Historicon Travelogue Part one

NOTE: There’s a political element to HMGS East that many people (Duh!) find tedious. Part TWO of this travelogue will include such political observations as are necessary to make about the epic HMGS East membership meeting on Saturday, events leading up to and subsequent to it, and such modest interpretations as I am able to make. In this fashion, the boring material may be easily avoided. There will be a bit of an epilog after Part TWO.

I arrived at the Lancaster Host close to 1:30 PM on Friday. I had hoped to spend more time at the Con, but family responsibilities delayed my departure. Good Sign: parking was atrocious. If there were lots of spaces available, that would have been a bad sign!

Bob Giglio, Duncan Adams, Neil Brennan and company really sharpened their pencils on this convention, trying to accommodate a concern for fire code laws juxtaposed against an ever-increasing need for gaming space. The results were superb. I congratulate the HISTORICON team on a magnificent job. Well done, Hcon team.

First stop Lampeter Room

I thought the Lampeter layout worked for me. The aisles were wider and the tables looked well used most times I poked my nose in there. Gaming TIMES were stretched out to accommodate the layout, that much is certain, but the results were very pleasant.

Warrior Tourney (I think)

Flames of War:

Next stop Registration

There was some clear innovation being demonstrated here. The Wheatland, the room we use as a registration area at COLD WARS, was given over to gaming. The back room of the bar (where we show movies and do MST3K) was turned into the walkup registration area.

Preregistration was sensibly staffed with two people maximum. Here’s the booth that was rented for that purpose:

The line was roped off to control traffic.

Inside the Reg Area (formerly the pool table area, back of the bar. That’s Augie Thiesen manning the desk)

Greetings were made all around!

Duke Seifreid’s game was in the lobby. A visual feast, to be sure. Dang! I didn’t get a chance to play.

I had promised Howard Whitehouse I’d lend a hand with Amazing Tales: Africa Screams! At 2PM that day, and I got there about five minutes ’til 2. Unfortunately Howard had enough referees to run the game without me crowding the room even more. God knows it was hot enough!


There were four “sets”

Rick’s Cafe in the Casbah:

The Great Veldt, where Ernest Hemingway and Mr. Shiney were out leading hunting parties:

The Tomb of the Pharoahs:

Howard confidently gives his before-game spiel.

The audience hangs on his every word.

The roles are doled out:

The actors in various parties…

The Fastidious Otto Premiger like German Director and his film crew:

Biggles and crew, badly out of focus:

The Shadow, Margo Lane and crew (with the Spider standing in for the he who clouds men’s minds):

Rick O’Brien(?) from the Mummy and crew (right), Jasper Gutman and his seedy crew on the left, Indiana Jones in the center (with Marion) and in the far background, the Lord of the Jungle and Jane.

The crowd yucks it up a bit.

That’s NEOTACHA and her husband MWEAVER? from TMP!

Casbah interior:

I felt a little superfluous, and didn’t have a hotel room yet, so I bowed out and went hunting for Bob G. to straighten out a place to sleep. I had a rollaway in the Presidential Suite.

I had me a kind of of dry overcooked hamburger for dinner, having waited a bit too long, and did a quick flyby the dealers room. Bought some 20mm French guns for my Russian troops from FAA. Baxter Key was a laconic and gentlemanly as ever.

Passed by Toby Barrett at Thoroughbred, we yucked it up a bit about recent events. We will address this in a follow up post. And got told that those cool Russian Civil War books (in Russian) weren’t at ON MILITARY MATTERS. DRAT! At that point we were all (politely) kicked out.

ON TO SARGOSSA! Friday evening

I wanted to get into a game, and spied ON TO SARGOSSA! in the program book, run by none other than Well Known Poison Pen Pat Condray. I love between the wars as a period and have played Pat’s rules, Vive la Christo Rey!, before about 15 years ago.

