Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

December 05, 2013

Once again it is time to wish a Merry Christmas to all our friends and family, loved ones and acquaintances, and even a few people that never leave our address books even though we no longer even recognize their names (I think that is my ex’s cousins college roommates sister).

Looking at last year’s letter, I laugh because once again Diane is bugging me about writing the letter after Thanksgiving, but this time turkey day came quite a bit later.  Most of the Carter clan is still here in the wild and wooly state of Ohio.   I’m beginning to think that some of these new fads may actually take hold- it seems that the kids I keep yelling at to get off my lawn sure seem to have a lot of new tech toys.

This year has been a bit tough overall.  As most of you know Mom was in a very serious car accident in the spring, and spent nearly a month in the hospital.  She has finally recovered and is feeling good again, especially because she actually found a good lawyer to deal with the bills and other financial aspects, though nothing really makes up for that much time in the hospital and rehab.

For me, I’ve found another way to be busy.  I’m still working at TDKC, which hasn’t been growing as much this year because of all the political games going on in Washington (a big drawback for having the military as most of our business).  I’ve expanded my gaming hobby though, becoming a “pathfinder” for Mantic games – a miniature gaming company based in the UK.  This means I go out and do game demos and run events, and in return get yet more toys to play with!

Diane has had a very rough year.  At the end of last year she went in for a sleep study to help with her sleep apnea, and they became really concerned about her blood oxygen levels.  So much so they put her on oxygen 24/7 (with the exception of when she is just sitting doing nothing), and things have not gotten better.  They did rule out COPD, and while she does have some mild pulmonary hypertension, they now suspect it may be a problem with too much CO2 in her blood.   She had to put her Realtor license in escrow and has actually gone on disability, but really struggles with being very confined.

Becky continues to be a very successful sign language interpreter, working at Communication Services for the Deaf as the Deaf Domestic Violence Advocate, and was awarded “Advocate of the Year” this fall.  She got to attend several conventions, even if Vancouver did make her sick.   Unfortunately she lost her sweet boxer Harlow last winter due to a sudden heart attack.  However she did meet Eric, and as of yesterday has moved in with him and his dog Karma.  They dared to visit us in Ohio for a few days just before Thanksgiving, and he didn’t seem daunted by our crazy family.  To top off her year, she just got a job with benefits as the Dear/Hard of Hearing Project Coordinator for a grant at Cornerstone (as opposed to friends with benefits, which is something completely different).

Jon realized that selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door was not the career he wanted, and finally found a job working at TelePerformance where he does tech support for AT&T wireless, has already received a promotion and is on his way to becoming a manager.  He moved to Fairborn to be close to his job and shares an apartment with a friend he has known for over twenty years.

Katie is still living with Sam in Oregon (even more remote than Ohio, if you can believe that!).  They have a couple of cats, and enjoy going to comic conventions, where her clay figures are a big hit.  They had a bit of a rough time with getting their car broken into this spring, but managed to get insurance to cover most of the loss and are just continuing to live day to day.

Erik is doing well. He is currently in his fourth year of college, working towards a degree in Computer Engineering.  In addition to school he has been employed at Regal Beloit, a company that designs and manufactures a variety of electrical motors.  He is still on schedule to graduate from the University of Dayton in May of 2015. He is currently the treasurer for the UD Fantasy and Science Fiction Appreciation Club for the 3rd year in a row. The club raises money for Child's Play charity through multiple events throughout the year and has already broken its record from last year.  In addition to all this, he has started dating Isolde Hannan (known just as “Z” to us), a very sweet girl who is also in Computer Engineering and a volleyball player.

Matthew has stated to discover that college classes can be challenging as he continues as a sophomore at Miami University of Ohio working on his Mechanical Engineering degree.  He works on campus in a couple of food service positions, and then when he is home he also has a job at Toys ‘R’ Us, which meant we had an early Thanksgiving dinner this year as he had to work at 4:30.  He enjoys his campus game club, and is planning on finally getting his driver’s license over winter break so that he can actually drive the car he bought from a friend of Diane’s.

