(Note this will feature several “Audio Moments” recorded from an App called Audioboo. The audioboo app uses Flash so your browser should be flash enabled to see features of this post. I am aware that pictures taken on an Ipad and hosted on Photobucket.com often display upside down, and am trying to figure out a fix.).
Cold Wars is the Spring event of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, a four day show held at the Lancaster Host, Lancaster PA. I heard a good comment at the show: ” It’s always Winter when I driver up to Cold Wars and Spring when I drive back“. It sure seemed that way to me on Thursday on the way up– snow on the ground when I left, and 50 degrees when I returned. I had to economize a little bit going up to the show and take my wife’s Subaru. Economics has a big impact on show attendance, and the price for a gallon of gas on the East Coast is nothing to sneeze at these days– I’d rather drive a car with 30+ mpg than that giant van of mine.
Audio Moment on Thursday
I work staff on HMGS shows, and I have for more than a decade, including a stint as a Cold Wars director in the distant past. So upon arrival I helped with set up and installation, until we were at the point where we were ready to open the doors and take money. Standard Thursday chores.
Audio Moment Thursday night:
I have no idea of what pre-registration numbers were for Cold Wars 2013, but the registration area (The Wheatland Room at the Host) was fairly mobbed Thursday night. HMGS uses a registration system that for better or worse uses a cloud system to store and process data remotely. The only drawback is the obvious one: when you can’t get on the Internet, you can’t perform the most basic functions to register people for conventions. You guessed it, the hotel couldn’t connect us to the Internet Thursday night and we were a half hour delayed getting set up. The process of registering someone for a convention, selling them t-shirts, etc. is multi-stepped and complex; I was a little nervous jumping in after an absence of a considerable amount of time, but for once it wasn’t an issue, I picked up on it on the first try. I guess I’m getting used to it. It was a drag for the people waiting in line, but again, not much HMGS could have done about it, the internet connection was pretty miserable throughout the hotel for the weekend and that impacted how we run the show.
I was not crazy about my schedule, which you may here me whining about here and there in the audio snippets. I usually work morning shifts and have the afternoon free to game and shop with. For some reason I was on the PM shift throughout, so had to get gamng in where I could.
Thursday has been a non-event in the past; now people arrive earlier and take advantage of the extra time to schedule and play events in the evening after registration. There were a few regularly scheduled gaming events, including a tournament for Thursday evening.
I wanted to get together a Cosmic Encounters game but had no takers. So it goes. One has to be realistic about these things, to quote Logan Nine Fingers. I did end up in a typical destination for Thursday and had a beer with some friends. Or two. As you can see.
Friday’s schedule was from 1230 to 6PM; not much opportunity to do anything in the shopping line (the dealer hall opened at noon, Wally’s Basement at 2PM). So I had a (meatless, for Lent) breakfast, which can be a challenge in Lancaster, and did a quick run through of the dealer’s room, figuring 20 minutes would be better than nothing. I picked up exactly what I wanted, which was a SLAVE ONE ship and another A-wing from the Star Wars miniature game which I had a specific need for.
Working on the desk was a real chore. The internet was intermittent which caused severe problems with registration. When your organization relies on the Cloud computing concept, and the connection to the cloud goes South, well, you make the connection. No reg system, doing everything by hand and then updating the reg and POS systems later when the internet comes back. 3 x the labor.
Audio moment, Friday
The Wally’s Basement for Friday was truncated, but very packed. The first session opened up to the usual stampede of customers, as you can see from this action packed footage.
I actually got a break to run down and do a pass through.. and found a homemade casemate ironclad (made of wood) for my 15mm boat game, Big Danged Boats. Very reasonable!
I’m not any judge of these things, really, but I do know that conventions where the lines don’t stop until the end of shift usually indicate a good attendance. Not finding an spot easily in the parking lot is a good indication, too. I noticed both of those things.
After shift, I grabbed a not-quick vegetarian dinner at the restaurant at the Host.
F-144 Caesar vs. Pluck: Bellum Ruritanicum 72 AD
Friday night’s game started at 1900, and was run by Jeff Wasileski, one of the better GMs out there. Jeff’s scenario used SCIENCE VERSUS PLUCK with a Roman patina. This is a set of rules that encourages player repartee first and charts and tables last. We all played roles.. I ended up taking Domitian, the second son of the Emperor Vespasian, who is touring Ruritanicum right about the time of a giant revolt. Howard, the author of the rules, was also there playing the Auger, and later on the role of Domitia, the newly wedded bride of Domitian.
SLIDESHOW: F-144 Caesar versus Pluck
This game was a ton of fun, maybe the best thing I’ve played in a while. With Howard Whitehouse as the Auger, Steve Winter playing the ambitious yet unlucky Governor caught in a veritable avalanche of Ruritani, and an assorted list of other players who got in to the spirit of things, this game was a blast. I played Domitian as an upperclass bloody-minded twit with a speech impediment. He kept sending notes to other players with crude pictures of slave galleys on them, and arrows pointing to the oar banks and YOU scrawled over it. We had fun. The results really weren’t very important, but the experience was. A fun time!
