I am married to a geek. I didn’t know it growing up, but I am also a geek. I lean toward the nerdier side of the geek family tree in that I think grammar and syntax are interesting and worth studying in their own right, I read a lot of non-fiction, played in the school orchestra, and took more math in high school than was strictly necessary or required, whereas Scott is more of the stereotypical geek, owner of a massive collection of comic books, an avid video and RPG gamer, and possessed of a natural tendency to dismiss as unworthy anything anyone else thinks is cool. In the Venn diagram that represents our marriage, then, our personal circles of geekiness overlap in the areas of sporting brown hair and glasses, gadget lust, internet addiction, and an appreciation of sci-fi TV shows and movies (with the exception of The Fifth Element, upon which we cannot agree, when it’s obvious that it’s a piece of dren that, had Milla Jovovich not appeared in it wearing an Ace bandage, no one would remember, or would be desperately searching for the mind bleach to try to forget, as I myself have been trying to do since I saw it many solar circumnavigations ago).
I recently upped my geek cred by agreeing, in the name of marital harmony and a joint hobby, to join Scott in the playing of Warmachine. Scott has been gaming for years, but this is my first attempt at playing anything that has more rules on the books than the federal government. To adequately describe the game, it took its creators many, many, many pages of documentation, so I’ll attempt to give you the short version. Warmachine is a steampunk universe in which different factions of tiny metal people, animals, machines, and monsters attempt to obliterate each other through the skillful application military strategy and dice-rolling.
The first order of business in playing a wargame of this kind, however, is to take all your money and give it to people who in return will send you many little bits of metal that you may cuss at liberally as you attempt to assemble them with adhesives entirely unsuited to the task. And if you manage to accomplish that (which I did, but only with Scott’s help and additional cussing on his part), then you have to paint them.
If you choose to embark upon a career in miniature painting, allow me to give you this helpful tip: The box the minis came in? The one with the gorgeously painted miniatures that are so painstakingly detailed that you can see the glint in the microscopic eye of the character? Take that box and throw it away immediately, if not sooner. The picture on the box is entirely unattainable except for a special class of artists with both preternatural vision and fine motor control. If you keep the box, it will mock you mercilessly as you slap the paint on your own minis in what you intend to be the same scheme, but close examination will show you the pathetic error of this perception. (Be aware that even with the box safely in the garbage, your perfectionist spouse may mock you by implication as he announces his dissatisfaction with the 15th layer of color he has added to his minis in an effort to make them look like they’re living, breathing beings, even though they already looked like living, breathing beings at layer 9. Maybe 8.)
Most of the major factions were spoken for already by Scott and his usual gaming crew. But then Scott told me that there was a pirate faction, and I said, “That’s for me!” Scott’s army is considerable enough to be described as “armies,” but I wanted just enough guys to be able to field a credible threat and stay in the game long enough for us to get through the first bag of Doritos. After much strategizing, this is what I ended up with: