Cold Wars 2019: progress, progress

I went to HMGS‘ Spring show, Cold Wars, last weekend.   Cold Wars is a show that I usually don’t volunteer to work staff for, because sometimes I actually like to go to events in the morning. Imagine!  This time, however, there was a plaintive request for assistance on the HMGS board, so I said to myself, “eh, okay, self, why not?

An Epic Journey awaited me.. okay, maybe a two plus hour drive..

(bad audio note: i’m suspecting hosting video files on Imgur messes with the sound, sorry.. I’m basically saying “we’re off to Cold Wars!” here)

Of course, I had to honor the time-honored tradition of the Bridge Shout.

(bad audio note: every show, I shout “The Mighty Susquehannnnna!” as I cross this bridge, and this show was no exception)

So I’m going to mention this stuff up front, so we can get it out of the way fast and just discuss convention activities. The Host has gone through some changes for the better. I will be the first to admit I have been critical of the Host’s diminished capacity in the last few years. Some might say even scathing. The last show, in particular, was fraught with facility problems that just seemed to be taking forever to make headway on. So don’t be shocked, but I’m going to say nice things about the Host now. Seriously, in the interest of fairness. The Host is finally making real progress. It looks very different. It looks like someone was able to get a loan once the word “Wyndham” got slapped on the front of it. This is a good thing.

The Host: A Much Needed Facelift

Not sure what the tower will be for, exactly, but.. oooh.. ahhhh!
Hmm, suddenly the unfortunate color/pattern choice on the new carpet doesn’t look that awful any more.  How Outré!
Jumping Catfish, did I walk into the wrong hotel?

(bad audio note: the sound isn’t conveying it, but I’m ooohing and ahhing about the chi-chi sinks in the men’s room.  Somebody’s been decorating..)

Clearly, visual progress has been made.  The elevator works.  The facility appears to be mostly leak proof (although there might have been one or two in places, based on conversations overheard at the bar.  Sadly, the Host experienced massive, MASSIVE computer failure (from what I heard, it wasn’t their fault, just a patch that the Wyndham company insist they load at that very moment and it caused a massive failure).  The HVAC is working pretty well, for the most part.  There were new electronic locks on the doors (which are still problematic from what I’ve heard, but I experienced no problems personally)  The lighting has been greatly improved everywhere.  The Distelfink, in particular, is now very well lit.  The exhibitor hall is still kind of a challenge but things will improve when they get a regular parking lot next to it.  There’s a working Starbucks in the lobby and there were food stations.  Food service is still struggling to gain a foothold due to construction but it wasn’t awful– just very basic.  The bar functioned very well and had friendly and attentive staff working there.  Although it is a long way from being finished, for the first time in almost a decade, it was a pleasant experience staying there.  No toilet fountains.  My bed was nice, I slept soundly.  The staff worked like donkeys during the computer crash.

Moving onward, it was Thursday

I volunteered Thursday night and all during the convention at the HMGS Logo Store.  HMGS recently went through a rebranding effort that I have to say I approve of.  Before anybody out there sniffs and launches into a lecture about wasting money, I’ll just intercede with comment.  Brands are important in big business.  Companies (including the one I work for) often spend millions of dollars and years of effort launching a rebrand.  It’s serious stuff, and very complex to execute.  I have no idea what HMGS spent to re-brand, but if it was a reasonable cost and with a reputable firm, I don’t begrudge the idea.  Along with a new brand comes rebranded HMGS “merch” and that was the idea behind the “Logo Store”.   The Cold Wars staff needed a few savvy hucksters to flog the newly branded gear, so I found myself behind a table flogging newly branded gear.  Surprisingly I kind of liked the gig– I’m no misanthrope and enjoy seeing the warp and woof of humanity streaming by.

I have to convey a quick side story.  This is one of the woman’s shirts in the new “generic HMGS” shirt line.  If you’re a miniatures wargamer, you likely recognize a quote from LITTLE WARS by H.G. Wells.  Surprisingly, when I posted this one to Instagram (and it copied to FB) I got an outraged reply explaining how we were being “disrespectful to women” and maybe we should feel bad for using this quote.   The person picking up cudgels for all womanhood was.. a man (a well known gamer from Ohio). I was suitably schooled after this stunning display of awareness of the modern female psyche, right before I offered him a fainting couch for his wounded sensibilities (thanks for that one Kristen)

The rest of Thursday was somewhat uneventful, beyond getting the standard first day training and Pizza. Oh yes, our staff shirts as well. Historicon was a petite-mal seizure inducing orange, Fall IN! was a nauseating yellow-green, and Cold Wars? Safety Pink, they said.

