Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Journey Begins...
May 19, 2013
To start with, this is my first blog, but not my first time writing. In fact, I consider myself a somewhat accomplished writer, and I regularly write articles for the financial website Seeking Alpha (www.seekingalpha.com), where I currently have over 1,400 Followers.
But that’s not what this blog is about (although Seeking Alpha (SA) will come up later).
So what do I mean by “The Road To Valhalla”? Why, getting to the three-times-a-year, week-long tabletop wargaming event held in the beautiful mountains of Utah and sponsored by Blue Table Painting (BTP), of course! You can find out more about Valhalla at www.bluetablepainting.com/valhalla, so I won’t go into the gritty details here, but by way of summary it is 6 days and 5 nights of all the tabletop wargaming and food that you can handle, in a fantastic setting at a huge private facility in the Wasatch Mountains just East of Provo, UT. BTP puts this event on three times a year, in early May (this past April 29th thru May 4th), the last week in August (August 26th thru 31st) and late October (October 21st thru 26th).
(A quick note about me: I play Warhammer 40,000 and I currently play Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Daemons. To be specific, I play Death Guard (Plague Marines) supported by Night Lords (air support), and Nurgle Daemons. I have played other gaming systems, such as Warmachine/Hordes and Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but keep coming back to my first love, 40K. At Valhalla, you can play a wide variety of tabletop wargames, and even learn about new ones that are in development or have recently hit the market. Valhalla is not a tournament, but an opportunity to meet and play casual games with games from all over the world, for a whole week, in a relaxed, non-competitive environment.)
I first found out about Valhalla from Natfka’s Faeit 212 blog (faeit.blogspot.com) this past March. After reading the blurb on the BTP website and watching all the videos there, I was really excited by the idea of going to one of these events. At first I thought, “Well, if I budget and save and plan, I can probably go in August of 2014.” One of the reasons I was looking so far out is that you can only play with painted armies at Valhalla (that’s the rule), and I currently didn’t have any completely painted (or painted at all) Warhammer 40,000 armies.
But then I started thinking about it more and more, and realized that, with a lot of effort and discipline, I could probably get enough of my Nurgle Chaos Space Marines and Daemons painted up in time to make it to the August event this year!
Why August? Well, I live in the Phoenix, AZ area, and August can get pretty miserable weather-wise in August. I used to live in the Salt Lake valley, in fact I lived in Sandy, UT for 10 years, so I knew that the weather there in August was much more comfortable than in Phoenix, and that up in the mountains it was a bit cooler and, frankly, quite wonderful at that time of year.
At this point I should tell you a little more about myself. I’m currently 51 years old, and have three kids, a son and two daughters. My youngest daughter is finishing up her sophomore year of high school, so I’m not quite an empty-nester yet. Also, for the past 18 years or so, any vacations that we’ve been able to take have been very kid-oriented, such as going to Disneyland, or family-oriented, such as attending a family reunion on my wife’s side. I really hadn’t had a vacation “for me” for almost two decades, and with my wife and youngest daughter going to New York City this July without me, I rationalized that I was due for a “me” vacation, and that attending Valhalla would be just the thing. Also, thanks to what I earn on the side by writing for Seeking Alpha, I almost had the cost of getting a private room at Valhalla covered already, and was certain that I would have the cost completely covered from writing for SA before the event rolled around this August.
Also, since I live in the Phoenix East Valley, and I’ve made the drive up to Salt Lake many times already, I knew that it was a relatively easy drive for me to make by myself, and that meant that I could transport as much hobby stuff with me in my own car and not have to worry about getting my armies to Utah on an airline. This was a huge factor in making going to Valhalla so attractive to me, although there are folks who attend from around the world. If I had to fly to get to Valhalla, that would’ve been a completely different story, and it probably wouldn’t happen. But as it is, it’s only about an 11 and a half hour drive, and my 2008 Honda Accord is in plenty good shape to make the trek comfortably and safely.
So, armed with this goal and determined to see it through, I approached my beloved wife and raised the subject with her. Her immediate reaction, of course, was, “We can’t afford it!” Now, I keep track of the household expenses and checking account, so I knew that we could afford it, but she wasn’t budging. We went back and forth a few times along these lines for a few minutes, and then I played my ace in the hole: “With what I’ve earned from writing for Seeking Alpha in my spare time, I’ve already got the cost of the Drop Pod option ($950 for August this year) covered,” I said, to which, after a beat, she simply replied, “OK”, and that was the end of that!
(Well, not quite the end of it. I’m in the process of quitting smoking (again), and her condition is that going to Valhalla will be my “reward” for finally quitting smoking, which only gives me even greater incentive to finally quit, since she’ll raise holy hell if I don’t quit well before the time comes around to leave for August Valhalla.)
So, I’m going to Valhalla in August!
But, that means that I’ve got to have at least one army fully painted, which I didn’t have. So I sat down and laid out a list of everything that I would need to acquire and paint in order to have about 2,000 points of CSMs and 2,000 points of Daemons ready in time to leave for Valhalla on August 25th. Once I had the list made up, I broke it up into chunks that I felt I could accomplish on a weekly basis, and plotted out how long it would take me to get it all done. I now have a task plan that takes me right up until the Saturday before I will have to leave for Utah, but if I can stick with that plan, I’ll be able to meet my goal and have plenty of options (at least in terms of 40K) for me to get in as many games as I can take once I reach Valhalla on the 26th.
So that’s the background of this story. This adventure really began in mid-March, and as I’ve been knocking off tasks from my painting project plan, I’ve been keeping a kind of journal on my iPad of what I’ve been able to accomplish each week, and sometimes (usually) by day of that week, and how long it’s taken me to get each task finished. Being a touch OCD, I’ve also recorded in many cases the step-by-step approach that I took, not as a record of what I’ve done so much as a “recipe” for what I will need to be doing, then recording how long it took me to accomplish each task or sub-task.
I really didn’t think about starting a blog about my preparations to go to Valhalla until Jimmy, the manager at Empire Games in Mesa, AZ, where I hang out to play 40K and work on my building, conversions and painting, suggested this past week that I do so and share what I’ve been doing, and what I will be doing, with whomever out on the Internet might find it interesting. (Dammit, Jimmy! Now you’ve gone and done it…)
Well, better late than never, I figured, so here it is, the start of my blog to chronicle my frantic, seemingly non-stop modeling and painting to get myself ready to go to Valhalla this August. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures of what I’ve worked on so far, and those that I did take I did with my old iPhone 3GS, so some of the images are a bit dark. But the wife has dug out an old digital camera and memory card for me to use, so that now I have something with a flash that will take decent pictures, and I will start adding pictures to this blog as I go so you can see the steps that I’ve been taking to get my Nurgle forces prepared and ready for the tabletop.
So, thus starts the adventure! (Actually, thus starts the formal documentation of the already-in-progress adventure, but that’s splitting hairs…) I will make posts and add pictures to this blog as time allows and progress is made. To start off with, after this initial post, I’ll put up some “catch up” posts to let you know what I’ve already accomplished and how I got it done, and then we’ll proceed together down The Road To Valhalla.
Please feel free to leave any comments that you’d like, and check back for another entry soon. I’ll try to keep it current and interesting, and I look forward to whatever feedback, suggestions and advice that anyone cares to offer.