The Pirates of Mason, Ohio: Similarities between the MEA and Blackbeard

MASON, OH (FOX19) -

Parents and teachers in Warren County want more money and better benefits for the Mason City School District.

The Mason Education Association, which represents 650 educators, has been negotiating a new employment contract since April.  Mason teachers say they’re not only concerned about money and benefits but also concerned about cuts to academic programs and facilities.

The union also declared a “no confidence” position in superintendent Gail Kist-Kline.

The district meanwhile says it’s hopeful that negotiations will continue during the summer months, and a contract settlement will be reached before the beginning of the school year.

According to school board members, Dr. Kist-Kline was hired following a levy failure, and asked to lead during a time of economic challenge that required the district to improve efficiency and make difficult decisions.

 http://www.fox19.com/story/25961786/mason-educators-fight-for-more-money-better-benefits

 

The story continued with the MEA (Mason Education Association) threatening to go on strike and late in the afternoon on July 8th 2014, a contract agreement was reached which will then go to a vote by the union members. Teachers all across Ohio rejoiced as one of the wealthiest districts in that state had proven that it was once again ripe for pillaging. The entire story of how the teacher’s union in Mason threatened a hostile action—work stoppage—preventing parents who pay the taxes there from retaining their free baby sitting service at the end of summer, forced the payment of ransom which were pay increases. It was all too reminiscent of an old pirate story about Blackbeard’s blockade of the Charleston harbor in 1718. That old story about pirate action was essentially the same as the modern story of the MEA in Mason, Ohio 2014.

Edward Teach (also Edward Thatch, c.1680—22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. Although little is known about his early life, he was probably born in Bristol, England. He may have been a sailor on privateer ships during Queen Anne’s War before settling on the Bahamian island of New Providence, a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined sometime around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnet, but toward the end of 1717 Hornigold retired from piracy, taking two vessels with him.

Blockade of Charleston

By May 1718 Teach had awarded himself the rank of Commodore and was at the height of his power. Late that month his flotilla blockaded the port of Charleston (then known as Charles Town) in South Carolina. All vessels entering or leaving the port were stopped, and as the town had no guard ship,[40] its pilot boat was the first to be captured. Over the next five or six days about nine vessels were stopped and ransacked as they attempted to sail past Charleston Bar, where Teach’s fleet was anchored. One such ship, headed for London with a group of prominent Charleston citizens which included Samuel Wragg (a member of the Council of the Province of Carolina), was the Crowley. Her passengers were questioned about the vessels still in port and then locked below decks for about half a day. Teach informed the prisoners that his fleet required medical supplies from the colonial government of South Carolina, and that if none were forthcoming, all prisoners would be executed, their heads sent to the Governor and all captured ships burnt.[41]

Wragg agreed to Teach’s demands, and a Mr. Marks and two pirates were given two days to collect the drugs. Teach moved his fleet, and the captured ships, to within about five or six leagues from land. Three days later a messenger, sent by Marks, returned to the fleet; Marks’s boat had capsized and delayed their arrival in Charleston. Teach granted a reprieve of two days, but still the party did not return. He then called a meeting of his fellow sailors and moved eight ships into the harbor, causing panic within the town. When Marks finally returned to the fleet, he explained what had happened. On his arrival he had presented the pirates’ demands to the Governor and the drugs had been quickly gathered, but the two pirates sent to escort him had proved difficult to find; they had been busy drinking with friends and were finally discovered, drunk.[42]

Teach kept to his side of the bargain and released the captured ships and his prisoners—albeit relieved of their valuables, including the fine clothing some had worn.[43]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbeard

The behavior of the MEA was essentially of the same morality as Blackbeard’s seizer and extortion of Charleston. Blackbeard’s actions were designed to exploit the weaknesses of the governor; the MEA was designed to exploit the weaknesses of the superintendent of Mason schools. Both groups used force and fear to obtain wealth—the Blackbeard pirates used fear of physical violence, the Mason teachers’ used the fear of work stoppage by refusing to perform contracted obligations as employees of the state of Ohio. There is no real difference between the piratical acts of Blackbeard or the MEA.

So why weren’t the Mason teachers arrested for their piratical acts instead of rewarded with more money? Because the pirates run the government in 2014 unlike in 1718. The only difference between the MEA and Blackbeard is that they are now the lawyers, legislators, and union leaders who have infiltrated the law to have easy access to the plunder of the tax payers. Pirates have changed their tactics over the years—instead of violence and blockades, they just gained a government backed service—like education—and threatened to take that service away unless they obtained their desires. The ideal of the blockade of education services through a labor strike and Blackbeard’s extraction of medical supplies from the Governor of Charleston are the same because tax payers have no other option. There are no other schools for their children to attend just as there was no other way out of the harbor of Charleston for the citizens to embark on any kind of trade by sea. So Blackbeard had the city by the throat and used it to his advantage just as the MEA had Mason by the throat regarding education. The intentions were extortion to fulfill the desires of piracy. The only difference is that these modern pirates in the MEA were backed by the law which is an evolution from the days of Blackbeard. But the intentions were the same—fear, power, and plunder at the expense of others.

So if anyone dared wish to see examples of modern piracy, don’t look to the South China Sea or the dangerous waters off of Somalia—just look in Mason, Ohio at the members of the Mason Teacher’s Association and you will see pirates just as vicious and greedy as Blackbeard.

 Rich Hoffman

www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

image

Fantasy Flight Games Does It Again: Wave 5 release to include a YT-2400!

In the context of my lifelong interest in global mythology and comparative religion, I see all the news coming out about Star Wars as infinitely good in so many ways.  When Harrison Ford was injured recently filming the new Star Wars Episode 7 movie, the world stopped as he was airlifted to the hospital in England.  With all the news going on globally, terrorists taking over Iraq, Obama’s parade of scandals, election impact of new blood in the Republican Party, it was Harrison Ford’s injury which captured the headlines of virtually every news source.  Some of that is deliberate misdirection, but a lot of it is genuine interest, and concern for a mythology which touches the heart of so many people. On the same day as this terrible news about Harrison Ford, who will bounce back from such things as he always does—came the latest news from Fantasy Flight Games popular X-Wing Miniatures game.  For Father’s Day my wife hosted a big party for our family, which was wonderful.  But much of the best parts of it were the weekend of playing X-Wing Miniatures with the people who came.

Every time I turn around starting about a year ago, Fantasy Flight Games has been improving their product line.  What they are doing with X-Wing Miniatures is cutting edge stuff that is launching tabletop gaming into a whole new dimension.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  There have been for years great games like Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons, and Magic the Gathering, but this effort with X-Wing Miniatures is game changing.  As the new films hit the marketplace and return to the mind of society in general as part of their daily dialogue—which is already happening, this Fantasy Flight Games production of X-Wing Miniatures is about to explode.  Mythologically speaking, I think FFG’s relatively new game is the best vehicle to express and maintain new mythological trends that exist.  It is more powerful than novels, more relevant than the films themselves, and more participatory than video games.  Playing the game does essentially what some of the highest minds in the world do at Esalan at the Mythological Roundtable sponsored by the Joseph Campbell Foundation.  X-Wing Miniatures recreates myth and allows players to directly participate actively, as opposed to passively.  They take control of their own mythology, which is what I think is the key to the success of the Fantasy Flight Games venture.

http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php

During Father’s Day my family played the game extensively, and as we played we talked heavily about the new ships coming out in Wave 4, in just a few weeks, and we discussed the very exciting news about Wave 5 set to hit the marketplace later this year—2014.  The most exciting news of that announcement is the YT-2400 from the old video game Shadows of the Empire from Nintendo 64.   That particular ship will go well with my Millennium Falcon to cause all kinds of trouble in a game that has become a mild obsession.  Here is the press release from Fantasy Flight Games published as news poured out to the world the Harrison Ford would quickly recover from his injury.

Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce the upcoming release of two new starships for X-Wing!

In this, the game’s fifth wave, two large starships arrive ready for the heat of battle: the Rebellion’s YT-2400 and the Imperial’s VT-49 Decimator.

In addition to their starships, each of which is sculpted faithfully at the game’s standard 1/270 scale, the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack and VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack introduce a host of new upgrades and terrain pieces that allow you to explore a wide range of new tactics in your space battles.

You’ll also find a large cast of characters drawn from the expanded Star Wars universe, the first Imperial turret weapon, and upgrade cards designed by the game’s first two World Champions.

YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack

A fast and resilient light freighter, the YT-2400 features no fewer than thirteen weapon emplacement points, making it an attractive vessel for smugglers, mercenaries, and other individuals looking for a heavily armed “transport.” Although a stock YT-2400 light freighter has plenty of space for cargo, much of that space is often annexed to support modified weapon systems and oversized engines.

The YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack brings this formidable light freighter to your table as a Rebel starship with two attack, two agility, five hull, and five shields.

The highlight of the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack is its detailed miniature starship, which is enhanced by one new mission, three debris cloud tokens, a maneuver dial, all requisite tokens, and four ship cards, including one for the famed smuggler Dash Rendar.

VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack

To be granted command of a VT-49 Decimator is seen as a significant promotion for a middling officer of the Imperial Navy. A heavily armed transport, the VT-49 Decimator is one of the Empire’s most feared warships, often used to provide long-range reconnaissance or to deploy raiding parties past enemy forces.

The VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack brings this intimidating Imperial gunboat to X-Wing as the game’s largest ship yet designed for Standard Play. Even at the game’s signature 1/270 scale, the expansion pack’s detailed miniature towers over its base and smaller starfighters.

In addition to its imposing, pre-painted miniature, the VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack introduces four ship cards, three debris cloud tokens, a new mission, a maneuver dial, and all the tokens you need to fly your Decimator into the thick of combat. Finally, you’ll find thirteen upgrade cards, which introduce a variety of crew members like Mara Jade and Fleet Officer designed to help you fill out the Decimator’s three crew member slots.

 

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=4869

X-Wing Miniatures as it stands today is one of the coolest games on the market.  I have never seen something like it which has united my family the way it has—from young to old and all economic groups.  Everyone who plays the game loves the game—even if they aren’t very good at it.  I would say that is because of the strength of the mythological nature of it—it pulls players into a story which they control, and that is what separates it away from novels, movies, and video games.  In those forums, participants simply unlock what someone else created, but with X-Wing Miniatures, Fantasy Flight Games simply provides the tool box–the players use the tools for their own stories.

In my personal story arc, I’m a YT guy in every way possible—and to get my hands on a YT-2400 that barrel rolls and has a turret that can equip a secondary weapon is extremely powerful.  This will be the build that replaces the twin Falcons and with the meta game moving away from TIE swarms and toward the devastating aspects of Whisper who flies the upcoming Phantom Wave 4 ship shooting with 4 dice.  The game is getting faster and more maneuverable.  Rebel ships can’t just sit around with no agility waiting to get picked off.  They will also have to be able to shoot every turn just to survive the weapons the Imperial players are throwing at them—and that is where the fun begins.  Figuring out those types of problems and letting the mythology play out based on the thought of the players.

I think this game X-Wing Miniatures will replace Monopoly as the newest, hottest selling game that brings families to the kitchen table to play—because as the new films hit the market over the next 6 years, and the new Rebels television show on Disney XD gains in popularity, the innovation created by Fantasy Flight Games will have hit critical mass and the general population will find themselves every bit as addicted to the sheer joy that the game brings—only for them the learning curve will be steep.  What started as a simple game with just a few ships has turned into a very complex web of tactical entertainment with a seemingly infinite combination of strategic options which can keep a mind occupied for years.  But beyond that—there is a story to this game which has more power than Chess, all the ambition of a novel, and more edge of the seat excitement than a year’s worth of video games—and the new additions never stop coming—the most exciting for me yet is the YT-2400.

Rich Hoffman www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

The Death of Han Solo: A trilogy at risk as The Millennium Falcon rises once more

imageApparently word from inside the Episode VII Star Wars film has leaked that Han Solo will die in the upcoming trilogy, and while this doesn’t surprise me given that such a plot point gives weight to the plight of the next generation and their tasks during the mythic journey which they are a part of—I can’t say that I will enjoy the films because of it. If not for Han Solo, I would likely not enjoy Star Wars so much. From those films Solo’s prized pirate ship The Millennium Falcon is the symbol of those famous films which have changed pop culture. I have written about this before—actually extensively and I realized just how important The Millennium Falcon and Han Solo was to society when I saw a Falcon shirt at Target of all places the other day. Solo is the glue that holds Star Wars together and without him—and his common sense of “shooting first” the popular space opera is just another movie. So I can’t image Star Wars without Han Solo. I’ll give it a shot, but likely it will be earth shattering for millions of fans when he dies on-screen.

http://www.firstshowing.net/2014/han-solos-lead-role-in-star-wars-episode-vii-more-confirmed/

The Falcon is in the news this week because the Internet was on fire regarding news of the full-sized Falcon being built for Episode VII. I have thought for years of doing just what Chris Lee from Nashville is currently doing—and that is building a full-sized Millennium Falcon. I have priced the project at around $15 million dollars to do it the way I want to do it, and Chris is attempting to build one with volunteer help and donations, which can be seen at his website shown at the link below.   Chris just spoke at a TED Talks event and is preparing to show parts of his full-sized Falcon build—including the landing gear, the turret, dish, and cockpit at Star Wars Celebration in 2015 in Anaheim, California. Lee’s work is very impressive and is on track to build a full-sized Falcon within a decade at this pace. He still needs funding, but the resurgence of Star Wars should help keep things going—slowly. But no matter what level of love for The Millennium Falcon that there is, all fans loved the pictures seen of the full-sized set being built-in England which can be seen on Lee’s site:

http://fullscalefalcon.com/2014/06/03/star-wars-episode-vii-millennium-falcon-sets/

Of late, my relationship to the Falcon has been that I fly one nearly exclusively in the Star Wars Miniatures Game: X-Wing. I flew in my first tournament over the previous weekend and had a tremendous amount of fun. I currently am running a build that allows Han Solo to be the pilot, and for the Falcon to perform barrel rolls, evasion, and engine upgrades based on my experience after the tournament. It is an expensive build for the tabletop role-playing game that is essentially a tactical exercise, but the goal is to make the Falcon as close to the speed and flexibility of a TIE Interceptor, which is actually more appropriate for its role in the movies. The reason it isn’t done more often is because it is hard to fly. One thing that I noticed during the tournament even though I lacked experience at playing at that level, I was able to fly much better than average—so it would be wise to play to that strength.

For that same game I created a build called the “Corellian Massacre” which consists of the speedy and agile YT-1300 along with two escort ships consisting of two HWK-290s, one flown by Kyle Katarn. The two HWK-290s are designed to slow down my opponent long enough for the Falcon to chip away at their ships from outside their firing arcs—with the extra speed and agility for such a large ship. The risk is bouncing off the board or into asteroids, but that is where the pilot skill comes into play. It’s not a build for everyone—but it is one that I love. I have even bigger plans for the Wave 4 ships again capitalizing off the Falcon which has me very excited.

That’s why it would surprise me if Disney allowed Han Solo or the Falcon to be killed off. I think Harrison Ford wants it. I think the writers feel they must do it so to give a proper story context to the crises of the children in the series—the whole mythic atonement with the father issue which drives most mythology. After all, a healthy happy family between Han, Leia and their children does not bring crises to the situation enough to merit a sense of peril. The Empire Strikes Back has long been considered not just the best Star Wars film, but one of the best films of all time—and in it Han Solo was tortured and frozen, so surely the Star Wars team thinks that the series can survive without the character—but I’m not so sure. At least then there was a hope of coming back, and The Millennium Falcon was still the vehicle for all the heroes. If one or both of those elements are missing in the upcoming trilogy it will be a massive loss to the gravitas of the overall fan experience.

There will be stand alone films, Boba Fett is set to get one probably directed by the current Godzilla director and Han Solo will get his own film around 2018 playing a much younger man—obviously not Harrison Ford. Disney is planning to still give fans their Han Solo fix, but it will come after the tragedy that will occur in the upcoming series. Disney is planning their amusement park centered around a Star Wars theme and there will likely be a full-sized Falcon there for fans to tour and walk around which will be fantastic. Hopefully by that time Chris will be nearly complete in his own version of the classic Corellian pirate vessel. There will be a lot of Falcons out there in the world in new spectacular ways that many never thought possible before. But Han Solo’s future adventures will be coming to an end and that is a possibility that will be difficult to overcome thematically. The Jedi are a neat concept, but Star Wars gets it’s teeth through pirates, scoundrels, and rebels, and Han Solo is a bit of all those characters rolled up into one. He is essentially an Ayn Rand character meant to achieve a character arc of sacrifice who took over the series in popularity against the wishes of creator George Lucas. Han Solo was an accident—a good accident because through him millions of people gravitated to Star Wars as a mythology exploring good against evil in the context of gigantic galaxy spanning politics.

For me the love of Star Wars will likely die when Han Solo does and I will still fly the Falcon in X-Wing Miniatures 30 years from now refusing to acknowledge the history of Star Wars after the death of Han Solo. And a certain amount of the magic for me will die with the character as I’m sure it will for millions of similar fans. The question will be–can Star Wars live on without Han Solo? Just look at the Prequels and the answer will tell the story and those results may not be what Disney is looking for.

Rich Hoffman

www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

A Force For Change: The deep power of mythology to unleash human imagination and potential

My friends at Nostalgic Ink in Mason, Ohio promised that they would have a Tantive IV Blockade Runner for my upcoming game with X-Wing Miniatures—the popular new tabletop game featuring Star Wars dog fighting tactical strategy. I checked around lunch on Thursday the 22nd and the store sorrowfully told me that their truck had not yet arrived with their deliveries. But they informed me a few hours later that it had arrived, and I promptly drove my motorcycle back there to pick it up. They had it waiting for me behind the counter and for a $100 dollars, it might have been one of the most glorious things I can remember beholding my eyes upon. My next thought was how I was going to get that package home on my motorcycle—because it was so big. You can see it in the picture below.image

As much as I dislike progressive politics, a failed teaching system world-wide, socialism and all forms of statism my first love is not politics or even conservativism—but mythology. I am not a huge supporter of group behavior and love my independence, but there are a few groups I support, and one of the organizations I have the most reverence for is the Joseph Campbell Foundation. My love of mythology is my number one enjoyment without there being a close second. My love of the Star Wars Miniatures game, X-Wing has a deep history in the old X-Wing computer games I used to play with my nephews all hours of the day for entire weekends. Many times we had to run missions against those Corellian Corvettes and they were at times, very difficult—which is why I still remember them 15 years later. The wonderful people at Fantasy Flight Games have found a modern—low tech way of re-inventing the great mythological storytelling of that old video game with new gorgeously detailed models that really make modern mythology come alive in that game. That’s why I love Nostalgic Ink and many of the people who frequent those places. Likely they wouldn’t agree with me on my views on modern education, politics, drugs, and even traditional values—but they love the mythology evoked in many of the tabletop games sold in that palace of thought—giving us common ground.image

But Star Wars isn’t just about spaceships and fantasy as I have elaborated often. It is about modern mythology and the perpetuation of goodness and as I have stated—the filmmakers of the series and the people at Disney now behind it—wish very much to use mythology to be a force for good in the entire world. I have said it many times, there isn’t anything happening in the world right now that will eclipse the good work that will come from the Star Wars partnership with Disney. The first traces of this attempt at goodness through mythology can be seen in the J.J.Abrams message below while on the new Star Wars set for the seventh film. The video was posted on May 21st and by the time I picked up the Tantive IV at Nostalgic Ink it had seen nearly 2 million views within that 24 hour span on YouTube. There isn’t a government on earth or organization anywhere that has the kind of ability to reach so many people. Star Wars advocates itself to be a force for good by advocating a force for change. The change they are talking about in the video is not silly progressive politics for the sake of social alliances—but real, genuine change born from human innovation to benefit all of humanity with the gifts of creativity.

 

Star Wars: Force for Change wants to create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of kids and families around the world. With your help and creativity we can develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. By acting as a Force for Change, your contribution to support UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and other innovative work for children will fund dozens of life-changing projects like these in communities across the globe: • Portable, solar-powered learning kits being built-in China, Uganda, and Burundi to ensure underprivileged children in these countries have access to relevant, high-quality educational materials. • Mobile phone application developed in South Sudan and Uganda, and used in the Philippines, that helps reunite children with their families after an emergency. • A text messaging solution in Zambia that helps families receive infant medical test results from clinics, in half the time, through mobile phones. Join us! Help create a brighter tomorrow for thousands of kids and families. Be a force for change.

http://www.omaze.com/experiences/starwars-episode-viiimage

Immediately following that message Lucasfilm sent me this press release which did not surprise me at all. As much as I have raved about Gareth Edwards after his spectacular work directing the new Godzilla movie he was named as the new director of the first Star Wars standalone film—staring either Han Solo or Yoda—likely the later. This to me was tremendous news as I had been saying that Disney was positioning Star Wars to be more than just a huge money-maker for their company—but again, a force for good by using mythology to reach behind political ideologies to get the human race pointed in the right direction. The hiring of Edwards and his response to the alignment I think will have a major impact on the mythmaking experience and the results on a worldwide audience.

Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta Onboard for Star Wars Stand-Alone Film

May 22, 2014

 

In addition to the episodes of a new Star Wars trilogy, Lucasfilm and Disney have begun development on multiple stand-alone movies that will offer new stories beyond the core Saga. Gareth Edwards will direct the first stand-alone film, with a screenplay by Gary Whitta. The film is due out December 16, 2016.

Gareth Edwards blazed into the filmmaking forefront with his acclaimed work on Monsters, a film he wrote, directed and served on as cinematographer and visual effects artist. The skill and vision readily apparent in Monsters earned him the high-profile spot directing this year’s smash hit Godzilla.

“Ever since I saw Star Wars I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life — join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited and honored to go on this mission with Lucasfilm,” said Edwards.

Gary Whitta’s screenwriting credits include 2010’s The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington. He is also well-known as a journalist and editor in the video game industry, as well as part of the BAFTA award-winning team on Telltale Games adaptation of The Walking Dead.

