Ancient Convention Post COLD WARS 1998

I was trying to find something on the old website that was once the cat’s meow when it came to wargaming. You know, in the early days of the internet. What should I behold but an old (very old) convention report I posted dated back to 1998! From Cold Wars! This was in the days before Facebook, before blogging, before Consimworld (I think, or it had just gotten started). There was a LISTSERV mailing list where guys gassed about gaming and conventions and the latest boardgames and miniatures. Long before a blog with “point of singularity” in it existed, I was submitting convention reports. Sometimes I amaze myself.

(I include Jerry Lannigan’s snippet as a historical curiosity item)

Two things stand out. My writing style has improved a little, but is still roughly the same. And I was doing a lot more straight historical stuff in 1998. I’ve become such a hippy since then! Oh well, I like what I like, that’s not the point.. jump into the time capsule with me as we transport to:

COLD WARS 1998!!

From: “Walt O’Hara”
Subject: CONS: What I did during my Cold Wars Vacation… (Longish)

Despite the grumping of my beloved (“Grumble, leaving me… in my delicate condition… to fend for myself for a couple of days, when I’m carrying YOUR CHILD…”), I pointed my intrepid pickup North and headed for COLD WARS 98 last week, with a strange mixed feeling of elation and disassociation. CW was the first time I’ve gone to an out of state con without my family in tow since I’ve been married. On the pro side, I managed to burn the candle at both ends nicely– staying up to game until 2AM on both Fri and Sat nights. On the con side, I missed them.
Well, for a few minutes at least. I went to Lapps and had chicken pot pie Sat night in their honor (instead of overpriced junk food, the standard fare for the rest of the con).

Friday, I got involved in a hellacious game of ACW Ironclad action done in 15mm!!! scale. Roughly speaking, we simulated Mobile Bay. I commanded two cottonclads what did their best to uphold Southron honor by ramming, repeatedly, the Cumberland and the Baltimore until we were
blown to flinders. The North won handily, being given the victory condition to pass the huge fort and exit off the board. If we could have engaged ships a turn earlier than we did, we would have sunk the Cumberland. I had her on the ropes, having de-stacked her, shot her armoured side to pieces, and sent much of the crew to bluebelly heaven. One of the guys on my side played the Stonewall Jackson, nice model, but he didn’t manage a broadside ram and ended up bouncing off
and getting shot to piece in a broadside. The spar torpedo boat did it’s thing, unfortunately those Cumberland class ships are pretty dang tough. The fireraft was a total waste of time… it slid along between the Baltimore and the Cumberland and only set some cordage on fire. The rules were semi-homemade by the vendor of the ships models (no I can’t remember who it is, but I have a flier somewhere).

(modern day note: That was Joel from Merrimack Shipyards, before it was a dept. of Old Glory)

That night, I played a Franco Prussian skirmish game, using Foundry figures and homemade rules. The scenario was to recover French orders from a downed baloon in no-man’s land. Scale was mano-a-mano and the game system broke actions down to move, aim, fire, reload, recover,
etc. Very elegantly done. A total Prussian victory! Too of my Choimans lade down covering fire while my other two made a dash for a balloon. Unfortunately, due to a random event, I encountered the local priest rummaging around in the balloon, trying to recover the orders in a fit of Gallic patriotism. Due to the card based activation rules, we couldn’t act until our cards came up, causing most of the Choimans on my side to hare off after the priest, who always seemed to
have his card drawn first. The French probably were bewildered. Of course, it was permissible to shoot the good father, but it being a Friday in Lent, and me being a devout Catholic, I tried to get my team to use gentler methods. A great game… I skeeved a copy of the guy’s home rules and drew a drawing of the status cards he used for each figure. I’d like to run this myself, it’s wonderful for any era that uses single shot weapons.

After that, I went to the bar, met some old acquaintances I usually see two (now three counting Fall-in) times a year, and hung out.. I only had been in the dealer’s area for a grand total of 15 minutes at that point, so I still had a wad of red-hot simoleons burning a hole in my pocket… got back to the Ramada (next door, cheaper than the Host) at 2, started to draft an article for John K’s CONSIM CONNECTIONS… and the prose style shows!