Turns out that the game was to be held at table D-44 (Distelfink 44) but when we arrived there was nothing but a big hole where the table was, and no Pat Condrey. It’s not like Pat to sign up to run something and not show up, so I went to the GM desk and they were unable to find either his table or notice it had been dropped. Eventually Pat was found, calmly at a table nearby… He wasn’t there the first time we looked, honest! Anyhow, I was pleased to find Jeff Ewing on the opposing side– haven’t seen him in an age. The OTHER player on the Republican side was Curt Daniels from my neighborhood (fahter of Grant, my occassional barista) Eventually Chick Lewis, whom I had bumped into earlier, jumped in to cover one part of my command, but I was mostly the sole anti-communist counter revolutionary player in the game.

My Guardia Civil troops.

with POUM and armored cars and guns…

My line, right flank looking North. Legion cavalry with a mounted MG. Then Carlists, then two artillery pieces of dubious quality.

Here are the Carlists. I actually redeployed them to the left, as they were slightly less wretched marksmen than the Falange, who made a floating reserve in the center. I put my Guardia troops (my best men) to the left and right of the bridge– mostly to the left, as I (correctly) surmised that most of the action would occur there. The bridge dead ahead is the center of the line. Our goal is to deny the enemy (all those Anarchists and POUMistas) a chance to cross the river and drive “On to Sargossa!”

Viva El Christo Rey! (Carlist saying, and the title of the rules we were playing…)

Close up on the Nationalist Cav. They would prove to be decisive.

Redeployed Carlists, on my left

The Falange (front) deploy to support the beleagured Guardia troops (closer to the river) and plug up the hole in the line to their left. Alas, ranges being what they were and the Falange being as wretched as they were, they rarely shot anything.

Meanwhile, the armored car and artillery trucks advance over the bridge.

At some point, the Guardia machine gun down the Armored car, and there was much rejoicing on our side. That didn’t slow down the hordes of Milicianas, Anarchists and POUMistas.

I deployed the Nationalist Cav on the right, as they were pretty good by the standards of the troops engaged. Big mistake. The troops opposing them (more POUM) did nothing for several turns, and the cav were stalemated. I did put the detachment of Morrocans on the left flank to bolster the Carlists. If Jeff had given these guys orders to advance, I think he would have broken through. We were THAT low on troops.

Eventually Chick Lewis showed up and took over the cav on the right, which made the battle easier to manage.

The Carlists sidle up to the line and get their butts shot off…

The skulking Guardia his the road…

The Wave of POUM…

Uh oh, is he deploying his guns? That could be trouble! Note those gray troops advancing in the back there? Those are the Assaultos, the absolute best troops on the Republican side in this battle. Fortunately they are advancing directly on MY best troops, the Guardia.

Jeff, manning the center and left of the opposing side, was very effective with his gunfire rolls, landing a shell right on top of the heads of my general staff and killing my nearby gun. That sucked. Even if I wasn’t hitting anything it helped keep their heads down.

Positions at game end:

I swear I took more pictures of this.. somewhere.. but to get us to the finish and on to other things, I’ll abbreviate. The left flank almost crumbled from persistent attacks from the Anarchists. Unfortunately for him, I retreated until just inside of rifle range and continued to keep steady fire on him, even if my Carlists DID break once. This forced them to take losses and go prone in the river, neither of which would advance the cause.

The center was the bloodiest. Between Jeff’s artillery, MY artillery landing wrong, and his armored car, the Guardia took a lot of casualties. It went down to the last stand, with HIS Assaultos facing MY Guardia Civil, which must have been ironic, if you consider they were both paramilitary police troops at the start of the war. So my best versus his best resulted in the Assaultos buggering off and the Guardia getting decimated, even with the Falange backfilling to their left.

Even though they were my worst shots and poor troops, the Falange put up a spirited fight before being forced to retreat. They caused the opposing POUM force to bugger off as well before they broke.