Whitta states, “From the moment I first saw the original movie as a wide-eyed kid, Star Wars has been the single most profound inspiration to my imagination and to my career as a writer. It is deeply special to me, so to be given the opportunity to contribute to its ongoing legacy, especially in collaboration with a film-maker as talented as Gareth, is literally a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself.”

http://starwars.com/news/gareth-edwards-and-gary-whitta-onboard-for-star-wars-stand-alone-film.html

image

So there was a lot to be excited about this week, and especially over the last 24 hours. Through all the years that I have been a member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, George Lucas—the creator of Star Wars—has been on the advisory board so that he could help guide teaching mythology to a new generation. People like me and Edwards are the obvious benefactors. Edwards makes a living from his education in mythology, where I use mine in real world application—both I would consider equally important. If there was ever a man who deeply cared about the direction of society in a positive way—in a way that Walt Disney did—it is George Lucas. Through his deep commitment to mythology he not only produced films like Star Wars which take story telling to powerful new places—but inspired through the Joseph Campbell Foundation to teach a new generation of filmmakers like Gareth Edwards and J.J. Abrams to take movies to places that Lucas and Steven Spielberg could only dream of. Even small little companies like Fantasy Flight Games in Minnesota are helping advance a mythology that literally touches every corner of the world with messages advocating goodness through their table top game X-Wing Miniatures. As for the Force for Change campaign mentioned by Abrams, that is something I can certainly support. I could care less about being in the new movie, but I do care deeply about the advancement of goodness throughout the world, and there isn’t any vehicle anywhere but Star Wars with Disney at its back that has the power to pull it off. It is for those reasons that the new Tantive IV by Fantasy Flight Games is one of the neatest things I have ever seen for the price of $100.

The Tantive is just a model, but it’s what it represents that matters. It is a force for change that leads to good—and that makes it wonderful and worth pursuing on the cusp of a wave that is hitting the world in very positive ways.

Rich Hoffman

www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

Help the Children of the World SEE GODZILLA: What box office totals really measure

For me, movies have always been a measurement about the temperament of a society in general. The kinds of films that make money, and those that don’t speak largely about the values of earthly civilizations. I enjoy most films, small art pictures like Atlas Shrugged sometimes because they don’t make much money and speak to a very focused and intelligent audience. I also like films like the new Godzilla movie which speaks directly to the masses with enthusiastic hope. What is different now as opposed to even a decade ago is that occasionally, huge blockbuster films like Godzilla are released simultaneously around the world and provide a very clear picture of what those worldly economic conditions are relative to the United States which can be directly measured by ticket sales.

Godzilla earned an estimated $103 million from 64 overseas markets this past weekend—during its opening. Warner Bros. reported that 51 percent of those sales were from 3D showings.

The movie’s biggest markets were the U.K. ($10.4 million) and Russia ($9.1 million), and it had the top opening of the year in Australia ($6.1 million). Other major territories included Mexico ($8.9 million), France ($6.5 million), Korea ($4.5 million), Brazil ($4.2 million), Italy ($3.6 million) and Spain ($1.6 million).

Godzilla
 opens in China in June, and then Japan in July. If it lives up to its potential in those two markets, it should wind up with over $400 million from overseas sales.

Produced by Legendary Pictures and released by Warner Bros., the monster movie reboot earned an impressive $93.2 million at the domestic box office.

Godzilla
‘s domestic debut ranks second in 2014: it wound up in between Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95 million) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($91.6 million). It also opened significantly higher than last summer’s World War Z ($66.4 million), and more-than-doubled Pacific Rim‘s $37.3 million.

It’s also worth noting that Godzilla earned more in its first three days than Star Trek Into Darkness earned in its first four ($83.7 million) on the same weekend last year. It was also above 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($90.2 million).

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3845&p=.htm

To sum all this up properly just in the North American continent Godzilla made $93 million dollars. Over the entire rest of the world the film made $103 million without China and Japan being factored. Those countries will see the film over the next couple of months. With all politics removed from public relations jargon promoting all these other countries as equal to the United States, and the demand for Godzilla being universally equal all over the world—it could be observed that dollar for dollar—The United States—a capitalist country has the buying power of the rest of the world combined.

For instance, Brazil is a large country, but because they lean in the direction of socialism, they have a per capita income that is far below that of The United States. $4.2 million is about how much most states made in America displaying vividly that in Brazil there are not nearly enough movie theaters available to show the film. In America, I have around seven different theaters to choose from to see Godzilla while in Brazil, there may only be a few theater in each major city. The rural areas of Brazil are lucky to have power let alone have a theater down the road from their house making it impossible to even think of seeing Godzilla. So as a country, their demand to see the movie was high, but their people because they are poor did not have much opportunity to attend a theater. Even more pressing to the whole problem is that there is not enough per capita income to dictate that an investor could even open and operate a movie theater in the country. Italy and Spain are both socialist countries and put out a pathetic number in response to the Godzilla box office. Again, it is not that people did not want to see the movie. Those that could did. But in those countries, there just aren’t enough theater owners who want to embark on the entrepreneurial activity of theater ownership.

France put up a respectable number as they have several major cities that have movie theaters. In the future however because of the socialist policies of the current government penalizing the rich, there will likely be far less real-estate investment into movie theaters leading the country back into something like what Spain, Italy and Brazil are putting out as far as economic activity.

Economic activity is of course the access of investment into theater ownership and access to money to attend a movie by the general population through disposable income. If taxation consumes much of that income, then movie attendance will of course decrease. After China loosened up a bit toward western films and actually allowed their citizens to watch movies like Godzilla, they are usually good for around $40 million in opening weekend box office totals out of a population matrix of over a billion people. Much of this market base is around the capitalist region of Hong Kong, but the communist portions of the country are still deeply deprived of business investment and disposable income to even purchase a movie ticket. There are likely millions of children within China who would love to see Godzilla, but they can’t because no movie theater owners want to deal with the communist government to operate such things with all the restrictions involved. After all, China only allows ten films a year from America. The rest of the year there aren’t many opportunities to see movies that are good. China isn’t making many movies, and neither is the rest of the world. Only America makes movies like Godzilla and only a select few are allowed to be seen within a communist country. Godzilla will be one of them—thank goodness.

Here is a sad statistic; the entire country of Australia which is a large landmass, only produced $6.1 million in Godzilla sales—mostly on the east coast of the country.   Australia has also functioned under socialism for a number of years which has killed their economic growth and the results can easily be seen in the terribly deficient movie theaters available. Obviously people in Australia would love to see Godzilla, but they do not have enough movie theaters to allow such a thing. They have not been friendly enough toward entrepreneurial activity to allow their people such a positive leisure time activity like seeing Godzilla.

Is it fair to judge the world against such standards—well, yes it is. Godzilla is the kind of movie that boys, girls, young, old, virtually every market demographic in the world would like to at least see, but those opportunities do not exist in countries struggling with socialism, communism, and over restrictive governments. Countries like Russia have at least stepped up to the plate and allowed for western films to be shown in their city multiplexes and they produced a respectable $9.1 million, just shy of England which boosts a much smaller landmass and total population. Such comparisons speak very accurately about the economic strength of the cultures viewing the film Godzilla.

Godzilla is s global phenomena built with Japanese branding for many years, so it is a stable platform to make such comparisons. And the economic status of the world is easy to measure against such a globally unified reference point. If you want to measure the strength of a nation, just look at how many people attend movie blockbusters and determine if they have access to a movie theater, have expendable income, or live in a country that allows the kind of free speech needed to see such a thing. Then ask why they can’t, and you will have the answer as to which political systems work best for the people they are supposed to serve, and which ones simply use people as a platform for their own self-importance.

I bet dear reader—that you had no idea that the new Godzilla movie told so many stories on so many levels—but now you do.

