The Bulwark

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

Archive for the ‘Store News’

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.

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

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.

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.

New Haven Returns to Old Haven

June 03, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Store News

Whose haven? New Haven!New Haven by Night will be returning to Chico State starting June 18th.  The Chico State Campus is New Haven’s ancestral home, and the Bulwark is happy to host them during the cold and rainy parts of the year.  Now that the weather is cheering up, the local members of Prince Batavus’ court will lurk about Chico State instead of gaming store behind K-Mart. “I like the CSU Chico site primarily due to the sheer size. The scale of the site allows us to adopt real-life locations as representations of in-game locations, adding to the degree of believability when one says they are or are not at a specific place,” says Lee Elmore. Lee has been playing in the local Vampire LARP through its several incarnations, most of which have been at Chico State during Chico’s 10+ year LARPing history, “While the CSU Chico site doesn’t have as easy access to restrooms or air conditioning, it grants us the ability to spread out and play.”

No doubt the Bulwark has had a positive impact on the game by connecting new players like Josh Amaral to the community. Josh is looking forward to the move, “open space, the buildings, it all just gives a more, almost sinister, ambience”. NHbN has had a positive impact on the Bulwark as well, while the community was being created NHbN helped solve problems of harsh fluorescent lighting, and establishing atmosphere, concerns which are no longer an issue inside the gaming shop.  The Bulwark looks forward to seeing more creatures of the night around early October, when the weather starts to change. That said, the Bulwark will still try to play an active role in NHbN and if you are at all interested in playing the longest running game in Chico simply email the staff at

The Weekend After – Return From Kublacon

June 03, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Store News

Kublacon was absolutely fantastic. We had several members of our store place in tournaments including Magic the Gathering, A Game of Thrones, and a splendid performance in the Golden Gargant tournament.  For those of you who couldn’t make it, we look forward to joining Team Chico next year!


Savior of the Seat, Brahmin of the Butt – A Special Thanks

May 14, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Store News

Special thanks go out to Drew Flicker who helped the Bulwark get hooked up with some new chairs. These new chairs will firmly cradle your posterior while you enjoy hours and hours of cozy gaming at your FLGS.

Show Your Team Colors

May 05, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Store News

It is said in the before-times, before the Great Enlightenment lead by Gary Gygax, t-shirts were an acceptable form of conveying support for a belief. It is said that one would don a t-shirt and his peers would say “That man shares interests of my own”, and “I derive mirth from his apparel”.  After the Great Enlightenment though, many a scoundrel and fiend did cross the land donning t-shirts proclaiming that they may have at one point “rolled twenties” or that they support the Elder God Cthulhu for democratic election to a high office.  These fiends would where these shirts for fortnights, never removing their second skins till they were compelled by their mothers, who dwelled above the basement on the surface.

What are good and honest men to do? The noble history of the t-shirt has been sullied by lesser men; how does a man convey his beliefs for more than one day at a time without falling into an abyssal spiral of poor hygiene? Gentlemen the Bulwark has peered into the darkness, and from its tenebrous depth pulled out your salvation! Gentlemen, I give you – the bandanna!

During Kublacon Team Chico and members of the Bulwark will be wearing yellow bandannas to show team solidarity. These bandannas are guaranteed to be versatile, square, and less likely to get skuzzy than your average con t-shirt.  Also, the bandannas are cheap, only a $1.  Want more? Buy two!  Nothing says “you are about to get rolled” like rolling up with four other guys showing team unity. Here are some events that Team Chico and Bulwark members have signed up for.


The Road To Kublacon – Tournaments

April 17, 2010 By: Blythe Category: CCGs, LARP, Leagues and Tourneys, Magic: The Gathering, RPGA (D&D 4E), Store News, Tabletop Roleplaying, Wargaming, Warhammer 40K

That tree will rip you up!This year there will be several tournaments and organized play events that members of your FLGS will be participating in. Collectively members of the Bulwark often call themselves “Team Chico” when playing in these events to represent a solidarity and consistency of butt whoopin’ us Chicoans deliver;  this also helps organizers either separate us or keep us together to ensure a fair seeding, go with whatever story you want.

