The Bulwark

News and Events from Blythe's Bulwark, Chico, CA

Saving A Rack For A Break

March 18, 2013 By: Blythe Category: Store News

24709664On Friday I went to the pool hall with some coworkers to celebrate our accreditation as McDermott distributors. We usually go after work on Tuesdays, the bar has good bar food and is usually empty, so it’s a good place to unwind before going home to our families. I usually wind up paying since I am the first to arrive, on Tuesdays the pool hall charges $8 an hour, which is a pretty fair price. We go so often, some of the guys were thinking of getting some cues.

My buddy Roy and I are often talking about why a personal cue is such a good investment, after all slate pool tables cost at least $2,000 and that doesn’t include shipping and installation. If you can’t afford your own pool table, why not get your own cue? I equate it to buying a jersey for your favorite team, or getting a shirt with French cuffs. You do it because you want to show people you’re a fan, also having your own tools will help your game.

I am an avid PC gamer, along with my billiards hobby. One of my favorite programs is Steam, a digital distribution platform, it has a lot of other features besides letting me spend money without putting on pants. One of those features is tracking your play history, the lifetime of hours you have wasted on a specific game you downloaded. I really like this feature because I am big on getting an entertainment return on my disposable income. Was that $60 game worth it? Well if I get at least X hours of entertainment out of it, it was.

So on Friday, we wound up playing for about 3 hours. The girlfriend wanted drinks, I wanted food, I bought a round for the guys, and then we left. The bill came out to about $60, of that $30 was spent on the table itself. On the weekends, the pool hall charges $10 an hour for a table, premium cost, for premium play time. We soon realized how premium when our sleepy little pool hall, turned into a busy bar filled with students. My girlfriend was tipsy, Roy was complaining about the music, and another coworker swore that if the cue was straight he easily would have beaten us. We decided to leave at that point, its about a half hour drive home and my lady friend passed out in some uncomfortable position about halfway to our house.

I always think of pool tables as these expensive things. Way too pricey for anyone who is part of the 99%. Afterall, how can I see a return on my entertainment investment with something that costs two grand, when I could play at a bar for $10 per hour? Then I logged into Steam, and saw my play time for a game called Team Fortress 2:


291 hours! That’s a little over 12 days playing a game that features a Scottish cyclops, an androgynous pyromaniac, and an Australian serial killer who enjoys his job. Now, that was all time well spent I assure you. I play Team Fortress with my girlfriend, and several other friends, I keep in touch with folks over TFII (as the kids call it). The point is I really love TFII, it’s always on my computer, and one of the first games I install when I get a new PC.

twain_and_biographerNow, imagine if I loved pool the same way I love TFII. All of a sudden it doesn’t make sense to play at the pool hall. All of a sudden it makes sense to have my friends come to my house, and bring a six pack with them. The booze is cheaper here, the music is better, there are no frat-guys, and the cues are straight! At $10 an hour, times 291 hours, is more than enough to buy a pool table and see my entertainment “investment” yield returns.

More and more I am realizing that billiards is a game that doesn’t demand deep pockets (only 6), and that we spend more time doing the things we love, than we realize. We can all think of how long we spend doing the stuff we hate, but how often do you reflect on the hours you spend doing the things you love? Maybe I will go without pool for a few months, and see how far I get towards a pool table, saving a little to start and then adding more and more to the fund as it builds up. With the financial plan slowly forming, I have to consider convincing the girlfriend which is a much tougher proposition.

With Apologies to The Geico Cavemen

March 15, 2013 By: Blythe Category: Pool Poker and Darts

flintstoneDM2004_468x343When I was growing up, my grandfather had a small room next to the hallway, near the kitchen. This hallowed room, was roughly 30’ x 20’ and bedecked with a large sliding closet was colloquially referred to as “the office”. We were never to go into “the office”, even though my grandpa had some of his best toys stashed in that room. Sometimes we would get lucky and he would let us come in while he was paying his bills, and play with some of the treasures he kept back there, but normally it was sacred ground.