More Friday Games:
S-379 Rebellion on Planet 4021
Since I once again had to work Saturday, my original plans for gaming were flushed down the toy-toy and I had to shop for something to play in the AM. And I found a great one. I played a game called S-379 Rebellion on Planet 4021, which was an opportunity to play Tomorrow’s War (Ambush Alley games) for the first time, even though I got it for Christmas (thanks, Honey!). I like 15mm Science Fiction and am always looking for a good rules set. Tomorrow’s War is essentially another game called Force on Force but with a SF overlay. I liked it in general, but found the tech level differences caused a severe impact on what my units could do. As we were native insurgents with a lower tech level, we were rolling 1D6 a lot to conduct combat actions. The invading earth people were another tech level and they rolled 1d8s a lot. That’s a difference of my 3.5 average versus a 4.0 average, and a little bit means a lot. Our side (the rebels) had some early success but the only way to keep from being annihilated was to keep a steady stream of replacements moving into combat. We learned that we couldn’t’ gain initiative easily unless the other side rolled badly, and if we fired second we usually got killed. So we tried not to fire if we could. Oddly enough, I had to leave a little earlier than other players but it turns out we did win!
A slideshow of S-379 Rebellion on Planet 4021:
Now I’m eager to paint up some 15mm SF. Get behind me, Satan!
Audio Moment, Saturday Morning
Flush with success I went back to the reg area for my day shift, to discover that once again, we didn’t have Internet. At all. As in throughout most of the hotel. This was pretty bad. We had to go cash only for almost all of the shift; customers were understanding but it was a real drag from the perspective of trying to capture all that data.
Saturday afternoons usually are pretty slow but the added fun of all that manual entry just made it constantly busy. I was ready for my one and only trip to the dealer area (of more than twenty minutes) during the convention. I didn’t see a lot of NEW stuff, per se, but I did buy some stuff I wanted to pick up, like some SF buildings from Blue Moon, some more 15mm renn period figures, An A-Wing, some 54mm bulk lead from Iron Wind metals. I don’t know how I resisted it, but I avoided picking up the biker panties arrayed around the military Video booth with such clever bon mots as “It won’t lick itself“. It took every ounce of my resistance.
I went out for something more nourishing than the giant buffet of meat swimming in gravy, and found a salad place in the next complex over. Very reasonable and healthy food. That’s a keeper.
S415 MAD DOGS WITH GUNS
I got back in time to play in Howard Whitehouse’s evening game. Since I got there ten minutes late, I was stuck in a subsidiary role as a local town sheriff. MAD DOGS WITH GUNS is Howard’s latest epic from Pulp Adventure press. Very reminiscent of DASHING ADVENTURES, it’s more like a framework for RPG/skirmish that a serious rule set. Even Howard says so. Well, I went for it with both barrels. As a descendent of MANY serious Irish boozers from Law Enforcement, that’s how I played him.. like a relative or two. That part was fun. Sadly, some of the players were playing like the young men they were, and made it too much about shooting and killing, rather than playing their parts. So it was far more bloody than it needed to be. Still, I had a great time, playing with friends like Joey McGuire and Dennis Cunningham. Dennis Cunningham and I were local law enforcement, trying to ride heard on two different mob bootleggers, and in the pay of each one. Things did not go well, and frankly the Town cops got exterminated with extreme prejudice. So it goes. You have to be realistic about these things. 😀
Another fun Slide Show, this time of Mad Dogs with Guns:
And that was my Saturday.. we played until 11 or so but I got killed out of the game. I tried to get into some board games going on but there was nothing going on quick and snappy. Oh well.
I had a beer or two with Dennis and jawed a bit, and then took a few pictures, during the c0urse of which I had a chair collapse and rip my leg up. Not the most dignified approach.
Audio Moment, Saturday Evening
Assorted Saturday Games Slideshow:
Sunday is always a tough sell for many people, as everyone is interested in packing up and leaving. I helped around the reg area and packed up stuff for the Pod. Then got released to do a little bit of shopping (bought nothing) before hitting the road.
In general, Cold Wars 2013 was a pretty good convention. I had a great time and it was just the getaway I needed this time of year. Numbers seemed high, but I really have no idea how it went. I liked the theme a lot and was kind of disappointed there weren’t more thematic games of note. More people used Guidebook this convention than any previous one, based on the metrics we got back and I attribute that to speedy assistance from Bob Van Der Kamp and the Cold Wars webmaster, where I got all my data from. As always, I’d like to thank my fellow staffers for laughing in the face of adversity, and working their asses off to make a great show. I enjoy working with you all every convention and will continue to do so until they don’t need me any more. Great job, Frank and Michelle, keep up the good work for next year.
A blog post about a convention should not dwell on the high points. In the interests of objectivity and fair play, I present the TOP FIVE WORST THINGS ABOUT COLD WARS 2013, viewable here: