Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Game Room: Strategium

The Strategium (gaming area) should be the focus of your hobby endeavors. This will be the place not only where games are played, but also where new worlds are created. The ideal game room will be a place that is comfortable, useful, and inviting. Here are a few tips for starting your own game room.

First, don't worry overmuch about space. The ideal game room will be rather large, but even a small place can be made to work. There are other considerations to see to that are actually more important
  • Floor Covering: Avoid thick carpet. If you drop something small you will never find it. If you get it dirty it will never clean properly. If you need to, pull up the carpet and go with bare floors. Linoleum or wood is better and will be easy to clean. The ideal surface is actually commercial grade carpet with no pile. It is generally easy to clean, will allow you to find dropped bits, and is more forgiving to models that fail their initiative save and go tumbling over the side. If you have a bare floor, you can always roll out an area rug for games and roll it up for messy hobby projects.
  • Lighting: Install an overhead light fixture with multiple bulbs and put in the brightest ones it can handle. If this is not an option, get several halogen lamps for the corners. If you want to be able to take any pictures or read your rule book during a game, this will be crucial.
  • Power: Are there sufficient outlets for your needs? Could you plug in a laptop, phone charger, lamp, air conditioner, jigsaw, and refrigerator at the same time? Is there a hookup for cable or internet?
  • Plumbing: Is the room connected to a bathroom? If the room has access to a sink, it will be of great use. You can clean out your brushes regularly and take a break when needed without disturbing others. Just make sure the second option is not used during game night. Make your guests go down the hall.
  • Temperature: Does the room have a bearable or adjustable temperature? Install a window AC if you need to in order to combat gamer stench.
  • Proximity: Is the room near your Enginarium and Librarium? Is it near a place where people will want to be sleeping (the Somnatorium) on game night? The ideal Strategium will be near the prior and far from the latter.
If all of these elements are in place, then this should be your Strategium. Even a small bedroom can be made serviceable if all the other elements are in place. If you are lucky enough to have an entire garage or basement to use, then go ahead and construct whatever sort of place you want. Throw in some couches, a TV, a couple custom built game tables, and have a great time. If your space is limited, try some of these suggestions:
  • Use a collapsible game table. There are lots of plans for game tables out on the web, but the design I like the most is also the simplest. Go to the DIY store and buy something called 1/2" OSB (oriented strand board). It will come in a big sheet that is 4'x8', so get a buddy with a truck to help you get it home. Once there, you have a few options. If you cut it in half, you will have two skirmish sized boards of 4'x4'. If you cut off 2 feet, you will have a Warhammer board with another to use as an army display board, and if you leave it alone you will have an Apocalypse board. Whatever you decide, paint one side green and the other side black (I use cheap paint and a big roller). Flock or sand appropriately, and now you have several game tables. They can be laid over an existing table or set up on a couple of sawhorses. There are some nice foldable sawhorses out there that can be easily stowed when not in use. These type of boards can be leaned up against the wall or behind a shelf and take up little room. They are also dirt cheap and require no skill to construct.
  • Use a collapsible work table. I use a thicker piece of plywood for my work projects. The OSB is not quite as durable, so I use a 3/4" piece of plywood. If you have problems with it sliding around, you can cover the saw horses with a rubber mat or a piece of cork board. 
  • Use wall mounted shelving for storage. This gives the added benefit of not taking up any floor space. Use these shelves for storing the terrain and armies that are currently in use. If you are not playing with them regularly, they should be in the Enginarium, safe from dust. Likewise, keep a few rulebooks and codexes in here, but not the whole collection. The rest should be in the Librarium.
  • The only things on the floor should be a couple of chairs, a mini fridge, a trash can, and a file cabinet if needed for army lists and campaign notes. By now most of this should be on your laptop anyway.
  • If you have the room, a side table is not a bad idea for writing notes, setting up your laptop, or organizing armies.
  • Put up several Frank Frazetta posters and have a sound system ready to go. These two things can help you get in the hobbying mood and will be sure to dissuade your spouse from coming in to bother you.
  • Don't let the Strategium start to look like the Enginarium. Be careful to clean up your hobby project mess at the close of each day. This will better allow you to get in a quick game when your buddies stop by and force you to not leave projects hanging.
There you have it. With a little planning, any small room can be made to serve as a place to play games and even work on hobby projects that can get a little messy. If you don't have such a room in your house, then chances are that your dining room already fulfills most of the criteria. You will just have to be a little more protective of the table and floor. If you don't have that, then you could use your bedroom. If you put your bed up on a set of cinder blocks or a small loft, you will have extra storage and it will be at just the right height to lay a game table over.

Remember- don't let anything stop you. Gaming is more important than responsibility. Imperator Vult!


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