In Praise of Patrick

TODAY IS THE BIRTHDAY of my best friend and fellow Jungle Guide Patrick Eibel, so I thought I’d take the occasion to tell you some more about him, and post a public “thank you” for all the things he’s done for me and this site over the years.

Patrick the Player

Pat is not one to blow his own horn when it comes to 40K. You will never catch him bragging about how well he plays or paints. But let me assure you that he does both well.

Pat does an excellent job of improvising battle plans: in fact, I would say that he does better when he “wings it” than when he thinks things out ahead of time. This makes it maddeningly difficult to plan against him: even if you’re familiar with his armies (like I am), he’ll still do something that will have you flailing around like he’s just dumped a large, wet, angry octopus in your lap.

Pat has played many 40K armies:

  • Adeptus Sororitas (Sisters of Battle);
  • Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard);
  • Inquisition;
  • Khorne Berzerkers;
  • Red Corsairs;
  • Death Guard (his latest army);
  • Craftworld Aeldari;
  • Necrons (I bought my army from him);
  • Squats (in 1st and 2nd Edition);
  • T’au; and
  • Tyranids

None of these, though, have held his interest and inspired as much passion in him as his Orks (his very first army, when Rogue Trader came out in 1987), or his Space Wolves (which he’s had since the 2nd Edition days). Both fit his exuberant personality, and both excel in his favorite part of playing, the Fight phase: Pat is a close-combat junkie.

As for his painting, no, he’s no Golden Demon winner. But he has a very natural style that I have tried to emulate over the years. His figures always look gritty and realistic, never “cartoony,” as mine frequently do. See for yourself:

Speedo da Big Mek, leader of Pat’s Speed Freeks

On the rare occasions when Pat does talk about himself as a 40K player, he usually tells people that he is a bad sport, and that he needs to improve his demeanor when losing. This may have been true in the past, but it certainly is not any longer: he’s much more gracious in defeat than I am.

Patrick and me, 2011

Patrick the Jungle Guide

Pat has done more for this site than most visitors realize. Under the original version of the Jungle (which went offline in 2017), he was in most of the events and battle reports, usually giving me and my armies another whipping. He also contributed to many themed army ideas that we featured.

He edited almost all of my rants and fiction pieces, cutting through endless lines of my verbal diarrhea so that I could get the point, or get the story across to readers (he has also done the same for many of my published sci-fi and fantasy novels).

Orks vs. Fighting Tigers in the first game of the “Veda In the Balance” campaign

He did excellent work in constructing many simple yet engaging campaigns, which were a highlight of the old version of the Jungle. He did it so well, that after a while, I didn’t even bother trying to come up with any: I just waited for the next awesome series he came up with.

It’s true that he has been quiet of late, but that’s because he’s been dealing with a personal tragedy. Pat lost his beloved wife Pippa in January 2023, and has been raising their son on his own.

Patrick the Person

Let me tell you a little about Patrick Eibel as a person. Pat and I first met in 1983, back in high school. Somehow or another, he wound up coming to my weekly D&D games, where he ran interesting, well-developed characters who always had a trick up their sleeve. He helped elevate mere gaming sessions into epic, unforgettable adventures.

Patrick is fun-loving, laid-back, witty, and engaging. He is great at parties and has an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, TV, and film. It’s not Pat’s style to be a “leader”—he lets other people do the talking and attract the attention to themselves while he backs them up with advice, suggestions, and support. He is loyal to his friends, and has no enemies that I know of.

He is exuberant and without pretense. He is welcoming and joyful. Any gathering is brightened when he arrives, and lessened when he leaves. He is almost always optimistic and upbeat. As a teacher and public school librarian, he has molded, nurtured, and challenged young minds, a noble—if often underappreciated—profession.

He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t hold grudges. He is not mean to people. He’s not detail-oriented, so sometimes he makes mistakes or forgets to do stuff. When he does, he always apologizes. When he gets angry (which doesn’t happen easily), he gets over it quickly.

Pat is uncomplicated and obviously loves life. Sometimes, when he’s having fun, he gets loud and very animated. He’s fond of beer, food, college basketball (“Go Terps!”) and professional football (the Washington Commanders). He likes to travel. He doesn’t have any pets. He was married for almost 30 years, and he adores his son, Thomas.

Since our days in high school, Pat has been my best and closest friend. We went to college together, roomed together, did radio shows, and ran games, and wrote books together. He has always inspired me, and improved on my ideas, and I could not have asked for anyone better to do it with.

When my life was in turmoil back in the early 1990’s, he was my anchor. When others gave up on me, he did not. When I was on my worst behavior, he was patient and talked sense into me. He gave and gave and asked nothing in return.

I am blessed to have known and been friends with Patrick Eibel. I cannot imagine my life without him. Happy birthday, my friend.

And on a less serious note, I must ask him again, as I have so often: “How can I possibly be Da Man, Patrick, when YOU Da Man?”

Patrick and me, 2021