Rich Hoffman   www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

“May The 4th Be With You”: A long weekend of “HOPE”

My long-awaited Rebel Transport came to my home at the conclusion of the new international Holiday, May 4th. I was ecstatic to put my hands on that new creation from Fantasy Flight Games and without a doubt; it will load my spare time with countless adventures. The sheer joy of the new game X-Wing Miniatures is wonderfully articulated in the picture below. This is literally what its like at my house. And it will get worse—I promise. Over the weekend while playing a game of X-Wing, to celebrate May 4th, the official Star Wars day which happens every year with great fanfare, my one and a half-year old grandson wanted desperately to play the game with me. So I let him roll my dice and he loved it.

 Xwing

For the first time that I can think of the official Star Wars weekend launched a spectacular amount of news over the first weekend of May. First the new cast was announced for the new films—which had their first script read together last week. At midnight the new Rebels television show released their new preview which can be seen below. Guess who was watching it at 12:01 AM in the morning of May 4th? Me! On top of all that even the Cincinnati Reds dedicated a whole weekend against their first place division rivals the Milwaukee Brewers. It was Star Wars weekend at Great American Ballpark in Downtown Cincinnati. My family went on Friday night when after the game there was a spectacular fireworks display to the music of the famed musical conductor John Williams that ignited the sky. From the premium seats in Great American Ballpark it was the best fireworks display I had ever seen. Just a bit behind home plate, most of the people who normally sit in that section had got up and left leaving us nearly alone in the coveted section and completely untouched by other human beings. However most of the 30,000+ crowd stuck around with their children and they loved the show with much emotion. During the entire game Friday night, Star Wars characters were all over the field and the music was piped in through the stadium and it was genuinely inspiring to see the two entertainment franchises coming together like that.

Leading up to that baseball game many of the die-hard Reds fans on talk radio and elsewhere were perplexed as to why the baseball team even attempted to cater to a new “geeky” demographic group. I wanted to tell them, but they lacked the language to understand. Just like they would never understand why I kept checking my UPS tracking number on my Rebel Transport during the game hoping it would arrive for a vicious game of X-Wing the following Saturday. I’m 46 years old and to their minds should be interested in a lot of other things—but I am part of that demographic that the Reds were reaching out to—and among young people there are a lot more like me coming to age.

Two weeks from now Hollywood Studios, Florida has their Star Wars Weekends which are always fun. The first weekend is the popular dance off which I always love displayed in the center stage of that fabulous park. Those weekends are typically so busy that the parking lot spills over into the Epcot Center. The parade is one of the most spectacular displays of Star Wars fandom anywhere in the world. The question from the un-initiated is…………..why?

During the Reds game I had to explain to my daughter how when I was younger I had to make a difficult cultural decision. I was spectacular in sports and every teacher who coached a sport wanted me to be on their team. I was the fastest kid in my school especially during my grade school years. Athletically, I could have done anything I wanted to. But, culturally back then, it was taboo to enjoy Star Wars because that made a person categorically a geek. And I loved Star Wars. I was friends with one of the most popular girls in my school and her younger brother was one of my best friends. Through her I could have had access to the upper echelons of public school popularity. But I hated it and wanted nothing to do with any of that politicking. Instead her brother would come to my house on a Friday night and bring all his Star Wars toys and he, my brother, my brother’s friends and I would play with all those toys until late into the night. I never got sick of it even when I was older and my girl friend was interested in boys and all the kids my age were going to dances and hanging out at football games. She thought I was weird because I had no interest in the life she lived. I had picked Star Wars over sports because the culture dictated that you had to choose.

I thought it astonishing that the Reds actually had a Star Wars weekend because finally after 30 years of human evolution the marketing department for the Cincinnati Reds understood that if they want to survive into the future, that they better find a way to appeal to the “Star Wars Geeks.” The game of baseball with all its traditions is struggling to appeal to younger audiences, so they are getting creative even though in an interview with Brandon Philips on 700 WLW, he clearly didn’t understand.

In a lot of ways the new X-Wing Miniatures game is closely associated with those late night sessions playing Star Wars as a kid, and even as a grown adult I’d still rather do that than hang out in some other venue doing something I’d consider utterly useless. Many people confuse Star Wars and Star Trek as being of the same thing, but they are radically different. Star Wars is not about just exploring new frontiers in space and the interactions of characters with different backgrounds and species types. Star Wars is a deep, and rich mythology that works in ways that religion struggles with and is a creation of our times exploring all the primary concerns of our day. Star Wars for me is a western in that it is primarily concerned with the same type of honorable values. It is also about technological innovation and has its roots in drag racing where a young George Lucas loved cars and carried that love over into the space ships of Star Wars. Many of the beat up ships of the new Star Wars games are like galactic hot rods and have a similar appeal as Hot Wheel cars, only these can be used strategically to beat an opponent in a game of thought. I have never seen anything like the new Rebel Transport created for a simple game. By itself, it is an amazing work of art.

Ultimately the wars of Star Wars are about value and the popularity of those films in all the venues extending beyond the silver screen are essentially about preserving or destroying values. For me, the stories of those values carried far more weight than just athletic prowess in sports, or the ability to kiss a girl at a dance. Watching the Cincinnati Reds embrace those values gave me tremendous hope for the future transcending a human leap of evolution many were not aware of. But I saw it during the Reds post game fireworks display and the many tens of thousands who were at Great American Ballpark to enjoy the relatively private show. With all the news that came out about Star Wars during the May 4th Weekend I understood with renewed vigor why the first film was titled A New Hope. The movie was not just about a galaxy far, far away a long time ago but about our human race in the here and now. For many, myself included, Star Wars is about a new hope. My infant grandson knows it, the people at the Reds game knew it, and the thousands who like me were watching the Rebels preview at 12:01 AM knew it. And I wasn’t the only one waiting for my Rebel Transport to arrive over the weekend. Most fans of Star Wars find in it a hope that is otherwise vacant. Hope is why I picked Star Wars over sports as a kid, and space ships over girls. I’m still that way, only my wife actually plays that stuff with me, which is why we’ve been married so long.

The new Rebel Transport is one of the most dramatic things I have ever looked at for a whole lot of reason—most of them centered on hope. In the films the Rebel Transport was the rebels last hope of punching through imperial blockades and fleeing for freedom to live another day in a fight between tyranny and goodness. The X-Wing Miniatures model is really just a lot of plastic and paint, but it is in the organization of those things into a coherent interactive story about hope that makes it something I was checking its arrival time every hour on the hour over the entire weekend. And now that I have it, all is right with the world. The reason is that it represents to me hope, and that is the core of what the term, “May the 4th be with you” really means.

Rich Hoffman

www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

The Whip Artistry Studio: A tribute to the beginning of cinema and the Wild West

I wrote yesterday about Richard Best and his Black Lightning Wild West Show.  But the location where we shot the video displayed in that article deserves its own mention, The Whip Artistry Studio of Gery Deer in Jamestown, Ohio is a one of the kind temple dedicated to the art and preservation of the bullwhip.  Gery is currently a freelance television producer and writer in Dayton, but his heart centers on the preservation of Western Arts—particularly the bullwhip.  Like me, he has worked with whips most of his life, and traveled the world providing shows.  Gery and his wife Barb have been on major television shows and have been personally endorsed by “A” list celebrities and stuntmen.  Gery’s Whip Artistry Studio is a museum of old westerns, autographs from Halle Berry, Antonio Banderas and many others, and a tribute to the golden age of cinema.  Gery’s whip holstering systems were used in a film done by The Rock called The Rundown and it was because of that film that Gery specially designed my Cliffhanger quick drawl holster which I wear every day.  My bullwhip holster is the only one of its kind and was made by Gery specifically for my use.

