Real life can throw up a lot of little barriers for us to go out and push toy space ships around and this one can be seismic. This is my two pence about juggling small people with small space ships.
I had an idea about an article called X-wing V Real Life but have been struggling for about nine months or so with it. Four drafts in and I can never hit the right chord or balance from too self-indulgent, too funny too depressing or too blasé. Then I came across this on the UK and wider face page and realised I had a wealth of experience and garbage to write on this subject:
“Very soon I’ll be a Dad. I’m immensely excited about it, but it’s obviously going to be a huge change in my life. Will I have any time to pew pew? Probably not for a while! It leaves me in an odd position. I know I’ve got 4 or 5 weeks left of freely heading out to X-Wing night at the local, but I’m also rather aimless. I’ve been pottering along, trying stuff, but without a target in mind I’m not making any progress and losing a lot. That in turn leaves me wondering if I want to use these last few weeks. But if I don’t I won’t be able to for a while. Dilemma!”
My normal point of conversation and advice when someone reveals that they are about to become a parent for the first time, after the obligatory congratulations, is the following;
- Every man and his dog will want to give you advice
- Everyone lies. Not for the most part on purpose but through rose tinted spectacles and lack of sleep cherry picking the memories, a bit like perception bias. “ohh mine always fell asleep at a particular time, they did this at that age.” and so on.
- Everyone will tell you the most horrific birthing story they think of as it is a more interesting story. “My daughter’s friend’s friend… quite awful, nearly both die, but they fine now. She had another one and it was a perfectly fine birth. You never can tell.” Yeah, thanks for that.
- The second one is generally easier.
- Make sure you have a spare set of clothes for yourself in the car or baby bag all of the time.
- For the Birth make sure you have got a huge range of snacks and liquid refreshment ready. Just because the chosen hospital, (in my case Frimley Park), has a nice café with great bacon rolls or a very reasonable baguette shop, they may not be open when you are there or have the opportunity to casually stroll down and enjoy one.
Back to X-Wing
One of the selling points of X-wing is the straight out of the ‘box’ or clam pack readiness of the game. Without the need to assemble or paint anything you don’t need to be worrying about what time slot you are going to do it in, as these have now all gone. My children are now six and three and when we had the prototype I was playing 40K. He was born at the beginning of July and I knew gaming was off the agenda for a few months.
I set a target of playing in a tournament in late October and kept to my most familiar list which was Space Wolf Space marines at the time. Over three months I managed to squeeze in painting a dreadnought arm, highlights on three marines and some weapon swaps for the event. I think I had only a couple of practice games but did reasonably well winning four from six whilst feeling like death warmed up on day two.
This was my advice in regards to X-wing. Playing time will be at a premium, especially in the first year and setting a target goal to focus on like a tournament or event will give you some direction. Also stick to a squad and only tweak it a little. Try and have a realistic expectation on what you can achieve as your game time might be low and you may well turn up to the event having had very little sleep.
X-wing is lot more easier than other miniature games to fit in with small people, especially new ones, and the first three months are normally the hardest. Look at getting a mate over to play a few games early on if you can and try and be flexible on yourself and accept that you may have to cancel going out at the last minute.
Birth of X-wing, I mean my daughter, I think.
I got into X-wing during Wave Four during the summer of 2014. Man of Monkey and I both picked up a core set and decided to give it a bash. We had both just had the arrival of our respective second children and a less time constrictive hobby in the short term over 40k would be worth a bash. We played it for a couple of weeks down one of the gaming clubs in Woking, then I played two games of 7th edition 40K on consecutive weeks when he couldn’t make it, followed by running a 40K tournament.
And that was it.
I did what had previously seemed the unthinkable and kicked 40K into touch, or hit it out of the park or into the rough. I liked the hobby aspect but on balance preferred playing more. X-Wing was just so much better in every department of the playing side. Two months later we took our first steps into the tournament scene which to our surprise, despite hearing about this fly casual thing and being a bit sceptical, it was a bunch of perfectly behaved and reasonable people.
And no bad odours too. The personal hygiene levels at X-wing are much higher than other miniature games.
With X-Wing tournaments cramming five to six games in on one day this meshed a lot easier with the Life/Hobby balance rather than a weekend of five or six 40K games. Cheaper too which is an additional selling point as expenses go up. I still struggle with the fact that the kids shoes cost more than mine.
Vassal and keeping up with the Meta
There are an abundant number of podcasts, blogs and websites to trawl through which can at least keep your mind ticking over in terms of ‘the meta.’ Might be worth investing in a pair of headphones to listen to a podcast whilst taking your turn to get the small person back to sleep. One issue I found is that baby in one hand and keyboard on the other did not work, so early hours games of Vassal while multi-tasking may not be on the cards.
Whilst reading and listening does not equate to playing it is a good stop gap and keeps your oar in.
If you go to X-Wing tournaments you probably have a lot of transferable skills for parenthood from the tournament environment.
- Most of the time I bring spare ships, dials, tokens and what not for myself. When the small child inevitably soils themselves in a catastrophic way or produces a technicolour yawn you have no doubt a rich variety of alternative clothing to put them into. Where is yours? Point five in the previous advice which not to listen too is extremely useful and I should have followed it myself. Discovering the yellow on my Iron Man T-shirt was not part of the costume or background was… upsetting.
- When going to a tournament I always take plenty of water, lunch and snacks for myself. Like the above point you do that for them, don’t neglect yourself either.
- Never underestimate your opponent, especially when they have a bit more experience under their belt. Like in X-wing new waves bring new challenges and this is also true and testing of your abilities to adapt. Self-propulsion is a game changer for a start.
The reason we have hobbies is that it is a great distraction from the real world and fun. I’m not saying that being a parent is not fun and rewarding but having a break from it once a week to push toy space ships around and improving one’s self-worth by crushing a few people is a highlight and most welcome break. More so a welcome break from kids TV, impaling your foot on yet more stray Lego and fending them off your Transformers collection.
I love my kids but playing X-Wing is a once weekly oasis to visit. For any new parents it might be a bit dry in the short run, but it will be there ready and waiting for you when the time is right. The Life/Work/X-Wing balance is a little harder to achieve but it is achievable and does swing into a rhythm again.
I’ll reiterate my earlier point:
Playing time will be at a premium so a target goal to focus on like a tournament or event will give you some direction. Try and have a realistic expectation as your game time might be low and you may well have had very little sleep. Sticking to a familiar squad or ships will help immensely.
“No plan survives contact with the enemy. Which the enemy in this case is extremely resourceful, stubborn and knows no social boundaries in which to thwart the plan of getting them clean, correctly dressed and in the car in the required time frame.”