Historicon, Third Day, Fourth Day and Home


Continuing my saga at HISTORICON 2011.  Friday I got up, worked out and did the early shift at the Front Desk.

This ominous flyer (below) was all over the convention (including the urinals); We’re at a pretty bad state of affairs when we have to advertise for a director of our showcase convention at the convention itself.. yikes! Want to estimate how many times people asked me to do it?

We want YOU

And to think; we used to compete for the job.

No Historicon Director, no Venue selected.. dark tidings indeed.

More Customers

Still quite brisk!

HMGS President Eric Shanholtz mere moments before telling me that we MAY have a new HISTORICON director. Yay!

Front Desk

Front Desk, JP in charge

I have no idea what the convention attendance numbers were, but I hear they were pretty good– certainly from my perspective, it was brisk work and there never was a slack period in the line that I could see.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of hosting Jason from Jason and Scott’s POINT TO POINT podcast.  This is primarily a board wargaming podcast but it does focus on conflict simulations.  As a major point of doing the promotions thing is to get our message out to people who may not yet have heard it but might be pre-disposed to, I thought forming alliances with podcasts that focused on gaming were a good place to start.  Jason interviewed Bob Giglio and (oddly enough) myself.  I am not by any means a promotions or outreach person, but I have volunteered to help with donkey labor on Social Media style promotion and technologies to A) help improve the cons and B) help promote the cons.  I had some success with the GUIDEBOOK APP thing and hope we can expand this– one commonality we seem to share is that most of us (not all, of course, but most) have cell phones.  If the phones are smart enough to host the program book (via Guidebook) then I’m willing to be there’s other places we can go with this technology that will prove useful in the months ahead.  One thing I’d like to try is to set up a Photobucket or Twitpic (Both Photobucket and Twitpic have  assisting “Smart apps” that plays on smartphones, for instance) that everyone attending the convention would have access to so we could all upload phone pictures of games and events en masse.  Sharing out a gallery out to the whole wide world like that would be simple as pie and easy for just about anyone who wants to take the time to actually do it.

Of course, the big topic being discussed EVERYWHERE… which should be a surprise to NO ONE.. was “Where is Historicon going to be in 2012?” Going in to and coming out of the convention, nobody had much of an idea, not even the Board of Directors. For everyone who asked me, saying that I was usually “In the know”.. trust me, I’m not.  I didn’t even attend the membership meeting Friday night. What had been narrowed down as a list of suspects, however, were these:

  1. Fredericksburg VA Expo Center
  2. Hampton Roads VA Convention Center
  3. York PA Expo Center
  4. Another year at Valley Forge PA Convention Center (at a reduced footprint and reduced facility cost)

Of these, Fredericksburg appears to be the top contender at the moment– I’m not thrilled about it because this choice is literally in my back yard, and I like to get away for the weekend.  However, maybe it will attract more people– I don’t want to go all Panzeri on the issue and assume that a bunch of rosey-eyed projections are actual fact, but the Fredericksburg Convention Center is located near major metropolitan airports, train stations and traffic corridors.  I know the Hampton Facility has a good physical footprint and is close to hotels, the beach, and a lot of history, but I didn’t hear from a single person North of Pennsylvania that liked the Hampton choice all weekend (concerns cited: traffic on 64, length of the drive, reluctance of people far away to attend).  I’m also not at all crazy about York.  I haven’t been to any event there but I hear this is a giant empty box, like the Timonium Fairgrounds were back in the day.

There was a big kerfluffle on Friday when some of the so called Flea Marketeers were evicted from the Flea Market.  This is an old story that we have been flapped our gums about countless times– an individual with lots of brand new unboxed product.. still in shrink wrap, claiming to be a casual collector unloading his collection.  Ahem.  I really don’t think so.  It’s a pity this kind of stuff goes on, because it makes it tough for the people who are honestly following the rules.  I had a long talk with Jay Hadley on Friday, and he suggested– get rid of the flea market for the first few days and then just have it for free on Sunday, one table per badge ONLY (to dissuade certain people who try to spread out over six tables on the last day).  It’s not a bad idea– you might attract genuine flea market people and certainly the vendors will be happier.

There’s a lot of people stressing over where the event is going to be and whom is going to be the sacrificial lamb to be the director. All I know is that the show WILL go on, and SOMEONE is going to run it. The vast majority of people attending could give a rat’s ass about the politics behind HISTORICON and HMGS and who’s doing what to who.. they just want:

  • Three shows a year
  • To Get AWAY from home for a long weekend
  • To see old comrades they only see three times a year
  • To Eat Food
  • To Buy Stuff
  • To Play Games
  • To Drink Beer (if that’s your partiality)
  • To Tell Stories

All well and good.  Unfortunately one thing that ISN’T on most people’s list is:

  • To Volunteer to Make Things Happen without being reimbursed or expecting a freebie, so everyone can expect the bullet items listed above will happen.