You know, it was Pi day on 3/14.  So we chowed down on many pizza pi’s.
Your humble narrator rocks it with a saucy pink number.  I’m told I’m quite the coquette. 

Friday: A Mad Maximillian adventure, and stuff

My onerous duties of being a t-shirt barker passed without any strain, other than one of our volunteers didn’t ever show up for the entire show, and the word was he had checked in. That was truly puzzling. I’m not naming and shaming, but it did cause some impact on everyone else who had to cover for him. I got a chance to do a walk around in the Vendors hall area, not too in depth but I wasn’t getting a vibe that there was a big “new thing” coming at the moment. The Miniatures hobby waxes and wanes with the big thing this year (gladiators, steam punk, American Revolution, etc). I’m not seeing any emerging trend right now but I did see a few lines I liked:

This really held my attention.  Apparently it’s set in one the eras of expansion in Marc Miller’s Traveller universe.  I was always a fan of the RPG in my youth, I hope this is as fun to play as it looks.  I like the components but don’t know much about the game yet.

Plus all the Cruel Seas stuff, but I’ve been blogging about that.  Brian and Elizabeth at Sea Dog Studios have been my go-to supplier for all things nautical for a few shows now– now they are expanding the line a little bit and are dipping their toe into supporting GASLANDS with car weapons.  To quote Brian: “I’m not going to be selling vehicles.  I can’t compete with buying a matchbox car for a buck.  However, I CAN sell affordable car weapons with a lot of detail that won’t get bent”.

Looking Good!

I need to talk to Brian about maybe some period authentic weapons for the Mad Maximillian 1934 universe.

The revamped exhibitor’s hall wasn’t exactly serving a piping hot breakfast, so I was pretty hungry by 2, when I was off shift.  One trip to Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar later, I was getting ready for Friday night’s entertainment, the Mad Maximillian 1934 game I was running (called Junkwaffel).

F: 183: 19 – JUNKWAFFEL: A Mad Maximillian 1934 Adventure \
Friday, 7:00 PM, 3 hrs, Players: 10, BF86
GM: Walt O’Hara
Sponsor: none- Prize: none
Period: Pulp – Scale: 28mm- Rules: Mad Maximillian
Return to the world of fragile deadly jalopies armed with instruments of
peril! Everyone KNOWS about the Apocalypse, right? The one that took
place back in 1934? Junkwaffel takes place in a world that has already
suffered collapse, sometime directly after WWI. Players pilot their armed
motorcycles, buggies, jalopies and junkers through a war-torn landscape,
full of traps, ambushes and the greatest danger of all, the other players.
Rules easy to teach, glad to have youngsters from about 13 up, younger
must have a parent in attendance.

Even though my event was misprinted (hint: there IS no table BF 86, so I was routed to table DF 86, which is  in the Distelfink).  Surprisingly this is where Jon Lungren had just completed his game which was an Afghan mountain war scenario.  As he was running one the next day with the same terrain, he implored me to leave his terrain as is and run Junkwaffel on it.   I didn’t mind that too much, although it made a (designed for a mostly flat) terrain challege, now that we had multiple levels.

My Mad Maximillian collection– 21 vehicles.  This event was for ten players, so I had tons of “hand waving” room

I don’t like embedding a ton of my own event AAR inside a larger convention post, so look forward to “Mad Maximillian at COLD WARS: I should have sparred!” when I finish the next post.

There were some fine games running Friday, but I didn’t get a lot of pictures.  I was busy.  So after I packed up I went promptly to sleep.  I’m such a social butterfly.

And then came Saturday

Another fine brisk morning selling gimcracks and t-shirts for the Man.  Sales were brisk enough that was actually depleted the convention shirt by a big dent.  HATS and “NECK WALLETS” were the big item, though.   As I was buying a turkey sandwich right after shift, I discovered HMGS had popped for a little free food reception and the vendors had sponsored a little free beer to go along with it.. you know, seconds after paying for it.  Oh well, I split my sandwich in half and had dinner, too.  Thanks, HMGS!  Thanks Vendors!

Now, when it comes to free beer, my ancient instincts usually cut in and there I’ll be, throwing elbows to position my self under the tap, Homer style.  Today, however, I had some place to be, and that was Miles Reidy’s SINK THE TENNESEE! game .

