Unfortunately the wireless signal died in my room Saturday, so I’m posting this after getting home.
Saturday, I had planned on going to the Membership Meeting, signing an NDA and getting the inside skinny, as it were. However, I’m not easy to wake up on Saturday morning at conventions any more, and when I did come to the meeting had been going on for a while already. So I sought out a board member later, signed an NDA and got the download on various subjects, including who is running for the Board of Directors in the upcoming election. I’m not going to go into HMGS politics on this blog, but I sincerely hope the new BOD concentrates on our core business (conventions) and not on histrionics, ego trips, and taking things to “the next step”. Just conventions and forward momentum. I actually volunteered to help out with some new marketing concepts to the best of my ability. We’ll see.
I got a chance to catch up with Mr. John Montrie in the flea market, who was painting some figures for me. These are the GAFDOZ line— pictures will be posted as soon as I get a new camera. They are wonderful. I gave John a few things to paint on, namely more Gafdoz figs, some 54mm wizards for Waving Hands, and 15mm fantasy figures because I want to give HOTT a try– I already have a kickbutt “Leonardo Army” that is just about finished.
I did another pass on the dealer room, picking up some more Gafdoz and a few other sundries, I didn’t see anything brand new that really grabbed me, I’m buying a lot of DYSTOPIAN WARS right now and was looking for more, but even the War Store didn’t have much. I did pick up some plastic cement from them because I wanted to get my Cygnar battle group done up for painting.. I finally gave up, cursing, as the bits are very fiddly and they need to be pinned to set properly. Oh well, not a problem, I have plenty for John to paint for me.
I worked the Events Desk from 1330 to 1900 Saturday. Where Friday was brisk, Saturday was “sleepy hollow” after a certain point in the day. Was it me or did the number of events seem down for this convention? It’s hard to gauge. I did a fair bit of helping GMs out; up to and including actually walking to our spare table stash, carrying a new table up to the lobby and schlepping chairs for a young man who didn’t want to leave “his stuff” unguarded. There were a few table assists and borrowing of hand trucks, the usual stuff one does in the combined Events Desk/GM Help desk location. I like the work– I get to meet a lot of people I know (and don’t know).
At a slow point I did a walk around the Distelfink and took some pictures (alas, with disposable cameras so they will have to show up in a later post, my apologies). One of the stand outs for me was Jeff Wasileski’s BEN FRANKLIN’S WAR.. set in a time period pre-dating Steampunk.. I dunno, Lacepunk? In any event it was a sort of mashup of Leonardo and steampunk in an 18th century setting. Lovely eye candy, wish I could have played this! Another standout was the YEOMAN job done by the folks in Del Stover’s little gaming group upstairs in the lobby. He put on an event that was called, I think “Death in the Desert or Beau, Geste another day at the desert Dig(by)”.. which was a mashup of the Mummy, Indiana Jones and Doctor Who. “I want that Castle!” in the Marrietta room was amazing eye candy; I read that it was kid-friendly in the PEL.. I can just imagine, it evoked a Spielburgian sense of awe in me. There were some really fine efforts put on by many gamemasters at COLD WARS, and it’s almost too much to name one and ignore others, so thanks to everyone who put in the effort to run a game!
As I had consumed a breakfast-styled meal I like to call “the Heart Thumper” on Saturday (the buffet featured: meat, meat, meat, meat, grease, scrambled eggs, hash browns, corned beef hash (delicious in small doses), and a nod at yogurt and fresh fruit), so a full up dinner was not on my agenda. I definitely think the catering staff has changed leadership in recent years because I regret to say I was less than impressed with the fare at the Host this time around. It had a.. i dunno, packaged feel to it.