It is sometimes impossible when you know such people to revere them properly for what they are.  I have known Gery for a long time, and we have so many things in common that I don’t often consider how unusual his life and his studio are.  But in a world obsessed with preserving every species of animal that is on the brink of extinction, Gery is fighting to keep alive something that many more progressive modernists hope to force into distant memory, the American cowboy.

As unlikely as it is, Gery’s Jamestown, Ohio studio is all that stands between extinction and advancement of the kind of America that was so beloved by viewers of old Republic Saturday morning matinees, and wonderful silent films like Don Q, Son of Zorro.  As many Hollywood producers these days bulk at such things, it was George Lucas who adopted these very Republic serials and made Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.  Students at Gery’s studios want to learn to crack a whip like Indiana Jones, because those films inspired them.

Gery and I share a great reverence for Douglas Fairbanks, particularly the old film Son of Zorro.  Of course we’ve always loved Indiana Jones, but that character never went to the whip handlers of old, like Douglas Fairbanks, Lash LaRue, and all the Republic Serials—especially another favorite of mine, Zorro’s Fighting Legion.  When I wrote my book The Symposium of Justice I dedicated it to that old Republic serial including naming the restaurant Fletcher Finnegan worked at, “Republics.”

My current love of Star Wars is because Lucas shot those films in the way of those old serials—and that just isn’t done by any other film studio.  And all that harkens back to Douglas Fairbanks and his whip tricks from Don Q, Son of Zorro.  Gery Deer’s whip studio in Jamestown, Ohio is really the last gasp of air holding on to that past attempting to preserve it.  Gery and I both came into our love of bullwhips the same way but he choose to actually move into show business.  At age 46 I have lived my life much the way Don Diego did in Zorro’s Fighting Legion, only I haven’t pretended to be foppish to save my family and reputation from villains.  Gery has taken a non-violent approach to the art, where I’m all about the violence.  Even when I was writing The Symposium of Justice, I didn’t feel comfortable writing about the bullwhip heavy action scenes if I had not done all the stunts in real life to confirm their viability.  And with stories like that, I have never felt comfortable writing about characters like Fletcher Finnegan (Cliffhanger) from behind an author’s stories.  I always felt a responsibility to actually be those characters in real life, otherwise the task was hypocritical.  In that regard, I am a lot more political than Gery.  Gery has made his living often with a whip, as I have not.  But I have used mine to confirm the stunts of Don Q, so that I could write about them knowing what was possible and what wasn’t and what really went on in the life of Zorro in a quest to fight evil.

But in a confusing world where every other influence is competing for attention, that old past ushered in by Douglas Fairbanks is most alive in Jamestown, Ohio, and I love it every time I get to visit.  It is like a farmer returning to his land after plowing a field and smelling the fresh soil, or an artist during a late night epiphany—Gery Deer’s The Whip Artistry Studio is grounding to the roots of cinema, justice, and the genuine pursuit of goodness triumphing over evil.   I never get tired of visiting, and I suspect that I never will.

Rich Hoffman  

 www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

F**k the Earth: Save man’s mind

I enjoy a nice babbling brook running through the mountains surrounded by trees and fresh air illuminated by sunrise firelight. Often I have slept on the ocean front to the sound of waves beating on a beach as a steady breeze pours in from offshore thunderstorms lighting up the distant night clouds like cannon fire from a distant battle. I have pondered often the forces of a cliff face as I rappelled down it and marveled at the magnanimity of nature. I have equally stared deep into the heavens and contemplated the countless galaxies of space and considered the perplexing reality of a multiverse. But what most impresses me is the mind of man and the ability of that species to overcome obstacles, invent tools of creation, and extend beyond the limits of nature to something new. What is marveled at when large mountains are observed, or the beauty of a forest, or the running water of a stream is the creation of nature into activity of which our short-term lives will only witness a fraction of. However, it is still destruction that is observed, mountains were caused by tectonic plates being forced together by earth forces, and trees grow, die, fall down and decompose, just like human beings. Water falls from the sky in the form of rain, runs across the earth, is consumed sometimes by creatures like humans, disposed of as waste and evaporates back into the sky to begin the process again. The work of man’s mind is the only life form in known existence to take all the raw materials of the planet and organize them creatively against the tide of chaos that exists in nature. A skyscraper is a deliberate construction of mankind that is organized and useful as opposed to the mountain that is simply the result of opposing forces colliding.

The current green movement which is simply the next generation of communism is attempting to take mankind back to worship of the earth the way tribal groups have in the mystic past. Their sole intention is to turn worship of the earth into a religion that has political consequences and their method is one of regression—of angst against the creation of mankind. They look at the creations of man, the space ships, the cars, the buildings and they hate them like natives screaming at lightning streaking across the sky. Their answer is to conduct a rain dance to appease the gods creating the lighting. Meanwhile, inventors like Tesla actually took the mind of man toward creating their own lightning. Inventors created irrigation as a way to take charge of their own destinies and stop wasting time doing a rain dance to appease some stupid god. Forget about rubbing a couple of sticks together to make fire, or waiting for lightning to strike and ignite a small blaze, mankind made ovens, and furnaces, and air conditioning units to control their environment so that they could be comfortable and invent even more things instead of running around looking for sticks to catch fire just to cook food.

Nature is the construction of Mother Earth, and the galaxies the inventions of the universe. But are those constructs superior to the equations E=MC2 or the nanotechnology of cell sized bots that can repair human flesh? When was the last time the earth invented anything new, or Jupiter, or Neptune? What have those natural products done except float in space and be bombarded by asteroids—their fates tied to their proximity to a dying sun at the center of a solar system? Where will the creeks, animals, and mountain ranges be during the next meteor collision, or the eventual explosion of energy at Old Faithful in Yosemite? They’ll all be destroyed, and what will there be left of anything on earth if the mind of mankind is extinguished as a retreat to the primordial worship of Mother Nature?

I would argue that the mind of man is more important than the saving of Mother Earth. The earth is inferior to man’s mind—the inventions, the potential, and the ability to shape its own destiny in spite of natural elements, such as planetary restrictions, life spans, and proximity in space to heating sources like planetary balls of fire we call suns. There was never a turtle that built an economy as sophisticated as humans, or an otter that built a train station. No bird ever invented a light bulb. And ants don’t write books, make movies, or create sophisticated music. We are amazed that dolphins and whales show signs of intelligent life, but even they are about as intellectually wise as an average 4-year old human—and what is so special about that? The reason we respect these creatures so much is that they are at least close to human intelligence—so why would human beings yield to them?

The real issue is one of creation and the value of those creations. Are the creations of nature more valuable than the creation of mankind? My answer is that mankind’s inventions are more valuable. Both, man’s and nature’s acts of creation are destructive in nature. Mountain ranges are the results of terrible destructive forces, and trees are daily fighting it out in a battle for sunlight. They don’t whip out stones to throw at each other, or fire guns, but trees are constantly at war with one another. One tree will spread its branches out over another one that is smaller to try to choke off its light so that the roots aren’t fighting for the same water supply. Don’t environmentalists know that? Are they so stupid but to look at trees and not see life forms at war with one another? Trees are not sitting in a forest singing campfire songs to each other living in harmony. They are fighting—and some of their battles go on for 50 or more years. The only reason humans don’t see them is because the battles occur without human reference and time frames. Every day spiders are catching other insects to devour for their personal consumption, mice are being eaten by snakes, fish are being eaten by bigger fish, and Great White Sharks are eating dolphins.