Scout has had some problems this year, and is really slowing down as we figure he just turned 13.  He had a nasty flea infection that we figure he got when he killed a feral cat (one of 3 he killed this year).  We finally seem to have that under control and he is no longer constantly scratching and is back to his normal, lazy self.
So even though 2013 was a year full of challenges, we look forward to the next year with much anticipation that things will be better.  We wish all of you happiness, health and success in all you do.

Matthew, Jon, Becky, Eric, Z and Erik

May the rains sweep gentle across your fields,
May the sun warm the land,
May every good seed you have planted bear fruit,
And late summer find you standing in fields of plenty.

    -Mike, Diane, Becky, Jon, Erik, Katlyn, Matthew and Scout

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A lot of my modelling stuff

This isn't the only place that I choose to share my thoughts - one that I've been updating quite a bit more than here the last year is my Mantic blog - Puggimer's Pathfinder Progress - it started as a place to share pictures of my Mantic Kings of War Abyssal Dwarf army, but has expanded a little to include all the stuff I'm doing as a Mantic Pathfinder.

Most recently talking about the new DeadZone miniatures that I've received to do demos with over a month before the game will arrive.

Some sample pictures:

Check it out

Friday, November 08, 2013


Ok, so the Mars Attacks kickstarter was floundering this week. So what did Mantic decide to do - step it up and add a lot more free stuff!

They got it to rebound and these last two days are going to be really exciting. What kind of free stuff? How about free giant Bugs! How about a free Big Stompy Robot with shrink ray, and 5 free shrunken marines! How about a free Supreme Regeant to lead your Martian forces! How about a free Martian army standard bearer! How about a free hardback of all the rules (both the base game and escalation and all the scenarios)!

By my estimate that is over $100 of more free stuff added to the $300 pledges - which were already a great value. Check it out here :

 And who knows how much more will get added (piles of dead bodies, zombies, more heroes!) before it is done Sunday at 6:59! Don't get left behind!

 (and after that - I promise to quit posting about this kickstarter!)

Thursday, November 07, 2013


As a Mantic Pathfinder, it is my job to promote their games - thus the blog posts on the ongoing Kickstarter for Mars Attacks.

Go here : , and pledge your support.  Don't worry, I'll be here waiting until you get back.






no hurry, take your time



don't forget to add in an extra Big Stompy Robot, or a set of 3 Giant Bugs (because we all need more robots and giant bugs).



Ok, so you're back.  Now comes the wating.  The horrendous, slow waiting while they actually turn our dreams of martian destruction and valiant human heroes into shiny toy soldiers.  In a mere 9 months (August of 2014) it will begin making it's way into your grubby little hands.

Wait, you didn't pledge?  You only have until 6:59 EST (yes, daylight savings is over, so we are spending the daylight quite liberally now) on Sunday, November 10th.

I've already written why I like this game, but maybe it is miniature games in general?  The miniature wargaming hobby is, admittedly, an expensive hobby.  If you go for any of the Games Workshop games, then it is a VERY expensive hobby.  But even with the Mantic games, it costs quite a bit more than a copy of Monopoly.  So why should you do this?

Well, first because Monopoly sucks.  How many times have you endured that wretched excuse for a game only to have it end in a fight.  So maybe a game that isn't designed to take hours to tear you down completely would be better.  The game play is sure to be fast and streamlined - a game should take no more than an hour I would expect.  I've found that miniature games have been a great way to bond with my sons.

But not only is it sure to be a great game, but it is a hobby as well.  Sure you can play it straight out of the box, but you can also take some time to paint all your models, making them not just pieces in a game, but your martians and your heroes.  I've found many more hours of enjoyment painting and modelling miniatures than I ever get out of actually playing the games.  I can paint and model alone, or with friends at a game store.

So pledge your support, either to crush the puny humans beneath the glorious forces of Mars, or to drive back the dastardly invaders that have dared to attack our home world!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Bugs! Little, annoying, sqishy pests. Until the martians came and inverted their shrink rays on them turning them into giant killing machines. No more would they be crushed under the unthinking heel of the humans - the bugs are attacking.

C'mon - who hasn't loved such sci-fi classics like Them or the campy Starship Troopers. They have become a common scifi gaming trope - from 40K Tyranids to Dreadball Zzors. But still, it is the humans against giant insects that we all remember from comics and movies of our youth.