Very fortunately for me, I managed to skeeve my way into Paul Delaney’s outstanding CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE game Saturday night. I would have loved to have participated in his ALMA game the day before, but my convention volunteer schedule ruled that out. So it goes, I was glad to get into this one– and I have to say, without being too gushy, Mr. Delaney and his compatriots remind me why I love this hobby. The terrain and figures were outstanding. The mechanics simple and easily understood– designed to convey the sense of the event, not get mired in tables and charts. The historical element was very well researched and Mr. Delaney stood up to give the players a lecture about the battle of Balaclava (and especially the Light Brigade part of it) that was top notch. I would like to commend them all for a wonderful job– I’m not overstating it, this game was the highlight of my convention, no doubt about it.
See the orange counters that look like bodies? They are pretty much what you think they are. The ground was littered with them from one end of the valley to the other. More than anything, it was the use of these counters (and dozens of “cannon shot” counters) that conveyed the history to me.
I was fortunate enough to have Mitch Osborne around to take some pictures for me. He wasn’t around for the END of the game, where the shot-to-pieces cavalry squadrons were leaping over the guns to crash into the Russian cavalry beyond. This game really gave me a sense of the historical event.. at one point I had to cross in front of a battery at the far end of the battlefield (steering as far away from them as I could) and watched in dismay as literally a whole row of five cavalry got blown out of their saddles by bouncing round-shot. A pretty horrific event in real life. Mr. D. and his crew won an award for ALMA at this convention, and I think the Light Brigade game won one at a previous convention.
After the battle comes drinking and boasting.. and that’s what we did for a bit. Had a fun longish talk about the notion of “silly games” and design, and past blunders with Del Stover and two other chaps in the bar whose names I can’t remember.. we actually closed the bar, a dismaying circumstance exacerbated by Spring Forward/Fall Back, resulting in me going to be at 3AM. NOT my intention. Oy.
Up on Sunday, skipping breakfast. My hours were caught up for staffing duty and we had broken down our station and packed it in the Pod the night before, so I found myself with some free time to do one run around the flea market (I bought CONQUISTADOR by Avalon Hill, an old game I have always sort of wanted) and Dealer’s Room. I found out I had won two books at Citadel Press, which was quite cheering! I also picked up another big hex hexmat by Monday Knight productions, for Waving Hands. At one point Dan Beatie bumped into me and asked for a jump, which I agreed to do, but I couldn’t find him later! Dan, if you’re reading this, I did a circuit all over the hall, drove around the back of the vendor’s hall, all around the parking lot and could not find you. I hope you got a jump, I DID look for you.
Once the shopping was done, I was on the road South again before noon. My impressions: Attendance seemed at least as good as last year, maybe a little higher. The parking lot was full early on Friday, which is a good sign. The events were very good. The flea market, a little disappointing. Prices were high enough to make me want to see an Ebay alternative and I keep seeing the same old stuff– I always laugh when I see a particular terrain piece (a crashed jet in jungle scenery) on a flea market table.. that thing must have been out for 15 shows by now. The Dealer’s area didn’t have a lot of new stuff for games that I like to pursue (right now: Dystopian Wars). I spent about 200 dollars and change at this convention, and 100 of that was in paying John Montrie for painting Gafdoz for me. I’m sure there were some new lines out here and there– 15mm appears to be making a comeback, due to high prices? and plastic 28mm kits abounded everywhere. From my purchases I bought a Gnome 15mm fantasy army from Splintered Light, as well as 15mm Grey alien army from Rebel Minis. So pretty soon I’ll have at least four armies done. YAY. I got some bits (and a mat) to support the Waving Hands project, some new gladiator rules, and other bits and bobs. I *wanted* to buy more, but found nothing else to catch my eye. I could probably write an entire OTHER post about the state of HMGS these days, but I’ll honor my NDA and keep mum. I’m happy to see that 8 people stood forward to run for the BoD (it’s public knowledge, so I can mention it). I wish them all luck. HMGS needs to concentrate on “good deeds” for the next couple of years. Those are running conventions that make some profit, expanding our marketing reach (somehow) and reigning in costs. I hope these issues become a priority for the incoming BoD.
As always, a very sincere thank you to Frank and Michelle Preziosa and their staff, who worked very hard to bring us a great convention. COLD WARS 2011 was an unmitigated success from what I could see of it.