The climatic event of the game was Chick taking over for the static right flank, putting the deployed cav back in the saddle, and charging right into the flank of the oncoming POUMistas on the RIGHT side of the bridge. I only had one stand left of Guardia there and was expecting a breakthrough at any second. The charge alleviated that and those POUM troops left found better places to be.

There was ONE formed unit left without casualties, on the Republican side, but Pat C. ruled it was a Nationalist victory (at horrific cost) because we held the line.

I’ll take what I can get. LOVED the game. Thank you, Pat, if you are reading this.
I’ll make you some decent order chits one of these days.

The best moves were not executed by me– I was shuttling back and forth from crisis to crisis, and not very proactive. Curt was a savage attacker on the left flank and had he been reinforced, he might have broken through. The river and the ford saved my left. Jeff was a crackshot with the cannons where I could not roll a hit to save my life (not entirely true, I guess, having nailed a few stands of infantry). As I said earlier, if he had pressed on his left he might have won it, because we could only defend in so many places. But the best moves go to Chick Lewis and his cavalry charge. That decimated the POUM’s best attack of the day.


I wandered around, after the game, schmoozing with people and looking at other ongoing games.

Hey, that’s Ed Watts! Nice hat, Ed!

A prominent member of HEBBS displays his black ball!


There’s a whole range of stuff to discuss about the HMGS East membership, before and after, and that will be covered in post two. This post is solely for the fun stuff!
Some of it might be out of sequence, sorry about that.

Congoers Brian Higbee, Bob and Cleo Leibel all realize how they’ve become slaves to fashion.

I think this is more Command Decision… a huge game in the back of the Distelfink run by John Drye and company. That’s Dudley Garidel, who will be the preregistrar at COLD WARS 2007 next year.

More of the same.. it was Romanians on one side and Italians on the other, all trying to get into Stalingrad.

Is that the Notorious John the OFM from TMP? Sure it is!

That’s young Dillon, who was so helpful with the HMGS Outreach program at the Rennaissance Faire in Virginia earlier this summer. I helped him prime up a big batch of starship trooper models so he could assemble and paint them at the painting program.

Who says the hobby is greying?? Young Ethan, son of my friend Mark Nedwick, indicates his approval of the convention.

One of the more innovative additons to our program in recent years…

Civil War action.. that’s Roxanne Patton, the iron lady of NOVAG, in the background there.

Most of the day on Saturday was spent in the dealer’s room, buying supplies for a fantasy wargaming “camp” I’m running soon. More on this later. I also did a lot of “fetching wood and carrying water” for the Cold Wars 2007 and TRIADCON conventions, talking and informing people, meeting with folks, etc. I did get a bunch of preliminary COLD WARS fliers from Del and I distributed them about the convention and at various hobby shop vendors I knew of. The fliers were great looking but very limited in terms of information, just giving the bare bones. We’ll have a much better one for FALL IN. In any event, Del Stover, my promotions guy, did a great job and I thank him very much for his efforts.

I wandered up to the ShowRoom to check out the layout and lighting. Folks, you know me. You know I don’t have an axe to grind in this one. So when I tell you there was plenty of room and the lighting was more than adequate, will you believe I have no reason to lie?

Wild West setup in the Showroom.

Mark “Princess Ryan” McGlaughlin playing some Command Decision up stairs in the Showroom.

I Leonardo being set up in the Showroom.

An awesome Stalingrad factory in the Showroom..

One of the better ideas was renting out this basement room to add a few more tables to the vendor area. It was steamy in there (to be polite) but I found some great stuff.

Large scale (25mm) HOTTS in the tournament area.

Goldwyrm (from TMP) and his dangerous pals play DESCENT in the Flea Market after hours. Fun stuff. I got this for my birthday and haven’t played it yet.

One of them was MKSeibler from TMP!

