to play 500 and 1000 points army lists.
By 6 most of his friends knew he had models that he painted and played games with and thought they were cool but they just wanted to throw them in the toy box and play with their Lego or tablets or watch TV.
By 6 most kids have gone to sports camps, art camps, day camps or whatever other kinds of programs there are available in the area (most common here is hockey or soccer camp). If you’re a parent you know the importance of your child socializing, learning skills, and feeling accomplished at something. If you’re a Fantasy loving Warhammer player and a parent you also want your child to know the importance of not picking up a model and treating it like any of their other toys. I have this idea I am calling Fantasy Camp.
In our community at the moment teachers are on strike so there will be no school in September, so I am going to put together a “Fantasy Camp” for my kids and pitch it to parents of their friends so that they have someone at their level to play against.
Kids have a short attention span. All you need is 1-2 hours a day (this is less time than most play dates)
models–when we did Summer Camps at GW we started with a Blister and a Battalion box. For this I would lean more towards a Character and a Regiment box (get each child’s parents to put in the money for the models for the army their kid wants)
newspaper or kraft paper
tape measure or ruler
Approximately $80-100 (Canadian) per kid–get the parents of the kids involved in sharing the cost since it is their kids too.
How does it work?
My idea is to set aside a 2 hours every day for a week (you can do more if you want) Fantasy Camp, for us I’ll probably arrange it for about 1-3 pm because that’s what tends to work. I would suggest pre-building the models for everyone the first time around (especially since super glue and plastic glue are not the greatest for kids to use). Keep in mind that when I am thinking this out that I am thinking in terms of my own kids (ages 4-7) but it can be easily adapted for any age level.
spread newspaper or kraft paper over the table where they will be working before kids arrive
tell them if they want to play with them first they have to paint them
1-1:15 – sit them at the table and give them all the models (they’re young kids they’re going to immediately start looking at them anyway and asking a million questions and making up some game to battle each other right away.
1:15-1:45 – let the kids base paint (longer if they have the patience to)–try to teach them to do it right but remember they are kids so don’t get upset if they just rush and put paint on it (and by the way you should be painting your own stuff at the same time)
1:45-2:30 – give them a snack and send them outside to run around, and play while the paint dries
2:30-3 – let them paint some more (washes or dry brushing if they’re ready for it but in my experience they’ll still be base painting the models)
3 – send them home or back out to play or let them keep painting if you want
spread newspaper or kraft paper over the table where they will be working before the kids arrive
remind them they need to finish painting them so you can teach them the game
1-1:15 – sit them at the table and give them back their models
1:15-1:45 – get the kids to dry brush or wash the models (you probably won’t get much painting done on your own project this time)
1:45-2:30 – give them a snack and send them outside to run around and play while the paint dries
2:30-3 – let them finish dry brushing or washing the models (you should have time to paint your own stuff here)
3 – send them home or back out to play or let them keep painting if you want
set up terrain on the table (don’t worry about proper table size, kids can’t reach on a normal Fantasy table anyway so keeping it smaller so they can reach is better at this stage)
1-1:15 sit them at the table and give everyone their models
1:15-1:20 quickly tell them about the game you’re about to play (do it skirmish style, teach very basic rules, don’t upgrade anything, we’ll talk about the specifics later in this article)
1:20 onward (probably until about 2) – start with ranking up models on movement trays and play the game
2-3 give them a snack and send them outside to run around and play before they go home
Day 4 – Repeat Day 3 Day 5 – Repeat Day 3
Rules of the Game
For anyone under the age of 12 I would suggest that you keep everything really simple.
Use infantry/monstrous infantry only
use characters on foot only
no unit or character upgrades
all the kids play on one table
use movement, shooting and combat phases like in a pitched battle but it is every player for themselves
For anyone over 12 you should still keep everything simple but you can go a little more in depth with the rules (I can sit down and put something more thorough together if people are actually interested)
I’m actually really excited about doing this now that I have been telling you about it and can’t wait to discuss it with the parents of my kids. We can even keep it going a few days a week once the initial week is over.
Hobby at School
Now you may think I am nuts for suggesting going this far, but this can actually be quite fun too.
My kids’ school has a Boys Club and a Girls Club where a specific group of kids get together after school to do activities together–I believe there are quite a few schools out there that do similar programs. There is no reason you could not volunteer an hour or so of your time to come in and teach them in a similar way to the Fantasy Camp I have talked about. We’ve discussed it at our school and I know two teachers in a neighboring school district that play Fantasy that have started Warhammer clubs for gaming as well.
When I was a red shirt we had groups of Home Schooled students who came in every week for a “mega battle” and painting which is basically what the Fantasy Camp is, it was a great way to introduce them to the game and get them started.
A word of caution.
While I am very keen in the tournament scene and would love for my kids to join me I am under no delusion that they would be mature enough to handle a tournament scene.
Depending on the age, experience and maturity of your child that may be different for you. RJ played in a 500 point tournament with us in the spring and while he enjoyed it and really had fun and learned a lot it was harder for those of us who have been around a while (adults in general) to game with him and feel really satisfied with their games.
If you want to have your kids play in tournaments please teach them quite thoroughly and do multi-game days with you and friends so that you can see how they will be able to handle it. Even better I would suggest doing a “Kids Tourney” if you have others kids who would play too.
In juggling life sometimes we feel the strain of family or hobby. This is normal and for the most part it sounds like people are finding ways to make it work in their lives as much as they can. Sometimes this means taking several weeks off (as I have done this last few weeks) to focus on family more than hobby. Sometimes it means hobby overshadows family (tournament prep). Whatever you do please try to remember that you are the face of Fantasy in your home the same way that you are an example to your child about how to deal with anything else. How you cope, talk about it, involve them or shut them out is going to taint how they see it.
Make it a good experience and I can guarantee you’ll be happier for it–who knows maybe one day your little ones will be beating you at your own game.
I’m signing off for now, I have some dice bags to finish up for players but I would love to hear your thoughts on Fantasy Camp and teaching the next generation about Fantasy.
My next article I’ll be sharing battle reports and discussing “When Egos Collide” where Team Hammerhead has challenged Team Abusement Park (plus me) to a 4 on 4 single day fun/grudge match using Wet Coast GT rules and scenarios…I wonder if the Tomb Kings can do it again or if Cody will bring something else.
Meanwhile you can find updates on the Commission on my personal blog Women with Dice and about my dice bags and events I run (including the upcoming Kippers’ Melee) at www.kippersmelee.ca or follow me on Twitter @jenaspden