Saturday, August 20, 2011

My dad, and my relation to Warmachine

So for those of you who read my blog and don't know, my dad died on Sunday. It's been a real shock - he wasn't sick or anything, had gone into the hospital the Monday previous for some gastrointestinal surgery, and was doing great. He was supposed to come home on Sunday. I got a call early Sunday morning from my mom saying that he had died. The autopsy revealed that he had a pulmonary aneurysm. He died very quickly, and was not in much pain. I'm still in shock about the whole thing - it doesn't really seem real. I haven't really been able to figure out what to do, or how to handle it, so my plan for the time being is to just try to keep myself in as good of spirits as possible.

And that generally involves Warmachine.

It's kind of amazing to me what kind of effect this game has on my mental health. I've had a lot of hobbies over the years, especially computer games, but I've never had one that allowed me the kind of all-encompassing mental involvement and peace of mind that playing and painting Warmachine and Hordes does. The day he died I spent upwards of 8 hours working on my website on Obsidian Portal for an upcoming Iron Kingdoms D&D game I want to play with some friends. I've spent several hours already this week painting models at my dad's work station in the garage, and have moved a lot of my painting and terrain-making stuff back to my parents' house. I don't know, I guess there's something therapeutic about working on it now where I started it years ago - in my parents' garage, at my dad's workbench.

I guess since I'm in a writing mood, and I've never really talked about it, I'll talk a little about how I got started with Warmachine, and how my dad fit into it. I had several friends who played, and they had been spreading the Good Word of this little wargame among the rest of the group of friends. This would have been...early to mid 2007, I think. Joe played Cygnar (and had some Khador, even though he never played them), Robby had a little Cygnar, they convinced Brian to get into Protectorate, James to buy into Khador, and finally they sold me on Cryx. It wasn't actually a hard sell - they just kind of told me about a faction that had steampunk zombies and showed me a little of the art and I bought a battlebox the next chance I got. I've loved Cryx ever since. I've picked up other factions (I think the total's now 4: Cryx, Trolls, Mercs, and Cygnar, respectively to when I got them), but my heart will always be the Dragonfather's. Not to mention my skin (I got the Cryx symbol tattooed on my left shoulder. I was always so careful to avoid my dad seeing it. Now I wish I'd shown him, even if he would have been upset).

I bought some Apple Barrel paints from Wal Mart and painted the battlebox on my dad's workbench in the garage (he was a huge model railroader, and the garage is about 60% giant HO scale railroad). As I finished the last model, I played a game with them right there against Brian, who beat the tar out of me. That was how it went for months. We played several times a week, almost exclusively at my parents' house (where I still lived at the time), and mainly in the garage. We helped my dad lay carpet in there, and then played games on it. We played on a wobbly card table. We played on the living room rug. There was something kind of pure in those days, something I kind of miss now. It was that "new love" feeling, where everything is exciting and all of us were thrilled to play all the time.

I tried on a couple of occasions to get my dad to play with me, but his poor eyesight meant that reading the cards was next to impossible. He was happy I wanted to share my hobby with him, but he never was able to participate in that way. He taught me bits and pieces about model building, though. He had decades of experience with making scenes in miniature, and what he could give to me he did. He was never stingy with his things, he just always made sure that I gave them back when I was done. I still have a bottle of Solvaset he lent me last month because I had just started using decals, and he wanted to show me how much better they would look when they had set down nice and flush. I suppose it's part of my inheritance now.

Over time the warmachine group slowly faded out. Joe and I were the last holdouts, but eventually even he mostly lost interest. I still burned for the game, but now it took so much effort just to find a game, and for quite a while I couldn't. I didn't paint much during that time either. Finally last year I started getting more involved with Brookhurst Hobbies' newly reopened Warmachine game nights (I had been a part of the Friday night Warmachine nights when I first started out, but I'd never really felt as welcome in that group - they had their own groups, and they weren't as inclusive with newcomers). I went to the first KingdomCon and the first SoCal Smackdown. I started painting more. I got most of my Trolls painted, and now I'm nearing the light at the end of the tunnel for my Mercs. I went to KindomCon 2 and am ready to go to SoCal Smackdown 2 in 2 weeks.

I suppose this rambling post is just my way of saying that for a long time, Warmachine has been very near and dear to me. It's a world I love, and a world I feel I can fall back on when things get bad. When I was lonely, when my friends left to do other things, or when my dad died, it's a place where I can go to get away. I can still paint models and get lost in my thoughts, and for that time, no matter how brief it lasts, things are all right and I can pretend that when I'm done I'll still get to show off my painted model to my dad, who would dutifully admire my work, no matter how sloppy or amateur, and then ask "So what's this guy do?"

I'll miss you, dad. You were my inspiration, my teacher, and my friend. This is going to be really hard without you.

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