As houses are getting bigger and bigger, and young families are investing in more personal space the house has evolved. Children get their own room, master showers become these large spa experiences that resemble car washes, kitchens practically become galleys, and there may even be reading nooks, or play rooms for the children. All this expansion has seen the advent of a very unique neologism, the “man-cave”.

As a man, who it’s assumed would benefit from having a rock shelter on the premises, I have always felt the term surprisingly demeaning. I assume other men may feel the same way, because I would often hear the term followed by a verbal eye roll. Now I am not assuming all men feel this way, some men eagerly eke out their man cave with all the gusto of a Paleolithic napoleon. I was always under the impression that the term “man cave” was the preferred term for the fairer sex, unable to sum up the needs of a man’s personal room because they maybe “just don’t get it”.

Recently when discussing this issue with several men, I had mentioned my thought and a friend of mine disagreed with me. She was of the impression that a man-cave would be quite the den of inequity, with beer bottle chandeliers, dead animal skulls, and shag carpeting. This got us talking about the term, and we came to a startling conclusion; no one likes the term “man cave”.

05-man-cave-man-land-northShe proffered that when her and her husband start working on a house they would have a theater, den, or entertainment center. I channeled my grandfather in responding with “but it’s not a den, theater, or entertainment center, it’s my office”. She pointed out that my, and my coworkers’ “office” would likely be the site of several fruitless past times, including Call of Duty, poker, and pool. This brought us to the crux of the argument; there really isn’t a word that describes a place for men to just do their thing.

Women have all sorts of terms for their ideal room, Victoria wants a “spa”, my artistic girlfriend has a “studio”, and another friend has a “drawing room”. All of these terms express themselves as the purview of the feminine, a place where Y chromosomes need not apply, and nor should productive endeavors. There isn’t a term for a man that has that same connotation.  In the days of yore “gentleman’s clubs” offered welcome relief for men, but in the modern era that term is polluted by seedier places, “smoking rooms” have been offset by awareness of the harm tobacco causes, and as I pointed out earlier little work will get done so there is no need in calling it an “office”.

This is why we have stuck with “man cave”, it’s unfettered by the connotations of cancer and strange women who take off their clothes. It immediately implies a place where children ought not be, and where the wife only wields a fraction of her immense power. That said, why stick with a cheap buzzword that nobody likes? Be the man you are, strike out on your own and talk to your partner about what you need in your own private “lounge”, talk to her about your “speak easy” and clarify the expectations for your “bar”. It’s your room, it’s up to you; what are you going to call it?


What’s New In 2011

October 18, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Store News

About a year ago I got an idea for a self-sufficient gaming club here in Chico. Members would enjoy discounted product special ordered for them, a place to game, and a network of like minded individuals located in our beautiful college town. The club would meet a need in Chico that wasn’t really met except in a few circles, a place for gamers to buy product, play the games they wanted to play, and just hang out for pickup games.

By January of this year a lease was signed, and we were moving in. Jared Gilmore and Andy Able built tables, the Flickers donated a cash box and fans, Don Boucher and James Stremel donated their prodigious collection of books and games while the doors slowly opened up. The Bulwark was born, and it truly was a community effort. We were able to get a site online (thanks Drew) and integrated it into our Facebook account. We quickly moved in and started gaming, meeting new people, and discovering new games. Meanwhile as coordinator the budget was balanced and the shop was running smoothly.

The collective “we” as gamers were able to create a place for us that was service oriented, was able to get you the products you needed, and really made you feel at home. There are few places in Chico that can boast a sort of atmosphere like that. There were some bumps in the road, a few ants at the picnic (literal and metaphorical), a few cars caught fire, but nothing we couldn’t overcome as a group who thoroughly enjoy the hobby.

It’s because of all this goodness going around that the St. George Ln location will be closing, and we will no longer be taking orders. On a personal level managing all the utilities, collecting dues, and dealing with distributors is sort of a full time job in itself and not really a part of the job that I enjoy.  The club needs a place to meet, and we certainly need the tools to play the games we enjoy.