At some point the modern worshipers of Mother Earth decided that the way to deal with these tragedies is to revert to the past worship of earth as a deity and to appeal to its sensibilities hoping that human life would be spared some of this tragedy. But only mankind has even attempted to solve any of these destructive problems. At least humans know to replant a forest, to re-grow the food they consume, and to not poison the water they drink with sophisticated filtration systems. Only a human being has sought to mimic the abilities of a bird, the hunting agility of a lion, the communication aptitude of a dolphin, and actually offer alternatives to the stupidity of nature—the inevitable destruction that is always just around the corner with the next black hole consumption, or planetary impact.

Every global environmentalist on earth is wrong in its worship of earth. Earth is dying as we speak—it may take a few billion more years, but if left alone—it is dead. It will not live forever—it is not a god. It is not worthy of worship. Earth is a tool for man’s mind. It is meant to be a lunching point for human consciousness and nothing more. It can only be hoped that 4 billion years from now to 10 billion years that the minds of man will still live in the universe and will punch beyond the confines of that barrier to whatever is beyond it. Earth will have long been gone by then, every turtle, every bird, every fish, every drop of water in the ocean ripped off the planet to become water molecules in the vacuum of space by expansion of the sun. Every idiot who professes worship of nature at the expense of man’s mind is preaching doom for both. The earth has its best chance because of mankind, not in spite of it. Of the two, man’s mind is more valuable and if one has to be saved, it must be the imagination of human beings.

Every advocate of communism, socialism, social justice, and environmental conservation is ignoring the basic rules of our universe and stand in defiance of nature when they profess to preserve earth because they think it’s pretty. They ignore the violence; the very foundations of all life—that they are built on violence and destruction. Only the human being stands in rebellion to this trend by advancing toward an unknown intelligence only it can create—because it is not yet present among all known life forms. It is time to abandon the fools who do not believe that man does not have dominion over all the earth—because they do—and that is the will of nature as a species that is vastly superior to every other life form on earth. Its time to stop feeling guilty about it for the good of everyone, and everything involved.

Rich Hoffman   www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

War Gaming Tactical Entertainment: Birthday joy at Nostalgic Ink

It’s not quite my birthday, but usually my family makes a big deal about it always leaving me something to look forward to.  This year, because of my interest in the game Star Wars X-Wings Miniatures we all gathered at Nostalgic Ink in Mason to play a series of games.  My daughters brought their husbands and a tray of Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets and we had a blast.  The highlight of the evening was when the owner of the popular comic book store came back to watch our game overhearing a South Park reference that we had been talking about and performed a perfect reenactment of it.  It sounded just like this!

That is typical in these gaming environments, there is such a love of creativity and boundless imagination which I find refreshing.  Comic book stores are great places to recharge after all the dread of reality has done its best to erode away logic.  Some of the best people I have known over the years find solace in those kinds of places, so it was nice to celebrate my birthday there with my kids.image

I can’t say enough about the X-Wing Miniatures game.  As often as I reference it, it continues to impress me.  Nostagic Ink had on hand an impressive array of Y-Wings, and X-Wings.  The Y-Wings have been mostly sold out on Amazon because players buy them up for their durability during combat and Ion Turret ability.  My son-in-laws’ had their Imperial Aces on the table for the first time which was a sight to behold.  Those new Imperial ships have a curving barrel roll effect that is really valuable and is yet another wrinkle in an otherwise highly imaginative and innovative game that is ever-changing forcing constant adoption.image

Way back when I was 13 to 14 I was involved in military war simulations which were tabletop games that I found very stimulating, intellectually.  Back then, West End Games was producing some great stuff and eventually the realistic simulations of actual World War II battles, and Civil War engagements gave way to a game called Assault on Hoth, which was a Star Wars strategy game done in the spirit of those battle simulations.  It contained a map with the traditional game hex-and-counter mechanic and played well.  Imperial Walkers attacked the Rebel base on Hoth and Rebel Snowspeeders had to meet them to prevent the shield generator from being destroyed.  During the early days of our marriage my wife and I played it three to four times a week and it set a pace for our relationship that would last for decades.image

When I learned war gaming as a young man I quickly learned that much of what was being studied were battle tactics no different from what military generals had been taught at West Point for generations—only without all the politics of the position.  By role-playing battle field formations set against values players had to make the same kind of decisions that military generals had to make in wars from the past.  In this modern age of gaming—for the first time in the history of the world, war gaming wasn’t regulated to the military elite—but to hobbyists and history enthusiasts.  Of course the emotion of the battlefield is not present, and the threat of death not a factor, but the same types of decision-making that George Washington had to make during Revolutionary War battles, or General Lee had to make during the Civil War were available to anybody curious enough to play a game.  Most modern war games are very sophisticated and take into account the many factors which are required for such strategic thinking.image

Nostalgic Ink has in the middle of their store an entire section of these military war simulations that are much better than the ones I played as a kid.  They are fascinating and players routinely set up in the back of that store to play them.  But for me, Fantasy Flight Games has changed the entire field of miniature war gaming with Star Wars X-Wing.  It has all the battlefield tactics of many of those traditional war games, but it has the added element of flight.  I find myself thinking about that game all the time these days.image

This is a good thing because real life often requires the same kinds of hard decisions that X-Wing forces players to realize.  American society has the Second Amendment to protect themselves from an overzealous government.  But it also has freedom of thought, and this has given rise to a culture emerging in these comic book stores where tactical decisions are available to regular people outside of any orthodox political class.  For instance, this year’s FFG world champion is Paul Heaver a software engineer from Northern Virginia who is married with two kids.  He plays online CCGs and computer games, but X-Wing Miniatures is the first game of its type that he’s gotten really serious about.  Before going to the World’s competition—where literally people from many countries all over the world came to battle it out in Minnesota during February of 2014, Heaver paid close attention to the battle reports on the game forums and saw that Tie Swarms were dominating tournaments so he calculated a strategy of using two low pilot value X-Wing fighters and two moderate pilot rating B-Wings to slowly whittle away at the low pilot rating Tie Swarm strategy.  The effectiveness of this approach can be seen below in the video of his championship game.   If you watch the video it has the visual quality of a golf game.  People cheer when ships are destroyed the same way an expert golfer sinks a long birdie.  The same skills that Heaver used to win the Worlds championship at FFG are the same skills it takes to manage large companies, run military maneuvers, and run countries.  I would put Paul Heaver against Vladimir Putin any day and I’d put my bets on Paul.  But in this emerging X-Wing popularity there is Paul Heaver types popping up everywhere and this is a very good thing.  There are a lot of very smart people coming up in these gaming circles.