Eh, that’s the age old problem, isn’t it… it just seems pretty acute these days.  As my friend, the irascible Otto Schmidt puts it, “it’s not the profit and loss that will kill HMGS.. it’s the lack of people who step up to actually work on solutions to problems”

Hi Hi

Anyway, I got in a fun game run by Howard Whitehouse (Slides to follow) called Paris and Nicole’s tropical vacation.  Imagine JUNTA transposed with THE SIMPLE LIFE, and you’ve pretty much nailed it on the head.  I liked it, but not as much as other games Howard has run in the past.  The reason is that he ran it on the “common scenery” table donated to the convention by Miniature Building Authority.  This was quite impressive and I really enjoyed the setup, which was lush, but Howards’ game lacked the personal touches one can expect by him bringing personalized terrain pieces by the trunkloads.  Still, we had a great time and all the usual suspects were there.

Paris and Nicole’s Tropical Vacation SLIDESHOW

Saturday’s game was literally a blast.  I wanted to get into “Mimsy and Peachy versus the Nazi War Machine”, run by a friend, Jeff Wasileski (who was Paris to my Nicole in the Howard game, above).  Alas, I couldn’t find it or my second runner up,  S-127 – Skyrunners: 2nd HISTORICON Race Day easily, and my first choice– S-640 – 55 Days at Peking: The Defence and the Rescue (run by old friends Cleo and Bob Leibel) was all filled up.  BUT RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO PEKING… giant ships!  I hadn’t seen this in the PEL.  With a combination of Guile and free beer, I weaseled my way into this great game, the highlight of Saturday for me– S-278 – Pirate raid on the Spanish Main, run by Rick Stakes.  It was GREAT!!! I will be seeking this one out at FALL IN.

CRASH! BOOM! CONFUSION TO PIRATES!

For a Slide Show and picture directory of the Sailing Ship game click this web button: 

I finished out with a Spanish Victory (decisive victory) even though my ship was blown up pretty bad on the starboard. This would have been the perfect gaming experience if.. ahem… certain rules weenies weren’t so interested in trying adjudicate other people’s moves and tactics in the GM’s place. I got a little tired of hearing “You can’t DO that!” from a certain party and actually got a little fed up with the person who shall remain nameless– and snapped.. “Great! Well, why don’t you move my ship for me, then…” and “I’m done listening to you.. i’m listening to HIM (pointing to the GM).” Pretty severe reaction for me, but I was mystified why he was getting so upset. Water under the bridge of course, but I was amazed at how annoying it got.

Spent the rest of the evening playing Roadkill rally with my NOVAG friends, we had to call it early as we were still awake at 3AM).

For a slideshow of the Road Rally game, press the button:

Road Kill Rally is a great new-ish game from Z-Man games that will be fun if your gaming group has a sense of humor and isn’t easily offended. You score points by shooting other cars and running over pedestrians.. Very DEATH RACE 2000 (the first movie, not the second). Steve Gibson was heard to mutter “I’m going to hell for this one..” as he gleefully ran over some boy scouts with his race car, the Purple Death Machine.

Sunday morning was typical.. Sunday morning.   I wanted to do something unusual for once and play a Sunday game– PURSUIT OF THE GOEBEN, in this instance, based on the ancient S&T game.  Alas, I couldn’t find it easily and my baser instincts took over– I did a last frenetic once over of the dealer’s area and took off for home.

Conclusion: A great convention– a great swan song for the Giglio team, which I was pleased to be a part of, in a small way.  I played in some great games, I bought absolutely NOTHING from the flea market, but found some excellent 1:600 Hammering Iron ironclads from Larry at Brookhurst Hobbies.  I got Fields of Glory Rennaissance rules, some Against the Odds and British magazines, not much in the way of regular figures.  Not my most productive shopping experiences but I don’t care.  I had a great time.  Thanks very much to Bob and his senior staff for all they have done over the years.  Another great HISTORICON.

Poor soul. He was just overwrought..

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6 responses to “Historicon, Third Day, Fourth Day and Home

  1. Great review. The Sunday only Flea Market sounds like a good idea. Cmon’s Fall In!

  2. Mitchell Osborne

    The Sunday only Flea Market sounds like a bad idea to me. I had a huge collection of microarmor that I needed to dispose of. I had intended to go full bore into WWII gaming with it, but time caught up with me and my eyes aren’t what they were. I was able to dispose of it, and a collection of starship models from my youth, over the course of three conventions. Got a significant portion of my original investment back. Wouldn’t have happened with a Sunday only Flea Market. And I’m surprised Jay Hadley would even suggest it. He spent several conventions liquidating a friend’s estate for his family.
    My point – the Flea Market has been a real asset to members and attendees. Getting rid of it or neutering it to the point of uselessness is a disservice.

  3. Have to agree that a Sunday only flea market is a bad idea. The odds of a gamer who is legitimately there to unload some old merchandise being hurt by the Flea Market Director exercising his authority and tossing a cheater seem vanishingly small to me. I’ve enjoyed the use of the flea market in the past, and all of the money I made ended up being spent right there at the convention – primarily in the dealer’s room. I suspect that the majority of legitimate gamers who use the dealer’s room are in the same boat (or use the funds for other purposes that allow them to keep gaming happily). You know a closet dealer in the Flea Market when you see one…
    We all just need to support the Flea Market Director when he exercises his authority for what is really in all of our enlightened self interest. My only comment is to change the name back to Flea market – Wally’s Basement is just silly.

    My two cents

  4. James Mattes

    How about limiting the number of sessions one can have? I would say two would be a good number and leave Sunday open. Just a thought, Great pics Walt, hope to make it back East one of these days.

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