In its stead Kettil’s Keep will be opening up October 28th, a full stock gaming store with a community first outlook. I have spoken with the owner Shane and he assured me that there will be room for the popular games that took place at the Bulwark in his new store. RPGA Wednesdays, AGoT Mondays, and Warhammer Sundays will still go on as normal. I have known Shane (aka Kettil) for a long time, and I know his attitude towards community is as dedicated as mine.

I will soon be posting a couple of events, both involve cleaning the Bulwark. November 6th will be a “Revenge of the Nerds” barcrawl before the barcrawl though folks are invited to gather at the Bulwark help move some stuff and I will buy food and drink before taking a trip downtown. During this momentous occasion, in order to celebrate a successful year I will allow people to put drinks on the game table. That’s right, our one law out the window.

2011 is going to be just as exciting as 2010, if not more exciting. Shane will be organizing in-store events such as Warhammer Tournaments and game days, we still have a dedicated team of coordinators willing to help organize events and campaigns, and there will no longer be any dues! The ten dollars a month you were tithing to keep the doors open can go to actual product like a new chapter pack, or Imperial Guardsman unit.  The Bulwark is your community, and this is a big change for that community.  If you have any concerns or questions, post them on our Facebook page, and while you are there stop by Kettil’s Keep on Facebook to say “hello” to Shane.

The Management

Blood Bowl Returns

August 20, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Blood Bowl, CCGs, Leagues and Tourneys

It's like fantasy football, meets fantasy.Lace up your cleats, put on your helmet and poison your knife, Blood Bowl is just around the corner. Bylliam Toofgobbla is your host again as 16 teams struggle for the most points at the end of 16 turns. Players you choose will gain skills, as they become star players adored by fans. Humans, Elves, Orks, and more face off against each other in this parody of American Football where the only way to achieve greatness is by creating a grand ascent of the dead and defeated. Your players will die, become injured, and develop horrible mutations all in pursuit of glory!

While we can certainly take the time to paint the models, and get a board together, we let Blood Bowl do the work for us. Two hosts will hold league nights at their house and run two copies of the Blood Bowl game by Cyanide Studios. Using hotseat mode you and your opponent will be able to sit face to face and do everything they can to remove each other’s blockers.

We look forward to starting a great season, and if you are interested join us at the Round Table on Pilsbury on August 29th.

If computer games aren’t your thing and turn based strategy only makes you want to scream, perhaps the recently announced Blood Bowl LCG by Fantasy Flight Games may be up your ally?

Diplomacy, Comrad.

August 05, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Leagues and Tourneys, Wargaming

Saturday witnessed the return of a Bulwark tradition, lying to your friends and enjoying a few beers while they suffer.  Diplomacy is the international game of politics and intrigue, each player makes alliances and breaks them in order the further the ends of his country. For more information on Diplomacy, check out some of our previous articles.

Arch-Duke Jared Gilmore gathered some new faces and some old as Russian swept West with the aid of Turkey. A special nod goes out to Blake Morillas who was sportsman of the evening. Playing as Austria he was first eliminated when the Germans, lead by the Arch-Duke himself, betrayed the nation and allowed Italy to sack the country.

We are looking forward to more Diplomacy games in the future. Some video was taken during the night and posted to our Facebook group, swing by and check it out.

The Bulwark Goes To Azeroth

July 12, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Store News

The Bulwark has gone digital! That’s right your favorite gaming club now has a presence in Azeroth.  Several members in our club have banded together in order to thwart the Burning Legion and wreak a special kind of genocide on the boars of Kalimdor. The Bulwark guild is currently leveling up on the Steamweedle Cartel server as Alliance characters, but members gathering as Horde are welcome to use our Ventrilo server.

If you would like to join us, or if you are a member and want access to our Vent server let me know and I will get you taken care of.  If you want to watch The Bulwark, check out our Armory page below.

The Tournament of the Hand!