The next day, I sleazed my way into a demo game of Pinnacle Entertainment’s GREAT RAIL WARS. I vaguely know Shane Hensley by sight, having seen him at a couple dozen cons pimping Pinnacle
Entertainment products (THE LAST CRUSADE card game, FIELDS OF HONOR miniature rules), and he was gracious enough to give me his spot. Now, I’ve been pretty vociferous and verbal and violently opposed to their 35!mm (okay, maybe not that big) Western figures, since they
don’t match a passle of the stuff I own (Guernsey, Foundry, Pass O’ the North and Dixie), but I have to admit that RAIL WARS is a hoot! I played the voodoo leader of a group of undead cowboys and a cannon crew (JUST LIKE REAL LIFE!). I got gang shagged by more experienced
players, being shot to death? by giant homicidal robots and ugly bat things. Sure, the game is aimed at that disposable income teen market, but it has legs of its own. I gave Hensley, the designer, a little grief about the figures looking great but being too big to use
in my Wild West skirmish games… he shrugged, and said “what do you expect? We have to gear the game to a certain market– the same people that spend a ton of cash on Games Workshop stuff.” He’s
right… whatever works!

Spent that afternoon, in the spirit of laissez faire capitalism, converting my hard earned currency into a huge pile of cheapjack oddities that I might or might not use again.


Two cool (overpriced) books of top down drawings of Interwar period aircraft– for a project I have in mind to create Rise of the Luftwaffe aircraft cards of odd planes.

Two issues of Vae Victus: Rivoli and Rocroi… the Rocroi ish having a very cool galley miniatures rule set that I can ALMOST translate without the help of the good Dr. Fluck, they are so simple. The Rivoli ish had rules for fighting the Easter Rising in the Eire in 1916.. that looks interesting, too. Naturally, the games are a visual feast.

four issues of the Wargamer, at 99 cents each…

1 copy of 3W’s EAST FRONT BATTLES I: BLIZKRIEG IN THE SOUTH. Hey, I like Vance’s stuff… this is one of the few cool games from 3W. Only 7 bucks new.

The Foundry’s new ZOMBIE COWBOYS! I’ve decided, DEADLANDS or no, I’m gonna write that “Weird West” module for THE RULES WITH NO NAME. The Undead cowboys (more the size of what I have at the moment) made up my mind.

A cool Jingal Gun set from the same manufacturer– from the Taiping Rebellion line, for the “Coolie Wars” scenario for TRWNN I’m working on, as well as a Daredevils project.

I ordered (mail delivery) several figures from the Taiping Rebellion line, for a game of Daredevils I will be running soon. It involves evil criminal Chinese masterminds and their human pawns, dashing, 30ish heroes, etc…

Some assorted Pass of the North stuff: A Mexican MG crew, a banjo player, etc.

I hit the motherlode at the Ral Partha booth.. They had their old Spies and Roaring 20s line out in the “fifty cents a figure” bucket. I found some COOL looking dudes for the Daredevils game.

Some old copies of the General that had variants for games I own: EIA, B-17, Circus Maximus…

Some 54mm Zouaves for Dave Markley, who couldn’t attend.

Another copy of the Winter War variant for Rise of the Luftwaffe that was published in C3I. Anyone wanna trade it for the Malta variant?

A book on Napoleon’s Navy for a project I’m working on called THAT BOARDING PARTY GAME.

Assorted other crap that I may or may not recall at the moment.

Then I ran out and had the only real meal of the entire weekend, chicken pot pie at Lapps next door… I love that place, industrial pudding and all. Must be the chicken corn soup.

That night, I played 54mm Gettysburg… again as the Rebels (being a diehard Northerner and abolitionist, this was a rare experience for me). I wanted to see what it’s like to play in large scale… and it’s a hoot! My squads were the sacrificial lambs that were SUPPOSED
to hold off the Union advance through town in time for reinforcements to show. Well, I tried… but there was just too dang many of them! We still won handily, defeating the Union victory conditions with ease. I was delighted to see a game of THE RULES WITH NO NAME going
on behind me, in BIG plastic 54mm cowboys. Went over to talk to the GM, we compared notes.

After that, hung out in the bar and played THE THREE STOOGES CARD GAME over a few (you guessed it) beers, headed to my room around 1 to continue my efforts at prose… a sad failure, I fell asleep promptly.

The next day, being Sunday, I made a quick circuit of the dealers rooms again, and headed for an OGRE minis game I signed up for halfheartedly, since it was raining cats and dogs. Turned out I had the times wrong, and they had been playing for a while.. that was okay by me, I kibitzed a while and then headed out.

Overall, a great convention. The Ancients tourney went well from what I heard. The big standout games were Pete Panzeri’s Alamo games, done in 28mm with figures supplied by Old Glory. I have to hand it to Pete, *I* surely wouldn’t have painted the thousand or so figures involved. Other standout events were The Battle of Gorganzola (Rennaissance era) friday night, and Brian Whitakker’s HUUUUGE Wild West game (also Fri).

Lots of ACW, but on smaller scales now… Brother against Brother being a big hit. Not as much Napoleonics as cons gone by. Mexican-American war games are on the rise from what I could see.