The tactic that Paul used to win his championship will be destroyed with all the new ships and rules coming out quickly, like the new rules involving the Imperial Aces ships.   They can now barrel roll out of a firing arc and right into the side of a targeted ship taking away their shot, while performing theirs with deadly effectiveness.  So what works today may not work tomorrow, which is why I love X-Wing.  It is why I spent my early birthday with my kids at Nostalgic Ink eating chicken nuggets and playing tactical table top warfare.  Back when I was introduced to these miniature war simulations I learned from a Green Beret who was so obsessed with military tactics that these war games were the only way he could experience battlefield excitement, that the only real difference is that you don’t hear the bullets whizzing by your ears and possess the obvious knowledge that every breath might be your last.  Otherwise, this is what it is like.   Fantasy Flight has done with X-Wing Miniatures something that is new—it has turned up the heat considerably and no longer is reliant on the Star Wars brand to sell the game.  It’s great by itself as its own thing.  Tactically it is complex, and is a wonderful way to pass the time for those obsessed with strategy.  And that would be me.  It is my ideal of a fun time and how I prefer to spend my leisure because all too often real life calls on those skills—and because usually what we do in our recreational time directly contributes to how we conduct ourselves professionally.  And because of Star Wars: X-Wing, the future looks very bright to me.image

Rich Hoffman   www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com

 

The Endless Imagination of Fantasy Flight Games: New releases of X-Wing Miniatures

I love technology as much as anybody, but when I want to relax, technology is often not part of the experience.  I will always love a real book in my hands because I don’t like looking at a lit up screen to read, and I will always prefer physical activity to computer play.  But with the NSA concern in reading every email, watching all online traffic, and all the privacy concerns involved,  I love Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures more and more—because of the low tech, yet complex game play.  I play the game as much as I can because it has all the multifaceted strategy of a video game, the intellectual muscle flexing of chess, and the unlimited creative potential of miniature model building incorporated into a non-technical exercise that is a true vacation from the many prying eyes of our modern world.  The video shown below is from a couple recent games that I played displaying the creative potential behind the game.  The models are very detailed, and provide creative stimulation for boundless imaginations, and the terrain such as asteroids and star field backgrounds surprisingly pull the mind into the game world effectively.

The depth of the game is something to truly behold, but for me it is the lack of technical involvement that is most attractive.  When playing, the technical outside world is turned off.  However, perhaps even better the creative potential of the game is limitless, and the company Fantasy Flight Games has really overachieved as an organization.  Prior to 2013, they already had a championship caliber game that would live on for many years as a crowd favorite.  But they didn’t stop there.  Instead, they worked on making 2014 one of the most exciting in the short life of the game with a whole range of new additions.  Every game addition mentioned below is something that I am very eager to experience and will hit the marketplace within a few months of this writing.  These will make the video shown above that much more exciting, and complex, and will fill many evenings with great joy.  Fantasy Flight Games is one of the most innovative and forward thinking companies in existence.  I wish they were not applying these great skills to just entertainment, but in the field of aerospace, manufacturing science, and research and development.  But in the world of gaming, they are simply the best there is at this point in time.  Here are just a few of their releases over the next couple of months that I am most excited about.

The GR-75 Medium Transport

First unveiled as a prototype at Gen Con Indy 2013, the iconic GR-75 Rebel transport is most famous for its critical role in the Rebellion’s evacuation from Hoth. However, the GR-75’s role in the Rebellion’s efforts extended far beyond that pivotal conflict.

GR-75 transports were used mainly to transport supplies, equipment, or troops, but some were modified to serve as fuel tankers for long-range starfighter missions. Relatively inexpensive, the GR-75‘s hulls couldn’t be penetrated by Imperial sensors, and the Rebel Alliance often enhanced this feature by outfitting the starship with sensor jammers. Indeed, the Rebel Alliance made such common use of the GR-75 that it was often called the Rebel medium transport.

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=4628

Rebel Aces features one A-wing and one B-wing miniature, both of which come with alternate paint schemes. You’ll also find four highly skilled unique, new pilots; thirteen upgrade cards; maneuver dials; and all the tokens necessary to launch these starfighters into the thickest action of your space battles against the evil Galactic Empire. It also includes a new mission, which thrusts some of the Rebellion’s finest pilots into a desperate rescue effort that highlights the B-wing’s durability and the A-wing’s agility.

Heroic New Paint Schemes

Fly with the best! The alternate paint schemes on the starfighter miniatures from the Rebel Aces Expansion Pack allow you to battle for the Rebellion’s cause while representing the heroic efforts of the pilots who first flew its A-wings and B-wings as experimental prototypes.

Only ace pilots were granted the right to fly prototypes for the Rebel fleet. Piloting the agile A-wing required tremendous focus and lightning fast reflexes. Still, by helping the Rebel Alliance develop and improve upon its original designs, their efforts benefitted everyone dedicated to the cause of galactic freedom, and the A-wing ultimately proved its worth during the Battle of Endor by helping to cripple Star Destroyers.

To honor those prototype pilots who first flew the ship, the A-wing in Rebel Aces features the paint scheme depicted on the Prototype Pilot ship card, with a bold blue central stripe and red and yellow highlights.

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=4705

Close Air Support

Manufactured by Incom Corporation, the Z-95 Headhunter was the primary inspiration for the later design of the T-65 X-wing. Even though the X-wing eventually outclassed it in nearly every respect, the Z-95 was cheap, durable, and reliable enough that it continued to see use throughout the Galactic Civil War, most commonly in close air support roles.

Entering X-Wing as the Rebel starship with the lowest squad point value, the Z-95 Headhunter is perfectly suited to play the role within the game that it played within the Star Wars galaxy. It’s a durable and reliable starfighter that comes with the ability to carry and fire missiles, making it capable of playing a strong support role.

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=4663

The CR90 Corvette

While the Tantive IV is easily the most iconic CR90 corvette in the Star Wars galaxy, it is by no means the only one of import. Manufactured by the Corellian Engineering Corporation, the CR90 was a swift, multipurpose ship that saw widespread use among governments and private parties.

The CR90 corvette’s modular design made it easy for users to reconfigure it to best suit the purpose they wanted it to serve, and the CR90 was often employed as a cargo transport, troop carrier, passenger vessel, or light escort. Additionally, the CR90 could be outfitted with enough weaponry to make it a formidable gunship; it could equip as many as eight turbolasers, six laser cannons, and four ion cannons.

The Tantive IV Expansion Pack presents a similarly adaptable starship for use in your games of X-Wing. Between its two ship cards, for fore and aft sections, the CR90 can equip up to ten upgrades of four different types.

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=4663

Every time X-Wing Miniature players think they have this game figured out, Fantasy Flight comes up with new ships with entirely new variables making the game ever evolving unlike most table top games.  As players provide Fantasy Flight Games with feedback on their website chat forum, the game designers have proven adapt to filling voids discovered in strategy. For instance, Imperial players were dominating tournament play with Tie swarm tactics which allowed cheap Tie Fighters to overwhelm the more expensive point values of the Rebel players by sheer numbers.  Fantasy Flight saw this trend and is now releasing the Headhunter which will be nearly the same point value giving Rebel players the option of putting swarms of Headhunters against Imperial players.   The CR90 and CR-75 will be the first of a series of big ships to hit the game which will bring entirely new strategies to the game not even yet explored.  In this way the strategies that players used last year in 2013 will be useless in 2014 with all these new variables being introduced.  In this way, X-Wing Miniatures is very dynamic and is likely the reason the game is exploding in popularity.  I know I spend considerable amounts of time reading cards and planning strategy even when I’m not playing the game.  It fills my mind with enjoyment for the sheer mechanism of focused thought.

It is always a pleasure to experience a company that is doing everything right.  With Fantasy Flight the only real issue they have is in delivery of new product line.  They are currently late on the CR90 and CR-75, but for what they provide as far as product, they are worth the wait.  There are few things that bring me so much pure joy as Fantasy Flight Games X-Wing Miniatures.  For those new to the game I have provided samples of tournament play from Team Covenant who is a committed group of table top gamers who wish to advance the hobby to for the uninitiated.  The game is different from gambling games like Poker and Black Jack because it is essentially a war simulation.  The added ability to actually pilot vessels makes X-Wing Miniatures even fun to watch because the entire game play area is up for grabs.  Every conceivable mathematical surface of a play area is an option.  The game is not limited to spaces, or a game board—but to the unlimited options of a game player and how they chose to utilize that battlefield.  That freedom is both within the game and from external electronic control, surveillance, and other limitations that make X-Wing one of my favorite current past times—a trend that is not likely to subside any time soon.

Rich Hoffman

http://www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com