July 09, 2010 By: Blythe Category: CCGs, Leagues and Tourneys

Tomorrow morning history shall be made! The local knights and scions the powerful lords of Westeros will gather on the field of honor. Alliances will be made and broken, young warriors will clash with the old while power and intrigue takes place in the shadows of our great stadium. This is the Tournament of the Hand, and this day will decide the fate of the great Battle for the North.

For the last 5 weeks our players have been vying for position as leader of our Monday Night A Game of Thrones League. As the League closes a winner will be decided. Tomorrow will culminate in the day’s champions vying for total power at the final table. The schedule is below.

We will be seeding first round tables in a group format based on league performance.

10:00 Open
11:00 First Round
1:00 Lunch Break
2:00 Second Round
4:00 Third Round
6:00 Final Table

Also the current standings of the league are below as well.

1st Sir John Deatrick the Bountiful
2nd Sir Andrew Flicker, Scion of the Exiled
3rd Sir Ben Blythe Scion of Lannister
4th Sir James Stremel, Scion of Winterfell
5th Dame Margo Franks the Hound Mistress
6th Sir Andy Able the Furious
7th Sir Ian Allen the Fruity
8th Sir Don Boucher, Scion of the Rock
9th Sir Ryan Huber, Scion of King Robert the Drunk
10th Dame Jess Thomas the Fierce
11th Sir Phillip Sexton the Victorious
12th Sir Dirk Walls, the Upstart
13th Sir Joel Snow, of the Wall
14th Sir Chris Patzner, Keeper of the Tolls
15th Dame Malinda Miller the Mild

Pickup and Play!

June 28, 2010 By: Blythe Category: CCGs, RPGA (D&D 4E), Tabletop Roleplaying, Wargaming

In case you weren’t around this weekend you missed a lot! Yeah, nothing was scheduled officially but we had a great weekend of pick-up gaming. Pip ran Call of Cthulhu were we got to see a vintage special edition core book by Chaosium and several investigators lost their minds. Several Skinks were cured of a condition which rendered them armless by Betsy. On the heels of that Don ran a massive 8 player Dungeons and Dragons game, which followed on the heels of Arkham Horror where Chris was sealed in an alternate dimension never to be heard from again.  The next day JD put together a casual AGoT group, and Drew marched Dwarves to slaughter the undead hordes of Khemri.

It was great seeing all the pickup games. If you dropped by just to hang out we were glad to have you! Remember the Bulwark isn’t just a spot to game, it’s a place where everybody knows your character’s name.

Allow Me, to Take You For a Ride

June 20, 2010 By: Blythe Category: CCGs, LARP, Leagues and Tourneys, Store News, Wargaming

Some people may wonder what this photo has to do with the post. I say its awesome, just like our members.May the God Emperor bless our members. So often I am asked “How can I help the club”, or “What does the organization need”, people are ready and eager to donate tangible items. Things like fans, or chairs, or what have you. The fact is we get those things off of Craigslist, or purchase them using the dues our members pay.

What we really need is people to coordinate and run games. This doesn’t have to be anything huge, just you, a few friends having a good night. Have an old table top RPG you have been wanting to play for a while? Run it! We have members chomping at the bit to play in some home brew games.  Right now we have Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness, and Scion being ran at The Bulwark, and we have plenty of people asking about other games too!

Do you love a board game and want to get some players together?  Let me know, and I will create an event. If you are interested in playing a game the club can order a copy for you at a huge discount!

So when people ask me, “how do I give back” I tell them just have fun, and bring people along for the ride.

A Man of His Word

June 16, 2010 By: Blythe Category: CCGs, Leagues and Tourneys

Monday night John “JD” Deatrick made a boast. During A Game of Thrones league play he said he would purchase a chapter pack for the player who started on the lowbie table and rose the highest. Phillip “Pip” Sexton has had a wretched time, he is able to hold his own in casual games, but unable to see any sort of victory during league play. He went into the evening with not a single win under his belt. Well that all changed. After a first place win on a table of four and a second place on a table of three, Pip soared up in the rankings and as promised JD has penciled in a special order with the Bulwark’s special order desk.

Congratulations to Pip, and congratulations to JD for maintaining the honor of his house.