That being said one of the worst experiences imaginable is to roll up to a tournament only to find out you cannot participate because of banned cards or an incomplete knowledge of the rules.  A lot of these tournaments take time to prepare for.  Painting, planning, and playing dummy games are all fun but really just whet the appetite for a more hard core and competitive gaming moment.

Fear not, below is your hyper linked salvation!  The Bulwark has compiled the tournament rules for some of the most anticipated Kublacon events.  There are major changes in some, smaller tweaks in others, and some just point out the audacity that is needed sometimes to ensure gamers play a fair match.  The Bulwark’s unofficial motto of “If you have to cheat at [insert game here], then you have more problems in life than cheating at [insert game here]” is all well and good when playing with locals, but while it remains true even in the strangest lands, miscommunications can sometimes lead to people becoming frustrated.  The rules below sort out what happens when pride, ego, and Kublabucks are on the  line to make sure everyone has a great weekend; especially the winners.

A Game of Thrones Apparently there is a banned list! The format each game at Kublacon is in LCG Constructed. Also, note the tweaks in supporting with titles.

Common/Uncommon Grab Bag – This event uses the Magic: the Gathering Comprehensive Rules as revised February 1st 2010, which is a mere 171 page document.  On top of that, when you approach the grab bag bin, you must dip your hand in and remove a grips worth of cards.  You will be expected to hold on to these cards from anywhere between 5 – 15 seconds, and/or to turn your grip up and down.   All players will abide by a consistent set of rules.

One World By Night, Always Comes Evening LARP – While the game’s own house rules can be found here, One World By Night has their own set of rules by it’s representative player council. Those rules can be found here.

RPGA – Even the RPGA, a fan club and cooperative player body, has its own set of rules to abide by.  While most of the rules are common courtesy and can be summed up with “Don’t be a dick” and “if you have been a dick about it, please don’t play with us”, there are a few points that are interesting.  Mostly Wizards of the Coast is just covering all it’s bases with this one.

Warhammer 40K – Warhammer has a set of rules for tournament play that not only rewards savvy generals, but also well rounded hobbyists and people who are just fun to play with.  The Rogue Trader system judges wins versus losses, sportsmanship, and craftsmanship of an individual’s army.  Along with the almost Biblical tome known as the Warhammer 40K Fifth Edition Core Rulebook, the Rogue Trader system has its own set of rules here. Unlike other games Warhammer is very modular, keep this in mind when building your army. Points totals, special rules, and special events may all be included in the specific tournament you are playing in.

With all of these events going on, it’s very likely some where missed.  Many of Team Chico’s Diplomacy players “the Beer and Blades Club” will be trying to get into pick up Diplomacy rounds early on, and remember Catan regionals are held at Kublacon. If you would like to see something posted, comment  below!  The entire program for the convention can be found at Kublacon’s website or behind this link.

Twilight Imperium

February 08, 2010 By: Blythe Category: Store News

“An epic board game of galactic conquest, politics, and trade” these are the words that greet you as you pull up Twilight Imperium on Fantasy Flight Games’ website.  Arguably this game made Fantasy Flight the company it is, and it has a sort of unflinching quality to it. It’s a massive game with 200+ pieces, 400 cards, and details of every race you will find in the game. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being Diplomacy like simplicity, 10 being the ostentatiously discursive complex systems like ant hives, the US military, and War! Age of Imperialism, Twilight Imperium is an 11.

Even though it’s complex, it has a flow to it that seems to fit. The most recent edition refined the rules, and made the process more natural.  This game is constantly hailed for its depth, and some have called it a new standard in adult board games. The Bulwark is proud to let you be the judge.

Andrew Flicker will be running a game of Twilight Imperium this weekend. He recently acquired it from the mad genius behind Alien Overlords, and acquired it with a challenge.  He was challenged to not only learn the game himself, but teach others to do play; like some sort of esoteric alien race Dave Zumerwalt, who sold the game to Drew, threw down the gauntlet.  He will return at some unspecified moment in time to measure us, to see if we had been not only enlightened but honed and to meet him on the intergalactic field of battle.

This is a fantastic game Drew will be running this weekend.  The game starts at 1:00 and should end by 6:00 at the latest.  If you are interested in playing please contact myself or Drew at