Imaginary Wars Turns Four!
Four years ago this month (today actually!) Imaginary Wars opened its doors for the first time! Of course starting up a store isn’t as simple as just hanging a shingle outside a door and letting the money roll right in; it’s taken everything I’ve learned from my twenty years working in retail to get the business started and keep it running. And to this day, I’m still finding out things I still need to learn about and ways I need to improve.
On the weekend of the sixteenth this month, we’ll be celebrating our anniversary. Though there will undoubtedly be some specials and deals on hand as a thank-you to everyone for helping us get to Year Four, we’d love to have people come down to the store with friends in tow and be involved in the hobbies we help them with –be it board games, miniatures or what have you – all as a way of celebrating the Imaginary Wars vision: that of fostering an inclusive gaming and hobby community. Whether through comic books, board games, Magic the Gathering or miniatures games, our goal has always been to keep the tone of the store casual, friendly and definitely for everyone: these are our core values.
Just as today’s update title says: this April is a month of anniversaries for us; looking at the nature of all the different anniversaries we have going on, I think it’s fairly safe to say the progress we’ve made as Imaginary Wars these last few years demonstrate that we wear our core value on our sleeves.
Wednesday Beginner League Turns One!
Last April, our Wednesday-night Beginner League went from being a couple one-off nights where we showed people how to play Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition into a dedicated club that met at the store every two weeks without fail to play Warhammer 40,000 (and later on, Age of Sigmar). That of itself, while commendable, isn’t all that unique.
What the Beginner League has done that I haven’t seen done anywhere else, in all my time working at comic stores, game stores—even at Games Workshop—is bring new players and established players and veteran players regularly to game and have a fun, friendly time playing games of Warhammer with each other. No “rules as written / rules as intended” rule feuds, no over competitiveness, no salty gaming, no win-at-all-costs /point-and-click / net-deck armies being fielded: just a social mixer of Warhammer gaming with the full spectrum of skill levels of players gaming together on the same tables.
The League mostly focuses on smaller armies and creative scenarios—it was born from necessity: on most nights we had more players than tables; so, to better ensure everyone played that night, we’d have four players (in teams of two) on each table. It was shortly after initially doing so that we decided smaller forces and pairing up would be the hallmarks of our Wednesday night Beginner League. The result? The more characterful scenarios that limit what units players can bring keeps everyone focused on having fun with cool-looking miniatures without making it feel like players have no say in what they can bring to the game night. The format has evolved into an on-week, off-week rhythm. The ‘On’ weeks are the official Beginner League nights with special missions, and the ‘Off’ weeks are where most of the League players still show up but generally play a bit bigger games (1500 points or around there).
International Table Top Day: Year Four!
It was March of 2013 when Felicia Day proclaimed, on Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show (TableTop: Geek and Sundry), a date for the very first International Tabletop Day. It was to be a day for all board gamers to set aside as a gaming day—an excuse to get together with friends and play board games all day long. Imaginary Wars signed up and supported the day and made the store available for board game playing all day long, complete with having volunteers on hand to run and teach people how to play their favourite games. The only limitation: we asked that people limit the games they brought to ones that played in less than ninety minutes—only so that people could play as many different games as possible all day long, making the day essentially a board-game buffet!
This year, Tabletop day falls on Saturday April 30, and we’re once more reserving all of our tables for International Tabletop Day gaming! So far we have a few people who will be on hand running and teaching games, we’re still looking for a couple more volunteers who are friendly, outgoing and have fairly extensive board game knowledge to impart on new players—one or two more volunteers should top us up! If that description sounds like something you’d be interested in, don’t hesitate contacting us: we’d love to have you! (You can email us or message us through Facebook.)
As with last year, we’ll have Table Top gaming going from 11:00am through until about 6:00 in the evening …possibly a little longer. Last year we decided to be open until 7:30, only to see most people had finish their gaming and file out between 5:00 and 6:00, so this year we’re sticking to our regular store hours during International Tabletop Day. We look forward to seeing everyone again this year; and if you haven’t attended a Table Top Day, come down and check it out what you’ve been missing!
Calgary Comic Expo
It was within a few weeks of initially opening our doors for business that we found ourselves heading to the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo back in 2012. This year will be the fifth Calgary Expo we’ll be attending! It’s one of our hardest-working weekends of the year: I’m there open-to-close for all four days, standing on the concrete floors with few breaks of any kind. Despite barely ever leaving the booth, we have a great time working at the booth as it’s one of the few times we get to meet and talk almost exclusively to new customers. We also usually have some sort of “Expo Special,” making it worthwhile for new and established customers to swing by our booth and chat us up. So if you’re going to the Calgary Expo, be sure to stop by our booth (we’re booth 708), and hopefully on the last weekend of April we’ll see you at the Expo!
Free Comic Book Day: Save the Date!
Though not in April and instead on the first Saturday of May every year, I thought I’d use this space to mention the most important day of the year for comic book stores! For those who aren’t familiar with FCBD, it was begun by the comic industry themselves as a means of reaching out to children and helping them discover the world of comic books. What started off as a small initiative aimed at the children of comic-book collectors has blossomed into a one-day celebration of the simple comic book; it’s meant to not just regale the medium of comics but also reach out to those who’ve never collected comics before and introduce them to the medium.
The way it works: stores order a selection of official FCBD comics and offer them up on Free Comic Book Day: one free copy per customer (we tend to allow our customers to take more than one comic). Many of the comics are reprints of previous issues; many of the comics are samplers of several titles put out by one publisher; many of the comics are exclusive stories available only on Free Comic Book Day: it all comes down to what the comic publisher wants to do on Free Comic Book Day (I mean there was that year that Archai Entertainment gave away a full-colour hardcover Mouse Guard anthology!); suffice it to say, it’s always worth your while to check out Free Comic Book Day!
And, as in previous years, this year we’ll be having our cosplay contest on Free Comic Book Day; the prize: 10,000 points will be added towards your ‘Imaginary Dollars Rewards Points’ total!
So here we are: the start of another year being in business! Though I tend not be one to congratulate myself too often, it’s an understatement to I say I’m merely pleased with the community we’ve been able to nurture at the store–thanks in no small part to the others that work at Imaginary Wars: Braden, Justin, Ryan and Nicky. Without such great staff, things would be falling apart more often (and we’d be at the end of our ropes all the time). We certainly love and appreciate our established gaming groups for Warhammer 40k, Flames of War and Magic the Gathering groups that regularly play at the store! But this year we’ve seen our comic crowd becoming more dedicated and looking to us for their weekly books, and we’re excited that X-Wing, Star Wars Armada, Dice Masters and Age of Sigmar are starting to have a more stated presence on our gaming tables! We also have some initiatives planned that we’re pretty excited about and can’t wait to get them started–here’s to another year of great reading, exciting games and fun times at Imaginary Wars!