Sink the Tennessee! -Little Wars TV
Saturday, 3:00 PM, 3 hrs, Players: 8, DF11
GM: Miles Reidy  Sponsor: Little Wars TV
Period: American Civil War – Scale: 28mm – Rules: Uncivil Wars

The CSS Tennessee has pulled into port to seek repairs and Union Command has decided to stage a raid to either capture or sink the rebel leviathan. Skirmish level game putting a Union raiding force against mixed Confederate force of sailors, militia and regulars. Game features a stunning 28mm scale model of the Tennessee, complete with a full interior! This game treats its historical subject with the same level of care as such Hollywood documentaries like”The Horse Soldiers” and”The Patriot.”

As one might expect from a GM who routinely pits panzers against the Egyptian undead, Miles has an impish sense of humor and likes to nod at history to mine it for the good stuff.  In the case of Saturday’s game, he was in fine form.  The Confederates were not expecting a combined arms raid on the shipyard where they were busily building the Goliath Tennessee ironclad.

The CSS Tennessee was moored for the entire game

Therefore, many of them are asleep at the start of the game.  Me and the fellow to my left had the Union cavalry, and we had a job to do.. keep substantial Confederate forces from joining the militia, engineers and marines defending the shipyard.   So we entered the table’s edge having (I presumed) rode wide around the Confederate lines to flank their position and isolate the shipyard defenders.  We were not 100% effective but we did open an old fashioned can of whup-ass on the advancing Southron hordes.

(bad audio note: Here, Miles goes through the rules with us, in case the sound isn’t coming through)

My command
My Cavalry command crossing at one of two crossable points on this river
Reinforcements move to the boatyard
Confederate Marines take on Union Raiders
Crack US Naval landing team
Mrs. Johnson raises an alarm when the Yankees hole up in her barn.  My hapless captain tries to pitch woo with her to shut her up, but she can’t keep her Southron yap shut.  As she was in IMMINENT DANGER OF BEING SHOT BY CONFEDERATES (yes, yes), I coldcocked her with a pistol butt and moved her behind the barn, tenderly.
There’s action at the Shipyard, boys, forard!
B, Aggressive, B, B, Aggressive!
Confederate Zouaves are forced over the one point they can can cross, and a bloodbath ensues.  Good thing that pig sty is good cover!

And more of that Army of Confederates keep coming
Meanwhile, at the Boatyard…
More action close to the boatyard
The OTHER Union cav guy and his command, we got them in a crossfire…

As you can see, the action was fairly fluid.  I really enjoyed this one quite a bit and have nothing but kudos for the GM, Miles Ready, for his wonderful terrain and impressive scratch model making (check out the 28mm ironclads!).  As it happened, the HMGS Awards committee agreed with me, and here he is getting an award to general applause

I owe it all to clean living.
Oh wow, man, congrats!

There were some great games being played of course.. I’m only showing the tip of the iceburg here.

Well, you get the idea.  If I hadn’t been so lazy and nappy after Sink the Tennessee, I probably would have played in the Mad Max game Eric Goodlater put on Saturday night.  Oh well.  I ended up in the bar talking with Grant and Curt Daniels about disolving resins and trips to Argentina (thanks for the beers, Walt Leech!).

Sunday: Seems we just get started and before you know it, comes the time we have to say, “So long” (ear tug)

Aside from a flurry of activity to close up the logo store until Historicon, there was not much to do, so we did that.  I said some farewells, and spoke to the BOD about social media initiatives.  And thence, I was on my way home.

Summary: It actually was pretty pleasant

Numbers?  Got me, ask someone who was counting.  Surprisingly, I had a pretty great time.  It felt a little more like the good old days before the facility started to rapidly decay.  There was very little drama besides the classic “who shot John” variety.  The best part, as it usually plays out, was that I got to see people I think of as friends, whom I don’t see very often.  The facility is greatly improved, and as I said, much more accessible and clean.  Food is still quite lackluster and there were electrical problems all over but I didn’t see them personally.  There are still big holes here and there,  but nothing terrible.  The parking lot was passable, although not entirely cleaned up.  For once, it felt like the new owners had made serious, objective progress and were taking pride in their efforts.  I was impressed.  Don’t get me wrong, some of the changes are still in the lipstick on a pig  variety, but big problems that were making everyone angry appear to be solved.  I’m not in love with the place but it’s at least acceptable for one of our conventions, and will be much improved by next Cold Wars.

Thanks to Heather and her hard working crew, as well as the BoD, for making Cold Wars happen.  I enjoyed myself.


  1. Walt, even I sort of cringe at Well’s statement because I think it may become reactionary today, but I understood what he was trying to say in what may be today awkward speech. And granted it happend over a hundred years ago. Of course you probably know from our discussions on Facebook that I disagree pretty much with the modern speech codes which seem to be meant to cut off actual debate. Do you mind if we copy some of the Host pictures with credit to you?

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