The dealer’s room is now the dealer’s ROOMS.. an interesting switch.. They partioned off the Distelfink ballroom into the flea market (during the day) and game room (at night) with spillover vendors on the right. All the big players were there– Old Glory, the Foundry, TCS terrain,
Elite, Ral Partha… I was looking at t-shirts from Loych systems (the guys who make those cool UNIT HISTORY tshirts… you know, Afrika Corps tour, 1941-1943?), when I was surprised to see my good friend, Larry the Gun-Toting Psycho (a man unafraid to wear an SS regimental shirt anywhere) standing next to me, making a transaction. He had come up with his newborn son Kurt, *just* to spend three hours visiting the vendors area. That’s hardcore, but it does stress how
accessible all the stuff is that you usually only see in magazines.

So after a rainsoaked (and largely uneventful) ride home (helped out by a book on tape), I was back from my wanderings, a wiser, poorer and exhausted man.

Walt O’Hara
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From: (MltryHstrn)
Subject: Cold Wars 98: After Action Report

Good day To All!
Just back from the trenches, fields, and fortifications which covered the
tables of the Expo Centetr at the Lancaster Host resort this weekend. Once
again, the guys at HMGS created a great environment for the membership. A first
impression is that there were gaming opportunities enough for even the most
compulsive gamer and that the vast majority of folks went home quite happy.

Personally, although little new material was out which tempted one to part with
big bucks, there was much to recommend the dealers’ areas otherwise. First,
they opened a bit later (10AM) and closed a bit later as well (6PM). This
initially took a bit of getting used to but I believe allowed ther dealers to
have breakfast and attend to things in the venue in a more relaxed way. On
the other hand, I do not know how this might have inconvenienced any dealer
planning to run or participate in a game in the early evening. This
particularly becomes apparent when several people who went out to dinner around
6:30 reported one hour waits in most of the local restaurants.

The gaming – about 90% of it – took place in the Expo Center which is actually
a rather large indoor tennis facility which is adapted to the needs of the
gamers. Plenty of tables were available -but there was a dearth of chairs by
six o’clock on Saturday night. The lighting was great but the heat left a
great deal to be wanted. You see, in the US indoor tennis facilities generally
are heated to only about 55 to 60 degrees fahrenheit based on the cavernous
space and the premise that tennis players are running around and keeping warm.
Both evenings I wound up putting on my jacket over my flannel shirt. I noted
that others needed to do the same.

The gaming seemed of a very high quality and several were visual treats. Most
noteworthy was a daylong 25mm Alamo game, a 25mm Rorke’s Drift game, and a
25mm Battle of Reichenbach game. But, in general, most people who ran games
took pride in the appearance of their game. Certainly the five games in which I
participated were all well presented and, more importantly, a whole lot of fun.

Jim McGaughey deserves a lot of thanks for running two different scenarios of
his Kompanie Kommander game. Both games took place as the Germans broke through
the American lines in the Ardennes. The similarity occurred in that both games
funneled the Germans through village and town choke points. Jim’s system makes
a player think like a company commander and in the second game I had the
pleasure of being promoted to Battalion commander of a kampfgruppe assaulting a
pair of villages. (You get a totally diferent perspective of a battle from the
perspective of “up” the command chain. Everybody bugging you for
reinforcements, artillery support, advice, etc – my consistent answer –
‘Everything’s fine – stay aggressive!’)

On Saturday, Joe Swierc hosted a nice little Battleground game called “Nowy
Targ”. The terrain was well conceived and the figures obviously done to a
very high standard. My problem with the game was th fact that although it was
playtested so that, indeed, it worked the mechanics of the game take very
long to process through. As I moved the other four guys just around, etc so
that the actual involvement time was fairly low. However, that aside, Joe’s
effort left me with an overal positive impression. BTW – this action was a 1939
Polish Campaign scenario.

The Old Dominion Wargamers ran a “round the clock” micro armor game called
Mein Panzers. My friend and I attended one game on Saturday afternoon. It is
fast moving and a nice alternative to larger scale games such as Spearhead.
This game uses tanks and other figures on a one-to-one basis.

Lastly, George Garifo put on a game called Preussens Gloria which was a
glorious reenactment of the Battle of Leuthen. The kick was that we (the
Prussians) had the game in hand – the Austrian cavalry had routed and their
artillery reduced to one medium battery- but we lost. How? Let’s just say that
it had something to do with Frederick leading a charge, being shot off his
horse seriously wounded, and being captured by the Austrians. Oh, well…. But
many thanks to George for it was a pleasure to play using Warfare in the Age of

I don’t know about anybody else but I had a super time My thanks again to the
HMGS folks who ran this. And, guys, you shouldn’t be so humble – put your names
on the events listing!
Jerry Lannigan