Now you can recreate these. The Mars Attacks Kickstarter only has 4 days left, and the next major stretch goal (at $500K) are giant bugs! Plus they already have beat the goal to add a character riding a giant flea - how cool is that.

And if you don't want the whole thing, just pledge at the $1 level and once they hit this stretch you can buy a giant bug for only $10 - or $20 for 3. They are also adding one in on the $150 1-click pledges and 3 for $300 1-click pledges.

If you ask me, the cool things about this kickstarter aren't the martians or the people, it is the martian death machines and giant bugs.  Flying saucers, Giant Stompy Robots - and the next stretch goal ($500K) is Giant Bugs.  They already have a hero riding a giant flea - but the new big gribblies are right out of a 1950's matinee.  Not quite the ants from Them, they are still big, creepy monsters.

I'd like to just do scenarios from those 1950's movies - just army guys versus huge insects, with civilians running around getting eaten.

Check it out - you know you need your dose of atomic horror, with a side of martians for fun

Monday, November 04, 2013

Painted Armies

When playing miniature games, the is nothing like having two well painted armies facing each other over cool terrain.  The Mars attacks kickstarter has added some Army Painter paint sets are reward levels to help people get their martians and heroes painted.  They did have a few pledges to get fully painted sets, but right now those are all gone.

So if you haven't painted minis before check out the paint set rewards -

Friday, November 01, 2013

BoardGameGeek Mars Attacks competition!

Don't say I didn't warn you - once again the obligatory add.

However this is kind of cool - answer a few questions about the game (with the answers somewhere on the kickstarter page) and you can get entries to win a copy of the game.  The grand prize is "The Invaders Arrive" pledge on kickstarter - which is the game + and $125 worth of add on's.  There are also three second prizes of just the game.

Go here to enter :

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mars Attacks

Disclaimer - I am a Mantic Pathfinder, and have been asked to post about the Kickstarter.

First off - to get the requirements out of the way - go and pledge for the Mars Attacks Kickstarter before it ends Nov 10, 2013 at 6:59 EST.  It looks to be a fun, light hearted game, and a great transition from traditional board games to miniature games.

Ok - now for something real.

I first heard about Mars Attacks back in 1978.  I was a whopping 13 the summer that Star Wars had just come out, and I couldn't get enough of it.  So much so that when I found a magazine (you remember what those were) call "Space Wars" I had to have it.  Looking back realistically, it was a quick and dirty rag put out to capitalize on Star Wars without actually having to pay any royalties or anything.  I ate it up, and bought several issues.  Living in a small town that was the biggest within 2 hour drive - and still did not even have a McDonalds until I was in high school, this was great.  In the third issue was an article by James Trever and Len Brown, about these Topps trading cards issued in 1962 - Mars Attacks.

To my 13 year old brain these were some of the coolest things ever - and to make them even better, they were completely unobtainable!  "Although unintentional, that article saw the price of 1962 MA cards go from $1 to $10 almost over night!".  And this was way before the internet - it just wasn't going to happen.  But those cool cards - from the #1 The Invasion Begins to such classics like #36 Destroying a Dog I was hooked.

I know they reprinted and reissued the cards later, but I had grown older and wasn't into it anymore.  I did greatly enjoy the 1996 movie - as campy as the cards - but being an adult now it wasn't like I was going to collect it or anything.

I then became a Matic Pathfinder, responsible for demoing their games and bascially being a cheerleader for the company, in exchange for some a bit of free product and maybe some sneak peaks.  And what does Mantic go and do but make a licensing agreement with Topps to make hybrid board/miniature game out of Mars Attacks, and put up a Kickstarter for it.

Yes, my 13 year old inner child freaked.  Martians.  Death Rays.  Flying Saucers.  Giant Robots.  Giant Bugs.  This must be mine - and I have to have it to demo anyway, right?  Yeah, like I needed that excuse.

I did the first Mantic Kickstarter for Kings of War, and wish I had been able to do DreadBall and Dead Zone if for no other reason than the fantastic deal on the games and miniatures.  Now my wife questions how many more I need, not realizing that if I ever get all my miniatures painted then I'll die - so I have to keep buying more as I paint more. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it).

