Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Balticon: Myke Cole Interview

It’s now a week out from Balticon, and there is a TON of stuff to talk about. Today I want to focus on one of Balticon’s guests, 2013’s Compton Crook award winning author Myke Cole. For those not in the know, Myke Cole is the author of the Shadow Ops series of books, most easily described as X-Men meets Black Hawk Down. If you read my review of them on Saturday, you know that description only scratches the surface.

I managed to snag about 20 minutes with Myke to talk about gaming, and the impact it’s had on his life. He’s spoken before about how D&D gave him a focus for his life, but not necessarily in the way it does for most gamers. Myke’s focus was on the Paladin, especially the iconic “A Paladin in Hell” illustration. He wanted to be that paladin, and has worked as a security contractor, gov­ern­ment civilian and military officer, running the gamut from Coun­tert­er­rorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deep­water Horizon oil spill.

If you’re interested in listening to the entire 22 minute interview, here’s the file. The audio quality is shockingly good considering it was recorded outside with my cellphone!

I've transcribed some of the interview below, but it's worth the listen.

Myke: I fucking love gaming, and it’s one of the few nerd things in my life that persists.

David: So do you still play in a regular game?

Myke: Yes, but not D&D. What I do now is Wrath of Ashara-long-a-ding-dong. So what Wizards of the Coast, I think with people like me in mind, and GW did this too with Warhammer Quest, they were like “adults don’t have as much time”

David: Oh, the miniatures-board game, right.

Myke: What that does is let you get a little of the role playing flavor with a game that can be completed in an hour, whereas a long running campaign is really hard to do. So I’m like a Wil Wheaton gamer, if you know who Wil Wheaton is.

-Geeking out over Wil aka Wesley Crusher

Myke: So right now I play a lot of Carcassonne, Wrath of Ashardalon, Ravenloft... I play a lot of Munchkin.

David: Love Munchkin. Favorite expansion?

Myke: Favorite expansion is the Christmas expansion actually. Just because the inside jokes are gre pretty good. But we have zombies, we don’t have warhammer, we have supermnchkin, we have quite a few expansions. I want to get Lovecraft munchkin, cause my girlfriend’s really into lovecraft. What I really want the games night to do is play is Warhammer/Warhammer 40k. I feel like if we allocate the points right in a WH/WH40K game we can have short games that we can play in like an hour, and I really really love those universes. I’m not a big fan of games designers workshop as a company, they’re kind of trying to be like amazon, they’re very legalistic and bullying. They try to dominate market share and are focused on profit in a way that’s not in the spirit of the game, and I sort of had a-not a bad experience, but an experience where I couldn’t do business with them in the past which was kind of hard for me, but because I love those universes-

-Discussion about Mantic Games- Not to self, when doing an interview, let the interviewee talk.

-Discussion about Privateer Press and Howard Taylor of Schlock Mercenary and mini painting.

Myke: When I was painting, did 15mm historicals. I did De Bellis Antiquitatis, and the reason I like that rules set is because it’s designed for the short game with small amounts of miniatues. So an army is 15 figures, or maybe 20 figures, the goal being that, obviously each figure represents a 100 or a 1000 troops, the goal is to represent small skirmishes.

-Discussion about the Siege of Vienna. I started to write this up, but it just didn't capture Myke's enthusiasm.

-Discussion of Myke's gamer roots (Moldvay basic box)

-Gothic revival armor and being a knight/paladin in real life.

-Invasion of the Air-Eaters by Metagaming

David: Did you ever get the chance to play 4th edition?

Myke: No, I've played 2nd, I've played 1st, and the reality of it is for nostalgia reasons if it isn't 1st it doesn't feel right.

There's more, but I think that's a great place to leave off. A big thanks to Myke for spending so much time with me. He promised me 10 minutes, and gave so much more! If you ever get the chance to spend some time with Myke (not an easy feat) take it!

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