If you have people to game with, the best time to get involved in a collectible miniatures game (CMG) is after it’s no longer being published. Prices are often dirt cheap (many stores all but give the stuff away) compared to the inflated prices that you’d have paid when the game was in its heyday. That’s how I amassed a twenty-pound shoebox of Diskwars pieces last summer for next-to-nothing.

The owner of the local game store recently moved the shop; in the move he discovered three Mage Knight starter sets. The twins and I each bought one and gave it a try; despite the fact that the game ended production years ago, it’s the “new hotness” in our house. We’ve been playing Heroclix for several years, and Mage Knight is the precursor to Heroclix; the mechanics and rules are so similar that it was an easy transition from one to the other. Booster packs are pretty cheap and the local shop sells singles at about the same price as online vendors (once you factor in the shipping). So we’ve already started putting together a decent collection of figures. I began concentrating on creating a Black Powder Rebels army (the idea of dwarves armed with chainguns cracks me up), but I’ve recently started branching out into Knights Immortal and the Necropolis Sect (the latter because I pulled a King of the Dead from a Lancers booster and it looks totally kick-ass on the battlefield). Cody’s been fielding primarily mixed teams of orcs backed up by the Elemental League.

Sam has this tendency to find something which he thinks works and then sticking with it; e.g. he becomes predictable. He saw that the Longbow Archers had a 14″ range (very long for this game), so he started snapping up as many as he could find, and he’s been shooting us up with them fairly regularly. I noticed the other day that the various mounted Knights Immortal figures have a +2 defense against ranged attacks on their top couple of clicks. The day before yesterday we played a 300-point game and I decided to put a whole squadron of cavalry on the field. The pesky Longbow Archers were easily (and dramatically) trampled to a red smear beneath their hooves, and I went on to win that game.

Yesterday we decided to play on one of the big tables at the game shop instead of playing at home; we really just wanted to use some of the cool 3D terrain the shop makes available to players. Sam had a few Longbows on his mixed squad but decided to field mostly goblin archers instead. I knew it would take more than one game for him to give up on the whole “archer” thing, so I bought a couple of extra lancers from the singles bin and went after him with an even larger cavalry squadron (boosted by a bard with Forced March, so my horsies moved even faster). I crushed his goblin archers easily, but the rest of Sam’s army had already crossed a river to engage Cody’s Elementals and I was thus unable to smash into his line from the rear.

Meanwhile my right flank shieldwall was being hit hard by some huge elementals Cody was fielding on his left. After the lancers disposed of the archers, they had to ride  hell for leather back around the table (skirting a large patch of woods and a tower) to try to save the shieldwall. The cavalry came over the proverbial hill two turns too late; Cody had smashed my dismounted knights, left a rearguard of his wounded elementals to block a river ford, and ran the rest of his army back to engage Sam — who ended up being the winner by a wide margin after his mixed bag of soldiers and were-creatures suddenly (and unexpectedly) turned and attacked me after we had Cody cornered.

The moral: two-front wars are for the ####ing birds.

Have fun! — Steve