This isn't intended to be a "hard core" game - it is more a beer and pretzels version.  I don't see where they will have multiple factions to collect, and all the miniatures in the base game are colored plastic and pre-assembled (except for the clear martial helmets) so it can be played right out of the box.    It is using the latest Topps IP (intellectual property) for this, so has figures from the recent comics and the new cards that just came out for the 50th anniversary.

I'm not that excited about the martian or the human models - I don't really like painting humans (and the martians are pretty much humans) as I find them boring.  Giant stompy robot - that is cool.  Giant Bugs - they currently only have one funded (in the Attack from Space! expansion) but have another one as a future stretch goal (based on the silhouette in the Martian Attack Force expansion).  Flying saucers are also cool.  And they even have some other awesome stuff - such as models for flaming cows from the original #22 Burning Cattle card (now an event that happens in the game).

The $475 stretch goal is for team and solo play rules - so that you can do games with (instead of against) your friends, or even when you are by yourself (and now that I'm an empty nester, that is more often than not).

Even if I wasn't a pathfinder, I would want this game, because it takes me back to when I was a 13 year old boy, and the summer was filled with Star Wars and martian Death Rays.

New Direction (and not that boy band)

Ok, where do I start?  At one point several years ago I was updating this semi-regularly (did 99 posts back in 2007) but that hasn't been happening - what 2 posts last year, and this is the first for this year.  So much for my dozens of readers (yes, I did have one entry with a whopping 31 views.  Have to be careful I don't get a big head on that one).

I think that this was an outlet for my frustrations, anger and bad feelings - mostly from work.  Well for a little over 4 1/2 years (4 years, 7 months, 1 week to be exact) my work stress has been pretty much gone.  That is what comes from working for a great company.  How great you say?  We have been awarded "Best Place to Work" from the Dayton Business Journal for the last two years, as well as winning it for the Dayton Daily News this past year and a similar (ok, now I'm being lazy) award for Greene county.  A healthy, growing company.  Respect for everyone the company and the work they do.  Not perfect, but I have no desire to even look anywhere else.

Better than working with a bunch of monkeys trying to f**k a basketball (and I still don't know where I heard that term).  But much less need to share it and get it out of my system.

But I do need to update this more - I feel guilty when I don't because I know both of my remaining readers are hanging on every word.  I won't write about work - I don't have any coworkers that I can complain about, and as for what I do - I like and want to keep my job, so I don't need to be publicly blasting it on the interwebs.

So if not work, then fun?  What do I do for fun.  Beer.  And Games.  More games than beer, but I do a little home brewing.  I tried to start a blog on that - did a whopping 2 entries there.  I don't know enough, and with my job going well I don't drink enough to be able to really talk about beer.

That leaves games.  Not those new fangled flashy video games (get off my lawn!) but real board and miniature games.  Games that (usually) require a flesh and blood person to play with.  And not Monopoly (what may be the WORST board game ever made).  Games like Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Flashpoint.  Board games that you might see on Table Top (I have all but 2 of the games they did on their first season).

I also love miniature games.  I've been playing Warhammer Fantasy Battles for over 12 years now, and have created several fun, themed armies, including The United Greenskin Postal Service, The Grateful Undead, Da Beach Boyz, The Drunk Dwarves and The Fire Eaters Ogre Tribe.  When it still existed, I also played Confrontation (with Wolfen and Ophidians ).  I have started playing Mantic's Kings of War, fielding Abyssal Dwarfs, and started demoing this game at Origins and GenCon this past summer, which has led me to become a Mantic Pathfinder (basically a volunteer who does demos of their games).

I've actually won a few awards; mostly "favorite army/general's choice" (voted on by all the players in a tournament for any reason they like), a few "best painted" and even fewer (I think 3) overall winner awards. (One was for a Confrontation tournament - where the award was a Scourge Bearer statue that I painted up and use as my avatar EVERYWHERE).

So games mostly, but not restricted to, miniatures will be my main focus for this blog.  It will probably still include the annual Christmas letter and anything else I thik of - but you have seen how much I do other stuff lately.

I'll try to keep it funny and interesting (yes, I missed both those goals with this post, didn't I?), but I will warn both of my readers (boy, that is making a big assumption that two people will still be able to find this at all) that there will be some 'advertising' as part of me being a pathfinder.