And Thomas (GnomishNutsack or something like that on TMP, I forgot the specifics)

It was great to see Norbert Brunhuber there.. here he is patiently pitching me a big idea: “You see, Walt, I’ll put on a huge, VERY PRETTY game, make it very slow moving and muddy the rules.. and you’ll pay me 2000 dollars! Okay?”

Mee-YOW, Norbert!

Thomas said he could trump Norbert’s efforts for a cool grand. We talked.

Bumped into Richard Borg running Battle Cry in large scale, and selling his (now out of print) game at cost. Nice thing to do!

Former prez Hubig, former BoD member Coggins, and Eric Turner having a kaffeklatsch… wonder what was being discussed there? hmmm?

Did some political post-meeting chatter with Jay Hadley while he was playing this cool looking Star Wars game. It looked great.

There are more and more of these plastic piece faux-minis games being played in the after hours these days. Here’s BOOTLEGGERS (and you already have seen DESCENT)..

And Memoir 44 from Days of Wonder…

Another tournament shot. It seemed to me that they had plenty of room, but whadda I know?

The bar was dead and there weren’t many late night games to sleeze my way into, so I sat in on some TRENCH WARS discussion with Heather Blush, Paul Trani, and a gent who they called English Bob. Now that was a fun time! They were very hospitable with their beer supply as well, which endeared them to me. Alas, tragedy struck when SaintRigger (from TMP) became so obnoxious with his notorious lax personal hygiene standards that we had to promptly kick him to death. We did feel bad afterward though.

BoD Member, bullet dodger and (they say) Mister Fall In! 2008 James Mattes dropped by to lecture us on the senseless waste of human potential. He was quite … “jolly”, I suppose you might call it, so his stern rebuke lacked the proper stinging quality. I’m sure he was tired, having driven all the way home and back again Friday night!

I bunkered off to bed after that, feeling a bit wobbly myself. Woke up at a decent hour, packed and said a sad farewell to my little rollaway and did the things we have to do on Sunday mornings– stall for time, eat a good breakie to have energy for the drive, dash through the Flea Market (I found 1st Ed. Johnny Reb for 5 USD, and some “Dragonfly” mageknights for VSF purposes… yay!). Had some good planning conversations with Heather (about painting and marketing), Del Stover (about promotions for CW07), Greg Hacke (former GAMA guy who may be working on a web based registration system for CW07) and Andy Turlington about TRIADCON. I had breakfast with Bill Alderman, my good friend who runs events at PREZCON and he had some sharp criticisms about our procedures and staffing, meant constructively. And he has become a member of HMGS! As such, his VERY FIRST membership meeting was Saturday morning’s marathon. He was greatly amused.

Having done what I came to do, I reluctantly pointed the Thunderbird in a southern direction, and got home in time to take my kids to the matinee of NACHO LIBRE, which was pretty hilarious, in a low way..

SUMMARY: HISTORICON (the non political bits, the convention itself) was a smashing success and we all owe Bob and company our thanks for his professionalism in pulling this one off. Good job, Bob.


  1. Walt,

    Sorry we didn’t get together. Time and circumstances seem to be against us.

  2. Sooooo, there really is an HMGS East Black Ball Society hmmmmmmm……….
    Ironclad Man

  3. Walt,

    I demand proper recognition for me and my troops. 🙂 It was my Milicicanos and Assaultos that fought you along the river. The Republican command was split at the bridge. Jeff had our left and I had our right.

    Curt Daniels

  4. The young man playing the pirates game is my son, Julian, at his first Historicon. No ‘greying’ of the hobby in this household.


  5. The young man playing the pirates game is my son, Julian, at his first Historicon. No ‘greying’ of the hobby in this household.


  6. I had a great convention as well, I was also pleased with the large and well attended painting area and I have to say the hotel grub is the best it has been for years. Great job to Bob and his amazing wonder volunteers.

  7. Great report and pictures. I’m looking forward to Part 2, especially the pictures taken in the Lounge around last call Saturday night.

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